Book Review: “World Religions in a Nutshell: A Compact Guide to Reaching Those of Other Faiths”

“World
Religions in a Nutshell: A Compact Guide to Reaching Those of Other
Faiths”
by Ray Comfort.
In this book, Ray Comfort addresses,
comments, and criticizes the top world religions that are not
Christian. Each chapter is dedicated to one of each religions. These
religions include Judaism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam,
Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
Among the listed “religions” in
this book, what prompted me to write this review is that Ray Comfort
listed “Atheism” as a religion. What should be pointed out
immediately is that atheism is NOT a religion and should not belong
in this book, and this article will explain why. This blog review of
the book will focus on Chapter 8 of the book regarding Atheism.
While it is a given that Ray Comfort is
not a religion expert with no qualifications of any type in theology,
his arguments against certain religions hold little weight. It is
also a given that Ray Comfort is a liar and often times straw mans
and fabricates opposing views he targets. This is clearly evident
when he constantly and shamelessly asserts that atheists believe
“nothing created everything.” Given all this, it must be pointed
out that Ray’s lousy arguments towards these other religions does not
give them any credulity. This blog review will be focusing on Chapter
8: Atheism, but given Ray Comfort’s track record, his arguments
against the other religions are very likely to be extremely bad and
pathetic – there is a strong likelihood this will be the case, but
that does not prove the said religions as true.
If anyone wishes to know Ray Comfort’s
responses to the actual religions, you can read it for
free online.
[http://books.google.com/books?id=4Oug2RDx9loC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Ray+Comfort&hl=en&ei=OPS9TpOcOKPciAKFw9iFAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAjge#v=onepage&q&f=falseGoogle
book preview]
Anyway, onward….
”’Important Note”’: Ray
presents testimonies, views, and arguments set forth by atheists for
the lack of faith from his blog. Since Ray knowingly picked these out
from his personal blog to publish in this book, Ray cannot claim
ignorance for making claims against atheism that he has just
demonstrated that they do not think or believe what Comfort says they
do.
Ray begins this
chapter with a dictionary definition for religion: “A cause,
principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.”
Ray says this perfectly describes atheism. Ray says in 1961, the
Supreme Court ruled that “secular humanism” was a religion,
that religion did not require a belief in the existence of a supreme
being.
Atheism is not a religion and
Ray Comfort knows this. In his book Defender’s Guide for Life’s
Toughest Questions, Ray defines “atheist” as “without
God.” The truth is atheism is a ”lack of belief in god(s)”.
Under Ray’s definition, one can claim
that football is a religion. So what really makes a religion a
religion? There are several more accurate definitions of religion,
but there are several things all religions have in general. Religions
have rituals, sacred texts, tenets on how to live accordingly,
holidays, creation myths, beliefs in an afterlife, and such. Atheism
has none of these
. Atheism
simply means a lack of belief in God. An atheist can subscribe to any
worldview, but whatever it is it will be a secular one.
I personally
subscribe to secular humanism, all it does is provide a system of
ethics – it does not tell me how the universe or how life started.
It does not provide me with any holidays, nor does it demand I
participate in some woo-woo ritual.
Regarding the “Supreme Courts says
secular humanism = religion” comment by Ray Comfort, once against
he is painstakingly wrong. However, Ray Comfort is not alone in
misrepresenting what actually happened in the Supreme Court to bash
secular humanism. Here is what happened: In the 1961 case of Torcaso
v. Watkins
, Roy Torcaso was denied his commission as notary
public when he refused to declare a belief in God. At that time, the
state of Maryland’s “Declaration of Rights” required “a
declaration of belief in the existence of God” as a qualification
for any office of profit or trust in that state. The Supreme Court
ruled that such requirements violated Article 6 of the United States’
Constitution, as well the 1st and 14th amendments. But the official
ruling also included a series of footnotes, called “obiter
dictum,” or “said in passing.” These are only the
personal opinions of the justice, with no official or legal
significance. In a dictum footnote attached to his opinion, Justice
Hugo Black listed “Secular Humanism” along with “Ethical
Culture” and Taoism as religions which do not teach a belief in
God. The footnote is not legally binding, which is fortunate since
none of those things really count as religion. Imagine attending the
church of ethical culture!
So secular humanism is not a religion
in any sense, legal or otherwise, and neither is atheism. Religion
must include a professed conviction, and simply being un-convinced as
to the real-life existence of what they see as mythical characters
–hardly counts as that. So atheism alone is no more a religion than
health is a disease. One may as well argue over which brand of car
pedestrians drive.
Ray says that the
“new atheists” have an ”unwavering” faith that there is
no evidence for the existence of God. Ray notes that their numbers
are growing in America and Europe, where often they meet to discuss
things that include “their belief that God doesn’t exist.”
Ray states the Bible calls atheists “fools” (Ps. 14:1) and
according to Ray, this is so because an atheist ”knows” intuitively
that God exists and ”suppresses” the truth in “willful
ignorance.” Ray quotes Romans 1:18-22.
Atheism is the lack of belief, and
therefore the lack of faith. Faith by definition is to ”believe in
something” with no evidence, and since atheism is the ”lack” of
belief it therefore cannot have faith to believe something exists or
not. To not believe in something (like fairies) does not require
faith.
Ray’s claim that atheists ”know”
there is a god is simply nonsense and ludicrous. As already stated,
atheism is the ”lack” of belief. Using Ray’s logic, he must know
that invisible gnomes live in his closet. Coincidentally, Ray does
not ”know” there is a God at all, even though he often claims he
does. But belief does not equal knowledge. Subjective convictions are
meaningless in science, and eyewitness testimony is the least
reliable form of evidence.
Here is a brilliant analogy from
YouTube user AronRa regarding belief and knowledge:
If I go into my front yard and I
see a large sauropod walking down the middle of my street, I will of
course be quite convinced of what I see. I may be even more satisfied
when I follow the thing and find that I can touch it, maybe even ride
it if I want to. When I gather sense enough to run back for my
camcorder, I may not be able to find the beast again, because I don’t
know which way it went. But that doesn’t matter because I saw it, I
heard it, felt it, smelt it and I remember all that clearly with a
sober and rational mind. But somehow I’m the only one who ever
noticed it, and of course no one believes me. Some other guy says he
saw a dinosaur too, but his description was completely different,
such that we can’t both be talking about the same thing. So it
doesn’t matter how convinced I am that it really happened. It might
not have. When days go by and there are still no tracks, no
excrement, no destruction, no sign of the beast at all, no other
witnesses who’s testimony lends credence to mine, and no
explanation for how a 20-meter long dinosaur could just disappear in
the suburbs of a major metropolis, much less how it could have
appeared there in the first place, -then it becomes much easier to
explain how there could be only two witnesses who can’t agree on
what they think they saw, than it is to explain all the
impossibilities against that dinosaur ever really being there.
Positive claims require positive evidence. Extraordinary claims
require extraordinary evidence, and that’s what I’d need –since
what I propose isn’t just extraordinary; its impossible. But since
there’s not one fact I can show that anyone can measure or otherwise
confirm, then my perspective is still subjective -and thus uncertain.
Eventually, even I, the eyewitness, would have to admit that,
although I did see it, I still don’t know if it was ever really
there –regardless whether I still believe that it was.
It doesn’t matter how convinced
you are; belief does not equal knowledge. The difference is that
knowledge can always be tested for accuracy where mere beliefs often
can not be. No matter how positively you think you know it, if you
can’t show it, then you don’t know it, and you shouldn’t say
that you do. Nor would you if you really cared about the truth.
Knowledge is demonstrable, measurable. But faith is often a matter of
pretending to know what you know you really don’t know, and that no
one even can know, and which you merely believe -often for no good
reason at all.”
Ray quotes John
1:9 that God has given “light” to every mans, which is why
Ray says, only 2% of the world’s population claim not to believe in
God. Ray says the atheist has turned the light switch off, and it was
his job as well as other Christians, to turn the light switch back
on.
This argument is no more valid than
quoting the Qur’an and revealing the “primordial Covenant.”
Ray says that God has given “light” to all humans so we all
know that God exists. 7:172-174: “”When thy Lord drew forth
from the Children of Adam -from their loins- their descendants, and
made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): “Am I not
your Lord (Who cherishes and sustains you)?” They said: “Yea!
We do testify!: (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment:
“Of this we were never mindful;” or lest ye should say: Our
fathers before us took false gods.” Basically, according to Islam,
Allah created us and made us testify that he does indeed exist and he
created us right before we take human flesh upon birth, therefore
while we live we know Allah exists, and when we die we cannot claim
ignorance of him or give any excuse for not believing in him.
Basically what Ray means to “turning
the light switch back on” is brainwashing people to sacrifice
their reason and intellect and discard observable reality in favor of
delusion and fantasy.
Ray notes that
atheist have a variety of beliefs, as seen on his blog Atheist
Central, which is why he quotes them to let the unknown atheist speak
for him/her self on what they believe.
I love this piece, because Ray Comfort
completely shoots himself in the foot here.
Here, Ray Comfort admits that atheists
have a wide variety of individual beliefs, making his postulations
that ALL atheists think “nothing created everything” and
such are completely bogus and he knows it. He just
revealed that to us here. Atheists do indeed have a wide variety of
individual beliefs, this includes how they think the universe came to
be.
Lunch with an Atheist
In this section,
Ray retells a story of being interviewed by a “backyard”
skeptics club. They asked him why he rejected the evidence given
forth by paleontologists Ray answered he was skeptic by nature, and
thus was skeptical of the “evidence” brought forth by
paleontologists because “they [paleontologists] have had big
motives for lying.” Ray says if they brought forth evidence,
their face would appear on the news and magazines. Ray says this
gives paleontologists’ motive to twist the truth “just a
little.” In parenthesis, Ray notes that some paleontologists
have brought forth evidence ”against” evolution, but said there was
no need to go into that.
According to Ray, fame drives
scientists to lie. Here, Ray Comfort spoke in the past sense, that
the paleontologists “had” big motives to lie. But what about
right now? Is there any indication that paleontologists have been
lying? And if they did twist the truth “just a little” – how much
is little? With no examples provided, Ray Comfort gives us no reason
to suspect the paleontologists have maliciously altered their work,
not even just a “little” bit. Why would paleontologists strive
for fame, but in the end will be exposed by their peers of actual
scientists. Once exposed, the “famed” paleontologists will be
discredited to their core, so why would they risk the massive
humiliation?
Ray Comfort does not provide any
references or sources that any paleontologist have brought forth
evidence ”against” evolution. And if there were indeed
paleontologists who did provide evidences against evolution, why does
Ray Comfort not reveal them and parade down the streets with it? Why
does Ray Comfort not reveal any of this? The answer is simple: Ray
Comfort is lying through his teeth.
Next question
from the skeptics: why won’t God
perform a little miracle (such as moving the water in the glass) in
front of them to reveal his existence to them?

Ray notes that before the interview, he mentioned that God stopped
the sun for three hours in Joshua, which is a bigger miracle than
moving a glass of water. Ray mentions that if a person wants to meet
God, they must come to him on his terms.
So Ray believes that God ”literally”
stopped the sun in the sky for three hours? Is Ray even aware for
that to happen, the Earth must stop rotating, and thus the results
would be catastrophic!? The Earth is constantly spinning at several
hundred miles per hour. We do not feel it because we are use and
adapted to it. If the Earth suddenly halted, mountains would fly off,
waves miles high would sweep across the globe, nations would be
annihilated, and life itself may be destroyed.
The ancient authors who wrote Joshua
believed the Earth remained motionless and fixed, and only the stars,
moon, and sun in the “firmament” moved. They based their
views on a geocentric model, which as we know is completely false,
and yet God (the supposed all-knowing creator of the universe) did
not correct this mistake and in fact often supported this model.
This also misses the question: why
can’t God perform a miracle right now? Despite Ray Comforts pleas
that miracles have already happened in the past, that ignores the
demands skeptics are asking – a miracle they can witness. But nope,
Ray Comfort’s best response is that if you want proof for god, you
have to go looking for it. The exact same thing can be said if you
search for Allah or Krishna.
Next question:
why are there so many religions?
Ray says man messes up everything, and that he [Ray] hates religion.
Ray then described the difference in being “religious” and
doing “works of righteousness.”
Claiming to hate religion and yet being
involved in one is rather hypocritical.
Nearing the end
of the debate, Ray thought that the debate was not going as well as
the skeptics hoped for, which is why they did not post it on their
website because “it wasn’t good for his cause??” The
skeptic, Bruce, claimed he did not post it because Ray said “bible”
too many times (Ray recalls only saying it two or three times and
wondered by Bruce did not just edit it out). Based on this, Ray says
his suspicions were true: they were not interested in truth, “he
only wants to confirm his presuppositions.” Ray then states
“that is why they have their club —— to build up each other
in their faith (beliefs).”
Ultimate Projection Alert!
We do not know what else what said in
the talk between Comfort and the skeptics. Ray accuses the skeptics
for wanting to prove their presuppositions rather than being
interested in the truth. When Ray debated the Atheist Experience, it
was made clear that Ray was the one trying to prove his
presuppositions rather seeking the truth.
Who is God?
After giving a
few quotes from atheists explaining that atheists don’t believe in a
god and claim there is no reason to believe in a god, Ray responds
there are billions
of reasons to believe in a “supernatural intelligent Creator.”
*The order of
DNA, atoms, tiny fleas, large elephants.
*The order of the
sun and its circuit, to the millions of stars and the entire
universe.
Ray makes the
argument, if you found a message written in the sand, you would
conclude it came from an intelligent source and was not “random”
or an “accident.” Ray says only a fool would think
otherwise.
These ”billions” of reasons to
believe are fallacious, lack any logic, and are simply wrong. For all
Ray can argue, there is no logical argument that there could be
billions of creators to create “order” in the universe.
However, this “order” Ray cries about are not the result of
divine or supernatural work.
*DNA, flies, and elephants are all the
products of evolution, which has been shown and proven to give
impressions of design, the design is actually the result of natural
selection.
*The sun, stars, and universe may have
order in it, but that does not follow that order was deliberately
placed there. The natural laws of physics are completely capable of
sustaining a universe that appears orderly.
If you went into a desert, and saw
lines drawn in the sand in many different patterns, what would you
expect? Ray Comfort would expect them to be drawn by an “intelligent
source.” In reality, they are drawn by blades of grass that are
drawn by short breezes.
Jesus Christ
Responding to
several skeptics of the historicity of Jesus, Ray says that Jesus
gave skeptics the ultimate challenge to discover that he was real and
right: “He who has My Commandments and keeps them, it is he who
loves Me. And he who loves Me will by loved by Me Father, and I will
love him and manifest Myself to him.” Ray challenges atheists to
therefore keep the Ten Commandments, repent and believe in the
gospel, and then Jesus will appear to them. “Then they will know
God exists, because they know Him.
Ugh, possibly the worst proof for the
historicity of Jesus yet. I say yet, because there may be a time when
some other moron reaches a new low.
Simply claiming to “love”
someone or follow their “teachings” does not prove that
person ever existed. Anyone can make the same argument for a comic
book character, or even an ancient mythical legend.
Similarly, challenging someone to
simply believing in any religious figure can produce the same effect
as Ray Comfort is aiming for. In fact, a person searching their whole
lives for aliens, Big Foot, ghosts, and such can produce the same
level of confidence that these things exist, but in reality that
simply does not provide any credulity or evidence for their
existence. Ray Comfort dismiss out of hand that Muslims say he can
know Allah is real simply by praying and obeying his commands. Since
Ray sees the folly in that argument, he must be able to see the folly
in repeating the same argument towards nonbelievers.
George Harrison, the guitarist for the
Beatles was a Bhaki Hindu. He believed in a personal god, and he said
that if one chants the mantras with devotion, Lord Krishna would
visibly appear and speak to him in an audible voice. Many pagans are
similarly convinced of having met their deities too. For example, a
cat fancier in Texas insists he began worshiping Bast only after the
Egyptian goddess dramatically appeared physically manifest, having
personally chosen him to become her disciple. The Chinese religion is
a mixture of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, polytheism and ancestor
worship. Devotees of this blend of traditions are capable of
remarkable feats of faith, and many of them claim direct
communication with their gods and spirits as well. All of these
different believers, and some Buddhists too, talk about their
spiritual rebirth once they accept whichever deity into their lives.
Every religion boasts their own miracles and prophecies proving
theirs is the truest faith. So its no surprise that Christians say
the same things about their versions of God too.
Scriptures
Responding to an
atheist who claimed that the Bible should not be taken literally in
the modern world. Ray says millions today do believe it literally (as
people did centuries ago, which they considered themselves in
“modern” times). Ray says “it is easy to believe that
water could be walked on, fish can be multiplied, seas can be opened,
storms calmed, etc. when a supernatural nature of God is
acknowledged. With God, nothing is impossible.”
We know that modern illusionists can
possible perform stunts like walking on water, but even they admit
that they are simply fooling the audience and not performing “real”
magic or miracles.
Basically, what Ray is saying, belief
in some magic sky man robs you of your rationality to see the
absurdity in evident fictions. With Ray’s god, you can believe the
sky is actually red.
Responding to an
atheist who does not accept the events recorded in the Bible
historically happened, Ray responds with “Again, never hesitate
to challenge the atheists unquestioning faith in history books by
asking ‘How do you know that to be true?’
Does Ray accept on faith that George
Washington existed? No. Why? We know that George Washington existed,
we know what kind of man he was and all his accomplishments. History
does not require faith, every scrap of history we uncover gives us a
glimpse of the past. These historical findings do not require faith
to accept. They can be evaluated to see if it corresponds with what
happened at the time. Historical evidence brings forth positive
evidence.
How can we know in regards to the
historicity of Jesus? Well the evidence for the historical existence
of Jesus Christ is severely lacking, which is very puzzling for
someone as important as Jesus. The lack of evidence has led many
people to question if Jesus was real and who he was claimed to be. In
ancient times, as well as to modern times, it is common to create
mythical characters. Similar cases are William Tell, King Arthur,
Merlin, and such.
Heaven and Hell
Responding to
several atheist’s objections to the belief in Hell, Ray says that
simply not believing in something does not mean it doesn’t exist.
By this logic, green horses gallop on
the surface of the sun. We cannot see them because we cannot look at
the sun directly. By this logic, there are theoretically an infinite
number of things that could exist simply because we do not believe
in, INCLUDING the possibility there is no Hell. The core of the
problem, is that to claim your worldviews are true, in this case Hell
is real, you must provide positive evidence for it. If nothing can be
given or demonstrated, then you do not kow there is a Hell and you
should not claim that there is one.
There are many good reasons to reject
the concept of Hell. For the most part, an omni-benevolent God would
never create such a place. Historically, it can be shown and proven
that Hell is just a reconstruction of Greek Hellenistic views of the
Tarturus as well as historical sites like Gehenna.
Sin
Ray says the
following: “There’s a big problem when an atheist denies that
sin (evil) exists. All you have to do is ask if murder is wrong, and
if he says that it’s not, keep on asking if what Hitler did was
wrong, or if pedophilia is wrong. You will soon find that he has a
moral boundary regarding what is right and what is wrong. God’s moral
standard is infinitely higher.”
Sin does not equal evil. Evil does
indeed exist, but according to even Christianity, evil existed long
before sin came into the picture. Christianity teaches sin first came
into the world when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. What tempted
Adam? A snake. What was the snake? The devil. The devil is supposed
to be the embodiment of evil, so his mere existence shows that evil
existed before Adam brought sin into the world. It can also be
legitimately argued God is responsible for creating sin and evil.
Is murder wrong? According to Ray
Comfort, there is no distinction between killing someone and murder.
AND YET, Ray Comfort says that killing someone in self-defense
somehow makes it not murder.
If morality means anything, it is the
minimizing of suffering. Any nonreligious or godless person can
justifiably state murder is wrong on the mere fact that the victim
suffered. Whereas certain religions traditionally use moral language
to divide, control and frighten people to obedience, there is a more
appropriate and principled function for morality: to ease the
challenges of coexistence. In a world of finite resources, each of us
with different interests and desires, societies in which individuals
coordinate different talents and develop effective ways to promote
flourishing and harmonious living and minimizing conflict and
needless suffering, will tend to be happier, more peaceful and more
productive than those who don’t. Because we live in continuous
changing world with new kinds of moral problems being generated all
the time there is much harmful ignorance yet to overcome, there is an
ongoing need to develop and redefine our moral understanding.
In response to a
person saying that good and bad is determined if a supposed action is
harmful to others. Ray responds with a question: is a pedophile
taking pictures of children wrong, especially since the children are
not affected because they do not know that they are being
photographed.
Secretly taking photos of naked people
– whatever their age – is an invasion of privacy. Ray seems to be
under the peculiar impression that taking advantage of someone is
okay if they personally don’t find out. By that reasoning, the
burglar who steals a piece of jewelery that turns out never to be
missed does nothing wrong. But we don’t make moral assessments
according to how successfully a perpetrator can conceal his deeds. We
judge the intention in their deed. Ray’s pedophile is violating
privacy through deception, and it’s those elements that attract our
disapprobation.
Salvation
Ray lists several quotes by anonymous
atheists that express their views and disbelief in salvation. Ray
Comfort provides no responses.
How to Reach an Atheist
Ray says there
are two ways to reach an atheist: with the intellect and the
conscience. Starting with the intellect, Ray uses a argument he
presented in his Evidence Bible. The argument goes like this: when I
see a building, how do I know there was a builder? I can’t see him,
hear him, touch, taste, or smell him. of course, the building ”is”
proof that there was a builder. In fact, I couldn’t want better
evidence that there was a builder than to have the building in front
of me. I don’t need faith to know that there was a builder. All I
need is eyes that can see and a brain that works.
This “building requires a builder”
argument is so old and fallacious, which has been demonstrated to Ray
Comfort before. When Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron agreed to debate
the rational Response Squad on live television, they promised they
could prove God scientifically without invoking faith and the Bible
(spoilers: they failed to keep their promise) and Ray used this exact
argument then. The first response was that, unlike God, we can verify
there was a builder simply by calling the builder, check city permit
records, etc. but we cannot call god or his ‘universe factory.’
Can a building not have a builder? Lets
try this: can a bridge not have a bridge-maker? Absolutely yes. One
Google Images search can confirm this. Natural rock bridges forming
in canyons and Southern Unites States have been formed without the
aid of a maker. These rock bridges were formed completely naturally
without any supernatural chiseler.

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