ActivismLifeways

20091118we-ray-comfort-charles-darwin-on-the-origin-of-species-by-means-of-natural-selection-the-preservation-of-favored-races-in-the-struggle-for-lifeSummary. One of the most controversial books of its time is now one of the most controversial books of our time. This 150th anniversary edition of The Origin of Species was published as an outreach initiative of Christian evangelical leader Ray Comfort, founder of Living Waters. The entire text is available for free as a PDF from the website.

Creative Activism. This initiative is an interesting and innovative example of creative activism as a technique designed to reach beyond the existing base of supporters and believers. On the Press Kit page of his website, Ray Comfort describes the creation and evolution his idea to distribute this unique reprinting of Darwin’s classic:

“When I discovered that On the Origin of Species was public domain, I decided to publish it myself with a special Introduction (to give an alternative perspective) and give away free copies to university students.” ~ Ray Comfort

Controversy. The controversy surrounding the book and the source of criticism are primarily from atheists and evolutionists who feel the classic work is being used as a trojan horse to covertly and manipulatively deliver a Christian message to unsuspecting young people. By all appearances, the book presents itself as an unbiased reprint of the original. Nowhere in the beginning of the book is there a disclaimer stating something like, “This book was produced by an evangelical Christian ministry for the purpose of discrediting and criticizing Darwin’s 150-year old writings.”

Unbalanced Presentation. The 56-page introduction by Ray Comfort (about 20% of the book) offers some common sense arguments as well as a review of discoveries over the past 30 years that offer some enlightened criticism of Darwin. However, discoveries have also been made to support or elaborate upon Darwin’s original findings and assertions. The book presents a modern-day criticism of Darwin, yet a 150-year vacuum remains with regard to any supporting discussion of Darwin’s theories. A more balanced and fair presentation would have offered contemporary arguments for and against Darwin’s theories.

The Evolution of Publishing. In our age of news outlets that pander to the extreme camps of society, it’s refreshing to have a single text that attempts to present both sides of an argument. Ray Comfort could have simply distributed a small booklet sharing only his own views on creationism versus evolution. However, he chose to go to the extra expense of  formatting and printing a 298 page book that offers the complete and unaltered text of Darwin’s original work. Has any evolutionist done the same? Who would have ever imagined that evangelical Christians would be volunteering on campuses across the nation and handing out full copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species? Perhaps the world of debate and social conflict has evolved to the point that people will allow equal time to their adversaries. Ray Comfort was asked, “How would you feel if an atheist wrote a scathing Introduction to one of your books and gave them to students?” To this he replied:

“I would be honored, especially if someone wanted to give another perspective and felt so strongly he paid for the books. That would be unheard of. I don’t feel threatened by criticism. When Richard Dawkins said that I was an ‘ignorant fool,’ I put that (his somewhat short) Introduction on the front cover of my latest book. He Introduces me to the readers, and I’m okay with that.” ~ Ray Comfort

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