Refutation of "Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups" – Introduction

Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups is a book authored by Christian creationist Ray Comfort, published in 2008. In this book, Ray Comfort provides a series of “questions” that he hopes will “undermine people’s acceptance of the theory of evolution.” Each of these questions are centered around a specific quote from what Ray Comfort describes as a “evolutionary expert” (Introduction, pg. 5). There are a total of 101 Questions, but some of them are followed by one or several quotes.

However, there are legions of problems with Comfort’s rather dishonest piece of work. This article will provide each of the quotes, followed by a refutation and critical analysis of each quote, including highlights of certain fallacies throughout the book.

Unfortunately, due to the vast number of quotes to examine, this will have to be covered in a series of articles.The very last article will summarize the book and calculate the total number of fallacies.

But before I begin, I want to give a special THANK YOU to Glenn Branch, Deputy Director of National Center for Science Education, Inc. for all the help he has provided. I cannot begin to appreciate the help he had offered me, everything from his comments about my work to helping me find dozens of sources of these quotes to verify if they were taken out of context. Thank you very much Glenn, I wish you the best. Keep doing what you do.

Moving on, granted that this Book Review/Critical Analysis will be massive, which will have to be covered in numerous blog articles, you can follow along by clicking the appropriate links below, or in the side bar under “Refutation of “Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grown Ups” by Ray Comfort”

***Anti-evolution work will be shown throughout the book, but as a bonus, talkorigins made an article explained the creationists fallacious and dishonest methods of presenting such quotations.

Fallacies

Not relevant to evolutionary theory or biology

First and foremost, what must be carefully observed is if the quote provided by Ray Comfort even addresses the theory of evolution. Many of the quotes brought up by Comfort’s sources do not even address the theory of evolution in the slightest. For example, several of Comfort’s sources address the religiosity of Albert Einstein or try to prove the historicity or credibility of the Bible. The arguments presented by these sources (even if they were correct) do not have any relevance whatsoever to cellular biology or the theory of evolution.

It must be noted that Comfort, and several of his sources, deliberately and maliciously confuse the theory of evolution is meant to also explain the origin of life and/or the origin of the universe. However, the truth is that the theory of evolution does not and it not meant to explain such questions. Evolution only explains and answers the divergence of life, nothing more. Evolution explains how life diversifies, not how it began. Since evolution at every level is by definition to the variation of allele frequencies inherited over generations of living organisms,then it obviously cannot operate where genomes do not exist yet.

Not a qualified biologist

Next, we must check to see if the sources are coming from credible scientists. Despite Comfort’s claim that he would be using quotes from “evolutionary experts” (Introduction, pg. 5), many of these quotes come from men who are not qualified biologists or any other relevant fields (or even qualified scientists at all). Throughout this review of the book, every quote-mine will be pointed out and revealed, as well as every instance when the person is not a biologist or a scientist.

Often times, Comfort provides sources from apologetic sites, usually written by men who are not scientists in the slightest. Many of them are ministers, apologists, or freelance journalists who write whatever they want. Regardless, none of these men are “evolutionary experts” who submit their papers to academic sources for peer review – rather, they are all tired-old rants that have been addressed countless times, but these religious men continue to kick the dead horse.

Does not damage evolutionary theory

This is regarding references that actually DO address relevant fields such as cellular biology, genetics, taxonomy and paleontology. There are handfuls of the references provided by Comfort that stay on point, but they do not damage the theory of evolution as Comfort wishes they did. References that fit under this category usually address the Cambrian explosion, lack of fossils, or try to present several evolutionary “hoaxes.” Unfortunately, these typical creationist arguments do not damage the theory of evolution for multiple reasons. Creationists tend to use the Achilles Heel fallacy, and think if they can prove that there are no fossils and a few of them were faked, then the entire theory of evolution is destroyed. That is not the case at all. There are vast amounts of data and peer-reviewed papers (which creationists obviously and deliberately ignore) examining the evidence for the Cambrian explosion and transitional fossils, and the fact is these “arguments” are wrong and have been known to be wrong for a very long time.

Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

A large portion of the quotes Comfort provides are quote mines – distortions of what the author intended to mean. While other quotes maybe legitimate, they come from creationists or are not even addressing the theory of evolutionary all.

Important note: Please be careful when you read a reference that includes one or more “…” spaces. Chances are very likely that something very significant was purposefully left out to alter the persons main message in favor of appearing anti-evolution. This is a common tactic amongst creationists, as this review will point out.

Outdated Source

Many of the quotes in this book are highly outdated; Less than half (about 40%) of these quotes were made within the last 20 years. The rest are over 20 years old. In fact, 15% were over 40 years old, going all the way back to Darwin’s day and even one reference to Isaac Newton.

Often times, the quotes and claims that are out-dated no longer apply because years of scientific research has built a stronger understanding of the theory of evolution (as well as many other scientific fields). For instance, quoting a source over a decade old about the lack of transitional fossils is useless, especially over the past recent years of many findings of numerous transitional fossils, making the older claims moot and worthless.

Appeal to authority
Comfort hopes to accomplish this by using quotes from various sources as evidence. However, there are several major problems with Comfort’s approach. For starters, rather than presenting actual scientific evidence, Comfort resorts to quotes which is fallacy known as appeal to authority. Comfort often times quotes a lone great scientist (often times are not even biologists) that does not accept the theory of evolution, and therefore this somehow means the vast numbers of scientists in multiple fields in all the professional academic all around the world are wrong.
Non-Academic Source

Comfort cites the popular press as though they are legitimate scientific sources who represent the full scientific consensus. For example, he claims that the 1999 archaeoraptor hoax fooled the entire scientific community, although no one was fooled but a few people at National Geographic, which, although it has an important-sounding name, is a magazine, not a peer-reviewed journal.

Comfort also includes several sources that are not in the least scientific, academic, or scholarly; such as World Net Daily and Fox News. Some of his sources are Christian apologetic sites. Sites like these are not concerned with providing accurate scientific material (and often rather anti-scientific material). They only write and publish anything that fits into their dogmatic views, and dismiss all legitimate scientific evidence if they think it contradicts their personal beliefs. To understand how closed they are, here are several examples of creationist and apologetic sites that openly proclaim their dogmatic biases on their websites (as if it is something to be proud of);

By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.” – Answersingenesis.org

“verbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological.” – Institute for Creation Research

Revealed Truth: That which is revealed in Scripture, whether or not man has scientifically proved it. If it is in the Bible, it is already true without requiring additional proof.

Fallacy: that which contradicts God’s revealed truth, no matter how scientific, how commonly believed, or how apparently workable or logical it may seem.” – Bob Jones University, Biology Student Text (3rd ed. – 2 vol.)

Notice that they all admit that they will automatically and thoughtlessly reject without consideration, any and all evidence that which may presented should it appear to disagree with their a priory preconceived conclusion.

Distortion of Science

Finally, many references throughout this book are false and blatant attacks against evolutionary theory and science in general. Many references make serious mistakes and errors in regards to the nature of science or the evidence in favor of the theory of evolution. Example, many of the questions claim there are no transitional fossils, but this it absolutely not true. Other examples include the false claims that the geological column does not exist, the peppered moths do not provide proof for the theory of evolution, mutations do not provide any proof of evolution, and such. Each and every scientifically false statement will be addressed and explained.

Common criticisms towards evolution

Many of the questions attack the fossil record, since Ray Comfort still holds that the greatest evidence for evolution are fossils, and thus showing weakness in this field shows the inferiority of all science. This is not the case, because even if we did not have a single fossil at all, we still have mountains of evidence to prove evolution;

*genetics

*phylogeny

*taxonomy

*ontogeny

*biogeography

*not to mention that we observe speciation (macroevolution) right now – both in the lab an in nature.

Virtually all scientific fields not only support evolution, they confirm evolution in great detail. Certain field of science depend on the fact of evolution, such as agriculture and medicine (which Ray admits he does go to the hospital to get treated or vaccinated). One more note, Ray Comfort does not understand what a transitional fossil is, despite his repeated pleas that he does indeed know. To Comforts mind, a transitional fossil would not be something similar to Kirk Cameron’s crocoduck. However, ducks are not descended from crocodiles, nor are crocodiles descended from ducks, so there has never been a transition from crocodiles to ducks, or ducks to crocodiles, so we wouldn’t expect to find any such fossils. In fact, Darwin explained in detail why we should NOT find anything like this. We’re not looking for a blend of two species that both currently exist. Such a thing would actually go against evolution. Instead, he said, that if his theory were true, then what we should find would be a basal form potentially ancestral to both current species. And in this one case alone, we’ve found dozens of them in a near continuous lineage dating beyond the dawn of the Mesozoic era.

Comfort also makes several attacks against gradualism. Gradualism was the notion that evolution occurs slowly and steadily. However, we now know that this is not the case, due to all the science that we’ve done since Darwin. Apart from attacking gradualism and transitional forms, comfort tries to refute the entire fossil record by naming a few hoaxes, but these are only a few rare exceptions made by actual qualified scientists and does not refute archeology, and ignores both the fact that creationists have several hoaxes of their own (such as the Paluxy footprints, the Calaveras skull, Moab and Malachite Man, and others). More telling is how people deal with these hoaxes. Example, when Piltdown was exposed, it stopped being used as evidence. The creationist hoaxes, however, can still be found cited as if they were real. Piltdown has been over and done with for decades, but the dishonesty of creationist hoaxes continues.

Comfort also tries to refute the theory of evolution by attacking other scientific fields (abiogenesis, the Big Bang, carbon-dating, anthropic principle, quantum theory, etc.). Evolutionary theory has no connection with any of these fields and has nothing to contribute or say about them, thus any such comments are therefore irrelevant.

Comfort also attempts to refute evolution by trying to provide “evidence” for the Bible, such as archaeology and several passages that could be interpreted as scientific foreknowledge. While Ray’s sources are wrong, simply attempting to add credulity to the Bible (or any other religious text) does not refute evolution in any way no more than it refutes atomic theory or gravity. All of these (evolution, atoms, and gravity) are scientific theories and facts.

At the end of each article will include a chart summarizing the number of each fallacies. The Concluding article will add up all the numbers and calculate how much of this book is bogus.

Arguments in favor of Young Earth Creationism

Several of the “101 questions” are attempts to prove Young Earth creationism. Here are a few examples,

*man co-existed with dinosaurs (Question 74)

*carbon-dating is flawed

*the geological column does not exist (Question 101)

Despite Ray Comfort’s attempts to distance himself from revealing his thoughts on how old the earth and universe is, this book provides a demonstration of his views.

Introduction

Comfort starts this introduction retelling the story of Charles Darwin, claiming he was disillusioned about God, and came up with a theory to explain the “amazing order and complexity came from nothing and randomly evolved over time.”

As already explained to Comfort countless times, the theory of evolution does not claim anything came from nothing (that is what creationists argue for) and natural selection is not random.

Ray Comfort states that throughout this book, he will demonstrate that the theory of evolution is not a fact, but a theory. He stresses that again by saying “it is just a theory.”

Obviously, Ray does not know what a theory is. Evolution is a theory AND a fact. The following are also scientific theories: the earth orbiting around the sun (heliocentrism), germs causing disease, gravity, atoms, cells, etc. These are all theories and facts, just like evolution. But Ray Comfort and his ilk are not arguing against any of the others, they single out evolution because they think it conflicts with their religious views. Because of this, Ray will not accept any evidence provided for evolution.

Bear in mind, the word “theory” in laymen’s terms is VERY different from scientific terms. Theories are grand fields of study, each supported by facts. Creationists like Ray Comfort proudly parade that “theories” can never be proven. Well, if music theory is a field of study, and as such can never be proved, then neither can the theories of evolution or even economics, and for the same reason. THAT notion is silly. Even if a theory passes every test forever, we still wouldn’t say it was proved, because positive proof exists only in matters of mathematics or law, wherein evolution actually has been proven. Otherwise, no theory has ever been proved, nor can be. They can only be dis-proved. And when that happens, a theory that doesn’t work must be replaced by one that does. We can’t discard any theory just because we haven’t perfected every part of it yet. You can’t trade something that works for nothing that doesn’t. If the original theory works at all, you’ll still have to use it, and perhaps fix it. But we can’t dismiss it until we can replace it with something better. And Darwin’s theory is actually better-supported than Newton’s theory of gravity.

Ray claims that throughout his book, many people will claim that some of the quotes will be quote-mined (and indeed they will be and we can prove it). Ray explains that quote-mining is using a quote in a way that was not intended by the author. This is correct and Ray cannot claim ignorance of this fallacy. Ray responds with the following;

“This book will no doubt be seen by some as “quote mining.” This is the practice of taking a quote (often out of its context), and using it in a way that was never intended by the author. However, every gold nugget is legitimately mined out of its context. No one seriously values the earth that encases the gold. So, when I uncover an evolutionary expert quietly admitting that he has no evidence to back up his theory, I don’t see any value in the soil of his surrounding words. I merely extract what I believe is of value for those who want to discover the truth about the theory of evolution.”

Basically, Ray Comfort just openly admitted that he knows he is quote-mining on purpose and is deliberately misleading and lying to the reader. Comfort knows what he is doing and now we all know: Ray Comfort is a lying hypocrite. Ray is known to straight up call strangers, lay people, or anybody in general liars and tell them lying is wrong since it violates God’s Law. Ray claims that the Ninth Commandment demands that “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. God is a God of truth and His Law demands absolute honesty from the heart.”(The School of Biblical Evangelism, Lesson 13: The Ten Commandments Part 9, Ray Comfort) But it seems lying for Jesus is perfectly okay? Wrong. If Ray firmly believes that Christianity makes you a moral person, an honest person, then under no circumstances are you to knowingly lie. But here in the Introduction, Ray announced he knew full well that he was being deceitful, and had to make an excuse ahead of time to counter the immense criticism that would follow after the publication of this book.

Also note the part where Ray says “I don’t see any value in the soil of his surrounding words. I merely extract what I believe is of value…” this basically means that Ray went out of his way to look through entire publications and crop the bits to make the authors appear they do not support the proposition they are trying to prove. This also means that Ray deliberately overlooked all the physical evidence provided by these scientists that are meant to prove the theory of evolution. So not only is Ray a hypocritical liar, it seems he is also willingly ignorant.

Ray Comfort likes to praise himself as the champion of truth. But if you have to lie in order to support and declare your position, they you obviously know that your position is not true. Ray Comfort, you are a liar.

Next, Ray Comfort goes on to explain what a transitional fossil is. Ray Comfort defines a transitional fossil as “a fossil showing one life form evolving (or changing) to create another, new form of life.”

Ray Comfort is still convinced that the strongest evidence for evolution is fossils, which is not true at all. This is not an accurate definition of a transitional fossil. A transitional fossil is a creature with a mosaic of features shared between older creatures and modern animals. Evolution does not argue that “new life” will evolve, since nothing can escape its heritage. All life on earth is carbon based, and no “new life” has evolved since.

The only evidence Ray Comfort claims evolutionists have are drawings of monkeys slowly straightening upright into modern humans. Next, he defines evolution in “simplistic terms” (that is, his own twisted version that is far from what evolution actually is)…

The universe began with a “big bang” where something suddenly came from nothing, and from there water formed, primitive life appeared in the water, it came up on land, became male and female primates, then eventually evolved into modern man. In other words, simple life forms “transitioned” from one species to another until apes became men and women. however, there is a big problem for those who believe in this theory. Scientists cant find a legitimate “missing link” between apes and man in the fossil record.

Where to begin. The first half is one big straw man of cosmology, abiogenesis, and biology. Again, evolution has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory. Life would still evolve regardless how the universe formed. The Big Bang does not claim everything came from nothing, that is what creationists argue for: that everything was “magically” created out of thin air. Ray mocks the idea that animals can come from the water and live on land, but he is ignorant of dozens of modern animals that do just that, like the mudskipper. Does Ray seriously think that male and females did not exist until apes originated? Also, the missing link is no longer missing and it hasn’t been for many years. We have found dozens of authentic and proven transitional fossils, but creationist will do anything to dismiss it outright. They demand to see a half-man half-ape, which is like asking for a half-duck half-bird, or where is the midway point between Los Angeles and California? So where is the evidence that man evolved from apes? How about the fact that we are apes right now.

Comfort claims to have searched and studied quotes from paleontologists, and concluded they were all “quacks.” He says he has interviewed evolutionists, and they are forced to admit they have a “few” transitional fossils that they may fit into a coffin.

Ray Comfort just admitted, he was only searching for “quotes” and not the actual evidence and discoveries. He is basing these “quacks” on quotes, not based on their models, proofs or data. As for stating he interviews “evolutionists”, this is not true. As already seen on his show Way of the Master about evolution, he only interviews random people on the street. Also, we have millions of transitional fossils that it would be impossible to fit into a coffin (unless the coffin was as bigger than the state of Montana).

Ray includes a quote from the Indiana University website (LarryFlammer, “Class Cladogram of Vertebrate/Human Evolution.”) that claims that transitional fossil evidence is “few” and “very spotty.” Ray however disagrees and claims that none exist at all. Not one. They only exist in the imaginations of pseudoscientific evolutionists. When the website mentions the word “hypothesis,” Ray says that just means “imagination.”

Here is the full quote from the website (bold are lines Ray omitted),

According to the theory of evolution, the “descent with modification” road to humans (or any other group, for that matter) is paved with a sequence of transitional fossils, spaced out in a time sequence reflected in the ages of the fossils found. Since fossils of soft-bodied animals are relatively rare (they don’t fossilize easily), the record is rather spotty prior to the first appearance of vertebrates (in the form of jawless fishes), so this lesson will focus only on the fossil record of vertebrates.

However, most of those groups along the way apparently failed to survive in their original forms. They became extinct. But fortunately, some members of some of those groups were fossilized, and a few of those are found from time to time, giving us the hit-or-miss, very spotty record of fossils which has lead us to hypothesize that picture of a branched tree of being which we call evolution. New fossils are being found every day, helping to fill in some of the gaps, and those fossils continue to confirm and strengthen that picture of life through time with ever-increasing detail.

Ray says evolutionists speak in what Ray calls the “language of speculation;” that is, their responses do not include absolute terms. They use words like probably, possibly, perhaps, maybe, could be, etc.

Ray still does not understand that science never claims to be absolutely correct. Scientific theories must remain falsifiable, as new collected data could alter, improve or disprove any given scientific law or theory.

Next, Ray Comfort says two Gallup polls in 1982 and 2007 show that over 80 percent of the American population believes God created man, claiming the people have not been “fooled.”

What he does not explain is if these people believe God used evolution as a tool for making humans. Also, scientific legitimacy and truth is not based on popular vote. Plus, Ray Comfort is asking the wrong people. Over 95 percent The National Association of Scientists, the elite and brilliant scientists of America, accept evolution as a fact.

Ray Comfort claims to not be an expert on the subject of evolution, therefore throughout this book he will quote (quote-mine) from “evolutionary experts” what they believe about the theory of evolution and that it requires blind faith to accept evolution.

Ray Comfort does not claim to be an expert on the subject — no duh, we already knew that. Someone who is not trained int he field of science, has no scientific degree of any kind, should not be making a book on something they do not understand. Ray Comfort is attempting to refute the strongest theory in science with quote (actually, quote mines), which is like using a few altered quotes from scientists to disprove gravity. Unfortunately, gravity nor any scientific theory is refuted with quotes.

Evolution does not requires faith, since we actually have evidence that Ray is careful not to share and the fact that we observe evolution now.

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