Creationist Comfort Hits North American Campuses with “Amended” Version of Origin of Species

November 24, 2009

Today is November 24th, 150 years to the day since the publication of Charles Dawin's "On the Origin of Species".  And unfortunately it is also the day when Ray Comfort, who famously referred to the banana as an evolutionist's greatest enemy for its obvious intelligent design as the perfect food for humans, is striking again.  This week thousands of copies of an amended version of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" are appearing across 70 North American university campuses in the US and Canada.  The new version includes a 50+ pages creationist forward which among other things, ties natural selection to Hitler and the holocaust and claims that belief in evolution is incompatible with Christianity.  The book also deleted four chapters in the original book which provided much of Darwin's evidence for evolution.  Eugenie Scott of the National Centre for Science Education, who debated Comfort on the "God and Country" blog on the US News website, referred to Comfort's book as  "a hopeless mess of long-ago-refuted creationist arguments, teeming with misinformation about the science of evolution, populated by legions of strawmen, and exhibiting what can be charitably described as muddled thinking." 

The Centre for Inquiry and the National Centre for Science Education, with support from the Secular Student Alliance, jointly coordinated a major pro-evolution and pro-science campaign across North American campuses.  As the Executive Director of the Centre for Inquiry in Canada I can proudly state that 10 campus clubs across the nation participated, covering major cities of Montreal, Halifax, Saskatoon, Fredericton (New Brunswick), Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa and London, Ontario.  Our campus distribution packages consisted of evolution videos which are available for free from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute .  We also included a page from the NCSE entitled " Why Ray Comfort is Wrong " which describes why Comfort's book is bad science (eg. Comfort's claim there are no transitional fossils!), bad history (eg. Hitler is given as Darwin's most famous student!) and bad theology (eg. mentioning Francis Collins but failing to include the small fact that he is both a famous evangelical and famously pro-evolution!). 

Finally we included a 2-page flyer "Evolution:  Fact and Theory" which reminds readers that while large scale species change is an established fact the theory of evolution consists in the various mechanisms the understanding of which is still being enhanced.  One of the major evidences for the fact of evolution is transitional fossils, and the example provided is Tiktaalik , the famous 365 million year old link between fish and early tetrapods, made famous in Neil Shubin's book "Your Inner Fish."

Our coordinated Canadian pro-evolution campaign is already starting to bear fruit (of a non-banana variety).  The University of Saskatchewan Freethought Alliance is quoted in a headline story in their campus paper The Sheaf .  The article is entitled "Ray Comfort targets universities: Darwin attacked in free copy of On the Origin of Species."