The Primate Diaries

Now that his plan has backfired drastically (his own website has removed the link to his “Introduction” of Darwin’s book) and more people were offended by his distortions than anything else, let me briefly point out some useful information. Comfort makes the following assertions in his introduction:

Adolf Hitler took Darwin’s evolutionary philosophy to its logical conclusions [and] the legacy of Darwin’s theory can be seen in the rise of eugenics, euthanasia, infanticide, and abortion.

As the National Center for Science Education has pointed out:

This is simply hyperbole on Comfort’s part. This laundry-list of unrelated controversial issues is meant to inflame passions rather than inform.


Connecting Hitler’s crimes with a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy and an elderly patient’s right to terminate their life when suffering from a debilitating disease have nothing to do with anything other than Comfort’s extreme right-wing fundamentalism.

However, his pathetic attempt to link Darwin to eugenics and Hitler’s policies, just as Ken Ham and Harun Yahya have attempted to do, I have addressed earlier. The creationist link between Darwin and Hitler is done through the German evolutionary biologist Ernst Haeckel. However, Haeckel’s evolutionary ideas were specifically rejected by the Nazi party.

Günther Hecht, official representative for the National Socialist Party’s Department of Race-Politics (Rassenpolitischen Amt der NSDAP), insisted in the Reich’s official scientific journal:

The party and its representatives must not only reject a part of the Haeckelian conception–other parts of it have occasionally been advanced–but, more generally, every internal party dispute that involves the particulars of research and the teachings of Haeckel must cease.

Comfort also claims that Darwin is responsible for “social Darwinism,” the argument that the poor are where they are because they are not as “fit” and should be left to die. This disgusting idea was created by the English sociologist Herbert Spencer, not Darwin. Darwin had no use for Spencer’s arguments and rejected them totally, as he wrote in his Autobiography:

I did not like him particularly, and did not feel that I could easily have become intimate with him. I think that he was extremely egotistical. . . I am not conscious of having profited in my own work from Spencer’s writings. His deductive manner of treating any subject is wholly opposed to my frame of mind. His conclusions never convince me . . . They partake more of the nature of definitions than of laws of nature. They do not aid one in predicting what will happen in any particular case. Anyhow they have not been of any use to me.

There’s nothing more that needs to be written about this. Comfort is wrong. Can we finally stop regurgitating these obviously false assertions? How many times do they need to be revealed as false before creationists will move on?

Comments

  1. #1 razib
    November 21, 2009

    Comfort also claims that Darwin is responsible for “social Darwinism,” the argument that the poor are where they are because they are not as “fit” and should be left to die. This disgusting idea was created by the English sociologist Herbert Spencer, not Darwin.

    many people argue that richard hofstadter’s depiction of spencer’s ideas are really what people are objecting to, and not spencer’s own theories (though some of spencer’s acolytes are close to the model, like william graham sumner). IOW, the same sort of vulgarization and distortion which darwin was subject to by his “followers” occurred with spencer.

  2. #2 EMJ
    November 21, 2009

    The following quote is from Spencer’s first book, Social Statics (pp. 354-5), published before Darwin’s Origin (further proving that Darwin had no role in the development of ideas later attributed to him). In what follows it’s difficult to claim that Spencer is promoting anything other than the most repellent kind of indifference to social suffering:

    It seems hard that a labourer incapacitated by sickness from competing with his stronger fellows should have to bear the resulting privations. It seems hard that widows and orphans should be left to struggle for life or death. Nevertheless, when regarded not separately, but in connection with the interests of universal humanity, these harsh fatalities are seen to be full of the highest beneficence–the same beneficence that brings to early graves the children of diseased parents, and singles out the low-spirited, the intemperate, and the debilitated as the victims of an epidemic. . .

    Blind to the fact that, under the natural order of things society is constantly excreting its unhealthy, imbecile, slow, vacillating, faithless members, these unthinking, though well-meaning, men advocate an interference which not only stops the purifying process, but even increases the vitiation–absolutely encourages the multiplication of the reckless and incompetent by offering them an unfailing provision and discourages the multiplication of the competent and provident by heightening the prospective difficulty of maintaining a family. And thus, in their eagerness to prevent the really salutary sufferings that surround us, these sigh-wise and groan-foolish people bequeath to posterity a continually increasing curse.

    Low-lifes in society should be “excreted” in a “purifying process” that serves the interests of “universal humanity”? Vulgarization and distortion? Really? Spencer wrote this in opposition to the English poor laws, those limited reforms that allowed the starving and destitute to enter into workhouses rather than die in the street. But, please, continue to defend such views.

  3. #3 razib
    November 21, 2009

    . But, please, continue to defend such views.

    you’re a jackass.

  4. #4 CynicView
    November 21, 2009

    Learn to read EMJ.

  5. #5 EMJ
    November 21, 2009

    Only sometimes, and all in good fun. :) You could say I’m not an enormous fan of Spencer, and I’ve spent the last two weeks reading through his material for my current project.

  6. #6 Andy
    November 22, 2009

    Of course, in terms of the truth or falsity of evolutionary theory, it’s ultimately irrelevant whether Darwin’s political and social opinions were objectionable or admirable.

    I can never work out whether or not it’s worth pointing out the ad hominem fallacies which anti-Darwinians like Comfort are liable to employ. I’d doubt that, charged with zeal, they’d really understand it. Which makes me grateful that, by most accounts and the standards of his day, Charles Darwin was a decent, principled and kind man. Not that this has really silenced his opponents.

    What is strange, however, is how Christians don’t use the same line of reasoning on the history of their own religion. Why, if Hitler’s supposed adoption of Darwinian ideas prompts them to doubt evolutionary theory, shouldn’t his Catholicism make us doubt Christianity? Because the ad hominem argument becomes less fallacious when you’re dealing with a belief system – in this case Christianity – that purports not only to explain the world but also provide moral (and even providential) guidance through it. If God loves his flock, and attempts to keep them from the wiles of Satan, why does it go awry so many times? The crimes of Christians (supposed or otherwise) are worsen the Christian case far more than the crimes of any supposed Darwinians.

  7. #7 Ben
    November 30, 2009

    MediaCurves.com conducted a study among 304 viewers of a news clip discussing a new introduction to Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”. Results found that viewer support for teaching creationism in schools declined after watching the video. Furthermore, the majority of viewers (65%) indicated that they would read the original version of “On the Origin of Species”, while fewer viewers (60%) indicated that they would read the new introduction. More in depth results can be seen at: http://www.mediacurves.com/Religion/Darwin%20Additions/Index.cfm
    Thanks,
    Ben

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