Ray Comfort

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Ray Comfort
Ray Comfort
Born:  December 5, 1949, New Zealand
Residence:  Bellflower, California, USA
Occupation:  Evangelist, Apologist
Religion:  Evangelical Christian
Websites:
Living waters ministries
Atheist central blog

Ray Comfort is a Christian apologist from New Zealand who co-hosts The Way of the Master radio show alongside his partner Kirk Cameron.

Contents

Way of the Master

Together with Kirk Cameron, Ray produces The Way of the Master series of TV, radio, and internet articles though neither have a theological or formal training.

Links to summaries and refutations of The Way of the Master episodes can be found at the bottom of this page.

Atheist Central

Ray Comfort renamed his blog Atheist Central because so many atheists visited the site, possibly because they felt his arguments were unreasonable and humorous.

Beliefs

Ray Comfort is an evangelical Christian and a young earth creationist. Ray is a Bible literalist and does not accept evolution and seems vague about the age of the universe.

Ray and Kirk do not even give a consistent message, when trying to convert people they maintain that once someone is born-again God forgives them for all their sins. The following is his words exactly: "once and for all and the moment you trust in him [Jesus Christ] you are completely justified and made right with God, you are made perfect by God's grace. That has nothing to do with living a good life, pleasing God because you can't because you a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart. The only thing you can do is repent and trust in him. The minute you do, in a heartbeat God justifies you. Cleanses you of your sin and you are born again. God gives you a new heart with a new set of desires and you know you are going to escape death and damnation." Some people find this uncomfortable as it suggests that people can commit terrible sins like rape, murder, even genocide (Hitler) and still get to heaven so long as they repent at the last minute. That message, convert and you will be saved persuades people to become followers of Ray Comfort and to start using/buying his material.

Ray maintains part of the time that the Bible says that we are saved by grace alone and not by works. He quotes Titus and Ephesians 2:8-9, which says that not by works of righteousness, but according to God's mercy. Does the Bible say that salvation is by grace alone and not by works? Should we be baptized? Psalm 62:12 says "For you render to each one according to his works."

Once people have become followers of Ray Comfort they get fearful because they cannot stop sinning. Unless people can stop themselves sinning their conversion may be what Comfort calls a false conversion and nobody can avoid sinning. So people stay followers of Ray and Kirk and keep on doing what Ray’s system tells them in the desperate hope that they will be saved in spite of every sin.


It seems Ray (and Kirk) does not know the Bible, or sometimes purposely cherry-picked one side of the discrepancies to make other branches of Christianity appear foolish to give his faith more credibility.


Other branches of Christianity believe that both works and faith is required, some believe God has already predetermined where you end up in the afterlife.

View towards Atheists

Ray Comfort makes no attempt to hide his grudge against atheists and atheism, which is evident through his extensive work focused on opposing atheism. According to Ray "An atheist is someone who believes that nothing made everything. He will deny that through gritted teeth, because it is an intellectual embarrassment. But if he says of his Toyota that he has no belief that there was a maker, then he thinks that nothing made it (it just happened), which is a scientific impossibility. So, to remain credible, he falls back on something made everything, but he just doesn’t know what that something was. So he’s not an atheist–he believes in an initial cause." Ray Comfort encourages all Christians to not be intimidated by atheists because "they're not intelligent, the bible says they're fools."

Of course Comfort got the definition of atheism wrong and this whole thing is set up to make atheists seem like idiots. He uses the false objection to atheism "so you believe in nothing?" This is blatantly false, since an atheist is somebody who does not believe in any gods. Atheism is not a belief system. Even if this first sentence wasn’t meant as a definition, it is factually wrong because Comfort makes the mistake of assuming all atheists share more than just a disbelief in gods. In the academia, the real "intellectual embarrassment" are proponents of creationism, which is Ray Comforts position. Ray's comment about atheists and the origin of the car (or any other man-made objection) is a rework of the argument from design. Not all atheists share the same beliefs, and he makes it seem so evil to admit "he just doesn’t know what that something was." If not enough evidence is provided, it is intellectually honest to say 'I don't know' and Ray falsely believes that response alone makes his position win by default. On the last point, an atheist only needs to lack a belief in god(s), and his/her position on causes of anything are a separate issue. If atheists are not intelligent, then how is it that Comfort's banana argument got intellectually obliterated to the point Comfort denied he ever made it?

  • Note regarding Ray's remark that an atheist believes nothing made everything, which is a popular theist view about atheism, is demonstrably wrong. When physicists say "nothing" it is not what most people think they are talking about. As NASA astronomer Dr. Sten Odenwald puts it, " when physicists say 'nothing' they are being playful with the English language, because we often think of the vacuum as being 'empty' or 'nothing' when in fact physicists know full well that the vacuum is far from empty. Nothingness was not nothing, but it was not anything like the kinds of 'somethings' we know about today. We have no words to describe it, and the ones we borrow (that are listed from the Oxford English Dictionary) are based on the wrong physical insight."

Favorite arguments

Ray Comfort has appeared on many freethinking radio shows. Some arguments come up time and time again (see our articles about these arguments for relevant counter-arguments) in his books, episodes, debates, street preaching, and such. Ray constantly uses a bushful of fallacies, such as appeal to emotion, argument from ignorance, false dichotomy, straw man, equivocation, ad hominem, and many more. Ray is also known to lie for Jesus.

Ray believes there are three "irrefutable" evidences for God.

  • 1) Creation: Using a coca-cola can as an example, Ray "theorizes" the origin of the can came from billions of years ago, when there was an unexplainable massive explosion in space, and from it came a rock and on the rock was a brown bubbling pool where after millions of years, aluminum came forth and created itself a tab on the top. Millions of years later, red and white paint fell from the sky and formed the words on the coca-cola can. Ray says nobody would believe that, because we know the coca-cola can had a maker. He then says we also know that the banana must have a maker. Ray Comfort claims that if you find something that was created, there must be a creator. He claims that a building must have a builder and a painting must have a painter, even though you cannot see, touch, smell, hear, or taste him. This to Comfort is scientific proof of a creator and does not require faith to believe in a creator. According to Ray, all you need is eyes that can see and a brain works. Ray asks himself "can we scientifically prove that a painting had a painter?" He replies if we put a dozen scientists in a room with a painting, they will all answer that it indeed had a painter. Ray includes nothing more. He then says the human body is a very complex machine and the eye is perfect so there must be a designer. He then addresses those who are not convinced by his arguments as people who put themselves on an "intellectual pedestal."

Comment: Ray simply does not understand the word "theory," misleading people. His argument is of course a logical fallacy: anything that exists, simply because it exists, must have been deliberately created by an intelligent being for an intended purpose. By his logic, does lightning have a lightning maker? Is Vulcan just o' hammerin' away in his forge and tossing thunderbolts to Zeus??? Ray's argument also includes an argument from design fallacy. We see design and beauty in snowflakes and crystals, but we also know they form under natural causes without invoking the supernatural. The thing is, we can actually test if a painting had a painter and we could verify who it is and how they did it, but we cannot do so with God. And that is where Ray fails, who claimed that he would be able to prove the existence of God scientifically. Also, Ray builds an absurd straw man of the Big Bang Theory, abiogenesis, and evolution and falsely thinks that disproving them makes creation win by default. He also tries to mock the intellect and present an ad hominem towards those who don't believe in God by implying that their eyes and brains must not be functional. He insults skeptics as putting themselves on a pedestal, basically Ray's arguments are so feeble that they are simply comical and do not require a lot of thought to see through it, and that is why Ray attacks the intellectual and trying to prevent the audience from thinking to deeply into things.

  • 2) Conscience: According to Ray, God put within each of us conscience when God made us in his image. This separates us from the other animals since we have the ability to know right from wrong. But, according to Ray, our conscience has "lost its life on the outside" and each of us are "self-admitted blaspheming, lying, thieving, adulterers at heart" and could only be restored by the Ten Commandments. He then goes on using his old tactic of "are you a good person?"

Comment: In this speech, Ray very briefly tells the gospel is the greatest evidence for God anyone could have. This of course is based on ignorance of science (zoology, sociology, evolution). All societal species (including humans) have a sense of compassion and community amongst their kinsmen, friends and fellows which - in many species - leads to acts of devotion, defense, and even self-sacrifice on their behalf.

  • 3) Conversion: According to Ray, if you believe in God and seek him out, you will find him. "That is the ultimate proof."

Comment: What Comfort failed to understand was the same result can be achieved for those who seek out ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot, or any deity "with their whole heart", meaning they have already assumed these things exist without question or prior evidence that they exist in the first place.

The Watchmaker Argument

He will usually say something along the lines of "If I see a watch, it must have been made by a watchmaker, a loaf of bread by a baker, a building by an engineer, a creation by a creator." He will also say "Creation is 100% Scientific proof there was a creator."

This is the argument from design.

  • Ray, "When you look at a painting, how do you know there was a painter? The painting exists, get it?" ... "And creation proves there's a creator."

This is an example of begging the question, as the point which he's attempting to prove is contained in his premise. Anything created must have a creator, but he hasn't demonstrated that what he means by "creation" (the universe, everything, humans, etc.) is actually a creation. The appearance of design, purpose or complexity alone is not sufficient to posit an intelligent creator.

When he asks questions like, "When you see a building, how do you know there was a builder?", his answer is "The building is absolute proof of the builder." This avoids the important question about how we recognize design. He's relying on common sense and a lack of critical thinking, to support the idea that this is a natural, obvious and reliable assumption.

In truth, we recognize that the building is designed because we have an abundance of evidence that supports that conclusion and no evidence to support the idea that buildings are naturally occurring. We possess, or can attain by research, empirical evidence about the history of a given building; who designed it, who built it, what methods they used, etc. We can also learn about the general history of buildings and other structures, throughout recorded history. All of this evidence, and more, in conjunction with a lack of evidence supporting the idea that buildings occur naturally, lead us to the reliably supported conclusion that a given building had a builder. We're not always consciously aware of this process, as we've come to trust our intuition without constantly analyzing why this trust is deserved.

Considering a human, for example. We know that humans are the result of a natural process (sexual reproduction). Science has proven to be the most reliable method for explaining reality and its reliability supports the position that, until evidence to the contrary is presented, natural explanations exist for all phenomena. Ray, and others, aver that the natural world must have a supernatural, intelligent creator...a position wholly unsupported by evidence.

Additionally, when humans create things, they use pre-existing material. To compare the creation of the universe by a god to the creation of objects by humans is to imply that this god used pre-existing matter to do it. This, of course, still leads one to ask, "where did this matter come from?"

  • Ray, "I mean, you can prove god Biblically, scientifically, without even pointing to scriptures, without even mentioning faith. We're going to teach people how to do that so we no longer need to feel intimidated by so-called intellectualism."

Despite this claim, neither Ray, nor anyone else, has presented a "scientific" proof of the existence of God. This accomplishment, which may be definitionally impossible, would be the most significant scientific accomplishment in human history. It would be front-page news and the subject of considerable media coverage.

The Banana Argument

The banana argument, in which Comfort points out several features of bananas that indicate they were designed for human use, was presented as evidence of a creator in the Way of the Master episode entitled "The Beauty of a Broken Spirit—Atheism". Although he called it "the atheist's worst nightmare" in the episode, he later conceded the weakness of the argument on the Hellbound Alleee show. Comfort still uses it, however, and promotes it in his Atheist Test tract.

A response to "The Atheist's Nightmare", by Nick Gisburne, can be found here.

Are you a good person?

Main article: Are you a good person?

This argument uses the appeal to emotion and cherry-picking a version of the Ten Commandments. Comfort asks the unbeliever a set of questions. A nutshell version of the argument is as follows:

  • Are you a good person? Are you sure?
  • Have you ever lied in your life? Yes? Then you're a liar.
  • God hates lies. You deserve to go to hell.
  • Luckily, you have Jesus. Hope you'll accept him.

Comfort will seize any admission of imperfection to condemn his interlocutor: stealing a piece of candy from a store when one was a child counts as a "yes" answer to "Have you ever stolen anything?" Comfort's god considers this equivalent to robbing a bank. Of course, by Ray's logic, if you have ever told the truth, that means you are a truthful person, and if you ever do one good thing, you are a good person. By this standard, Hitler could be considered a good person, because it is nearly impossible to live your life without doing at least one thing that could be considered "good" by at least one person, (for example Adolf was a vegetarian and was kind to his dog, "Blondie") not to mention different people consider different things "good". White supremacists clearly thought what he was doing was good.

Determining if a person is "good" or not cannot be done by religious criteria. Ray Comfort's method of using the Ten Commandments is no more effective than using the 5 Pillars of Islam. To be good is to be moral, and if morality means anything, it is minimizing suffering and doing no harm. Hitler may have been a nice guy to those closest to him, but his overall impact on society heavily makes him pure evil.

Parachute Analogy

Main article: Parachute Analogy

This is Ray's favorite reversion of the argument known as Pascal's Wager, where he tries to convince the listener to trust in Jesus as they would trust a parachute.

Gospel Tracks

Ray Comfort and Way of the Master produce many gospel tracks, all of which produce similar or exactly the same repeated argument presented by Ray Comfort in his books and Way of the master episodes. Ray tries to make the tracts appear appealing and desirable, tricking the public to take them and read them later. for instance, Ray prints gospel tracts on optical illusions, fake million dollar bills, penny presses, and such.

  • Saving Yourself Some Pain a gospel tract by Ray Comfort, presented to new Christians as well as non-Christians.
    • Interestingly, Ray includes in Part 8 that a Christian should be baptized. This is important, since Ray constantly says all salvation requires is repentance and saved by grace, not be works. But right here, he shows that Christians should be baptized.
  • Scientific Facts of the Bible which is basically a shortened version of Ray's book Scientific Facts in the Bible.

Debate with the Rational Response Squad

For more information, see an entire article on RationalWiki that provides a walkthrough and point-by-point rebuttal to WOTM: Rational Response Squad debate with Way of the Master

On May 5, 2007, RRS co-founder Brian Sapient and RRS member Kelly O'Connor participated in a live debate aired on Nightline with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Comfort and Cameron claimed they were able to show the existence of their god without the use of the Bible and faith (spoiler: they were wrong).

Appearance on The Atheist Experience

For more information, see an entire article on RationalWiki that provides a walkthrough and point-by-point rebuttal to WOTM: The Atheist Experience debates Ray Comfort

On 27 March 2011, Ray Comfort was a call-in guest on The Atheist Experience, with hosts Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser.

Books

Ray Comfort has written many Christian books including:


External links

  • "The Raytractors" now at "WeAreSMRT", Ray Comfort's Detractors, a community of atheists and theists who critique and respond to Ray and the Way of the Master.
  • Ray Comfort As of 19th October 2011 this RationalWiki article duplicates quite a bit of material from here, editors at both sites are working to improve the situation.
  • Atheist Central, Ray Comfort's weblog (former title: Comfort Food).
The Way of the Master
Season One Episodes:

1. The Firefighter   2. The Mirror of the Ten Commandments   3. The Motive of the Sinner   4. The Summary of Salvation   5. Practice What You Preach   6. Idolatry—The Darling Sin of Humanity   7. The Beauty of a Broken Spirit—Atheism   8. WDJD?   9. Blasphemy, Sabbath, Parents   10. Murder   11. Adultery   12. Theft   13. Lie and Covet

Season Two Episodes:

1. God's Wonderful Plan   2. Conscience   3. Alcatraz, Al Capone, Alcohol   4. True and False Conversion   5. When Things Go Wrong   6. The Satanic Influence   7. How to Witness to Someone Who's Homosexual/Gay   8. Evolution   9. How to Witness to a Loved One   10. The Fear of God   11. Ice Breakers—Gospel Tracts   12. The Greatest Gamble  13. How to Get on Fire for God

Season Three Episodes:

1. Islam   2. Mormonism   3. Witchcraft   4. Buddhism   5. Roman Catholicism   6. What Hollywood Believes   7. New Age   8. Humanism   9. What America Believes   10. Jehovah's Witness   11. Judaism   12. Spiritual Battle   13. Hinduism

Cast
Ray Comfort — Kirk Cameron
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