The day has come. We in the atheist and scientific communities have been waiting for it with mild amusement or annoyance. And to our surprise it came a day early. We almost missed it as a result. But I didn’t.
For those of you who were not aware, Ray Comfort, from Living Waters and Way of the Master has recently been talking about passing out free copies of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. This pivotal book has been all the rage since it was first published in 1859, and it’s impact on science, religion, and culture cannot be denied. This is a book that must be read by a person if they are to consider themselves a well-rounded, educated, and informed person in today’s culture. One should at very least be familiar with what Darwin’s essential argument is, what evidence exists to back it up, and what science says about evolution today.
For that, here’s a few good places to start and to keep an eye on:
But Ray Comfort is not a fan of evolution. He rejects it and supports intelligent design, so why is Ray Comfort giving away this special 150th Anniversary Edition, precisely?
Well, first a bit about Ray Comfort. He and his former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron have been doing ministry about Jesus for some time now. You may remember the debate that Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron had with my friend Brian Sapient and the Rational Response Squad. If you have not seen this debate, I’ll supply a link here.
It was this debate where the infamous crocoduck came from. This has supplied many chuckles and full belly-laughs from sciency people ever since. (I want a shirt with the crocoduck on it, btw, so I’ll accept gifts of this sort).
This is an image created by Ray Comfort to try and make the point that transitional fossils do not exist, and that if they did this is the type of thing one would expect to find. The ignorance contained here is astounding. I don’t even feel compelled to respond, because it has been done elsewhere with many more lulz attached.
But this is not the full act that these clowns have. If you have not heard their routine, it is amusing. Here’s an example that includes some rebuttal:
Now, the banana aside (which Ray Comfort admitted was a bad argument), this is utter tripe. It is clear that Comfort, Cameron, and the others that are on board with this nonsense do not accept the overwhelming evidence for evolution, so why are they giving away copies of The Origin of Species? Well, it has a lot to do with the 50 page introduction that Ray Comfort includes in this ‘special’ edition.
Well, putting aside some obvious problems with the introduction, this is obviously an attempt to appear as if the creationist loons, like Comfort, have actually considered the evidence and are just coming up with another interpretation. They simply see the evidence lacking, having studied the subject, and are confident to actually give people copies of this book.
But the fact is that evolution is not derived from the Origin like gospel. It is derived from Darwin’s arguments, evidence, and observations and then is confirmed by all of the work in biology since. That is, a hundred and fifty years of research, testing, DNA evidence, fossils, and other information supports what Darwin wrote and expands on it in ways Darwin could not have predicted because he did not know about DNA or genetics, let alone the thousands of fossils we have uncovered that speak unequivocally for evolution by natural selection.
So, the deal was Comfort and his cronies were to hand out copies of the book all over the country, on college campuses, on November 19th, 2009. The atheist and science blogosphere was all a-twitter about it and has been anticipating this. Various responses, reactions, and condemnations have surfaced in various places with varying degrees of tone. And so what happened when I got to my daily business today, one day before the planned give-away? That’s right folks, Comfort has tried to minimize the planned reactions by science enthusiasts and atheists by jumping the gun and doing it early.
But I managed to get out of the house and find a couple of friendly gentlemen who were passing out the books today anyway. They were having some conversations with students, proselytizing the Christian message similar to Ray Comfort’s, and I took a copy and talked with them about my concerns for a little while. And what did I find? Ignorance.
In my conversation with these two gentlemen, I found that not only were these two men ignorant of science, it’s methods, and the evidence for evolution, they displayed no interest in learning about science. One of them actually said that he was not interested in science. But he did say that he was interested in the truth. And while he didn’t understand the basics of rational thinking, epistemology, or even what natural selection was, he maintained that he was interested in the truth.
And what is the truth? Jesus is the truth. This was not merely claimed as a belief, but as knowledge, knowledge that was not doubted even a little.
Frustrating. How can a person claim to be interested in the truth and not have any interest in the scientific method–the best method for determining how the world works–and have not even surface understanding of epistemology? his is an indefensible position. It is irrational, illogical, and not worthy of the respect that some faitheists and moderate religionists say that these beliefs deserve. Their certainty in their beliefs is staggering considering they are not interested in evidence. What’s worse is that they accused me of being absolutely certain that god does not exist and that evolution is true. When I told them that neither was true and that I accept evolution only because of the overwhelming evidence for it.
I am a skeptic. These people, Comfort included, are so removed from skepticism that they will not admit that they might be wrong. They cannot even see that they don’t actually have evidence, only personal interpretations of experiences which people of other religions claim with equal authority. I cannot respect Ray Comfort’s beliefs, his certainty, or the certainty of those who believe such absurd things. And for them to try and pull a stunt like this,by trying to look like they are educated in the science behind evolution when they are not, is dishonest at very least.
“All you need is eyes that can see and a brain that works” is what Ray Comfort says quite often. But it is clear, from all I have seen of his work, that he might have poor vision and a brain that works only just enough to sound like he’s saying something sensible to people who don’t see through his idiocy.
I’m glad I have a copy of this fine book to put on my shelf, but from what I have already seen, there is nothing in the introduction that is worth keeping.