The Fool (2019)
Director: Ray Comfort
Screenwriter: Ray Comfort
Narrator: Ray Comfort
The Fool is the latest offering from evangelist Ray Comfort. It’s an autobiographical documentary about his experiences interacting with atheists, beginning with the savage mockery of Comfort due to a silly viral video clip. “Behold, the atheist’s nightmare,” Comfort proclaims as he holds up a banana. He goes on to argue from incredulity and wrongfully attributed causation, claiming that because bananas are so fit for human use and consumption that they must have been designed for humans by God, and therefore humans are also designed.
If this wasn’t stupid enough on the face of things, it becomes even dumber when you learn the fascinating history of the banana. Comfort shows his banana routine multiple times throughout the doc, including comparative delivery in front of Christian and atheist audiences. He kills in front of a Christian audience who laugh at almost every line; meanwhile, atheists gave a few laughs Comfort calls “cynical”. He does this to show that it’s just a hilarious comedy bit that fell flat on a TV set with no audience, and claims it offends atheists because it satirizes their worldview. Of course, Comfort doesn’t consider the fact that atheists don’t believe a supernatural being created bananas… that would be a creationist’s argument. I’ll grant that his preceding bit about soda cans coming about naturally is a satire of his perception of the scientific understanding of biogenesis and evolution, but it betrays his true lack of knowledge and wisdom (if not wilful ignorance).
Comfort complains that his banana bit is useless when divorced from the soda can bit, but the two are only tangentially related and don’t correlate to make a singular point. To give him the benefit of the doubt, I watched the full episode of his show “Way of the Master” that contains the banana clip that went viral. With the context of the entire episode, it was clear to me that the banana bit isn’t satire. Comfort uses the soda can and banana as serious illustrations among a multitude of arguments and strategies for dealing with atheists, and concludes his banana portion of the segment by saying, “Seriously, Kirk, the whole of creation testifies to the genius of God’s creation.” There’s no layer of irony to the banana bit, it’s clear Comfort sees it as a testament to truth or he wouldn’t use it (or he knows its inanity and improper logic appeal to the fallacious human mind).
The film feels stretched to its limits at a 65-minute runtime, a good portion of which is made up of footage that doesn’t add much to the overall point. Comfort includes arguments with atheists that go nowhere due to his salesman approach to conversation. He tries to dictate the terms and definitions to stay on a script that is specifically written to not engage in meaningful conversation. Comfort sees fact-based, intellectual discussion as a waste of time because the real goal is to get sound bites of people agreeing with him when he pivots into talk of Christian morality, which he edits into his man-on-the-street portions of his films. He frequently misuses metaphors in order to make incorrect points, and proudly espouses his ignorant views on an entire field of science.
Comfort’s big point in the film is that he uses publicity from atheists to spread misinformation. From random strangers on a beach to Richard Dawkins, he’s made his living baiting atheists with stupid arguments and banana splits to create props for his videos.
This entire film left me feeling torn.
You see, I’ve always dreamed of what I would say to Ray Comfort. If he shoved his camcorder and mic into my face, how would I avoid the pitfalls of engaging with him without being needlessly cruel? I think my strongest theoretical tactic would be using his script with another religion’s apologetics to essentially mimic him and show the folly of arguing specific points about a religion to someone who doesn’t accept the precepts; surely no Christian would convert to Hellenism through simple assertions and “nuh-uhs.”
That leads to the inevitable conclusion I drew from The Fool; don’t engage with one. Don’t talk to someone who is arguing in bad faith. Ray isn’t going to change his mind because of logical presentation of knowledge and reason. He’s intellectually dishonest because he’s intellectually bankrupt. His kindness and sincerity is all fine and good, but they cannot make up for his blatant misrepresentation of other people’s arguments and his own lack of willingness to have his views changed. The only way to deal with someone like Ray Comfort is from afar, where he can’t interject to assert his glaring idiocy.
If you’re reading this Ray, I didn’t write this because you “owned atheists with one simple question” (you didn’t) or blasphemed what you perceive to be “holy text” or any kind of “holy prophet” (the entire concept of sanctity holds no value to me). I’m taking you to task because you used a dead man as a prop to scare people about the inevitability of death. You used the deaths of Stephen Hawking and Robin Williams to promote your films that peddle false information about biology and mental health. You compare the fallout of your nonsense to people who were fed to beasts in Rome. You’re a walking gaffe that became famous because of stupidity and ignorance, and that isn’t something to pride yourself on.
This biased documentary isn’t worth the zero dollars I paid to watch it on YouTube. It’s a celebration of ignorance, a treatise on sisyphism and an utterly asinine attempt at self-justification.
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