A lie for Jesus repeated often enough . . .

13 02 2009

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16)

There it is. The warrant, Christian apologists would have us believe, for their moral injunction against telling lies. Why is it, then, that these same apologists have become so practised in the weaving of falsehoods and misrepresentations? Why are they so unwilling to follow the very set of ethical prescriptions they would have the rest of us observe, for no more compelling reason than a deity (whose existence is asserted but never demonstrated) compels it? Case in point—Ray Comfort, telling lies about what atheists believe:

Atheists think of themselves as being intelligent. But if you are an atheist, you are saying that you have no belief in a God — a Creator. Creation just happened. Everything you see — all the different breeds of dogs (both male and female), all the different breeds of cats (both male and female), all the different fish in the ocean (both male and female), giraffes, elephants, cattle, sheep, horses, birds, flowers, trees, the sun, the moon, the stars, the four seasons, night and day, the marvels of the human body, the eye with its 137 million light-sensitive cells — all these marvels of creation were made by nothing. They all just happened. That’s atheism at its core. What an intellectual embarrassment!

Comfort, you see, is the epitome of the “loving Christian”, given what “loving” and “Christian” have come to signify in the hands of right-wing fundamentalists like him. He “loves” his enemies (i.e. atheists) so much that he will happily distort evolutionary theory beyond all recognition, travesty-ing evolution as the belief that “everything you see” was “made by nothing,” and then attribute this belief to atheists. He “loves” atheists so much that he will happily accuse us, on no evidence whatsoever, of all manner of atrocious and immoral behaviour simply because we don’t “fear” his deity.

A wise man once said something like, “Most I fear God. Next I fear him who fears Him not.” An atheist will lie to you and steal from you without qualms of conscience because he doesn’t fear God. We have a generation who have given themselves to fornication, lying, theft and blasphemy. We have school shootings, violence, pornography, etc. and what’s the common denominator? They lack the fear of God. Atheistic evolution completely removes God and moral accountability. This is a cancer that destroys a nation from the inside.

These are the words of a “loving Christian”, who sees “nothing wrong with debating, as long as we speak in love and in gentleness.” I see little point in debating with the likes of Comfort, for he debates with his fingers wedged firmly in his ears, content to contend with strawmen.  The degree of vitriolic chauvinism he evinces, in whatever form it takes or has taken historically, certainly does have the capacity to destroy a nation from the inside, and more than once in its history has the United States which Comfort calls home been taken to the brink. Fortunately, there have also been voices of reason and enlightenment who have refused to allow the medievalists and tribalists to hold complete sway. Long may their struggle continue.

Update: watch Joseph Farah fellate Comfort at World Net Daily (warning: you may catch a glimpse of Ann Coulter’s homely mug). HT to Personal Failure, who points and laughs.

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21 responses

13 02 2009
Personal Failure

I think you called me a voice of “reason and enlightenment.” Sweet!

13 02 2009
arthurvandelay

Thanks for the hat-tip, Personal Failure. Comfort gives what have to be six of the most ridiculous reasons for believing in God I have ever encountered. What an intellectual embarrassment!

13 02 2009
Bruce

I consider fornication and blasphemy two of my virtues, both of which I think have brought more joy to the world than ill.

All the same, I don’t go for theft and lying. The latter really irks me, even when it’s not Ray Comfort doing the lying.

Take Christmas and Easter. Christian traditions? Not entirely true (lying) if you consider the appropriation of pagan culture (stealing.)

Now if it was given freely, that would be different.

I hereby give my traditions of fornication and blasphemy freely for Christians to adopt.

14 02 2009
arthurvandelay

Provided that the activities depicted therein are consensual, I don’t have a problem with pornography either. Neither do some Christians.

14 02 2009
Stewart

For the charmingly-named Comfort to sincerely believe what he says in that first quote, he must’ve skipped a helluva lot of science classes at school. Or did he go to one of ‘those’ schools?

14 02 2009
arthurvandelay

He must have unlearned what he had learned.

15 02 2009
Derek

I fail to see how this article establishes that Ray comfort is peddling. As a Christian I have to agree with much of what he has stated. Atheists are often heard making demeaning beliefs about those who accept the biblical account of origins. How ironic that as soon as someone points out the absurd position which atheists defend they are accused of telling lies. There is no doubt that over the years atheists have sought with great endeavour to come up with sensible sounding explanations on how our universe came into existence from nothing. In simple terms many Christians find it makes a lot more sense to accept that it was created by God. The posts that followed the article are evidently written by atheists. They reinforce what was written about atheist’s attitudes to what God condemns as being sinful. I don’t believe every atheist habitually indulges in or promotes these things. I do believe that a reverence and fear of God is a great deterrent against doing those things which are universally accepted as destroying society.

15 02 2009
arthurvandelay

It’s quite simple, Derek. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a deity. The definition of atheism does not entail anything beyond that. Therefore, if you wish to make additional claims about what all, or even most atheists believe (beyond the mere lack of belief in a deity)—such as, for example, the claim that atheists believe that our universe came into existence from nothing—you need to substantiate this claim with sufficient evidence (i.e. data confirming that all or most atheists believe this). If, on the other hand, you attribute to atheists certain beliefs, and are unable or unwilling to provide the evidence that shows that atheists actually hold these beliefs, you’re committing the strawman fallacy. The first offence could charitably be put down to an honest mistake, borne of unfamiliarity with the individuals who are the target of the strawman. Commit the strawman repeatedly, as Comfort does, and one is inclined, as I certainly am, to put it down to malice. Strawmanning—misrepresenting the beliefs of another, or putting words into their mouths—amounts to lying in my book.

Atheists are often heard making demeaning beliefs about those who accept the biblical account of origins.

This is a tu quoque; it is irrelevant to the point at hand. Whether it is true or not, it doesn’t justify Comfort’s behaviour. He is, after all, the one who counsels people to speak with love and gentleness. If the atheists are so mean and nasty, why is he unable to rise above their nastiness. Why he is unwilling to lead by example?

I do believe that a reverence and fear of God is a great deterrent against doing those things which are universally accepted as destroying society.

No doubt it is a deterrent for those whom would otherwise be undeterred if they lacked this “reverence and fear of God.” Why assume that this applies to everyone? Or more importantly, what reliable body of statistical data establishes that this applies to everyone?

15 02 2009
arthurvandelay

There is no doubt that over the years atheists have sought with great endeavour to come up with sensible sounding explanations on how our universe came into existence from nothing. In simple terms many Christians find it makes a lot more sense to accept that it was created by God.

False dichotomy. Simply failing to accept that the universe was created by God, on the very reasonable grounds that there is no evidence to support this assertion, does not mean that one necessarily asserts that the universe “came into existence from nothing.” The origins of the universe is the subject of ongoing scientific inquiry, with the result that while we may know more now than we did before, we can’t speak about the origins of the universe with absolute certainty. Therefore, to the question “How did the universe come into being?” one is perfectly justified in responding “I don’t know.”

And not knowing how the universe came into being is fully compatible with lacking belief in a deity or deities.

Also, further to your remarks about the attitude of the commenters in this thread to what according to your religious belief your god deems sinful, you seem to be claiming that pornography and blasphemy are “universally accepted as destroying society.” Have I misinterpreted you?

If not, you’re committing the appeal to popularity fallacy. It may be “universally accepted” that these things are destructive to society (though I don’t know on what basis you could make such a claim), but that doesn’t mean that blasphemy or pornography actually are destructive. Beliefs alone, no matter how widely or sincerely held, do not determine reality.

15 02 2009
Derek

What alternatives do you propose to their being nothing and then somehow by natural processes our universe came into existence.

15 02 2009
arthurvandelay

What alternatives do you propose to their being nothing and then somehow by natural processes our universe came into existence.

Did I not make myself clear? I don’t know. Who’s to say our universe emerged out of nothing? (Regard, for example, the hypotheses about the multiverse—also listen to a recent interview with theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.)

My point is that this is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether deities—let alone the specific deity you happen to worship—actually exist. Atheism—i.e. the lack of belief in a deity or deities—therefore does not entail by default an acceptance of the proposition that “somehow by natural processes our universe came into existence.” Nor does it entail a rejection of that proposition. One can, given the lack of knowledge that we have, simply admit that one does not know. Indeed, it seems to me to be the honest thing to do.

16 02 2009
Derek

So you admit to having areas of ignorance. Why rule out the existence of a deity. Shouldn’t you call yourself an agnostic. You’ve evidently concluded there is adequate evidence to demonstrate that a deity does not exist. Care to share that evidence.

16 02 2009
arthurvandelay

Shouldn’t you call yourself an agnostic.

As I explain on my About page, I’m an agnostic atheist. (See also: weak atheism.)

To wit: I don’t have absolute certainty that deities don’t exist. Nor do I have absolute certainty that leprechauns or fairies don’t exist either. But I lack belief in all of these things, because I see no reason to believe in their existence—there being no evidence for their existence. Atheism is a question of belief, or the lack of it. Agnosticism is a matter of epistemology. The two are quite compatible, in my view.

The attribution of strong atheist beliefs to all atheists is a common error. Strong atheists comprise a subset of all atheists, but that does not mean that all atheists are strong atheists. Individuals of the ilk of Comfort, or Falwell, or Robertson comprise a subset of all Christians, but that doesn’t mean that all Christians have the same beliefs as these individuals. Indeed, many Christians would object to such an assertion. (For instance, Dawkins, Hitchens et. al. are routinely accused of lumping all Christians in with fundamentalists and right-wingers, hence bashing strawmen.)

Comfort makes all kinds of assertions about what atheists believe, and plasters them all over his blog. (And now, on billboards.) When atheists come along to correct him, he sticks his fingers into his ears. Atheists believe, you see, what Comfort asserts they believe—whatever atheists themselves may say. He prefers to bash strawmen. One wonders what he is afraid of.

16 02 2009
Derek

I had a look at the link on your beliefs. Interesting that at the end you make the following comment: “I found it on My Confined Space one day and it tickled my fancy, not to mention my pathological hatred for all things Christian.” To date this represents for me the best explanation for your atheist beliefs.

It is possible that Ray Comforts comments are a generalization and are not be true in some cases. The argument presented here is that Comfort is totally wrong. That may be useful in discrediting an opponent but not entirely accurate. A more accurate claim would be that in a small subset of cases this argument is not valid. At the same time no one has adequately defined those alternative beliefs held by atheists that demonstrate your case. Claiming ignorance on how the universe started is hardly a compelling argument. Ruling out the possibility of a deity in such a case is as absurd as the other argument Comfort holds up for ridicule.

You referred to a multi-verse. Where did that come from? I’d still like to hear you describe in your own summary words these alternative held by atheists to everything starting form nothing.

16 02 2009
AV

Another reason I find the term agnostic inadequate (as a discrete label, that is, not as a modifier), is that it obscures the distinction between agnostic atheists and agnostic theists. An agnostic atheist lacks belief in deities, but will not claim knowledge that deities don’t exist. An agnostic theist believes in a deity (or deities), but will not claim knowledge that deities exist.

16 02 2009
AV

“I found it on My Confined Space one day and it tickled my fancy, not to mention my pathological hatred for all things Christian.” To date this represents for me the best explanation for your atheist beliefs.

To me this exercise in quote-mining comment evinces on your part an excessive literal-mindedness, a concomitant inability to recognise sarcasm, and a willingness to take offence at any perceived slight against your belief system. Lighten up.

It is possible that Ray Comforts comments are a generalization and are not be true in some cases.

If Comfort cannot produce statistical evidence in support of his generalisation, then he is guilty of the hasty generalisation fallacy. That is assuming, of course, that he is able to produce isolated cases of atheists who apparently believe what he asserts atheists in general believe.

The argument presented here is that Comfort is totally wrong.

The argument presented here is that Comfort is presenting a strawman about what atheists believe (and in fact has gone so far as to plaster it on roadside billboards). This is in spite of the fact that atheists themselves are telling him he is wrong about what they believe.

As I have said previously, when it comes to strawmen you can let someone off on a first offence, so to speak: charitably assuming that the strawman is a product of ignorance rather than malice. But Comfort has had enough encounters with atheists to know better, and yet still he persists with the same strawman. Still he would rather engage with his misrepresentations of what atheists believe than with what individual atheists actually say they believe. He has gone far beyond forgivable ignorance into lying.

These are not the actions of a man who is genuinely interested in the truth. These are the actions of a man who is far more interested in demonising an outgroup.

At the same time no one has adequately defined those alternative beliefs held by atheists that demonstrate your case. Claiming ignorance on how the universe started is hardly a compelling argument.

My “case,” Derek, is that believing that “there was nothing and then somehow by natural processes the universe came into existence” is not the only alternative to the belief that “God created the universe.” Claiming ignorance on how the universe started is a viable—and moreover, honest—stance to take. Certainly it is far more honest than claiming that God did it, when there is no evidence to support such an assertion. The position you appear to be advocating constitutes an argument from ignorance—“I personally cannot conceive of the universe coming into existence any other way; therefore, God did it” or perhaps “We are not in full possession of the facts regarding the origins of the universe; therefore, God did it.”

As for what other atheists believe or claim, I don’t have the arrogance of a Ray Comfort, there I will not presume to speak on their behalf. You’ll have to ask them. In doing so, you’ll be acting in much better faith than Comfort has done hitherto.

Ruling out the possibility of a deity in such a case is as absurd as the other argument Comfort holds up for ridicule. [Emphasis added.]

Nope, you’re not paying attention, are you?

You referred to a multi-verse. Where did that come from?]

Wikipedia is your friend:
M-theory
Multiverse

I’d still like to hear you describe in your own summary words these alternative held by atheists to everything starting form nothing.

As I said, I’m not going to speak on behalf of other atheists. Sorry.

16 02 2009
16 02 2009
Apocalyptic certainty may make you feel good, but there are people on this planet other than yourself « The Thinkers’ Podium

[…] near, apocalyptic thought is actually a form of comfort (there’s your “Comfort”, AV) for those that believe it. The problems of any given era being the source of ambiguity, righting […]

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