Saturday, July 25, 2009

Open thread on Thunderf00t vs. Ray Comfort

A lot of people are emailing us to let us know that the big debate is up on YouTube. Here's part one, and you can follow up on the rest yourself.

I'm opening it up to comments because I know you're all dying to discuss their respective performances. I will probably contribute my own impressions later. I do have some, but I don't want this post to be simply "Russell's opinion of the debate."


  1. I thought that Thunferf00t didn't hammer in on some points as much as I'd of liked him to. For example the "painting needs a painter" thing. If I were him, I would've slowly gone through it with Ray and said "forget everything else you know about the world, paintings and painters, and using only the information you can ascertain from staring at this painting, tell me where it came from."

    Ray would either fail to do this by introducing common sense (which doesn't come from the painting so hes failed to answer the question) or he'll actually admit that this painting in no way implies there MUST'VE been a painter. Thunderf00t aluded to this a bit when he said the writing in the sand did not mean that some intelligent agent must've written it, to which Ray disagreed, but Thunderf00t didn't really stop him and clarify the matter.

    I think it was this debate/discussion where he said the thing about the John or something leaving some money in a room and when he came back it was gone? Ray said that John refused to believe someone had come in and stolen the money - John was limiting his options. To this I say John is an idiot, and thus so is Ray. John didn't know where the money went. Just because a room was locked up as tight as it could be, doesn't mean someone still can't get in, leave no evidence they were ever there, and then escape with the money. So where did the money go? The answer, just like where the universe came from, is "I don't know".

  2. @ChaosSong from previous post

    Thanks for the website suggestion, I checked it out a little. It's a lot of big words and ideas to take in. I'm interested in fundamentals though. I know you know who wrote this, can you answer it?

    …Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?… But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?… But in the intermediate region, having intermediate conditions of life, why do we not now find closely-linking intermediate varieties?

  3. Ray could have trumped T F00t in one devastating blow (and vicariously all atheists everywhere) by pulling out the irrefutable empirical evidence of the banana.

    My 'faith' in atheism is waning just thing about that. I guess his book is right.

    Thank God he has the mercy to spare us pathetic heathens who consciously choose to not follow God (though we all know he exists).

    Such a merciful Comfort is he.

    Or that could be sarcasm. Not sure.


  4. I think that many believers will be quick to jump on Thunderf00t's admission that there are a few, if not many things that he does not know. However, this is the only rational thing to say. Ray asserts that he "knows" that a god created earth, however his definition of "know" is at odds with Thunderf00t's definition. Thunderf00t is not willing to assert that he "knows" something until it has been properly proven to him, through demonstrable evidence. Ray is willing to sacrifice his definition of knowledge, to the point where he can "know" something based on substandard evidence. Atheist are not afraid to say that "we don't know", and we aren't going to make up something that sounds good just to fill in the gaps.

  5. Well, I've taken your advise and dropped out of the discussions at Ray's blog, so I'll let it out here.

    TF obviously stumbled a lot but he was able to get some points across. He stuttered a lot in the video which I expect the Christians will jump on but it's not a surprise since this is the first time he's done this type of debate and Ray immediately started out doing his schtick. He was "in the lion's den" as TF said in his follow-up.

    I wish he had taken more time to get comfortable and then get in to some specific talking points. I get the feeling that he didn't have specific things to cover when he arranged the meeting.

  6. @ Zach

    What you have there is a Darwin quote from 1859, well before the time of genetics. It turns out that all nature is in chaos, there are hundreds of millions of species of spiders, there are even more different species of beetles.

    If you watched the video this thread is about, pay attention when Tfoot starts to talk about salamanders. At first there was one species of salamander who ended up on opposite sides of a mountain range - after a significant period of time the two populations could no longer interbreed. We understand evolution much better now than Darwin ever did.

  7. err... there are hundreds of THOUSANDS of species of spiders, sorry 'bout that.

  8. Another thing that might be important to know about this Darwin quote is that he is speaking in a rhetorical fashion, he then proceeds to answer these questions himself. Posting it as an argument against Evolution is a practice known as "quote mining".

  9. Heh, I mentioned the Ring Species Salamanders of the California Central Valley Region not 5 hours ago. Must be the day for them.

    I like them especially, because there are many variations all the way up and down the valley that can interbreed with their close neighbours, but when the species close the ring, the two "ends" can't breed - they are just too different.


  10. Thunderf00t didn't do a very good job, IMO, but I think it was mostly because he wasn't prepared for the blatant and unapologetic stupidity and dishonesty coming from Comfort. He seemed to honestly believe that Comfort would talk rationally instead of just blindly asserting "goddidit" to everything.

  11. I watched it and I have to say I was fascinated, but I wished it had been more heated. Tf00t had in general pretty good arguments, but he was against someone who was hammering his fallacies all the way through, which did not help. I wished Tf00t had said about the writing in the sand and the painting analogy that it was exactly this, an analogy and in no way can be connected with anything in the universe, or indeed the universe itself. Besides, paintings and sentences have a function, while the universe, or indeed living beings like ourselves, have no defined function. What a believer does is giving a function to something/someone that is devoid of any. (What I say is of course an existentialist argument.) And why would God create the entire universe for the inhabitants of a small rock? Now I wished Tf00t had also said that evolutionism is in no way in itself atheism (although it can lead to it): many theists believe in evolution, it has also been recognized by the Catholic Church and the Church of England. I am not sure what Comfort thinks of other Christian denominations or if indeed he believes that they are "real" Christians, but that would have been interesting to see his views on that one, especially since he thinks that evolutionism is a fallacy that brings eternal damnation to its defenders.

    And that is something else I wished Tf00t had talked about more strongly: the moral angle. Faith is not moral by and for itself, nor does it bring moral behavior. Why would it bring salvation? If it was, what would be the merit of the believer, and would a God who requires faith as the only way to Heaven be a God worthy of worship, even if he'd existed?

  12. It was interesting, but while I've seen lots of comments on the YouTube site saying that Tf00t had scored a great victory, I didn't see it. To me, it was like they were speaking entirely different languages. Ray's arguments were often inane and/or empty of content, whereas Tf00t was trying to speak on a totally different philosophical level with some quite complicated arguments.

    I don't think that was the right strategy.

    Tf00t took his time in formulating his answers to questions, which is obviously a good idea in one sense - we all know how creationists like to quote-mine, so he obviously had to be very careful in what he said. However, looking at it from the creationist point of view, they will see hesitation and someone who is unsure of himself.

    Tf00t also did not explicitly state that paedophilia and rape are wrong. His argument was understandable (if you have a brain) - that such things are wrong because society deems them to be wrong, not because of some invisible sky person claiming that they are wrong. However, I would not be even remotely surprised if on Ray's blog in the near future, he points towards this hesitation as an example of atheist immorality - that we don't consider paedophilia or rape to be wrong.

    On the whole, an interesting discussion, but not one that either side can truly claim a victory on.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I felt the entire discussion was a test to see how much tolerance TF could take of RC's bull and not go off on him completely, while at the same time a test for RC to not completely spew idiotic, lunatic nonsense the entire time.

    In both respects they succeeded but, unfortunately, it did not lead to a very interesting discussion or anything that could be likened to a heated debate. This was a casual conversation between two men who do not understand each other's minds and did not want to take the risk of crossing a line in the sand, wherein the other side would claim victory. This was a stalemate of a stale conversation.

    TF flew all the way to Los Angeles for this? Honestly? That is preposterous! Matt D. is only a few states away and could have had a MUCH more interesting dialogue with RC, if only he would let him. I am not saying you shouldn't be a gentle atheist, but the person against RC should at least come packing and ready to brawl, especially someone flying THOUSANDS of miles away. I am confident Matt would have done better and called RC on his rhetoric from minute one.

    I feel that I learn something from debates, even from failed debates, but this left me frustrated. They might as well have recorded the two of them having lunch (which they did after, and Ray paid! [listen at the end]) and arguing over whether eggs are good for you or not. That would have been more entertaining.

    I do not mean to lambaste the discussion, because for what it was, it was important for SOME sort of dialogue to happen. Who knows? Perhaps TF's being so gracious will persuade RC to open himself up to more debates, maybe even someone from the ACA.

    I am simply not sure what else to say about it, because it left no impression on me, except that RC seems to be a nice guy who makes you want to tear your hair out.

    I mean, is there any point in even mincing the finer points that each brought to the table? All TF would do is give evidence for evolution or to counter something RC would say, to which RC would sideswipe him with rhetoric out of nowhere, such as, "So you believe something came from nothing" or "That's because God is perfect and Divine and our savior," to which TF would bite his tongue and continue with the discussion.

    Did TF argue RC into a stalemate, and thus can we claim he won by virtue of not letting RC get his argument across? If it makes us feel better. Though, it looked like the two were playing on different boards. Honestly, I really expected more based on all the hype.

  15. yeah I don't think he did great. Basically he wasn't familiar with Ray very much so Ray got to play his games. I wonder if he realised he said Speciation was real.

  16. Doom03, no one flew anywhere for it. TF was on his roadtrip and asked Ray, since he was going to be in the area if he would debate him.

  17. I think that in short I would say that TF wins on substance and RC wins on style, as he has polished his speeches over the years and has really nothing new to add. TF was actually thinking on the spot.

    I should add that the TF/RC discussion has coaxed VFX out of "retirement". Much hilarity will ensue.

  18. @bujin-Ironic that RC mentioned so often paedophilia and rape as examples of things that are fundamentally evil, while rape, incest and if I am not mistaken paedophilia are often condone in the Bible.

  19. @ChaosSong

    The salamander thing just sounds like a genetic mutation, they're still salamanders, I'll have to read into it. I'm talking about fossil records though. Show me proof that mankind has evolved.

    You're wrong about the Darwin quote, he does not go on to answer those questions. He simply says that future research would uncover more complete evolutionary data, which it has not. Here's a quote on it from someone smarter than me.

    That individual kinds of fossils remain recognizably the same throughout the length of their occurrence in the fossil record had been known to paleontologists long before Darwin published his Origin. Darwin himself, ...prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ...One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong.

    -N. Eldridge

  20. For my part, I stopped watching about halfway through part two. I was frustrated by TF and wanted him to go for the throat more.

    Stylistically, it wasn't the stammering that bothered me so much as the total lack of eye contact most of the time. TF spent a large amount of speaking time seeming to stare at his shoes, and it conveyed the impression that he was embarrassed to be talking. If he had looked at either Ray or the camera and smiled more, it would have conveyed -- and caused -- more confidence.

    From the point of view of the arguments, what bugged me most was that Ray's style is simple and direct, making flat out assertions. TF, on the other hand, is used to making five minute speeches about lengthy philosophical issues. He tried to do that against Ray, and wound up (1) not addressing some of the most straightforward nonsense, and (2) appearing to be answering things that Ray had not said yet.

    Early on, Ray wanted to talk about the origin of the universe. TF repeatedly said "It's an unknown" whereas Ray said: "You don't know how the universe started and I do." A response to this would not be to reiterate "It's an unknown to ME." It would be "No, you don't know. You just claim certainty because you think that you know everything."

    Ray likes to accuse atheists of being arrogant (he did several times with TF) so I think it's important to turn the tables on him early. Then make him defend his "knowledge," maybe bring up Al Qaeda as another example of people who are certain without being right.

    Instead of this, TF tried to awkwardly shift into some kind of philosophical talking point where he said "Oh I see, you are talking about how we know things" and then started to talk about epistemology. Explaining how we know things works fine in a solo video, or a lecture like Matt's. Against Ray, it's only marginally appropriate and you have to draw a direct connection between what you're saying and what he's saying. Otherwise, much of the audience may think you sound like you're dodging the real question.

  21. Continued...

    When evaluating a debate, it's important to focus on how well each side presented their own arguments, and not be caught up in filling in the gaps because you know the arguments that your side SHOULD be making. The point of a debate is to persuade a person who might not already have their mind made up.

    So when I see people say that TF "stomped" Ray, I'm not seeing it. I think that they are seeing how bad Ray's arguments really are (and of course they are!) and assuming that anyone else can see it too. But TF's job in the debate is still to have some fun with it and make every weakness from Ray look like a strength for TF. A bad argument can still be a win if it is not refuted DURING the debate.

  22. I think Thunderf00t took a bit too long getting to direct points and he was out of place trying to talk about issues with the Bible itself, but that didn't stop Ray sounding as ridiculous as always.

    The best points were these:

    Ray on forked speciation of salamanders, "That little frog's got an infertility problem"

    Thunderf00t: "Do you believe in demons?"
    Ray: "Of course"
    Thunderf00t: "Do you believe in sorcerors?"
    Ray: "Of course"

    Thunderf00t: "So who defines morality?"
    Ray: "God"
    Thunders00t: "Society plays no part in it?"
    Ray: "No"
    Thunderf00t: "... So if God says pedophelia is ok, then pedophelia is ok"
    Ray: "... I wouldn't go there"

    But perhaps the best of all--or at least, the most startling--was Ray on speciation again,
    Ray: "Yeah, they just can't interbreed. If you do that with dogs, if you keep interbreeding dogs, there comes a point of time where they're so different they won't be able to breed. That's not proof of evolution."
    Thunderf00t: "That's speciation"
    Ray: "OK, there's such a thing as speciation"

    WTF Ray, W-T-F.

  23. @Guillaume

    That's not correct at all. None of that stuff is condoned in The Bible. It may be documented, but certainly not condoned.

  24. @Zach-So, according to Biblical law, it is not possible to marry the woman you raped? it is, hence rape is certainly condone, at least tolerated, in certain circumstances. And Lot offered his daughters to be raped by a mob! Clearly rape is not seen in the Bible as the crime it is now. Later on Lot commited incest with his daughters. While he did this through drunkenness, they plot for it to happenand there was no sign of condemnation for what they did. It was circumstantial, but God did not seem to mind enough to warn them that it was unecessary and indeed criminal. It is pretty clear to me that the Bible considers incest a much lesser crime (if it considers it a crime at all) than, say, ancient Greek myths, where it brings malediction for generations and can puts entire kingdoms to misery.

  25. True enough, people in the Bible did some jacked up stuff, that only shows that man is fallible, not that God condones it. I would encourage you to read the complete story of Abraham and Lot, they made mistakes, the Bible doesn't try to hide that. Lot was saved because Abraham begged God and interceeded for him, it shows God's forgiveness, not condonement.

  26. I couldn't watch more than a couple of parts because TF wasn't getting Ray Comfort on even the simple argument "I know there's a god because of creation". It's a simple argument from ignorance and yet TF didn't handle it. I skipped toward the end and saw TF with a bible and I knew *that* wasn't good. It shouldn't even have gotten to that point.

    I hope someone makes a highlight reel of the things TF did do well.

  27. @ Zach

    Your questions can be answered by the website I gave you earlier, here are some links to your specific inquiries:

    Also take a look at this:

    Happy Studies.

  28. Zach said, "people in the Bible did some jacked up stuff, that only shows that man is fallible, not that God condones it."

    But obviously God is fallible too. You only have to go a few pages in to Genesis to see that. Not only does he create the fallible humans, which wreaks of his fallibility, but he also is surprised more than once by the fact, which suggests it wasn't part of his plan but an actual mistake.

    One of my favorite bits of genius from the bible is "The Plague on Livestock" and then "The Plague of Hail". It wasn't bad enough for God to kill all of the Pharoah's livestock but he had to kill them AGAIN with the hailstorm. Apparently God brought some of Pharoah's livestock back to life only to kill them again.

  29. @Zach-But God could intervene at any time to protect or punish Lot, and he does it pretty much arbitrarily. He does not let him die after he offered his daughters for a gang rape, but he lets his wife be incinerated just because she watched back what was happening to Sodom. Then God lets him commit incest with his daughters and does not seem to punish anybody afterwards. It just doesn't make sense on an ethical standpoint. And don't let me started on the story of Abraham and Isaac! In don't believe in God, even less so that the God of the Bible exists and that the events told of the Genesis are factual, but if such a God existed, I would not find him worthy of worship. Not because his creatures are imperfect, but because he seems to be worse.

  30. I forget the exact part, but there was a moment when Ray said something about rape NOT being a permissible behavior, (this was while TF was holding the Bible), and TF missed a golden opportunity to point out all the passages where God condones and commands rape.

    Also, in the final final part, where Ray offers to buy lunch, TF asks why couldn't God have instantly created the world, and Ray says "How should I know? Im not God!"

    I was shocked. Ray admitted he doesn't know. Meanwhile he can explains God so easily at every other turn.

    But Ray is the man who recanted his banana argument, saying it was God who gave man the knowledge to breed it.

  31. I mentioned this in comment on the video.

    Thunderf00t was too nice.

    I've done it myself, I have a family member who's a dyed-in-the-wool YEC and I do my absolute best to be as socially polite as possible about it.

    My use of language also changes. I despise how YEC's claim to "know" things when they actually just believe them.

    So terms such as "Our understanding so far" come out. They're honest. Science doesn't "know" anything, even if we do have a strong understanding of things.

    I choose to be open, friendly and honest. I avoid statements that're put out as infallible.

    The catch to this is YEC's see the willingness to reassess and unwillingness to loudly proclaim the Truth (tm copyright religious right) as some kind of weakness between the position. YEC's state with absolute conviction while reality-based folks are more pragmatically honest.

    Thunderf00t did this, and I don't blame him. There was some stuff he should've driven home.

    I've said before that, even if the idea of him representing all PEARLists would make a more moderate speaker cringe, Ray Comfort deserves a Penn Jillette armed with Richard Dawkins' knowledge of biology for a YEC debate.

    You know, someone who wouldn't just catch Ray in being a tard, but would loudly bellow that he's a motherfucker!

    Just my 2 cents. :)

  32. BathTub:

    You are right, and I knew that, especially given all of the hoopla TF is promoting over his road trip diary. I posted in haste at 3AM! O.o

  33. Yeah someone a bit more antagonistic would be good. Like AronRa.

    A 3 person team of say, Matt D, for the bible, AronRa for the Fossils, and say, maybe Dawkins for biology (or perhaps a geologist would be needed). Would be a fun to watch debate team.

  34. I expected more on the subject of evolution. This is where TF's knowledge excels. In the brief time they addressed it, you could hear/see Ray's defensiveness coming into play as a result of his lack of basic knowledge about the subject (he couldn't even describe what speciation is, for cripes sake!).

    It was also pretty obvious that Ray's brain was just not capable of grasping some of the concepts TF touched upon.

  35. Of course we should remind ourselves that Ray is not interested in actually correcting his knowledge or lack thereof on anything. His livelihood literally depends on not learning the facts. Actually knowing sufficient details about evolution, geology, cosmology, philosophy, sociology or politics would make it more difficult to talk beneficial bullshit as fluently as he does, so he avoids knowledge. He's trying to communicate profitable nonsense to mainly uneducated and uncritical consumers. If I wanted to sell stuff to uneducated Germans, I wouldn't load my language up with French terms. Ray's consumer base does not speak science or sound logic, so why should he bother to use it? Ray's consumer base speak consent and certaintism. Making sense all the way through is completely irrelevant; what matters is being confident about your assertions. Consent is best achieved if people agree to parrot slogans and learn early on that critical inquiry is a waste of time (because the answers are there, been there for millenia and won't ever change).

    I don't know if Thunderf00t tried to educate Ray or rather tried to communicate to Ray's audience. One thing I have learned over the last months is that further discussion is futile until the creationist is willing not to push the reset button every time he runs into an impasse. Ray pushes reset on about every second thing Tf says. The hope can only be that Ray's audience has some people who haven't conditioned themselves to hit reset as often. But I'm afraid Tf won't reach them with this particular talk. Not enough unblinking certainty.

  36. Heh now Ray says he said he asked if Thunderf00t's name was Native American, not African American, it's just that Thunderf00t's audio is bad!

  37. First off, Zach is a moron. I apologize in advanced if he's honestly curious about evolution and science, but his knowledge of the bible is off. God specifically orders the taking of slaves, especially the virgin girls, and of bashing in baby heads. God personally kills countless innocent, those of Noah's flood, the first born, Job's wife and children, etc etc. God also judged Lott moral and he was willing to whore out his daughters (against his will) to an angry mob. King David was his favored and he was a murdering, thieving, tyrant. To say that it shows only that man is imperfect and God doesn't condone it is beyond ignorance.

    Likewise the "BUT THEY'RE STILL SALAMANDERS" is pure dumbassery. Lions and house cats are both still cats...want to see what happens when they try to fuck? Here's a hint...unless the cat's the male he explodes.

    I'm venting a bit on Zach because, I'm disappointed my prediction came true. TF gave Comfort credibility and the ability to claim a victory. He'll be dancing to his grave swinging his genitals in everyone's face harping on this victory. So yeah...good job TF. You fell into a trap most everyone else saw a mile away...and really it's sort of inexcusable that TF wasn't more prepared knowing the sort of shit Ray pulls.'s like everyone took stupid pills today.

  38. After reading all of Zach's comments....oooooooooooooooooh I think I'm Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaly gonna hate Zach.

  39. Ing, check out Zach's blog, his second post specifically. There is some "debate" going on there, if you would like to help... And yes, you are going to hate him.

  40. I was really going to intentionally avoid his blog. If only for someone coming into another blog for the whole purpose of spamming (ie evangelizing: and yes if you were wondering I do consider street preachers pop up adds) grates my cheese and I wouldn't want to give it traffic.

  41. I don't understand all the "Thunderf00t didn't hit it home" criticisms. I thought he went very in depth with the biological leash concept, the brain chemistry thing with criminals, and human psychology.

    As for the painter analogy, I don't know what else Thunderf00t could of said to refute that. I thought his refutation was sufficient. He pointed out how Ray only concludes a painting was created by a painter based on empirical observations, so he's making an inductive argument, while with the Universe having a creator there is no such empirical observation, so therefore the analogy fails.

    I think this whole discussion brought to light on why Ray Comfort is a believer. Because we can't create matter that therefore some higher power had to be there to create matter. Yeah, it's a really fucking shitty argument, but if anything this discussion at least got to the core of why he believes. It was meant to be a probing discussion, not a debate. I think people expecting some sort of debate are the ones who were disappointed by the discussion.

  42. Continued...

    He also got Ray on the divine command theory. Ray wasn't willing to go there because he knew he dug himself a hole with his line of argument. As Thunderf00t stated in the sidebar he saw a man full of doubt. I honestly think Ray's certainty is for show.

  43. Honestly, I think TF performed in a way that was pretty much perfect for dealing with Comfort.

    Comfort thrives on antagonistic responses, so that he can retreat behind the "poor christian" facade, use the anger as an implication that there is a personal stake in the matter, and gain a 'moral victory' no matter the result.

    Because TF remained calm, collected, and simply stated the facts, as he knew them, and often pointed out the fact tat they were just that, the current facts, he blew a lot of potential wind out of Ray's sails.

    Yes, Ray is going to claim a victory, but really, there was nothing that TF could have done that Ray wouldn't have claimed as a victory. The benefit now is that to any moderate watching, Ray will look like an aggressive, angry individual, while TF will look more calm, though admittedly inexperienced.

  44. "there was nothing that TF could have done that Ray wouldn't have claimed as a victory. "

    Except not extended the offer in the first place.

  45. Though I'll admit it was difficult to dig through the stammering and general niceties, there were a number of mortal blows dealt by Thunderf00t.

    For example, when he asked whether paedophilia would be moral if Ray's god decreed it so, Ray refused to answer. I think the reason for that is that the only possible answer for Ray is "yes."

    However, it demonstrates that Ray's god is a figment of Ray's imagination. It's not Ray that is made in his god's image, it's Ray's god that is made in Ray's image. And therefore, when Ray's god steps out of what Ray thinks is moral, it makes Ray uncomfortable.

    The other killer blow was the Tod/God argument, I think. Frankly, I think when the difference was revealed to be "God is in a book," Thunderf00t could have stopped and declared victory there and then.

    I also enjoyed some of the science presented as well. The psychology of authority figures, the concept of setting hazard to maximum and so on. Also the fork speciation was cool, which Ray was totally unable to grasp (hint: it's not an infertility problem if the salamander is able to mate with thousands of nearby salamanders).

  46. I think these kinds of debates can really only help a rational atheists cause.
    As a considered atheist i can only assume that any truly rational skeptic would never be swayed by Comfort's bullshyte. However, there are perhaps a few rational believers in the audience that may hear something new to them in Thunderfoot's arguments, that allows them to investigate new avenues of skepticism.
    As for the rest..... well, who knows how the irrational of either stripe are likely to react to either of the arguments?

    So basically i am of the opinion that, if your world view is the more accurate, and you behave consistently with your world view, then all intentional publicity is good publicity.

    So, nice work Thunderfoot. Keep it up.

  47. Thunderfoot's approach was genius. He came at this as an intellectual would address any problem: with well thought-out responses and no absolutes. Rather than be on the attack, he played the perfect foil for Comfort, and many of you have admitted that here: you saw the true contrast between a thinking person and someone who is one with irrationality. Ray's responses eventually had him self-contradicting himself, looking uneducated and silly. TF continued with his calm evaluations of RC's claims, building up to killer questions that Ray could NOT answer and keep face (e.g. the pedophilia points.)

    TF made points that challenged RC's worldview. He did not just say "you're wrong and dumb and here's why." While such a tactic would have been satisfying to those of us with our minds already made up, TF's strategy will be far more effective on those who are just beginning to question things- and this is the beauty of the debate.

  48. To add to my own comment, because I had more thoughts...

    I noticed two things from Ray. Whenever Thunderf00t made any assertion, Ray immediately said "you cannot know that." As science-loving people, we know the concept of provisional truth. But we also know the card Ray is playing: Thunderf00t's knowledge is limited because mankind is limited, Ray's knowledge is infinite because his god is infinite.

    ("Yeah, whatever.")

    I think it may have been better for Thunderf00t to challenge Ray on that. After all, Ray can equally not be certain of his god, by the same rule. There is a possibility (!) that he is deluded, and that the stuff in the book is made-up.

    The other thing that Ray harped on about is the inability of mankind to "create." That is, all we do is move bits around into new arrangements.

    Well, perhaps someone should mention to Ray that the net energy of the universe is 0, and therefore it appears that his god can't create either (by the same rule).

  49. Well, this wasn't really a true debate, like they said at the beginning it was more of a one-on-one discussion.

    Ray pretty much trotted out his standard shpeel as always, and Thunderf00t offered responses based on reason as I expected.

    However I'm very glad it happened and I think it was an important step for the non-theist position, because Ray really is symbolic of the dogmatic fundamentalist, and there he is sitting down and willing to hear out the other side's position. It's a monumental concession I think.

  50. In my opinion, there are only two kinds of creationists: the ignorant and the willfully ignorant. I would imagine that at one point Ray was ignorant. But think about this; he's written somewhere near 30 books, and has several hundred items for sale on his website. Also, he has had more evidence to crush creationism(especially for someone who claims to have spent every day of the last 37 years reading the bible)in the last 3 years than the average person gets in 20.

    The only way a debate with Ray Comfort can be successful is to study his arguments, watch the way he tries to snake out of said arguments, and construct counter-arguments that paint him into a corner. Then when he contradicts himself, point out the contradiction. Even then he won't admit defeat, if you can get him to slip up or unwittingly out himself and then shine a light on that, you have a much better chance in exposing him for the fraud he is.

    Think James Randi vs James Hydrick or Peter Popoff.

  51. After trying to watch this, all i could think was "man, that the 'Attention, every atheist alive: Why aren't we ignoring Ray?' post was pretty dead-on."

    it really just makes my head hurt to see a) two people arguing from such different perspectives, especially when one of them is making faith-based assertions and the other is trying to condense volumes of research and b) the same arguments that are thoroughly countered dragged out again as if they have never been addressed.

    these debates should almost be run like the million dollar challenge- participant agrees ahead of time that if they say X Y or Z without proper citations, the debate ends.

    i love seeing a good debate when it is based on hard data, but when you allow people to argue based on faith, intuition, anecdotes, etc, there really isn't anything to debate.

  52. (Reposted from previous topic as Zach has moved himself here)

    "What makes murder wrong and homosexuality okay? I am not like many "Christians" who brew hate against gays, but I don't want my children to be subjected to the idea that it's okay to be gay."

    Ok, know what Zach. do brew hate against gays. You don't want your kids to accept gays. You want your kids to hate gays. IF you can't see the hypocrisy of saying "Gays are as bad as murderers" and then saying "but I don't' hate gay" fuck you. Seriously, don't piss on my leg and say it's raining.

    And back on topic...

    I still say that debating him in the first place and acting like he was an intellectual equal was a mistake. Really I think that the debate format, with evolution on the defensive is an error. I really just want to sit back say "ok Ray...give evidence for Creatonism" and then put it to the scrutiny a real hypothesis would have. Once you force Ray to provide his own evidence rather than going "your science is wrong" he has even less of a case. His idea is based on the bible with no physical evidence (glare towards Zach) outside it. There's no need to defend evolution when it's demonstrated that creationism is a religious idea (a bad one at that) and has no science barring.

  53. i can't believe how many people think TF did well.Sorry but he didn't.

    He was insecure, he was stuttering.

    He let Ray get away with a couple of contradictions. For instance. When TF had a good scientific explanation/argument Ray simply said "our knowledge will be laughed at in 100 years". All TF had to do was to say "oh yeah? If our knowledge is so unreliable and will be laughed at in 100 years, how can you believe in a single word from the bible? A collection of storys more than 2000 years old, many even predating Jesus."

    He let Ray get away with a many stupid assertions.
    TF: does god make snow, rainbows, thunder?
    RC: yes
    TF: ok
    All TF had to do was to point out that we have perfectly fine explanations for things like rainbows and thunder. Adding "and thats how god does it" is not only a blind assertion, it also does nothing to your argument. Its like flipping a coin 10 times and getting 5 heads - exactly what pure chance would predict and produce - and then say "and thats how god helped me get 5 heads out of 10 coin flips"

    He didn't point out once that its the theists that are making the claim. Atheits don't have to provide any explanation or reason to be an atheist at all. RAY has to make a case for theism. First question was "why are you an atheist". Instead of turning the question around, letting Ray answer ,take his arguments apart and taking control of the conversation TF just answered.

    He let Ray get away saying that not knowing something is a cop-out

    that are just some things where TF messed up

    And many many more things

  54. i could do way better than TF. if i already saw this video and could make my responses after the fact. seriously, i don't know how i would keep from pulling a Buzz Aldrin punch after a few minutes of that.

  55. In which case you wouldn't have done better than TF, and Ray Comfort would have something to cheer about as he sold the video to his flock.

  56. You know, I really don't think Ray is even a believer. I've wondered this before, but seeing this debate kind of reinforced it for me. When he can be so two-faced as so say "Sure, I believe in speciation," and keep on saying that evolution doesn't happen, I don't see an ignorant man, or even a willfully ignorant man. I see a man who knows exactly what he's doing and knows his arguments are bunk. He knows he can just grant every premise, every syllogism, and just reassert that he's right at the end.
    The thing I'm not sure of is if this makes him good for us or bad for us. I think it's bad if his opponent let's him get away with it (as TF kind of did) but good if he hits hard on "Well, there you go, you just agreed that speciation occurs, that ancient knowledge can't necessarily be trusted, etc. I rest my case." Like Hitchens says in his debates, "I've got you to say it, what more can I add?"

  57. Ray is def a believer. He's just like SOME other people and is honestly too stupid to even realize how dumb they are.

  58. Johnboy said: i can't believe how many people think TF did well.Sorry but he didn't.

    He was insecure, he was stuttering.

    Insecure? Where was he insecure? Thunderf00t even admitted in his post-thoughts that he wasn't used to doing one on one discussions like that, which is why you had the stuttering.

    Johnboy said: He let Ray get away with a couple of contradictions. For instance. When TF had a good scientific explanation/argument Ray simply said "our knowledge will be laughed at in 100 years.

    You missed what TF did get him to concede in that segment of the discussion which was this:

    THUNDERFOOT: No, they were right on certain length scales. It is a very good approximation. I mean, we're in a studio that makes fairly good approximation of flat. It's only when you start to look at it on a length scale of thousands or even just hundreds of kilometers that you start to realize that this is not a good approximation. The same thing with Newton and relativity. Newtonian mechanics makes very good approximations over certain mass ranges and such like, but it fails when you get up to relativity, the very fast, or to quantum mechanics, the very small. So this is what you normally call a paradigm shift. Do you actually think the Universe is as we perceive it?

    COMFORT: No, nothing is as we perceive it.

    Johnboy said: He let Ray get away with a many stupid assertions.
    TF: does god make snow, rainbows, thunder?
    RC: yes
    TF: ok
    All TF had to do was to point out that we have perfectly fine explanations for things like rainbows and thunder.

    Did you even listen to it? TF did point this out:

    THUNDERFOOT: Can rainbows just happen by themselves?

    COMFORT: No, God created them.

    THUNDERFOOT: Do they?

    COMFORT: Sir, I know. It says it in scripture.

    THUNDERFOOT: Um, ok, so does God create the rain as well?

    COMFORT: Yes.

    THUNDERFOOT: So it has nothing to do with moist air rising into...

    COMFORT: That's how he put it together. The genius of God's creative hand is seen throughout the whole of creation. You can see this order in creation.

    THUNDERFOOT: Lets take snow. I mean we're in California, so it's a bad place.

    COMFORT: Well two hours from here we get snow. Up in the mountains.

    THUNDERFOOT: The idea that the near impure crystalline water would fall from the air. What are the chances of that happening?

    COMFORT: I don't know.

    THUNDERFOOT: Well they do happen. It's observed to happen. So, you would agree that no one is creating the snow?

    COMFORT: God created the snow. Everyone is different. It's beautiful.

    THUNDERFOOT: So it has nothing to do with crystalization?

    COMFORT: That's what happened in the process that God used to create the snow.

    THUNDERFOOT: This is a shell game.

    COMFORT: Can you make snow?


    COMFORT: I mean from nothing?

    THUNDERFOOT: Sir, are you asking if I can violate the law of conservation of energy?

    COMFORT: Yes, that's right. We can't make anything from nothing.

    THUNDERFOOT: Yes, but again, that's just an empirical observation.

    Johnboy said: He didn't point out once that its the theists that are making the claim.

    It wasn't a debate. I think TF made this pretty clear from the beginning. Asking someone why they're an atheist is not an unfair question. I get asked it all the time and am more than happy to give people my answer.

  59. The thing that comes to mind immediately having watched that last night was at the beginning, Ray trying to win a point by saying he "knew" what created the universe whereas Thunderf00t did not. I think it would have been easy for Thunderf00t to just say along the lines of "your definition of 'know' wouldn't meet the criteria of anything that we would consider knowledge" and continue along that, backing Ray into the "I know it because the Good Book says so" and then Ray has to go on full bullshitting mode.

  60. Again the problem is treating this guy as if he has any objections that are WORTH addressing. It's the same issue with the Birthers (what is with the GOP nuts and sexual names?) people are acting like they're presenting a real arguement that needs to be reality they're quacks. Ray is the crocoduck of quacks.

    Incidentally, considering it's saurian and avian characteristics can we count Archeopteryx as a crocoduck?

  61. i made it half way through part 2. then i decided to get on with my life.

  62. I think TF did a decent job, but I agree with Martin... it probably shouldn't've happened in the first place. I stopped watching a couple of minutes in and just listened to the rest; it was much better that way. I was hoping to see the banana come up, but... at least I believe in a guy named Todd now.

  63. oh, audio, is there a place to download or did you just listen to the youtube streams? i think i could handle audio alone much better, too. it is a little awkward to look at them, but it is also just easier to listen on my mp3 layer than sitting in front of a computer.

  64. Ughh, I couldn't watch more than ten minutes. I was increasingly frustrated at Thunderfoots lack of driving a point home. I know it will never happen but I wish Matt would have been the one to debate him. Regardless of whether Matt would have "killed" Ray in a debate or not, at least he carefully explains his points and makes them clear to a 6 year old, which is what Ray needs.

  65. Really I don't think Ray needs a debate, he needs someone to give him a good personal dressing down and send him to the shame corner.

  66. @Ing

    So apparently I've whacked the proverbial hornets' nest. I guess by showing up here I'm kinda asking for it. And yes I am truly interested in learning, more about people, but, in that, by default, I learn what they believe also.

    I just enjoy the open discussion, not so much the name calling, but I can handle it. I understand that egos get heated when someone's beliefs are questioned.

    Legitimate question: Tf00t answered Ray's question about the beginning by saying that this was assuming that there was a beginning. That's a loose quote, but what is the majority atheist view on a beginning? Do most believe there was one or just that things have always been? And yes, I could probably just read some websites and watch the debate again to find the answer, but this is much more insightful...and entertaining.

  67. Er, I thought we were going to ignore Ray Comfort.....

  68. "Legitimate question: Tf00t answered Ray's question about the beginning by saying that this was assuming that there was a beginning. That's a loose quote, but what is the majority atheist view on a beginning? Do most believe there was one or just that things have always been?"

    I personally think this question probably doesn't make sense. The problem is how do you talk about what might have "existed" "before" time and space existed.

    There's no way to really do that without invoking time and space to begin with so you can't really give a sensible answer to this question.

    The intellectually honest answer is that we simply don't know what "existed before" the univers.

    I'd be surprised if Tfoot didn't address this in one or more of his videos. They're brilliant and I"m sure he's touched on this at some point in some detail.

    He has nothing to apologize for having had to wade around in The Idiot's Idiocy.


  69. We can only trace the history of the universe back to Planck Time. Beyond that, we fall back on speculation and hypothesizing. This includes postulating whether or not there might have been a "beginning" as we understand the term. The problem with God as a hypothesis is that it introduces a completely unobservable and unfalsifiable mystery into the mix, who conveniently doesn't have to obey any of the rules that that the "explanation" seeks to explain in the first place.

  70. I just enjoy the open discussion, not so much the name calling, but I can handle it. I understand that egos get heated when someone's beliefs are questioned.

    People also tend to get a little heated when they see facts utterly misrepresented for the ten millionth time. An example would be your statement in a previous comment: "Creation theory should be presented equally in public education with evolutionary theory, because they are both just that, theories. It takes faith to believe that either is true. I think the only reason popular science so adamantly oppresses intelligent design is because the acceptance of it would be to concede that there is a designer and therefore a higher being to be held accountable to."

    This is all 100%, fractally wrong. It reflects a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word "theory" in a scientific context; it states that there is such a thing as a "creation theory," when there is not; and it takes the unsupported positon that, even if it were demonstrated that the universe has a designer, that this designer would necessarily be "a higher being to be held accountable to," when there is no reason to support this outside of a previously held acceptance of Christian doctrine. Such a designer could be, for instance, the indifferent "prime mover" of Aristotle as well as anything else. Lacking any evidence to favor a Christian designer concept over any other imaginary being, it is simply absurd and arrogant to make the ridiculous assertion that scientists don't accept ID because they do not wish to be held "accountable" to a "higher power," when the real reason is that ID is in no way scientific, has not proposed any testable hypotheses, and has introduced nothing more into the discussion about origins beyond a lame series of vaguely scientific-sounding critiques of evolutionary theory (like "irreducible complexity"), all of which have been blasted to smithereens.

    So, you see, rank ignorance stated with smug confidence can bring out the worst in people, and its a very different thing from questioning someone's beliefs, as you stated in your routine attempt at projection.

    Otherwise, we enjoy the open discussion too.

  71. 7/10

    TF gave a rough performance, forgivable given his lack of debating experience. He still held his own impressively, considering Ray is a crafty veteran of talking about stuff he knows nothing about.

    Still, TF lost points due to the inanity of trying to debate Ray in the first place.

    When a person has an almost complete lack of understanding of almost everything, it's, ironically, a challenge to debate anything.

  72. Oh no it's not even that that makes me think of Zach as a smarly little oalf. I actually stopped reading Zach after that one comment as, really it's clear he's an grade A ass. Of course he thinks that he's justified in being a bully and bigot since god approves of it.
    It was his "I don't hate gays but knowledge of their existence threatens my children"
    You are far mistaken Zach if you think only personal insults can arise passion in someone. I call you names because there's no way anyone can say being gay is as morally wrong as murdering (or that there is equal justification for murder as being gay) and be treated like an equal. Don't come strutting around smug as a bug spewing bullshit and expect to be praised as a scholar.

    But if I read his creatonist statements I probably would have been even LESS kind to him.
    Zach is new so for his benefit let me explain. I am a animal science major/premed or prevet preparing to enter a pharmacy doctorate program. Unlike most people you probably talk to, I know the subject matter when it comes to life science. I have suffered and toiled through insanely difficult and in some cases poorly run classes to master this subject. And I'm even just earning the right to be a rank amateur when it comes to the science. Now with my 4+years of studying the mechanics of life, I have a firm grasp of how it works. Creatonist arguments do not hold up. Irreducible complexity means nothing in biochemistry, life's complexity follows molecular physics, and the sheer inanity and hap haphazardness of genetics is a good damn argument against an intelligent creator. Now with only my 4 years and being a neophyte I feel insulted when you claim to know how we're "mistaken" without ever cracking a text. If you want to discus evolution and biochemistry with me you better KNOW what you're talking about. If I seem arrogant on this subject, well it's cause I get really really insulted with you belittling my academic career.

    If you don't like the name calling,'s the way I deal with people face to face. If you don't like being called a moron, prove me wrong and I will admit i misjudged, currently however, I don't see any value in actually "debating" you.

    Incidentally the above is the same reason why I don't think the TF>>Comfort debate was a good idea. This whole 'controversy' is as pointless as bringing the Birther issue before the Senate....again.

  73. Firstly, I think if you are going to be critical of thunderf00t for not laying waste to RC, you should check out his penultimate posting:

    Which gives an insight into TF's experience of the event.

    Secondly, as to who "won" - if that means anything. You are probably looking at this video on TF's site where all the comments are from like minded individuals. This series is also available from Xians on YouTube and their responses are very different.

    It's worth noting the difference in comment style: on TF channel, it's "RC hasn't a clue, hasn't he heard of theory X, postulate Y that say Z". Whereas the Xian version is "TF is an asshole, I hope he burns in Hell".

    Finally, as to whether this debate should have happened. I have to say, absolutely yes. RC is a great asset - I doubt one atheist was even remotely moved by his argument - it all went back to god exists because the bible says so because god wrote it.

    On the other hand, TF came across as a thinking man, who wasn't spewing out unconsidered dogma, and who had genuine dilemmas that someone who is not sure about what they believe, could really identify with.

  74. @Zach-Not knowing what happens before "the beginning" does not make me accept whatever claim of knowledge regarding that time as true, just because it makes me feel better or whatever.

  75. I laughed hard when TF made Confort admit that the only difference between Tod and god is a book.

    To answer Zacks question: Topic of whether there was or wasn't a beginning to the universe is not an atheist idea. Sure, atheists hold beliefs but, they are based on evidence and reason; at least i hope that is how all atheists think. Being an atheist myself i don't hold a belief of there was or was not a beginning. What i can assert is that we, as a civilization, do not have sufficient evidence to conclude either side is correct. I am happy to say that I don't know because, it is the most honest position. Any other position is intellectually dishonest.

  76. This comment has been removed by the author.

  77. @U U

    Thanks for an unbiased, honest answer. I can identify with not wanting to be intellectually dishonest, I don't know how God created the world, I just believe that he did. I'm not going to tell you that the things I believe about the science of it are fact, because I don't know...and neither do you. I will, however, argue and discuss about them, because from my point of view they make sense, and like I said before, it's insightful and entertaining. I'm interested in people.

    I'm not even sure what a smarly little oalf is.

    Has evolution not been "blasted to smithereens" by scientists as well? It's a constant cycle of one side proving something and the other side refuting it. Will you say that the scientists that believe what you believe are more qualified than the scientists that believe what I believe? Findings for both sides of the argument are the product of previous acceptance. In respect to creation and evolution I think philosophy usually drives science.

  78. Zach said.. Will you say that the scientists that believe what you believe are more qualified than the scientists that believe what I believe?

    Yep absolutely. You only need to compare the signees of 'Project Steve' to the signees 'Dissent from Darwinism' to see that.

  79. I've been following the comments on both sides fence on this debate and came across this ultra-christian clip from a bible radio show:

    I'd love to hear the host call in on the AE show.

  80. "
    I'm not even sure what a smarly little oalf is. "

    Well what you don't know could fill a planetarium.

  81. @ Zach

    Considering your "scientists" lie, steal and cheat (KENT!) and our's actually do fucking science. Yes we are more credible. I think you need a class in what "science" is.

    Creationist Scientist: "Thinking I'm a scientist doesn't make me one...this fancy lab coat does!"

  82. This wasn't a debate. From the start, TF stated he wanted to open a dialogue to try and understand RC's position, and in turn, have RC understand his.

    A confrontational dialectic is not a dialogue, and does not lead to any meaningful exchange. The process ends up with the goal of scoring points and 'stomping' people.

    TF didn't fly out to see RC. He was traveling across the States and making posts on his 'Wonder' channel. We was going to end up in RC's neck of the woods and asked RC if he'd like to have a discussion.

    The biggest problem seems to be the constant reframing of the TF/RC discussion as a debate. TF didn't go in planning to debate RC, if he had I would think he would have done better.

    As it is, within the context of the stated objectives, I think TF did far better than RC. He actually tried to explain how various things work, seemed to take the time to try and put together complex packets of information into smaller, easier to understand bits for Ray.

    Did that cause him to stutter and look off into the distance while thinking? Yep. But he was sincere in trying to express his view, where as RC was more interested in the rhetoric.

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