Got $100,000?

Ray Comfort desperately wants to debate Richard Dawkins, and has even offered to pay him $10,000. Dawkins has a counter-offer: he'll do it for $100,000, to be donated to the RDF. Comfort has now upped the ante to $20,000. It's not enough.

I would encourage teams of creationist philanthropists to get together, scrape up the $100K, and pass it along to Comfort, who will then deposit it in the coffers of the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Not only would creationists have finally done something productive and contributed to the promulgation of reason for once, but the spectacle of this debate would be a source of endless hilarity for years to come.

Richard does have a few other requests: that Comfort reprise his banana argument, and that the event would have to be recorded by the RDF team, for the enlightenment of the world. It's not too much to ask.

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I would donate for that, I don't see why it has to just be creationists. That would make my day!!

Well when you understand that comfort's basic premise is in itself highly flawed, Comfort sincerely believes that it is impossible to "not believe" in god, that all Atheists merely deny god.

Debating him is a futile exercise in frustration. $100,000 seems like it's not enough.

Count me in! Someone make a pledge-thingy...

By Frederik Rosenkjær (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Dawkins vs Comfort?

Isn't that a bit like roasting a turkey by flinging it into the sun*?

*All puns fully intended

By ShadowWalkyr (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Maybe Comfort could ask Harun Yahya to spot him some lira.

I smell Oscar!!!

By Steve8282 (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I'd pay to see that. They should broadcast it on pay-per-view.

I really hope this happens.

When Carl Sagan agreed to debate Immanuel Velikovsky -- and subsequently wiped the floor with him -- Velikovsky's supporters defended his performance with a familiar rebuttal: did you see how mean and disrespectful Carl Sagan was? Did you see how he sneered? Is this the way scientists are? No. This is the way people behave when they know that they are cornered by the facts, but must defend their dogma come what may. They act arrogant because that's how heretics are handled.

Because pseudoscientists are selling a story, they can get away with this with a public who enjoys that story. Their "science" is only a prop for the Brave Maverick Bucking the Establishment, the Little Guy with Common Sense battling Big Science.

If Prof. Dawkins agrees to the debate, it would be amusing to see him handle it with a relaxed but almost clinical detachment, the no-nonsense just-the-facts approach of a friendly librarian reading an encyclopedia to a receptive audience.

Comfort will be prepared to play on the fact that Dawkins is going to ridicule him, with his martyr pose worked out in advance. Thus, Dawkins ought to go against expectations. They will hate that.

Banana man couldn't even beat Brian and Kelly, what makes him think he has a prayer against Dawkins? OK, technically a prayer is all he has. Obviously he's doing it for the status and recognition of sharing the stage with somebody of Dawkins' stature.

Obviously he's doing it for the status and recognition of sharing the stage with somebody of Dawkins' stature.

I agree. I'd hate to see Dawkins give Comfort the satisfaction of recognition. Isn't there some D-list atheist who could do the debate instead? I'd volunteer, but I'm Z-list.

"I'll debatertize 'em. An I'll do it for free. Top that one, everlutionary jeem nomes!" -- Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina

You'd think there would be some TV station out there that would be up for this.

Maybe the Trinity Broadcasting Network would do it. They air Comfort and his little buddy all the time. You think they would be secure enough in their stance to put up.

Only because the money goes to RDF do I think this is a good idea.

Well, given a non-partial moderator (good luck there) that keeps Comfort from mounting his Horse and Galloping around spewing too many bullshit gish inspired questions to tackle in the time frame, it could be entertaining as well.

Ray Comfort isn't going to pay the big bucks to debate a D-list atheist.

Think of it as a carnival dunk tank: Dawkins is doing it to raise money for his charity.

This is awesome and something I would pay to see.

It would be priceless to see Ray Comfort handing over one of those super size checks with $100,000 made out to RDF.

By kryptonic (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Count me in! Someone make a pledge-thingy...

I was thinking the point was to get the creationists to stop wasting their money on nonsense and start wasting it on our entertainment. Let them pay for their own fool.

By freelunch (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Comfort is doing this for the status and recognition? Sorry, I don't quite get that, unless his thinking is something along the lines of: "My position is so formidable that the [Darwinists] have to bring out their mightiest warrior to debate me". Something like that? If so, then the fellow is even more deluded than I realized.

By North of 49 (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

It would be priceless to see Ray Comfort handing over one of those super size checks with $100,000 made out to RDF.

Additional recommendation: make real sure it clears, first, too.

With all the talk of raising money - please take note of the objective. Richard gives his reasons for asking for that sum

I am not in this for the money. My interest is in getting the Banana Man to PART with $100,000 of his money so that that money will NOT be available for buying animatronic dinosaurs with saddles, or other similar nonsense. The fact that he would be making a substantial donation to a charity dedicated to Reason and Science adds to the humour of the situation.

Donating the money to give to Comfort would defeat that.

One problem with debating the likes of Comfort is that he can say things so mindbogglingly outrageous and moronic that it's difficult for a rational person to come up with a snappy response. Imagine having to come up with a snap response to the banana or peanut butter argument if it was dropped on you the first time, without just having your jaw drop and spluttering "but but are you serious, that's just silly"

This is awesome and something I would pay to see.

Ray Comfort knows what he's doing. If he thinks it's worth the glory and the exposure, he'll pay the 100,000. Ray Comfort knows Ray Comfort is an idiot.

haha, so cool!! I hope he'll get the 100.000 :) wanna see that banana guy get ripped apart ;)

I'm sure Hitchins would do it. Only problem is he'd start ranting about Politics, and what he thinks. Or what about Neil de Grasse Tyson?
Personally I'd love to see such a debate, with Richard or whoever, but I suspect it's a ruse. Ray Comfort is "how can I shit if I can't see my asshole" stupid, but even so...
Oh, I know, they'll put up the money, then make the conditions so impossible that we won't do it. So then we're afraid of Ray Comfort. Hell, there's probably a whole taxa of organisms out there which have evolved to feed off Comfort's stupidity and his hubris, but in the end they'll have to act to keep their host alive.
So no debate will happen, says I

Donating the money to give to Comfort would defeat that.

Indeed. Don't anyone who loves reason give this wanker one red cent for this or any other purpose. Make the huckster pay for a change. Think of all the books he's sold with his BS, and ask yourself: what is just, here?

I'll answer that one: that he pays for his own humiliation, that's what. And pays appropriately. $100,000 of the money garnered from the credulous marks who bought his pseudoscience gets redirected from his coffers to the RDF, that's a sweet deal. Paying to see the bugger show up, much as I get the notion it's a reasonable ticket price, it's still nowhere near as beautiful.

Oh: and re spluttering, I'm not sure I'm that worried, there. Guffawing uncontrollably until you actually have to wipe your eyes, okay, that could happen. But there are worse things.

How can Dawkins fail to understand that (leaving their possible abuse by creationist con-men to one side) animatronic dinosaurs with saddles are simply full of awesome???

I would gladly pay to make it happen, even if I didn't get to see it myself...

By Whateverman (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I definitely thing the god-believers should be the ones paying for this if they want it to happen. Not us.

Having heard Dawkins debate, I worry a little bit. He's so nice, he sometimes seems unwilling to really go on the attack. And he seems to get a little flustered and upset when the other party isn't at all rational. He sometimes walks right in to rhetorical traps, as well. While I love his writing, I don't think he's all that good at live debate.

Still, it wouldn't take much to mop the floor with Comfort. If the banana is evidence for God, then the delicious but spiky pineapple is evidence for...Satan? And does the banana mean that Asians are god's chosen people, since that's where bananas came from? And why did god fill them with big nasty seeds? (You know, real wild bananas, not the seedless kind that were bred by people, not god) And how come people can make a better banana than god? And doesn't the evolution (through artificial selection) of bananas kind of negate Comfort's whole creationist argument?

By Sengkelat (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

@23:

I agree.

Hey Ray Cumfart, I'll debate you for $20,000. The money will be well spent: In 7 years, another atheist (me) will have a doctorate. :D

If that's the cost of a d(eb)ate with Richard Dawkins, is there a price for one with Lalla Ward? ;-)

How does that 100k compare with the sort of amounts the meejah might pay for celebrity exclusives? Is it a bargain or unusually expensive?

I'd pay $20 to see it, where can I donate?

I'd buy that for a dollar! Perhaps we could ask Congress to pay for this from the TARP funds? It would certainly be money well spent.

By Hockey Bob (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I would really hope that Dawkins wouldn't do this. I would suggest Bill Maher as a good d-list atheist for the banana man.

And if we really want blood it should be Comfort vs. Hitchens.

But Sastra is right, the only way that this would work is for Dawkins to kill him with kindness. But we all know that the huge problem with debating Banana Man is that there is no way to prep for the debate. You could spend all your time trying to come up with clear quick rebuttals to all of Comforts old idiotic arguments, and it wouldn't help. I have complete faith that Comfort would pull something so jaw droppingly absurd out of his ass that it will be impossible to come up with a good response in the debate format. The only good response will be "You are a complete and utter idiot" and then we get the "atheists are so mean" line again.

This is not a good idea.

1) It wouldn't change any minds. Creationists are impervious to reason and incapable of being embarrassed by their representatives.

2) This would help their cause by making Comfort appear to their followers to be the intellectual peer of a top scientist. They would quote-mine the debate and bury the fact that they had to pay for the chance to join Dawkins on the stage.

3) $100,000 is small change for a number of wealthy Christian Right businessmen who might very well finance him. Taking this money from him might feel good, but it wouldn't slow down their efforts.

Ridicule is the best response to people like Comfort.

That would not be a debate, but just a Ray Comfort monologue, with Dawkins trying to use reason and logic. I'd be very interested in seeing Comfort debate another fundamentalist with different nonsense ideas, like Matt Slick or Kent Hovind (from his prison cell). I see no point in Dawkins debating guys like these. It's just a circus.

Comfort will be prepared to play on the fact that Dawkins is going to ridicule him, with his martyr pose worked out in advance. Thus, Dawkins ought to go against expectations. They will hate that.

Sastra: Exactly! I love this idea. We should all contribute to the $100,000 pot, just so it can come to pass. Not to mention the mitigating effect such an event will have on the usefulness of the creos' endless and stupid "Help me, I'm bein' oppressed!" whine.

Although Dawkins probably won't use it, the best response to the banana argument I've ever heard came from The Atheist Experience. When a caller rehashed Comfort and said that the banana fits in the human hand, Matt interrupted with "Fits in your bum, too." You could hear the mind snap through the phone.

There is a Twain quote for every occasion. For this one, the appropriate quote is: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work, and it annoys the pig."

By Ray Ladbury (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

With all respect to everyone who wants to see this happen, please don't donate. Dawkins gave this ludicrous sum so CREATIONISTS would waste money by giving to a science and reason charity. We would be undermining his point if we did. I do encourage donation to the RDF however.

I want to see this debate. It would be hilarious, but I also want the IDiots to shell out for it.

I'd also add--tho' I expect Dr. D will be getting all manner of unsolicited advice on this--that he's also started with the right idea, here. Get Bananaboy to agree to bring that trainwreck of an argument, cop to having made it whether or not he says buys it now, then, whether or not he actually goes through with this as agreed (I would not put it past him not to), completely ignore whatever 'new' BS if any he bothers to concoct for this particular show anyway. Blow him to tiny little pieces of basted meat on his now hilarious record. Take the old stupid shit he's left all over the place, and mock him to pieces with it. Do not defend. Attack. Point to be made, explicitly or implicitly, is this: it really doesn't matter that much now what silly sideshow he's pulled out of his ass for the last twenty minutes--we'll be demolishing that shortly, anyway. The point is: he's either a liar and a fraud, or just incredibly dumb, and here's a few thousand hilarious reasons why he's conveniently left for us to demonstrate as much. So why is anyone even taking him seriously? If he tries to protest 'but he didn't answer me', just laugh. And point out he's got a lot to answer for himself, already, after all, whatever his latest standup routine happens to be... And maybe he oughtta be getting to *that*, after all..

And leave em' with: and this is the general method of creationist shills. Bad faith, bad arguments, and worse hair... So shut it already, Cap'n Plantain. And thanks for the hundred grand.

Personally I don't believe that rational people should give any money to see this happen. The idea (as others here have pointed out) is that Comfort and hid merry band of idiots should come up with the money themselves if they want to debate. That way their money will go to a good cause instead of funding more "tard". Just make sure the check clears before the debate!
Just my $.02

Cheers & Happy Monkey,
Ray

@Sengkelat

"Having heard Dawkins debate, I worry a little bit. He's so nice, he sometimes seems unwilling to really go on the attack. And he seems to get a little flustered and upset when the other party isn't at all rational. He sometimes walks right in to rhetorical traps, as well. While I love his writing, I don't think he's all that good at live debate."

You are dead on with that statement.

My money say Comfort vs. Hitchens. We would know up front that the other side is going to call us a bunch of meanies. But I think it would be more apparent to the creationists in the audience that Comfort was having his ass handed to him. We would then have the satisfaction of saying that if Comfort can't beat someone who was drunk during the debate, what chance would he have with someone who was sober.

I thought Dawkins and Gould agreed years ago not to debate with creationists... that being said I think this would be hilarious, and even better knowing that Comfort had to shell out a hundred K to the RDF for it. Dawkins might actually be the only one who could manage to be polite enough not to fall into the "mean atheist" trap, but we forget that attacking a creationist's ludicrous position is usually conflated with attacking the creationist themselves in their views.

Justin: Hitchens is great on politics, philosophy and the arts, but he really isn't the best atheist to put out for the cause of science.

OK, I know I'm a wet blanket, but I have misgivings:
- Comfort will claim victory, no matter what, and his base will eat it up.
- Dawkins does have a history of sometimes walking into a punch (eg. falling once for a stealth-creationist interview, and then falling for it again with Expelled)
- Yes goddammit, my glass *is* half-empty, as a matter of fact. Can haz moar beer, plz?

On the plus side, apologists like Comfort tend to run always on the same rails; an opponent should be able to prepare just by watching his past appearances.

I rather doubt that any of us would actually contribute to Comfort, no matter how much that "possibility" is being hashed out.

After all, if the $100,000 were not raised, or Comfort finally decided that being "head idiot" (apparently the lofty goal for which he strives) isn't worth the price, the money would go to truly unseemly purposes.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

With all respect to everyone who wants to see this happen, please don't donate. Dawkins gave this ludicrous sum so CREATIONISTS would waste money by giving to a science and reason charity. We would be undermining his point if we did. I do encourage donation to the RDF however.

I want to see this debate. It would be hilarious, but I also want the IDiots to shell out for it.

Yes indeed, the whole point is to part the wingnuts from their (too ample) money, and make them give it to a charity dedicated to undermining them. Please, anybody with an IQ in double figures, don't contribute.
Richard

Dammit! How can we have our conspiracy if our Pope gives the game away?

By Janine, Ignora… (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

These debates are pointless, while Comfort is nowhere near intellectual enough to debate Dawkins nor do his arguments hold any water.... intelligence and reason means nothing to anyone who can answer with the fall back position of magic or hocus pocus.

By Cockoduck (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

My fellow atheists. What the fuck is wrong with you? Giving money to Ray Comfort so he can pay the stupid toll and debate Dawkins is retarded and self defeating.

That said, I nominate Matt D of the Atheist Experience TV show as the perfect "D" list atheist for a debate with Comfort. First, he said he wants to. Second, unlike Dawkins he has the debate skills that Dawkins (though I love him dearly)lacks. Third, it avoids the exploitable PR issues of a Dawkins/Comfort debate.

By Son of a preac… (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

One possibility would be to offer to match Comfort's donations to the RDF with donations to a neutral charity that everyone would approve of (for instance, something like smiletrain.org).

This would not diminish the amount of money that Comfort would have to part with in order to participate in the debate, but it would increase his incentive to do so to the extent that he also wants to see money donated to the neutral charity. From our perspective, we would get to donate money to a worthwhile cause and contribute to bringing about a debate that might be *very* entertaining.

Damn, #58 should link to here . I'm really off my game today.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

If Dawkins agrees, the Comfort Camp will claim victory in any case.

If Dawkins refuses, the Comfort Camp will crow that Dawkins is afraid to engage Ray's formidable intellect.

(Aside - Ray was disavowing the Banana Argument for a while, but didn't he go back to it in his most recent book?)

How about a matching+ thing? Us Atheists donate to the RDF, and whatever amount we come up with to see the debate happen, Ray has to come up with, plus $100,000.00. That way we can see that atheists can be altruistic like Christians, RDF gets more money, and we don't help fund Ray's quest for legitimacy.

By Robert Thille (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Maybe I'm all alone here, but I would love to spend $100,0000 on animatronic dinosaurs with saddles.

By eponymous (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I'm reminded of the story of Salvador Dali's commission to paint a large church ceiling. He negotiated a staggering sum, and full artistic control.

Then he turned up on the day, did the whole surface in a nice shade of orange, signed it, collected his cheque and left.

Prof D could do something similar - trouser the cash and smile beatifically throughout as Comfort did his silly rant.

By Chris Davis (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Well, Eponymous, when you put it like that... I realize I was wrong.

By Son of a preac… (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

D-list atheist? Sure, I'd do it for $100,000. Could I give half to the RDF and apply half to my mortgage? That would help out a lot.

I would hope that there are also moderation rules involved regarding how much time each person has and in which order. Otherwise Ray will just blather on and on and on and on...

I still can't believe that Comfort banana video isn't a joke and that this whole discussion is an extended Onion satire.

Chayanov and whoever else I missed: Comfort already debated a D-List atheist or two. It was those two from the Rational Response Squad.

Brian

I enjoy the irony of Comfort giving $100,000 to the RDF. Beyond that, however, I can't see how this would be a good idea. Comfort and Dawkins appeal to two very different camps of people. Dawkins can only appeal to those with an intellectual bent and a curiosity to learn new things. Comfort admits that he deliberately avoids reason and intellect and tries to appeal to people's "emotions" - he plays well to a camp that is not only not intellectual but is actively anti-intellectual. They won't be talking to the same audiences, so the debate will be worthless from an academic perspective, and will provide ample ammunition for Comfort's camp to go on the offensive.

I can't believe no one else appreciates the hilarity of Comfort's argument from orangutan. Orangutans lack human table manners (which he proved by taking an ape to lunch), thereby disproving evolution. Therefore, Jesus.

Perhaps I'm being unfairly suspicious, but every prospective donor (to whatever cause) should seek to determine the likely hood that the money they plan to donate will be spent as they intend. What assurance would a donor have that Ray wouldn't renege on the debate deal, and use the 100K for something else? What if he donated the money to Ken Ham's pseudo museum, or to new and terrifying research into secret atheist-killing banana-powered weapons?

Ha!

The Most Revered Ray Comfort is the messiah of the great god known as Dole or Chiquita, which god shall cause the evil Dawkins to slip on banana skins of the most metaphorical of aspect, demonstrating the supreme power of this the Most Perfect and Holy Fruit over the pathetic man-made spaghetti and meatballs of your atheist religion!

Yea, and the messiah will use his fabric conditioner in buckets to wear the softest of rainment. And he will insert the mighty banana into his sacred rectum so that it emerges coated with his wisdom and endarkenment.

No win for Dawkins.
This will only serve to inflate Comfort's stature with his minions. Comfort has no standing whatsoever to request a debate with Prof. Dawkins. He and his minions will claim victory no matter the outcome.

Barney Fife debating a supreme court justice on constitutional law. It doesn't make sense.

Why can't Ray pony up the money? He's got a kidney he can spare for sure and Kirk Cameron's been brain-dead long enough to be completely harvested without ethical issues, so what's holding him back? A lack of faith?

C'mon Ray, why not sacrifice tissues other than neurological ones for your beliefs?

I want to second whomever recommended Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience to debate Comfort; he just absolutely demolished a "professional" apologist (Matt Slick) with an unnatural fondness for TAG. If you click on my name, it'll take you to my blog writeup and links.

Register my vote for a genetically engineered dinosaur I can saddle and ride! None of this animatronic stuff for me.
PZ, don't be modest, you're at least a C if not a B list atheist. I can sure empathize about the mortgage thing though.

Cheers & Happy Monkey,
Ray (NOT Comfort)

# 64 @ "Prof D could do something similar - trouser the cash and smile beatifically throughout as Comfort did his silly rant."

I was thinking the same thing.

You guys under estimate Dawkins; nothing says science more to us image crazy Americans than a English professor with their university accents. Ray will be in an arguement culturally preloaded against him. Dawkins can sneer and be elitist all he wants because that is what English university professors do because, you know, they are smart.

I do NOT want to see Ray Comfort debating Richard Dawkins. He doesn't deserve to. It would be like Barack Obama debating Joe the Plumber. In a gorilla suit. (Joe, I mean, not Obama).

Ray, if you want to debate someone, I'll do it. Hell, I'd almost be willing to pay YOU 10,000 for the chance.

By Steve Vanden-Eykel (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

i'd pay a whole bunch of bananananananas to see that happen...

this aint just any bricks and mortar idea.... it's totally built of win

By Porco Dio (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I once debated a creationist in my pajamas.
How he got into my pajamas, I'll never know.
[/groucho]

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

"Sadly, I have found that even evolution's most staunch believers are afraid to debate, because they know that their case for atheism and evolution is less than extremely weak," Comfort said. "I would be delighted
(and honored) if Mr. Dawkins has the courage to debate me, but I'm not holding my breath."

Haha, reminds me of the time Mr. PZ was supposed to debate Mr. Comfort on some radio show, and then something changed so you two ended up on separate days. Hmm what happened Comfort? Did PZ get scared and run away? *rolls eyes*
BTW I actually remembered to tune in on PZ's day early and the two radio hosts were just BASHING Comfort. They didn't record that for the podcast but yeah, haha. How so very Jesus-like for Comfort to lie as much as he does.

Here Comfort, I fixed it for you:
"Then I will give 20 minutes on how we can know evolution exists and why God is nothing more than an unsubstantiated and unscientific fairy tale for grownups. "

Chris Davis, can you point me someplace that recounts that Dali story? I find it hilarious, but wanting to read more about, I find that I'm unable to locate any further info.

Am I the only one who looks at the title of this thread and hears this in his head:

If I had 100,000 dollars,
I'd buy me a debate
(But not a real debate;
That's cruel!)

Yeah, probably so. [geeky sigh]

I suppose the 100 large might be worth it, but I still argue that this debate would create a huge momentum for Ray that would provide him with quote mines and twisting of Dawkins words for years to come.

This debate would highly elevate his status with fundies no matter the outcome since they will see it as Dawkins validating that Comfort has the standing to justify a debate.

Ray is not looking to "win" the debate. He is looking for material to twist and lie about- his stock in trade.

PZ, you have an unfair advantage, you've got your own undefeated bible quoting team for back up.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Richard Dawkins??
I saw that debate between Comfort and Rational Response squad. it was so mind numbingly stupid. Comfort would trot out claims and not know how to defend or support them and The "rational response" gave fallacious counter-arguments.It was teh most stupid debate I had ever seen. Comfort is a preacher and he shouldn't debate. I would love to see Dawkins debate a philosopher like William Lane Craig or Richard Swinburne over the arguments in his book though. (To bad he refused to debate W.L. Craig)

Regardless of whether the debate is advisable, I would avoid the illusion that we can drain these people financially. Within 30 miles of me alone there are at least several wealthy conservative wingnuts who think the future of mankind hinges on curbing gay rights, stopping abortion and stemming the march of godless evolution. They are on record for having supported right wing causes through the years with tens of millions. Who knows how much more happens in private. Ray Comfort may not exactly be their man, but $100K is not a lot to these people.

Please, anybody with an IQ in double figures, don't contribute.

Dang! How about those of us saddled with a single-figure IQ?

Hitchens should be the one to do it. Mostly because Comfort's arguments are extremely poor re constitutions of the argument from design, the cosmological argument and some very poorly stated ontology. You can't have a scientific debate with him at all at least not in current day scientific terms. Hitch would also attack and eviscerate Comfort on the ground he believes he holds: the moral question. No one does a better job of deconstructing the twisted morality of faiths and particularly the Christian one than he does.

The "rational response" gave fallacious counter-arguments.

You wouldn't be able to recognise a fallacious counter-argument if it slapped you in the face.

"Sadly, I have found that even evolution's most staunch believers are afraid to debate, because they know that their case for atheism and evolution is less than extremely weak," Comfort said. "

That's why, instead of debating creos, we should fight 'em. Then, when they decline, we simply say, "Sadly, we have found that even God's most staunch believers are afraid to fight for Him because they know their faith is less than extremely weak." And if they accept, well, "Creationists, come out to pla-a-ay!"

You wouldn't be able to recognise a fallacious counter-argument if it slapped you in the face.

Yes he wou--oh, you said fallacious, not fellati--never mind.

Well, facilis is a typical fundie creationist, isn't he?

Nah, Dawkins should show up wearing a clown makeup and suit, sans floppy shoes. Then just honk a large red horn with the word "Wrong!" written on it. Then Honk it every time Ray ends a sentence.

It would be exactly what Comfort deserves.

By Black bart (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I nominate Nannerpus (from the Denny's commercial) to officiate the beatdown, err, debate.

Also, the background music should be a loop of 'Day-O' re-recorded with Cuttlefish's lyrics.

By hey, it could happen (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

NO, NO, and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Do NOT debate this tard. I answered similarly over at Dawkin's site, and I'll do the same here. There is no point to this - even for $100k. They WIN NO MATTER WHAT.

They will get a prominent biologist to "debate" them. It will validate them and there cause. That alone is worth the price of admission to these idiots.

And the results will be oh so predictable: All of us here will claim that Dawkins put a beatdown on Comfort and all the creotards will claim that Dawkins was a "meany" and doesn't respect other "beliefs" and yada yada yada...whatever...

Please, anybody with an IQ in double figures, don't contribute.

Dang! How about those of us saddled with a single-figure IQ?

Being the proud possessor of a triple digit IQ, I could contribute. However, I shan't, because I want Comfort to raise the money on his own.

By 'Tis Himself (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I think "do not debate creationists" is a good policy and Dawkins should stick to it.

Don't tell the creationist philanthropists to give the money to Comfort. If he backs out and keeps it, then he is just that much richer. Instead, tell them to let the RDF hold it in escrow. :-)

By Stephanurus (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

i dunno. if everytime a creationist wants to debate a legitimate scientist, the creationist has to pony up 100 grand, maybe they'll eventually stop trying to use the "they won't even debate us what are they afraid of!" tactic. also, they'll stop buying animatronic dinosaurs with saddles and such.

i think the point PZ tried to make here is that it's unprofitable for the legitimate scientist and educator to debate a creationist. but i think the point dawkins wants to make is that it's even more unprofitable for the creationists if they want to debate him.

By arachnophilia (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

What happened? Did Kirk Cameron piss away all his TV money? Being an ardent Comfort supporter, he could pony up 100K.

By One Eyed Jack (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

How about collecting the 100000 for RDF just for merely giving money to worthy goal regardless of actions of Comfort and cronies?

By jagannath (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Ha! Hitchens vs Banana Man! That's like throwing a steak into the lion cage.

I think it'd be a better to air drop the big BM into Beirut, marker in one hand, a bunch of defaced Syrian Nazi posters in the other. He'd probably stand a better chance ...

Pdiff

Semi-permanent dye marking for the loser. Dunk them in a tank of Gentian violet.

And put the whole thing on YouTube.

In Dawkins' 2nd reply he references the infamous peanut butter video where it says that we never find life in a peanut butter jar. However, I seem to recall, fairly recently, a relatively dangerous life form inhabiting peanut butter jars.

By Steve Ulven (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

room101 wrote:

Do NOT debate this tard. ... They WIN NO MATTER WHAT.... get a prominent biologist to "debate" them. It will validate them ...

If this were any other fundagelical I might agree, but this is Ray Comfort. He's the kind of fundagelical that makes them all look bad - even to other, slightly smarter fundies.

The more Ray is exposed to the media, the worse Christianity will look to anyone with a functioning brain.

We should help promote Ray.

I seriously think I should be given the chance to debate Comfort. Of course, he's going to have to fly out to Ft. Myers, FL because I can't afford to fly.

Here are my conditions:
1. Comfort must pony up $5,000* each to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, PZ Myers, myself, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

2. There will be no backing out or changing of the debate topic.

3. The debate will have to take place in Edison College, Ft Myers, FL.

4. The debate must take place on a Sunday evening. This is primarily due to the fact that I'm busy on Saturday, I do school work five days a week, and traffic isn't as bad on Sundays after 6:00 PM in Florida.

5. There must be a large (at least 20' wide) whiteboard available. If I need to go into a mathematical refutation against complexity, I want the audience to see my damn work.

* Disclaimer: If Comfort receives financial assistance from anyone, this amount changes to $500,000.

Steve Ulven wrote:

... the infamous peanut butter video where it says that we never find life in a peanut butter jar. However, I seem to recall, fairly recently, a relatively dangerous life form inhabiting peanut butter jars.

I know that video too:
http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2008/12/more-evidence-that-fundagelical…

The current Salmonella outbreak involving peanut butter still has the deadly microbes coming into the peanut butter from an outside source - not "evolving" in the jar.

Posted by: Steve Ulven | February 24, 2009 6:25 PM

In Dawkins' 2nd reply he references the infamous peanut butter video where it says that we never find life in a peanut butter jar. However, I seem to recall, fairly recently, a relatively dangerous life form inhabiting peanut butter jars.

Did you really just type that? Seriously?

This is what Dawkins was referring to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZFG5PKw504

The salmonella (an existing organism) was put into the jars via contaminated peanut butter, you idiot.

Let the creationists pay, I say. The full version of the debate will be on YouTube so the quote miners can knock themselves out- the full context will be there for anyone who seeks it. I agree though that Dawkins shouldn't give Comfort any ammunition. Polite, jovial and charming, even if he brings up the Fruit of God. Henceforth to be named Bumfruit (thank you #42).

This has probably already been said, but I don't have time to read all the comment today, but there's no way in hell I'd donate money to Comfort and trust him to put it toward the RDF. If Richard Dawkins started a special fund I could directly donate to, I might think about it. Realistically though, how interesting would that debate be? Dawkins spouting facts and Comfort ignoring them would be just like an emsmartened version of one of Comfort's idiotic youtube videos.

I've got 10 bucks for someone to boot him in the arse.
He's Aussie, right?

/ remembering Bort Simpson's Australian corporal punishment.
// the water in Ray's brain is flushing in the wrong direction, methinks

This is never going to happen. It's a tease from beginning to end. And you know what - "Dawkins refuses to debate Comfort" will be the outcome.
And I'm going to say "I told you so".
So don't say I didn't say I wasn't going to say "I told you so."
Because I did.
Hmmmph

"What kind of scientist do you take me for?"

"We've already established that, now we're just haggling over the price."

Sorry Richard, just couldn't help recalling the old joke.

By John Scanlon FCD (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

I want to third Matt Dillahunty.

The problem here is that Dawkins 1) isn't a professional debater and 2) has most of his expertise discussing things with people who respect honesty.

Ray Comfort has no facts on his side, and is quite happy to ignore reality and lie through his teeth whenever it is advantageous to his argument. Someone like Dillahunty will call him on it, and demonstrate Comfort's complete lack of intelligence and scruples.

Which is probably why, even though Dillahunty has been offering to debate Comfort, for free, for some time now, Comfort doesn't have the cohones to take Matt up on his offer.

By Richard Hubbard (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Prof Dawkins,

in the same way you wouldnt debate that turkish nutter,or any random schizophrenic inhabitant of a british psychiatric institution,you should not be debating Mr Comfort.

He is for one obviously insane and furthermore has no standing whatsoever to be requesting a debate with you.
The ID tendency to spin and twist debate outcomes has already been mentioned upthread.

Facilis,

Comfort would trot out claims and not know how to defend or support them

Wow, even facilis doesn't buy Comfort's arguments!
Does anyone agree with Comfort?

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

A thought comes to my tiny, feeble mind when seeing this:
If a banana is proof of creation because it fits perfectly in the hand, then surely the Creator wants me to play with myself. Whence all of this antimasturbation stuff amongst the religious? I guess by his own reasoning (loose term), Comfort would have no choice but to fancy himself not only a master debator, but a masturbator as well.

By mikecbraun (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Does anyone agree with Comfort?

Surely there must be, otherwise how the fuck is he still operating.

Comfort would trot out claims and not know how to defend or support them

Did anyone else see the irony in facilis saying this?

Did anyone else see the irony in facilis saying this?

I noticed the remark, but not that FFF had made it (busy day at work). Delicious irony though. Now I need more fuses for the irony meter.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

What is the old saying about idiots, which also applies very well to creationists? Don't argue with them, they'll bring you down to their level of intelligence and defeat you with experience. Something along those lines.

By mikecbraun (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Any amount of money to the RDF is a good thing, but this match-up makes as much sense to me as the Detroit Lions challenging Manchester United FC to a game of football.

@ Matt H #50
"Hitchens is great on politics, philosophy and the arts, but he really isn't the best atheist to put out for the cause of science."

Does anyone really need to know that much science to shoot Comfort down?

Let's have Comfort debate Ask Dr. Science, I'm sure even PZ would agree that Dr. Science is smarter them him. He's got a Masters Degree, in science.

Surely there must be, otherwise how the fuck is he still operating.

If you look at his blog, the majority of his readers disagree with him and/or mock him. Maybe some rich atheist pays him to keep going.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Dawkins should wait a little while to see how much Comfort is willing to pay, then accept the money. He'll get thousands for his organisation and, as a plus, get to publicly humiliate Comfort. Seriously win-win. If he doesn't accept the money, he's losing $20,000 (or whatever) along with the opportunity to make creationism look foolish to a wide audience.

I have some ideas about an actual debate below. But first, let me say I have been laughing about this all day.

Dawkins' line, "My interest is in getting the Banana Man to PART with $100,000 of his money so that that money will NOT be available for buying animatronic dinosaurs with saddles, or other similar nonsense," gets me laughing every time I think about it.

Seeing the Banana Sketch again was a kick. Part of what I love about the Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron video is that they are perfectly cast as Pangloss and Candide.

But is debating Comfort really a good idea? I don't know. It depends upon the approach, I think.

When Comfort and Cameron debated the Rational Response kids on Nightline, it was a mess. Comfort and Cameron opened the debate with the "crockoduck" argument complete with goofily Photoshoped animals. Y'know, visual aids.

Nightline reported that the audience became upset. I suspect it was because they had expected a serious discussion of God's existence and then sat through something which insulted their intelligence.

Comfort has a very childlike view of reality. And he comes off as a nice guy. If the creationists come up with the donation, and this debate actually happens, I would recommend that Dawkins allow Comfort to perform his greatest hits. In return, Dawkins can avoid engaging Comfort in any detail.

Dawkins could simply say, "Well that has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. Allow me to explain an aspect of evolution which is true and very interesting..."

A combative debate, on the other hand, could fly all over the map (like the Nightline example). After all, Comfort is not a persuasive arguer. His blog readership is largely atheists who find him silly and adorable.

Comfort would provide the entertainment. Dawkins would provide eloquent explanations of the actual world. This would be of much greater viewing value.

But Comfort isn't asking to debate just any topic. He wants Dawkins to state "why God doesn't exist".

Perhaps Dawkins could just say "I know God doesn't exist because Santa told me so". Then leave.

This is awesome and something I would pay to see.

It would be priceless to see Ray Comfort handing over one of those super size checks with $100,000 made out to RDF.

Yes it would, but not if half the money was donated by atheists. I'd feel gutted if I knew atheists had given money to Ray Comfort so he could get the debate HE wants.

He can't really lose such a debate because he has no intelligent arguments to dismantle. No matter what you would counter with, he can always just make up another "fact" and another and another, all the while reminding to you to just look at creation to realise the creator. No one can win against the willfully irrational. It would be like arguing with a four year old.

AndyD, Richard Dawkins left a message asking atheists not to give money to Comfort for this debate and I am sure he has done the same else where.

By Janine, Ignora… (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Finally got a chance to read what Dawkins wrote in order for this challenge to go ahead. It was hilarious! Go Richard!

They would probably need a nurse backstage if Dawkins' blood pressure goes too high :) He could just barely stand Ted Haggard. I found it nearly impossible to watch it on video myself...

By Liberal Atheist (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

To all those saying they would donate to see this happen. one word.

DONT!

seriously DONT

Richard doesnt want YOUR money he wants Comfort's money.... he wants the creo-tard's money

if Comfort really wants this debate HE has to pony up and make with the 100k

Can't all you people just donate to the RDF on your own?

If you feel it has to be for this challenge, then get them to set up a special drive to *match* Comfort's 100k.

Show him how fast evil, amoral atheists can mount a bit for charity.

Is it just me, or has there been a noticeably sharp rise in the number of scam//spam/gold-selling posts that have been hitting Pharyngula lately?

By Twin-Skies (not verified) on 24 Feb 2009 #permalink

Posted by: Twin-Skies | February 25, 2009 4:04 AM

Is it just me, or has there been a noticeably sharp rise in the number of scam//spam/gold-selling posts that have been hitting Pharyngula lately?

There's been a ton tonight.

Matt Dillahunty of 'The Atheist Experience' would be a good opponent for a theological debate with Ray Comfort, perhaps an even more suiatable opponent than Dawkins who, while obviously good on biology, has a much more superficial knowledge of apologetics. Unfortunately Dillahunty and the rest of his Atheist Experience stablemates are not that knowledgeable about evolution (not that you would need to be to debate Banana-Ray).
As for this offer I think Dawkins should have asked for a million. It is simply a ploy by Comfort to garner some media exposure for himself by allowing himself to stand on the same stage as Dawkins.
If Ray wants to join the scientific debate on evolution then he's free to do it the way the rest of us do - by submitting articles to peer reviewed scientific journals.

there is no reason to debate Comfort at all. its been done and he continues to be ignorant of the subject matter either through genuine incomprehension or flat out refusal to listen. he has no argument. and we should be done wasting our time with this imbecile, let him slip into obscurity where he belongs. he doesn't deserve to share the stage with anyone with any dignity ever again.

By Crocoduck (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

I guess for that sum, it is worth the waste of time - especially because it will be money spent on a sincere, valuable cause rather than creationist nonsense, but we should never forget that the creationistic tunnel view will manage to turn even the most devastating defeat into a reason to gloriously praise Ray Comfort.

Is that $100,000 for the

* Reality distortion field
* Robotech Defense Force
* Radical Dance Faction
* Rwandan Defence Forces
* Reserve Defence Forces (Ireland)
* Rapid Deployment Forces
* RDF Media
* RDF Group plc
* Resource Description Framework
* Radial distribution function
* Radio direction finder
* Random dopant fluctuation
* Reuters Data Feed
* Refuse derived fuel

Oh, it's the RDFRS? Never mind.

(Crossposted from my blog)--

I think someone would have to be very, very prepared for Ray Comfort in a debate, because (a) he spews a high volume of nonsense, and (b) he’s been rehearsing his schtick for decades. So I would imagine that a Dawkins-Comfort debate would go something like this:

Comfort: [holds up his 'crock-o-duck' picture] “See, there’s no proof for evolution, because we never see something like this in the fossil record.”

Dawkins: [patiently explains that a half-crocodile, half-duck monstrosity would falsify evolution, and thus it's a good thing that we don't see one in the fossil record]

Comfort: Right! He’s just conceded there are no transitional forms!

Dawkins: [patiently explains the well-documented smooth transitions in the fossil record]

Comfort: [Holds up the crock-o-duck again.] I don’t mean just giving a bird a slightly longer beak, so what, they’re still birds! I want to see a real transitional form. I want to see a watermelon give birth to a marmoset! [quote mines Stephen Jay Gould on the 'lack of transitional fossils']

Dawkins: [kills self]

You get the point. Even if Dawkins has the patience of a saint, you see the problem: it takes Comfort 5 seconds to say something idiotic, and Dawkins 5 minutes to explain reality, by which point half the audience has forgotten the original bizarre assertion, which Comfort can then re-assert ad nauseum.

Posted by: RichardC | February 25, 2009 9:51 AM
Is that $100,000 for the
* Reality distortion field

Comfort already comes with his own built-in reality distortion field.

Let's make a pay-per-view event of this:

Dawkins v Comfort debate
Hitchens v Limbaugh drug tolerance test
Shatner v Cameron act-off

I think atheists have the advantage.

While I think Dawkins would of course win the merits of science, I am not convinced giving Comfort the kind of credibility meeting a well known scientist and science advocate on stage is warranted or necessary. The problem is exactly as many are predicting - and also IMO - Dumbfort will come in and spray his stupidity about as if from a fire hose, and Dawkins will be left trying to tamp out the conflagration with his shoe. Dawkins doesn't need to give this shill any extra street cred than he already undeservedly has.

The only way I see Dawkins winning this sort of event in the "hearts and minds" category is to completely redo his delivery style and go right at Dumbfort by unraveling his obvious comebacks before he can get to them, and making amockery of them before Dumbfort has an opportunity to spew them. But this tactic might only work for a short period, and only so long as the amount of coffee Dumbfort may or may not have consumed prior to the event. Eventually Dumbfort will spew a litany of evolution denial and make some people think there's something to at least some of what he said.

Dumbfort merely has to spread doubt. Dawkins has to spread knowledge, and we all know which is the easier to sow at the fastest rate possible. I'm not saying we shouldn't challenge these idiots, only that I think Dawkins succumbing to possibly doing one of these inane forums is not as likely to afford evolution advocacy as much progress as we want it to get.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

"My interest is in getting the Banana Man to PART with $100,000 of his money so that that money will NOT be available for buying animatronic dinosaurs with saddles, or other similar nonsense."

Dawkins is awesome :)

I have not seen Dawkins in a debate, but I would worry that he wouldn't come off well. Dawkins is a scientists, and scientists are all about uncovering truth. Scientists tend to assume that the other side is also interested in truth, and that is why they often get clobbered in a debate. Debate is all about winning an argument, and if the facts are in the way, it is fair game to sweep them aside. There are some good pro-science debaters out there, but I don't think that Dawkins is one of them.

Dawkins is great in debates. He's a pit bull but has a totally different style than Hitchens.

There's youtube vids you can check out.

Dawkins should tell him that if he uses part of the $20,000 to take a year of 1st year biology classes at an accredited college, passes and makes his assignments publicly available, then he'll do the debate. That would be far more interesting.

Well, its about time for a good debate.
Unfortunaelty, evolutionists must not expect any easy victory since you can't fight creationsints with pure logic or scientific evidence.

By Karkashta (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

If I had that kind of cash to blow, I would pay for it myself under condition of having a front row seat. This kind of slaughter just doesn't happen everyday. And Kirk Cameron has to be there also. They both need to be taken apart and have their bananas handed to them.

you are all pathetic. god and religion has been created throughout history because people are afraid of things they dont understand. back in the day, there was a lot people didn't understand. so somebody with a little bit of influence made something up. anyone can start a religion, most people call it a cult if it doesn't have a massive following. if it does however, its called christianity. get off your religious high horse and face the facts. evolution is the only thing that makes sense. i was raised catholic and because i have half a fucking brain i realized that it is all bull shit lies made up and shoved into youths faces by people who are afraid to admit that once you die, you simply rot in the ground. you dont go to a magical wonderland in the sky to kick it b.b. king and jesus.

By retard religio… (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

I would rather see Christopher Hitchens debate him, he's a lot ruder and at the same time more charming with his British.

Well, Ray Comfort is living in a bubble, in his own fairy world, and clearly he's not fit to have a sensible debate. I'd say Ray, save your money and get some therapy instead of trying to prove your self right.

By Sam Sweiti (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

someone is new here... who all is "retard religion nuts" talking too?

I adore the fact that Banana man actually made a counter offer.

He is treating Dawkins as some sort of ravishing slave girl being auctioned off in a Victor Mature film.

"I bid 20,000 quatloons on the brainy Englishman! My wife thinks he matches the drapes."

By Prometheus (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

you are all pathetic.

umm...who? Us?

god and religion has been created throughout history because people are afraid of things they dont understand.

That is generally the position taken here.

you dont go to a magical wonderland in the sky to kick it b.b. king and jesus.

I'm glad you came to that conclusion.

By the way, have you actually read a line of what is posted on this site?

Although I love the hilarity that would ensue from the "Banana Debate", now that Comfort has raised the offer to 10K, Dawkin's should raise his requirement to 200K.

Sastra wrote: "When Carl Sagan agreed to debate Immanuel Velikovsky -- and subsequently wiped the floor with him -- Velikovsky's supporters defended his performance with a familiar rebuttal: did you see how mean and disrespectful Carl Sagan was?"

Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky both met at the 1974 AAAS symposium. Velikovsky critic, C. Leroy Ellenberger recounts Robert Jastrow of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, writing in the New York Times, 22 December 1979:

"After covering the AAAS Symposium, Jastrow related how "Dr. Velikovsky had his day when he spotted a major scientific boner in Professor Sagan's argument" concerning the odds against the collisions in Worlds in Collision. The "error lay in the assumption that the collisions were independent of one another.... Dr. Velikovsky pointed out that the collisions are not independent; in fact, if two bodies orbiting the sun under the influence of gravity collided once, that encounter enhances the chance of another, a fact well known in celestial mechanics. Professor Sagan's calculations, in effect, ignore the law of gravity. Here Velikovsky was the better astronomer."

More at the Velikovsky Encyclopedia

I CHALLENGE RAY COMFORT TO A BLOG DEBATE!

I will pay Ray Comfort a sum of money that I have estimated is equivalent to Ray first offering Dawkins $10,000 if one compares the projected incomes of Ray Comfort to Richard Dawkins based on book sales.

All Ray has to do is go to this blog post:

http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2009/02/i-challenge-ray-comfort-to-blog…

... and debate me for about fifteen comments or more if he wishes. Each comment must be under 2,000 words. Once the comment number hits fifteen, I will pay Ray his money no matter what he has said.

No other comments will be allowed in that one post. It waits here for Ray alone.

Ray may start the debate on any subject he wishes.

If Ray refuses this offer, at least he'll understand why Dawkins isn't going for Ray's offer.

No traveling or other expenses. That's it, and it's far less effort than he is asking of Dawkins.

Please, dear readers, inform Ray Comfort that this challenge has been made.

What's a matter Ray, are you chicken? Afraid I'll defeat you without your editing tricks and censorship?

HA! It's like Comfort is paying the hit-man because he's too afraid to pull the trigger himself but he wants to go out with a bang. As much as I don't usually have the stomach for blood-sport, I'd pay good money to see that.