Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

The Arrogance of Ignorance in “The Atheist’s Nightmare”

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on January 27, 2009

It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this video, it still gets a giggle from me. This Christian [Ray Comfort], sitting next to Kirk Cameron, is relying on “argument from design” evidence to make his case for the existence of the Judeo-Christian God. I think this example does a great job of revealing the ridiculousness and irrelevance of all arguments claiming that proof of God’s existence can be found through signs of “design” in the natural world. If you haven’t seen it yet, or if you have but could use a good laugh, watch it.

As with most “evidence” for the existence of God that Christians accept, this argument is highly irrational. At the most general level, this is bad evidence because it presupposes the existence of the Judeo-Christian God before it even begins to discuss the “evidence.” Why not assume that a race of aliens known as the Fentrions designed this fruit for human consumption? That fact that (the Judeo-Christian) God is exclusively referred to reveals what a facade this whole demonstration is. Clearly, his goal is not to neutrally examine evidence. Rather, he starts with a presupposition, tries to ram his banana into the slot labelled “proof,” and he ends up with food all over his face. The most disturbing thing about this video, and it is a sobering idea to recognize once the giggles die down, is the fact that the arguer blindly loves his non-existent deity so much that he is willing to expose himself to public ridicule. And ridicule should be the only response to an argument like this. This is a man capable of being rational who has at his disposal all the tools necessary to become a critical and analytical thinker.

This type of Christian “evidence” and “logic” is dangerous. It willfully ignores alternate examples and revels in its ignorance. For instance, would his argument make sense if the banana were replaced by another fruit? One has only to think of the coconut (it used to take me at least a half hour to remove the husk!) to see that the arguer’s premise (that God exists because the banana is user-friendly and therefore designed) is preposterous. This argument also reveals something else I have noticed about Christians who proudly proclaim their belief: arrogance in ignorance. Sarah Palin was loved by the Conservative Christian part of the Republican base for precisely this reason. In her argument that her state’s proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy experience, Palin revels (or fumbles) in her ignorance by actually repeating this preposterous argument:

COURIC: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

"I can see Russia from my house!"PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land– boundary that we have with– Canada. It– it’s funny that a comment like that was– kind of made to– cari– I don’t know, you know? Reporters–

COURIC: Mock?

PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.

PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our– our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They’re in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia–

COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We– we do– it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is– from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to– to our state.

So how could rational Christians, who have training in critical thinking and analysis, seriously think that this woman is qualified to be one step away from the Presidency of the United States? It is my theory that they recognized this arrogant ignorance in themselves. Christians, looking back over the born-again years of their lives, could see themselves making and accepting equally preposterous “arguments” to rationalize the existence of a deity.

Just being a Christian does not magically endow a person with the ability to lead the world’s sole superpower, and arrogant ignorance elicits more worry than chuckles from me. Ignorance can cause a person to do stupid things, because the underlying assumptions about reality are false. For instance, the arguer in the banana video is ignorant of the fact that humans are responsible for the user-friendly form of the modern banana. We are the ones who crossed different banana trees to obtain the characteristics we desired. In this case, the end result of the arguer’s arrogant ignorance is that it causes him to avoid doing research and he makes a fool of himself for the whole world to see. In other cases, such as in politics, this type of arrogant ignorance leads to the death or suffering of real human beings. Religious faith is not beneficial or harmless; it is dangerous. There will always be fools who mistake the imaginary for the real, but when a religious faith teaches that belief without evidence is a virtue it does a huge disservice to society (especially to a Democracy).

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3 Responses to “The Arrogance of Ignorance in “The Atheist’s Nightmare””

  1. Paulo said

    The banana guy is lying and he knows he’s lying. Kirk Cameron knows it too. Just look at the smirk on his face.

  2. Morbo said

    Dear god: I’d like a pull tab for the pineapple. Thanks.

  3. […] “Dumbass Quote of the Day.” The post features some recent comments by the evangelist Ray Comfort. He is best known to most people as Kirk Cameron’s co-host on the television show “The […]

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