Tuesday 29 March 2011

The Comfort zone of a fundagelical Christian

Well, it happened. Ray Comfort was on the Atheist Experience last Sunday. I listened to the podcast, and it was one of the fastest hours I can remember.

I didn't know what to expect, although I thought it likely, given the professionalism of the Atheist Experience hosts, that it would be a civilized affair. Ray is a decent chap, that's clear, though plainly misguided and lacking intellectual rigour when it comes to matters of science — especially biology. At one point he started in with his argument about male and female evolving separately; that he still proposes this as a refutation of evolution demonstrates that he has minimal grasp of what the theory of evolution actually states, and that he's willfully ignoring patient explanations offered to him in the past (P. Z. Myers', for example).

One problem the Axp has with a discussion like this, is that an hour is nowhere near long enough to address all the various nonsense that Ray continues to come out with over the years. Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser did a good job, but the show could easily have been three times as long and just as packed.

If I have reservations, these would be about the wider effect of a match like this. Though it was hugely entertaining, the show let Ray appear as pleasant but deluded — not as a raving fundagelical who actively promotes a hellfire and brimstone version of Christianity that he wants everyone else to adopt. Which of these portrayals is more likely to motivate active opposition? When two members of the Rational Response Squad debated Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron the latter were shown up as creationist loons. When Ray Comfort and Thunderf00t took part in a video-recorded discussion, Ray came over as sincere but disastrously wrong. And here on the Axp he seemed to be a regular guy with some wonky ideas about evolution and nature.

Whether this show motivates opposition to Ray's wrong-headed views or not, it's necessary to challenge such views wherever and whenever they threaten to impinge on people's rights, and on that score the Axp hosts continue to be supremely competent.