JISHOU, HUNAN — It takes a certain amount of nerve, and intellectual dishonesty, to appropriate the text of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, write a creationist “special introduction” to it, then reissue the mangled tome as a legitimate copy of Darwin’s work.
The creationist outfit, Bridge Logos Foundation, of Alachua, Florida, has published an abridged 150th anniversary edition of Origin of Species, complete with a 50-page introduction calling into question practically every conclusion Darwin makes in the rest of the book. Living Waters Publications, is peddling the book as a way to undermine the teaching of evolution in schools and universities.
Both organizations are masterminded by Ray Comfort, a noted anti-evolution, fundamentalist writer.
Here is the squib describing the book:
This special 280-page edition not only contains an abridged Origin of Species but also has a 50-page Introduction that reveals the dangerous fruit of evolution, Hitler’s undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin’s racism, and his disdain for women. It counters the claim that creationists are “anti-science” by citing numerous scientists who believed that God created the universe—scientists such as Einstein, Newton, Copernicus, Bacon, Faraday, Pasteur, and Kepler. It has many original graphics and (as it says on the back cover) is designed for use in schools, colleges, and prestigious learning institutions. The back cover lists the above information as well as saying the book contains “Information on Intelligent Design vs Evolution.” We want to get one million copies into the hands of students and professors in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Let’s see if they try to ban Darwin’s Origin of Species. That would be interesting.
The front cover of the book is suitably nondescript, camouflaging the creationist nonsense contained in the introduction, which Comfort himself wrote. The unwary would never suspect the book is actually anti-Darwin.
Isn’t there a commandment about not bearing false witness?
The introduction (available here) starts off innocently enough with a straightforward and — as near as I can tell — unbiased biography of Darwin. A timeline marks the important events of his life.
Then the introduction devolves into creationist mumbo-jumbo, some of which Comfort has recycled from his blog posts and other screeds, as I discovered using SeeSources.com,. Here is an example, about the synthesis of DNA (which, I might add, Darwin knew nothing about 150 years ago).
Consider for a moment whether you could ever believe this publication happened by accident. Here’s the argument: there was nothing. Then paper appeared, and ink fell from nowhere onto the flat sheets and shaped itself into perfectly formed letters of the English alphabet. Initially, the letters said something like this: “fgsn&k cn1clxc dumbh cckvkduh vstupidm ncncx.” As you can see, random letters rarely produce words that make sense. But in time, mindless chance formed them into the order of meaningful words with spaces between them. Periods, commas, capitals, italics, quotes, paragraphs, margins, etc., also came into being in the correct placements. The sentences then grouped themselves to relate to each other, giving them coherence. Page numbers fell in sequence at the right places, and headers, footers, and footnotes appeared from nowhere on the pages, matching the portions of text to which they related. The paper trimmed itself and bound itself into a Bible. The ink for the cover fell from different directions, being careful not to incorrectly mingle with the other colors, forming itself into the graphics and title. There are multiple copies of this publication, so it then developed the ability to replicate itself thousands of times over. With this thought in mind, notice that in the following description of DNA, it is likened to a book:
If you think of your genome (all of your chromosomes) as the book that makes you, then the genes are the words that make up the story. … The letters that make up the words are called DNA bases, and there are only four of them: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (t). It’s hard to believe that an alphabet with only four letters can make something as wonderful and complex as a person!
The quote about the four DNA bases, incidentally, used to be on the GlaxoSmithKline website, and is archived here. It was clearly intended for children, and simplifies genetics using terms children can understand: letters, words, books.
Comfort’s feeble attempt to show how DNA could not have possibly developed without Divine Guidance is likewise childish. DNA did not just appear — poof! — one sunny day billions of years ago. It took at least millions of years for DNA to develop from simpler molecules, and the processes by which it developed were not random, as creationists love to allege. There is nothing random about chemical bonding; some elements prefer other elements, kinda like people.
The preceding argument against unguided synthesis of DNA, incidentally, is word-for-word copied from one of Comfort’s own blog posts.
Then Comfort babbles on about the supposed lack of “transitional fossils” showing the evolution of reptiles into birds, for example. He ignores legitimate transitional fossils, of which there are many, focusing only on the fake ones, of which there are few.
Creationists love to “quotemine,” to pull quotes from pro-evolution sources and use them out of context to support anti-evolution arguments. For example, Comfort pulls a “quote” by Washington Post writer Boyce Rensberger that appears to refute the fossil evidence for the evolution of the horse.
The quote from the introduction:
The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed, fox-sized creatures, living nearly 50 million years ago, to today’s much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged, and then become extinct. Transitional forms are unknown. (emphasis added by Comfort)
In fact, Rensberger was reporting on a four-day conference on evolution in Chicago, and was merely summarizing (not very clearly) a scholarly discussion of punctuated equilibria. Creationists repeat Rensberger over and over again out of context, as TalkOrigins.org describes here.
Rensberger, incidentally, in one of his own articles clearly states there is sufficient fossil evidence for the gradual evolution of the horse.
A little further on (p. 31), we have this
If you find it hard to believe that there was an Intelligent Designer, give this some thought. Man, with all his genius, can’t make a grain of sand from nothing. He can’t make a rock, a leaf, a flower, a living singing bird, a croaking frog, or even a grain of dead sand, from nothing. We can recreate, but we can’t create anything material from nothing, living or dead. Not a thing. Did you realize that if we could simply make one blade of grass without using existing materials, we could solve the world’s hunger problem? If we could make a blade of grass, we could then create a lot more grass, feed the green material through a machine that does what the common cow does, and have pure white full cream milk, then smooth cream, delicious yoghurt, tasty cheese, and smooth butter. But we can’t make even one blade of grass from nothing, let alone giving it the ability to reproduce after its own kind, as regular grass does. We have no idea where to begin when it comes to creating. If that’s true, how intellectually dishonest is it to say that this entire incredible creation in which we live, came into existence with no Intelligent Designer? Still, if you are set on believing that some sort of unknown creative force (made up of chaos and probability) brought all this incredible order into being, you will stay with that belief. You will also be offended by the simplicity of Genesis — that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and everything therein. You will also more than likely have a problem with where Cain obtained his wife. But I may have an answer that you could be willing to believe? How about he randomly mutated into a woman, split, and married her?
Or how about this explanation? The story of Cain is myth, not history, and his wife probably came from some other group of people with a different God and creation myth. And what the f*** does Cain’s wife have to do with Darwin’s Origin of Species, anyway?
Around page 33, Comfort veers into crazyland by alleging Adolf Hitler was a “student” of Darwin, repeating the creationist conflation of social darwinism and evolution. The intro includes several quotes from Mein Kampf relating to Hitler’s misappropriation of evolutionary principles to societal rules and politics.
The intro ends with a long discussion of sin, death, the afterlife and the best religion to choose if you want a happy eternity after leaving this mortal plane. Predictably, Comfort appeals to the reader to become Christians. In a science book. Sneaky, huh?
By the way, I saw no citations in the introduction from “Newton, Copernicus, Bacon, Faraday, Pasteur, and Kepler,” as promised in the squib. Only Einstein is actually quoted; the others are merely mentioned as believers in a Creator.
My hope is that any teacher receiving this book as a gift from some well-meaning Creationist friend will rip out the 50-page special introduction, and keep the rest, which I assume (not having seen it) is just an abridgment of Darwin’s work. Or better yet, throw out the whole thing and buy a real copy of Origin of Species. This edition is nothing more than a dishonest effort to sneak religion into science classrooms (yet again) by someone who has no understanding of science, evolution or for that matter decency.