Cold Comfort

Contributed by
May 28, 2008
<?xml encoding="utf-8" ?>

I have to give creationists credit for one thing: when they speak, they can fit an incredible amount of absurdity into their words.

An excellent example is televangelist Ray Comfort. He is probably most famous for what can be considered the silliest argument against evolution of all time: the banana. Please, take a moment and soak up the dumbosity of Comfort's argument there, then come back. I'll wait.

OK, done? Have you stopped laughing? Good. I have to say that he eventually finally sorta kinda conceded that maybe this isn't a good argument, but still, we're not talking about a guy here who has the luxury of logic on his side.

So of course, when he spouts off about Mars and Phoenix, well, the nonsense continues. On his blog, he tries to say that we wasted our money with Phoenix, because all we'll find is that "God [...] made Mars of dirt". Just like we did on the Moon.

Wow. His ignorance of these missions is surpassed only by his arrogance that we need not do them. Just dirt? Actually, the regolith (not dirt; that's rock and other substances that has been processed by bacteria) and rocks brought back from the Moon were a scientific goldmine, telling us about the conditions on the Moon, the characteristics of the solar wind, and even providing evidence for the impact origin of the Moon itself*.

Of course, on Mars, we're looking for something different. The goal of Phoenix -- had Comfort done the unthinkable act of actually looking it up -- is to study the history of water on Mars, and search for habitable conditions on Mars and see if it ever was conducive for life. This will help us understand if life might have ever arisen on Mars, and also characterize conditions that will help us sustain a colony there eventually.

Of course, then he complains that NASA spent $400 million on the mission, making the same false dichotomy I have debunked over and over again.

But why stop there? He actually says that instead of wasting money on exploring space, "... we should spend our time and money on cleaning up the dirt in our own backyard. There sure is plenty of it."

Hey, whaddya ya know? A creationist said something that was right. Though I doubt that what he actually meant was that we should spend that money educating people about science and reality so that all Comfort would ever hear after he spouts his nonsense are crickets, but there you go. He was right for the wrong reason, which at least is a change from being wrong for the wrong reasons all the time.

Tip o' the space helmet to Jason Brunet for sending me the link to Comfort's blog.

*And Mr. Comfort may have forgotten that we didn't go to the Moon to do science, we went there to beat the Soviets. Science was secondary to that at best, yet the knowledge returned was invaluable.