Debate: Ray Comfort vs. Eugenie Scott

AT the website of U.S. News & World Report we read: Ray Comfort Defends His Creationist Edition of ‘On the Origin of Species’. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

When I blogged recently about a new, pro-creationism edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species — complete with a rebuttal to the theory of evolution — the responses poured in. “I’m a little concerned,” the communications director for the National Center for Science Education wrote me in an E-mail, “that some stuff — such as Ray Comfort’s version of On the Origin of Species — gets coverage but no critical commentary.”

So I invited the head of the National Center for Science Education, the leading organization promoting and defending the teaching of evolution in public schools, to debate Ray Comfort, author of the new Origin, here on God & Country.

That sounds interesting. Let’s read on:

Here’s the first post from Comfort, explaining his new book, which he plans to distribute in the tens of thousands on college campuses.

Great. More press coverage for Comfort. We continue:

I’ll post a rebuttal from NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott later today. Next week, I’ll put up a follow-up post from each. And just a reminder: Neither God & Country [the column in the magazine] nor U.S. News necessarily endorses their views.

Very journalistic. They take no sides between solid science and flaming buffoonery.

Anyway, what follows at their website is Comfort’s side of this “debate.” We’re not going to give you any excerpts because it’s rubbish from start to finish. They promise to post Scott’s rebuttal today. We’ll see. At the moment, US News is looking like WorldNetDaily.

Addendum: They’ve published Eugenie Scott’s response.

Addendum: See also Debate: Comfort vs. Scott — Phase 2.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Debate: Ray Comfort vs. Eugenie Scott

  1. This is going to be a debate? “Banana Man” Comfort verses Eugenie “I know this subject left to right” Scott. More like a Sand Blaster (Scott) vs. a soda cracker. Course, Comfort having the intellectual capacity of the soda cracker, probably won’t realize this and declare it a victory anyway.

  2. Albanaeon says: “This is going to be a debate? … More like a Sand Blaster (Scott) vs. a soda cracker.”

    Even more like a bug meeting a windshield.

  3. Comfort will wipe the floor with her, for the simple reason that Plato understood perfectly well in his dialogue Gorgias: a smooth-talking non-expert will be more persuasive than an expert when addressing other non-experts.

  4. I’ve written several times that it’s a mistake to debate these people. It gives them credibility which they don’t deserve. Astrologers aren’t worth the bother of a debate, and neither are creationists. Also, they shovel out so much garbage that it can’t be well-rebutted if only “equal time” is allowed. So the dice are loaded.

  5. Ray starts his attack with, “Why are many atheists so angry?” As if only atheists believe in evolution and are the only ones set about his BS introduction to the book. He quickly goes on to mention Hitler and more typical cretinist [sic] BS.

    Ray ends with, “Move over, J. R. R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, and J. K. Rowling. These three combined don’t hold a candle to Charles Darwin. Most of their fans know that their writings were fantasy. Darwin’s faithful followers don’t.”

  6. Ray Comfort should pick better examples. He not only shows his ignorance of biology, but of also of literature, and history.

    J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” changed the way people looked at Beowulf, and helped propel it to the world renown it now holds.

    Arthur C. Clarke – The person that worked out ,and published, Geo stationary orbits. Who spent decades writing articles explaining science to those without a science background. His famous (for Britain anyway) TV series, which showed how things like fire walking can be explained as purely scientific explanations.

    That is not even mentioning the amount of correct science he would include mostly seamlessly into his fantasy.

    So Mr Comfort I do not know their writings were fantasy, just some of it.

  7. retiredsciguy

    “They’ve published Eugenie Scott’s response.”

    Thanks for posting this, Curmy. Her response was one of the best-written essays on the subject I’ve ever read. Detailed enough to make her point, yet still concise. Elegant.

  8. I’ve written several times that it’s a mistake to debate these people. It gives them credibility which they don’t deserve. Astrologers aren’t worth the bother of a debate, and neither are creationists. Also, they shovel out so much garbage that it can’t be well-rebutted if only “equal time” is allowed. So the dice are loaded.

    Absolutely; I couldn’t agree more.

    Plus, the true believers are never moved, anyway; they always walk away utterly convinced that their guy won. So what’s the point? Maybe you’ll sway the one or two people on the fence? Doubtful, and hardly worth the effort.

  9. Jeff Eyges: “Plus, the true believers are never moved, anyway; they always walk away utterly convinced that their guy won. So what’s the point? Maybe you’ll sway the one or two people on the fence? Doubtful, and hardly worth the effort.”

    Trouble is, there’s much more than 1 or 2 on the fence. AIUI ~25% of the public is beyond hope, but another ~20% deny evolution, and yet another ~20% accept it but think it’s fair to “teach the controversy” in science class. I was in that last ~20% as recently as 1997.

    That said, I do agree that debates are the wrong format to correct misconceptions. But what is frustrating to me is that, even outside of the debate format, too often we let the anti-science side control the terms of the “debate”. We need to ask them more questions about their particular position, and how they support it with evidence independent of any problems they might have with “Darwinism.”

    It’s amazing how much they disagree with each other on “what happened when.” The only ones truly afraid to debate are creationists (especially IDers) who are deathly afraid to debate other “kinds” of creationist. But unless we ask them too and watch them squirm, how will anyone know that they are afraid?

  10. Jeff Eyges says: “So what’s the point?”

    That was my concern, but Scott handled it quite well. She took the high road, didn’t waste time with the outright lies in Comfort’s babbling, and she basically addressed the audience. She really didn’t debate Comfort at all, but she left the thoughtful reader with the clear impression that Comfort is a fool.

  11. Here is the comment I left:

    Dan,

    Firstly, a blog that purports to examine faith matters honestly has absolutely no business offering a platform to creationists. Creationism is a belief system with no conceivable grounding in reality, has been debunked as many times as it has been presented publicly, and is an embarrassment to anyone with a mature faith.

    Secondly – Ray Comfort? Seriously?

    Unfortunately, using Ray as the voice of creationism permits organizations such as the Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis to say, “See? They wouldn’t dare put up Dr. Scott against a *real* creation scientist!”

    Why on earth would you offer editorial space on a respectable news site to this babbling lackwit?

    Note: I used the phrase “mature faith” with reservation, but I considered with whom I was dealing and who would be reading it.

  12. Thanks. I have to lie down, now.