The Primate Diaries

The Darwin Reclamation Project

(To watch this as a music video click on the volume icon in the top left.)

Here you are, all your bright, shining faces with a brand new copy of On the Origin of Species. It’s extremely generous of Ray Comfort and Living Waters Publications to distribute so many free copies of a book with no political agenda whatsoever. I noticed that some of you found an odd additional chapter to the book that never appeared in the original edition. But many of you reclaimed Darwin’s intent by removing these unfortunate pages and now have an excellent copy for yourselves or to donate to a worthy cause.

Books to Prisoners is an excellent charity, as is Books for Soldiers. Since you’ll be sending them this book anyway, why not toss in a few more titles from your shelves and write a letter letting them know that you’re thinking about them and that the friendly atheists of the world hope they return home soon so they can enjoy the beauty of life.

To learn more about Comfort’s generosity please visit the National Center for Science Education’s new website Don’t Diss Darwin. Keep sending those photos to primatediaries [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll add them in as they arrive. Also, if you’re in the collage please introduce yourself below.

As you can see Ray, your “enemy” is extremely frightening and dangerous.

Comments

  1. #1 Jay Forehand
    November 19, 2009

    Hi guys, I’m Jay, I’m the one in the VCU sweatshirt. VCU wasn’t on the list but one of our resident groups of fundamentalist Christians showed up with about 6 boxes.

    I was raised as a fundie so I’ve seen both sides. Through studying life on this planet I’ve come to realize just how amazing the natural world is. That may seem like an obvious statement but when you’re raised to always look forward to that next world you tend to glance over the really beautiful things you see around you on a daily basis.

    It seems to me like my transition from religion to atheism was just part of growing up. Once I began to think and ask questions that fundamentalism that I grew up with just fell apart.

  2. #2 Justin N
    November 19, 2009

    Hello from the guy in the green striped shirt. I’m Justin, and I’m a graduate student in political science at the University of California, Riverside. I’m also an oddball even among the atheist community, as I’m a third-generation atheist, at least on my mom’s side.

    Atheism gives us the ability to see the true beauty and grandeur in the natural world. To think that we are related to every bit of life on our planet, and all equally born of a dying star… seems so much more inspiring than any dusty old religious text can offer.

    I must also say that I appreciate Comfort’s give-away. I’ve been meaning to read The Origin for a while. I hope he’ll continue this trend of giving away useful literature- Nietzsche once said that “God is dead”- can we expect a Comfort-laced edition of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, or perhaps The Antichrist?

  3. #3 Kristin
    November 19, 2009

    Hey guys,
    So I’m the student wearing the reptile-inspired shirt and the beetle wing earrings. I’m a CSU Northridge student majoring in Magazine Journalism.
    Well, I’ve always loved animals and after reading Racing the Antelope: What animals can teach us about running and life, I got really interested in evolution, and then through that, atheism.
    Although I’ve been to tons of seminars, workshops, lectures, and classes that all say that I should speak and stand up for beliefs, (about recycling, equality, peace…) it wasn’t until I entered the atheist community that I learned that the only ideas worth defending are the ones actually being attacked. Of course, atheists are the most mistrusted minority in the world, and not something one would be wise to bring up in mixed company.
    So, instead of writing about why racism is bad or why education is important, as a journalist I plan to make a difference, and challenge readers with radical ideas that they may find completely uncomfortable. (My goal is to get at least a dozen death threats over my carreer…)
    In short, atheism has taught me that if 75% of the country disagrees with you on one topic, that is the topic you should voice the loudest.

  4. #4 Abdel
    November 19, 2009

    Hello. I’m Abdel. I’m the one with the glasses and the navy poloshirt (comes out as black due to light). I’m an undergraduate studying biology at University of Illinois at Chicago (which was not on the list so I was unfortunately unprepared).

    I was interested in science for the majority of my life and thought the natural world is far more interesting than things which may or may not be. I am an atheist and, more proudly, a skeptic because it gives us knowledge and with knowledge comes real hope, not false hope. With knowledge, we are no longer subject to blind luck. We can take control of our lives, our destinies. We, as a species, can advance and provide more for the next generation.

  5. #5 Ben & Kacey
    November 19, 2009

    Hi everyone,
    We’re the picture with the blue shirt and brown sweatshirt. We’re Computer Engineering students at Purdue. Being intelligent people and growing up in religious families, we began to realize that none of it really made any sense. A lot of people take comfort (no pun intended) thinking that someday they’ll go to heaven, and the people they hate will burn for eternity. We think that just takes away from life. If you know that this is all you have, you’ll live it to the fullest, rather than thinking “Well, I just gotta get through this crap, then 100 virgins for me!”

  6. #6 Ali Marie
    November 19, 2009

    Hey, all.
    I’m the girl in the green Evolving Planet t-shirt. The Triceratops, miniature T-rex, and Archaeopteryx sweatshirt are all mine as well. My name’s Ali, and I’m an earth science major at the University of Chicago. I’m a self-proclaimed skeptic and museum geek.

  7. #7 Danielle
    November 19, 2009

    Hello!

    I’m Danielle, and I’m the one with the Serenity poster behind me reading the extra chapter with a raised eyebrow. I’m majoring in genetics Clemson University in South Carolina which wasn’t on the list, but… this is South Carolina; I’m not surprised. I’ve been in love with biology from an early age, particularly zoology.

    To be honest, I haven’t fully jumped on the atheist train yet… nor have I had a particularly religious background. My dad (non-practicing Methodist to my knowledge) taught me to believe what makes sense to me, not necessarily what others tell me. I’m a transition stage, I suppose (the religious missing link?)- agnostic in the sense that I don’t know if there is or isn’t a higher being but I don’t see it being a major issue. Deist in that if there is a god, evolution is his/her operating system- much smoother than crafting everything by figurative hand.

    Interestingly, when I confronted one of the ministry people handing out the Comfort books, he turned the conversation over to whether there is or isn’t a god, how morality is proof of a god, etc.- all irrelevant to the original issue of considering ID a science. It bugs me how some theists believe religion has a monopoly on morality and a conscience…

  8. #8 pr1ttyricky
    November 19, 2009

    Hello there guys and gals,

    My name is Ricky. I’m the one with the thumbs up. My wife and I are both graduate students here at the University of Kentucky (I do experimental psychology, while she’s into literature and gender studies). As well, we’re both atheists/nonbelievers/skeptics, whatever you want to call it.

    We both grew up in religious families too (this seems to be a common story). I pretty much became a closet atheist as a young teenager, before I even knew anything about evolution. I just never really bought into the fantasy that was preached from my parents, sunday school teachers, youth pastors, etc. I think a lot of it is about instilling fear into young minds. But I don’t want to “believe” in something out of fear about what’ll happen if I don’t believe.

    I guess that’s one way that atheism has enriched my life . . . I’m a good person because I want to be, not because I’m afraid of going to hell if I’m not a good person (even though I don’t really think being a good person is necessarily a criteria for getting into heaven). Also, I’m really into personal growth: learning as much as I can, keeping an open mind, and generally trying to have a blast while I’m alive. We only have this one life, and we should try to make the best of it, right?

  9. #9 Tim
    November 19, 2009

    Hi, my name is Tim. I’m the guy in the green crawl for cancer shirt with the confused/frustrated look on his face. Why am I confused? Because I just can’t wrap my head around why anyone would be threatened by evolution. But I think this fiasco has been good. Between the Bergman/Myers debate on Monday and the Origin distribution the past two days it’s been exciting to see so many positive and patient people rallying together to address ignorance on campus. It’s really built a sense of community! I think I’ve had more conversations and laughs with random strangers this week than ever before. So, umm… thanks Ray!

  10. #10 Nate
    November 19, 2009

    Howdy ya’ll,
    I’m Nate – white guy with glasses, beard, brown hair and a boring white wall behind me. I’m a doctoral student in educational psychology at UT Austin, with an emphasis on conceptual change in science education, especially biology. Comfort’s book goes in my special collection, along with Chick tracts, talking Jesus action figures, and assorted young earth creationist literature, and my official letter of severance from the Mormon church warning of “serious eternal conscequences” [sic] for my apostasy. Score!

  11. #11 Tim
    November 19, 2009

    @Nate #10 Talking Jesus action figures?! What does he say? More importantly, does he have the kung fu grip?

  12. #12 Spencer Fern
    November 20, 2009

    I am the (apparently really tall) guy in the picture with Ray Comfort. The pic was taken Wednesday at UCLA. If you haven’t noticed, he has a Don’t Diss Darwin bookmark in his front pocket. I’m guessing one of my friends handed it to him, and he shoved it in his pocket without reading it. Perhaps Mr. Comfort ought to do more reading.

    While we were posing for the picture, I let him know I was an atheist. A bit later, he asked me, “Why are you an atheist?”

    I thought about it, and said, “I don’t know.”

    I’ve talked to many evangelicals, and that question has come up before. I should have a glib reply, but it is really puzzling to me. My parents chose to let me decide for myself about religion. For all of my formative years, I was an agnostic in the literal sense — I didn’t know, I didn’t even understand the question. I became an agnostic atheist because of people like Ray Comfort, or Rick Warren. Or, more specifically, people like the Scoutmaster who asked me if I believed in god, and what church I attended.

    I’m an atheist because those people people believe, “Why are you an atheist?” is an important question. None of it makes me really angry, I’m just trying to answer the question honestly.

  13. #13 John
    November 20, 2009

    That was a fantastic slide show, glad to see the herd of cats out in force.

  14. #14 zer0
    November 20, 2009

    Hi! Pic 5/57 chiming in (Primateyesplz). I’m also a student at University of Kentucky, studying Biology, so here’s a shout out to Ricky and his wife (comment 8). We really need a secular student group on campus, amirite?!

    Anyways, my path to Atheism took a very long time. When I was a kid I was pretty involved in Church. I sang in the Choir, played the bells, etc. But I always just thought of Church as a collection of stories, no more real than my morning cartoons. I just thought, “okay, they want to teach me something, just like Captain Planet, or Optimus Prime want to teach me something at the end of each episode, it’s cool, whatevs.” As I got older, I found out that a lot of adults took this stuff pretty seriously. I had to figure out why. So I looked around to try and figure out why Christianity was so widely accepted as true, and why human beings had tossed aside some pretty kick ass gods in the past, I mean come on… ODIN… he was a bad mother.

    In the end, I came to the conclusion that argumentum ad populum was not going to be enough for me to follow some of the stranger dogmas of any world religion, especially Christianity. I do not require fear to keep my moral compass pointing in the right direction, nor do I need to be comforted about my own mortality by a book written 17+ centuries ago by misogynistic, homophobic sand farmers.

    I would like to state very clearly, and I hope that others would be able to claim the same: I would be an atheist, regardless of whether or not evolution by natural selection had ever been discovered. It is a wonderful body of science, and it has given us so much more knowledge about who we are and why we are, but I do not need it to know that god(s) aren’t real.

  15. #15 Kathleen
    November 20, 2009

    I’m Kathleen, far left in the group of women holding books, precambrian fossils, and transitional forms. We’re paleontology grad students – and one undergrad – and we study mass extinctions, early metazoan evolution, and paleoecology. We’re at the University of Southern California, where we have a strong, dynamic paleo group.

    We’re not all athiests – we are a mix of atheists, agnostics, and people of great faith.

    After reading the “special introduction”, I was actually relieved. The evangelistic passages reveal the author’s purpose and undermine the verisimilitude of his scientific interests. That a Christian would lie and deceive so glibbly… Well, I’ve been through the Creation Museum in Kentucky so I’m never surprised at audacious hypocrisy.

    I get so deeply entrenched in field work and fossil research, that I forget how wildly misinformed our general public is about fossils. Biologists! Geologists! Talk to people in your communities about how evolution is really studied, what science really is. Go to elementary school career days, talk to the Rotary Club, offer to do a Q&A with a (mellow) church group. Curious, intelligent, educated people are swayed by the lies they receive from anti-science evangelists, and we can offer them answers to their questions.

    As an answer to the last pages of the Special Introduction, I encourage you all to read this really great letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to an evangelist cousin. It’s the 8th blurb down on this excellent webpage: http://web2.wku.edu/~smithch/index1.htm

  16. #16 Nate
    November 20, 2009

    Tim,
    Alas, no Kung Fu(tm) grip on talking Jesus. That was the first question I asked the friend that found it for me. But he is trilingual:
    amazon link.

  17. #17 pr1ttyricky
    November 20, 2009

    Hey zer0 (comment 14),

    We are actually trying to get an active secular group together at UK (the UK Brights). It’s been around apparently, but not very active (not too many people know about it). My wife and I are trying to revive it though. You should check out the facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?v=wall&ref=ts&gid=62037864065).

    -Ricky

  18. #18 Winifred
    November 20, 2009

    I’m Winifred, represented in the top row, first from the right by a plushie ?hamster. I’m a paleo nerd from the University of Oregon and an athiest. I was raised on a weird mix of hippie new age stuff and conspiracy theory, and default Lutheranism from my mother’s side; but also a lot of PBS, nature shows, and museums. I think the museums and nature shows definitely won. The natural world is fascinating and I find ‘magical’ explanations for how it works (whether it’s God or faeries or aliens) unsatisfactory.

  19. #19 Ceri
    November 20, 2009

    Hi I’m Ceri. I’m a student at the University of Washington.
    Both of my parents are atheists and scientists so I was brought loving biology and the natural world.
    Although I’ve been an atheist all of my life, my parents felt it was important for me to the understand the Jewish culture and history of my family. I still identify myself first and foremost as a Jew and it’s frustrating to have to explain my beliefs to people who think you cannot belong to a church and be an atheist at the same time.
    I’m happy that I can still be part of my family’s religion as well as the scientific world.

  20. #20 DoubleD
    November 20, 2009

    I’m David, the shaggy-haired kid in the black Norma Jean t-shirt. In the background is the lab where I was supposed to be working instead of reading the introduction to my new book, getting horrified by page 9, and taking pictures of my reaction with a webcam.

    I’m a biochemistry undergrad at the University of Minnesota, and an atheist. After being an evangelical Christian my whole life up until this year, being a freethinker is like waking up from a surreal dream. Instead of having to rationalize when I discover evidence that contradicts the Bible and Christian traditions, I am now able to use the tools of science to understand how the world works, and why we observe the things we do. It is so fulfilling to look at the world with open eyes, excited to discover new things every day, compared to having all truth dictated to me from a dry old book of dubious origins. I can also embrace a morality based on empathy and elucidated by the hard work of ethical philosophers, rather than mostly ritual-themed commandments with no apparent rationality behind them. And I can feel a more overwhelming sense of awe at the universe, knowing that it wasn’t built for me, but I still get the privilege to enjoy it for a few years.

  21. #21 Eddy Lee
    November 21, 2009

    My fellow Skeptics and friends,
    I’m the guy in photo #40 who goes to California State University Bakersfield.

    When asked on “how atheism enriches your life,” the only answer I can give is that it does not. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a deity. However, science definitely enriches my life. There is nothing more beautiful in this universe than the fact that we’re all connected biology to one another, chemically to the earth and atomically to the universe. Carl Sagan said, “We’re all star stuff.” This alone provides meaning, motivation and appreciation of life.
    Carl Sagan also said,”For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

    I agree 100%. I’ll keep my lack of belief until I see convincing evidence that there is a deity. There is no other aspect of our lives when we ignore reason and submit to the ugly notion of faith.

    Cheers,

    Eddy Lee
    Free Thinking Society @ CSUB
    CFI Campus Affiliate

  22. #22 DVMKurmes
    November 21, 2009

    Hello everyone,

    I am the bald guy with a stack of books. I organize the Northern Arizona Skeptics, and my daughter is a student at Northern Arizona University. She saw the books being distributed and called to let us know it was happening a day early (the local church group that passed them out was very quiet about it beforehand). We managed to collect 24 copies before they started to catch on. I plan to hand them out to members of the skeptics group, and two are being sent off to the Australian Skeptics in Sydney.

    I agree that attempting to grasp the universe as it is is far better than persisting in delusion, and have been surprised and shocked at the ability of some religious folks to lie and cheat for their beliefs, and live a life that just about any religious person would consider “moral” except for the blasphemy part.

    Cheers and good to see so many others collecting their copies of the book.
    Bill

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