Comfort/Cameron Darwin giveaway – all hat and no cattle?

| 311 Comments

For some reason or other I got on the email list of Ray Comfort’s mailing list. What can I say, I am a connoisseur of the weird. As I’ve learned a little bit about Comfort’s ministry, I have been beginning to wonder – is this whole “Darwin giveaway” thing actually going to happen? Or is it mostly imaginary – primarily a fundraising stunt? I have seen lots of evidence that Comfort et al. are good at publicity and producing videos – but no evidence that they are strong on the ground. If they were actually organized to distribute hundreds of thousands of books on hundreds of campuses, I kind of think there would be more evidence of that organization. But there is virtually no such evidence, despite there being plenty of fundamentalist student groups on campuses that might serve as the foot soldiers for this sort of thing.

Here’s the latest odd thing along these lines –

PRESS RELEASE - 5 of 7 - Militant Atheists Seek Details

Militant Atheists Seek Details of Darwin Book Giveaway

When 170,000 copies of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species with Ray Comfort’s Introduction are given away at universities around the country, atheists plan to be waiting for them. But they don’t know the identity of the universities the books will be given out. Comfort said. “The reason atheists are finding nothing is because every school that is being visited is a closely guarded secret. We don’t want to cause a disturbance. We simply want to get books into the hands of students across the country.” Others advised those who see the books being handed out said, “Cut out the intro in front of them, leave it on the table and take the book.” Another said, “Get them to sign [the] book, thank them, and then make some devastating point that will shatter them forever.” See http://www.livingwaters.com/origin “Press kit” for textual, audio, and video sound bites.

What? The list of schools being visited is a closely-guarded secret? Then why what it on their website at one point (if I recall correctly – here’s a copy from September), and why did they proudly announce in the original video that the top 50 American universities would be targeted? In that video, they also said they were working with Campus Crusade, Answers in Genesis, and the Alliance Defense Fund – but I haven’t heard anything about the Origin-into-schools project from those groups.

Anyway, it doesn’t make much sense and I don’t have any firsthand information, but at the moment I’m wondering if this Origin-into-schools thing will poke above the background noise of random crazies who hand out stuff on the quads of college campuses every day. (You can be sure, though, that there will be one place with Ray Comfort and his camera crew, since in some arenas, a video is worth more than 1,000,000 words and 1,000 on-the-ground volunteers.)

311 Comments

A pity it couldn’t be countered by distributing copies of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, perhaps with a 50-page Foreword by P Z Myers and a free wafer.

Ray Comfort refers to atheists who organized into “gangs” to try to stop the distribution of the books because of Comfort’s introduction. However, he does not provide any names. Who are these atheists? And why would they propose or even suggest book burning? Furthermore, why doesn’t provide names of universities and dates when the books will supposedly be distributed? Weird, if you ask me.

B. A. Rainey

Instead of keeping it secret from the atheists, aren’t they the ones he should be trying to reach out to? Unless he’s only interested in preaching to the choir.

It shouldn’t be hard to hand out 170,000 books. People do that constantly on college campuses.

I got a copy of The Gospel of John once that had print so small it was difficult to read. Also a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book in English.

Ray Comfort refers to atheists who organized into “gangs” to try to stop the distribution of the books because of Comfort’s introduction.

Probably just made it up. When nothing is going on, xians like to ramble on about how they are being persecuted. Of course, since they are 76% of the US population, that gets to be a little unbelievable. Being unbelievable never stops them though.

Let them distribute their books and then laugh and rhetorically dissect his undoubtedly lame introduction. Whatever happens, no one should make these people into martyrs. They would be ecstatic if that happened.

Par for the fundagelical modus operandi…

There are no groups of rabid atheists waiting to desecrate his pompous defiling of one of the greatest works of science.

All smoke and mirrors…and has been suggested a singular opportunity for a hand out of contamination… Probably in some backwood degree mill scam of a shack with grateful students claiming a truthful version at last.

The secret list nonsense is typical though. Started the bragging to soon methinks!

Run out of cash and instead of the top 50 Unis can only now afford the bottom 10 uncredited…

Totally pathetic attempt at discrediting Darwin that is all it is…they tried and tried everywhere else got nowhere…now the creationist is fulfilling a wish list gambit…if only they had written the damn thing in the first place… This nonsense is the nearest they can get to twisting the theory into knots!

Ain´t nuthin but a envy thang…the enemy have what they want…and they can´t have it…credibility is a hard won attribute…And Comfart has a fair way to goes methinks!

Wheels said:

Instead of keeping it secret from the atheists, aren’t they the ones he should be trying to reach out to? Unless he’s only interested in preaching to the choir.

Hit the nail on the head. Preaching to the choir = $$$.

Damn it, they better show up to Rice. I’ve been practicing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” in anticipation of their arrival.

So he’s giving these away at universities, and university students are supposed to take them and read them and not think he’s stupid?

The list of universities was already published. I looked at it last week to see if this thing was coming to Canada. I know U of Toronto and U of British Columbia (both my old stomping grounds) were on the list.

The actual universities aren’t a secret so maybe it is the actual times the books will appear on campus?

It does sound like much ado about nothing though.

The phrase “all hat and no cattle” does convey the meaning, but in my opinion the English version is more apposite: “all mouth and no trousers”.

I’m curious, but have been unable to find anything about it, but has Comfort offered any opinions on the Discovery Institute, particuarly Michael Behe, who not only concedes common descent, but has said that reading the Bible as a science text is silly?

From what I’ve read (and that is a few months ago), the only definite (and first) campus will be Berkeley. The others all seemed dependent on finding someone else to distribute (and preferably buying the books to do so).

I’m curious, but have been unable to find anything about it, but has Comfort offered any opinions on the Discovery Institute, particuarly Michael Behe, who not only concedes common descent, but has said that reading the Bible as a science text is silly?

The truth is, the DI is too busy in their secret underground labs doing ID research.

Karen S. said:

The truth is, the DI is too busy in their secret underground labs doing ID research.

I thought they liked to discount research because research is “intelligently designed” in the lab by scientists.

Intelligent Design cereal: It’s “irony deficient”, and magically delicious!!

386sx said:

Intelligent Design cereal: It’s “irony deficient”, and magically delicious!!

I thought Intelligent Design cereal causes acute, fatal irony poisoning unless the antidote of a nice glass of warm milk, a little nap and a total frontal lobotomy.

I am a philosophy professor at California State University, Chico. A student of mine, who is a fundamentalist Christian, told me he’s irresponsible for distributing copies of this “special edition” of On the Origin of Species at my university. He refused to tell me that exact date he is going to do it, but promised to give me a copy. So think this thing is for real.

I’m currently a grad student at Boston University and we’re not on the list of schools. Now I find out that not only do I need to to another school to get a copy but I need to guess the date and even then it might not happen at all? This sucks.

Well, at 170,00 copies, we get the picture.

Ray Comfort and the ID/creationists are simply illustrating their secret motto: “Scientists do all the work; and we bastardize it on a mass production scale.”

I’m a grad student at the University of Tennessee and you’d think that Ray Comfort would send a few copies our way since he plagiarized one of our faculty for the introduction. Alas, to date there is no news that we will be graced with free copies of The Origin (which come with a free fire starter kit in the foreword). It’s a shame, really, because judging from the Knoxville News-Sentinel Letters to the Editor column, Banana Boy would have a warmly receptive audience.

You might do better by offering instead, Thomas Jefferson’s special “edition” of the Bible with all supernatural references expurgated from the original text:

Ian H Spedding FCD said:

A pity it couldn’t be countered by distributing copies of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, perhaps with a 50-page Foreword by P Z Myers and a free wafer.

Nick,

Heard about Comfort’s shenanigans from fellow Amazon.com customer calmly, who had alerted me to it almost a month ago, saying that Comfort was going to offer his “annotated” version of “On the Origin of Species” as his unique way of “celebrating” the 150th anniversary of its original publication. I sent word of it to both Glenn Branch and Matt Young. Apparently Branch had heard of it by then but wasn’t quite aware of all of Comfort’s nefarious duplicity.

Regards,

John

i am willing to guess that those who will be receiving it include the likes of Harvard historian Janet Browne, Harvard biologists E. O. Wilson and Richard Lewontin, and Brown biologist Ken Miller (Hopefully Ken will post some of it, if only for laughs, on his website.):

Joshua Zelinsky said:

I’m currently a grad student at Boston University and we’re not on the list of schools. Now I find out that not only do I need to to another school to get a copy but I need to guess the date and even then it might not happen at all? This sucks.

Nick Matzke Wrote:

…at the moment I’m wondering if this Origin-into-schools thing will poke above the background noise of random crazies who hand out stuff on the quads of college campuses every day.

It’s hard to imagine that the distribution of several thousand copies of a 300 page book with a bright red cover would go unnoticed…

Karen S. Wrote:

The truth is, the DI is too busy in their secret underground labs doing ID research.

The Biologic Institute is supposed to be doing research, but given that Dembski admitted that ID doesn’t “connect dots”, we can all bet the ranch and the dog that, like Behe’s real research and Meyer’s vacuous “peer reviewed” argument from incredulity, none of it will challenge Darwinian evolution, common descent, or any of the ~4-billion year chronology, let alone support a better explanation on it own merits. IOW, it will provide zero comfort to Comfort, or any other YEC or OEC.

Speaking of Comfort, my question wss whether he (or his sock puppet) has commented on the DI, and their radically different strategy. Even if the answer is negative, I would appreciate those who have had the patience to read more than a little of his nonsense to save me the torture. I’m also interested in knowing if, among all those pages of regurgitated anti-“Darwinism” paranoia, there’s any acknowledgment of the other more “classic” creationist outfits like AIG or RTB.

Supposedly Henry Morris “figured it all out” 50 years ago, so why are all these other groups coming out of the woodwork pretending that they just now found the “smoking gun” against “Darwinism”? Why not just refer to Morris (or Ross if you’re an OEC) and be done with it?

John Kwok Wrote:

Hopefully Ken will post some of it, if only for laughs, on his website.

I hope he dismantles it sentence-by-sentence, as he has with other similar nonsense. I don’t think Comfort deserves another book, though, because his “God the Charlatan” approach was already torn to shreds in one chapter of “Finding Darwin’s God.”

As you know, Miller’s other book, “Only a Theory” was written just before “Expelled” but correctly predicted the continuing “evolution” of the scam away from “we have this ‘scientific’ evidence against evolution” to “we hate evolution because it (or acceptance of it) leads to Nazism and other bad behavior.” It’s fascinating how the radically different approaches, YEC, OEC and ID, are nevertheless all “converging” on Godwin’s law.

Speaking of Miller, he is probably the “Darwinist” that the scam artists are most afraid of. Other than the Behe, who is forced to respond in detail to Miller’s point-by-point refutation, most of these people prefer to pretend that Miller doesn’t exist (note how he was “expelled” from “Expelled”). At best they dismiss him with “he’s just a compatibilist” then move on to safer turf (like Dawkins).

Of course this project of Comfort is all about making money. He is a religious entrepreneur. I have often thought of starting a church myself. Where else can you get such great support for avoiding reporting income, avoid realty and income tax? These entrepreneurs rarely get audited. The basic skill involved is the ability to dream up a new scheme ever so often to get the faithful to donate. Of course, like any successful scam artist, it helps if you have no principles or morals. Similar to a sociopath. Canadians can purchase 40 of these books at a time according to the site below, for a mere $65 Candian. http://www.livingwaterscanada.net/c[…]ools_Project

Ian H Spedding FCD said:

A pity it couldn’t be countered by distributing copies of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, perhaps with a 50-page Foreword by P Z Myers and a free wafer.

I suggest that there be a redacted version of Paley’s “Natural Theology”. There is more there than the analogy of the watch on the heath, and there is plenty that begs for commentary.

strangebrew said:

Run out of cash and instead of the top 50 Unis can only now afford the bottom 10 uncredited…

Nick Matzke said: In that video, they also said they were working with Campus Crusade, Answers in Genesis, and the Alliance Defense Fund – but I haven’t heard anything about the Origin-into-schools project from those groups.

These CC, AiG, ADF etc all have an established revenue stream from the credulous fundies. They may not be so willing to cooperate and create a new competitor.

It is almost like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Rush spent some 20 years in Radio preparing the field and cultivating and raising a bountiful crop of “Angry Americans”. And Fox News moves in and rakes in several times Rush’s harvest in ad revenue and in just one year Glenn Beck has reaped in 25 million dollars. Though they all present a united front to the public, I am sure internally there is a lot of bickering, resentment and recriminations. “I should have called him racist first”. “You called him Hitler first, but fat lot of good did for your revenue stream”. “Guys, we are over fishing and we need to give a break for the breeding stock to recover”. “Says you buddy. I am taking all can and I’m outa’ here”.

The established players in the arena are not going to let Banana Boy in so easily into their private turf.

Mike Elzinga said:

Well, at 170,00 copies, we get the picture.

Ray Comfort and the ID/creationists are simply illustrating their secret motto: “Scientists do all the work; and we bastardize it on a mass production scale.”

Right. Instead of earning credibility by doing research and creating a body of work, you try to steal credibility by associating yourself (by hook or by crook) with someone who actually HAS earned it.

TomS said:

Ian H Spedding FCD said:

A pity it couldn’t be countered by distributing copies of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, perhaps with a 50-page Foreword by P Z Myers and a free wafer.

I suggest that there be a redacted version of Paley’s “Natural Theology”. There is more there than the analogy of the watch on the heath, and there is plenty that begs for commentary.

That might be slightly better than a Bible “foreword” by an atheist, but if Ken Miller and several others are correct, Paley himself would object to how today’s ID/creationism have used his ideas.

What might be a novel approach is to combine a YEC book with an OEC/ID book by living authors, and add a foreword to show how, as a minimum, they can’t both be right. The YEC and OEC/ID authors would be compelled to respond, but they’d have to confront their irreconcilable differences. Something they both, especially the IDer, would do anything to avoid.

One of Ray Comfort’s intellectually-challenged acolytes is now “infesting” this discussion thread over at Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum’s Intersection:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/i[…]an-travesty/

I wonder if “Adiel Corchado” could be “Slimey” Sal Cordova in disuise.

Just because you thought you were one with the universe doesn’t mean you were,

Just because I think now that I am separate from the universe doesn’t mean that I am. Science is only now beginning to look at human consciousness, consciousness studying consciousness, the eye trying to look at itself so to speak.

Who am I? Am I just this human organism? This body is most certainly not separate from the life around it, there is interdependence. Is the biosphere consciousness? I don’t even know how you would test for that.

These are some of the oldest questions humans have grappled with and so far science has not provided answers, and I’m not certain that science can even speak to these issues with any relevance.

Much, much more can be said about this, millions of pages have been written since the advent of writing, but I believe this is not the place for that discussion.

I encourage you in your seeking, scientific or otherwise.

jerrym said:

Just because you thought you were one with the universe doesn’t mean you were,

Just because I think now that I am separate from the universe doesn’t mean that I am.

My point was only that personal mystical experiences do not prove the existence of the mystical any more than a personal religious experience proves the existence of a specific God.

For some reason I’m reminded of the pot-smoking scene from “Animal House”.

fnxtr said:

For some reason I’m reminded of the pot-smoking scene from “Animal House”.

That was my favorite scene!

DS said:

Abel wrote:

“At first glance the falsification of this hypothesis might seem like a daunting task. But a single exception of non trivial, unaided, spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would quickly falsify this null hypothesis.”

Of course we have many examples of this, in the laboratory and in nature. All of them can be explained by “natural processes”. The only way that one can make such a statement is to completely ignore fifty years of research.

I think that a geyser is a good example.

eric said:

jerrym said:

Just because you thought you were one with the universe doesn’t mean you were,

Just because I think now that I am separate from the universe doesn’t mean that I am.

My point was only that personal mystical experiences do not prove the existence of the mystical any more than a personal religious experience proves the existence of a specific God.

I totally agree. And that is the problem with trying to apply scientific methodology to the study of mysticism. The experience is outside the physical, of better, the physical is perceived as a subset of the greater reality. Science can only deal with that subset, which is not to belittle science, the physical is by far the most important reality to most people.

The idea of proving the mystical is laughable to mystics. The experience is more compelling than ordinary reality and cannot be denied. With practice the mystic can bring his knowledge into ordinary reality with enormous practical benefits.

I imagine the idea of “mystical reality” is laughable to many or most of you, so I will shut up about it. I do want to say that I greatly admire scientists as truth seekers with a clear and specific methodology that has proven to be very powerful. Thank you for your work!

eric said:

My point was only that personal mystical experiences do not prove the existence of the mystical any more than a personal religious experience proves the existence of a specific God.

A few years ago, when I was in the ICU just coming out of the anesthetic for a major heart operation, the nurses got me on my feet to have me step on scales to be weighed.

I still had almost completed tunnel vision; and I was dismayed to look down at my feet as I tried to get them onto the scale. My left foot was on backwards.

Then there were those glowing, iridescent green spiders on the wall, and the monstrous tubes all over the floor that came out of my chest.

A day or two later, everything was back to normal.

What constrains my conduct? Two facts. One, that I live in a human society on which I depend for practically all of my needs and comforts. Two, that any action of mine that in any way affects other human beings will affect their actions towards me.

On those two facts - which I find inescapable - I believe nearly all decent ethics can be based, insofar as they can be expressed in actual practice. What remains to religion or, if you like, spirituality?

If there is anything left at all, I don’t know what it is. I am moved to tears by some music, and to violent revulsion by other music. The same for some words (or perhaps I should say, some arrangements of words). I don’t know why that is. Are they “spiritual” experiences? I don’t know. Would it matter if they were? I don’t think so. Not to me; not to anyone else.

I don’t know. That doesn’t satisfy me, but it’s all I have; and this I do know: my satisfaction is not required.

I definitely got one on the 19th, 2 days before they advertised it! That said, pretty happy that I have such an iconic pseudoscience tome. ;)

This post is amazing, i just bookmarked this blog and i will send a couple friends here.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on November 14, 2009 12:35 PM.

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