Creationists on the University of Melbourne campus! Today! Handing out Ray Comfort’s “Special Edition” of On the Origin of Species!
I first knew something was up when, while waiting for a lecture to start, I saw a student holding a copy of the book. I asked her where she’d got it, and she said that people were handing them out near the university tram stop. Yep, it had to be them – Ray Comfort clones, doing what they do best – spreading ignorance through the medium of semi-persuasive and seemingly educational books.
After my lecture, I met up with Richard Hughes, and later Jason Ball, both of whom grabbed a copy of the book and started talking to the people handing them out. Richard wrote about it on his new blog Divisible By Pi – check that out, he goes into detail about his particular experiences with the whole thing.
Jason was also recording his conversation with one female creationist on his iPhone (which should be online soon, probably on the Young Australian Skeptics blog), but while this was happening I found that I didn’t have anything to do, so I just stood there, looking around at the five or so people handing out free books to unsuspecting university students and staff.
It was then that I was approached by two people, one with a camera and one with a microphone. I’d noticed them earlier, interviewing one of the creationists handing out the books, and assumed that they were from a university media organisation or something, as there were no obvious signs that they were creationists as well and related to the book giving-out scheme.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
They asked me, as I stood there, if they could get a few of my thoughts about what was happening. I said sure, and stated on camera that I wouldn’t mind being interviewed and that the recording could be put online and on DVD. The first couple of questions were immediately related to the event taking place: what did I think of what was happening; did I think that they should be allowed to give out these books, etc. I still thought they were secular, unbiased reporters. But suddenly I was asked a question about irreducible complexity, and then… then I really knew what I was dealing with.
The questions came thick and fast after that. “How do you know evolution is true? What about the eye? How do organisms know what to evolve? Where are the transitional forms? What came before the Big Bang?” – the types of questions that could only be asked by a Young Earth Creationist with an interviewing agenda to push. The man interviewing me didn’t even leave me enough time to effectively state my case – I was literally trying to educate him in evolutionary theory out of his biased perspective of Christian fundamentalism, and that takes more time than what he was allowing me.
In the end, he got to the classic Ray Comfort tactic that absolutely confirmed their association with the group handing out the books – the “Have you ever told a lie?” line of questioning, designed to make the person feel guilty for their sins against the Christian God. It really doesn’t work on an atheist, since you have to accept the premise that their God exists before you can feel guilty for going against Him. I made that clear to him, and he seemed to agree, but he still went ahead anyway.
And that’s where it ended, after about 30 to 40 minutes of questioning. Overall it was a very pleasant interview – I was surprised at how calm I was throughout, probably due to going into it thinking that they weren’t creationists and that initial relaxed attitude carrying on after I gradually learnt the truth.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the interview ends up, edited, on the Internet somewhere – they’ll use it for something, and probably quote-mine the hell out of what I said, distorting each line until my words sound completely illogical and uneducated. Jason recorded at least a little bit of them interviewing me on his iPhone, so that’ll be up on the Young Australian Skeptics blog soon enough for all to see.
It was actually all a lot of fun, really. I’ll keep you informed as more information and testimonies about the event surface.