Origin of Species and Darwin Paraphernalia

    Terry Devitt brought this to our attention. I tried finding an email so we could get a copy of the Intro, but guess we'll have to go with getting the whole book.
    If anyone notices these books being distributed, please let us know.

    Thank you,

    Date: Tue, 06 Oct 2009 13:13:33 -0500
    From: Terry Devitt <trdevitt@wisc.edu>
    Subject: Fwd: [AAU PA Listserv] Distribution of Intelligent Design version of
    Origin of the Species
    To: Mara McDonald <mamcdona@wisc.edu>

    Hi, Mara:
    This might be of interest to the Evolution group. You could indicate to the evolutionistas that if this group hits campus, we'll be in need of an expert or two to provide reasoned counter arguments.

    Subject: [AAU PA Listserv] Distribution of Intelligent Design version of Origin of the Species

    There is an organization called Living Waters that says it will distribute at 100 top U.S. universities 100,000 copies of Origin of the Species with a 50-page Intelligent Design introduction that “refutes” the book. Here’s a link to their site:


    To be clear, they say they’re not altering the book at all, just including their own introduction.

    Mara McDonaldOct 23, 2009 11:41 AM

    Has anyone been following the amazon.com saga concerning the Comfort abridged edition of Origin of Species?

    Amazon had mixed up reviews of a decent anniversary edition (by penguin, I think) with the Ray Comfort adulterated version they plan on distributing in November on the actual anniversary of publication of the original. The lumping together mix-up gave a shopper the distinct impression that the Comfort edition was the nuts. That seems to be fixed--the review below is obviously a parody of sorts which came about as a result of the screw-up.

    But the decent non-Comfort anniversary edition no longer turns up using the search function. One must plug in the ISBN in order to access info on the bona fide anniversary edition.


    16 of 23 people found the following review helpful:
    Fantastic, October 20, 2009
    By <http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2WIPUJO15AZ8N/ref=cm_cr_rdp_pdp>BJ
    I fear things I don't understand and I loathe things that require concentration to read. So it was a grand surprise to see Ray Comfort's introduction to this abridged version of Darwin's book. I didn't really have to think at all. I hope they make a DVD version next, in cartoon format. That would let my spouse enjoy the book too. I'm the first in my family to learn to read. This is pretty good, right? It only took me half an hour.

    Mara McDonaldOct 29, 2009 2:13 PM

    Darwin articles (We're still celebrating his 200th birthday)
    Nature Editorial: Darwin and Culture

    Nature Special: Darwin 200

    Nature: Darwin's Puppy Love

    Mara McDonaldOct 30, 2009 12:00 PM

    From David Quammen Interview

    Darwin himself famously lost faith over the years. Was your sense that his discoveries and thoughts on biology drove the loss of faith? How much of a relation do you think there was?

    I think it was two things, closely related.

    He was very rational, careful, orderly thinker. He discovered the older he got, the more he wanted his convictions to be grounded in observable evidence. You could say he was a materialist by disposition. As he got older, that disposition put him in conflict with a lot of conventional beliefs. Specifically, there was this question of where diversity comes from, and the closer he looked at it, the more he realized there was a very logical, economical explanation that involved only physical causes. It satisfied him very much and conflicted completely with the conventional explanation. So that pushed him away from conventional religion.

    Then there was the death of his father, followed by the death of his daughter, Annie. The second in particular completely soured him on the notion that the universe was ruled by a God who determined all things, who had all power, and preferred the good, yet would allow for irrational, inexplicable evil such as the suffering of innocents. That was more on the emotional side than the intellectual side.

    Those two things converged, and he was done with Christianity.

    Mara McDonaldOct 30, 2009 12:03 PM

    From David Quammen Interview

    Do you think that evolution is incompatible with Christianity?

    Evolution? No. Darwinian evolution? Yes.

    Darwin believed the variations within populations that natural selection works on are undirected -- essentially random. Not random in the sense that they have no causes; random in the sense that whatever causes them -- and he didn't know -- is independent of adaptive needs.

    Random variations worked on by natural selection -- I think that's incompatible with the idea of evolution guided by God. It's not incompatible with the idea of the existence of God. It's not incompatible with the idea that God created the universe and set it in motion. But I think it is incompatible with the idea embraced by theistic evolutionists that God used evolution as a way of accomplishing His design. The design part is completely contradictory to the random variation part.

    I also think [Darwinian evolution] is incompatible with the idea that, as humans evolved from other primates, at a certain point God reached down and went "Bing!" and put in an immortal soul which has capacities and responsibilities completely different from what you might find in a chimpanzee.

    But I know that not everybody sees it that way, even some people who've thought about it pretty carefully.

    Mara McDonaldOct 30, 2009 12:06 PM

    From David Quammen Interview

    What do you think about the popular notion that physical evolution of humankind has been overtaken by intellectual or spiritual evolution, or mimetic evolution, or cultural evolution, or what have you?

    That's mostly true. Most evolution now is cultural evolution, for humans. But I doubt that it's completely true -- it's almost impossible that it be completely true. Whenever you have excess reproduction and differential survival, you have changes of gene frequency in populations, and therefore you have evolution.

    I would say, at risk of saying something that has me apologizing like the Pope or the president of Harvard, that evolution must be occurring, and that the way to detect the direction of it would be to look at the people who have the greatest reproductive success. Who on this planet has the greatest reproductive success? It probably is not educated people in North America, who tend to limit their reproduction to 2.1 kids. It's probably people in the tropics who have little access to education, little access to family planning techniques and information, and who are in some cases still having six and eight kids. That's reproductive success.

    So, it might be that evolution is still occurring among the human species, and making the human species incrementally better capable of living in impoverished conditions in the tropics. Maybe we're gradually acquiring some increased resistance to malaria. Maybe we're gradually acquiring some sort of increased resistance to all sorts of intestinal parasites you're afflicted with if you don't have access to clean water. People who live under those circumstances and still have nine kids, of whom six survive, are the reproductively successful individuals of our global population.

    [Physical] evolution is happening -- with the understanding that evolution doesn't make a particular species better or smarter, necessarily, just better attuned to whatever circumstances it's living in. That's my guess.

    Polls still show that half of Americans, more than half in some polls, reject evolution. Do you ever see that changing?

    It's an American thing. Actually, it's an American and a Turkish thing. There's an article just published in New Scientist that assembled poll data from 34 countries -- 32 European countries plus the U.S. and Japan. They were ranked from one to 34 in terms of acceptance of evolution. Number one was Iceland, then Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Britain ... 33 was U.S., 34 was Turkey. Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania -- much more acceptance of evolution than in the U.S. or in Turkey. And Turkey has an Islamist creationist movement of some force.

    What do you make of that? Why the U.S.?

    We're a country that was founded by religious cranks. Maybe that's part of it.

    But even they were less religious than we are now.

    The Jeffersonian founding fathers were less religious, but the group that came before them -- the Jamestown wave, the Mayflower wave -- they were religious cranks.

    That's only a half-serious answer, at most. I don't know. It's mysterious. There was a lot of resistance in this country to Darwinian ideas when they first came out, and then some biologists got on board. There was another wave of resistance around the time of the Scopes trial, and then it settled down. Then there was another wave of resistance in the late '60s with old-fashioned creationism, and that was essentially turned back by legal decisions like Edwards v. Aguillard, in the Supreme Court. Then came intelligent design.

    There's a political element, too, no?

    Yeah, it's part of a political agenda of the Christian right to undermine the teaching of evolution -- to undermine, therefore, a leftist, materialist, godless, merely science-based drift into social relativism. It's all connected. It's as much a political movement as a scientific movement.

    It's also something else too -- part of the American character, if there is such a thing -- and that is an eagerness to tell the experts, "Well, no. Screw you."