Judge This: Is It Wrong To Rip The Creationist Introduction Out Of Ray Comfort’s Propaganda Version Of The Origin Of Species?

Creationist Ray Comfort has put together a version of The Origin of Species which contains an introduction (which you can read here) which falsely blames Nazism on Darwin, promotes creationist pseudoscience, and lies about the scientific credibility of evolution.  Yesterday I relayed a video in which Kirk Cameron touts plans to distribute 50,000 copies of this book on college campuses in November.  RichardDawkins.net recommends ripping out the introductions and donating the books to charity:

There’s something we can do though. We can amass as many of these books as possible, remove the 50 page intro, and then donate perfectly good copies of ‘Origin of Species’ to schools, libraries, and Goodwill. We can actually make this into something positive.

If you are in college, then you are in a good position to help. Check your campus on November 19th, and if you see a group distributing copies of the book, then get as many as you can. Get a copy for yourself, ask if you can have extra copies for your friends, ask your friends to go ask for copies, and ask other people you see carrying the book if you can have their copy.

This is a shameful thing that Kirk Cameron and the Banana Guy are doing by altering another person’s book in order to push their agenda. But we can help to restore the book to how it was intended and keep young minds from being brainwashed by misinformation.

PZ Myers makes a similar recommendation.

In reply to me, Justin, of Christian in College, characterizes the Dawkins’s site’s plan as censorship and asks whether I want to go so far as to promote censorship:

According to the Richard Dawkins site, the “plan” proposed is to rip out the introduction… in other words, censorship. Do you really think that is the best plan?

I want to take the question seriously and be sure I do not just reply in a partisan, biased way.  So, in the meantime, I want to know what you think and then I’ll reply myself in the comments section at some point.  (Hopefully after there have been numerous thoughts from others offered!)

So, is this censorship or not?  And even if it is censorship, is it ethically acceptable, obligatory, immoral, or what?

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    WHAAA? How exactly is this censorship? What private individuals do with their own books is their and their business alone. Is anybody calling for book burning? Is anybody trying to force Comfort to stop publishing his drivel? Is the government out to get him? Is he being sued for libel or something, which would harm him financially and possibly prevent him from publishing stuff in the future? I should think not.

    Protesting when people are spreading lies has *nothing* to do with censorship. Crying censorship at the first mention of disagreement is just another side of typical Xian persecution complex.

    Also, I think it’s all rather reminiscent of the typical misunderstanding of the nature of free speech.

    Free speech is the right to say whatever you want however you want, NOT the right to say whatever you want however you want *without being challenged*. How individuals choose to express their criticism/disagreement/whatever is their business alone.

    Seriously. The guy needs to spend several hours reading on real serious censorship in communist countries or something. He’s just demeaning the actual suffering of people who were actually seriously affected by it.

    • http://christianincollege.com Justin

      sendaianonymous, you said “WHAAA? How exactly is this censorship? What private individuals do with their own books is their and their business alone. Is anybody calling for book burning?”

      The site says “If you are in college, then you are in a good position to help. Check your campus on November 19th, and if you see a group distributing copies of the book, then get as many as you can. Get a copy for yourself, ask if you can have extra copies for your friends, ask your friends to go ask for copies, and ask other people you see carrying the book if you can have their copy.”

      So you see, this plan goes beyond trying to rip out the introduction for your book. This plan has three strategic tasks:
      1. “Ask for several copies for your friends” (so you plan on taking more copies from the group so that the introduction won;t be read)
      2. “Ask your friends to go ask for copies” (recruit other like minded people to get multiple copies so others won’t read the introduction)
      3. “Ask other people you see carrying the book if you can have their copy” (try to get the copies of the book from other people who took a copy to prevent them from reading the introduction).

      So is this a book burning? Not exactly, because they like the part written by Darwin. They just want to get rid of the part written by Christians. So what will they do? According to the site, ” amass as many of these books as possible, remove the 50 page intro”. Just because they throw away the intros after they have amassed a pile of them rather than burning them doesn’t mean it isn’t cencorship.

  • http://christianincollege.com Justin

    You also said: “Free speech is the right to say whatever you want however you want, NOT the right to say whatever you want however you want *without being challenged”

    I am all up for a challenge. Bring it on! Print up your own books and give them away for free. Write blog posts linking to and critiquing the intro for the book. Protest. Have seminars. I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is this censorship.
    http://christianincollege.com/2009/09/18/censoring-christians-origin-of-species/

  • Scott M.

    I agree with sendaianonymous. It’s hard to argue persecution when you’re in the majority. Please see the following link:

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/abimelec.htm

    I’m a member of the Abimelech Society. I take all publicly available religious material and throw it in the trash. I figure people put it out there to be taken, so I take it. Then it’s mine and I can do with it what I want.

    It’s not like all us atheist haven’t heard of Jesus or the Christian bible. It’s not like we haven’t heard these arguments for creationism. Let’s call a spade a spade here. What Comfort is peddling is trash and it should be thrown away.

    • http://christianincollege.com Justin

      I am not arging persecution. Don’t put words in my mouth. I’m just saying it like it is: atheists are trying to prevent people from reading the copies given out.

    • Scott M.

      I apologize Justin. You are correct then. I AM trying to prevent people from reading the copies given out.

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    So is this a book burning? Not exactly, because they like the part written by Darwin. They just want to get rid of the part written by Christians. So what will they do? According to the site, ” amass as many of these books as possible, remove the 50 page intro”. Just because they throw away the intros after they have amassed a pile of them rather than burning them doesn’t mean it isn’t cencorship.

    Seriously, you have obviously no idea what real censorship looks like, and should be ashamed for appropriating a word like that to further your religious agenda, which is demeaning to real people’s suffering in countries with actual censorship.
    Censorship: it’s when government opens your letters and blacks out the parts that are critical of it, because it can, and when government doesn’t allow anybody to legally publish, like, Goerge Orwell, just because it can, and NOT when people VANDALISE BOOKS THEY OWN. Because they were given them for free.

    Dude, they’re GIVING OUT BOOKS FOR FREE. What people decide to do with those books *ONCE THEY HAVE TAKEN THEM*, which means the books are theirs, is none of your business. What I do with a pamphlet given to me by environmentalists/Christians/vegans/Marxists/whatever is my business alone, and whether I decide to throw it away, or draw Hitler-mustache on it, or not read it, it in no way will constitute censorship.
    People giving away stuff for free will *always* be risking stuff like other people vadalising or simply throwing away stuff they are given. This is normal, and typical, because some people are simply not interested, others don’t agree and so on. On the other hand *forcing* them not to do what they want with the stuff THEY NOW BASICALLY OWN would be completely unfair and violate their freedom, for goodness’ sake.

    And by the way, your “part written by Christians” part? Yeah, I can see how terribly you want to present yourself as a part of a religious mainstream majority, but it in no way changes the fact, that it’s not written by Christians but BY RAY COMFORT who only represents a small sect of Christianity, with which many Christians would actually disagree.
    Why would you alienate them that way by making the Christianity so exclusive? Don’t you consider the other Christians “real Christians” or something?

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    I’m a member of the Abimelech Society. I take all publicly available religious material and throw it in the trash. I figure people put it out there to be taken, so I take it. Then it’s mine and I can do with it what I want.

    Preach it, brother!

  • http://christianincollege.com Justin

    Hey, I’m fine with you taking your copy and doing what you want with it. There is a strategic plan to do more than that. They want to take more than their share under false pretenses, and take away the books that don’t belong to them (ask them from others, and most people would give it up just out of being nice) and then rip it out to prevent other people from reading it. You don’t want to read it yourself and want to rip it out your copy, fine. You want to get people to give up theirs to prevent them from reading it? Tacky and not fine. But I think it will backfire.

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    You don’t want to read it yourself and want to rip it out your copy, fine. You want to get people to give up theirs to prevent them from reading it?

    1. I don’t see how their doing what they’re doing would prevent somebody who wants to read that book from doing just that. They aren’t *forcing* people to give up their copies, right?
    2. Still, I don’t see how that would be censorship. Care to explain?
    3. I don’t care whether you agree or disagree with what they’re doing. It’s your right to disagree and whatnot. However, calling all stuff you disagree with “censorship” is:
    a) distasteful
    b) manipulative
    c) dishonest
    d) belittles the actual suffering of people in whose countries censorship is or was a commonplace.

    I think you should seriously stop.

    Also, I really really don’t see how the ebol atheists are *FORCING* people to give up their copies.

    Shorter version: you are still incorrect.

  • Daniel Fincke
  • VERITAS

    GIDEONS HAVE NO RIGHT TO OFFEND ME BY PLACING CHRISTIAN MYTHOLOGY PROPAGANDA IN THE ROOM WHICH I AM PAYING TO USE… THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE BY CUSTOMERS IS TO TAKE THE UNWANTED BIBLES AND CONSIGN THEM TO A RECYCLE BIN OUTSIDE THE HOTEL WHERE THEY WILL HAVE A MORE PRODUCTIVE USE IN THE FUTURE…


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