Ray Comfort Parades His Ignorance

At US News and World Report, Ray Comfort has responded to Dr. Eugenie Scott’s critique of the bowdlerized version of the Origin of Species that he is planning to distribute starting this year. And among other pieces of inherited religious antievolution anti-information, Comfort fires what he mistakenly seems to believe is a broadside:

Scott quoted a famous geneticist, who said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” I would like to drop one word, so that the quote is true. It should read, “Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.” For example, evolution has no explanation as to why and how around 1.4 million species of animals evolved as male and female. No one even goes near explaining how and why each species managed to reproduce (during the millions of years the female was supposedly evolving to maturity) without the right reproductive machinery.

Uh, Ray, you’ve already embarrassed yourself on this point. But I guess Ray can’t be bothered to actually learn about what he tries to critique. The fact is that while evolutionary science doesn’t have one single theory that everyone agrees explains why sex evolved, it does have lots of hypotheses bearing on that topic, and plenty of research is ongoing concerning that. So, Ray, how does having many proposed explanations equate to having no explanations? Or is math also something you repudiate?

The how question also has various hypotheses in play, though you won’t learn about them from Comfort, since he is also apparently ignorant of the fact that we can see even in extant populations just about every gradation between asexual and sexual modes of reproduction that are conceptually possible. Once organisms start swapping genetic information, there is a clear path to the condition of “male” and “female” where there are two complementary strategies to how to package that information. Males use a strategy of making more, but smaller gametes, and females make fewer, but larger gametes. As to the right reproductive machinery, Comfort is also apparently ignorant of the various invertebrate species that feature a sperm delivery system called the cirrus, but no corresponding vagina-like receptacle: transfer is accomplished simply by stabbing the intended mate with the cirrus and transferring the gametes that way. And Comfort simply doesn’t get the important fact about common descent that each daughter species inherits most, if not all, the properties and attributes of the parent species, including mode of reproduction. Sexual reproduction does not have to independently arise in a great many different lineages; that’s the special creation conjecture that Comfort is actually critiquing. Once sexual reproduction (in the form of exchange of a complete haploid copy of genetic information) does arise, the descendants are free to use that and to modify the mechanisms by which it occurs.

Comfort concludes:

There are so many gaps and holes in the theory of evolution that you could drive a fleet of a thousand fully laden 18-wheelers through them. The irony is that I can see them, and I’m not an expert on the subject of evolution. So, what does that say about the theory’s experts, whoever they are? It says (as a wise man once said) that man will believe anything . . . as long as it’s not in the Bible.

Ray, not only are you not an expert, you are pretty much a documented complete ignoramus when it comes to biology. The “gaps and holes” you see are your ignorance, not something of scientific note and interest. Your brand of ignorant religious antievolution damages both faith and science.

Update: Ray Comfort has apologized for the argument about sexual reproduction. Ray should be commended for his willingness to admit error, which is a trait all too rare among religious antievolution advocates. Ray further notes that the evolution issue is not his primary concern, but evangelizing people to come to Christ. Ray, you will hopefully have more opportunities if you drop the requirement that those who believe that science is finding out how God created must set that aside for the poor apologetics of religious antievolution.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.