The Growing Pains of Discomforting the Rational Response Squad

My interest was piqued when I read more than a week ago that former child star Kirk Cameron and his ministry partner Ray Comfort were going to debate two atheists on ABC’s Nightline and through ABC’s Internet site. What piqued my interest is what Cameron and Comfort claimed they could do—prove scientifically the existence of God without the Bible and without faith.

I have to confess that when I say my interest was piqued what I mean is that I was kind of shaking my head back and forth saying, “Uh oh, we may be in trouble.”

No offense to Cameron and Comfort; they have a thriving ministry and are reaching a lot of people for Christ. I’m not faulting them in that sense. But there are three things that, personally, I think they should not have engaged in:

”Scientific proof,”
Proof “without faith,” and
Debating the Rational Response Squad in the first place.

I supposed I really should not say much about the first point of contention. I’m not a scientist yet I possess of number of books on the sciences and creation all authored by some top people in their fields. I’ve used their materials to write articles, and for supportive research. But I’m not a scientist and I wouldn’t claim to prove the existence of God scientifically.Cameron and Comfort are not scientists—not by a long shot. When I watched the opening statement by Comfort online I admit that he had some interesting points, but they were not scientific by any means. His primary reasoning was not scientific, it was analogy. There’s nothing wrong with using analogy to reason with someone, but reasoning by analogy is not scientific anymore than Comfort’s infamous Coke can is beaker. Of course the rebuttal by the Rational Response organization wasn’t scientific either, but that’s not really the point I want to address (their honest or intentional misunderstanding of the Bible was so profound that I’d have to write several articles just to deal with the lunacy that came form their mouths. It’s a pity that people so ignorant of what they are really arguing against hold to it so dogmatically that they insist others intentionally declare themselves damned along with them).

If you want to say you have evidences for God’s existence then go for it. People can judge the rightness or wrongness of your evidences (or judge right or wrongly). But I don’t think it’s a smooth 4-lane highway for a former actor and a preacher to go that route—especially Cameron. Dude, you used to pretend for a living. Don’t pretend to argue scientifically.

The above point is really rather minor, I confess I’ve engaged in my own so-called “scientific” arguments, but I’ve learned by experience not to over-reach beyond my expertise, which is small. I can offer proofs of God’s existence, even proofs made by reputable scientists, but I can’t do it in a methodical way that would be considered respectable or proper in terms of being “scientific.” Maybe I’m nit picking, but hey, that’s me.

The second problem is a big one—ginormous really. I didn’t get to watch the whole of the debate yet since it isn’t fully online, but throughout the opening segments and first portion (and pre-debate) Cameron and Comfort kept saying they could prove God’s existence, “without faith.” Now I know Cameron and Comfort don’t read this website, but guys, if by some isolated remote chance you are reading this, proving God’s existence “without faith” is not only incorrect practically, it’s downright unbiblical. Maybe I’m ranting on semantics since Comfort and Cameron were trying to address a non-believing audience, but consider the following.

Everyone has faith. Comfort said that his proofs were easy to see in nature and thus didn’t require faith, but that’s just not the case. Every argument, every evidence, every kind of persuasion that might be brought to bare in a debate relies upon a statement or act of faith whether you are a radical fringe fundamentalist, a frothing at the mouth atheist, or anything else in between. I exercise faith every morning that I won’t get food poisoning when I poor my Mongolian milk into my cereal bowl (my faith used to be in the wrong milk, now its in the good milk. Lesson learned). Even when I was an agnostic I exercised faith in the perceived fact that religion and the existence or non-existence of God didn’t matter. If I didn’t exercise faith as an agnostic I would have jumped aboard the Gospel bus a whole lot sooner.

Faith is nothing more than a trust that some thing or some idea is factual and dependable and can therefore be acted upon with a measure of reliability. I do NOT have faith the tissue won’t explode when I blow my nose, so I grab more than one, and fold them over, twice.

All weirdness aside, in a single opening statement Cameron and Comfort kept asserting that God’s existence could be proved apart from requiring faith, but went on to note how faith in Christ was required in order to obtain salvation. The second point was completely true and biblical, but prefacing it with the first point sent mixed messages. You don’t need faith to know he exists, but you need faith know him. What does the scripture say? “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists…” (Hebrews 11:6).

Excellent arguments can be made for the existence of a Creator without using a single reference from the scripture. We call this Natural Revelation. The scripture is a difference kind of revelation we call, Special Revelation. The scripture is the highest authority in creation for the knowledge of God and the practice of our faith—but what does the scripture do? It points to Natural Revelation to make a case for God’s existence (Romans 1:20). Here’s the kicker: Natural Revelation can inform you about God’s existence as a Creator, and even about some of his attributes of immutability and communicability, but Natural Revelation CANNOT tell you WHO God is, how to please him, or anything about the Lord Jesus. Only Special Revelation can do that.

The scripture is very clear on this point. Unless God had revealed himself to man, none would seek him (Romans 3:10-11), and none would know his identity. Knowing God personally required that he proactively reveal himself. If he didn’t do so, then we would all be stumbling in the dark like the Sodom welcoming committee.
Cameron and Comfort should have left aside the whole notion of proving God’s existence “apart from faith” since it sent mixed messages and was just not biblical. Frankly I think their strength is in arguing from God’s word, and nothing can have more of an impact on a human heart that the very word the Holy Spirit wrote. Word of wisdom: Stick to your strengths.

Third, why in the world did Cameron and Comfort debate the Rational Response folks in the first place? If anything, the Rational Response Squad is not rational, it’s sensationalistic. How did they make a name for themselves? By launching an online video project called Blasphemy Challenge designed to recruit people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Citing the text of scripture that says such a sin will NEVER be forgiven, they urged their visitors who take the challenge and make a video blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I.E., they encouraged people, based upon their faith that the Bible is not true, to take their eternal destiny into their own hands and curse the Spirit of God. As one gal on a video said after unloading on the Spirit, “See ya in hell.”

Frankly, what the group did was not only a stupid thing to do, but the group is intentionally engaging in sensationalism for their own aggrandizement. Are these the kind of people you want to debate with? Did you see the clod that walked up to the podium to refute Comfort? Dude, its national television; tuck in your shirt. Had Comfort and Cameron simply ignored them then they would not have lowered themselves to the level of argument posed by the two characters on the debate. Especially that gal, Kelly, and her “way more better” proofs that God doesn’t exist.

Way more better?

As far as Cameron and Comfort go I have to give them credit and a little admiration. They stepped into a boxing ring of their own making, put themselves out for everyone to ridicule, took the big risk beyond their abilities and gave it their best shot. I can’t help but admire that especially when their opponents weren’t exactly what I would call classic rationalist. Honestly, that chick Kelly was a buffoon. But the situation is what it is. Pass or fail they put themselves out there, took their lumps, and God love’em, they did more than most Christians will do to defend their faith. So to that I say, “More power to ya,” you are better men than I.

But if I could give them a word of advice, it would be that if you want to do a debate like that again, do it in a setting where you can have more time for rational research and writing like a structured blog debate. Heck, I’d be willing to do that. Better yet, let’s get some hardcore scientists on both sides to do a Nightline debate and you’ll really see where the evidence goes.

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