Nearly four years ago, I interviewed him for this website and he was gracious enough to answer all the questions I asked.
So, given the opportunity to do it again, and with some of your submitted questions in the mix, I asked Ray about everything from his selective-editing of videos to the infamous banana routine.
His answers are reprinted below in their entirety. (I have edited the exchange only for grammar/clarity and added links to Ray’s responses when I felt they were helpful.)
You’re known for your selective-editing of movies. In this video, you’re shown asking a rhetorical question to two young men, but later changing the question to make their responses seem more sinister. How do you respond to that? Why the deception?
When American Atheists tweeted and asked me a similar question, I tweeted back: “Undeniable, unintentional, unfortunate, but understandable, when the questions in GeniusTheMovie.com were asked about three months apart.”
There was no conspiracy on our part. My editors edit with integrity, and it was just an oversight. What I find interesting is what the question I asked is focused upon, when the young man said that he would murder someone rather than go to the police! That’s crazy.
I think PZ Myers was the one who first mentioned “selective editing.” He may not realize that that is what editors do. They select clips that are relevant to the subject. When PZ said, “Human beings are still fish,” we cut away to someone else who thought we were fish. If PZ had said, “Wait a minute. Fish have gills. Human beings aren’t still fish… I’ve changed my mind,” we wouldn’t have used the footage. We don’t twist what people say, but we do select for content and flow.
Professor Peter Nonacs (UCLA) said in the interview I did with him, “I am one of the evolutionary biologists interviewed by Ray Comfort for his new DVD. First, Ray is a charming fellow and I greatly enjoy interacting with him. I do not expect that my words will be edited out of context or that I’ll find myself somehow saying on camera that ‘All of evolutionary biology is a hoax perpetuated in order to justify atheism.’ In short, I expect that everything in the DVD will be an accurate reflection of my words… I don’t think there would [be] much on a transcript that would [indict] Ray for ‘lying.’ He doesn’t interview that way. When you try to go in depth, he’ll quickly cut you off and go to the next question. My answers will be my real answers, I’m sure.”
Pardon the quick interruption.
I asked Professor Nonacs if that statement was accurate. This is what he told me:
… I think my prediction turned out to be quite accurate. Most of my “on camera” time is spent talking about blaspheming. What that has to do with the validity of evolution, maybe only Ray understands. Every substantive discussion I have had with Ray has been either “lost” or ended up on the cutting room floor. This is really a shame. I think both sides of the evolution debate would greatly enjoy seeing the entire give and take between us. Much more so than the two-second cameos you see in the film. In person, Ray is actually more interesting and effective than the character he plays in his films. I don’t know why he doesn’t trust his audience to see a real conversation rather than resorting to editing tricks…
Okay. Back to the interview with Ray:
Will you be releasing unedited footage from your latest film so we can see how scientists responded to your questions about evolution? If not, why not?
When I asked American Atheists if they could be specific about the unedited footage in “Evolution vs. God,” they said: “Manipulative editing: 7m22s to 7m28s: You ask 4 ex. He has 1000s. You say 1, then cut b4 he can give it!” [Hemant’s note: In English, that says, “You asked for examples of evolution. He had thousands. You asked for just one, then cut away before he could give it.]
So the relevant thought is “What did the professor say after I said, ‘I want just one…’? Did he provide that one proof of Darwinian evolution?” I say that he didn’t. It was just a tight edit. Will we release what he said? I will think about it, even though we are under no obligation to do so.
Would you consider taping and promoting an unedited, back-and-forth conversation with a scientist about evolution? Not a debate, per se, but a longer version of your Q & A sessions.
I would consider it.
Your movie is called “Evolution Vs. God”… but there are plenty of Christians who accept evolution. Are they true Christians?
A Christian is someone who loves and trusts in Jesus. Someone who says, “I’m a Christian, but I believe in evolution,” is in essence saying, “I love and trust in Jesus but I think He was lying when He said, “In the beginning God made them male and female.”
It would be similar to someone saying “I’m an atheist but I believe that God exists.”
Why do you think atheists refuse to take you very seriously? (I mean that sincerely; compared to other Creationists, you tend to get mocked a lot more than they do.)
I can understand why they mock me. It’s my fault. I unwisely did my silly banana routine on our TV program, without a LIVE audience (which I had done for 30 years) and, in retrospect, it bombed. A LIVE audience makes all the difference. Even Richard Dawkins got laughter when he did it on TV a number of times. It was just bad TV but what made it really bad was when the guy who made the YouTube clip used a picture of a modern banana to show what bananas looked like 5,000 years ago. No one thought about how not too many people had cameras 5,000 years ago. I even believed the bogus hybridization line for a time. So, when it went worldwide, it understandably made me look like a doofus. [Hemant’s note: I think this is the video Ray’s referring to.]
Even though it was very humbling, it was good for me because when I was asked to do interviews on atheist programs, the hosts were surprised that I could string a whole sentence together. It set a low bar for me.
If evolution is a lie, why do the overwhelming majority of scientists accept it? Why should we trust you over them?
I’m not asking anyone to trust me. If there is one thing that irritates most atheists, it’s the thought that they have faith in anyone or anything. But that’s what you are talking about when you speak of “trust” in scientists. I once trusted that evolution was scientifically viable… until I asked for scientific evidence to back it up.
Most who think that they believe in evolution actually believe in adaptation. That’s something that Creationists also believe in. Our skin adapts to sunlight. Animals, fish and birds adapt. That’s not Darwinian evolution.
As a Christian, my worldview is radically different from that of an atheist. I trust Genesis completely because it stands the scientific test. What we see in nature and in the fossil record reflects what Genesis says — every animal/fish/bird and insect has male and female (except for a few snails) and every one brings forth after its own kind. I believe that Genesis is God’s Word, but you asked me not to be preachy, so I won’t elaborate any further in case I breech the trust you have placed in me.
What if you’re wrong and you’ve dedicated your life to a lie?
If I’m wrong I lose nothing. I have had a wonderful life (I’m coming up to 64 and will be out of here soon), and I attribute it to adhering to biblical principles. I have a great marriage because it has been built on love and trust, three kids that have never strayed into drugs or alcohol, and they have given me eight grandchildren. On top of that I have many friends who love me, and I even have a bunch of atheist friends.
I have had the honor of standing on a box and speaking open-air style more than 5,000 times, and when I’m heckled by those who disagree with me, it is such a satisfying challenge to reason with them. If I’m wrong and there’s no God and no afterlife, I won’t even know about it.
Do you believe that, if evolution is true, we should be able to see one species evolve into another species in our lifetime?
We see that all the time — in lizards, bacteria, fish, etc. That’s not “Darwinian evolution” (as Richard Dawkins calls it). Darwin was looking for a change of “kinds.” As I mentioned in “Evolution vs. God” there is the feline kind (cats and tiger), the canine kind (dogs and coyotes) and humankind (you and me). Biology-online.org says that “kind” is: “Race; genus; species; generic class; as, in mankind or humankind.”
Last time we spoke, in 2009, you said you “don’t have any idea about the age of the earth.” Do you still hold that view?
Yes. I have no idea of its exact age, but I don’t believe that it’s millions of years old. To do so you have to have faith in dating processes and they have been proven to be untrustworthy.
What are some of the toughest questions you’ve been asked and had difficulty answering concerning faith, the Bible, and morality?
The most difficult is “Why does God allow suffering”? I just wrote a book on the subject called God Speaks that looks at the book of Job (which is about suffering). As a Christian I understand that we live in a “fallen” creation/nature — that in the beginning (before evil entered the human race) there was no suffering or death, and I know that God promises to work everything out for my good. But there is still the question of unspeakable suffering that is all around us. But that doesn’t shake my trust in God for the moment.
Thank you for allowing me to be interviewed. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area, I would count it a privilege to take you to lunch.
I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again: Ray doesn’t *have* to respond to any of these questions and most Creationists would probably have ignored them altogether. So I give him credit where it’s due for at least partaking in the exchange, even if his responses are just waiting to be rebutted and probably won’t satisfy anyone reading this.