Sunday, November 1, 2009

What do you call someone who lies? Ray Comfort

As many know, notorious Ray "Banana Man" Comfort has come out with his version of Darwin's classic Origin of Species since it is in public domain after 150 years of existence. The primary advertised difference between most versions of the book and Comfort's is the inclusion of an introduction that tries to say that "Darwinism" is a false religion, and all of the creationist canards that have become familiar to those that read the works or talk to those that are believers in creationism, especially the young earth variety (YEC for short). By calling Darwin a racist, a misogynist, and the philosophical influence to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Comfort's introduction is both a long ad hominem as well as scientifically dubious.

Previously I had written on the subject of Nazism and Darwinian evolution in response to the movie Expelled. I noted that Darwin's book had been banned in Germany, that Hitler was himself not an atheist or "Darwinist", but instead a Catholic creationist. In other words, Comfort is absolutely wrong about the connection between Darwin and Hitler, and it is painful to keep hearing that Hitler was an atheist and "evolutionist" when it is so demonstrably wrong.

But I have learned something else that is quite upsetting to any critical mind. Comfort has said that he wants his readers to read past his introduction and read Darwin's book, which Comfort had made easy for the reader. However, as I had suspected, it is an abridged work. So when Comfort claims that there is no evidence for evolution, he is correct because he edited out the evidence! This has been noted by Eugenie Scott: chapters about biogeography, one of the strongest pieces of evidence in Darwin's day and today for common decent with modification, as well as chapters on embryology, morphology, and classification, are missing, as well as Darwin answering some of the objections to his theory, such as concerning transitional forms. Scott does not say if Darwin's response to the evolution of the eye is intact, but part of that passage is a favorite for creationist quote-mines, including Ray Comfort (see Nothing Created Everything, p. 18). One can view Comfort's book online, and the part about the eye evolving in Darwin's book is intact; however, in the introduction Comfort does a massive quote-mining operation (from a physicist, no less) to "prove" the eye could not have evolved (which the author does not say, but instead says the eye evolved!) rather than, say, read about the evolution of the eye in Dawkins' Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Land's and Nilsson's Animal Eyes (2002), or more recently in Science a paper by Fernald and Russel (2006). The 1994 paper by Nilsson and Pleger showing a pessimistic calculation that the eye could have evolved in a few million years (in ~364,ooo generations). See an nicely condensed version of these results here and here.

What Comfort has tried to do is leave Darwin's thesis with the appearance of a few hundred pages of speculation, when in reality he came up with this theory of natural selection and published on it 20 years later all the time in between collecting more evidence. Darwin also delayed publication due to his fears of religious upheaval, but nonetheless Darwin also continued to reinforce his ideas with evidence from a diverse number of fields. By editing out these chapters, as well as being behind the times on the evidence for evolution (by, say, 150 years), Comfort shows himself to be not simply ignorant, but a deceiver. Selectively removing some of the most important chapters from Darwin's book cannot be accounted for except by conscious dishonesty. After all, one should not say "look at the evidence" and then hide it away to "prove" there is no evidence.

Ray, that is why you were awarded by the Golden Crocoduck this year.

And here is a bit more from another intellectually honest YouTuber:

So Ray, what do you call someone who lies? Did I hear "A liar"?

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