Last night, I watched Ray Comfort‘s latest film The Atheist Delusion… because I’m a masochist and it’s one of the requirements.
I’ll admit I was curious what the movie would look like after our interview. After all, the film’s tagline is “Atheism destroyed with one scientific question.”
Since atheism is still around, I figured this must be a new question no one has heard before!
But my atheism wasn’t destroyed. It wasn’t even nicked. If anything, it’s stronger than ever before since the big “scientific question” turned out to be a version of a question we’ve all thought about many times before.
Before we get to the science, Comfort talks about books. Books have a designer. Someone had to illustrate the pages, write the words, put the product together, etc. They don’t come together on their own. They’re too complex, he implies, to have “evolved” on their own. Comfort’s interviewees readily concede this point.
Then he pivots to DNA. It’s complex. It has a lot of information. Surely someone had to create it.
We’ve heard that argument before. William Paley famously said it about a watch, that if you came across one on the ground, you’d reasonably think it fell off someone’s wrist or was put there on purpose. You would never say it evolved like that by chance.
But it’s a horrible analogy for evolution. Richard Dawkins wrote an entire book, appropriately titled The Blind Watchmaker, detailing all the ways that logic makes no sense. Comfort clearly hasn’t read Dawkins’ book since he’s still working off of the same 200-year-old analogy.
However, his subjects, who aren’t well-versed in biology, aren’t sure how to respond to that argument. They want to say DNA evolved, but they don’t know the details, so they appear flummoxed when asked to explain where DNA came from. There’s a reason for that. We don’t know the exact process yet. We have a pretty damn good idea of how it happened, but it’s not like we’ve created life in a lab. We’re working off of theories based on all the available evidence. That’s the best anyone can do for now, and perhaps it’s all we’ll ever have.
Comfort even interviews physicist Lawrence Krauss at one point, asking him the same question about DNA: Could it really have created itself? Krauss goes through the stock scientific answer, including a bit about the “illusion of design” that tricks our minds. But because he, like the rest of the scientific community, doesn’t have all the answers in a nice, tidy format, Comfort sees it as a sign of surrender.
In Comfort’s mind, everything has to come from somewhere, and that “First Cause” is God. (Where did God come from, then? Don’t ask.)
The entire movie is just the latest iteration of an argument we’ve heard so many times before. It’s God of the Gaps: The Movie. It’s ignorance parading around as evidence for God’s existence. And it’s that sort of faulty thinking that leads Comfort to claim we can’t have “half an eye” (which is the wrong way of thinking about it), and that the alternative to not knowing everything is automatically Christianity.
That’s perhaps the biggest logical failure in the film. Comfort argues evolution is impossible, and then claims that “establishes the Bible” as true. How’s that for a leap of faith? He goes from “We don’t understand this” to “the Christian version of the story is totally accurate,” jumping from Point A to Point Z without any steps in between.
He doesn’t argue that a generic God exists. He doesn’t even pay lip service to other religions. He goes directly from DNA couldn’t have evolved to Adam and Eve must exist. It makes no sense.
By the way, we’re only 20 minutes into the movie at this point. And the science portion is done.
The next part is Comfort sharing his personal journey to Jesus with the people he’s interviewing. He tells people, unfairly, “You know in your heart God exists,” as if we’re denying reality instead of rejecting mythology.
He tells one person that he’s fighting the obvious existence of God because “you love your porn.” And he attributes happiness and joy and the “blueness of the sky” to God’s love.
There’s a hodgepodge of arguments about absolute morality coming from God, a commercial for one of his books, and a long segment featuring the “Good Person” test. In other words, all things we’ve seen Comfort do many times before, all of which have rebuttals publicly available. It might have been interesting if he incorporated those responses and built off of them, but he just reverts to the same old playbook.
It’d be unfair to call this movie original because it’s not. It’s not even a sequel. It’s literally the same thing Comfort has done for decades… but with different packaging and fancier cameras. At least his previous movie Audacity was cringeworthy enough to hate-watch.
Much like Christianity, this film doesn’t live up to the hype and leaves you wanting your money back. And if anyone’s atheism is destroyed by watching it, it must not have been very strong to begin with.