27 March 2011

Ray Comfort was on The Atheist Experience

... And I didn't watch it. Really, I think Ray Comfort is incorrigible. I watched his discussion with Thunderf00t, I've visited his blog and website countless times, and I sat through the atrocious debate on Nightline that pitted Comfort and his apprentice Kirk Cameron against the Rational Response Squad. I've seen about all I can take of that guy. I mean, at least the arguments of guys like WL Craig and Alister McGrath reflect a modicum of reason. There's a wise old saying that one is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Ray just gets the facts wrong and spouts the identical arguments ad nauseum no matter how many times he's corrected. He's also a science-denying Biblical literalist, and I can't see any reason to pay attention to those morons.

So yeah. I have no interest in listening to more of Ray Comfort. But I did read the follow-up blog over at TAE, and I liked the way Martin articulated his objections to the standard arguments "Something from Nothing" and "A Painting Requires a Painter":
That things in nature, including the universe itself, appear to be designed, is intuitive to us, because we are pattern-seeking creatures. But where Christians like Ray go phenomenally wrong is in confusing and conflating order and design. Design, at least as Christians use the term, implies intelligent agency and purpose. Order is entailed by the nature of existence itself. As George Smith points out, to exist at all is to exist as something. But order alone is not evidence of intelligent design. The great irony of Paley's Watchmaker argument is that it demonstrates this. To deduce that the watch in the desert must be a designed artifact, the observer is reaching that conclusion by comparing the watch to its surroundings. The watch stands out because it is wholly unlike the desert. The Watchmaker argument proves, if nothing else, that deserts are not designed. [link]
Indeed, if order implies design, then God himself must be designed – since God is presumed to both embody ordered properties and to act with ordered purpose. This is a common infinite regress. WL Craig, among others, has attempted to subvert this point by arguing that we don't need to understand the ontological nature of the explanation to understand that it is the best explanation. This misses the side of the barn: the point is that the logic being used to infer that the universe requires a designer at all is erroneous, and accordingly could just as easily be applied to God himself as the universe.  Before the believer can claim that something best explains the design of the universe, he has to demonstrate that it actually was designed.

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