Many University of Minnesota students jumped at the chance for a free copy of Charles Darwin’s “On The Origins of Species” being handed out on Pleasant Street Thursday. But they were met with a surprise when they opened to this edition’s introduction.
The books, 1,000 of which were distributed on campus Thursday, feature a 50-page “special introduction” written by evangelical Christian Ray Comfort. The introduction cites the Bible as well as works by Darwin himself and argues for creationism before the book turns to the unadulterated Darwin text.
First-year Clare Simonis was one recipient of the book, which was published 150 years ago this month.
“It is kind of deceiving,” Simons said of the creationism introduction.
However, she said she has seen other groups on campus try to get students to take a handout by misleading them.
Four families paid for the special edition of the book and stood outside Eddy and Wulling Halls Thursday distributing it.
The books cost $4.99 individually, but can be sold for as low as $0.99 if bought in bulk.
Quotes prompting the investigation of both sides of an argument line the first page of the book where one would normally expect to see excerpts from positive book reviews.
One man, David, who refused to give his last name, was a supervisor for the group and said they had been distributing the books to students from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. that morning and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. that afternoon.
“We wanted to break [the times] up to get different types of students,” David said.
The group planned to return at 6 p.m. — if any books were left to distribute.
David said student reception has been “98 percent” positive, and the majority of students have been “very polite.”
First-year Cassie Annis, a Christian, said she thought the handout was a smart idea.
“I think it’s good to have … both [viewpoints] there,” she said.
The University is one of more than 90 campuses being targeted this November through “The Origins into Schools Project,” said Liz Ebert, an employee of Living Waters, an evangelism resource and training company founded by Comfort.
Ebert said the company chose to focus on distribution at colleges because most are not private property, so books can be handed out without breaking any laws.
She said campuses feature the “future generation,” so “there is a great impact to be made.”