Well, it’s over, the dust is settling. The verdict? Ray Comfort is as crazy – and/or dishonest – as ever. For anyone who didn’t see it live the recording should be available on the AE front page in a day or two. (UPDATE: Recording now online. Share and enjoy!)
I’ll attempt a skeleton review here, leaky memory permitting. To avoid spoilers I’ll put it under the fold, thus:
Right. The first and most obvious point is the change in the host lineup, with Jeff Dee replaced by the calm and rational Russell Glasser. His quiet, polite demeanour has lulled many an unsuspecting apologist into dropping their guard, leaving them at the mercy of his precision arguments. I would hate to play chess against this guy.
Though a banana was prominently displayed on set, that subject wasn’t actually addressed; though it was mentioned by Comfort at one point in what I thought was a slightly apprehensive tone. Instead Matt and Russell based many of their questions on Comfort’s 2009 book “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think” – which was a little more than ironic, given that Comfort flat out refuses to accept any evidence that disagrees with his presuppositions and assertions. But then he knows the Absolute Truth™ about everything; he’s not going to let a little thing like reality slow him down.
Despite this startlingly irritating habit typical of biblical literalists, Matt and Russell between them gleefully managed to block him at every turn, countering him point by point until the subject of slavery (condoned in the Bible) forced into the admission that he doesn’t agree with everything in that book. Apparently he only agrees with the bits that back up his arguments or can be spun to sound nice and fluffy – though he claims not to cherrypick. Work that one out.
Matt’s example of how languages evolve as an analogy for biological evolution was a masterstroke to which Comfort had little response. I shall have to remember to steal it (well you never know when these things might come in handy).
Basically Comfort brought nothing fresh to the table; just the same old stale assertions he makes in his sermons or whatever. Apart from that, he seemed to follow the same script that most apologists use on the show:
- something can’t come from nothing
- evolution is impossible, therefore God
- no transitional fossils
- creation is obvious – look at the birds/trees/clouds
- repent or be damned
(Pity Jeff wasn’t there for that last one.)
Pretty much the only thing he left out was Pascal’s Wager. Maybe if they’d had more time he would have got round to it.
Thus far it seems as though I’ve nothing but praise for my side and contempt for Comfort. To that I say that the hosts were not quite as strict with him as they have been with other similar apologists, even when he made the same arguments almost word-for-word. Matt especially has come down hard on callers when they’ve made the “look at the birds” point. Perhaps Comfort’s special guest status had something to do with it. For his part, Comfort displayed manners that many in his position seem to lack. He listened patiently while Matt and Russ spoke, instead of the interrupting-and-talking-over-the-hosts tactic we all know and love.
So a civilised debate then, sans fireworks, ultimately let down by the 60-minute timeslot. Still, he’s been invited to call back in the future, so maybe we’ll get the chance to hear his pathetic parachute argument again.