Our New Home

We have a new home, come join us at WeAreSMRT (We Are Skeptical Minds & Rational Thinkers)

The Forum

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Let's Say That Ray's Right . . .

Let's say, just for a moment, that Ray is right when he says that we professing atheists aren't really atheists at all. Let's say that we're really all just pretending, for whatever reason, that God does not exist. Let's say that we all really do believe that God exists -- in fact, that we know that God exists, in the same sense that Ray himself knows it.

What would that change?

After all, we'd still have all the evil and suffering that we have in the world, which contradicts the existence of a perfectly loving God.

We'd still have all the doctrinal confusion and dispute that we have, which contradicts the existence of a God who wishes to communicate with us.

We'd still have evolution and the old earth, which contradicts the existence of a God who divinely authored the Bible and rendered it inerrant.

And most importantly, we'd still have the immutable, unassailable laws of logic, which contradicts the existence of any sort of theistic God whatsoever.

I know of only two atheistic arguments, the arguments from nonbelief and from reasonable nonbelief, which are based on the existence of actual atheists. Take those two away, and you'd still have several dozen perfectly sound arguments for God's nonexistence -- and about six billion people unwilling to acknowledge them, instead of three billion. These arguments are sound, and would remain so even if I, personally, were to repudiate them.

Brute facts are not subject to human whim. General relativity is now commonly accepted as a proven fact, but prior to 1905, the percentage of the human race who acknowledged it was zero. At no point between then and now did planets alter their orbits based on this new model of physics. Brute facts are what they are. God does not exist, regardless of how many people believe otherwise -- that's between three and four billion people, I would estimate, but if Ray Comfort wants to make it six and a half billion, fine. It doesn't change a thing.

The evidence itself doesn't care, you see. It doesn't need an audience; it is what it is. We can acknowledge the evidence with our hearts and mouths, or with our mouths alone, or not at all -- it doesn't matter one iota.

God does not exist. If I believe otherwise, then I am wrong. It's that simple.


  1. "Let's say, just for a moment, that Ray is right..."

    Nah sorry, you lost me there; run it by me one more time.

  2. Read the sentence again, this time with your brain switched off. That should help.

  3. What would be a proper thing to say here? Oh, right, If Ray is right, then God help us all (or more precisely God won't help us if Ray is right)

  4. In modern English to pretend is usually taken to mean to make a false claim, however the falsity of the claim was not originally implicit in the word itself. It can mean simply to claim. If I pretend that God does not exist, it simply means that I profess that God does not exist. This usage of the word pretend is uncommon now, but it is possible that Ray got the idea from a sermon by some old English theologian.

  5. Ah, that's better. It all makes sense now. I just need to reply to this Nigerian Prince with my bank deals and I'll get right back to you...

  6. *details

    [damn having to work during my Raytractor hours]

    John Doyle,

    I think we've all tried, at some point, to rationalize the things that Ray says. But, eventually, everyone comes to the same conclusion; he's a lying sack of shit who gets off on antagonizing people to feed his persecution complex.

  7. If Atheists really are pretending that God doesn't exist, while knowing in their "Heart of Hearts" (Whatever the deuce that means) that he does, then it gives Ray a reason to believe that

    1) His method of evangelism really is the most effective one, and

    B) Probably another reason for him to call atheists names like "dummy," "People who don't use their God-given brains," and "Fools." Because that's an all important part of Way of the Master Ministries.

  8. By the way, for those who care to know, Ray's taking that verse out of Context.

    The Bible clearly says that we have the law written on our hearts. Which means, unless we have some sort of mental illness, we have a conscience. That does NOT mean that everyone knows that God exists. In fact, the first two chapters of Romans are all about HOW people forgot about God and don't believe in him.

  9. expat

    I couldn't agree more. When the number of posts to his blog start trailing off, Ray just posts more stuff which is deliberately provocative.

  10. Rob,

    What makes you interpret the verse in that particular way? (Feel free to point me to a website or a book.)

  11. Romans 2
    14 Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. 15 They demonstrate that God's law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.

    These verses show that every one, even people who don't know God, generally have some sense of right and wrong. Where does this verse say that they who don't have the written law still know God exists?

    Now, there is a verse at the beginning of Romans that says this

    Romans 1:20

    From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.

    What does this verse say? It says that people don't have an excuse for not knowing God, but it also presupposes that people genuinely don't know God.

    And when you put that back into the rest of Romans chapters 1 and 2, you find the story of how Men went away from God and forgot about him.

    There are verses in the Bible that say "No one will be excused for not knowing God, because there's plenty out there to show he's there." There are no verses that say "Every one has an inherent knowledge that God exists."

  12. Rob

    How you been?

    I have a question about The Law. Whenever someone brings up the more archaic OT laws such as stoning homosexuals, mixing milk and meat, wearing 2 different types of cloths, you know the rest...the response is "We (Christians) are no longer under the Law due to Christ's sacrifice".

    If this is true, why present the Law as Ray does to show the people how they are supposedly guilty according to God's Law? Weren't the 10 commandments just a small part of some 600 other commandments? So, does the Law still apply or not? I'm confused on the rational.

    Also, didn't Jesus say 'I'm come not abolish the Law, but to uphold every last letter, verily, verily, verily, verily life is but a dream' or something to that effect?

    Could you please clear this up for me when you have a chance. Thanks.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Dave,
    you said:
    "Brute facts are not subject to human whim."

    I disagree with this, but perhaps you could define "brute fact".

    I like to ask the questions:
    A.) Does language (in the form of science and logic) apply to the word as it is in itself.
    B.) Does language apply to our experience of the world? As this case, as Kant would suggest, we cannot know the world as it is in itself, we can only know it insofar as we have the sensibility to do so.

    I get the feeling that what you’re suggesting is that “brute facts” are absolute facts, and are true in and of themselves. However this is nonsense and in no way provable; at least so far as I have been able to find or come up with. Perhaps you could explain what you mean in this sense?

    Instead what I’d suggest is that language, (in the form above) exists and is used relative to “B”. Relativity in this sense is merely a way of talking about our experience of the world. Further, science and logic are nothing more then a language who’s goal is creating a homogenous way of speaking about the world in such a way that we all agree relative to our own experiences. Whether or not that experience is the same is in some sense irrelevant, what’s important is that it works at attaining what ever it is we aim to attain.

    In this way, we speak in ways “that work”, so truth is “what works” by way of belief. Truth, as a result, is not absolute, it changes over time. Change occurs because “better” forms of thought and communication arise; where better isn’t “more true” or “more accurate”, but what serves as a better tool to attain whatever needs we may be trying to serve.

    I could assert for the sake of argument; what we call the objective world (relative to human experience) has never changed, our experience of it has always remained the same. What’s changed is the way we talk about it. In this way, we don’t discover how things operate per se, we simply come up with new ways of talking about what was there to experience [the senses] all along.

    Along this same line of thought is religious language, which is neither true nor untrue, nor does it even matter. What’s really important is; is it consistent with experience, and does it “work”.

    My basic argument here is that, language doesn’t mirror nature; it mirrors experience.

  15. Rob,



    By "brute facts" I mean facts that are not contingent upon any particular state of affairs. The laws of logic and mathematics are brute facts -- as far, so far as we know, the laws of physics. As for your ideas about language, I won't address those because, quite frankly, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

  16. Pardon me, "as far" above should read "as are."

  17. Rob,

    I'm curious how you would explain the verses just prior to 1:20 in Romans:

    18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.

  18. @ NaFa:

    Not bad. I had a much needed hiatus from doing this kind of thing. Got myself a job. Got classes going. Things are good. ^_^

    Ray uses the law because of what Romans says about the Law.

    Things like
    20 For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it. (Romans 3:20)

    Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "Do not covet." (Romans 7:7)

    The law, in the short run, was part of God's covenant with the Hebrews, and part of the way that they had access to him. In the long run, the law served as a reminder that no matter how hard we try, we can't be perfect.

    The Law does include a LOT more than just the big 10. The dietary laws, and such. Most of the laws outside of the 10 were actually more like buffer laws so that it would be easier to keep the ten.

    For instance, say there's a law that says I am not allowed to spend 1000 bucks in a given day. If there is another law put into place that says I can't spend 900 dollars in a given day, then there's no way I can possibly break the bigger 1000 dollar law. It's a "hedge." It keeps me that much farther away from sin, which separates me from God.

    Also, we can't assume that everything people are told to do in the Bible is a law. And not every law in the Bible is a law that I have to follow. I know, it's a strange thing to hear from a Christian, but hear me out.

    There is a law in the OT that says you're not allowed to get tattoos. That law is not one I have to follow. It's in Leviticus. Leviticus. That's the laws that the Levites, that is, the ancient Hebrew priests, had to follow. I am not ancient, nor Hebrew, nor priest.

    There are also cultural laws. For instance, the law about clothes of two fabrics. It was part of the culture that clothes with multiple fabric types were worn only by a specific pagan cult. The Hebrews were supposed to be radically different from the people around them, so that was a thing that they weren't allowed to do.

    Same thing with Long hair on men and short hair on women mentioned in the NT.

    There are things in Leviticus that apply to every one no matter who you are. Those things are usually either found in other places where the context shows that it's universal, or it says something like "It's an abomination unto God."

    The Jesus quote you're talking about says this:

    Matthew 5:17
    "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them.

    That word "Fulfill" is Pleroo in Greek. It has a couple of meanings:

    1) to fill up to the top
    B) to execute, perform, or realize.

    Jesus says that he's not doing away with the law, he's going to follow the law perfectly and then fill the requirements of the law to the top.

    That filling of the requirements of the law, that's what most Christians mean when they say "Salvation." It means that I'm in debt to the law, in the hole, and Christ filled the hole (to the top) and paid my debt.

    Now, a Jew who doesn't know Christ hasn't received that gift. They still owe a debt to the law. There's no way they can make sacrifices to YHWH, because the Temple is gone, and YHWH doesn't accept sacrifices any more because there's already been one sacrifice made for all who accept that one sacrifice. (That's somewhere in James).

    Any one who isn't Jewish isn't under the law, as in, the Torah, but is still under alaw. That law being their conscience.

    Romans 2:14-16
    14 Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. 15 They demonstrate that God's law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. 16 The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone's secret life. This is my message.

    The thing is, the Gentile does about as well with that law as the Jew does with their own. Their conscience tells them that they're doing right and it accuses them. The passage above assumes that.

    When Jesus said that, he meant that he would completely take care of the law and fill it up for any who will follow him.

    As for what parts of the law we are still expected and not expected to follow...

    Well, one thing is that if somewhere in the NT it says "It's ok to do this now," then it's ok to do that. That's why I eat shrimp.

    If there's an OT law that:

    1) is found in a context that shows it's universal, and

    2) doesn't have an NT scripture saying that it's ok to do these things now

    Then there's no reason to believe that the law has been forgotten or removed or what-have-you.

    I know that's all a bit much, and a bit complicated maybe, but this isn't an easy issue. It hasn't been an easy topic of study or discussion for thousands of years. That's why there are so many stories in the Bible about people misunderstanding the law and misusing the law.

    Make sense?

  19. @ Andrew Louis:

    In this way, we speak in ways “that work”, so truth is “what works” by way of belief. Truth, as a result, is not absolute, it changes over time.

    I disagree. I had a long bought with the idea of truth a couple of summers ago, and came to the conclusion that there is an absolute truth, it's just hard to find.

    For instance, the keyboard I'm using is predominately white. That truth is not absolute. Over time, it will get stuff spilled on it, it will fade and wear, and it will get yellow and red and gray and nasty.

    It will always be true, however, that at 1:42 AM, on September the 7th, 2008 A.D., Rob Penn perceived the Keyboard that he was using to be predominately white.

    There is nothing about that truth that will ever change. It's absolute.

    As far as my view of truth goes, I'm about as post-modern as one can be and still be faithful to God. I haven't decided that I'm postmodern yet, but if I'm not then I'm REALLY close to it I think.

  20. @ Dave:

    RE: Romans 1:18 & 19

    That's at the beginning of the Narrative showing how people forgot about God.

    1) They know the truth, because God shows it
    2) They don't care and give up the truth in exchange for a lie
    3) God allows them to do so

    What translation did you use in that quote?

  21. Rob,

    New Living Translation, and to continue to play devil's advocate, when you say "give up the truth," wouldn't someone like Ray interpret that, in light of the wording of v.19, to mean "act in a manner inconsistent with that which they know perfectly well to be true?" I don't really see anything in your interpretation that contradict's Ray's position that everyone is a theist.

  22. @ Dave:

    I suppose it's all about semantics, as is usually the case with Ray and I.

    That could be interpreted as "act in a manner inconsistent with what you know is the truth." I've always looked at it as "People back then knew there was a God, but have traded that knowledge out for other beliefs and forgotten the truth."

  23. Rob,

    Glad to hear you are doing well.

    I guess it makes sense from a theoretical standpoint, but I’m not sure it does from a practical one.

    I guess few things jump out at me:

    One is there will inevitably be some ‘cherry-picking’.

    Hell, Ray cherry-picks all the time. You’re right some ethics are universal. That is because they are needed for humans to live in an orderly productive society. Don’t kill, cheat, lie etc…most cultures frown on these things because they are harmful to society as a whole. And we humans having evolved as social creatures evolved a conscience (& sympathy/empathy) because it is in our best survival interest to follow these ethical behaviors. And when we don’t follow these behaviors, we generally feel guilty. Our nervous system evolved a way of keeping us in check for survival purposes. Ray knows this. This is why he focuses on adultery, murder etc…rather than the first few commandments. Because nobody Naturally feels guilty for not keeping the Sabbath or taking god’s name in vain or having false god’s. Ray is trying to pull a sleight of hand here. But he’s con artist so no surprise.

    Also it would seem there has to be cherry-picking because some biblical laws are just impossible to follow. Now I’m not sure which ones of the OT laws people are still expected to followed at present, but I’m sure this at least 1 or 2 odd ones that just wouldn’t fly in modern society. And I would really respect if Christians would admit this fact.

    Also, Also, there will be different interpretations of the bible. So, what one is expected to follow or not will differ amongst Christians. I find it laughable when I here the fundies at Ray’s comment that there is only one possible interpretation and every other persons or denomination outside their particular interpretation is not a True Christian. Then in the next sentence they start arguing with each other about a particular passage of scripture.

    And finally, the thing that probably bothers me the most with Ray and the True Christians is the dealing of everything in absolutes. As I said earlier things such as lying, cheating, murder are pretty much universally frowned upon. But we can all think of situations were these acts are just or even necessary. That never seems to be taken into consideration when we are convicted of our sins. It’s either your guilty or not, no insight into particulars seems relevant.

    So, I guess if I have point to all this it is biblical morals seems needlessly convoluted. If being a Christian makes one a happier or ‘better’ person then more power to them. But it gets taken too far by some. It seems it would be much better to use the bible as general guide and use one’s experiences and critical thinking skills to determine what is moral or not in any given situation. To be honest with you from my readings of the NT I still have no idea what is and isn’t a sin, and I’m not sure it matters anyway.

  24. @ NaFa:

    Yep. I agree with about 3/4 of that.

    There's obviously different interpretations of the Bible. The only way to know which interpretation to follow is to actually study yourself, which most Christians just don't wanna do. We get the faith that's handed to us, and sit on it. Which is sad, because faith in God was never meant to be a chair.

    The fact of the laws is, most of the laws are laws that are impossible to follow. It's not because the laws are unreasonable; the laws aren't there to save us. The law is God saying "Look, the only way to have a relationship with me outside of Christ is to be this perfect, because if you've got sin then you'd be a tissue paper trying to give a big fire hugs. That's why you need Jesus."

    I find it laughable that Fundies say that, too. In essence, they're saying that they have God completely mapped out. That's a silly idea.

    I think it was the one from Duke... Can't remember...
    But there was an ethics professor who came out and said that situational morality is not really all that good a theory. He said something like "the problem with the fatty in a cave is that you have to create the fatty in the cave."

    You and your 3 friends are spelunking. The only way out is blocked by the fat friend, because he's stuck. You have a stick of dynamite. Do you starve, and let your friend go hungry as well, or do you blow up fatty?

    Why do you have to blow up fatty? let fatty go hungry for a while. He'll get smaller. Dislocate his shoulder, he'll fit through then.

    And besides that, I can think of several situations in which I would think it better to lie, but 0 situations where God said perfect people tell lies here.

    Crap, late for class. later!


Unlike Ray we don't censor our comments, so as long as it's on topic and not spam, fire away.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.