Actually, both sides in these debates tend to irritate me, since I'm always thinking of what Ray Comfort's opponent - in this case, Jim Underdown of CFI-LA - should have said.
But this one is particularly bad. In this video, Comfort must talk nearly 90% of the time. He just preaches his familiar lines - I've heard them many times before - while Underdown occasionally tries to object. This isn't a balanced debate, or even a reasonable conversation.
Admittedly, I'm easily irritated. :) Also, it's always easier to think back on conversations, imagining brilliant responses we could have made, isn't it? Finally, I'm sure my responses wouldn't have been any better. Certainly, there wouldn't have been a different result.
(As an aside, note that Ray Comfort is the guy who released the most unintentionally hilarious Creationist video ever, when he described the Cavendish banana as proof of God, apparently not realizing that the banana is a domesticated fruit with a very long history of artificial selection. He removed the original video from YouTube, but you can still find excerpts. It's pretty funny.)
(via Nicolas Demers)
Anyway, I thought I'd take this brief video and imagine my own responses to Ray Comfort, as follows:
"Why do you get out of bed in the morning?"
I normally get out of bed because I have to pee. Other people usually have things they want to do or need to do. Who'd want to spend all day in bed, anyway? That might sound appealing when the alarm goes off, but it wouldn't be. As human beings, we need a certain amount of sleep, but why wouldn't we get out of bed, eventually?
Of course, what Comfort is saying is that he really, really wants to believe in his God. But wanting something doesn't make it true. That doesn't make it untrue, either, necessarily,... but it's always very easy to believe what we really want to believe. We should have evidence for all of our beliefs, but we need to look most skeptically on those things we really want to believe, because that's where we're more likely to let our emotions cloud our judgement.
"The god that Richard Dawkins doesn't believe in doesn't exist. That's your problem, your understanding of God."
Damn, we were so close there, since I completely agree with that first sentence. :) But, obviously, the problem isn't his understanding of God. After all, atheists don't claim to know what 'God' is, since we don't have a god. We don't just disbelieve in particular gods, in specific gods. Even Ray Comfort does that. No, we let believers tell us about the god they believe exists,... and then ask them if they have any evidence for that.
Do you have a good reason for believing that your god exists? If so, what is it? If not, why should you - or anyone else - believe that he/she/it does exist?
"God stopped him [Abraham] from killing his son."
According to Christian mythology, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice (i.e. kill) his son as a test of obedience, and Abraham passed the test by demonstrating his willingness to do it. Now, yes, it might be a good thing that 'God' stopped it in the end, but it was still a horrible thing to demand of a parent and a terrible thing for a parent to agree to do.
Would you kill your child just because you thought some authority figure - a god or not - wanted you to do it? I hope not! Neither God nor Abraham come out of that story looking good.
"God doesn't send you to hell. A judge doesn't send a criminal to prison."
I've heard this before, and it's one of the stupidest things believers say. As you know, criminals don't decide for themselves what's legal and what isn't. Society does that. Judges and juries determine whether or not a law was broken and what the punishment should be (within certain guidelines established by society).
In Christian mythology, God has set up that whole system, deciding what's a crime and what the punishment should be, himself. He decides that people should burn in hell for eternity for saying "Goddamn." He decides that everyone is born deserving hell, with everyone - even children - being guilty of something.
And he's got the same punishment for everything! There's no fine for littering in Christian mythology, or even for just thinking about littering. You burn in hell for eternity for every single transgression, no matter how slight. Unless, of course, you agree to worship your judge, in which case you get off scot-free. How crazy is that?
"Jesus said that, if you look at a woman and lust for her, you commit adultery with her in your heart."
And how stupid is this, too? Yet, Ray Comfort claims that this means God's standards are "very high." And when Underdown says that his standard for being good is how you treat people, Comfort says that he shows very low standards. Incredible, isn't it?
As Christopher Hitchens used to say, Heaven is worse than North Korea. God punishes you for even thinking about things he considers a crime, he'll torture you forever for the least transgression, and you can't even die to escape. Yeah, I'd take North Korea any day!
"Do you think you're a good person? ... How many lies have you told in your whole life?"
Obviously, you can be a good person without being perfect,... especially since Ray Comfort considers even little white lies, which we do to make people feel good about themselves, make you a "liar." No, they don't. They just make you human. In fact, they might make you a good person, since you apparently don't want to hurt someone else.
He also mentions, several times, blasphemy - "saying God's name in vain." That's a crime? Would you put up with a law like that? That would only be a crime for a celestial dictator! And even in North Korea, you could think such things about the dictator, if not actually say them out loud. Again, Heaven comes out of this looking worse than North Korea - far worse.
"Did that [the Flood] happen?"
Of course the Biblical Flood didn't actually happen - there's absolutely no evidence for it, and lots of evidence against it - but they're debating Ray Comfort's 'God,' and Comfort does believe that it happened.
I mean, Comfort is being particularly dishonest here, don't you think? The topic is "Is God Just?" Since Underdown doesn't believe in a god, that would be a meaningless question for him,... unless they were talking about Ray Comfort's beliefs. And Comfort does believe in the Noah's Ark fairy tale.
But here's the part that got me: Jim Underdown says, "You wouldn't execute a person for being a liar," and Ray Comfort replies, "Unless you were holy and perfect and just."
Say what??? How is that a just punishment for lying? Heck, it's even worse than that. In Comfort's view, if you tell a woman that her butt doesn't look too big in that dress, and you're lying, you won't just be killed, you'll be sentenced to eternal torture. That's "holy and perfect and just"? You'd have to be insane to believe that!
"If you don't repent and trust Jesus, then you'll receive justice for your sins."
Yeah, Comfort repeats this nonsense over and over again. According to him, it's "justice" to be tortured forever for telling a lie. It's "justice" to be tortured forever for daring to say "the Lord's name" in vain. (I might add here that "God" is a particularly unimaginative name, wouldn't you say?)
How crazy is that? And yet, you can commit any crime at all - rape, murder, genocide - and get off scot-free by just agreeing to worship the celestial dictator. That's justice?
Of course, none of this is evidence that Comfort's god - or any god - actually exists. But how could you worship a god like that, even if you did believe it?
"But why bother?"
Comfort is asking why we bother to set up a legal system - courts and a system of laws. But that's a question Underdown should be asking him, isn't it?
After all, if you believe in Christian mythology, this life is just a very brief prelude to eternity. And there's a celestial judge who makes sure that everyone gets what's coming to him. Of course, that judge is insane and automatically sentences everyone to eternal torture, unless you agree to kiss his butt. But still, if that's all true, why bother with a legal system here on Earth?
If you accept Jesus, it doesn't really matter when you die, does it? After all, you're just going to Heaven for eternity. In fact, it might be beneficial if you die quickly, so you won't have time to develop doubts. (Children being inherently more gullible than adults,... well, I don't want to go down that path.)
And if you don't accept Jesus, if you're one of the five billion people on this planet who aren't Christian (or the other billion or so who don't measure up to Ray Comfort's standards of Christianity), you're going to be tortured in Hell for eternity anyway, so what's the point of locking them up now? Why even bother?
This debate is supposed to be about justice, and Comfort shows us a system that's about as far from that as you can get. Thank god (figuratively) it's just imaginary, huh?
Unfortunately, as I said before, Jim Underdown just sat there and let him preach. Ray Comfort dominated the conversation, barely allowing Underdown to reply at all. As he freely jumped from one talking point to another, it would, indeed, have been hard to pin him down, but Underdown hardly seemed to try.
And this is the other problem with debates like this. No matter what the topic is supposed to be, believers tend to flit from one talking point to another. If you've got a tough question for them, they just move on.
I prefer my own method of replying, like this. :)