of course, i'm not convinced that he is the same species. homo sapiens have large brains and substantial cognitive functioning. while Comfort does have the ability to speak, which sets him apart from other animal species, he seems to be lacking the cognitive abilities that the majority of humans have attained.
my hypothesis is that evolution is alive in well in humans today. we know that mutations will come along - some good, some bad - which will survive should they present an advantage to survival. this doesn't mean all humans will necessarily evolve to get better. Comfort's mutation may be allowing him to thrive amongst others in his devolved species (let's call them Homo Estupidis).
the ability to deny what is patently obvious to most is the key feature among Homo Estupidis'. it could be due to a diminished frontal lobe, or maybe due to a cantaloupe being in place where the brain should be. i favor the latter explanation. in fact, let's change their name again to Homo Cantaloupis. yes, i like that better.
of course, it's entirely possible that Comfort is simply acting the part of king of the Cantaloupes, selling his product to the religious rubes who are dying for someone to articulate what they are incapable of doing on their own. someone who is willing to make an ass of himself in public to spout their religious quackery. (i do wonder what Comfort would have said had someone asked him not about the tailbone, but about the occasional actual human tail.)
but i prefer to think that Comfort and his ilk are simply devolved humans. it's much less embarrassing for the rest of OUR species.
Any evolutionary biologist could tell you that Ray Comfort is cherrypicking the evidence in a big way.
I had a friend back in the 80's who was very Christian. I remember someone among his circle of friends speaking admiringly of Ray Comfort: "what courage that man has, to go right out there and promote the gospel in public"
My friend was a smart guy, he went to Caltech - computer science major. He never talked about any beliefs he might have had about evolution, miracles etc. - yet he went to this heavy-duty science school. He would have had to take various science classes in order to graduate.
I never questioned him about whether he believed in evolution, whether he was a Young Earther, etc. I thought of his faith as a matter of emotions and politics.
And he might have avoiding thinking about such conflicts, because of the cognitive dissonance it would cause.
Maybe the fundamentalist Christians were less overt about their fringe scientific theories back then. That was in the 80's.
That's what those beliefs are, you know - fringe scientific theories. Many consider them outside the scope of criticism, as religious beliefs. That helps them to persist.
Scientists have discovered that writing popular books on their field of expertise can make them much more money than their university salaries and have gone at it furiously. These books are given a sexy title by the publisher to promote sales and the public buys them. In making things more accessible to the average reader they have done some good for the public understanding of science, but at a price.
The average reader does not understand the difference between a scientific statement made in a journal article and a more casual description of it in a popular book or magazine article. He comes away with the notion that scientific notions are easier and simpler than they really are and that consequently they are open to equally casual criticisms and alternatives. The outstanding example of this are the many incorrect attempts to restate the second law of thermodynamics in easy language and to use these dumbed down versions as arguments against evolution.
Also nonscientists write books that people take seriously, especially on health issues. I thought popular books on medical matters were telling the truth when I first started reading them. The research doctors actually write the better popular health books.
Nonscientists are quite capable of observing things that scientists haven't yet accounted for and analyzed. The connections between things that they observe seem to be sometimes accurate. The theories and proposed mechanisms they come up with are normally totally bogus.
I used to have an "oh, bosh" attitude towards the reports of observations and the observed connections. Then I found, with food sensitivities, that a lot of people's observations seemed to have been actually quite accurate.
So I changed my "oh, bosh" attitude, to apply (a lot) to popular theories and (somewhat) to popular ideas about connections between things.
Definitely, yes, nonscientists come up with cosmological "theories" and so on, that aren't even coherent enough to be real theories, and they seem to think these are serious ideas that could be right.
I've gotten a lot out of some popular science books - I was obsessed with Roger Penrose's Road To Reality for months. His Cycles of Time book, presenting his theory of conformal cyclic cosmology, was also very intriguing. But Roger Penrose rarely tells fibs in order to simplify concepts, thus a lot of nonphysicists find his books impossible to read. I only noticed him fibbing once to simplify things in Road to Reality - something that bugs me, I like books to tell me the truth.
I've been reading Elliptic Tales recently, which is an informal but (hopefully) correct introduction to elliptic curves. These kinds of popularized math and physics books can be very good at stimulating interest by not bogging you down with rigor.
Dr. Clark, you described my experience well.
As I understand the Second Law, it holds only in closed systems. The creationists I've tried to educate seem unable to distinguish between closed systems and open systems.
The fringe belief idea is very perceptive. If my religion is bulletproof because it is impossible to disprove, I should hold scientific ideas that are equally impossible to disprove. The one can support the other.
I wonder if the general idea is to always hold beliefs that are impossible to disprove. In that way, one can hold any beliefs one wants, about any subject. What a great way to go through life.
Of course it is much easier to contrive religious statements that are beyond disproof than scientific statements. In fact it is essential in a scientific statement that it permit means of verification. Statements which do not allow for verification by experiment are usually treated as mere conjectures and not given the same weight as verifiable statements. In religion almost nothing is verifiable and most religious statements are consequently without meaning.
Yeah Ray, we're not real happy about the association either.