You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think (book)
You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics is a 2009 book by Christian apologist Ray Comfort.
In this book, Ray shows a complete misunderstanding or wants to convey an untruthful understanding of atheism and evolution. The title is absurd as atheists are nothing if not thinkers. Ray obviously lacks a fact checker as no one even attempts to keep him honest. After reading his first chapter, a few things about Ray become rather clear. He is a mix of the following: A compulsive liar, has no problem with 'lying for jesus', or is completely delusional. Ray seems to be so disgusted with the concept of being evolutionarily related to other primates, it could be possible he would reject his own god if it were revealed to Ray that he used evolution as the process for speciation.
Ray likes to compare being an atheist to that of a person playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded firearm. "To be an atheist is to play Russian roulette with all the barrels loaded." This is a faulty analogy for a few reasons. Least important is that Russian roulette is played with a revolver with one loaded chamber not a loaded barrel. It is only russian roulette IF Ray is correct and HIS god is the one that exists. Furthermore, it is easily reversable. When considering the vast number of Gods to choose from, picking one would be like playing russian roulette with a revolver wherein all but one chamber was loaded (aside from the typical way russian roulette is played).
He says that a person's conscience doesn't speak to point out the wrong tie /shirt colour, but this is false. This voice is the same voice that you hear when you are told something is wrong. It is your conscience. He asks where the conscience comes from and implies that it can only come from god, but the conscience is 100% consistent with evolution. Animals have morals to a degree. This is why you only see animals killing others in their own social group under certain circumstances. He then claims that all civilisations know that it is wrong to lie, kill, and steal. This is demonstrably false. Many civilisations thought human sacrifice was acceptable. Others were built on theft and murder (see Hannibal and other tyrants.) He also says every human has a god-given conscience, but this is also demonstrably false. The sociopath does not have a conscience. Did god screw him on purpose?
Ray also claims that the scripture is unchanged throughout the centuries. This is also demonstrably false. Several parts of John are forgeries. Meanings and interpretations were deliberately changed over the centuries by scribes. The Dead Sea scrolls prove this. They contain many fragments of the Bible and show that the Bible has changed quite a bit from translations and copies of copies of copies. There are dozens of translations. The KJV has been modified no fewer than 19 times over the last few centuries. There is no original version of the scriptures with which to compare the Bible.
Ray refuses to acknowledge that the Bible claims the world is flat and circular.
Ray says that Christians never lie in testimony. This is demonstrably false as will be proven later. He also claims that judges lend most credence to eyewitness testimony and do not like flowery speeches. This is also untrue. Eyewitness testimony is the least credible of all forms of evidence. This video is a great example of how eyewitness testimony should be evaluated. Ray's assertion that Christians do not lie is false. There are many who believe that lying for jesus is acceptable.
He also claims that Jesus claimed to be god in human form. This is not completely accurate. Jesus never said so in so many words, but may people infer that he made that claim from several passages in the gospels.
In addition, Ray's claims also beg the question of the actual existence of jesus. It can be argued that the Jesus of the Bible never existed. There are no contemporary documents containing his name or the names of his followers. Several documents written later are proven forgeries (Josephus, the gospel of John, etc.)
Chapter 1 Creation must have a creator
The title of this chapter is one of Ray's favorite arguments. He continues to use it to this day despite it being totally debunked. See Argument from design.
Ray starts off the chapter with a quote from Steven Hawking that is taken totally out of context, making it appear that Hawking believes in a god and that god must have created the universe. This is an example of Ray's habit of quote mining.
Ray claims that evolution is a totally random process. This is demonstrably false and he has been corrected on this issue time and time again. The only random part of evolution are the mutations. The selection processes are not random in the least; they are the antithesis of random. He also claims that if evolution is NOT random, then it is planned and someone (god) must be doing the planning. This is a false dichotomy.
Ray attempts to use a number of misrepresentations to explain what evolutionists believe. He abuses the 'goldilocks zone' and attempts to prove that evolution must fail because we must have been designed for the planet and the planet for us. He fails to understand that we evolved to suit the conditions on the planet and not vice versa. He goes on to claim that atheists believe that gravity evolved and is not a property of space-time and that we would not know what to do with water unless his god had told us what to do with it. There are numerous logical fallacies inside his claims.
Ray says that "Creation is absolute proof of a Creator. You cannot have a creation without a Creator. It is impossible ("Then who made God" has a logical answer). End of argument; unless, according to the Bible, you are a fool." But he never does give the 'logical answer' of who made god; he just declares the argument over.
Ray claims he never struggles with doubt in his creator. This is clearly a delusion.
When posed with the fact that his comparison between building / builder and creation / creator is a logical fallacy and an error, he fails to address the error and points to the bible as proof "For every house is built by some man; but he that built al things is God. (Hebrews 3:4)". This is a prime example of circular reasoning.
Ray likes to claim on his blog that he never calls atheists fools. This is demonstrably false. "When an atheist says he sees no evidence that God exists, I take the time to reason with him about creation not being an accident (something atheists do not claim), even though it is intellectually demeaning to have to do so (atheism is the epitome of stupidity)".
Ray says that his brain is an average brain. This is debatable, but beside the point. He is awe-struck with his brain's ability to recall events and relive them. He clearly is not aware that memory is not reliable in the least. He says the atheist brain is lacking common sense.
Ray claims that to be an atheist is to deny both common reason and logic. But this is clearly false. Atheists revere logic and reason. Ray does not seem to have a basic grasp on what logic and reason are.
Ray claims that atheists call any reference to the Bible as proof of god as circular reasoning. He is dismissive, but it does not invalidate the fact that using the Bible to prove god is circular reasoning.
In a section called The Asunist HQ, Ray attempts to show that atheists are just a stupid as people who claim there is no Sun. He says:
- Because a tribe was killed by the Sun they deny it's existence.
- Scientists have searched the NIGHT sky for the sun, but have not found the Sun.
- Entered a pitch black room and read a book about the Sun and found no evidence.
- Confirmed their beliefs by interviewing blind people.
- Call those who testify as to the existence of the Sun liars.
This is just fatuous for so many reasons, but to name a few:
- The sun can be observed, tested, measured, and quantified. God cannot.
- God has been sought, but never found; even the blind can feel the sun.
- The claims of believers pertaining to the powers and deeds of god are not testable, but the Sun is.
- There are no people who claim the Sun does not exist. There are, on the other hand, billions of people who either believe in a different god from that of Christianity or no god at all.
Ray claims that if the universe has been around for trillions and trillions of years, the Earth would have crumbled to dust despite gravity... he uses this as evidence that god does not need to be created because he is without beginning or end. He also abuses the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Later, Ray says that any Christian who believes in evolution has created a false idol in the shape of his own 'god'. So, you cannot be a real Christian unless you totally reject evolution according to Ray.
Ray also claims that Stephen Hawking is not an atheist and believes in god by using a few mined quotes. This is false. Hawking is an atheist or agnostic at best.
Ray claims that atheists hate god because god exists. This is false. Atheists do not hate things that do not exist. They hate the problems that religions have caused all over the world for centuries. They despise the promotion of ignorance and people who scorn reason and rational thought.
Ray's Opinion and Hatred of Evolution
What to tell your kids
Michael Shermer was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. He presumably came home one day and told his parents something like this: "Mom and Dad, I've been studying biology in college and you know what you and Pastor Bob taught about how everything was created all at once? Well, as it turns out, there's a couple of centuries' worth of evidence to show that it didn't happen that way." If you were in their place, what would you say to your kid? (Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine.)
- Michael, your parents and pastor may have encouraged you to give your heart to Jesus when you were a little boy. It is wrong to do that. That is the recipe for a false conversion. They instead should have taught you the Ten Commandments—that God considers lust to be adultery, and hatred to be murder; that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. Then the fact that Jesus paid your fine—by suffering for your sins to save you from hell—would have made sense to you. You need to repent and trust the Savior to escape God's eternal justice. When you do that, you will come to know God. Not know "about" Him, but you will know Him personally. He will transform your life and grant you the gift of everlasting life. John 14:21 is either true or it isn't: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." As you obey Him, His presence will become more real to you than the early morning sunlight.
- A theory exists out there that contradicts God's Word. It says that man wasn't made in God's image, but that we evolved, over a long period of time, from primates. If I were your parent, I would say that when you are told this, I want you to ask questions about it. I want you to be the ultimate skeptic. Don't just believe it. The entire theory stands or falls on whether or not there is proof. So ask for scientific proof.
- This is not correct. Evolution does not say that we evolved from primates. We ARE primates. Furthermore, (assuming the Christian god's existence for the sake of the argument), what is "God's Image"? Is it that of a bipedal humanoid? (If so, why the need for Jesus-as-god?) Could "created in God's image" refer not to superficial appearance, not to the physical characteristics of muscle, blood, and bone, but rather to the fundamental differences between humans and non-humans? Ray's argument doesn't even stand up within a biblically dogmatic belief system, let alone from a scientific viewpoint.
- Evolutionists say that all the animals we have now were not as we see them. They were radically different. Dinosaurs, over millions of years, became birds, fish became lizards, dogs were something else, primates evolved into human beings, etc. So, when they tell you this, ask why there are no species-to-species transitional forms in the fossil record. Why is there no evidence anywhere (in the billions of bones of dead animals) of any species becoming another species?
- Ray's misunderstanding of evolution is made apparent by requests for evidence of a Crocoduck, and other fictitious creatures possessing the characteristics of two randomly selected animals. He seems to believe that evolution requires that every set of two characteristics be present in some species, that for evolution to be true, we would need to see chickens with gills and hamsters with leaves. Given the two solutions he has allowed in his head (god and absurdity), the idea of god clearly makes more sense. However, his dishonesty or delusion hasn't allowed him to understand the nature of evolution. He does acknowledge variation within the species - the offspring of a two similar dogs may be slightly different from either of its parents - but he doesn't seem to understand that the cumulative effect of these slight variations can lead to unique lines no longer capable of naturally interbreeding - chihuahuas and great danes, for example. He doesn't understand that subsequent variations within the chihuahua line can no longer affect the great dane line, nor can subsequent variations within the great dane line affect the chihuahua line. Once two lines have reached the point where they can no longer breed, they are generally referred to as distinct species. In this case, the "transitional forms" of both a chihuahua and a great dane are every type of dog capable of interbreeding with either the chihuahua or the great dane.
- When they maintain that there are masses of fossils that prove this, don't take their word for it. Press the issue. Blind faith is another word for ignorance. Say you want facts. Ask for specific scientific evidence of species-to-species transitional forms in the fossil record. When they say that museums are full of them, don't just believe it as they do. Press the issue again. They will talk about variation (evolution) between species. That's not Darwinian evolution. It's a rabbit trail. Ask again for just one example of species-to-species evolution.
- Again, Ray has no clue what Darwinian Evolution really is, apparently imagining it to be the idea that a crocodile and a duck can create a crocoduck. He is intelligent enough to understand that a duck and a crocodile can't mate, but apparently not intelligent enough (or he is just dishonest or delusional enough) to realize that Darwinian evolution doesn't suggest that they can.
- They will try to sidetrack you by talking about moths being stuck to trees, vestigial organs, mutations, bipedalism, or mitochondrial DNA. Or they will maintain that there is something called "observed speciation," or try to dazzle you with names like Sinosauropteryx and Ambulocetur and other pseudo-intellectualisms. Then they will say that they aren't experts, and use words like "maybe," "possibly," "perhaps," "probably." When they say that science has the proof somewhere, push it. Demand evidence like your life depended on it. Tell them that you want to use your God-given brain to make a rational decision regarding evolution. You want to know if it's true. Stay open-minded. If it is true, then embrace it. If it's not, reject it.
- So if someone presents you with a word you don't understand, then they must be trying to confuse you, according to Ray. Science does not deal in proofs. To remain honest, science can only use words like those that Ray so quickly dismisses.
- If they maintain that there's just a "handful" of bones to prove it, don't believe them. There are none. They don't have any evidence anywhere for their theory. None. It's all blind faith, conjecture, and wild imagination.
- Again, even when you are shown proof, it isn't proof. This is classic Ray demand and deny. It is arguable that if god appeared to Ray and personally demonstrated that He used evolution to create all the species including humans, Ray might call god a liar.
- So, Michael, you will have a choice between the two beliefs of the origin of mankind. There is no fence to sit on. Was it evolution or were we intelligently designed by God? You can either rest in the evidence of the God you know personally, or you can turn your back on Him (and His gift of everlasting life), and blindly have faith in an unscientific theory. And why would an intelligent person do that?
Ray's views on Tiktaalik
A blogger writes to Ray: "Using your thirty years of in-depth research into the evidence for evolution, please inform [us] why Tiktaalik doesn't count as a transitional form."
- "Let's look closely at Tiktaalik, which evolutionists believe is an example of a species-to-species transitional form. We will go to the experts at Berkley. In an article published back in May of 2006, they ask the question, "What has the head of a crocodile and the gills of a fish?" (Wait a minute. Are the experts saying they have found a "Crocafish"? Why then am I so mocked by evolutionists when I ask you to show me a "Crocaduck"?)
- "This is their fishy story: "Unearthed in Arctic Canada by a team of researchers led by Neil Shubin, Edward Daeschler, and Farish Jenkins, Tiktaalik is technically a fish, complete with scales and gills—but it has the flattened head of a crocodile and unusual fins."
- "So this find is "technically a fish, complete with scales and gills." Let me repeat what the experts said, in case you missed it. Tiktaalik "is technically a fish, complete with scales and gills," and it has an unusual head that looks like a crocodile. Big deal. This has nothing at all to do with the theory of evolution or species-to-species transitional forms. (emphasis added) It's a fish, and God has created thousands of other fish with strange heads.
Ray leaves out material information in the article where the fossil IS describes as a transitional fossil. It is stated in article that, " Tiktaalik is more accurately described as a transitional form than a missing link." Transitional forms help show the evolutionary steps leading from one lineage to another by displaying characteristics of both the ancestral and the new lineage." and "The adaptations it had for this lifestyle ended up providing the stepping stones for vertebrates to climb onto dry land — but of course, Tiktaalik was not "aiming" to evolve features for land-living. Tiktaalik was simply well-adapted for its own lifestyle and later on, many of these features ended up being co-opted for a new terrestrial lifestyle."
Whether this was a deliberate or unintentional omission is unknown, but given his track record, it is questionable.
- "I can hardly believe how people will swallow anything as long as it has a big (or strange) name and is believed to be millions of years old. I wonder why atheists are the ultimate skeptics when it comes to the axiom of God, and blind believers when it comes to the theory tale of evolution.
Chapter 2: Our Conscience Testifies to a Creator and Our Need for a Savior
In this chapter, Ray tries to make people understand that the existence of the universe is undeniable absolute proof that his god exists.
"An impersonal force like evolution, if real, would have left us sitting on that bare rock, because it wouldn't care about us beyond mere survival."
- If Ray had studied evolution for 30 years as he claimed in Chapter 1, he could know that evolution is not an intelligence or conscious force; it is a process that has no goal or desires.
"But God does, and He proved it when He gave us this incredible planet to inhabit. The evidence of His existence and of His love is all around us."
- Ray fails to offer any evidence here other than the universe.
"We humans have an implicit responsibility to the One Who gave us so much. We owe Him our worship, and obedience to His Law—that is why atheists hate Him so vehemently."
- It can be argued that if humans "owe" god worship and obedience, then he owes us proof that he exists.
"Atheists want to be free from all moral or spiritual responsibilities, but their God-given conscience tells them deep down that they can't. That explains the intense reactions some of them display to the very name of God."
- The reaction to the mention of the word god is not hatred for something that doesn't exist, but the dislike for the followers of gods that do not exist and the evil done in the name of those gods.
"Humans choose to murder when God gave us the intellect to cure disease."
- This is absurd because murder existed long before we had the capacity to cure anything.
"We obviously cannot keep God's Law on our own."
- If we are created by god, who is to blame for that?
"We need a Savior, and atheists detest that fact."
- Atheists realise that humans are alone in survival and we MUST do it on our own.
"The conscience is a dilemma for the believer in evolution. He doesn't know why it exists. Neither do the experts. Why would evolution create something that tells us that it's wrong to lie, to steal, to kill, and to commit adultery? Was primitive man committing these sins before he evolved a conscience? If he wasn't, why did the conscience evolve? If he was, why did the conscience evolve?"
- This reveals that Ray has a complete misunderstanding of evolution. A number of other species have demonstrated that they have a basic conscience and a rudimentary system of morals. For example, it has been observed that chimps will exhibit what appears to be shame when they do something that violates the rules of their social group. Morals are the rules in which a social group functions, so it should be no surprise that other social animals have a conscience. God is not needed to explain the conscience.
Chapter 3: Humanity's Sin Deserves Punishment
[In an answer to an atheist], Ray claims that the Bible has made over 600 correct prophecies that have come true. This is a dubious claim as many of the 'prophecies' are not actually prophecies. They were poetry or other verses that were later claimed to be prophecy when a situation arose where it could be applied out of context (for example, Psalm 22 which was originally just poetry and later promoted to 'prophecy' when it could be (forced?) applied to the death of jesus). Some of the prophecies he mentioned are actually failed prophecies (Isaiah 7:14 for example which failed to predict the name of Jesus)
Ray also claims that Nostradamus 'stole' his prophecies from the Bible. He states that Nostradamus' prophecies are also vague and generic but the ones in the Bible are exact and precise. While the veracity of Nostradamus' predictions is dubious at best, they are far more precise than the ones in the Bible.
He claims that Matthew 24:1,2 is a prediction of the destruction of the temple in 70 C.E., but this is hardly prophecy and more of a recording of a current event as Matthew was written after 70 C.E..