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Creationists to distribute Charles Darwin books for free. What's the catch?

November 11, 2009 |  6:12 am

Galapagostortoise

Evangelical Christians plan to distribute more than 100,000 free copies of Charles Darwin's seminal work on the theory of evolution, "On the Origin of Species," on college campuses this month. Are the evangelists affiliated with the religious organization Living Waters really spreading the word of Charles Darwin?

Yes -- but.

"All we want to do is present the opposing and correct view," says actor Kirk Cameron, a supporter, in a video on the website. That view, which both precedes and counters Darwin's theory in the copies of the book they will distribute, has been penned by the organization's leader, Ray Comfort. In a 50-page introduction, no less. An excerpt:

Keeping in mind that the most intelligent of human beings can’t create even a grain of sand from nothing, do you believe that the “something” that made everything was intelligent? It must have been, in order to make the flowers, the birds, the trees, the human eye, and the sun, the moon and the stars. If you believe that, then you believe there was an intelligent designer. You have just become an unscientific “knuckle-dragger” in the eyes of our learning institutions that embrace Darwinism. But you are not alone if you believe in God.

Which learning institutions may expect Living Waters representatives to show up on their campuses with boxes of the Comfort-introduction edition of "On the Origin of Species" hasn't been announced, although Living Waters described the schools as "100 of America’s top universities" in an e-mail to the Los Angeles  Times. According to the website, Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort will pass out copies of the book together on Nov. 19, perhaps here in Southern California.

Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" was first published 150 years ago, on Nov. 24, 1859. It begins:

When on board H.M.S. Beagle, as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species -- that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.

The book, having been in the public domain for quite some time, is also available for free via Project Gutenberg. With no introduction but Darwin's own.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A Galapagos giant turtle, one of the creatures Darwin studied during his expedition on the HMS Beagle. Credit: Pablo Cozzaglio / AFP / Getty Images

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