Home » Culture, Darwinism » Darwin had nothing to do with Hitler? Aw come on!

Darwin had nothing to do with Hitler? Aw come on!

The Darwinian insight can be turned upside down and grotesquely misused: Voracious robber barons may explain their cutthroat practices by an appeal to Social Darwinism; Nazis and other racists may call on “survival of the fittest” to justify genocide. But Darwin did not make John D. Rockefeller or Adolf Hitler. Greed, the Industrial Revolution, the free enterprise system, and corruption of government by the monied are adequate to explain nineteenth-century capitalism. Ethnocentrism, xenophobia, social hierarchies, the long history of anti-Semitism in Germany, the Versailles Treaty, German child-rearing practices, inflation, and the Depression seem adequate to explain Hitler’s rise to power.

Very likely these or similar events would have transpired with or without Darwin. And modern Darwinism makes it abundantly clear that many less ruthless traits, some not always admired by robber barons and Fuhrers – altruism, general intelligence, compassion – may be the key to survival. — Carl Sagan

Sagan was an engaging writer but not a careful thinker, and it is easy to spot the flaw in the reasoning: We can take any individual factor in the multitude that make up the German scene, 1919-1939, and say “this” one (the one the speaker has devoted much of his life to zealously advocating) didn’t really matter.

Being one of many factors does not mean Darwinism doesn’t matter, any more than being one of a number of damaged pylons supporting a bridge means that that damaged pylon doesn’t matter. All of them matter together and each damaged pylon matters in its own right.

The zealous Darwinist himself is testimony to the power Darwinism can have in a person’s life. It is the beloved creation story of the new atheists. And when Christians embrace Darwinism, Darwin typically becomes a rival to Christ: Doubt about his no-design mechanism becomes bad faith, if not heresy. Such a powerful idea – as demonstrated by the devotion of its adherents – must certainly have had an effect on the many Nazis who embraced it.

Here, Richard Weikart offers a facts-relevant view.

Testimony to Sagan’s shallow thinking skills: “… many less ruthless traits, some not always admired by robber barons and Fuhrers – altruism, general intelligence, compassion – may be the key to survival.” Rolls off the tongue and into the ear so smoothly, right? One problem – if we accept facts about Nazi ideology, there is no justification for the view that the Fuhrer did not value altruism, general intelligence, or compassion. He did indeed, but the benefits were to be reserved for his Nazi “master race.”

A generation raised on “Hogan’s Heroes” may be forgiven for not knowing what the daughter of a combat veteran of World War II knows: The men who fought the Nazis did not think them stupid, cowardly, or unwilling to sacrifice for each other. And there is no justification for passing on a false, harmful picture in order to score a cheap shot for Darwin.

See also: Why the ID community maybe SHOULD celebrate Carl Sagan Day.

Note: I found the quote at Jerry Coyne’s blog.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

16 Responses to Darwin had nothing to do with Hitler? Aw come on!

  1. NEWS:

    “We can take any individual factor in the multitude that make up the German scene, 1919-1939, and say “this” – Such a powerful idea – as demonstrated by the devotion of its adherents – must certainly have had an effect on the many Nazis who embraced it.”
    ====

    And the 60+ Million of that 1926 German census who identified themselves as Christian [40+ million Evangelical & 20+ million Catholic] embraced Nazism!

    WHY ????????????

    ”””””

    Totally agree that Darwinian principles were applied to Nazi Ideology, but could it also be said that Christianity and the Bible was “turned upside down and grotesquely misused” ??? Absolutely.

    There were no winners in that war, and certainly no winners in the modern day propaganda wars on either side, only LOSERS!

  2. Eocene, you should read Goldman (When Civilization Fails) on the subject of the damage done to Christianity by nationalism of all kinds. Of course, National Socialism would be worse than most such ideologies, in proportion to its more grandiose aims. This’ll get you started: http://tinyurl.com/75qrqar

    About individual Christians, we can’t know: All German youth were automatically enrolled in a Hitler youth group once Nazism sank in, and the current Pope’s family had to keep moving around the country to evade that for their son. It’s only reasonable to assume that many others agreed with them but avoided the firing squad by keeping their opinions to themselves.

  3. NEWS:

    “All German youth were automatically enrolled in a Hitler youth group once Nazism sank in, and it’s only reasonable to assume that many others agreed with them but avoided the firing squad by keeping their opinions to themselves”
    ====

    Astonishing!

    I wouldn’t blame the youth. Young people will only follow what the adults feed them. In this case everyone should blame the Clergy.

    Did you know there were countless examples of both Catholic and Protestant Churches in both Germany and Austria who rather than teach the bible from their pulpits, rather replaced it with “Mein Kampf” and Alfred Rosenberg’s book “Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts” – (The Myth of the Twentieth Century) and rather than teach about Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, that role was promoted as Adolf Hitler. ALL Ecclesiastical Hierarchies were at fault for that. The sheep simply followed.

    Shouldn’t be that hard for you folks to understand this concept as religion in bed with politics in North America has often been used Nationalism as a means of obtaining power and favours. Many of the religio/political news articles bare this out.

    I know the above information first hand as I have many family members here in Europe and older generation people I’ve met over the years who were around then and told me these same things first hand. World War II is the single most damaging reason Central and Northern Europe today are predominently Atheistic/Agnostic Secularists. Ireland just broke off their Ambassy ties to the Vatican last week and other nations are apparently following from the News here in the E.U.
    —-

    NEWS:

    “the current Pope’s family had to keep moving around the country to evade that for their son.”
    ====

    Well, now, while that is commendable, somebody apparently forgot to tell the old Pope Pius VII and Vice-Chancellor Franz Von Papen and the other 60+ million other Germans and I haven’t even factored in Austrians or any other AXIS allies.

    Here are some quotes from a book on the life of Franz von Papen.

    “Hitler had a Catholic as Vice-Chancellor and from practically the first day of the régime Franz von Papen became the drummer to attract the Catholic factions to a support of the new Reich. In every part of the Reich von Papen was to be heard exhorting the faithful to blind obedience to Adolf Hitler.”

    “In early 1933 the following official announcement was made by the body corporate of Catholic action and thought in Germany, then led by [Franz] von Papen: ‘We German Catholics will stand, with all our soul and our full convictions, behind Adolf Hitler and his Government. We wonder at his love for fatherland, his energy and his statesmanly wisdom German Catholicism must take an active part in the building-up of the Third Reich.’”

    (Franz von Papen—His Life and Times, by H. W. Blood-Ryan)

    —-

    Again, I’m not specifically pointing the finger as ALL were to blame – Catholics – Protestants and Atheist/Agnostics.

    —-

  4. “when Christians embrace Darwinism, Darwin typically becomes a rival [link to BioLogos Foundation] to Christ.” – O’Leary

    Diplomatic as usual, Denyse! ; )

  5. 5
    englishmaninistanbul

    The exceptions who proved the rule…

  6. Interesting Link “englishman”, I really have never clicked onto the Holocaust website before.

    I have however been to the concentration camps of Dachau near München and Auschwitz in Poland. There are a number of photos in those museums on site. One that stood out to me was this emblem patch on the German Soldier uniform which says – “Gott Mit Uns” ['God is with us'].

    http://cdn1.iofferphoto.com/im.....-8c4a2.jpg

    You can actually google image and find the emblems with the logo were used everywhere.

  7. Eocene, your anti-religious bias is showing

    Let look at few facts and tesimonials from the people who are most likely to have told the truth on this matter:

    “Pius XII? This is the only human being who has always contradicted me and who has never obeyed me.” Adolf Hitler -

    – from Hans Jansen’s The Silent Pope? (2000)

    In October 1958 in front of the United Nations General Assembly, Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel, said of Pope Pius XII at his death :

    ”During the 10 years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and commiserate with their victims.”

    Some of the Jewish organizations that praised Pope Pius XII at the time of his death for saving Jewish lives during the horror of the Nazi Holocaust were:

    * The World Jewish Congress

    * The American Jewish Committee

    * The American Jewish Congress

    * The Anti-Defamation League

    * The Central Conference of American Rabbis

    * The National Conference of Christians and Jews

    * The National Council of Jewish Women.

    * The New York Board of Rabbis

    * The Rabbinical Council of America

    * The Synagogue Council of America

    For anyone who is interested in the truth, I would also recommend “The Pope, Hitler, and The War, by Ronald J. Rychlak

  8. Its fine to say Darwin/evolution established presumptions for people to agree that different identities had different conclusions after long evolution.
    Evolution made it hard for people to say NO to ideas on identity evolution conclusions.
    they still invoke evolution for explaining identity iQ tests and all that jazz.

    Yet this YEC instists evolution was not the origin for the problems in Europe. tHey were simple complaints of one people against another with everyone having good points.
    The only difference is how angry or hatful the winners got.

    Evolution did not cause unjustified killing. tHese things were secret to all but a few.
    Evolution made presumptions behind identity scorecards legitimate.
    Evolutionists today still have not admitted this and admitted evolution demands or hints that human identities have intellectual or moral differences due to the same selection stuff as affects everything else.
    Darwin said so for women and was vague or open to racial stuff.
    Creationism is the historic insistence of the common origin and innate sameness of all people.
    It might of been a better world if evolution had not become accepted in the upper classes of Europe.
    Thankfully North America is not under so much control from its upperclasses and our greater general intelligence and religious presumptions has kept evolution as only a option.

  9. Eocene: ““Gott Mit Uns” ['God is with us'].”

    You’ll find that slogan on all sorts of Nazi era German military paraphernalia. Which isn’t very surprising since it’s a normal bit of German military paraphernalia that far precedes the Nazi era.

    Is it tacky? Sure, no more or less than ‘In God We Trust’ festooning currency in the US. But it would be a general error to state that a Government using cultural touchstones for propaganda is indicative of Theocracy rather than propaganda. It may be correct, or it may not be, but belt buckles and patches are not sufficient to make the case.

    That doesn’t mean that churches did not preach Mein Kampf. I haven’t looked into the matter but I would find it utterly surprising that some did. Churches are, foremost, composed of people; and people do strange things to justify themselves and their philosophies. They also have a terrible penchant for not speaking against those of status when those of status go off the rails. Such a self-destructive tendency has, I’m sure, an evolutionary narrative as to the increased fitness derived from jumping off a bridge because someone demanded it.

  10. Maus:

    “Churches are, foremost, composed of people; and people do strange things to justify themselves and their philosophies. They also have a terrible penchant for not speaking against those of status when those of status go off the rails.”
    ====

    It’s the natural thing for the people to follow the leadership. It’s the leadership which is most reprehensible.

  11. StephenB:

    “Eocene, your anti-religious bias is showing”
    ====

    Sadly Stephen, this subject is no joking matter for an on stage comedian to entertain the audience with. There was nothing anti-religious about my comments. These subjects posted on Hitler and Darwin are numerous and frequent here and I agree with everything being said as far as Nazi Ideology and Darwinian Scientific justification used for carrying out the final solution.

    My only point is there appears to be a double standard here in that the blame game is given totally on atheistis/agnostics when participation from the majority was religious. No way of getting around that or excuse making will change the history on that.

  12. Eocene said “In this case we must blame the clergy.”

    I agree with you here. The Church in Germany wimped out. I can understand why as it might have meant death for them to stand up to Hitler, but they compromised the faith. Early on, Hitler used a lot of Christian like talk to try and persuade Christians to follow him.

    Lack of discernment was also a problem, but the Church is not to blame for the Holocaust. Hitler is the one who perpetrated this great evil on the world and even on Christians themselves – those who did stand up against him that is.

    You claim there were 40 million evangelicals in Germany at that time. What do mean by that term? Evangelicals like are in America today? What was a German evangelical like back in the 1940s and how do you determine such numbers? From the looks of it, you are labelling all Protestant believers as evangelicals. Again, that depends on what you mean by that term, but you would be way off in those numbers if you mean Protestants who genuinely believe God’s Word for what it is.

    The Church in Germany and all of Europe in general has been on a slippery slope away from God’s Word as is evidenced by the empty churches and falling numbers of believers, at least in the State church in Germany.

    You also have to make a distinction between Christian in name only and those who really follow Christ out of faith. I fear that Christians sometimes get a bad name because of the actions of people who are Christian in name only.

    Japan is a nation of Buddhists, but for the most part they don’t believe in Buddhism. It is just a label because they do the Buddhist thing at death. It is not true Buddhism, but Buddhism in form only. Most priests actually don’t even believe(according to the testimony of an ex-priest) but just do their job for money – as an occupation.

    There are a lot of these types of people all around the world. There is no real faith in Jesus as their Savior, but they went through the motions and were baptized and call themselves a Christian regardless of whether they live out their faith or not.

    Having said that, I’m sure there were far too many true believers in Germany who caved in to the pressure and to save their own skin, they compromised their faith and went with the flow. As you said, the Clergy especially are to blame here as they should have been taking the lead and helping to keep the people on the straight and narrow path.

  13. tjguy:

    “I agree with you here. The Church in Germany wimped out. I can understand why as it might have meant death for them to stand up to Hitler, but they compromised the faith. Early on, Hitler used a lot of Christian like talk to try and persuade Christians to follow him.”
    ====

    Unfortunately he was like their winning quarterback at the beginning and their team was on a winning streak. But if you’ve ever read his book ‘Mein Kampf’, he actually laid out in detail just exactly what his racist intentions were. How anyone could say they were ignorant and didn’t know is difficult to understand. Winston churchill read it and called him a mad man and said after he came to power that no other book demanded so much scrutiny.

    From the Holocaust Forum:
    Winston Churchill: The Second World War. Volume 1, Houghton Mifflin Books 1986, S. 50. “Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.”
    —-

    tjguy:

    “Japan is a nation of Buddhists, but for the most part they don’t believe in Buddhism.”
    ====

    I thought they were mostly during that time Shinto. Part of the unconditional surrender terms was that Emperor Hirohito had to inform the nation he was not really a god.
    —-

    tjguy:

    “You claim there were 40 million evangelicals in Germany at that time. What do mean by that term? Evangelicals like are in America today? What was a German evangelical like back in the 1940s and how do you determine such numbers?”
    ====

    Actually the term evangelicals is what the Lutheran Church uses here. I read a 1926 German census report some years back, but I’ll have to dig up where I got it. The numbers were burned into my memory. Most likely it was predominently Evangelical Lutheran. Austria I believe is predominently Catholic, though at the time Germany had 20+ million.
    —-

    tjguy:

    “As you said, the Clergy especially are to blame here as they should have been taking the lead and helping to keep the people on the straight and narrow path.”
    ====

    The people will fellow whatever lead they are given. Nationalism is a very powerful tool for creating back pride to a people beaten down after WWI. Sad to say, but Britain and France over punished Germany with huge war reparations and combined with the depression[of all countires Germany had it the worst], it just had to break. Give a beaten down people a charismatic leader like Hitler and such motivation can’t be kept down long. This is true over and over when people are oppressed for decades, finally something snaps. Still the religious leaders should have known better.

    My point in bringing this whole mess up was not picking on one or two groups, but to counter the all Darinists are evil fingerpointing , when I know full well there really weren’t that many atheists way back then. Pretty much most folks believed in God. But prominent Nazis were Atheist and hated Christianity. Martin Borman, Hitler’s powerful righthand man and Alfred Rosenberg were two ideological leaders in that.

  14. I typed a long post and then realized how pointless and divisive it was.

    Here’s a simple truth that everyone should be able to agree on. When called upon to take up arms and participate in violence, each person must take into account their own beliefs and decide for themselves what to do. No government or religion can take that responsibility away from us.

    Those who sway others, especially while claiming to speak for God, are also responsible.

    But to the extent that I believe I have knowledge, its purpose is not to give me a pulpit from which to accuse or blame. The primary purpose is for me personally to obey. It’s for me, not everyone else. The second is to teach. The third is to shine a light in the hope of drawing others.

    I can do all three of those without getting on a soapbox and hurling accusations which are more likely to inflame than enlighten. I urge others to consider that, while well-intended, the statements we make regarding other religions can return to us with ramifications that will certainly outweigh whatever good we sought to accomplish.

    Jesus and the apostles had occasion to make some rather strong public statements, but he taught his disciples to preach to small, receptive audiences. I see the wisdom in that.

  15. –eocene: “Sadly Stephen, this subject is no joking matter for an on stage comedian to entertain the audience with. There was nothing anti-religious about my comments.”

    You made a sweeping statement to the effect that clerics, in general, and Catholics, in particular, caved in to the pressure from the Nazi’s. As I pointed out, that statment, as framed, is false and I can prove it all day long. Indeed, not only did Catholic clerics resist Hilter from start to finish, they literally saved a half-million jews. That is why literally every Jewish organization expressed its gratitude and why the chief Rabbi was so moved that he joined the Catholic Church. Your rather egregious error in that context causes me to suspect that you are reading the wrong sources, which is why I suggested that you find more reliable reports.

    Begin here: “How Pius XII and the Catholic Church Saved Half a Million Jews from the Nazis.”

  16. The author of the aforementioned age book (642 pages) is Ronald Rychlak.

Leave a Reply