and with a lot of false bravado…
Normally, I wouldn’t tackle anything by Ray Comfort because that’s infringing on the territory of Pharyngula. Comfort’s claim to fame is an internet video in which he says that an agriculturally produced and modified banana fits perfectly into a human hand and is thus proof of God. Wait, hold on. I have a banana in my fridge that doesn’t fit in my hand very well and its stem breaks off if you pull on it to expose the fruit’s edible interior. I don’t know what to make of that. Is the banana evolved or is yours truly just a freak of nature?
Regardless, Ray feels so well educated in the ins and outs of modern biology (and astrophysics for that matter), that he decided to publish a book with a very innocent and not all insulting or condescending title of You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think. And the subtitle is not much better. Now, I’m a skeptic but I like to consider myself open minded so why not take a look at the first two pages of his evidence and see how he intends to dispel over a century and a half of scientific research and development in one book starting with page one.
We begin with a horrifying misquote from Stephen Hawking in which he’s obviously replying to a question about the creation of the universe and is being taken out of context. Not exactly the best first impression, but let’s continue on to his first assertion and I do mean assertion.
While some believers in evolution deny that evolution is a random process, if it’s not planned, then it’s planned. And if it is planned then there is Someone doing the planning.
This follows his statement that atheists believe that the universe came into being at random. So if we follow his train of thought, because atheists believe that the universe appeared at random, it must mean that evolution is a random process. This is a textbook example of a fallacy known as a non sequtur. If something happens at random, whatever happens next doesn’t necessarily have to be random too. But then, Comfort asserts that because something is non-random, it must mean that there’s a higher power in charge. And that’s a fallacy called proof by assertion. Can’t see any real evidence of anything so far, just semantics.
Next, Comfort turns to the Book of Genesis and without even the slightest attempt to attach the Biblical to the scientific, declares that without a 14.7 psi atmosphere, the first man couldn’t take a breath and would’ve suffocated. Considering that we can breathe in a 14.8 psi atmosphere, a 14.6 psi one and a wide range of other pressures, his point seems to be rather moot. But that’s not the only grossly mistaken claim made here.
… It was fortunate the air was made up of 78.09% nitrogen and 20.95% oxygen — the exact mixture that his blood and lungs needed to survive.
Note to Ray. The atmosphere was around 4.6 billion years before humans evolved so the whole thing would happen the other way around. Nevertheless, what’s being done here is a creationist tactic meant to overwhelm the audience with the illusion of precision in nature. Of course if he really wanted to make things seem even more complex, he could’ve mentioned more than just oxygen and nitrogen. There are other constituents in our atmosphere like argon (0.93%) and a greenhouse gas that makes our planet nice and warm — carbon dioxide (0.038%). And we could go even further into the exact amount of other trace gases. Now doesn’t that sound complex? The only snag here is that the atmospheric mixture doesn’t to be anywhere that precise and in the planet’s history, there have been many changes to it, yet life still thrived.
Comfort then claims that it’s an amazing coincidence that a woman evolved at the same time as the first man. Well, considering the fact that new species evolve in groups, it’s actually not a coincidence at all. In fact, it’s kind of a given. And when we continue reading, we see this really disturbing desecration of physics.
It was also amazing that gravity existed at the time of their evolution. Without it, the first man and his mate would’ve spun off into the infinitude of space.
Wow… Just wow. I think this is 6th grade physics here. Gravity existed because there was a huge ball of rock under their feet otherwise known as a planet. Gravity does not evolve as Ray’s book claims in the next sentence. It doesn’t need to. It’s a physical force. Just like in the examples we reviewed above, Ray takes everything that happens and applies it backwards. He holds up what we see around us today, begs the question of how everything must’ve evolved at just the right time for today’s world all at the same time and then declares that it must be God so atheists in their insistence that things happened on their own must be blinded with their ideologies if they refuse to view the world and its history backwards.
In just two pages, it seems that virtually every sentence is filled with backwards logic, disregard for basic fact and contempt of people who’d like to think about the world from past to modern day, saying that their “faith” is stronger than his. Oh and there’s no evidence here to discuss or consider. None at all. Just proof by assertion fallacies as far as the eye can see. If these are just the first two pages, I can only imagine what the rest of this volume holds.