Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ray Comfort's Origin meets counter-protests at Purdue

Yesterday I commented that Ray Comfort didn't stop by Purdue to hand out his sullied version of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Since Ray changed the release date to the 18th to screw up secular counter-protesters, I thought that would be the last we saw of him. Well, I was wrong. Around 11:30 I started receiving a flood of text messages, IMs, and emails, all saying the same thing - the books were being passed out at the Engineering fountain at Purdue!

I alerted the masses via my own flurry of texts, tweets, and Facebook status updates, printed off a bunch of flyers from Don't Diss Darwin (thankfully I was in a computer lab at the time), and ran off. I also had the foresight this morning to bring the batch of "I Support Science" Darwin Fish stickers we had been sent for free, and I'm glad I had them.
Oh, and did I mention it was raining all day today? Kind of sucked.

Right after I got outside of I saw someone passing out books in front of LILY - the biology building where I live, sort of extra insulting - which showed me that they were all around campus, not just by the Engineering fountain. After politely receiving a book, I set up camp next to him handing out flyers and stickers to anyone who took a book.

Soon he ran out of books, and I was about to leave when I was approached by two biology professors I know.
Prof 1: Thank you so much for doing this!
Me: Oh, no problem.
Prof 2: Can we give you some money to reimburse you?
Me: Huh? For what?
Prof 1: For printing off all of those books. It must have cost a lot of money.
Me: Ooohhh, the Origin? Nooo, those are creationists handing it out. They added an anti-evolution introduction linking evolutionary biology to Nazism. We're counter-protesting them.
Prof 1: I knew something smelled fishy!! Now I'll definitely have to go read it, hahaha!

After that I ran to the Engineering fountain and found three different people widely spaces out and passing out books. A friend of mine tackled two of them who were closer together, and I focused on one (after getting another book, gotta catch 'em all!). Very quickly he figured out what I was doing, and probably wasn't too happy. I felt a bit bad since he was apparently a high school student roped into this, while everyone else were 40 year old white males. But I continued to hand out flyers and stickers, and more non-theists came to join me and take photos.
Lurk lurk lurk.

One of our members started talking to the people handing out books and asked if they had permission to be here. They skirted around the issue and just said they were with Living Waters Ministries. Purdue's policy states that you can't hand out anything on campus unless you're specifically sponsored by a student group and a member of that organization is there with you - which was clearly not happening. However, we didn't try to get them kicked off since 1) they were almost done passing out things anyway and 2) if they want to spread their stupidity, go ahead. We'll just show how they're wrong.
I then explained to this guy what the book was all about, and he heartily laughed.

Soon they were out of books, and congregated around where I was passing out flyers...and then they tried to debate me. They asked me about proof for evolution, and I started rattling of patterns in DNA, transitional fossils - but then I made the mistake of saying I was studying evolutionary biology. Immediately after that, they changed the topic to the Bible and how awesome it is because they knew they had no chance in debating me in biology.

I've stated this before, but I reeeaaallly hate debating people, especially about the Bible. One, I'm not good at thinking on my feet - I like having a keyboard and three seconds of thought. Two, I'm not a Bible scholar, so I especially hate Biblical debates. And three, I don't freaking care. Their reasoning is so circular that it's maddening, and I hate repeating the same arguments over and over again knowing that it is completely pointless and that I'm not going to change anyone's minds. Thankfully Bryan (the guy I'm dating) appeared, and he was a great help since he's currently reading the Bible and commenting on it daily over at his own blog. Still, after going through Pascal's wager, the inerrancy of the Bible, the circular logic of God's word making the Bible true, the "faith" of science, the God of the Gaps, God being infinite but the beginning of the universe needing a cause, atheists not trying to look for God, and morality as proof of God, I kind of wanted to die a little. Or punch babies, but that probably wouldn't have reflected very well on me.

Eventually I had to escape because I was planning to meet someone for lunch. I later found out they were passing out the books not just in front of LILY and the Engineering fountain, but in front of the Stewart Center Wetheril, Ford dining court, Armstrong...and who knows where else. Unfortunately, we only reached a small group of people who received books since we didn't exactly know what was going on, but something is better than nothing. We've alerted all the local media, so hopefully someone will pick up on it.

But you know what? It doesn't really matter. The most common responses I saw from people who took the book were, "Awesome, I've always wanted a copy!" The most common response from people rejecting the book were, "Ugh, no, I don't believe in evolution." You know what that means?

The only people who took Ray Comfort's bastardized Origin were people who already accept evolution and are most likely to see through his deceitful bullshit. Them, and atheists who were gobbling them up like collector's items. I got two, and other non-theist members were racing to grab one. I know when I'm teaching evolutionary biology at a university many years from now, I'll be happy to wave this in front of my class and talk about the scary past where evolution actually had silly people fighting against it. At least, hopefully I'll be able to say that.
These are going on the book shelf next to the Professor and the Dominatrix and Ken Ham's Evolution: The Lie.


  1. Dang, I missed it. When I showed up a little after 2:30 there was no one there.

  2. Oh, you wouldn't happen to be giving away some of your extra copies, would you?

  3. I got one outside Ford walking in to get lunch. There were two, one at each door. I'm just glad I got one. ^^ They don't even say that they're creationist anywhere! They even act like it's the original Origin of Species!

  4. A billion different Purdue people have asked me for it. Maybe I'll have some sort of contest to get it...

  5. Awww, poor guy. Now you'll have half the Internet trying to kill him for 'stealing' you from them.

  6. Also love what they were saying when they were passing them out. One guy said "School project", one guy said "It's a book about Darwin."

    Excellent post. :D Lurky photos = awesome.

  7. awwww I want silly creationist literature, but mainly a free copy of Origins would rock

    damn big pond between here and free books!

  8. I'm a sad panda, I couldn't find them at U of I. :( I wanted a copy of the smarts with stupid tacked on.

  9. I feel kinda sad that I didn't get a copy, and at the same time kinda glad. But at least I have a real unaltered copy of the Origin of Species.

  10. but then I made the mistake of saying I was studying evolutionary biology. Immediately after that, they changed the topic to the Bible and how awesome it is because they knew they had no chance in debating me in biology.

    I know you probably don't want advice on debating but you shouldn't have let him change the subject. Creationists are notorious for evading and hand-waving evidence when they sense that they are losing. You have to go on the offensive and hammer away until their nose starts to bleed from having to use their brain for the first time in their life!

    Sorry, Creationists have really been bugging the hell out of me lately.

    You should probably look into learning some theology too. I'm sure you have a busy schedule but it is always handy to know some basic counter-apologetics.

    As for the book, I say keep one and auction the other one off to raise funds for the Secular Society. I'm sure you could get a pretty penny for it.

  11. Hey Jen-
    Just wanted to share that posts like this are why I enjoy your blog; unlike PZ, Dawkins, Coyne, etc., you are at the "front lines" of fighting creationism. Plus, you always include photos, and interesting stories.

  12. Excellent. Apparently Kent State is not on Comfort's radar. I'm glad you guys were there.

  13. Heh that series of photos totally makes it look like you were stalking that guy across campus.

  14. Haha. You look like a stalkery villain in there. Love it.

    And, that's hilarious, that creationists weren't taking it. That's pretty funny.

    Have to say, while slimy, that was a pretty awesome trick Comfort pulled. It doesn't look good, but it's supported in both books I care to base my strategies on.

    (The Art of War (Sun Tzu) and The Prince.)

  15. Aww. I wish I was still a college kid!But who knows? I imagine that one of those books will show up at a local fleamarket. After all, some guy tried to sell me a copy of Ken Ham's speech once. If it wasn't because I was so low on money, I might've bought it.

    Love the pictures!

    Kudos for standing out in the rain. :)

  16. From a cursory glance, the only thing left out of the Ray Comfort version was Chapter VII, Miscellaneous Objections to the Theory of Natural Selection. I am curious to read it and find out why.

  17. Looks well done. Hopefully Ray Comfort wasted a lot and time of money to change zero minds.

    I love the picture of you lurking. Hilarious.

  18. The Purdue copies appear to be unabridged. Chapter 7 (objections) was added in later editions of the book in response to Darwin's contemporary critics. Comfort seems to have used the first edition, which lacked this chapter.

    No telling if the included chapters have been edited, though.

  19. So the guys were actually on the Purdue campus handing out books? Funny, I guess they couldn't get permission to come on the college campus where I work so the one guy had to settle for standing on the sidewalk just outside the campus. I didn't bother debating him, although, before I saw Ray Comfort's name on it, I looked at the title and said, "Hey, thanks!" and thought "Cool! A copy of Darwin's book."

    Now I'm not sure what to do with it. On principle I object to destroying a book, and also, going purely by page count, Darwin's text far exceeds Comfort's.

  20. Bummer pie. They skipped the LSU Baton Rouge campus. Oh the fun we could have had; we're pretty well-versed in anti-apologetics down here, too.

  21. Way to go Jen, keep up the good work!

  22. ok, you need to run some kinda contest to give away that extra copy.

  23. "The only people who took Ray Comfort's bastardized Origin were people who already accept evolution and are most likely to see through his deceitful bullshit."

    This comment made my day, as it is probably very true of all the handouts.

  24. I was sad as I was splitting cells when I got the memo that the goons were spreading their books. If someone can lend me a copy, I'd be more than happy to perform a side-by-side comparison to see what was cropped. I know for a fact that the intro was actually a copypasta of what they've been saying this entire time, as if that was shocking.

  25. Well I certainly wouldn't mind having a copy as I collect christian propaganda and this would make a fine addition. If you have a giveaway for one, let me know.

  26. Hi, found this blog via StumbleUpon.
    I work @ Indiana University in Bloomington, IN.
    They were handing these out on that day here by the Sample Gates (if you've seen any picture of IU, you've prolly seen these "gates") I had just come back from a seminar and someone stuck this in my hand, I looked at it and since I was sort-of half glazed over I shrugged and thought 'cool, I don't have a copy of this yet..' and then realized it was comfort's version, to my horror. From what I've researched on the interwebs, The Origin of Species is Public Domain, meaning that anyone can sell a version of it if they want to. Back to that day... I got back to the office and started looking up what was different in the book than the original on the web, all i found was that the intro was added, there may be more but meh. I promptly began tearing ot the propoganda intro and blacking out any mention of comfort or his church and was left with a copy of: On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin with a special introduction by *Thick Black Sharpie Mark*. Somehow I felt like I had stricken a blow in favor of my child's future (since more than likely this will be the copy I'll hand down to him.) Excellent Blog!!!!