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Remember the banana video that “proved” God’s existence? The two guys in the video were Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort.

After the Blasphemy Challenge people were on Nightline back in January, Comfort called up ABC and “offered to prove God’s existence, absolutely, scientifically, without mentioning the Bible or faith.”

According to the Living Waters (Comfort’s ministry) press release:

ABC loved the idea, and will host a debate in New York City on May 5, 2007. Moderated by Martin Bashir, the debate will be streamed LIVE on their website and will also be filmed for “Nightline.”

In other words, there will be a 90 minute live debate (streamed on ABC’s website) with the highlights to be shown on Nightline.

Who will Comfort and Cameron be debating?

Brian Sapient and Kelly M. of the Blasphemy Challenge. They’re the ones that appeared in the Nightline segment.

There will surely be a backlash from the atheist community for a couple major reasons.

  • This debate (regardless of the results) will just be used by Comfort/Cameron to promote themselves, instead of a way to discuss arguments for/against God. It wouldn’t be the first time Comfort has done this. In the press release, Comfort says he has “been flown by American Atheists, Inc., to their 2001 annual convention to be a platform speaker.” That is true. He was a speaker that year as part of a debate on God’s existence. If you heard the debate audio, you also know he was crushed by his atheist opponent. But that’s not the point. Comfort just likes the line on his résumé. Even with solid arguments, atheists have very little to gain from participating in this debate.
  • The only thing atheists might be able to gain from this is perhaps more exposure to a nationwide audience. That said, why isn’t someone like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or even an unknown-but-well-spoken evolutionary biologist being called on to debate? Are the Blasphemy Challenge people really the best representatives we have?

I can’t really answer the first one. The debate looks like it’s going to happen regardless of what atheists think.

As for the second one, I asked Brian Sapient why he thought he and Kelly were picked for this debate. He had a fairly straightforward answer (through personal communication):

[In] the first year of the non-Koppel nightline they had [approximately] 1300 users register on their forums, in the… weeks following their segment on our blasphemy challenge they had [approximately] 13,000 people register.

Nightline likes the Blasphemy Challenge.

Brian Flemming, the co-creator of the Blasphemy Challenge and director of The God Who Wasn’t There, is not going to be a part of this debate.

This isn’t the optimal way to have a real debate, to be sure. But atheists don’t always get this type of coverage. We might as well make the most of it while people are listening.

Plus, it might be fun to see another peanut-butter-like argument that’ll get trashed by the mainstream media.

I hope Christians will be as concerned about this debate as atheists will be. They may have more to lose by having Comfort/Cameron speak as their “representatives.” That’s just embarrassing…

(via Fark)

[tags]atheist, atheism, God, banana, Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Blasphemy Challenge, Nightline, ABC, Living Waters, Martin Bashir, Nightline, Brian Sapient, American Atheists, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Ted Koppel, Brian Flemming, The God Who Wasn’t There, Fark[/tags]