Ray Comfort’s picture of evolution vs. the actual Theory of Evolution
"How can we know that Comfort's picture of evolution is wrong, and yours is right?"
That would be a very reasonable question, and the answer is actually quite simple.
Comfort's picture of evolution is one of multiple highly unlikely coincidences, and impossible half-evolved creatures that would never survive. He doesn't take key concepts like 'Common descent' and 'Adaptation' into consideration.
If he was right, the vast majority of biologists in the world would be idiots.
The actual Theory of Evolution is not nearly as dependent on coincidence. Adaptation courses organisms to function well in their environment. Common descent means that complicated structures only have to evolve once in each evolutionary line, explaining why large groups of animals share so many traits.
If this picture is correct. the vast majority of biologists in the world would NOT be idiots.
Which is more probable?
Now to the details of Ray Comfort's ideas of evolution, as presented in 'The Atheist Delusion'
It is presented as if it is a coincidence that plants produce oxygen and
organic matter from CO2 and water, by means of solar energy, and
animals do the opposite: break down organic matter and thereby releasing CO2,
water and energy.
What would the chance be of such a system coming up by accident!
If you know a little about evolution, you would know how this is thought to
have come around.
Here is the short version of the history, which tells why this presentation is
based on a profoundly ignorant idea about evolution.
The first prokaryotic life (Prokaryote = without a nucleus, that is Bacteria
and Archaea) was anaerobic (life without oxygen). Extracting energy by various
forms of chemical reactions without oxygen. Along came photosynthesis
(admitted, I don’t know how it evolved). The slowly rising oxygen level in the
ocean was a problem for some organisms, which survived in places where
oxygen levels were low. Others adjusted to the new environment and evolved ways
to break down organic matter, using oxygen (aerobic). The benefit of that is
huge. Using oxygen extracts more energy from organic matter than any other
It is by no way a coincidence. One (aerobic decomposition of organic matter)
evolved as a response to the other (photosynthesis).
Of course, it is relevant to ask about the details of how these two systems
evolved. But that is not what Ray Comfort does. He just claims that it is a
According to Comfort ‘DNA happened by accident’ According to Origin of Life
theories, DNA was the result of reverse transcription from original RNA
replicators. (In molecular biology ‘transcription’ is the process where a DNA
template is used to produce an RNA molecule with the same information. ‘Reverse
transcription’ is the opposite process)
A number of questions shows Comforts misunderstandings:
“What came first, chicken or egg?”
Based on knowledge of evolution, the answer is actually quite simple. Animals
lay eggs long before birds evolved. Birds evolved from dinosaurs, which lay
eggs. The egg is therefor much older than the chicken.
The relevant question would be: How did birds evolve? But that is not the
question Mr. Comfort asks.
“How did I see before I had eyes?”
Eyes evolved early in the chordate line (Humans are Vertebrates, Vertebrates
are Chordates - therefor this is the relevant group to look at), probably by a
process something like that described by Darwin 150 years ago. Lots of animals
do fine without eyes.
The good (and hard) question would be: 'How did eyes evolve'? But to ask that
you need just a little bit of understanding of evolution, therefor Ray Comfort
doesn't ask that. It simply doesn't come to his mind.
The good counter-question would be: 'Why are there so many different kinds of
Or: Why are the simplest eyes so incredibly simple, compared to the Human eye?
"What about blood and heart, what came first?" “What use is a heart
without blood? How do the blood get around the body with no heart?”
Again knowledge of evolution solves it. At least at the first level of
understanding, it is pretty simple. The first chordates to have blood probably
looked something like a Lancelet. Fossils of Lancelet-like
creatures have been found in Cambrian sediments. Lancelets have blood but no
heart. The blood is circulated by muscle activity, but there is nothing like hear champers. We have a
system the slightly resembles this (the skeletal muscle pump) helping a more efficient blood circulation
The next level of questioning: "How were the details?" is of course
much harder. But Ray Comfort doesn't ask any of those.
"Did the first chicken have lungs?"
Again, knowledge of evolution would tell you that lungs originated in the
common ancestor of lungfish and tetrapods, long before they evolved into land
"You have to translate that to elephants, horses, cats, cows, humans,
every living thing". Why only mention mammals? Because if he mentioned
Lancelets, Fish or Tunicates (if the person was a
biologists, he would know what a tunicate is) it would lead to the answer.
And here it is clear that Ray Comfort thinks that every single species (he
would say 'kind') needed to evolve lungs, heart, eyes and so on, from scratch.
Which is of course nonsense. But otherwise, the "You have to translate
that ..." makes no sense. Comfort clearly have no idea of what 'Common descent' means in Evolution.
According to the Theory of Evolution, all mammals evolved from a creature that
was already a mammal, and which had lungs, heart, blood, eyes and so on. ‘Translate
to ”¦’ is revealing this lack of understanding.
“Can you think of anything that is not fully evolved?”
What would a not-fully-evolved organism look like? If you don't know what to
look for, how would you know if you found it? But you can actually try to
answer it. As mentioned the lancelet has blood, but no heart, so it is in this
foolish sense, not fully evolved. Also, the most simple light sensitive organ
in multicellular organisms is only a single light sensitive neural cell connected
to a cilium (mark: no brain involved), in Ragworm Larvae . Is that a
'fully evolved' eye?
Human eyes cannot see ultraviolet light. Some birds and insects can. Is our eye not 'fully evolved' then?
It is suggested that according to evolution it is a coincidence that many
plants (including fruits and vegetables) are highly nutritious to humans, and
other animals. But according to evolution this is adaptation, not coincidence. We
evolved to eat this, and therefore to benefit from whatever ingredients happens
to be in there. If fruits with various compounds are a daily part of your diet,
it is not such a big deal that you evolve to benefit from it, and eventual
become dependent (which is why we call such compounds 'vitamins').