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Friday, June 27, 2008

With Egg On His Face

Have you noticed the quotes in my header image? It's a response to Ray Comfort's header image. In it, he lists three quotes:

"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognise, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views. " -- Albert Einstein

"Atheism is so senseless" -- Isaac Newton

"It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us." -- Stephen Hawking
EDIT (6-27-08): The first quote of my header image used to be from Einstein: "I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly."

Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking of course do not believe in God. Or, let me rephrase that. They do not believe in a personal God (e.g. the Christian God). They believe in Spinoza's God. Or at least I can say so for Albert Einstein. For Stephen Hawking, I couldn't say if he would claim the same "belief."

But what these men's beliefs are is not what is at issue here. Ray Comfort is willfully ignorant. He made a post today which shows that he is definitely willfully ignorant and when he removed it, one must conclude that he is also dishonest. Don't bother searching for this post, he has deleted it. But I took a screenshot for proof:

Lore Weaver said..."The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish." -- Einstein

I never knew that Einstein believed that the Bible was "the of Word of God." I knew that be was a believer in God's existence (see quote on Blog-header), but this quote is very encouraging. The Scriptures sure were an honourable product of human weakness. God chose to inspire the weakness of men to write His Word to humanity. Albert naturally reacted to it as I did before my conversion. This reaction is explained in Scripture: "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Reread the quote posted and then read his analysis of it. Einstein addresses the "word God"; he does not address the "Word of God" as Ray quotes in his analysis. The quote is clearly stating that Einstein believed God to be a childish concept which was the embodiment of human weaknesses. Ray, though, is willfully ignorant. His mind is closed off to reason and rationality. He seeks proof of God in everything he sees. He sees a banana and says it is proof of God given its design, while ignoring the coconut. He sees this quote and all he takes in is "God is for me" and "Bible is honourable."

He posted this at 10:39am CST on June 26, 2008. I read it then on his site and decided I would email him about it when I got back home. By the time I arrived home at 7pm, it was deleted.

I was quite shocked by this. I thought Ray was ignorant and perhaps an idiot (n: "an utterly foolish or senseless person. "), but I did not think he was dishonest. This is because, unlike Ray, I do not think people are wicked, heinous, evil people. He deleted this, though, probably after someone pointed it out, and he posted no retraction. He posts no clarifications. He posts no acknowledgments that he's wrong. He removes not the misleading quote from Einstein from his header. Ray Comfort is dishonest.

Ray thought he was pretty clever in his analysis to point out the quote of Einstein in his header and use it to conclude that he "was a believer in God's existence." Well, allow me to point to my header. It is clear from this quote (which, like Ray, I have taken completely out of context) that Ray agrees with me and believes that if you believe such fantastic stories as Noah's Ark, a Virgin Birth, Jesus magic, zombies, or Jesus flying up to heaven, you have surrendered your intellectual dignity. Let's be clear of what Ray means: dignity is the "quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect." Therefore, as you can see from his quote in my header, if you believe such fantastic stories your capacity to think, reason, know, and understand ("intellect") lacks the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect. Ray Comfort disbelieves the Bible. Or, perhaps, this is just an admission on his part that he has no intellectual dignity.

Ray Comfort is one of the worst offenders today of quote mining. Albert Einstein does not define God as a magical man who sits in a cloud, granting wishes, sending fires to California to give the marrying homosexual a glimpse of Hell, created the universe 6,000 years ago, created man when he got lonely, wrote a book when he felt ambitious, had a son whom he lost to a tragedy, etc etc. Einstein's definition of God is nature itself and the beauty of the universe and the laws which govern it. By that definition, I also believe in God and its majesty. However, I do not use a term so as to avoid being quote mined by the likes of Ray Comfort.

As a concluding thought, here, I do not think Ray mined these quotes himself. I believe Ray has never read anything Einstein wrote, never read anything Hawking wrote, never read anything Darwin wrote, and never read anything Newton wrote. I believe someone else has mined the quotes and Ray simply lacks the reason, rationality, and intellectual fortitude to look the stuff of himself. It is also obvious, by his caricaturing of evolution that he is not a well read or well informed man. I assure you, had he read any of these men's works, he would be and I doubt he could sully their good name by perverting their writing.

I want to make a note, though, that he has Newton's sentiments spot on! I will give you the full context of it (and also for Ray, as he's probably never read it either):

Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowels) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore legs or two wings or two arms on the shoulders & two legs on the hips one on either side & no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juices with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so truly shaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eyes of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to believe that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therefore to be feared.
And... so? It does not matter that Newton believed in the Christian God anymore than it matters that Hawking disbelieves in him and that Einstein calls the very notion of the Christian God "childish." It is a fallacious argument from authority.

The question remains... why does Ray take these mined quotes and also search frantically, as he did in the deleted post, to find some intellectual who he can distort to agree with him? Why do any of the creationists do? It because they are insecure and feel they have to build themselves up with esteemed intellectuals so as to bolster their case.

I wouldn't care if every other person in the world believed in the Christian God anymore than I would care if every other person in the world believed the Sun orbits the Earth. It doesn't change the fact that we live in a heliocentric Solar System and that the Christian God doesn't exist. If he thinks he is going to convince any intelligent atheist to suddenly start believing in God because Einstein or Hawking do, he seriously misunderstands what it is to be a rational individual.


Clostridiophile said...

"I was quite shocked by this. I thought Ray was ignorant and perhaps an idiot (n: "an utterly foolish or senseless person. "), but I did not think he was dishonest."

DI, loved the post! Ray is completely dishonest. I showed much earlier in the year that Ray took a quote (or rather quote-mine) from Charles Darwin that made him sound like he rejected his own theory. In defense of Ray, he is an idiot, so he probably didn't check the actual quote, but just mined it...however, this doesn't get him off the hook because he knew it was a quote-mine. In any case, when I went to Darwin's writings online and searched sections of the quote, it turned out that the quote was merged together from two completely unrelated letters, and when in context had nothing at all to do with what Ray was claiming. He is a douche-bag. I have noticed that religious leaders are extremely dishonest and employ ends-justify-the-means type of reasoning. Lying for Jesus, as it were. They demonize scientists that are openly atheistic or whose works and words counter faith claims, and try to fluff up their, well, fluff, with smart people who "believe". Unfortunately, this is not a good reason to believe in something. As you point out, arguments from authority should not sway us one way or another. Anyways, nice work here. Keep it up! We need people such as yourself to bring a rational voice to a nutty world.

Lore_Weaver said...

Thanks for the link, and ya, I pwn'd that chakkin' n00b. I walshed his flackk hard.

(apologies for the l33t slang).

It's tough for Ray to turn a blind eye to obvious parts of any debate. Not only does he feel the need to argue salvation through one true God, but it's just that, only his God and no one elses. For Ray's arguments to ring true, he must turn away from so much already completed theological work.

I was hoping he'd take me up on my digital debate...

I was sooooo going to use the wookie defense.

Fight dumb with dumber, I always say! hahaha