Ray Comfort's Atheist Starter Kit

From the sidebar of Ray Comfort's blog at raycomfortfood.blogspot.com comes his satirical guide to being an atheist: "If you are a beginner atheist, there's a belief system you should embrace and a language you should learn, or you will find yourself in trouble. Here are ten suggestions for the novice: 1. Whenever you are presented with credible evidence for God's existence, call it a "straw man argument," or "circular reasoning." If something is quoted from somewhere, label it "quote mining." 2. When a Christian says that creation proves that there is a Creator, dismiss such common sense by saying "That's just the old watchmaker argument." 3. When you hear that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose (the pleasures of Heaven, and the endurance of Hell) by obeying the Gospel, say "That's just the old 'Pascal wager.'" 4. You can also deal with the "whoever looks on a woman to lust for her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart," by saying that there is no evidence that Jesus existed. None. 5. Believe that the Bible is full of mistakes, and actually says things like the world is flat. Do not read it for yourself. That is a big mistake. Instead, read, believe, and imitate Richard Dawkins. Learn and practice the use of big words. "Megalo-maniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully" is a good phrase to learn. 6. Say that you were once a genuine Christian, and that you found it to be false. (The cool thing about being an atheist is that you can lie through your teeth, because you believe that are no moral absolutes.) Additionally, if a Christian points out that this is impossible (simply due to the very definition of Christianity as one who knows the Lord), just reply "That's the 'no true Scotsman fallacy.'" PLEASE NOTE: It cannot be overly emphasized how learning and using these little phrases can help you feel secure in dismissing common sense. 7. Believe that nothing is 100% certain, except the theory of Darwinian evolution. Do not question it. Believe with all of your heart that there is credible scientific evidence for species-to-species transitional forms. When you make any argument, pat yourself on the back by concluding with "Man, are you busted!" That will make you feel good about yourself. 8. Deal with the threat of eternal punishment by saying that you don't believe in the existence of Hell. Then convince yourself that because you don't believe in something, it therefore doesn't exist. Don't follow that logic onto a railway line and an oncoming train. 9. Blame Christianity for the atrocities of the Roman Catholic church--when it tortured Christians through the Spanish Inquisition, imprisoned Galileo for his beliefs, or when it murdered Moslems in the Crusades. 10. Finally, keep in fellowship with other like-minded atheists who believe as you believe, and encourage each other in your beliefs. Build up your faith. Never doubt for a moment. Remember, the key to atheism is to be unreasonable. Fall back on that when you feel threatened. Think shallow, and keep telling yourself that you are intelligent. Remember, an atheist is someone who pretends there is no God."
Atheist Answer: 

I was looking for a piece of Way of the Master propaganda suitable for analysis, to apply real criticism to the real thing rather than just dealing with the occasional WOTM quotes people use. I found what I wanted on Comfort's own blog, which while not officially WOTM turf is certainly by the same author.

This piece flabbergasted me with its bare-faced sophistry. It is, in the main, an attempt to characterise legitimate objections to apologetic arguments as mindless talking points which believers can safely ignore. I'll be handling each one in turn, by number.

Introduction> There is no atheist belief. Comfort denounces the belief that there is no god, but most atheists don't have this. They simply don't believe in any gods, and are of the opinion that there are none.

1> Calling a credible argument these things is deceitful, but if you're calling a spade a spade...
- A straw man argument misrepresents the opposing view to make it easier to rebut, e.g. "Atheists have no morals."
- Circular reasoning relies on the conclusion in the premise, e.g. "Creation must have had a creator." (Response: what if it isn't a creation?)
- Quote mining is finding quotes which, out of context, appear to say something the author didn't. There's a quote by Darwin where he asks how the eye could possibly have evolved, and it's often used to say that he didn't know. In fact the very next thing he wrote was the answer to his own question.

2> The "Creator" argument is the watchmaker argument, but that would be fine if the watchmaker argument were sound. The real problem is that it illegitimately expands our reaction to complex and obviously manmade objects to all complex objects. It is the artificiality of a watch that tells us it's created, not its complexity.

3> Pascal's wager presents the same choice as the gain-loss argument. The trouble is that if you consider the possibility that other gods exist besides the Christian one, you realise you may have everything to lose by choosing Christianity or any other religion.

4> "Adultery in the heart" is Comfort's way of making sure anyone with working eyes and hormones has to admit to sinning. If sexual attraction without action is only a sin to the Christian god, it's important to determine whether that specific god exists. Therefore it matters whether Jesus not only existed, but performed miracles and came back to life as the son of God would do. That's the part that's lacking in evidence.

- Well, the Bible is full of mistakes. Many are listed here. That doesn't disqualify the whole thing automatically, but it does mean it's not inerrant. It is worth reading regardless, whether or not you believe it.
- Dawkins did say those things about the God of the Old Testament in The God Delusion, and much more besides in that sentence alone. It's meant to be funny (it always gets laughter and applause from an audience), but every word of the takedown is supported by at least one action taken by God in those old books.

6> "No true Scotsman" means taking those who do not fit your image of your own group and finding excuses to exclude them. Comfort's definition of a Christian doesn't seem to match the usual one (scroll down to the Noun section).
- If the Lord doesn't exist, then it's impossible to know Him and according to Comfort there's no such thing as a genuine Christian.

7> Atheists question evolution all the time. The difference from faith is that evidence for evolution answers those questions. Here is an inventory of hundreds of species-to-species transitional species for which there is substantial credible evidence.

8> If there is no Hell, there is no eternal punishment. If there is a Hell, it could be anybody's Hell, and have any arbitrary entry requirements (say, eating with a fork). We have no way of knowing whether we're already on the train tracks, and that's how it is for our whole lives. So it's not worth worrying about.

9> Sorry, but this really is "no true Scotsman". Catholicism was Christianity in Europe until the 17th century and the advent of Protestantism and Lutheranism. With few exceptions, all Christians were Catholics, or branded heretics. If the true Christians in Europe weren't the Catholics, who were they?

- It's doubt, unbelief and lack of faith that makes people atheists in the first place. We don't abandon all that as soon as we find a new name for ourselves. We all entertain the possibility that we might be wrong, and to some extent we look for that one obvious argument for gods that we missed. That's partly why I write for this site. On behalf of all atheists, bring it on.
- This is Comfort's true opinion of atheists: that we're all theists in denial. Of course, denying something isn't the same as being in denial. Sometimes, a person will deny something because it really isn't true.

- SmartLX


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The King

Hi. I'm still here. I haven't left. Time is drawing short. The end is near. Haven't you heard of the tension in the Middle East. Haven't you experienced the falling economic crisis? These are warning signs of what is to come I've written these in my Word, the Holy Bible. I'm coming soon and my reward is with me for those who repent and believe, but judgment is for those who disbelieve.

-Jesus, God's Son.

Social Contract Video

In reference to your Social Contract video.
Social Contract? There was a contract instituted back when God came on the scene. The Bible is clear He has written his moral code...his laws on the hearts of men. We are without excuse. This social contract was between God and man, however man broke this contract and therefore consequences arose. Good point about the social contract, however you forget to acknowledge God in this matter. We are the ones that need to repair this contract with Him. The only way to do this IS through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You're taking a huge risk not believing in the one that provided life for you. Oh, I fear for you. What are you going to do when you begin to hear the hoof beats of the King? It'll be too late. Jesus is the King that will rule. Look at the economic crisis today, the middle east situation, Russia(army from the North), China (army from the east--200 million man army), Israel, Muslims...etc. These are foretold in the Bible. Signs pointing to the soon return of Jesus.

Preaching again

It would have been better to put that reply under the social contract video itself, Beeman, but you're not actually replying to any of Jake's points any more than you're addressing mine above. You're just preaching. So are you, Anonymous.

The arguments you're both making here are Pascal's Wager and the prophecy argument, and the hyperlinks in this sentence lead to my responses to each.

In short, you're trying to make me frightened of something I don't believe exists, when what you need to do first is make me believe.