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Rational Response Squad vs. The Christians

Some excerpts from the ABC Debate that took place Saturday that will be featured on Nightline tomorrow. The video is that of the response squad and so edited by them.



Kirk Cameron? Are you freaking kidding me? Ugh.

there is no 100% proof that god exists...where do they get these people? Can somebody with a spiritual evolution beyond a three-year-old please be a part of one of these debates someday?

Kirk freaking Cameron?

Ray and Kirk weren't paying attention in science class. It's called the First Law of Thermodynamics.

One could also argue that like a painting, not just one person was involved in the process but many (who created the brushes, the paint, the canvas, etc.) Is then this a sound argument for polytheism?

I love the fact that its now politically correct to be an athiest. This all has to do with people seeing with their own eyes what damage, religion (the bush administration)can do to the world.

I know! How sad when people say that common sense is a good idea.

Just so everyone who doesn't know.. Kirk Cameron was in the fear mongering movie series "Left Behind"

Yikes! Talk about shooting fish in a barrel!

I've debated religious sophists before and their ignorance of science is only overshadowed by their lack of eloquence and inability to follow simple rules of rhetoric.

I once debated Kent Hovind in a small town in Indiana and disembowled the fool in front of an audience that was nearly 100% evangelical Christian and supported Creationism with all their hearts.

To prove to the audience how stupid Hovind was, I only used a high school physics textbook and a pocket calculator to debunk every "scientific" claim he made. I pulled the equations and proofs from a high school textbook to show how, using simple knowledge every kid in high school physics learns, one could debunk Hovind and not even have to cite the more abstract sciences of evolution, quantum mechanics, and relativity.

The next day I attacked him again in the op-ed section of my hometown's newspaper. This time I was joined by science professors from the local colleges who also attended Hovind's circus lecture and debate but did not speak out as had I.

I wished I had had these brilliant kids from the Rational Resonse Squad as my debate amigos and amigas! I like the fact they're fighting the good fight and carrying themselves quite well.


Straw Man:

Present someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, refute that person's arguments, and pretend that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.

If I were the Sonny Bono-looking guy representing the God side, I would have used a salami instead of a painting.

He could use the same stupid proof he used with the painting, but then he'd at least have a tasty snack food for everyone when he's done babbling.

...pretend that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.

Who picked the teams in this debate? Is it the fault of the Rational Response Squad that the other side was as stupid as sock puppets?

Brian Flemming:

A new kind of debate Formal debates about the existence of God suck. Always.

One problem is that so many debates are set up with the misplaced notion of balance. One side is making an extraordinary claim, yet the side with the default position (not believing in that extraordinary claim) is expected to make its negative case equally.

The setup is unfair in two ways: 1) By the apportionment of equal time, the theist side is short-changed on the opportunity to meet the burden of proof, which is entirely theirs. If someone is going to prove the theory of relativity or that the moon is made of green cheese, you have to give them some time to do it. And there's no reason the other side should be given any time at all to prove that the moon is not made of green cheese. The other side should merely be critically examining the green-cheese case as it was just made. 2) The atheist side suffers from the implication that it has any obligation at all beyond examining the case made by the theist, who is the only one making any noteworthy claim. The atheist brings to the discussion only the claim that he or she hasn't heard a good case for God yet, and so fails to believe, naturally. There's no "proof" to be given for this position.



that was painful to watch

Booo - both sides were intellectually weak. I'd rather read over the Copleston vs. Russell debate for the thousandth time.

That was completely dumbed down. So sad.

this is just four stupid people arguing. I assume it's just atheists that were religious or submerged in it at one point, but why is all the atheism I ever see in media really agressive and angry. They're just stupid monkeys!!! relax, take a breather. there's no need to paint religion as menacing and morally backwards, people are...but they are regardless of creed or beliefs. fact is the church has a bloody history because EVERYTHING with any historic stamina has got a bloody history. and christ, people will be brainwashed by any old shit. anywho..blahblahblah.....angry atheists suck, they always come across as idiots

As soon as I heard Pantera, I lost respect for them (haha).

Anyway, can't wait to see how it's edited on ABC.

Thanks for the clip!

anywho..blahblahblah.....angry atheists suck, they always come across as idiots

Hello? Oh it's for you, Black Kettle. Says his name is Pot.

I'm afraid the Rational Responders come off as a couple of snottty, humorless scolds in these clips. I think Ray and Kirk are a couple of goofballs, but based on the evidence here, I'd invite them to lunch much sooner than the other two. On the other hand, I did enjoy the supertext commentary during Comfort's talks. I'm curious to see what it was that 'riled' the audience, according to the RR team.

I've been a big fan of Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and to a lesser degree Ken Miller (he's no athiest, but at least his religion doesn't get in the way of his dispassionate scientific inquiry.) I have wondered, though, how effective it is to challenge religion itself.

This idea of attacking the logic of religion seems quite interesting (and, I would think, far more destructive to whichever sides loses a debate, because it means they were proved illogical.)

I'll hold judgement until I see the Nightline piece tomorrow, but it seems like Kirk and Ray made extremely weak points; also, ffrom the footage seen tonight, they barely made any case for a god, and did so using silly arguments (like the building/painter thing.) Further, it seemed to have very quickly turned to religious discussion about the Bible and whatnot, which just goes to show they cannot make a scientific case for God.

Also, as a student of history, it sure chaps me when people say I accept history "on faith." Anyone who says that, or honestly believes that, has no idea how the study of history actually works.

Geez... I wish they had had someone a little more knowledgeable scientifically, like Francis Collins. Some actual theologists would have been nice, too.

I was disappointed with rational response squad, they could have hit this one out of the park but came up flat - at least relative to what they could have come up with. Dawkins would have destroyed the other side.

"Have you ever lost anything? What does that make you--"

That's my counter-argument for Kirk.


A pretty lame debate, to be sure. Kirk and Ray are embarrassingly dense, but the response squad is also pretty weak.

I suspect most educated people have heard the utterly fallacious thermodynamic (2nd Law) argument offered by God-bots that purports to prove the existence of God. This the first time I've seen an atheist mangle thermodynamics in service of the opposite position. All this proves is that it is much easier to cite the laws of thermodynamics that to learn what they are or what they mean.

A pretty lame debate, to be sure. Kirk and Ray are embarrassingly dense, but the response squad is also pretty weak.

I suspect most educated people have heard the utterly fallacious thermodynamic (2nd Law) argument offered by God-bots that purports to prove the existence of God. The is the first time I've seen an atheist mangle thermodynamics in service of the opposite position. All this proves is that it is much easier to cite the laws of thermodynamics that to learn what they are or what they mean.

A pretty lame debate, to be sure. Kirk and Ray are embarrassingly dense, but the response squad is also pretty weak.

I suspect most educated people have heard the utterly fallacious thermodynamic (2nd Law) argument offered by God-bots that purports to prove the existence of God. This the first time I've seen an atheist mangle thermodynamics in service of the opposite position. All this proves is that it is much easier to cite the laws of thermodynamics that to learn what they are or what they mean.

Ray Comfort proposed the challenge. He claimed he could prove god through science and didn't need to rely on faith or the Bible. That lasted about 1 second. The RRS did an excellent job as they merely needed to point out that Ray didn't uphold his part of the bargin. When the RRS did mention science the Way of the Master crowd just looked confused and stupid. Nightline will air more of the debate on Wednesday night. Apparently Ray complained that the Atheist in the room were applauding the good arguments presented by the RRS and nobody was impressed by the fundy crowd. What else can be said when Ray's entire argument was a poor analogy that god creates the universe like thousands of people create a Coke can (so it takes thousands of gods to create a universe? or one person to create a Coke can?).

If the haters here think they can do a better job then go on Nightline and we'll see how well you do.


Poor Kirk Cameron.

Did he not have ANY rational friends like I (and I assume Thomas McCay) did to help him through his scary epiphany?

So he turned to the comfortable lie.

And where on Earth, other than the obvious and literal AUS/NZ answer, did this Ray Comfort weirdo spring from?

Ray Comfort makes me UNCOMFORTABLE.

The RRS did an excellent job


If the haters here think they can do a better job then go on Nightline and we'll see how well you do.

Criticism of the RSS isn't the same as being a hater. You're right - in some respects, they carried out their task proficiently. They certainly kept the burden of proof where it belonged, and certainly pointed out that Kirk & Ray did not do what they set out to.

I'm afraid they didn't accomplish much beyond that. A religious person could easily see Ray & Kirk refuted, yet see no reason to re-examine any of their religious thinking. It would be good to have seen the RRS give them some new food for thought.

The severest criticism I will make of the RSS is in their choice of rhetoric. Certainly, according to the dictionary definition they chose, certain tactics employed by evangelists could, at least on the surface, be characterized as "terroristic". But, to use that language with it's post-911 baggage of violence and extremism (when the dictionary definition doesn't necessitate those connotations, and when evangelism almost never justifies them) gives the appearance of bad faith on the part of the RSS. Had i been Ray & Kirk (Bob forbid), I would have taken them to school on this. I would have shown first that they were begging the question. Only if the danger of hell is not real would the evangelist be threatening coercively rather than warning helpfully. To label such behavior terroristic is to shoulder a burden of proof that the evangelist has no special knowledge of that threat. And while it may seem self-evident to the RRS that the evangelist in fact does lack such knowledge, the RRS has not yet demonstrated that, and thus his rhetoric begs the question.

I would then ask them to try to address the facts of the question, rather than make emotional appeals to the audience using unjustifiably loaded language.

If it's true that the RRS aren't the most effective voices critical of religion that Nightline could have televised, it's also true that Ray and Kirk are anything but the most effective voices in favor of it.

It would be good indeed to see some better quality debates get primetime airing. Maybe the Washington Post could share some of their On Faith panelists. There are some strong voices in their bevy of contributors, from both sides. On the other hand, I'm grateful to Nightline for airing anything at all. It's a step in the right direction.


It was significant that the RRS pair felt sorry for their 'opponents'. It was like an adult debating the existence of Santa Claus with a seven year old. And, please note, as a pedant I use the term 'debate' correctly - you debate a subject, you debate WITH an opponent.

user-pic a Christian, I can honestly say that this is an embarrasment. I would like to see the RRS guys against some serious religious thinkers like Ravi Zacharious or Dennis Prager. Heck, I feel I could have done a better job that Comfort and Cam. I may not have changed any minds but I at least feel that I would have had some rational response to the RRS. Anyway, sorry that this is what the Christians claim to be as "evidence." Very sad.

cure4pain....Ravi is just another misguided fundy like the people he hangs with - Dobson, etc. More eloquent than Kirk, to be sure, but a fundy nonetheless. His whole theology is based on his absent father and his efforts to replace him with big daddy in the sky...he gives it all away in the first few pages of his book "jesus among other gods."

I would have liked to see Marcus Borg or maybe even N.T. Wright (conservative, but a scholar, at least). Of all, I would have liked to have seen Frederick Buechner who wrote this about "Born Again" people (who Kirk professes to be):

The phrase comes, of course, from a scene in John’s Gospel where Jesus tells a Pharisee named Nicodemus that he will never see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. Somewhat testily prodded by Nicodemus to make himself clearer, Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”? In other words, spiritual rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit is what Jesus is talking about.

He then goes one step further, playing on the word pneuma, which means both “spirit” and “wind” in Greek. “The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit,”? he says (John 3:1-8). The implication seems to be that the kind of rebirth he has in mind is (a) elusive and mysterious and (b) entirely God’s doing. There’s no telling when it will happen or to whom.

Presumably those to whom it does happen feel themselves filled, as a sheer gift, with that love, joy, peace which Saint Paul singles out as the principal fruits of the experience. In some measure, however fleetingly, it is to be hoped that most Christians have had at least a taste of them.

Some of those who specifically refer to themselves as “Born Again Christians,”? however, seem to use the term in a different sense. You get the feeling that to them it means Super Christians. They are apt to have the relentless cheerfulness of car salesmen. They tend to be a little too friendly a little too soon and the women to wear more make-up than they need. You can’t imagine any of them ever having had a bad moment or a lascivious thought or used a nasty word when they bumped their head getting out of the car. They speak a great deal about “the Lord”? as if they have him in their hip pocket and seem to feel that it’s no harder to figure out what he wants them to do in any given situation than to look up in Fanny Farmer how to make brownies. The whole shadow side of human existence-- the suffering, the doubt, the frustration, the ambiguity-- appears as absent from their view of things as litter from the streets of Disneyland. To hear them speak of God, he seems about as elusive and mysterious as a Billy Graham rally at Madison Square Garden, and on their lips the Born Again experience often sounds like something we can all make happen any time we want to, like fudge, if only we follow their recipe.

It is not for anybody to judge the authenticity of the Born Again’s spiritual rebirth or anybody else’s, but my guess is that by the style and substance of their witnessing to it, the souls they turn on to Christ are apt to be fewer in number than the ones they turn off.

I think their "rebirth" can be criticized, but you get my point....

anyway, what a poorly-casted debate..


As Mat pointed out above, there is a profound lack of rhetoric skills and understanding of the rules of formal logic concerning Ray Comforts argument. I wish RRS had pointed out that Ray's "Painting" argument implies that we know A PRIORI that the painting was painted by a person. We don't. We are told it is painted by a person when we are children, and as we age we WITNESS people painting pictures and building buildings and accept the truth of the "someone painted that painting" argument A POSTERIORI.

Uggh, the RRS really botched it when they said the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics was the conservation of energy and matter.

The 3rd law of thermodynamics is about entropy (disorder), and that over time, the amount of entropy in a closed system increases.

... and I should have added above, that if Kirk Camereon and the Aussie guy weren't complete retards, they would have used that error to really embarass the RRS and basically "win" the debate on perception points.

Ben, that is excellent! I love it. I hate the method that Ray and Kirk use in their evangelizing, which is basically to list acts that are forbidden in the 10 Commandments, and then say that if you have X-ed once, you are an "X-er."

My imaginary response to them has always been to ask things like, "Have you ever taken a shit? What does that make you? Have you ever eaten carrots? That means your a carrot-eater." Seriously, the idea that an arbitrary list of 10 actions can determine the whole of your character is ludicrous.

You want to talk about straw men, you should see the man-on-the-street interviews these guys do on their show. They always pick the most dimwitted people, who fall right into this trap and willingly call themselves liars and theives.

I have lied. I have stolen. What does that make me? It doesn't MAKE me anything! It's just stuff that I did.

I think part of the problem has to do with the prevalence of the terms "murderer" and "adulterer," which can be applied after someone has done either of these things once. But putting murder on the same level as lying is an egregious oversight, anyway.

Even Ray admitted that telling your 115 year old grandmother that she looks good is okay, but where does it say this in the Bible? He's making a secular judgement about which lies are okay, and it's one that I would agree with, but if he's saying that this rule about which lies are okay comes from the Bible, he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Romans 8:6-8 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.


After all, if murder and lying were equivalent (or equally bad), they would either both be legal or both be illegal, wouldn't they?

People love to say that our nation's laws are based on the Ten Commandments, but if that's the case, where's the law against lying? Where's the law about keeping the Sabbath? Where's the law against adultery, for that matter? Just because a couple of the most basic laws (don't kill people, don't steal things) are also found in the Bible doesn't mean that the Bible is the source of our laws.

Uggh, the RRS really botched it when they said the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics was the conservation of energy and matter. The 3rd law of thermodynamics is about entropy (disorder), and that over time, the amount of entropy in a closed system increases. Posted by: voodoochile78 | May 9, 2007 12:09 PM

No, it isn't.

clarification for those who care:

1st law: The total amount of energy of the universe remains constant

2nd law: The entropy of an energy system tends to increase

3rd law: Entropy approaches a constant value as the temperature of an energy system approaches absolute zero


Actually, Ray's opening claim that the "painting" is proof there is a painter is totally inaccurate. He was not holding the original Mona Lisa in his hand, he was holding a print and all that print proves is that there is a copy of what we can only assume is a painting. There is no evidence that there was a painter in the print. No brush strokes you can feel, no dried paint you can test.

Ray doesn't even know the difference between a painting and a print so how can he be expected to know the difference between a god and desperate explanation?

If I hold up a rock, does it prove there was a mountain, or if I hold a grain of sand, does it prove there was a rock? NO! there are many other ways those things could have come into being.

Holding James Cameron's brain in my hand does not prove there was an intelligent James Cameron.

just like Ted Haggert in the infamous Dawkins interview, Ray Comfort says that life evolves by random chance.

at the very least, can't Comfort and Cam wrap their puny minds around natural selection?

i'm embarrassed to be of the same species as these folks.

The Egg! You want proof of an intelligent designer of the cosmos, there you have it, the egg! The shell of your average chicken egg has more than 10,000 microscopic holes in it, to allow the chicken to breath as it develops. Without those holes, the chicken would die long before it was old enough to hatch and survive in the world. But even at a later stage in the development of the chicken, just 5 days before the chicken hatches, it finds itself unable to draw enough air through those 10,000 small holes. If you have ever hard-boiled an egg, you'll notice that one end of the egg is always flat. This is caused by a small pouch of air inside the egg which contains exactly 6 days worth of air for the small young chick. When the chick finds itself unable to draw enough air through the holes, it breaks open the pouch of air and on an average, 5 days later, the newborn chick breaks out. Now here's the problem with evolution: Evolution takes a minimum of several generations of trial and error before it gets the new traits correct. This means that long before that egg developed those 10,000 tiny holes or that pouch full of air, all the chickens would have died out and there wouldn't be anymore chickens. Like the french scientist said, "Evolution is a fairytale for adults!" The reason you cannot find God, is the same reason a thief cannot find a don't WANT to!


JIM, Who says "Evolution takes a minimum of several generations of trial and error before it gets the new traits correct" ? that makes no sense whatever ....New traits must be assembled in such a way that they allow the organism to survive ... btw, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Chic, the very word "Evolution" (according to Webster's Dictionary) means: a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development. Gradual! And the word gradual means: taking place, changing, moving, etc., by small degrees or little by little.

Evolution as taught by high school and college professors is spurred on by necessity. When a species comes up against an obstacle that it cannot overcome as it is, then that species will spontaneously, without willful thought, change random traits in an attempt to stumble across a change that will give this species the ability to overcome that which necessitated the change.

Here are just a couple of the problems with this theory. 1) Random changes in a DNA strand like that which evolution claims, would be much more likely to kill a species, not strengthen it. 2) Considering the sheer number of places within a DNA strand where changes like this could occur; long before a species could stumble upon the right combination, it would have long since died out.

Haven't you ever wondered why the "theory of evolution" still remains a theory after 148 years?

And to answer the age old question of the chicken and the egg.....the chicken came first, and scripture backs it up!

Want to talk further? Feel free to e-mail me at


"The Egg! You want proof of an intelligent designer of the cosmos, there you have it, the egg!" - 3cheers4

Is this for real? Let me show you my 4th grade report that disputes this.

Fish - Lays eggs in water

Amphibians - Can survive on land but still need to lay eggs in water

Reptiles - The egg shell is porous and either leathery or limy. This adaptation allows respiration through the shell without losing too much water. On the down side, most reptile eggs become waterlogged if exposed to water for too long.

Birds - Well you outlined those specific improvements.

The problem with your argument is it's based upon the assumption chickens were the first to lay eggs.

Anything can be disputed if you limit your observation to a minimalist view of the entire mechanism.

Thus you can prove cars don't work if you only take into account the gas tank and ignore the rest of the vehicle.

Correction it was Jim not 3cheers4 that I was rebutting, in the previous post.

oh I love it when atheists claim to use "science" as a proof against God. They love to claim that Christians are "ignorant" of science...when they themselves are ignorant of the fact that the overwhelming bulk of science was discovered by Christians. Genetics, optics, agriculture, euclidian geometry, astronomy, physics, architecture, animal husbandry...even modern scientific method itself...all of these things were advanced by the church, by priests of the church. What's more is the incredible leaps in science during the Mideval and Rennaisence periods would not have happened were it not for the belief in God and an ordered universe. Building off the biblical notion that "God ordered all things acording to their weight and measure" scientists were able to depend on scientific law rather than on the athiest view of a chaotic and random universe. So blow it out your rear, science dependant atheist dorks! Try reading more and talking less.

Oh, sorry...guess I should point you int he right direction since the rational response squad loves to pretend that actual well reasoned books ont he subject don't exist. Try "How the Catholic Chuch Built Western Civilization" by Thomas Woods PhD as a starting point. "A young man who wishes to remain an atheist cannot be too careful in his reading" CS Lewis

"the overwhelming bulk of science was discovered by Christians"

Agriculture? Non-christian places learnt it.

Astronomy? Christians used to kill many for offering non-christian explanation of the Cosmos.

Architecture? The seven wonders of the ancient world belong to...

Euclidean geometry? Not sure Euclides was christian.

"science dependant atheist dorks"

You depend on science as well. And as for bein a dork...

Reading books other than ancient religious ones has let people talk about it.

Try "How catholics killed people for not believing in their doctrine", "How the catholic church made its fortune despite world poverty", "How catholics promoted christianity by disguising paganism with christian saints"

I'm sorry, but anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that the Catholic Religion is by no means Christianity. It is based for the most part on the same "book", but they don't follow what that "book" commands them to do.


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