The Temple

Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort on Nightline

Last night on Nightline Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort “debated” two atheists from (Brian Sapient and Kelly) from Rational Response. You can watch the videos here.

If you are like me you will be embarrassed by their effort. Many are giving them credit for trying. I don’t. People should know and recognize their limits. Kirk Cameron should not be arguing science and philosophy as a representative of Christianity. You wouldn’t. You would decline because you recognize your limits. That is what these two should have done and declined the appearance on Nightline. Not all television appearance opportunities are good opportunities. Any “educated” Pastor could have done better. There are thousands of Seminary professors and college professors who are more than qualified to come on a national TV show and represent our position for all of us. Kirk Cameron is a good guy and apparently a fairly competent Christian lay-person. Ray Comfort also seems like a great guy and a good communicator at a particular level, he is a popular preacher, but not an academic or intellectual. This discussion required an academic, a scholar who could speak at these issues appropriately. What we got instead was a personal appeal to personal faith, not a presentation of theism and foundational belief in God. They should have made an effort to use their media contacts to place a more appropriate representative on that stage.

Evolution vs. Creationism has nothing to do with the argument for the existence of God. Evolution does not preclude belief in God. Disproving Evolution does not prove the existence of God. All the discussion with regards to evolution moved the discussion away from the discussion about God’s existence. This is a common mistake made in debates about God’s existence. The fallacious assumption is that if I prove Evolution I have disproved God, or vice versa. Many theists hold to evolutionary theory. They are not mutually exclusive positions.

The end result of this program was the sharing of a lot of emotion (could Kelly have been any angrier?) and attempted sound bites.

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May 10, 2007 - Posted by | Christianity, God's Existence, Philosophy

31 Comments »

  1. […] Here’s a fairly negative review of the Cameron/Comfort-Atheists debate. Posted by: Michael Spencer @ 4:44 pm | Trackback | Permalink […]

    Pingback by The Boar’s Head Tavern » Whaddaya mean “The Bible is True?” Arf!!! | May 10, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hi,

    I’d say Ray Comfort proved the existence of God within the first point of his opening remarks (with the Coke can). If there’s a creation there is a creator. The Bible says that creation is enough evidence for everyone everywhere to be judged on Judgment Day (Romans 1:19-20).

    Both men had the opportunity to present the gospel, and they did so more clearly than in 99% of all churches in America. Even if you think Ray and Kirk failed miserably, people who have never heard the gospel before have now heard it, and that is a huge success as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks,
    Bill

    Comment by billphillips | May 10, 2007 | Reply

  3. Bill,

    The point is that the gospel would have been better represented by someone more qualified. Sure, I am glad the gospel was spoken, but it was not honored as well as it could have been – and that is never the best option.

    You aren’t saying that if we had better representation, the gospel would have been diminished, are you? For many people, the gospel was diminished by poor answers and awkward pauses with no significant response to the challenges. The primary target group, the audience and the atheist representatives firmly believe that they won the debate – and it would be hard to argue with them. That is not good for the gospel. You speak as if those people who “have never heard the gospel before” would have been impressed by this presentation of the gospel, and I say that the chances are at least equal that they would not have been impressed or moved by it. Even so, yes, the Holy Spirit can use even a bad presentation.

    Comment by Steve Bagdanov | May 10, 2007 | Reply

  4. This might interest you. But yeah, Cameron and Comfort lost in my opinion.

    Comment by Frank Walton | May 10, 2007 | Reply

  5. hi,

    i live outside america…ray and kirk are some of the christians i know who dared to debate an atheist on a national tv…ray and kirk didn’t lost the debate..the poll answers who won the debate..i believe in God: 13 thousand plus..i do not believe in God: 4 thousand plus only..i appreciate what they did..what matters is they presented the gospel and millions of people have watch it..my friend accepted the Lord Jesus Christ…

    The end result of this program was the sharing of a lot of emotion (could Kelly have been any angrier?) and attempted sound bites.
    – of course Kelly will get angrier because they lost the debate..pretending to be wise they became fools…

    Comment by yuriah | May 13, 2007 | Reply

  6. i think u should support kirk and ray..it’s not easy to be there..is this christian site??…christians needs encouragement and prayers…instead of talking too much!

    Comment by australia | May 13, 2007 | Reply

  7. who told u that kirk and ray lost the debate?? look at the votes, man.. Kirk, dude, you make me proud to be a Christian!

    Comment by caroline | May 13, 2007 | Reply

  8. I googled “Review of Ray Comfort Nightline debate,” wanting to know what other believers thought of it, and this is the first site that came up… I praise God for Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, two Godly men who are not ashamed of the gospel and have a heart for the lost so large they are willing to be subject to public ridicule to spread the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! No, Ray and Kirk are not scientists or seminary-educated men … I think that’s kind of the point! They are just men with a heart for Jesus (and, I believe, compelling scientific evidence). NEVER would I cringe when the gospel is presented, no matter how “un-eloquently” or whatever. The Bible says in the last days there will be scoffers; may it not be so among our own body! “For the wisdom of the world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.'”– 1 Cor. 3:19-20. Praise God… to Him be all honor and glory and praise! May we all be as bold as Kirk and Ray, forsaking everything for Jesus Christ!

    Comment by foolforhimkara | May 14, 2007 | Reply

  9. You guys talk about how bold and daring they were to go on Television and debate, I don’t see it as bold and daring. People are debating Atheists on a regular basis and in many different forums. My point is that in such a public forum we would have been better represented by someone other than these two. The point of the Corinthians passage is not to present the gospel in a foolish manner, but that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing.

    I am not attacking Kirk and Ray. I truly believe that they are good Christian men. My purpose is to point out that there are probably others who would have represented and presented the gospel more clearly.

    If you watched the video, you remember when Brian brought up what he mistakenly called the third law of thermodynamics and Martin Bashir challenged Ray/Kirk to respond – they said nothing. They attempted to make it a matter of not needing to say anything – which was not the case. Their silence was an embarrassing moment not only for them but for me and all thinking Christians. They needed to respond, didn’t know what to say, and played it off as not needing anything to say. They were unprepared. They were over matched, and they were over matched by amateurs. That is just a comment about what happened, I hope they and you don’t take it personally.

    This points out a larger problem in Christendom. Who decides who speaks for us?

    Comment by Steve Bagdanov | May 14, 2007 | Reply

  10. I suggest you contact Ray or Kirk with your questions and comments. Maybe they were unprepared, maybe they don’t know everything, but they are right, and what matters is not that some may be embarrassed, but that Jesus was shared with over 5 million people (counting viewers). I don’t know why they didn’t respond to the thermodynamics comment; the laws of thermodynamics, coincidentally, are huge arrows towards literal Genesis creation. My point with the Corinthians quote was just as you said– that the world sees the gospel as folly. They think WE are fools, and here we are, calling ourselves as such! I believe Ray and Kirk are “bold” because they did what so many of us will not do, which is share the gospel no matter the cost. I highly suggest listening to Ray’s message “Hell’s Best Kept Secret,” and reading the book “The One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven” by Mark Cahill. Who decides who speaks for us? I think a better question is who WILL speak for us, because so many of us won’t do it ourselves! The world is dying! How many of us have immediate family memebers with whom we have never shared the gospel? I don’t believe the real issue of the debate was proving the existence of God– if you seek, you shall find! “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1) I truly, truly believe what God says in Jeremiah 31:33. The law (and very existence) of God is written in our hearts. The true issue is sharing a message of hope with a lost world! Luke 12:8-12 tells us that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct us when we are “brought before the synagogues and rulers and authorities.” Even when we believe the message we shared was not our best work, God can do amazing things! Who are we to limit God’s ability to use HIS words and HIS death and resurrection to change people? So to God be the glory, great things he hath done!

    Comment by foolforhimkara | May 15, 2007 | Reply

  11. p.s., love the “I love God more than my Mother” post, great stuff 🙂

    Comment by foolforhimkara | May 15, 2007 | Reply

  12. Lord help us.

    Comment by peter | May 24, 2007 | Reply

  13. I was proud of Gods Glory shinning in Ray and Kirk! They stood strong for Jesus Christ. I beleive that there was no need for them to answer that question of the “third law of thermodynamics”, it’s all nonsense weither they believe it or not meaning (brian and kelly) she was outragously acting on stage in such a obviously angry way, which should a lot what people are like without Christ, Just because you don’t see Him doesnt mean He doesnt exist. You can’t see air but you breathe it in, and if you didn’t have it, you’d die, just like God you can’t see Him but if you don’t know Him you will die.
    God Bless Kirk and Ray for their ways of showing who truly serves who weither you want to live your own life. God is ALWAYS in control here! Peace Be WIth You all! And I know kelly and brian will find the Truth and it shall set them free I claim this in the name of The AlmightY!♥

    Comment by Nicole | June 1, 2007 | Reply

  14. foolforhimkara said, “Luke 12:8-12 tells us that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct us when we are “brought before the synagogues and rulers and authorities.”

    Maybe since the debate wasn’t brought before the synagogues and rulers, Ray and Kirk were unable to answer Brian’s question?

    Comment by Curt | June 3, 2007 | Reply

  15. I 100% agree with your assessment. When you debate the goal is to present the best case as possible and to be more convincing then your opposition based on the argument not emotion. Sounds like they failed on both counts and I agree the debate would have been better handled by others. Even Lee Strobel would have been much more qualified since he at least has written a book like a Case for a Creator.

    Comment by mtk76 | June 5, 2007 | Reply

  16. Nicole. I think Kirk and Ray have a place in God’s scheme. It is obvious that they have a zeal for God and that they truly beleive what they are saying. However so did Joseph Smith. Yet almost none of what the Latter Day Saints claim occurred on the North American continent can be proven by any archeological evidence. Despite this fact millions of people in the LDS church continue to beleive in a vast meso american civilization that traces it’s roots to the jews. regardless of the scientific evidence that shows very clearly that aboriginal peoples of the america’s are mongol in their people group. (DNA character screenings). The LDS simply believe that americam aboriginals are of Jewish decent, and that is it. They will even go as far as to question the validity of DNA character screening.(Of course until one of thier children needs a kidney transfer and the best candidate to supply a kidney is located via DNA and genetic testing. The problem is that some people try to religate the argument of God into the scientific, without carefuly thinking what this argument does. God by his nature cannot by proven by science. He is spirit and invisible. I could spend pages of writing speaking about how we should refrain from even attempting to prove God by science, but that would be belaboring the point. but suffice it to say at the point one can prove God in the physical, testable,observable, repeatable and expainable you probably have something that is not God, but simply part of the natural universe. The argument against our brothers is not that they speak the truth about Christ, but when and how they do it. Is it possible to do more damage that good at a given time when speaking about the gospel. Is it always in the best interest’s of the Kingdom to take on any challenge simply because it is put forth. At one point Christ chose not to answer a question asked of him simply because he knew the hearts of the man he was speaking to. At another he simply chose to withdraw from whoe groups of people because again he knew the condition of thier hearts. And yet at another he stood speechless refusing to answer questions in his own defence. The scriptures are emphaticaly clear that we all have certain gifts. That some gifts are greater than others and that some poses them and some do not. if we are going to enter a venue like science we should at least have a good grasp of the sophistication and nuance of the subject. being left speechless when you are the one who claims you can prove God by science is not acceptable. Showing a coke can, which by our design minded culture seems to show ,”design” and claiming it has to be designed by a creator, fails to hit the mark. The are many comlex systems in the earth wich seem to be created by random pattern. Take for instance the seashore. we do not bring it up as an example becuase it does not have the classic design patters of things we called designed IE coke can, vehicle, building, painting. Yet it is no less comlex in its design or make than any of these things. yet we understand that it is effected by randon forces of nature. Waves, gravity,wind, heat cold and many others. Thses do not seems to be giuded by the specific hand of a designer, only the physical forces and lwas that guide them. Even though you and I beleive God is the maker, author, and sutainer of these Laws we are assuming that we can prove that thses physical Laws are made by the non physical. remeber we can prove through science that the coke can has a creator. he is a man that can be seen felt heard. By the very nature of God we cannot prove his existence by science.

    Comment by peter | June 5, 2007 | Reply

  17. Me personally I am not real impressed with what I see on the tv show from Kirk and Ray. They seem to be more confrontational than is necessary it is much more effective to preach the gospel with love than charged rhetoric. I could be wrong but they also seem like they would say unless you have spoken the sinner’s prayer and do things our way your not “real Christians”. I could be wrong but that is often the type of attitde I get as a Roman Catholic from their type.

    Comment by mtk76 | June 6, 2007 | Reply

  18. mtk76. Lucky for you you have to answer to Christ and not these two guys.

    Comment by Pete | June 7, 2007 | Reply

  19. Kirk and Ray got out there and put their balls on the line. You stand by and do nothing but critique. They reached more people in those few minutes concerning God than most of us will ever reach in our whole lives…and yet, you write critiques against your brothers in Christ. You’ll know they are Christians BY THEIR LOVE for one another. So anyway, by the “loving each other” standard, I’ll pray that you someday meet Jesus and decide to be a follower of Christ, or “Christian”.

    p.s. mtk76, there are very few better ways to prove God exists than through science.

    Comment by craig | June 8, 2007 | Reply

  20. Craig,

    I am having difficulty seeing how the stating of an opinions on a blog about a debate on National TV puts my soul into danger. I have met Jesus, thanks for your sincere prayers. If you mean by love saying nice things to people all the time regardless of the truth value, then you haven’t been reading your Bible.

    Cameron/Comfort did a poor job. That has nothing to do with their courage, their body parts, their character, their eternal destiny or the substance of their work which is commendable. Their appearance on Nightline is not worthy of praise, rather we should learn from those types of failures, and improve. In this case, improving would mean deferring to someone more qualified. Obviously, God can use even our failures for His glory, but that is not the point either.

    Comment by Steve Bagdanov | June 8, 2007 | Reply

  21. Wow! I’m w/ you Steve!!! It’s too bad that this was one of the debates/discussions that was televised on that show at that time.

    Comment by Svet | June 9, 2007 | Reply

  22. I was watching their (Kirk and Ray) tv show last night and now I know why they were not as well prepared as they should have been. They do not bother to research the opposing sides point of view instead preferring to go on their assumptions and untrue rhetoric. A prime example was their statement last night that Catholics “resacrifice Jesus at the Mass”. To be good at debating what one must do some research truly understand an opposing sides arguement and then present a strong case contrary to it. I feel confident I could outdebate them at this point as false logic and emotion seem to be their primary ammunition.

    Comment by mtk76 | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  23. Steve you sound like a very self-righteous fool. Change please. or just wait till God drops you to your knees. Choose. God Bless.

    Comment by does it matter | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  24. Does it matter,

    Why, thank you. You are very good at name calling, short on substance. It would be nice to have something to try and change but you only call me a name. What should I change? Are you an archangel?

    Comment by Steve Bagdanov | July 21, 2007 | Reply

  25. Hey Everyone. I’ve been struggling through some material from the rational response squad the past few days. I think I’m gonna have to agree with steve in that Ray and Kirk might not have been the best for this debate or at least they didn’t know the reasoning tactics of The Rational Response Squad. I think Ray shouldn’t have made the claim that he could prove God with out referencing faith or the Bible, and then go and use the 10 Commandments. In agreement with steve, I am in no way against Kirk Cameron or Ray Comfort. I think they are great men of God and are doing great things for Gods kingdom, but I don’t think they were as prepared as they could have been. I am a student at Liberty University and last year my professor Ergun Caner had a radio interview with the RRS and I feel he did a great job considering that it was him answering the questions of four other people for about 3 hrs. But all this to say that even Ergun Caner didn’t convince the RRS to become Christians. In the radio interview there were multiple times that Bryan Sapient just said, “Well we’ll agree to disagree.” And just like he said about Christians making up the construct of God to cope or explain it to us. I think thats as much of a cop out as saying “I just have faith that God exists.” Faith in something doesn’t prove anything. It proves you have faith. I am not saying that there is no end to this debate, but in my study of the RRS they are pretty solid in the way they explain themselves. I am in no way saying that makes it true, but they know what arguments to catch Christians off guard and they are confident in their answers; something I don’t see in many Christians. I say that to say, maybe our approach is wrong. Maybe its time to come in from the back door and show the RRS and all other atheist or non Christians for that matter what Christ is really about. Christ’s message is one of new life. We don’t have to go through this life hopeless and trying to make the things of this world give us joy. The RRS’s big claim is that the belief in God is militant, dangerous, and hazardous to impressionable minds. I don’t think they get that view of Christians because we are living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we’re actually on a whole making the world a better place because of Jesus. They have a stack of accusations a mile high against the church and sadly most of them are true. I am not saying that we should not engage in philosophical or scientific debate or that we can’t be successful in those arenas, but I think in this case lives will be changed through brokenness and prayer for the brokenness of others. I think its great to approach these questions that RRS bring up and I think they are asking the right questions and its time we answer God’s call and radically change the world not only through philosophical and scientific debate but also with our lives that have been radically changed by Christ to bring others to Christ and truly make this world a better place because of the Love of God.

    Sam

    Comment by Sam | October 16, 2007 | Reply

  26. Thanks Sam…for visiting and posting.

    What’s your take on Ergun Caner and James White and their attempt to get together and debate Calvinism?

    Comment by Steve Bagdanov | October 18, 2007 | Reply

  27. Ray and Kirk clearly lost the debate. There was no evidence for god proven. From what I’ve read here, you guys sure like to generalize about atheists when you have no idea what they are actually like.
    What happened to judge not lest ye be judged?

    Comment by nayla | January 12, 2008 | Reply

  28. I think Ray has commented somewhere that his point in the debate was to preach the Gospel. To some extent I agree with that. However, debate involves the use of arguments which are rational. I think because Ray & Kirk are so accustomed to their WOTM method, using the Law, that they never really get into the depth of theology needed to argue logically and apologetically for the existence of God. There is a common anti-intellectualism in evangelicalism today that is reducing the Gospel to a shallow, felt needs message. God gave us the Spirit and wisdom to elevate our minds, and of all people we should be the MOST REASONABLE because we honor the God of truth who is consistent with His character.
    It’s been said that the heart cannot believe what the mind cannot grasp(or something like that). The Gospel should have been preached in the context of an irrefutable case for God. If the task of apologetics is to give an answer so as to put to shame the opposers, I’m not sure if Ray & Kirk succeeded. For sure these atheists are amateurs, and they used some of the most twisted logic are poor reasoning I could think of. I just found myself SCREAMING for the boys to silence them with a sound, logical, mouth-shutting ANSWER. It wasn’t that. It was tepid.

    Comment by Zaphon | January 28, 2009 | Reply

  29. A few more thoughts…

    Apologetics is not primarily the Gospel. It’s to answer the false charges of the opposers. It’s meant to shut the mouth and tear down strongholds of false arguments.

    These atheists have said nothing new. Their arguments are rehashing of old, long refuted claims. They simply present them in new and inventive ways.

    Since Ray Comfort beleives in circumventing the intellect by using the Law, this debate circumvented his method by using intellect. Conscience and intellect are not opposed.

    Since Christians are presuppositionally committed to the Bible, they never should have argued with no reference to Scripture. This undermined their Gospel testimony since the Gospel is a revelation of the Scripture and not general revelation.

    We musn’t forget that there is no neutrality. Our absolute starting point is God & His Word. This is not circular b/c even atheists have an absolute starting point for their beliefs. So the foolishness of the w/view can be demonstrated b/c if there is no God even reason, science, and morality cannot exist.

    Evolution & the Biblcial God cannot co-exist.

    The philosophical God of “theism” & evolution can co-exist.

    In the end, the atheist is a fool, and suppresses the truth of God in unirighteousness..hence the myth of the atheist as a purely rational, non-religious person is refuted…the atheist makes statements about therefore all atheists are religious.

    Comment by Zaphon | January 28, 2009 | Reply

  30. Zaphon,
    Thanks for visiting and commenting.
    I am not a presuppositionalist, but agree with you about ultimate authority – we all have one, but where I disagree is that by nature ultimate authorities can appeal to none higher and so de facto are circular. But at the ultimate level that is inevitable and therefore not objectionable.

    This acceptable circularity is outlined for us in Hebrews 6:13 where it says: “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself”

    I just preached on Genesis 1 (we are talking about great themes from Isaiah, creation being one of them) and said that Genesis 1 does not speak to the how of creation rather the why of creation, and ultimately the who. We have been arguing the wrong way about origins in my opinion. Getting hung up on the how may lead us to another embarrassing Copernican incident.

    Visit and comment again, I enjoyed your comments.

    Comment by Steve | January 29, 2009 | Reply

  31. Я смотрю вас здесь уже заспамили

    Comment by bbizbor | February 17, 2009 | Reply


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