Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Define Irony

iro-ny... 3 a (1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity.

So as I was walking from the bookstore to class, I saw a man at the end of the courtyard giving out books. Since I am a sucker for free books, I decided to walk in that direction. As I was approaching the vicinity of the gentleman I thought to myself, "Well, if it's another Bible, I'll pass--I've got plenty of those as it is!" As I drew nearer, the man thrust a handsome paperback my way and said "Origin of Species. One hundred fiftieth anniversary." "Well," said I, "I've already got one, but why not?" The evolutionists are handing out their Bibles now, I thought. As I walked away with my new copy of Darwin's classic I noticed something unusual, however, about this copy. "Introduction by Ray Comfort." Ray Comfort, Ray Comfort. I'm sure I know that name from somewhere. That right! He's the guy who wrote the very popular book on evangelism, Hell's Best Kept Secret. WHAAA? He wrote an introduction for Darwin's Origin of Species, and is encouraging people to hand out the book to college kids? Define irony.

So I opened the book to the epigraphs, all of them about free enquiry and education. Alongside quotes by Darwin, Scopes, and W. R. Thompson, is this representative nugget from some survey (which we are told was agreed upon by 84% of college graduates): "Teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory." Ok. So this is about not censoring Darwin. But wait, from a Christian evangelist?

So I opened the book further to the introduction and began reading. After a brief outline of Darwin's life and the very basic contours of the argument of the book, Comfort gradually offers a series of critiques of Darwin's work. He begins with soft criticism based on DNA mapping, which Darwin could not have possibly known about. The criticism raises in pitch with the discussion of transitional forms and the so-called missing link between humans and chimpanzees. Swiftly the discussion moves toward advocating for (you might have guessed by now) an Intelligent Designer. The slippery slope gets even more slippery when Comfort starts "revealing" the racism and sexism of social Darwinism, and reaches a climax with Adolf Hitler's affinity for Darwin (the heading for that section: "His Famous Student"). Comfort scales the rhetoric back a bit and comforts his audience by reminding them that Darwin was not, after all, an atheist (implied: so you shouldn't be, either). He empathizes: "So if I was [sic] an atheist, I would see that I have an intellectual dilemma." It's ok. You're a poor, misguided atheist. Let me explain something that makes more logical sense. Naturally, he then proceeds to outline an evangelical message, topping it all of with an altar-call: "To receive the gift of eternal life, you must repent of your sins (turn from them), and put on the Lord Jesus Christ as you would put on a parachute--trusting in Him alone for your salvation. ...Do it right now because you don't know when you will take that leap through the door of death. Confess your sins to God, put your trust in Jesus to save you, and you will pass from death to life. You have God's promise on it."

Now, I think all of this is basically correct. But I seriously doubt this amounts to a more logical frame of mind. How do you define irony? Well, expecting to receive a Bible, but then actually receiving (what is often considered) an atheist's bible--and that book actually ends up quoting the Bible. Yeah. I'd say that pretty well covers it.

So if you haven't read Darwin yet, keep your eyes out for people giving away free books. It might not be what you expect, but irony is meant to be enjoyed.


Crystal Mary said...

Yes the devil can appear as an Angel of light... Blessings Crystal

J.M.S said...

great post! Thanks! Love it!