Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ray Comfort vs. Thunderf00t

Ooh! It's finally here! Awhile ago, the youtube user Thunderf00t (most well known for his Why do people laugh at creationists? series and smackdowns of VenomfangX), who I'll call TF for the sake of brevity, took up Ray Comfort's (the banana is proof of God and Peanut Butter disproves evolution guy) challenge to a debate. After Ray initially balked and wanted $10,000 for it, he eventually gave in. And now the discussion is online.

*Gets out the a bottle of liquor and prepares for the stupid fest*

Right off the bat, Ray shoves his foot in his mouth:
Why the name Thunderf00t? I mean, is it African-American?
WTF? Does he mean “Native American”?

When TF says it came from his online capture-the-flag games which he used Thunderf00t as his character name, Ray immediately poisons the well saying
I thought it was because you liked stomping on Christians
Yep. Rational discussion right there.

Only 51 seconds in and there's 9 10 minute videos like this?

*Takes a shot*

At 2:12 in, Ray starts making his unsubstantiated claims:
I know [what happened in the beginning]. You don't know. I know what was in the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” You don't know. I do.
By 7:03, Ray's chastising TF for our generation thinking they're right. As if that doesn't apply to his claims as well.

9:42 comes along and Ray makes it pretty clear that he's not listening and is just hammering his talking points. He keeps beating on about how this universe is a creation, even after TF has pointed out that that's an assumption that Ray has not supported. But Ray just keeps pounding it with his strawman of “nothing” creating something. Yet TF has never once made this claim.

10:16: Ray claims that TF's position is “all these things [that] happened by sheer accident, that they just formed by themselves...”

As if that's not bad enough, Ray's claiming it's “intellectually dishonest” to admit “we just don't know.” Since when is admitting the limits of knowledge “intellectually dishonest”?!

PART 2

1:00 Ray's claiming DNA is “language” and using the writing in the sand analogy. TF points out that another form of the argument Ray's using is “paintings have painters....”. TF points out that there's a reason Ray can claim this (which Ray calls “common sense”). TF points out that he can make this claim because we've seen people paint paintings. Ray counters that he'd never need to see someone actually paint to know paintings were painted because he'd know it just wouldn't “happen by itself.” (Sounds like what I said watching another video with Ray.)

TF asks if “rainbows just happened by themselves.”

Ray's response is priceless: “No. God created them. *smug smile* I know. Says it in scripture.” Ray also claims that God creates the rain as well.

When confronted with a completely naturalistic explanation for rain, Ray then cops out, effectively saying, “Well God still did it.” Even snow: Goddidit.

By 4:05, TF finally gets to the point that Ray is beating around: “So you're asking, can I violate the Law of Conservation of Energy?”

Ray says of course he can't: “You can't make anything from nothing.” Back to beating on his assumption of “nothing.”

Ray then attempts to say that, no matter what, TF can't know there's no evidence for God because you'd have to know everything to know that, of course failing to realize that since he doesn't have omniscience either, this applies to his claim of knowledge as well. But that's ok. Because the Bible tells him everything.

Finally, at 6:40, Ray is finally able to get to his next talking point after spending several minutes trying to change the topic before TF can make a full answer (Gish Gallop much?). His next claim: Man is different than animal because we are a “moral” creature.

TF's response is to point out that many of our morals are dependent on just how society will permit it and whether or not a behavior will cause the extinction of the civilization. Simple explanation, no need for additional causes.

PART 3

0:43 – Ray quickly changes the subject again without bothering to address TF's points. Next subject: Where do people go when they die.

Again, TF calls Ray on the assumption that they “go” anywhere. Ray dances around invoking the “soul” and then equivocates it with “life” with absolutely no basis for doing so.

At 2:40 Ray invokes an argumentum ad populum saying that since most people believe in afterlives, that should be the default state of assumption.

4:30, Ray's claiming that his interpretation of the scriptures must be right because “it's clear to [him].”

At 5:38, Ray makes a really weird claim.
I know God in the same way I know my wife. It's an intimate relation, relationship with her.
Woah there buddy. Don't need to know what goes on behind closed doors.

PART 4

Most of this section is TF talking about how, from a psychological standpoint, people are tuned to follow an “alpha figure” and when they do, it gives them happiness and comfort via a placebo effect. This was in response to Ray's claiming that, because he woke up one night and acceptance of God suddenly dawned on him and made him feel good, that God must be real.

PART 5

Ray leads this part off asking if TF is using this to imply that people are easily deceived. TF replies that he does, and Ray would have to agree with this by saying everyone not following his religion are being deceived by other religions.

TF admits that even he can be easily deceived as well, but reiterates his point that people will believe and act in ways that don't necessarily follow logic (such as the Milgram experiment) when given authority figure.

At 8:18 TF asks a question that surprised me, because it's answer should have been so expected coming from Ray. TF asks “What other definition is there for “morality” [besides what benefits and creates a stable society]?”

Ray instantly claims that TF has no absolute morality (although in part 4, TF stated clear as day that he did because there are absolute limits on actions that will not create the extinction of a society, thus making it obvious again, that Ray isn't listening and just hammering his points) and that he does have another, better definition: The 10 Commandments.

PART 6

Ray's first question in this section is if TF had to choose whether to save his “rotten neighbor” or his dog from drowning, who would he save? TF answers that he would save the dog because he doesn't feel any empathy for someone who's his enemy.

I think a better answer would be “define 'rotten'.”

Next topic: abortion.

Ray immediately tries to get TF to admit that “life” starts at conception. TF tries to remind him that it's not self viable.

TF then asks, whether or not a zygote that develops into a fetus without a head, it would still have the soul that's so important to Ray. Ray gives an honestly incredulous, “I don't know. I have no idea.” But before even considering the question, he goes, “But it's dead.” His reasoning? “If it hasn't got a head, it's dead.”

TF tries to explain it, but Ray quickly ducks away hiding behind the Bible saying “the Bible speaks of a woman being 'with child' again and again. It doesn't say with fetus or with cells.” Thus, anything (unless without a head) is a child because the Bible doesn't contain any mention of anything else (not that they'd have known about it 2000 years ago).

TF goes back to the point that there's no distinguishable difference between the good feelings one gets following a “phantasmal” authority figure as Ray does following his God. TF asks how Ray can distinguish between the two since the results are apparently identical. Instead of answering, Ray goes on a rant about idolatry and drags Dawins' understanding of God into it. Not letting him get away with it, TF drags Ray back to it and Ray responds with the usual, “Bible says so.”

At that point, they start discussing how to conclude which leads us to

PART 7

They go back to the topic at the end of the last one on distinguishing “mental teddy bears” vs God. Ray's only answer is that it's in the Bible, so God is real so he's following that to get eternal life.

TF asks if eternal life would really be a blessing or a curse. Ray immediately answers it would be the greatest of blessings because “We live in a fallen creation. Everything is futile. We're about to die, every one of us. Look in the mirror, things are degenerating. The future is bleak...”

TF interrupts and says that the future is bright because of the accumulation of knowledge. This is an interesting split between the two which shows where their focus lies. To Ray, he's only good because God says so and he wants eternal life for himself. He doesn't seem to genuinely care about others, but only does so because God tells him to, so he fakes it. TF meanwhile, actually cares about the improvement of the species. The question of what's in it for him after he dies doesn't even seem to cross his mind.

Again, it's clear who has more mettle.

TF then points out that the retarding of knowledge Ray does by sowing disinformation about evolution is what gets him so irate.

Ray claims that evolution is “just a theory” and that there's “no species to species transitions in the fossil record.”

Oh the willful ignorance.

*Takes a shot*

Ray then vacillates about “kinds” and how he has no reason to believe in evolution because the Bible doesn't say so. As much as I've debated and watched Creationists, it still amazes me that they obsess themselves with “Truth”, yet can't be bothered to pull their heads out of the Bible long enough to look at reality.

At 5:11, Ray says something amazing
You can tie me in knots with evolution, but I don't believe it.
Translation: All the facts of the world could be against me, but I won't believe it.

This comes right down to the core of Creationist belief. Evidence and reality aren't important to them. This is why we must keep these people out of schools. They're dangerous to knowledge.

Ray then equivocates about TF's “faith in the word of man.” No mention of all the evidence. It can all be lumped together as “faith” and then compared to the “faith” of having absolutely no evidence at all.

TF goes on to give a functional definition of speciation so Ray can't wiggle out of it anymore. He then gives an example of some salamanders that are genetically isolated by a mountain range who can no longer inter breed. Ray claims it's “not evolution” and that the salamanders “have an infertility problem.”

Wut?

Ray even admits that you can breed dogs far enough apart that they can't interbreed, but that has nothing to do with evolution.

*headdesk*

TF points out that that is speciation and Ray even admits it. But then demands something “not reproducing after its own kind.” Whatever the hell a “kind” is.

Ray admits that, at that point, “you need time.”

TF explains that, given geological time that's not a problem. Ray keeps on with the equivocating about belief and when TF reminds him that a four and a half billion year old Earth is what the evidence supports, Ray just responds with, “So you believe.”

“Yep. Damn the evidence. If I can just pretend it's 'faith' or 'belief' and drag them down to my playing field, I can win.”

It really is futile to argue with these people (for the sake of convincing them. I think it's perfectly reasonable to debate them to show others just how intellectually challenged they are). As the saying goes, “Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

PART 8

To start off this part, Ray invokes Pascal's Wager. TF's response is one of the cleverest I've seen. He points out the premise is that the consequence is infinitely bad, such that we should believe in God even if it's the slightest chance that he might actually exist.

TF poses another such scenario: That of a rhino running around at the speed of light. If someone gets hit, relativistic effects would be such that they'd be stuck in that moment of agony for eternity.

Ray's response is that “the chance of that happening are totally unreasonable.”

Way to miss the analogy, Ray.

He can't actually consider how unlikely his God is because “this creation screams to me there's a Creator.”

But as we've already seen, Ray hasn't looked around enough to actually make an honest statement about whether it's possible to explain “creation” without a “Creator.”

Since Ray keeps hammering on about the Bible, at 6:17, TF pulls out his bible, stuck full of little blue sticky tags.

PART 9

Ray says that it's impossible to understand the Bible without the holy spirit. In other words, you have to accept it as true without question, before you can see it's truth. I'd think that an all powerful God would be able to come up with a better method of communication than that.

At one point, Ray acknowledges that there's a lot of things in the Bible he doesn't understand. Yet he continues to have unyielding faith in it? And he claims to preach it?

CONCLUSION

Overall, I don't think Ray makes a single salient point without having to resort to “the Bible says so.” Given he has to rely on this every few minutes, I think it's safe to say that Thunderf00t completely humiliated him. Of course, those that think such answers are acceptable will disagree.

EDIT: Looks like I was right. VenomfangX is back and adding his worthless, hypocritical, .02 Willing to bet my comment doesn't make it through "moderation".

14 comments:

Techskeptic said...

I have no idea how you say through that.

thunderfoot is a monotone bore (but I like what he says) and Ray is just batshit crazy.

I suspect the only real conversation to have with ray is textural criticism. I'd like to see bart ehrman and Ray do a show. I might be able to watch that.

I couldnt make it past "african american".

garth2 said...

i always cringe when people hear the "life begins at conception" thing and don't say "What, from a dead sperm and egg?"

Thanks for the summary though, good stuff.

Jon Voisey said...

thunderfoot is a monotone bore

I guess you've never taken any upper level physics classes. They can be much, much worse.

Raul said...

I love thunderfoot'ss voice.

Arkonbey said...

Overall, I don't think Ray makes a single salient point without having to resort to “the Bible says so.”

I hope you weren't expecting anything else.

Anebo said...

In this summary, you constantly point out how Ray made an idiot of himself--you never say that Thunderfoot made him look like an idiot. SO I think we have to consider the whole series a failure (as entertaining as Thunderfoot's Why People laugh at Creationists is).

Like one of the other responders, I couldn't watch very much of it.

Jon Voisey said...

You're exactly right. TF didn't make Ray look bad. Every time he set up the argument to do so, Ray completely missed the point and went off on some tangent that was equally stupid, but not what TF was getting at.

If anything, it was a good study in the evasiveness in answering questions and cognitive dissonance Creationists exhibit.

Anonymous said...

Just hit them with the fact that the Vatican supports evolution, 'do you know the will of God better than the Pope?' Link> http://alturl.com/djzv

The fact that people only treat others 'nicely' to be rewarded is disturbing. Why not be nice so you aren't a jerk?

Anebo said...

Ray Comfort and his crowd think the Pope is the Antichrist (literally--Luther says so), so you won't get much traction that way.

VenDexter said...

"I know God in the same way I know my wife. It's an intimate relation, relationship with her.

Woah there buddy. Don't need to know what goes on behind closed doors."

Well at least when he's screaming that all too infamous phrase during their "intimate relation" he's doesn't have to worry about screaming out the wrong name.

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VenDexter said...

"I know God in the same way I know my wife. It's an intimate relation, relationship with her.

Woah there buddy. Don't need to know what goes on behind closed doors."

Well at least when he's screaming that all too infamous phrase during their "intimate relation" he's doesn't have to worry about screaming out the wrong name.

Anebo said...

In this summary, you constantly point out how Ray made an idiot of himself--you never say that Thunderfoot made him look like an idiot. SO I think we have to consider the whole series a failure (as entertaining as Thunderfoot's Why People laugh at Creationists is).

Like one of the other responders, I couldn't watch very much of it.

garth2 said...

i always cringe when people hear the "life begins at conception" thing and don't say "What, from a dead sperm and egg?"

Thanks for the summary though, good stuff.