James Kirk Wall responds to Ray Comfort’s faith attack on science

It’s not difficult to defeat a creationist in argumentation who claims that their position is founded on science and reason. You don’t need to be a scientist or get into the weeds of DNA. All you need is to remember are the basic fundamentals of biology that you likely learned in 5th grade, but might have forgotten. As we get older, it’s always good to take a refresher course here and there. Repetition in learning is good for the adult just as it’s good for the child.

This article is a response to Ray Comfort's recent attack on evolutionary science in his Evolution vs God video and will be divided into the following sections:
Understanding breeds, species and kinds
What is the job of science?
Biblical Genesis and Noah’s flood are juvenile explanations of the natural world
Proof of spouse does not equate to proof of god
Conclusion

Understanding breeds, species and kinds

Ray Comfort in his video Evolution vs God demands that a “kind” of species evolves into a different “kind” of species within a lifetime or science is just faith. So the argument isn’t against the fact that we can significantly alter breeds of animals as we have with dogs. The argument isn’t against all the fossil and DNA evidence. The argument isn’t against observing the formation of a new species as has been observed with a type of fish. The argument is against a species of one kind (such as dog) evolving into a species of a different kind (such as cat). And if that cannot be magically demonstrated this instance, evolution is no more founded on evidence than religious scripture according to Ray.

Fortunately science is not altered by someone not understanding that many small changes over a large amount of time translates to very big changes. We must not allow shameless ignorance to equate science with theology. We cannot observe a canine evolving into a new classification in our lifetime as the process takes far too long. There are many mysteries we’ve uncovered without direct observation.

We cannot observe a new star becoming a middle aged star in our lifetime. But as a star converts hydrogen to helium over time, we don’t have to. Through dissecting light and finding the composition of a star, we can measure the age.

A lemur is classified as a Strepsirrhini. An African monkey is classified as a Catarrhini. Both of these sub classifications roll up to Primate. Dogs and cats belong to different sub classifications that roll up to Carnivora. When a separation of breeds continues to the point where they can no longer biologically mate with each other (or when the possibility of that happening becomes extremely low) they are then classified as different species. When a separation of species continues to the point where significant changes in classification attributes occur, a different classification is created. It’s not that hard to understand. Small changes accumulate and eventually lead to big changes.

What is the difference between a cat and a dog which leads to different classifications or what Ray Comfort refers to as different “kinds?” A cat has retractable claws. Dogs are pack animals. Cats are carnivores while dogs are omnivores. Cats can climb trees while dogs cannot. Dogs run down their pray, cats stalk. There are physical, dietary and behavioral differences between the two. They both have attributes that are common to a specific classification.

If a group of cats or dogs was to become isolated and over a large amount of time and evolved to lose certain attributes related to its’ specific classification or gain certain attributes that were outside of its’ specific classification, a new classification would be created. A dog would not evolve into a cat nor would a cat evolve into a dog. They would eventually evolve into a new subcategory of Carnivora. And enough changes to a subcategory would lead to changes of higher categories.

What is the job of science?

Ray Comfort demands that science prove evolution is true. That’s not the job of science. According to modern science, evolution is the best explanation we have for what we observe in the natural world. The ownership is not with science to provide absolute proof, the ownership is on Ray to come up with a better explanation.

Evolution vs. Biblical Genesis and Noah’s Flood, what is the best possible explanation?
For hundreds of millions of years the only life on earth was single celled organisms according to fossil records. – Evolution wins!
The fossil record demonstrates a progression of species complexity over time without exception. – Evolution wins!
Unique breeds and species exist on every continent and group of islands. - Evolution wins!
Humans use the very mechanics of evolution to alter species of plants and animals for the purposes of domestication and food production. – Evolution wins!

Are science and theology both based on faith as Ray argues? No, there is an enormous fundamental difference between science and religion. Here’s an example. A long time ago Aristotle made a guess that flies spontaneously generated from dung. The man who wrote Biblical Genesis guessed that man was generated from dirt. Both were wrong, but only one claim constitutes as science.

In the early days of science guesses on how things worked were often wrong and even laughable by what we know today. But even the worst guesses served as a starting point. Other guesses came into play and observation and experiment pushed the best guesses to the top. Technology further pushed the standards and capabilities of observation and experiment placing the top guesses into an exclusive club called scientific theories.

So why does Aristotle’s guess constitute as science while the author of Biblical Genesis does not? In science nothing is considered absolute truth. There is no ultimate authority, nothing is beyond challenge and there is no finish line to the obtainment of additional knowledge. Aristotle’s guess was recognized as such and eventually was replaced by better guesses. This is science. When someone claims that a piece of knowledge came from god and is undisputable divine truth; that is religion.

Believing in things that have absolutely no supporting evidence is faith. Believing in a personal relationship with an all-powerful jealous man god who sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself (but only if you believe it) because someone bit a piece of fruit is faith. Believing that good will eventually triumph over evil is also faith. So faith in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on what you have faith in. To try and equate beliefs not founded on evidence with knowledge is faith in deception.

Creationists often claim that there are no transitional fossils. The truth is that there is nothing but transitional fossils. The human skull may look quite different in 200,000 years. Here’s a few of those transitional fossils that don’t exist according to those who cover their eyes and ears to the evidence.

hominids

• (A) Pan troglodytes, chimpanzee, modern
• (B) Australopithecus africanus, STS 5, 2.6 My
• (C) Australopithecus africanus, STS 71, 2.5 My
• (D) Homo habilis, KNM-ER 1813, 1.9 My
• (E) Homo habilis, OH24, 1.8 My
• (F) Homo rudolfensis, KNM-ER 1470, 1.8 My
• (G) Homo erectus, Dmanisi cranium D2700, 1.75 My
• (H) Homo ergaster (early H. erectus), KNM-ER 3733, 1.75 My
• (I) Homo heidelbergensis, "Rhodesia man," 300,000 - 125,000 y
• (J) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, La Ferrassie 1, 70,000 y
• (K) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, La Chappelle-aux-Saints, 60,000 y
• (L) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, Le Moustier, 45,000 y
• (M) Homo sapiens sapiens, Cro-Magnon I, 30,000 y
• (N) Homo sapiens sapiens, modern
(http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/hominids.html)

Biblical Genesis and Noah’s flood are juvenile explanations of the natural world

Enough about evolution, let’s take a closer look at what Ray Comfort claims is a better explanation for species diversity. The notion that god made all the animals and humans within days from each other and there was a great flood that wiped out everything except one family of humans and two of every species of animal. Besides the whole dirt and rib thing, what additional Biblical absurdities can we discover from a close examination of Noah’s flood? The story about a perfect god who realized he screwed up and needed to kill everybody, except for the fish.

A common criticism of the great flood story was the impossibility of all the animals to get into the boat. How did the lemurs get there from Madagascar? How did the kangaroos get there from Australia? Creationists believe they have solved this riddle by claiming there was one continent, and that the global flood caused the continents to divide. But that doesn’t solve this one of many particular problems, it only pushes it back.

(Note: There was at one time a supercontinent, but that was hundreds of millions of years ago. The separation of the once supercontinent provides great evidence for evolution as when species were separated by water they eventually took different evolutionary paths. If there was no evolution we’d find only common species on all the continents. Instead we find unique species on each continent.)

In the Biblical story of Noah the earth eventually dries out and the ark is able to settle on dry land. Nowhere is it mentioned that Noah sailed throughout the world dropping off each breed and species of animal into the area and environment that it was best suited for. How did the lemurs get back to Madagascar? How did the kangaroos get back to Australia?

And this only scratches the surface on the absurdity. Noah is said to be 600 years old when he sets sail. When Noah finally got off the boat what did he do? He makes burnt offerings of every clean beast and fowl which smelled really good according to god. If there are only two of each animal and you make animal sacrifices…… But anyway, god then makes the rainbow to promise he won’t drown everybody again. But we know how rainbows are made. They have a natural explanation. We no longer believe in gods that make lightning, but we’re supposed to still believe in gods that make rainbows?

And then things get really strange. Noah planted a vineyard. He makes wine, gets drunk and passes out. His son Ham sees him passed out naked. You would think that after a flood which killed countless men, women and children, seeing Noah’s naughty bits wouldn’t be a headliner. But it is. Ham was not supposed to look. He should have walked backwards to cover things up. He didn’t do this. So what happens? Canaan becomes a slave. Who’s Canaan? He’s Ham’s son. Did he see Noah naked? No! And this is the kind of madness we’re supposed to embrace while abandoning science and reason according to creationists.

Proof of spouse does not equate to proof of god

In one of his interviews, Ray is asked how he knows god is real. Ray asks the man how he knows his wife is real and then answers the question for him. You know your wife is real because you have a personal relationship with your wife “you know her”. I know god is real because I have a personal relationship with him “I know him”. There’s only one problem with Ray’s argument. It’s absurd.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That was a famous expression of Carl Sagan. My wife is real is an ordinary claim. It can be confirmed with driver’s license, marriage certificate, and a few interviews with friends and family. In other words, the ordinary claim can be confirmed with ordinary evidence.

I have a personal relationship with the all-powerful man god specifically mentioned in this book is an extraordinary claim. If the claim of a personal relationship, “I know him,” constituted as proof of existence, imagine the consequences.

All the following would exist:
Every delusion validated by personal relationship claims of every inmate in the insane asylum would be real.
I “know” the tooth fairy. I put my tooth under the pillow at night, in the morning there is money. Tooth fairy is real.
I “know” Santa Claus. I’ve written him letters and talked to him over the phone. I’ve even seen him in person and have pictures of us together. Santa Claus is real.
Same things with the Wizard of Oz, aliens, Big Foot, gremlins, goblins, angels, demons, Kraken, Zeus, Isis, Pikachu, TMNT, Bugs Bunny and of course Sponge Bob. According to Ray Comfort, a personal relationship equates to proof. But what if personal relationships with supernatural fictional characters completely contradicted the personal relationships of other people? What if someone had a personal relationship with reality as in empirical evidence and reason? Under Ray’s logic that would mean reality is true.

Leave it to a creationist to provide a completely worthless argument that could apply to any situation. Unlike in the time of Aristotle, we now know spontaneous generation from dung is not the best explanation for flies, but it still serves as the best explanation for creationist rhetoric such as crockoduck and banana attacks on evolution.

Conclusion

Ray Comfort demands proof from science that is strongly supported by evidence but demands nothing from the babblings of ancient men claiming to speak for god. According to Ray, if some ignorant bigot claimed to speak for god thousands of years ago, it must be true. If someone has a personal relationship with their delusion, what other evidence do we need? That of course is misguided and childish faith and any attempt to equate such nonsense with modern science is absolutely shameful.

-James Kirk Wall

References:

Richard Feynman explains the scientific method

Ray Comfort’s Evolution vs. God

The Talk Origins Archive, 29 Evidences for Macroevolution
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/hominids.html

NOVA, Becoming Human

Richard Dawkins demonstrates the evolution of the eye

Banfield Pet Hospital, Differences between Cats and Dogs
http://www.banfield.com/Pet-Owners/Pet-Health/Pet-Health-Articles/Differences-Between-Cats-and-Dogs

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