Atheism / Comfort / Kookiness / religion · May 10, 2007

Comfort and Cameron’s Bait and Switch

Wow, it was as bad as I had feared.

A few of the Fresno Atheists got together tonight to watch the Comfort / Cameron vs Rational Response debate. I set up streaming video on Scott’s wide screen HDTV and we added some chips with our quips as we watched the debate in life-size. We were promised a scientific proof of God without resorting to the Bible. With apologies to Ghostbusters, “We were ready to believe you.”

And we were disappointed. Kirk and Ray presented us with a “Bait and Switch” scam followed by a telemarketing sales script.

And I do mean “sales script”. Have you ever ordered something from a fast food restaurant that they were not expecting? “Just the meat and lettuce, no bun.” The cashier gets a stunned look and stumbles to a halt as he tries to shift gears to deal with your order, because it is off of his nice, orderly sales script. Ray lives and dies by his evangelism script, and he uses a bait and switch to get to it.

We were promised 13 minutes of science, we instead got the same tired old, “designed items must have a designer” circular argument. Ray then declares this is “scientific” proof that there is a creator. He’s done, touchdown! at merely six and a half minutes in too! Since Ray assumes that he’s made his point, he then uses his tautologically proven God (who he implicitly assumes is the Christian god) to justify human conscious and Biblical law. (Why not Allah? Why not Vishnu? When Bashir brings this up Comfort misses the point completely.)

He broke his promise. He didn’t satisfy a proof for god, and he started using the Christian (biblical) God and the Commandments (from the Christian Bible) to get back onto his “Way of the Master” evangelical script. He uses the special part of the script that evangelizes to Atheists, winning us over by telling us how dumb we are. Repeatedly.

Brian and Kelly were good, and brought up several good points that really hit home. When Ray and Kirk were asked “Who created God” they attempted to answer that he was outside of time and didn’t need a creator, since he’s eternal. Asked why the universe couldn’t be eternal put Kirk and Ray into the “deer in the headlights” zone. “Would you like to respond to that?” “uh, No?” That was priceless.

My biggest wish was that Brian and Kelly were more polished. They’ll get that with experience, I’m sure. Neither needed a script, and even though they were off topic they responded well. Oh, and Kelly, your intelligence and ability came through loud and clear in your words. It’s obvious that you are also a free spirit. May I suggest, however, that the dress was… distracting?

My last gripe was with Kirk’s conversion from big bad Atheist to Christian. Remember what I said about Christian Credentials last month? I said that getting your sole credibility from a dramatic transformation from evil to good is a cliché. The deeper the depth of your transformation, the more “Christian Salvation” points you gather – and what is deeper than a mean ol’ Atheist?

I’ll probably talk more on this later. Certainly it was fun to watch the God Squad promise us all a new Lexis and then send us away driving used Hugos. Brian was right – the moderator should have called the debate to an end at the six and a half minute mark for violation of the rules. But since Comfort broke the rules it was up to Rational Response to respond to the religious claims.

As Scott pointed out in our group, by being a little dishonest Kirk and Ray succeeded in evangelizing to their largest audience ever. And they successfully hit their target audience – Other Christians. Their intent wasn’t to convert Atheists, it was instead to put a mark in the “Win” column and prevent the bleeding away of Christians from the one true faith.

Way to go team! You’re Number 1!

(Oh, one other thing. Does anyone have the whole debate – parts near the end are missing, the whole thing is chopped up. The whole debate is 90 minutes! Will I have to buy it all on DVD?)