Creationists Ray Comfort & Kirk Cameron “Promote” Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 10, 2009
In the latest installment of the lame attempts by creationists to stifle and distort the teaching of evolution, Christian evangelists Ray Comfort & Kirk Cameron (yes, that guy on Growing Pains) are giving away copies of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Except they’re doing that thing that too many creationists love to do… they screw up science in an effort to promote their own narrow religious ideology. Specifically, Comfort’s Christian ministry – Living Waters – has begun a new program called “Origin Into Schools” where they are distributing free copies of a special reprinted edition of Darwin’s work, complete with an introduction by Ray Comfort himself.
Living Waters, the evangelical Christian ministry of Ray Comfort (Banana Man) and Kirk Cameron (sitcom star of Growing Pains), is on a mission to distribute 100,000 copies of a reprinted version of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, with an introduction by Comfort attempting to refute Darwin’s theories. You can see Comfort’s explanation of the project on their website. Or, you can download and read the Introduction in PDF form.
The highlights of the introduction, according to Kirk Cameron (who explains the project on YouTube), include “a timeline of Darwin’s life, Adolf Hitler’s undeniable connection with the theory, Dariwn’s racism, his disdain for women and Darwin’s thoughts on the existence of God.” The introduction also “lists the theory’s many hoaxes.”
David Waters’ column “Origin of the Specious” in the Washington Post, sums up the project quite nicely.
I’ve looked through Ray Comfort’s introduction to Darwin’s work, and I can only say that it – all too predictably – contains numerous tired old creationist arguments which offer nothing new. I shall list them briefly here…
1. The “Teach the Controversy/Teach All Views” Argument: right off the bat, Comfort goes into this old argument. He even selectively quotes Darwin himself to lend validity to the laughable notion that creationism should be considered on equal footing with evolutionary science. Of course, an obvious counter to this argument is to call the creationists’ bluff – tell them you’ll give “equal time” to Muslim creationism, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Raelianism, Native American creation myths, etc. Somehow, folks like Comfort & Cameron aren’t very enamored with the idea of truly taking the “teach all views” nonsense to its logical conclusion, which shows their real agenda… pushing their particular religious ideology above all else.
2. Getting the Science of DNA Wrong: a bit later in the introduction, Comfort begins to butcher the science of DNA, genetics, and its connection to evolution. In particular, he makes the argument that a complex bio-molecule such as DNA cannot self-assemble by chance, which is a common misconception held by creationists. This kind of argument is often phrased in terms of “expecting a tornado to whip through a junkyard and magically assemble an airplane” or a similar sounding claim. The problem is that the assembly of complex molecules & biological structures, such as cell organelles, don’t occur randomly (and scientists never claim this anyway) – the creationists neglect the fact that there are well-defined laws of nature (such as natural & chemical selection) that guide the process along. For much more detail on this particular point, see the TalkOrigins article on Evolution and Chance.
3. Transitional Forms Fallacies: any creationist mudslinging at evolutionary theory wouldn’t be complete without distorting the record on transitional forms, and Ray Comfort does this quite handily when he writes…
As evidence that Darwin’s theory is correct—that humans and chimps evolved from a common ancestor—we would expect to find something that is half monkey, half man.
The interesting thing is that in his introduction, Comfort actually cites numerous examples of transitional forms, but he refers to that time honored tactic of moving the goalposts whenever a new transitional fossil is unearthed… you see, Comfort and other creationists have their own, non-scientific definition of “transitional form” which seems more like a Frankenstein monster than anything else. This has got to be one of the oldest & lamest creationist arguments, especially since every year more and more such fossils are discovered continually filling in gaps in the fossil record. Yet in their quest to ignore evidence contrary to their religious ideology, many creationists will go to ludicrous lengths: even going so far as to state that when such a gap is filled that it simply opens up two more gaps on either side of the new fossil!
4. Distorting the Cambrian Explosion: Comfort tries to get mileage out of an old, defunct creationist argument whereby they distort the timeline and meaning of the Cambrian Explosion. The biggest error is that they imply through their writing that this “explosion” of evolution was extremely sudden and therefore evolution cannot account for it, when in reality it took place over roughly 5 to 40 million years – hardly an “explosion” as they depict! For more info on this topic, read the TalkOrigins link on the Cambrian Explosion.
5. Mush on Mutations: on this particular point, Comfort just outright states a falsehood…
Contrary to what Darwin suspected, scientists today have discovered that mutations do not work as a mechanism to fuel the evolutionary process. They are random instead of purposeful, and they only modify or remove information, but never add it—an essential component of the theory.
Wrong and wronger. Not only have mutations been proven, experimentally through lab work with fruit flies for example, to play a key role in evolution, but the notion that mutations can only be harmful is completely fallacious. We have seen plenty of examples in nature of beneficial mutations; a good example is the peppered moth.
6. “Irreducible Complexity” of the Eye: another argument in the creationist bag of tricks is the claim that an organ as complex & intricate as the human eye could not have possibly evolved. Of course, this is simply a variation on the same theme as outlined in point #2 about DNA – the false assumption is that evolution is a completely unguided & random process. It isn’t – natural selection plays a critical role, but creationists would rather ignore this fact in an effort to build evolution into a straw man they can easily tear down. Read more about the failings of the “irreducible complexity” argument at this link.
7. Ad Hominem Against Darwin & Science: the final part of Ray Comfort’s introduction to Origin is a mishmash of ad hominem attacks against Darwin and modern “evolutionists” where he blames them for horrors such as eugenics, suppression of women, the rise of Nazism & inspiration of Hitler, slavery, and the Holocaust. And to go even further down the rabbit-hole, Comfort then goes on to proselytize to the reader about the importance of rejecting evolutionary theory (along with science in general which is equated with atheism) in favor of saving their soul by, of course, accepting Jesus Christ as their lord & savior. Just for good measure, he even rips on three other major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam – as being inadequate to the task of preventing a sure trip to Hell because only his particular version of Christianity is the true way to Heaven. At this point, it’s hard not to chuckle at Comfort, because it is obvious he isn’t even attempting to do science – he is interested in nothing more then pushing his narrow religious beliefs.
Yet he wants to have the validity of science, so that this nonsense can be taught in schools to your kids. It’d be absolutely hilarious if clowns like Ray Comfort & Kirk Cameron weren’t so serious about it.
So there you have it – watch out for this religious & pseudoscientific propaganda popping up in a school near you. And if you do happen to get a copy of it, just tear out the first 54 pages or so (the introduction) and then you’ll have a really good book :)