"God's wind" and Ray Comfort's modern parable

Ray Comfort, of banana and soda can fame, is not just an evangelist who turns Atheists into Christians by insulting them, he is also a prolific author who has written books intended to convert Atheists to Christianity by insulting them. These books include: “God Doesn't Believe in Atheists: Proof That the Atheist Doesn't Exist”, “How to Make an Atheist Back-Slide” and “Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution: Letters to an Atheist”. Comfort's latest soon-to-be-available book is published by the Christian publishing house Bridge-Logos, and is kindly titled, “The Atheist Delusion”.

Insults and not so subtle jabs seem to be Ray Comfort's standard MO – which were clearly displayed during his recent debate. It doesn't seem to matter how many degrees are under your belt; if you do not hold a belief in the Christian god then Comfort will surely treat you like an idiot. I'm fairly sure that Comfort would be willing to apply the same sort of ridicule to doctors Hector Avalos and Bart D. Ehrman.

Ray Comfort has given us all an advanced look at a few pages from “The Atheist Delusion” in an article called “Three Wise Fools”, which you can read in full on the Christian Worldview Network website.

This article uses almost a thousand words (including footnotes) to retell a favorite Christian fallacy. I've seen this argument fairly often, but I've never seen it labeled – so I will call this the “God's wind” argument, which is descriptive not only of the argument, but what I think of it.

In the “God's wind” argument a nonbeliever supposedly says, “I won't believe in something I can't see!” And the believer then pounces with, “You can't see the wind, but you know it's there!” The nonbeliever then is supposed to fall defeated in the dust as the believer struts off in triumph.

Comfort cleverly reworks this argument by telling a parable of three men who are told about “the miracle of electricity” for the first time. These men “who considered that they were very wise” (heh heh – get the subtle biblical reference?) were shown an electric lamp and a user's manual by a representative from Edison Electric. Of course the lamp merely needed to be turned on, but the men in Comfort's modern parable spent all their time nit picking the manual and refusing to “believe” in electricity. Finally they get up in disgust and leave. From the article:
"And they expect us to believe in this invisible force called 'electricity . . . .' That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard! I don't know about you, but I'm getting out of here."

His two friends heartily agreed. Electricity didn't exist. It seemed to make sense to them that the reason it didn't exist was because they believed that The Owner's Manual was filled with mistakes.

The three men stepped out of the room into the darkness, still wise in their own eyes. They even decided to form a club that was devoted to telling other people that electricity didn't exist.
The whole of Comfort's parable is fallacious – an elaborate strawman argument set up by Comfort so that he can knock it down with a single punch to its grassy jaw. During the process, Comfort manages to work in little hateful jabs at nonbelievers.

In reality nonbelievers like myself are told that God exists, that the bible is true, and that this supernatural world is mixed in with the natural. So of course we do ask for the proof for these assertions, and we are unsatisfied when we are given “belief” as an answer. We also disagree that belief is the same thing as trust. Belief is synonymous with faith, not trust! Trust requires evidence.

How can I trust that wind exists when I can't see it? Because I can detect it through other means. I can feel it in my hair and across my skin. I can measure its speed and direction and combined with the proper media I can watch it stir up waves or dust storms. I don't need to “believe” or “have faith” in the wind. Instead I can accept that what I feel or measure is a natural phenomenon, as opposed to supernatural.

As an Electrical Engineer, I'm in a somewhat unique position that I can measure electricity in ways that most people are only passing familiar. I can measure electric potential, current flow and how it reacts to resistance, I can measure or calculate power. I design complex devices based on the things that scientists have learned about electricity through experimentation. I play with electricity as a hobby, causing it to run in little paths at my command in the small “brain” of my little robotic toys.

And you play with electricity too. This “miracle of electricity” is what you are using now, harnessed under your command and doing your will as you scroll down my blog before wandering off to another part of the Internet with your next mouse click. You don't require “faith” that your monitor will continue to work second by second, you only need to accept that it works by natural principles that people like myself understand and use to your benefit. If you want to learn more about these principles, you need only to study. It's somewhat difficult, but millions of people have degrees in electrical engineering, so it can't be that hard. I'll be glad to give you some pointers.

I would love to see proof of God, but instead what I get are illogical tautologies such as “All created things require a creator.” True believers point at bits of nature and say, “There's your proof!” But similar believers who lived centuries ago pointed out lightning and thunder as “proof” just as willingly.

We've harnessed the lightning, and we create our own thunder. What next will we do with your “proof” of God?

7 comments:

Gerard said...

Pretty ironic use of Parable.

Hmm...let's see, substitute Evolution for Electricity and you have Comfort.

QrazyQat said...

written books intended to convert Atheists to Christianity by insulting them.

I realise this is sarcasm, but it's good to point out that what Comfort and similar writers are trying to do is stop Cristians from backsliding -- or doing much questioning. To do this he insults others so his audience -- Christians who are questioning the ideas of faith -- can see themselves as superior folk as long as they don't stray. Carrot and stick -- superior if you stay and will be insulted if they leave.

Alyx said...

In that stupid "parable" of his, Comfort just presented his audience with a pretty darn good example of scientific method and principle! A means to test the phenomenon in question (the lamp), and a detailed guide to how it works (the user's manual).

It is the creationists who would be the ones not turning on the lamp, and arguing that the "theory" of electricity went against God's Design somehow, and would nit-pick the user's manual for all the ways it contradicted "God's Word."

Yet again Ray Comfort mistakes his posterior region for head apparel.

Calladus said...

qrazyqat,
I've said it before - Christianity needs enemies in order to survive. If they had no enemies at all, they would be required to invent them.

The technique is also used by cults, as a sort of "shunning" of those who fall out of favor. You create a shunned group, and then assign fallen members to that group. Jehovah's Witnesses do this.

Calladus said...

alyx,

Yes, this is the biggest problem when Christians claim to have "proof". If they were to say that they believed in God purely by faith, then they win - argument over. I can't disprove faith.

But when they claim to have proof, as Comfort has done, then I say "where"?

It used to be that the religious could point to all sorts of natural phenomena as "proof", but science has been narrowing that gap. This is why Creationism (Creation "science" or "Intelligent Design") is so important to believers. Evolutionary biology is difficult to understand at best, so Creationists are able to say things that aren't true, or are poorly worded, that may take days of research to disprove.

They count on that.

And they do this out of fear - fear that if chinks appear in their armor that their whole facade will fall apart. It leads them to contemplate their mortality - which most people have never seriously confronted. Their eternal life is in peril, not of Hell, but of nonexistence.

It's no wonder that they fight an unpleasant truth in order to hang onto a pleasant fantasy.

YoCuzwaasup said...

Dear Sir,

I don't know you, but I am commanded to love you. It is out of our mouth that our words condemn us or set us free. I agree in what you said in the article..."How can I trust that wind exists when I can't see it? Because I can detect it through other means. I can feel it in my hair and across my skin. I can measure its speed and direction and combined with the proper media I can watch it stir up waves or dust storms. I don't need to “believe” or “have faith” in the wind. Instead I can accept that what I feel or measure is a natural phenomenon, as opposed to supernatural."

I also believe what it say's in the Bible ... Romans 1; 18-32 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest- (clear or obvious to the eye or mind) in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes (Wind, love, the 5 senses) are clearly seen- (manifest), being understood by the things that are made, (What we see of don't see around us) even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (What are you going to say in the day we ALL stand before Him)? Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man (Blind leading blind)—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature (man or sites like these) rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God (The very one who created you) gave them up (said, O.K. if you don't want to obey, believe what you want) to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Do you see homosexuality today? I personally took care of and buried 4 A.I.D.S. patience’s and cried).
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality (Adultery, different sex partners. sex with children, sex with animals, etc). Wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

This is the world we live in today. School shootings, Divorce, sexual sins, and #1... dis-belief in God.
I don't hate you. I love you. If I stepped on you toes (What you like to like to interpret as insult's) then the Jewdo-Christian thing to do is say "I'm sorry". It's just my love for you to see you not neglect "The sacrifice made for you by the Son of God"

Let me know if you "detect this through those other means". The soul God gave you. (Are you feeling your flesh (skin) wrestle within you)? That should acknowledge the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. The Bible says. His sheep hear his voice. You’re hearing a voice, no doubt you are. Are you hearing His, or … his-s? (HISS)

You don't have to go to hell.
Accept Messiah

Calladus said...

Hi Cuz, thanks for stopping by.

I find your comment to be lacking in several ways - too much so to go into detail here, so I've answered it in a blog posting.