Friday, August 21, 2009

Read & Blog Fail

Well, shoot. Here I was, all geared up to do a “Read & Blog” thing with this book I picked up from the library, and now I’m not going to. Why? Because this collection of pages is, if you’ll pardon my language, the most capricious, delusional, unreasonable, biased piece of Christian literature I have yet laid eyes upon. To say that this book portrays atheists in a fair and accurate light is an understatement on the magnitude of calling the Pacific a charming pond. The author clearly has it out for us, and not in any way that can be fought against with weapons of the intellect. To be frank, the only thing that’ll stop this guy from thinking the way he does is death, and I’m slightly saddened by the fact that he won’t be able to experience the crushing disappointment of discovering that the afterlife he has long dreamed of is a lie. I have no malign intent here; all I’m saying is that there is nothing on this Earth than could convince the author of… well, anything he doesn’t already believe to be true.

The book I’m referring to is You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can’t Make Him Think, by Ray Comfort. Here’s a picture of the cover:

From the foreword to the endnotes, this book is one colossal, misinformed attack on atheists and what Ray has convinced himself they believe. Others have done a better job than I can of giving this waste of paper the thrashing it deserves, so I won’t do much of that. What I will do, however, is point out a couple of things that occurred to me, and then cast this wretched tome back into the library’s deposit box faster than Ray can decide I’m an idiot simply because I’m an atheist.

First, I really do feel sorry for Ray. It’s clear that he believes what he’s saying with every fiber of his being. There is not a single un-Christian inch of Ray Comfort, and I must admit that his ability to remain steadfast in his theology despite what I’m sure are a number of warning sirens that have been going off in the rational part of his mind for quite some time (assuming he hasn’t already eviscerated that part of his intellect) is quite impressive. And thus, I don’t feel any particular anger toward him for being so bigoted against non-believers. What he wrote I can be upset at. But him, the person? Naw. He’s not trying to be insulting for insult’s sake. He’s just doing what anyone would do if they truly believed Hell is a real place where anyone who doesn't practice the right kind of Christianity goes. I can’t say that I blame him. I don’t agree with him, not in the slightest, but I can’t say I blame him. Incidentally, I find it very interesting that there aren’t more Christians out there who act as if Hell is real. Maybe they just don't want to think about it? I’ll have to ask my Catholic friends (I’ve told some of them that I’m an atheist).

Second, I wonder why Ray is the way he is. Has he ever read anything about evolution? I’m no scientist, but I think I already know more about evolution than he does, and could explain it better than he did in this book. So why not study up? Wouldn't it be better for his arguments if he could say that he was intimately familiar with the other side? Oh, wait, silly me. That’s not in the least what he’s trying to do here; Ray’s “arguments” hinge entirely on an audience that is just as uninformed as he is. Without an ignorant readership willing to take everything he writes at face value, Ray’s entire literary empire would collapse overnight. Luckily, uneducated believers are a dime a dozen.

Which brings me to my third and final point: it terrifies me to think that there are people—perhaps millions?—out there who honest-to-God believe the stuff in this book. They believe “the atheist is someone who pretends that there is not god” (Preface). They believe that evolution means random chance with no controlling factors or forces. They believe that the acceptable way to answer any and every question is to ignore the question and quote the Bible. Are there really people out there who buy into this stuff? I heave a sigh as I realize, yes, there are. And they may well have read this book. Which means if any of them were to meet an atheist on the street, you can bet they’d have some totally ridiculous things ready to say.

All right, enough with this. I’ll be glad to rid of this book; maybe the next time I grab some apologetics from the library, they’ll actually present a decent intellectual challenge. YCLAEYCMHT, on the other hand (wow, what an acronym!), could be refuted by a four-year-old… assuming that four-year-old wasn’t brought up by fundamentalist Christian parents.

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