Darwin, Huxley, the Nazis and the Morality of Science

One of the most controversial features of Ben Stein’s documentary about the institutional persecution of those scientists who support Intelligent Design, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, is its statement of the origins of the Nazis’ racial ideology, which culminated in the Holocaust, in Darwinism. The film’s many critics have angrily denounced it for using the horrors of the Holocaust to suggest that Darwin or his followers could ever have been responsible for one of the most horrific atrocities of the 20th century. Yet to historians the link between Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection and the genocidal racism of the Nazis is entirely uncontroversial. Regardless of their religious views, historians of the 19th and 20th century, and particularly those of Fascism and Nazi Germany, have accepted that Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection was one factor in the rise of Nazism, along with a number of others such as Hegelian philosophy and Von Treitschke’s ideas of German racial superiority. The fact that Natural Selection, and specifically the doctrine of the ‘survival of the fittest’, was a part of Nazi racial theory doesn’t mean that Darwinism is necessarily wrong. It does, however mean that scientists, and those who base their political doctrines on their ideas, aren’t automatically the best judges of morality.

Immoral Radition Experiments Demonstration that Science Not Guide to Morality

This should be entirely uncontroversial, even a matter of common sense. In the 20th century scientists were often responsible for the perpetration of great horror and suffering in experiments that were grossly immoral, quite apart from the Holocaust. The disclosure in the 1990s that the American authorities had conducted a series of radiation experiments on members of the armed forces and civilians, often on the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society, caused a massive scandal. The fact that this occurred, not in a totalitarian state like Nazi Germany or Communist North Korea, but in America, a country whose people feel is the most democratic nation on Earth, whose constitution is one of the most profound statements of innate and inalienable human rights, was a profound shock. Quite possibly it further contributed to the alienation and distrust many Americans feel towards the state, a feeling of suspicion and paranoia that found its reflection in the X-Files on TV. Horrifically immoral experiments like these have no doubt contributed to the suspicion many people have of science as a potentially amoral, degrading and dehumanising enterprise in which living things and people are dispensable, to be experimented upon as scientists, bureaucrats and politicians wish, and whose suffering can be entirely disregarded in the greater interests of the state and science. Of course the vast majority of scientists are as moral as their fellow citizens, and rightly view such atrocities with condemnation and contempt. Nevertheless, these episodes possess the power to shock and appall because of science’s immense power, a power which can easily appear to some to give them the ability to behave as they wish, above the moral constraints of the rest of society, regardless of the harm, cruelty and suffering they may inflict.

Scientists Expected to be more Moral due to Great Power

Part of the problem here may also be that scientists are somehow expected to behave better, to be more moral, because of their greater insight into the nature of the physical world. The immense benefits created by science are obvious, and clearly the medical professionals engaged in treating and healing disease rightly enjoy immense respect. It’s therefore particularly shocking and disturbing when instead of healing and improving life, science is directed towards inflicting pain and destroying it. Hence the horror and disgust surrounding the Holocaust, and human experimentation in Nazi Germany, wartime Japan, America and elsewhere.

Enlightenment Claim that Philosophy and Science Superior to Religion as Guide to Morals

Part of the horror and intense controversy surrounding such scientific abuse may also derive from the fact that since the Enlightenment science, or its spokesmen, have attempted to claim for it a status as the only reliable guide to morality previously reserved for philosophy and religion. In the 18th century sceptical rationalist philosophers, such as Voltaire, Diderot and Bentham, believed that it was only through the application of human reason that society could be properly reformed, and a just social order created, in contrast to what they saw as the superstition and tyranny created and maintained in traditional European society. In the 19th century, Darwin’s greater defender, T.H. Huxley, strongly believed that science was far more moral, and would be a far better guide to morality, than tradition religious belief. Indeed, ‘Huxley argued at great length to prove that Darwinism would be a greater eithical force than Christinaity had ever been.’ 1 Huxley’s view of the superiority of science as a guide to ethics in contrast to the churches wasn’t unique. In Germany during the 19th century the medical materialism of part of the scientific establishment contributed to a large proportion of the membership of liberal and left-wing movements being composed of doctors and other scientists. These doctors and scientists felt that scientific materialism would create a far more moral society than the repressive society of contemporary Germany, with its feudal social order in which religion was an integral part of the political establishment.

Questions of morality have traditionally been the province of philosophy and religion. Philosophers and theologians down the centuries have devoted much effort in defining morality, and attempting to develop practical guides for moral conduct. This has not changed with the rise of science. While science clearly has a major role to play in suggesting practical solutions to major problems, such as in the eradication of pests or the role of disease, nevertheless moral questions themselves still remain the proper subject for philosophers and theologians. Similarly, whatever their skill as scientists, it does not mean that scientists are necessarily more moral than any other member of society. Insight in one area, such as physics or biology, does not give one a greater insight into the nature of evil or what constitutes the truly good life, any more than great skill in any other field of human endeavour.

Claim that Darwinism Superior Guide to Morality than Religion Partly Responsible for Rejection of Judaeo-Christian Humanitarianism

Moreover, by claiming that Darwinism was superior to Christianity and other forms of traditional religion, Huxley, and similar evolutionary biologists like Ernst Haeckel in Germany, made it possible for some scientists and laymen to disregard traditional Judaeo-Christian humanitarian concerns as unscientific and morally backward. And from the criticisms of Stein’s movie, Expelled, for mentioning that there was a link between Darwin’s theory and the Holocaust, it seems that Huxley made it extremely difficult for some to accept that Darwinian evolutionary theory played a role in the rise of Nazism. Now as I said, the fact that Darwinism was one of the influences on the emergence of Nazism does not mean that Natural Selection is wrong, or diminish Darwin’s achievement as a scientist. It simply means that science, including Darwinism, is by no means a reliable guide to morality, and that society, and science, still needs to be morally guided by philosophy and religion.

Similarity between Religious Views of Huxley and Hitler

Hitler probably derived his bizarre racial theories from German and Austrian Volkisch neo-pagan magazines like Ostara when he was a tramp in Vienna before the First World War. HItler’s own religious views were pantheistic, in which God was considered to be the sum total of the laws of the universe, in contrast to the personal God of Judaism and Christianity. In his Table Talk for the night of 11th to 12th of July 1941, Hitler stated

‘Man has discovered in nature the wonderfull notion of that all-mighty being whose law he worships.

Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this all-mighty, which we call God (that is to say, the dominion of natural laws through the whole universe). The priests, who have always succeeded in exploiting this feeling, threaten punishments for theman who refuses to accept the creed they impose.’2

He also stated that progress lay in the discovery of those laws of nature and adherence to them. ‘In any case, we shall learn to become familiar with the laws by which life is governed, and acquaintance with the laws of nature will guide us on the path of progress.’ 3 Now living a life in harmony with nature and its laws had been a moral ideal since ancient Greece. In the 18th century Enlightenment philosophes such as Rousseau had also recommended it as part of their campaign to create a more moral and humane society. In the case of the Nazis, it became immoral and sinister through their conception of racial conflict and genocide as part of the laws of nature.

Huxley also seems to have shared this pantheistic conception of God, declaring that the Almighty as ‘the sum of the customs of matter.’ 4 Huxley and Darwin were certainly not Nazis, no matter how much the Nazis may have based their own racial ideology on the idea of the ‘survival of the fittest’. Nevertheless, it does seem to indicate that Hitler was influenced by the pantheistic religious views that evolutionary biologists such as Haeckel expounded, while he elsewhere rejected Huxley otherwise very traditional Victorian morality.

Conclusion: Holocaust Example of What May Happen When Judaeo-Christian Morality Rejected in the Name of Science and Continued Need for Jewish and Christian Morals in Science

While the influence of Darwinism, along with a number of other 19th century ideologies on the Nazis certainly does not mean that Darwinism is wrong, the suffering and carnage they inflicted, along with those of the Communist states, were an example of the horror that can result when traditional religion is rejected in favour of a totalitarian political ideology claiming a basis in science, considered as being morally far superior to religion and traditional religious morality. The holocaust, and similar atrocities are instead a demonstration that science has not superseded Judaeo-Christian morality, but indeed needs to be governed by it.

Notes

1. Harry Hearder, Europe in the Nineteenth Century, Second Edition (London, Longman 1988), p. 400.

2. Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens, trans., Hitler’s Table-Talk: Hitler’s Conversations Recorded by Martin Bormann (Oxford, OUP 1953), p. 6.

3. Cameron and Stevens, Table-Talk, pp. 6-7.

4. Hearder, Europe, p. 399.

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53 Responses to “Darwin, Huxley, the Nazis and the Morality of Science”

  1. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘Yet to historians the link between Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection and the genocidal racism of the Nazis is entirely uncontroversial.’

    So why did the Nazis ban books on Darwinism?

    Why did Nazis routinely refer to genetics (about which Darwin knew nothing)?

  2. Steven Carr Says:

    The English translation of Table Talk is a translation of a doctored French translation.

    I have the original German. If you like, I can check those entries, as they seem dissimilar to my memory.

    ‘ HItler’s own religious views were pantheistic, in which God was considered to be the sum total of the laws of the universe….’

    I don’t think so. Hitler often referred to Providence, and was quite explicit that his God has created human beings (who had then fallen, fallen so far in fact that some had become Jews (!))

  3. Feyd Says:

    “The holocaust, and similar atrocities are instead a demonstration that science has not superseded Judaeo-Christian morality, but indeed needs to be governed by it.”

    Very true Beast. Looking at the world today there’s evidence that the more overtly Christian morality asserts itself in governance the better a nation does.

    The most theocratic Christian state is Vatican City. The second most is Norway. (her constitution demands at least half the cabinet belongs to the state church, Norway’s head of state also runs the official church which about 88% of the population belong to )

    The Vatican ranked at no1 in the world for the stability and prosperity in a recent survey by Janes Country Risk, while Norway comes 1st or 2nd in the world on many other international rankings , including 2nd in the UN’s human development index.

    In comparison, France, by far the most secular state in Europe is also considered to have the worst or second worst set of social problems.

    So its very pleasing to see so many signs that the age of secularism is drawing to a close and to hear the faint sounds of a bolder, more assertive Christianity approaching with quiet but firm steps. 🙂

  4. peterkrey Says:

    Hi!
    I read your words with interest and I believe they are careful to show the positive contribution of science as well as its failure to make a contribution to ethics. It is in theology and philosophy that ethics has been studied and taught, and while utilitarianism wants to be a more scientific ethics, it is not an ethics that science developed and initiated.
    Some distinction needs to be made between biology and its central evolutionary theory and social Darwinism that illegitimately replaces genuine sociological principles with biological ones. I think that NAZI racism is one form of social Darwinism, that was rampant in the United States as much as in Germany and only the horror of the Holocaust and WW II, but no real philosophical or scientific arguments have put this malignant sociological offshoot of biological evolution to rest.
    I think sociobiology tries to revive social Darwinism today. In the NAZI ethical atrocities, I believe that eugenics also played a role.
    By means of anthropology, science could make an objective study of the morality of people all over the world, because morality is ubiquitous, according to Emil Durkheim, and that could make a contribution to ethics.
    Finally, someone should study evolution and determine in what way it is offensive to ethics and in what way it makes a positive contribution. I agree with you that such an analysis has to be guided by theology or philosophy.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this important matter.

    peterkrey

  5. Bjørn Are Says:

    While I agree in substance with Beast’s post, as a native Norwegian I would be carefull with saying that Norway in any way is theocratic, Feyd;-)

    Though there have been formal requirements for the cabinet related to the state church. Most of these has been more formal than factual, not the least with the present rather left wing government.

    I think most of te point with Norway is that we used to be a Christian state, and that has created a strong clime for compassion and egality.

  6. Feyd Says:

    Thanks for the correction Bjorn. I haven’t visited your country but Im told by colleagues who have it’s a wonder place to visit. Id still say that in principle at least Norway’s laws assign a more central role to Christianity in governing your nation than any other state save the Vatican. I take your point about the practical reality being more secular than the laws formerly require, allthough in some cases I understand it works in the other direction. For example Im told that while your laws state that the mandatory school classes on Christianity are not meant to be evangelical, in practice they normally are?

    Religion in Scandinavia is said to be generally considered a relatively private matter. Perhaps that’s partly a good thing, I don’t read scripture as telling us that we should demand theocracy, quite the reverse if anything. I guess I sometimes I put the case for religion too strongly, maybe I should relax a bit about atheist propaganda! 🙂

  7. Sue Says:

    The real tragedy is, is that Stein’s simplistic rantings are taken so seriously by otherwise (seemingly) intelligent people.

    It also demonstrates the shallowness of right-wing “religious” thinking, particularly in the USA. And how such thinking is not the slightest bit interested in the Truth with a capital T.

    All the geat perplexing questions and real moral dilemmas of our times being thus reduced to a set of one-dimensional cliches and binary exclusions. No shades of grey allowed. No paradox. No complexity. No allowing for the vast undercurrents of history that combine to produce everything that is dramatised on the stage of history. And that produce changes in understanding and thinking, and the way that we see and participate in the world process.

    We are right and you are wrong—full stop.

    Which in one way or another inevitably leads to BANG YOU ARE DEAD. The corpses thus produced can be in the millions.

    Meanwhile many right wing Christians were enthusiastic supporters of Hitler and of his “final solution” too. The “solution” being the inevitable historical result or manifestation of the centuries (millennia) long European anti-semitism.

    1. http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.com

    Plus for a completely honest well documented expose of applied Christian “morality” throughout the centuries, beginning with day one, please check out this site.

    1. http://jesusneverexisted.com

    Meanwhile Christian America (supposedly the most “religious” of nations) accounts for 48% of the worlds armaments trade. And many/most/all of those on the “religious” right are enthusiastic supporters of this situation.

    Why is it impossible to even suggest cutting bac on “defense” (really WAR)
    spending in the “peace-loving” USA?

    To even suggest so would be political suicide. Those on the “right”, including those who presume to talk about god and the sacredness of human life, would have a field day.

  8. Sue Says:

    That should have been

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm

  9. Feyd Says:

    Sue , the Nazis also persecuted other racial minorities like Gypsies and Slavs. Beast is right to suggest their ideology was based on a toxic mix of nationalism and pseudo Darwinist science. Its true some Christians supported Hitler but overall Christians formed by far the most effective opposition. Speaking of opposition within Germany, Einstein stated that only the Catholic church stood up effectively against the Nazis. Thousands of priest were killed, in contrast to the lefties and secular remnants of the Weimar republic who did little to protest at the Holocaust.

    The US is not the most religious country in the world, that is said to be India. Constitutionally the US is actually among the most secular with no official church and even laws banning prayers in the classroom.

    You are entirely correct that many right wing Christians support a pure and very one-dimensional free market ideology, which can be traced back to von Hayek and Milton Friedman , which has been hugely beneficial to narrow elites, but hugely harmful to humanity as a whole . Many analysts strongly contest that off course!

    I agree with you its not always the case that the majority Christian view is for the best!

  10. Beastrabban Says:

    Hi Feyd, Bjorn-Are, Peter Krey and Sue – thanks for your comments.

    It was really interesting to read your comments about religious education, the established status and constitutional position of the Lutheran Church in Norway and the very high levels of stability and prosperity there and in the Vatican, Feyd and Bjorn. I’d always somehow assumed that Norway was somehow a very secular country like Sweden, so this really was new to me. I’m sure you’re right, Bjorn, that despite the decline in religious observance Norway has experienced, its Christian basis, and particularly the values of compassion and equality that have resulted in the country’s social stability and general high standard of living.

  11. Beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Peter. I’m glad you enjoyed that blog post. Science has indeed brought immense benefits in just about every area of human life. The problem comes when it is seen as completely independent of any kind of moral restrain or supervision. Now I realise that most evolutionary scientists are moral people. However, during the 19th century evolutionary theory, or rather, the atheist interpretation of it, had the effect of eroding conventional morality as it seemed to make notions of right or wrong the products of the evolutionary process. These had enabled humanity to survive, but did not necessarily correspond to an objective moral reality. Thus the amoral could claim that conventional morality had no objective validity and so could be disregarded, or even that it was completely untrue, and in conflict with basic human nature as understood from biology and psychology.

  12. Beastrabban Says:

    Hi Sue and Feyd, thanks for your comments about the Nazis and the Holocaust.

    Sue, Feyd’s exactly right about the racial basis of Nazi ideology. Unfortunately and horrifically many right-wing Christians did support the Nazis, and Christian anti-semitism did play a part in it. However, the racism of the Nazis was different to traditional European anti-semitism. Christian anti-semitism was traditionally based on religion, not on race, and while this did produce horrific persecution, it did not demand that Jews as a people should be exterminated. Nazism claimed a basis in biology, and so, as Feyd pointed out, claimed that not just the Jews, but also Slavs and Gypsies were also racially inferior and should be exterminated, as the supposed qualities in these peoples that the Nazis decided made them inferior and a threat to the Aryan race were innate, and could not be changed, no matter how assimilated they were.

    Hitler also bitterly hated Christianity and planned its destruction after the war, htough he hoped to destroy it by allowing it to wither away, rather than waging and outright campaign against it. Historians of the Third Reich such as Karl-Dietrich Bracher in his book, The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure and Consequences of National Socialism, (Harmondsworth, Penguin 1970), note that an indication of what Hitler had planned for the churches could be seen in the treatment of the new territories of the Reich, such as Wartheland, where in 1939 the former Nazi Church Commissar for Prussia, August Jaeger, waged a campaign of persecution against Christianity. See page 5476 of the above book.

    Bracher also notes on page 477 of the declaration in October 1943 of the Prussian Confessional Synod in Breslau against the Nazis’ euthanasia policy and their genocidal racism: ‘Concepts such as “rooting out”, “liquidation”, and “unworthy life” are not known to the Divine order. The extermination of people solely because they are related to a criminal or old or mentally disturbed or belong to an alien race is not a sword to be wielded by the state’. It explicitly condemned the persecution and attempted extermination of the Jews stated that simply claiming merely to follow the orders did not excuse one from the moral responsibility for their execution. ‘We cannot permit superiors to relieve us of our responsibility before God.’

  13. Beastrabban Says:

    Feyd’s also right about the role played by the Roman Catholic church in the opposition to the Nazis. When Count Galen, the bishop of Munster, denounced the Nazi euthansia policy in 1941, the support he gathered was so immense that the Nazis were afraid that large areas of Wurttemberg would rebel if they attempted to silence him. Thousands of clergy, both Roman Catholic and Lutheran, risked their lives hiding, rescuing and protesting on behalf of the handicapped and Jews and other races the Nazis were attempting to exterminate. During the War, the Pope gave sanctuary to 5,000 Jews in the Vatican, including at his summer residence of Castel Gandalfo. He also gave funds through the Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa to the Jewish rescue organisation, DELASEM. Now I’ve no doubt that more could have been done to rescue the Jews and other victims of Nazi atrocities. Nevertheless, members of the Christian churches did resist the Nazis and oppose their horrific policies despite hostility and persecution.

  14. beastrabban Says:

    Now the issue of military expenditure is one I’ll leave to people’s own individual conscience and political views. However, historically much of the opposition to military aggression and pacifism was by members of the Christian churches, such as the Quakers. In Britain the head of Christian Action during the 1950s was also a staunch supporter of CND. When the First World War broke out, it was formally condemned as nothing but mass murder by the Pope. In Britain much of the opposition to imperialism came from the Nonconformist churches, and many Christian clergy and laypeople were active in the various peace and disarmament movements during the Cold War. I am not saying that they were necessarily right in their campaigns against nuclear weapons or against the maintenance of the West’s armed forces and increased military expenditure to meet the threat posed by the Communist Bloc. Sometimes the only way to deal effectively with monstous evil is through warfare, as in the Second World War. I am merely pointing out that the Christian churches and its members have not been automatically in support of war, regardless of the relationship between the ‘religious right’ and its support of the military in America.

  15. Bjørn Are Says:

    Feyd:

    Yes, Norway is a wonderfull place, even if a bit expensive (that ofte goes with a high average income).

    As Norway legalised abortion in 1978 and gay marriage in 2008, I think few would compare it very directly to the Vatican;-)

    Still, you are right that our laws – in principle – assign a more central role to Christianity in governing than most states. And there are some who seem to evangelise in mandatory school classes – though that creates a public scandal whenever it is discovered.

  16. Bjørn Are Says:

    Regarding jesusneverexisted.com I have read it for years to find stuff to do lectures and books on (as weel as Norwegian variants of the page). Such stuff is generally seen as a hoot, also among my more atheistic friends.

    For a serious answer to those kinds of allegations I would highly recommend http://www.tektonics.org/af/crimeline.htm.

    And of course the brand new book “Shattering the Christ Myth”, edited by J.P. Holding.

  17. Bjørn Are Says:

    BTW, as it seems it is my Norwegian blog one arrives at when clicking my name in the previous posts, I should perhaps mention my English blog at http://b-a-d-blog.blogspot.com/

  18. Rich Says:

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_hitler.html

    Pick of the bunch: ““Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.””

    He never mentions Darwin once.

  19. Beastrabban Says:

    Rich, HItler in his Table Talk makes it very clear he has nothing but contempt for Christianity. In his Testament and his second book, Mein Zweites Buch he declared that if he won the war he would have the Pope hanged in St. Peter’s Square.

    As for the biological basis of Nazi racism, historians consider that the Nazis took over this form of anti-Semitism from Wilhelm Marr and Eugen During, who justified it using spurious scientific arguments. It is also accepted that Nazism was definitely influenced by Social Darwinism. Karl Dietrich Bracher in his The German Dictatorship’ (Harmondsworth, Penguin 1970), states that

    ‘The second half of the nineteenth century has been called the Darwinian age. Otto Ammon, Georges Vacher de Lapouge, Madison Grant and the great Sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz, in his early writings, all south to apply biological considerations to socio-historical developments. While Gumplowicz ultimately discarded this line of inquiry, one of his students, Ludwig Woltmann, developed an extreme form of Social Darwinism which later was incorporated into the ideology of National Socialism’, pp. 27-8.

    ‘Such teachings continued to pour forth in vulgar elaboration. They helped shpe the racial-biological, pseudo-scientific theories of National Socialism and Culiminated in the breeding and extermination policies of the Third Reich. Like racial anti-Semitism, these ideas were an expression of a profoundly pessimistic view of the orld. Wvacher de Lapouge believed that inherent in the struggle for survivl was the danger of the decimation of the fittest: in war, which occupies a central place in Social Darwinism, the bravest die while the cowards survive; in democracy, the mass threatens to overwhelm teh nobles. Christian moraity and law also tend to be debilitating: committed as they are to compassion and the protection of the weak, they are obstacles to the ‘natural’ fight for survival, and, by passing laws of monogamy, they bar the unrestircted propogation of the strong. The capitalist economy has a like effect: it favours the ‘unproductive’ businessman and speculator instead of the’honest working man’, who begets his children under far less favourable conditions’, p. 28.

    Moreover, the Nazis justified their extermination of all Jews through an explicit appeal to Natural Selection. If even some Jews survived, the result would be, they argued, that they were the toughest of the Jewish people who would thus be able to breed a genetically superior Jewish people. Heydrich at the Wannsee conference, describing how some of those incarcerated in the concentration camps would be killed through overwork and natural causes, stated that ‘the possible remainders, and they undoubtedly will be the toughest among them, will be treated accordingly, for they, being a natural selection, would if released beome the germ cell of a new Jewish reconstruction (history teaches us that). In the course of hte practical implementation of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from West to East’, p. 527.

    Nazi ideology, even if I did not explicitly mention Darwin, was nevertheless based on Social Darwinism and justified its horrors using Darwinian concepts.

  20. Rich Says:

    I tend to go for verifiable sources if I can.

    Table talk has problems:

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/HitlerSources.htm

    The fact that he bangs on about god a lot, Darwin never, and did things like make prayer in school mandatory whilst abolishing free thought societies makes me think he’s a Christian. Not a very *good* one, of course. We also have the issue that artificial selection has be known by man since antiquity and was been practiced before Darwin, or Hitler for Milena by many peoples ON HUMANS. The Spartans did it.

    Natural section -> evolution -> Diversity of life
    Artificial selection -> Eugenics -> infanticide etc.

    Genocide existed way before Darwin. Hitler seemed to think hating Jews was the christian thing to do, and given Martin Luther’s influence, one might guess way.

  21. beastrabban Says:

    Actually, most historians accept Hitler’s Table Talk as representing his authentic views on the subject, Rich. See the comments about them in Joachim C. Fest’s biography of Hitler, by the way. As for your comments

    The fact that he bangs on about god a lot, Darwin never, and did things like make prayer in school mandatory whilst abolishing free thought societies makes me think he’s a Christian. Not a very *good* one, of course.

    This proves nothing of the sort. Hitler made his pro-Christian comments very early in his reign while seeking the support of the churches, part of the reason for which was to be able to destroy the Catholic Centre Party. Afterwards by all accounts he treated religion with disinterest or contempt.

    As for artificial selection predating Darwin, that’s true. It did. It also went out in the West with the introduction of Christianity. As I said, the Darwinists reintroduced it, and it was in conflict with Christian attitudes towards the sanctity of life, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church.

  22. beastrabban Says:

    As for Stephen Jay Gould, he stated that although Hitler’s Social Darwinism was spurious and not based on anything Darwin actually believed, nevertheless science was in a small way responsible for the Holocaust. Darwin may have stated that the ‘struggle for survival’ was only metaphorical, but this was not clear from his books that he always meant it to be so, and German evolutionists had adopted a racial ideology based on their interpretation of Darwin as early as the First World War. Gould states

    ‘But resolutions are never so clean or simple. Science, as a profession, does have a little something to answer for, or at least something to think about. Darwin may have been explicit in labeling the struggle for existence as metaphorical, but most nineteenth-century versions Iincluding Darwin’s own illustrations, most of the time) stressed overt competition and victory by death – surely a more congenial image than peaceful cooperation for an age of aggressive expansion and conquest both ethnographic and industrial.

    ‘Hitler didn’t invent the mistaken translation to human affairs. Claptrap Darwinism had served as an official rationale for German military conquest in World War I (while our side often used the same argument, though less zealously and systematically). In fact, William Jennings Bryan (see essay 28 in my book Bully for Brontosaurus ) first decided to oppose evolution when he mistook Darwin’s actual formulations for the egregious German misuse that so deeply disturbed him.

    ‘Many scientist consistently opposed this misapplication, but others, probably the majority, remained silent (many enjoying the prestige, even if falsely won), while a few actively abetted the cooption of their field for a variety of motives, including misplaced patriotism and immediate personal reward. Several English and Americna eugenicists offered initial praise for hitler’s laws on restriction of marriage and enforced sterilization – before they realised what the Fuhrer really intended. The text of the German legislation borrowed heavily from eugenical sterilisation statutes then on the books of several American states, and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927. German evolutionists didnot raise a chorus of protest against Hitler’s misue of natural selection, dating to Mein Kampf </i. in 1925 Wannsee is the logical extension fo the following fulmination in Mein Kampf , with its final explicit misanalogy to nature, and its call for elimination and sterilsiation of the unfit’, Gould, ‘The Most Unkindest Cut Of All’, in Stephen Jay Gould, ed., Paul Mcgarr and Steven Rose, The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould (London, Vintage 2007), pp. 535-6

  23. Rich Says:

    So the west gave up animal husbandry “with the introduction of Christianity”? I must have missed that lesson. You can doubt Hitler’s motives of course but he self identifies as a christian and you just engage in “no true Scotsman” beyond that. Whilst we’re on fallacies – the whole thing smacks of “well poisoning” because Darwin perhaps demonstrated origins that are at odds with various creation myths. And finally the whole thing is ‘arguing to consequences’ – the truth of Evolution / NDE is not contingent on you liking it nor its outcome, I should probably say ‘perceived’ outcome as no-one I know is using it to make moral decisions.

    Hitler was a bad bad man. No doubt. He was also a Christian. But you don’t see me pointing at Christians and blaming them. To do so would be folly.

    I think this is more salient in the formation of Hitlers twisted views:

    http://www.tentmaker.org/books/MartinLuther-HitlersSpiritualAncestor.html

  24. Beastrabban Says:

    Now Rich, in answer to your post

    So the west gave up animal husbandry “with the introduction of Christianity”? I must have missed that lesson.

    I never said anything about animal husbandry. I never denied that selective breeding was applied to it. What was new and controversial was that selective breeding was applied to humans by Darwinists, and this was very strongly felt to be opposed to Christian morality. But as you raised the issue, there was opposition to the new methods of animal breeding in the 18th century because it involved mating offspring with parents, against the Biblical prohibition of incest.

    You can doubt Hitler’s motives of course but he self identifies as a christian and you just engage in “no true Scotsman” beyond that.

    Yeah, Hitler did claim to be a Christian. He also said different things about religion at different times. I see absolutely no reason to doubt the comments about Christianity in his Table Talk merely because they were recorded by Bormann. Actually, they were recorded by secretaries at Bormann’s request. The Nazis did persecute the Churches when it suited them, and there was an implicit recognition that National Socialism was incompatible with Christianity in the legislation that permitted Christian civil servants to resign after the Nazi Machtergreifung .

    Whilst we’re on fallacies – the whole thing smacks of “well poisoning” because Darwin perhaps demonstrated origins that are at odds with various creation myths.

  25. Beastrabban Says:

    Whilst we’re on fallacies – the whole thing smacks of “well poisoning” because Darwin perhaps demonstrated origins that are at odds with various creation myths.

    No, it’s not well-poisoning. It’s merely pointing out that Darwinism was one element in the creation of a world view at the end of the 19th century that made horrors like the Holocaust possible. This is merely a matter of history.

    And finally the whole thing is ‘arguing to consequences’ – the truth of Evolution / NDE is not contingent on you liking it nor its outcome, I should probably say ‘perceived’ outcome as no-one I know is using it to make moral decisions.

    You really missed the point of my blog post. I explicitly said that the Holocaust does not in itself deny the validity of Darwin’s theory. The point I was trying to make was that science, by itself, is not intrinsically moral and needs traditional Judaeo-Christian morality to guide it. As for no-one making moral judgements today based on evolution, that’s actually a consequence of the Holocaust and the way it shocked American and European intellectuals out of using evolution as a justification for moral decisions.

    However, that does not mean that some aren’t going to try. Peter Singer bases his twisted view of humanity on Darwinism, though it’s a form that I doubt very many people, regardless of their religious views, would support . Furthermore, the Republican Party last year, as you’re probably aware, was debating whether or not to claim that Darwinism validated their particular view of humanity and economic programme. In my opinion, that’s a very dangerous step regardless of the political party that does it.

  26. Beastrabban Says:

    He was also a Christian. But you don’t see me pointing at Christians and blaming them. To do so would be folly.

    You may not do so. Others, such as Richard Dawkins, do. The whole point of much New Atheist polemic is that religion is supposed to make people more intolerant, and so produce atrocities like the Shoah.

    I think this is more salient in the formation of Hitlers twisted views.

    Yeah, I’m aware of the attempts to link the Holocaust back to Luther. Now Luther had extremely unpleasant views about the Jews, and certainly did demand their destruction and expulsion from Germany. There’s no doubt about that. However, for historians the main reason for the appearance of Nazism and militant German nationalism in the 19th century was nationalist reaction to the humiliation of Germany by Napoleon, which created a feeling of national threat from the French and Slavs. This sense of threat was boosted and reinforced by modern biological ideas about race, of which anti-Semitism was a part.

    Clearly at some point I’m going to have to write another blog post on the Nazis relationship to the Church to clear some of these issues up.

  27. Rich Says:

    Theism has a very rich tradition of genocide. Allegedly both in gods name and by god. He had no issue culling a group he didn’t like. I think we have a double standard – or worse. I understand how natural selection works, but I don’t think it provides a moral framework. I’m against genocide, PERIOD. The religious, at least in certain points in their history, not so much.

  28. Rich Says:

    “I never said anything about animal husbandry. I never denied that selective breeding was applied to it.”

    Then I think you’re missing the difference between natural selection and artificial selection.

    “No, it’s not well-poisoning. It’s merely pointing out that Darwinism was one element in the creation of a world view at the end of the 19th century that made horrors like the Holocaust possible. This is merely a matter of history. ”

    As are technology, math and religion, language, culture, the combustion engine… Yet you single one out.

  29. Beastrabban Says:

    Theism has a very rich tradition of genocide. Allegedly both in gods name and by god. He had no issue culling a group he didn’t like. I think we have a double standard – or worse. I understand how natural selection works, but I don’t think it provides a moral framework. I’m against genocide, PERIOD. The religious, at least in certain points in their history, not so much.

    I’m not making any comments about you personally. I am not claiming that you did support genocide. However, atheists have used Darwin to justify genocide. As for theists practicing genocide – certainly, but the academics who’ve studied it have made the point that attitudes towards genocide and the justification for it changed drastically in the 20th century. In the 18th century, for example, they did indeed talk a lot about exterminating other peoples. However, it was always justified by supposed criminality and depravity. And actually in practice, they also did very little of it.

    This is in very sharp contrast to 20th century, where groups were targeted for genocide because of what they were biologically or sociologically. Supposed criminality was also used as a justification, but was no longer the essence. And the totalitarian regime of the 20th century did far more of it than the 18th century did. Much more.

  30. Beastrabban Says:

    As are technology, math and religion, language, culture, the combustion engine… Yet you single one out.

    I chose Natural Selection because it was at the heart of the change in worldview that created the Holocaust, by which I don’t mean that the others didn’t have an effect, or that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened without it. However, as I said, the Tremendum and Hitler’s similar campaigns against other races, such as Gypsies and Slavs, and the mentally or physically handicapped was justified by reference to Darwin, and were part of a Social Darwinist worldview.

    Then I think you’re missing the difference between natural selection and artificial selection.

    I’m not missing any difference at all, Rich. Rather, if you have an argument, it should be directed at the eugenicists. They, after all, believed that artificial selection should be introduced into humans because natural selection had ceased.

  31. Rich Says:

    “However, atheists have used Darwin to justify genocide.” Not Hitler though, who was a Christian and used God. This is a matter of record. Directly.

    “I chose Natural Selection because it was at the heart of the change in worldview that created the Holocaust, by which I don’t mean that the others didn’t have an effect, or that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened without it”

    Of course. Genocide was impossible before Darwin. Mankind didn’t have an inkling.

    “Hitler’s similar campaigns against other races, such as Gypsies and Slavs, and the mentally or physically handicapped was justified by reference to Darwin” Not by him, they weren’t. He said “God”.

    “I’m not missing any difference at all, Rich.” Darwin’s theory was natural selection. Eugenics is artificial selection, and we’ve pretty much always known about it. Do you blame / thank Darwin for African Americans dominating the NBA?

  32. John Says:

    Yo, Beast!

    If Hitler justified anything by reference to Darwin (not any perversions of Darwin), please quote them.

    In the meantime, if Hitler was such a fan of Darwin, why did he EXPLICITLY deny common descent in Mein Kampf?

  33. Nomad Says:

    Okay, several points. As others have pointed out, artificial selection HAS been applied to people long before Darwin journeyed to the Galapagos. Your response was to ignore that and once again state that it only happened after Darwin. Darwin’s big breakthrough was the concept of NATURAL SELECTION. As in, that thing that Hitler didn’t do. If Hitler had been influenced by Darwinian thinking he would have done nothing, and allowed the population of varying human racial components to go their own course.

    Secondly you seem to think that because Hitler made comments suggesting antagonism to the Pope, he was not a Christian. By that faulty logic many evangelicals are not Christian. There is a high degree of animosity against the Pope from other Christian denominations.

    Thirdly… Well, check out a list of books banned by the Nazis.

    I don’t know if the link will work, I’m not too familiar with wordpress, but hopefully this can be followed:

    http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/documents.htm#liste1935

    You’ll find that they banned “Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism”.

    Boy, I’ll tell ya.. that Hitler was one clever dictator. He must have intentionally banned books supporting Darwinism just to throw future historians off the trail.

    Libraries were forbidden to carry “All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk”.

    So once again, I guess that was Hitler being sneaky, then?

    I’ll mirror the comments of others. It’s not like Hitler was forced by Christianity to do what he did. Genocide and bigotry are popular religious themes, he exploited them for his own means, whether he believed in the religious sentiment deep down or not. To make a comparison to the Ben Stein statement that Darwin is a required component of such things (which, again, is ludicrous since they’ve happened before he was born), I’ll suggest that Christianity certainly isn’t required for such things to happen, but it’s been used too often to support them.

  34. Nomad Says:

    Okay, several points. As others have pointed out, artificial selection HAS been applied to people long before Darwin journeyed to the Galapagos. Your response was to ignore that and once again state that it only happened after Darwin, or to acknowledge that it happened before Darwin but there was some sort of period of time where Christians stopped it until Darwin appeared. The problem is that Darwin’s primary contribution to the subject of artificial selection on humans was to say that it was a bad thing. You really have to stretch to blame him on this one. Darwin’s big breakthrough was the concept of NATURAL SELECTION. As in, that thing that Hitler didn’t do. If Hitler had been influenced by Darwinian thinking he would have done nothing, and allowed the population of varying human racial components to go their own course. That’s a tenuous definition, human society tends to alter the natural processes enough that it’s questionable to call anything they’re involved in natural, but the point is that you “practice” natural selection by observing and recording. You don’t alter anything.

    Secondly you seem to think that because Hitler made comments suggesting antagonism to the Pope, he was not a Christian. By that faulty logic many evangelicals are not Christian. There is a high degree of animosity against the Pope from other Christian denominations.

    Thirdly… Well, check out a list of books banned by the Nazis.

    I don’t know if the link will work, I’m not too familiar with wordpress, but hopefully this can be followed:

    http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/documents.htm#liste1935

    You’ll find that they banned “Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism”.

    Boy, I’ll tell ya.. that Hitler was one clever dictator. He must have intentionally banned books supporting Darwinism just to throw future historians off the trail.

    Libraries were forbidden to carry “All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk”.

    So once again, I guess that was Hitler being sneaky, then?

    I’ll mirror the comments of others. It’s not like Hitler was forced by Christianity to do what he did, he was an individual who made his own decisions. However genocide and bigotry are popular religious themes, and he exploited them for his own means, whether he believed in the religious sentiment deep down or not. To make a comparison to the Ben Stein statement that Darwin is a required component of such things (which, again, is ludicrous since they’ve happened before he was born), I’ll suggest that Christianity certainly isn’t required for such things to happen, but it’s been used too often to support them. It certainly seems to lack much of a preventative nature.

    The place to lay the blame for the holocaust is a more complex issue. To say “it’s Christianity’s fault” would be using it as a scapegoat. However as long as individuals cast a blind eye to the religious underpinnings of things such as the holocaust and seek to blame it on other convenient targets, in this case as part of a separate front in the “culture war”, the underlying problems remain and will continue to cause trouble.

    The odious practice of attempting to use the deaths of millions as a tool for religious benefit is doubly odious, in any case. It’s worth noting that the Anti Defamation League has issued a rather strong statement against this. To quote them:

    “The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

    Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness.

    Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.”

  35. Beastrabban Says:

    Not Hitler though, who was a Christian and used God. This is a matter of record. Directly.

    I know what Hitler claimed to be, Rich. I also know what his private religious views were, which are also a matter of record. His relations with the churches were always a matter of pragmatism and subordinate to his racial nationalism.

    Of course. Genocide was impossible before Darwin. Mankind didn’t have an inkling.

    I never denied that they did. However, Darwinism and evolution created a whole new set of racial anxieties and provided a scientific, or pseudo-scientific, justification for racial extermination.

    Not by him, they weren’t. He said “God”.
    As I showed, they were based on and justified through the evolutionary biology of his day, whatever else he said about God.

    Darwin’s theory was natural selection. Eugenics is artificial selection, and we’ve pretty much always known about it.

    Again, you’ve missed the point, Rich. We have not always known about artificial selection. Artificial Selection of humans was practised in Sparta, but not justified by any reference to evolution. After the defeat of the Spartans and the rise of Christianity it was more or less unknown in Europe before the rise of Darwin. Darwin’s followers, like Galton, and Darwin’s own son campaigned for its re-introduction based on Darwin’s theory of evolution.

  36. Beastrabban Says:

    Hi John, let’s answer some of your questions.

    If Hitler justified anything by reference to Darwin (not any perversions of Darwin), please quote them.

    Actually, I think you’re probably right in that Hitler never mentioned Darwin, probably because he’d picked up his ideas second-hand through the writings of Haeckel and the volkisch offshoots of the Monist League. Nevertheless, there’s a real problem there in that scientists who did consider themselves Darwinists supported and implemented his policies.

    As for perversions of Darwinism, they’re considered to be so now, but remember that at the time they were considered entirely orthodox by a large number of scientists across Europe and America. What discredited such theories was the Holocaust.

    In the meantime, if Hitler was such a fan of Darwin, why did he EXPLICITLY deny common descent in Mein Kampf?

    I’m not aware that he did, but if so, it would be part of his biological

  37. Rich Says:

    “I never denied that they did. However, Darwinism and evolution created a whole new set of racial anxieties and provided a scientific, or pseudo-scientific, justification for racial extermination. ”

    But Hitler never mentions it:

    http://sneerreview.blogspot.com/2008/05/darwin-exposed.html

    😉

    John is correct, he does deny Common descent and in the first edition I believe leans towards a “young earth”:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2008/03/godwins-darwin.html

    “Like a creationist, Hitler asserts fixity of kinds:

    “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi.

    Like a creationist, Hitler claims that God made man:

    “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x.

    Like a creationist, Hitler affirms that humans existed “from the very beginning”, and could not have evolved from apes:

    “From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.” – Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    Like a creationist, Hitler believes that man was made in God’s image, and in the expulsion from Eden:

    “Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. i.

    Like a creationist, Hitler believes that:

    “God … sent [us] into this world with the commission to struggle for our daily bread.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. xiv.

    Like a creationist, Hitler claims Jesus as his inspiration:

    “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them.” – Adolf Hitler, speech, April 12 1922, published in My New Order.

    Like a creationist, Hitler despises secular schooling:

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people.” – Adolf Hitler, Speech, April 26, 1933.

    Hitler even goes so far as to claim that Creationism is what sets humans apart from the animals:

    “The most marvelous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator.” – Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    Hitler does not mention evolution explicitly anywhere in Mein Kampf. However, after declaring the fixity of the fox, goose, and tiger, as quoted above, he goes on to talk of differences within species:

    “[T]he various degrees of structural strength and active power, in the intelligence, efficiency, endurance, etc., with which the individual specimens are endowed.” Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi.

    So, like a creationist, there is some evolution he is prepared to concede — evolution within species, or “microevolution”, to which people like Phillip Johnson and Michael Behe have no objection. It is on the basis of the one part of evolutionary theory which creationists accept that Hitler tried to find a scientific basis for his racism and his program of eugenics.

    Ergo, Hitler did not base his eugenic and genocidal policies on evolutionary theory, but rather on views that are very similar to those held by most creationists and many ID supporters.”

    Many Thanks to my good friend Allen MacNeil

  38. Rich mk 2 Says:

    “I never denied that they did. However, Darwinism and evolution created a whole new set of racial anxieties and provided a scientific, or pseudo-scientific, justification for racial extermination. ”

    But Hitler never mentions it:

    http://sneerreview.blogspot.com/2008/05/darwin-exposed.html

    😉

    John is correct, he does deny Common descent and in the first edition I believe leans towards a “young earth”:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2008/03/godwins-darwin.html

    “Like a creationist, Hitler asserts fixity of kinds:

    “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi.

    Like a creationist, Hitler claims that God made man:

    “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x.

    Like a creationist, Hitler affirms that humans existed “from the very beginning”, and could not have evolved from apes:

    “From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.” – Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    Like a creationist, Hitler believes that man was made in God’s image, and in the expulsion from Eden:

    “Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. i.

    Like a creationist, Hitler believes that:

    “God … sent [us] into this world with the commission to struggle for our daily bread.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. xiv.

    Like a creationist, Hitler claims Jesus as his inspiration:

    “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them.” – Adolf Hitler, speech, April 12 1922, published in My New Order.

    Like a creationist, Hitler despises secular schooling:

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people.” – Adolf Hitler, Speech, April 26, 1933.

    Hitler even goes so far as to claim that Creationism is what sets humans apart from the animals:

    “The most marvelous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator.” – Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    Hitler does not mention evolution explicitly anywhere in Mein Kampf. However, after declaring the fixity of the fox, goose, and tiger, as quoted above, he goes on to talk of differences within species:

    “[T]he various degrees of structural strength and active power, in the intelligence, efficiency, endurance, etc., with which the individual specimens are endowed.” Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi.

    So, like a creationist, there is some evolution he is prepared to concede — evolution within species, or “microevolution”, to which people like Phillip Johnson and Michael Behe have no objection. It is on the basis of the one part of evolutionary theory which creationists accept that Hitler tried to find a scientific basis for his racism and his program of eugenics.

    Ergo, Hitler did not base his eugenic and genocidal policies on evolutionary theory, but rather on views that are very similar to those held by most creationists and many ID supporters.”

    Many Thanks to my good friend Allen MacNeil

  39. Rich Says:

    Have you just turned moderation on? May I ask why?

  40. Rich Says:

    Some of my comments are not going through / being promoted.

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2008/03/godwins-darwin.html

  41. Rich Says:

    Maybe the links are setting off some filter?

    “Like a creationist, Hitler asserts fixity of kinds:

    “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi.

    Like a creationist, Hitler claims that God made man:

    “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x.

    Like a creationist, Hitler affirms that humans existed “from the very beginning”, and could not have evolved from apes:

    “From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.” – Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    Like a creationist, Hitler believes that man was made in God’s image, and in the expulsion from Eden:

    “Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. i.

    Like a creationist, Hitler believes that:

    “God … sent [us] into this world with the commission to struggle for our daily bread.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. xiv.

    Like a creationist, Hitler claims Jesus as his inspiration:

    “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them.” – Adolf Hitler, speech, April 12 1922, published in My New Order.

    Like a creationist, Hitler despises secular schooling:

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people.” – Adolf Hitler, Speech, April 26, 1933.

    Hitler even goes so far as to claim that Creationism is what sets humans apart from the animals:

    “The most marvelous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator.” – Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier).

    Hitler does not mention evolution explicitly anywhere in Mein Kampf. However, after declaring the fixity of the fox, goose, and tiger, as quoted above, he goes on to talk of differences within species:

    “[T]he various degrees of structural strength and active power, in the intelligence, efficiency, endurance, etc., with which the individual specimens are endowed.” Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi.

    So, like a creationist, there is some evolution he is prepared to concede — evolution within species, or “microevolution”, to which people like Phillip Johnson and Michael Behe have no objection. It is on the basis of the one part of evolutionary theory which creationists accept that Hitler tried to find a scientific basis for his racism and his program of eugenics.

    Ergo, Hitler did not base his eugenic and genocidal policies on evolutionary theory, but rather on views that are very similar to those held by most creationists and many ID supporters.”

    From Allen MacNeil’s excellent blog.

  42. John Says:

    Beast wrote:
    “Actually, I think you’re probably right in that Hitler never mentioned Darwin, probably because he’d picked up his ideas second-hand through the writings of Haeckel and the volkisch offshoots of the Monist League.”

    If he “picked up his [Darwin’s] ideas,” why did he explicitly, utterly reject Darwin’s biggest idea–common descent?

    “Nevertheless, there’s a real problem there in that scientists who did consider themselves Darwinists supported and implemented his policies.”

    No, the real problem for you is that the biologists who were bigwigs in the Nazi party were those who rejected Darwinian theory. In fact, the most prominent German paleontologists, Schindewolf, Abel, and Buerlen, rejected Darwin’s principles. The latter two were very active Nazis.

    “I’m not aware that he did,…”

    You’re not aware of most everything relevant to your claim here. Maybe you should read the relevant passages?

    “… but if so, it would be part of his biological…”

    Biological what, exactly? Hitler was a creationist.

  43. Boris Says:

    “The holocaust, and similar atrocities are instead a demonstration that science has not superseded Judaeo-Christian morality, but indeed needs to be governed by it.”

    You have GOT to be kidding, right? Um, Judaeo-Christian morality doesn’t exactly have a clean track record now does it? How many innocents were slaughtered by Christians during the crusades? How many south americans were slaughtered in the name of god? How many native north americans were slaughtered in the name of god?

    Your selective take on history is most disturbing.

    Boris

  44. John Says:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2008/03/godwins-darwin.html

  45. Rich Says:

    ” it was more or less unknown in Europe before the rise of Darwin. ”

    Again – animal husbandry. Its always been known.

  46. Nomad Says:

    Note: I have tried several times to post this. After reading a suggestion that links may be causing posts to blocked I’ve edited it and removed the link and shall try again, after some minor editing to take into account the direction the discussion has taken.

    I was going to harp on the issue that artificial selection was known for a long time before Darwin arrived on the scene, but that’s been dealt with. The counter accusation has been made that Darwin was unique in applying it to people, but that’s false. Darwin’s breakthrough was in the concept of NATURAL selection. The big deal was that he realized that just as people can shape the development of a species by choosing which individuals will pass on their traits to the next generation, so can nature.
    Darwin actually spoke against the idea of using artificial selection on people.
    Let me attempt to stress this. Had Hitler “practiced” natural selection he would have done nothing. He would have sat back and observed the progress of human events, and noted which racial groups dominated and which didn’t. It’s a theory that explains things we see in the world around us, that explains the development of life. It doesn’t say what should be, just what is.

    Secondly you seem to think that because Hitler made comments suggesting antagonism to the Pope, he was not a Christian. By that faulty logic many evangelicals are not Christian. There is a degree of animosity against the Pope from other Christian denominations.

    Thirdly… Well, check out a list of books banned by the Nazis.

    Note that this is where I had posted a link. Apparently links are “verboten”, so I’ll have to go with quotations from a site I’ve found that’s hosted by the University of Arizona library. The web site is called “when books burn”.

    First, Beast, I want to quote you where you suggest that Hitler got his allegedly Darwinian thinking not directly from Darwin, but through:

    “the writings of Haeckel and the volkisch offshoots of the Monist League.”

    Well when you look through the list of banned books, you find that the Nazis banned:

    “Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel)”.

    They’ve kind of covered the bases there. Either Hitler was awfully sneaky, sneaky enough to ban the writings that you’re suggesting were his motivation, or else something is wrong with this idea that he was influenced by them.

    Moving on, libraries were forbidden to carry:

    “All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk”.

    So once again, I guess that was Hitler being sneaky, then? Defending Christianity, banning the writings of Darwin and Haeckel…

    I’ll mirror the comments of others. It’s not like Hitler was forced by Christianity to do what he did, he was an individual who made his own decisions. However genocide and bigotry are popular religious themes, and he exploited them for his own means, whether he believed in the religious sentiment deep down or not. To make a comparison to the Ben Stein statement that Darwin is a required component of such things (which, again, is ludicrous since they’ve happened before he was born), I’ll suggest that Christianity certainly isn’t required for such things to happen, but it’s been used too often to support them. It certainly seems to lack much of a preventative nature.

    The place to lay the blame for the holocaust is a more complex issue. To say “it’s Christianity’s fault” would be using it as a scapegoat. However as long as individuals cast a blind eye to the religious underpinnings of things such as the holocaust and seek to blame it on other convenient targets, in this case as part of a separate front in the “culture war”, the underlying problems remain and will continue to cause trouble.

    The practice of attempting to use the deaths of millions as a tool for religious benefit is doubly odious, in any case. It’s worth noting that the Anti Defamation League has issued a rather strong statement against this. To quote them:

    “The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

    Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness.

    Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.”

  47. Beastrabban Says:

    Let’s answer your points, Rich. Firstly, as I pointed out, Hitler said various things at various times to various people in order to win popularity, power and prestige, and made promises and statements that he reneged on later. For example, one of your sources cites a speech in which Hitler claimed to be a true son of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet Hitler also states in his Table Talk that since the age of 12 he wanted to blow it all up with dynamite. He also launched a campaign against monasticism, which bears out his highly utilitarian attitude to the churches.

    Now I am well aware of Hitler’s comments on the impossibility of macromutation in the Table Talk . They’re in the same parts of the book which records how he hated Christianity and wished to see it destroyed. Moreover, he certainly believed in abiogenesis – the origin of life from non-life, as demonstrated in the same passages.

    Now let’s take the comments about Hitler not taking his ideas from the Monistenbund and Haeckel. Actually, he did. Historians like Werner Gassmann, who takes the view that the inspiration for Hitler’s genocide was Haeckel, rather than Darwin, has pointed out the links in his books, for example. But, as you want a concrete example, one of the professors at Vienna university used to read out to his class passages in Hitler which mirrored the volckisch rants of Lanz von Liebenfels and Guido von List in the Neo-Pagan Ostara magazine, both of whom were influenced by Haeckel’s volckisch paganism.

    Now let’s start with the assertion that I don’t know anything about evolution, because Hitler didn’t practise Natural Selection but artificial selection. As I said, Darwin’s followers, including his son and Francis Galton, argued from his theory for the necessity of eugenic legislation. You have not provided any proof against this, merely denied that it was based on Darwin. Yet Haeckel himself strongly urged that it was based on Darwin.

    Now let’s look at John’s claims: No, the real problem for you is that the biologists who were bigwigs in the Nazi party were those who rejected Darwinian theory. In fact, the most prominent German paleontologists, Schindewolf, Abel, and Buerlen, rejected Darwin’s principles. The latter two were very active Nazis.

    I don’t doubt they were. So were a lot of Darwinists, like Eugen Fischer. Clearly you haven’t heard of them.

    As for the banning of books by Hitler, Darwin and the Monistenbund, despite this the Darwinist supporters of Hitler largely still retained their university posts and still argued in support of his eugenic theories.

    Rich: Again – animal husbandry. Its always been known.
    And I didn’t deny animal husbandry, though I did point out that the selective breeding introduced in the 18th century was opposed because it violated the Biblical prohibitions against incest. Obviously, you’re unaware of this. I also said that selective breeding had not been applied to humans in the centuries between Sparta and Darwin. You ignored this comment.

  48. Beastrabban Says:

    Now let’s deal with your comments, Nomad. You claim Hitler was being sneaky, banning books by Darwin and Haeckel. No, I’m claiming that he had a very utilitarian attitude to politics. Hitler stated that he wanted to keep the churches going for the moment because at the time there was no other faith to sustain the German people. It did not stop him sneering at Christianity in private, nor did it stop him publishing Frederick the Great’s notoriously sceptical books attacking Christianity.

    Regarding the quotation from the ADL, you seem to have not read or badly misunderstood my post. I did not place the blame on the Holocaust purely on Darwin or evolution. I specifically mentioned the rise of scientific racism and militant nationalism, like the writing of Treitschke. That’s in the original blog post, which you appear not to have read. So, you’ve missed my point.
    I also explicitly stated that in my reply that the process of Natural Selection was used to justify the Holocaust in that, according to the Wannsee protocol, if only a portion of the Jews were wiped out, Natural Selection – as the saw it, the survival of the fittest – would ensure that those that remained would be superior and able to take revenge. Whether this is the correct view of Natural Selection is immaterial. The point is that there is a claimed basis in Darwinism, using the terminology of Darwinism. If you’re arguing with anyone, it’s with the Nazis, not with me.

    I also stated in the my original blog post that the Holocaust did not have anything to say about the validity of Natural Selection as a theory. You ignored this as well, and imputed to me a position which I explicity stated I do not hold. As I said, the point of my article was that science alone was not sufficient to act as a reliable guide to morality, which Huxley claimed it was. And as I pointed out, Huxley and Hitler both had the same pantheistic conception of God.

  49. Beastrabban Says:

    As for the role of the Christianity in the destruction of the Indians, yes, the European invasion of the Americas was justified through the ideology of a Crusade. However, despite the enslavement of the Indians, most of the destruction of the Amerindian peoples was produced through the diseases that came with the Europeans, and not as a deliberate act.

    Further, in North America the absolute extermination of Native Americans was also advocated by liberal progressives, like Frank L. Baum. In a notorious speech Baum urged that civilisation could only be established and progressed if the Amerindians peoples were exterminated to the last man, woman and child. It’s why even today no, or very few Native Americans will go to see The Wizard of Oz

  50. Beastrabban Says:

    Now, guys, there are other subjects I wish to blog about, so I’m closing the comments on this blogpost. This isn’t a forum. However, I will return to the subject of Darwin, the Churches and the Nazis later.

  51. Beastrabban Says:

    One last thing – you quoted Allen MacNeil and his citation of passages in Mein Kampf and Hitler’s other writings to show that he based his genocidal policies on something like Creationism or ID.

    Ergo, Hitler did not base his eugenic and genocidal policies on evolutionary theory, but rather on views that are very similar to those held by most creationists and many ID supporters.”

    Many Thanks to my good friend Allen MacNeil/

    Actually, MacNeil has shown nothing of the sort. He has shown that Hitler justified his eugenic and genocidal policies through reference to something like Creationism or ID. However, he has not dealt with the way Social Darwinism permeated Nazi ideology, or how it was used to justify genocide by racist ideologues long before Hitler, such as Vacher de la Pouge. Now, whether Hitler fully accepted Darwin or not, he was influenced by Social Darwinist conventions. Thus MacNeil has not shown that Hitler was not influenced by contemporary Darwinian attitudes.

    Now, as I’ve said, I’ve closed comments on this post. If you have any further ideas on Hitler, Darwinism, religion and the Holocaust, you’ll have to wait until I write a future blog post laying out the ideological influences on Hitler and his view of religion.

  52. Beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the link to your blog, Bjorn Are. Would it be all right with you if I added it to the blogroll here. Thanks!:)

  53. Biscuitnapper Says:

    The issue with the way the theory of evolution was used to justify the Nazi idealogy has nothing to do with the theory of evolution, nor the abandoning of Judaeo-Christian morals. It is, as ever, all down to the way those in power find it useful to exploit any discovery, technological or philosophical, or religion, be it personal cult or theistic belief, for their own ends.

    This whole hoo-ha over who was a believer and who wasn’t and to what extent they were/n’t is derailing the actual issue. The issue is that it was once claimed that morality based on science was inherently better. The example of the Nazis should tell us that this is not neccessarily true, rather than act as fodder for creationism or yet another game of ‘whose done worser?’ On the other hand, we also know that morality based on belief/faith/trust is no more ‘inherently’ better from similar historic examples (in both cases, the ‘zeitegeist’ and outside influences are too great to render the ethical actions of a state to merely a matter of ‘faith or science?’ We Christian apologists often mention the political basis behind the Church’s atrocities. It seems unfair to not allow similar reasoning to objectively explain the ‘secular’ atrocities of the 20th century).

    I do wish we’d put our considerable efforts to then ponder the important question of ‘then what?’, either to provide yet another crutch to the problem of morality, or to simply abandon the modernist outlook entirely. I for one would appreciate it!

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