Home » Expelled » Was It “Shameful” for Expelled to Connect Darwinism and Nazi Atrocities?

Was It “Shameful” for Expelled to Connect Darwinism and Nazi Atrocities?

Scholar Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler asked me to publish this essay to Uncommon Descent. You can read more from Weikart here and my review of his highly recommended book is here. (Note: If you care about this subject, don’t listen to glib excuses and misdirection; read the book.)

I am glad to say that the Expelled flapette on this subject has spiked demand for Weikart’s meticulously researched work, especially because it features the work of Darwinist Nazis who had never before even been translated into English:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #9,259 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Popular in these categories: (What’s this?)
#3 in Books > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Medical Ethics
#6 in Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Discrimination & Racism
#11 in Books > History > United States > African Americans
(at 9:41 am EST)

For a while, Weikart was the target of unscholarly attacks by people determined to obscure the role of Darwinism as an underlying belief very well suited to Hitler’s Third Reich.

Anyway, here is his essay:

Was It Shameful for “Expelled” to Connect Darwinism and Nazi Atrocities?

Many critics of Ben Stein’s new film, “Expelled,” have expressed distaste—and some have gone absolutely apoplectic—over his linking of Darwinism with Nazism. In an MSNBC article bioethicist Arthur Caplan called the film immoral and even ridiculously calls Stein a Holocaust denier, because of his audacity to link Darwinism with Nazi atrocities. Scientific American calls this aspect of the film shameful.

We need to clarify first that neither Stein nor anyone else in “Expelled” ever claimed that Darwinism was the sole culprit for the Nazi program for killing the disabled or exterminating the Jews. The argument was more circumspect: Darwinism was an important—but by no means exclusive—ingredient in the Nazi worldview that motivated them to pursue death for the “inferior” as a means to foster evolutionary progress. This is irrefutable, if anyone will simply examine the evidence (just read the chapter “Nation and Race” in Mein Kampf).

If we focus on the Nazi program to kill the disabled, we find that just about all historians who have examined the evidence have concluded that Darwinism did have something to do with it. The museum in Hadamar (which Stein visited in the film) and the accompanying book for sale there both explain the influence of Darwinism on the Nazi euthanasia program.

For the Nazis killing the disabled was a radical form of eugenics, i.e., the program to improve humans hereditarily. The father of the modern eugenics movement, Francis Galton, conceived the idea while reading Darwin’s _Origin of Species_. The organizer of the German eugenics movement, Alfred Ploetz, claimed that his main ideas about eugenics were drawn from Darwinism. Ploetz also recruited the two leading Darwinists in Germany—Ernst Haeckel and August Weismann—to became honorary members of the Society for Race Hygiene when he founded it in 1905. Ploetz was on the Nazi government’s committee that framed eugenics legislation, and Hitler personally honored him in 1936 for his contributions to the German eugenics movement.

Nazis enthusiastically adopted eugenics policies, which according to the 1921 International Eugenics Congress was the “self-direction of human evolution.” Among scholars who have investigated the origins of Nazi eugenics and euthanasia ideology, the claim that Darwinism (in some form or other) influenced Nazi ideology is not particularly controversial. In their highly regarded book on the history of eugenics in Germany, Peter Weingart, Juergen Kroll, and Kurt Bayertz state, “Considered from the viewpoint of the history of ideas the fascist state was a logical consequence of that branch of eugenics which remained bound up with social Darwinist ideas of selection.” In the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s publication, Deadly Medicine, three separate essays mention the Darwinian underpinnings of eugenics.

Nazi eugenics films clearly showed the influence of Darwinism. “Expelled” showed a brief clip from “Opfer der Vergangenheit” (“Victims of the Past”), in which the narrator states: “All that is non-viable in nature inevitably perishes. We humans have transgressed the law of natural selection in the last decades. Not only have we supported inferior life-forms, we have encouraged their propagation.” Michael Burleigh in his book on Nazi euthanasia explains that other Nazi eugenics films, such as “All Life is Struggle,” regularly depicted Darwinian themes, especially the struggle for existence.

If we look specifically at the history of the euthanasia movement, just about all historians who have examined it admit that Darwinism and eugenics played a key role in undermining the Judeo-Christian sanctity-of-life ethic. The first person in Germany to promote killing the disabled was the biologist Ernst Haeckel, the leading nineteenth-century German Darwinist. Almost all early proponents of euthanasia—not only in Germany, but also in Britain and the United States—were avid Darwinists who claimed that Darwinism supported their ideology, as Ian Dowbiggin, Nick Kemp, Udo Benzenhöfer, and many other historians have clearly demonstrated. Hans-Walter Schmuhl, a German historian who is an expert on the Nazi euthanasia program, states, “The race hygiene [i.e., eugenics] paradigm constituted an ethic of a new type, which was ostensibly grounded scientifically in Darwinist biology.” In his book he explains in detail the Darwinian and eugenics background to the Nazi euthanasia program.

Caplan claims that it was Hitler’s hatred of the disabled, not Darwinism, that led to these atrocities against the disabled. But this ignores the fact that Hitler made clear that his contempt for the disabled was based on Darwinian-inspired ideology. In Mein Kampf Hitler stated, “For as soon as procreation as such is limited and the number of births diminished, the natural struggle for existence which leaves only the strongest and healthiest alive is obviously replaced by the obvious desire to save even the weakest and most sickly at any price, and this plants the seed of a future generation which must inevitably grow more and more deplorable the longer this mockery of Nature and her will continues.” He continued, “A stronger race will drive out the weak, for the vital urge in its ultimate form will, time and again, burst all the absurd fetters of the so-called humanity of individuals, in order to replace it by the humanity of Nature which destroys the weak to give his place to the strong.”

No one is claiming that Darwinism leads inevitably toward the Holocaust, and no one is denying the importance of other factors, including anti-Semitism, in shaping Nazi ideology. However, only those unwilling to examine the evidence could claim that Nazism was not influenced by Darwinism.

Richard Weikart is history professor at California State Univ., Stanislaus, and author of From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany

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34 Responses to Was It “Shameful” for Expelled to Connect Darwinism and Nazi Atrocities?

  1. For more horific details see:
    Volume One – A Reckoning, Chapter XI: Nation and Race in Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler e.g.,

    The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

    In other words Might Makes Right

    e.g/. The Columbine killings show a strong connection with Darwin.

    Contrast this with Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex, The Law and the Prince

    i.e., Law Rules All

    We must choose which principles we will train our children to uphold.

  2. 2

    It is one thing to claim that Darwinism’s influence on the Nazis has nothing to do with Darwinism’s scientific merits, and something else entirely to claim that that influence did not exist at all.

    Also, like a mad scientist in a horror movie, many Darwinists seem to have morbid, sadistic and Strangelovian fascinations with the pernicious social effects of Darwinism. These Darwinists don’t just regard Darwinism as a necessary evil but shamelessly worship Darwin — there are Darwin Day celebrations, “I love Darwin” knick-knacks, “Friend of Darwin” certificates handed out at a reunion of the Dover plaintiffs, etc.. Though I don’t think that being descended from monkeys is anything to be ashamed of, I don’t think that it is cause for celebration, either.

  3. Re darwin day etc.

    It always seemed to me they were celebrating the perceived religious implications of darwinism (i.e. having an atheistic explanation for what had previously been inescapable evidence for theism), using the trappings of old religions (i.e. celebrating their “prophet” with “festivals” and “icons.”).

    No other explanation seems to adequately account for the rather odd phenomenon of people running around buying trinkets celebrating a guy who repopularized the old, discredited idea of common descent by bringing a new, unfalsifiable twist to it.

  4. Just came back from seeing Expelled this evening (I’m glad to see it is still in the theatres). A few quick observations before retiring for the evening:

    - A little too much juxtapositioning new interview footage with old black and white Nazi, war, and political strife footage. Seemed like every time someone made a point about the current debate it was accompanied by a few seconds of black and white footage from a particularly shameful piece of history. I think some credibility was lost with the constant juxtapositioning.

    - That said, generally very well done, and I think it had its effect.

    - The specific portion of the movie relating to the Darwinist tie to Hitler and the Nazis was, I believe, careful and measured. Berlinski was clear that Darwinism is not sufficient for Nazism, but there is a definite tie. My wife, who does not follow this debate particularly closely and accompanied me to the movie largely to humor me, remarked afterward that she hadn’t been aware of the link. Good to see the message getting out.

    - Dawkins was definitely very clear in his views, and I can understand him being a bit perturbed about seeing it displayed larger than life on the silver screen. However, I think the movie wasn’t unfair in that regard — it just let him do his own talking. Frankly, I didn’t think Dawkins came off all that bad. Prticularly in the last segment, I thought Dawkins even came off as being a rather pleasant fellow.

    - Eugenie Scott got off very easy. However, I know the thrust of the movie was not to focus on her particular brand of condescending acquiescence to religious folks, but instead to follow the strong Darwinistic train of thought to its logical conclusion with Dawkins, Provine, et al. Thus, not surprising that they didn’t spend more time on Scott.

    - The cellular animation segment didn’t look like it was a clear cookie cut from the “Harvard” version. I don’t think there is much of a claim there.

    - I couldn’t believe how short the “Imagine” portion was after all the flap there has been — two phrases, that’s all. My view is that Yoko Ono doesn’t have a leg to stand on there. Good publicity, though!

    - The theatre was by no means full, but there was a decent crowd, and, to my surprise, spontaneous applause at the end. No doubt some severe self selection involved in who was in attendance. Nonetheless, interesting to see that positive reaction in my neck of the woods, which I didn’t anticipate.

    - Finally, I almost never recommend movies as a general matter, and was particularly cautious about this one. However, I think it was generally well done, is very thought-provoking (particularly for those who aren’t already deeply familiar with all the arguments and characters), and is worthy of my recommending it to others.

  5. BoxOfficeMojo estimates Expelled has taken in $6,619,000 as of May 4th. It has moved up to #13 under all documentaries passing “The Aristocrats”. It is likely to reach #12 this week.

    Expelled has risen to #10 in the “Christian” genre, passing and Left Behind, Luther, and Megiddo: The Omega Code II.

  6. Just got back from seeing Expelled.Four of us went ,one of the four I would describe as an atheist/agnostic and quite the scientific type and very predisposed towards Darwinism.

    I really thought we would be the only ones in the theatre and was very surprised that the theatre was half full. I was even more surprised by my friends reaction.

    He very muched like the film and we had a very spirited conversation after the viewing at dinner. The one thing he said was “I always thought ID was creationism but it is not that at all” He felt that he was totally mislead by the media.

    The movie exceeded my expectations.

    Vivid

  7. A thought or two:

    If I may add, by way of a caution to both sides:

    We need to also reckon with the writings of Darwin himself, especially in Chs 5, 6 & 7 of his 1871 Descent of Man. In particular, observe the want of moral recoil from the implications of what was said therein.

    For instance, consider the potential impact on a demented, demonised racist like Hitler of the following excerpt from Ch 7:

    Even if it should hereafter be proved that all the races of men were perfectly fertile together, he who was inclined from other reasons to rank them as distinct species, might with justice argue that fertility and sterility are not safe criterions of specific distinctness. We know that these qualities are easily affected by changed conditions of life, or by close interbreeding, and that they are governed by highly complex laws, for instance, that of the unequal fertility of converse crosses between the same two species. With forms which must be ranked as undoubted species, a perfect series exists from those which are absolutely sterile when crossed, to those which are almost or completely fertile. The degrees of sterility do not coincide strictly with the degrees of difference between the parents in external structures or habits of life. Man in many respects may be compared with those animals which have long been domesticated, and a large body of evidence can be advanced in favour of the Pallasian doctrine,* that domestication tends to eliminate the sterility which is so general a result of the crossing of species in a state of nature. From these several considerations, it may be justly urged that the perfect fertility of the intercrossed races of man, if established, would not absolutely preclude us from ranking them as distinct species.

    Now, to his credit, Darwin then goes on to point out various factors that contribute to the view that we are in fact one species. But, plainly – and all too predictably to one who understands the degree of depravity that can lurk in our hearts, this will be qualified in the mind of a Hitler or the like by the preliminary point made as Darwin starts the chapter:

    There is . . . no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,- as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body,* the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the skull, and even in the convolutions of the brain.*(2) But it would be an endless task to specify the numerous points of difference. The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristies are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the lighthearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans,*(3) who live under the same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea.

    Nor do we have to guess too hard in saying that, as nearthe beginning of the linked chapter from Hitler — pardon me for quoting the devil himself, or one of his close associates and spokesmen –will show. For, this voice from hell itself speaks of how . . .

    Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents. This means: the offspring will probably stand higher than the racially lower parent, but not as high as the higher one. Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life. The precondition for this does not lie in associating superior and inferior, but in the total victory of the former. The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

    The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice.

    I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT DARWIN NEVER IN HIS WORST NIGHTMARES SPECIFICALLY FORESAW THE RISE OF A HITLER AND HIS HELLISH ILK.

    But at the same time, as Oakes reminds us, Darwin also wrote, in a now notorious letter of 1881:

    . . . I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago, of being overwhelmed by the Turk, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.

    Let us therefore contrast — in my case as a descendant of both slaves and slave-masters [along with a very large slice of my native land's population] — the key NT texts that racists of all stripes within the Judaeo-Christian framework are so wont to ignore, and which are increasingly lost in the noise of the ethics of “might makes ‘right’ ” and assorted tu quoquo attempts by the New Atheists and their ilk to make out that Biblical ethics is grossly deficient, defective and even monstrous:

    “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . . From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. [Ac 17:24 – 26]

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [ Gal 3:28]

    he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. he commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. [Rom 13:8 – 10]

    So, sadly, there is plainly a link from Darwinist thought to Hitler’s demonic madness, but that does not excuse Christian antisemitism and other injustices over generations in the teeth of very direct biblical mandates to the contrary. Having noted that, it is fair comment to also note that through the Christian foundaitonal documents and movements of repentance and positive change, we have seen many cases where such sins have been reformed from, through no civilisation of finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill-willed and just plain stubborn human beings will ever be even approximately morally perfect.. That does not excuse us from the path of virtue, it just tells us it is arduous and we will slip, again and again. So, let us determine to help one another upwards. For, the alterna5tive is to enter the very vestibule of hell itself as a community.

    Therefore, let us learn form some horrible lessons of history, and let us never divorce either science or religion from the duty to do right by one’s neighbour. Moreover, if any budding intellectual, political, cultural , scientific or religious movement shows signs of undermining duty to neighbour, that is a glaring red warning flag on its implications. [And, BTW, that is precisely what Expelled, in the end is about.]

    With apologies to Santayana and others: If we forget our history as a civilisation, we are doomed to repeat its worst chapters.

    GEM of TKI

  8. Expelled has risen to #10 in the “Christian” genre, passing . . . Megiddo: The Omega Code II.

    [Insert Darwinianist wisea$s comment here] :-)

  9. As long as we’re using sloppy thinking (the logical fallacy reductio ad Hitlerum) to demonize stuff let’s go ahead and show that the bible was a necessary part of the holocaust too.

    See, first we use Darwin to establish that people can be divided into different species of animal. Then we go to the bible and find that God’s people (self-annointed, as far as I can tell) are given dominion over animals. Heck, if they’re different species, as long as they’re not porcine, we can add other species of people to our diets and that would be okay too.

    Isn’t this fun?

    And by the way, only a Nazi sympathizer who admires Hitler, admitted or not, will argue with me on these points.

    Godwin’s Law is proven again. Spare me.

  10. KF

    Actually, the bible was used justify eugenics long before Darwin was even born. Anti-miscegenation laws were in force in devoutly Christian America from the 1600′s right up through the middle of the 20th century. Clearly Darwin’s theory couldn’t have been the inspiration for eugenic laws that predate Darwin’s birth by over a century. Nazi Germany made anti-miscegenation laws part of the Nuremberg Laws.

    I’m not sure whether it’s dishonesty or ignorance that makes people want to demonize Darwin by connecting the theory with Hitler but if you’ve read this bit of history about anti-miscegenation law in American history you can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse.

    And to answer Denyse’s question, was it shameful for Expelled to make this connection? You bet it’s shameful. It goes well beyond shameful. Callous and malicious come to mind as more apt terms.

  11. —–Dave: “Actually, the bible was used justify eugenics long before Darwin was even born. Anti-miscegenation laws were in force in devoutly Christian America from the 1600’s right up through the middle of the 20th century.”

    Two questions:

    1) Are you saying that anti-miscegenation laws are synonymous with eugenics?

    2) Which Biblical verses are you talking about?

  12. Dave,

    I posted this comment about 10 days ago on another thread about this topic.

    “I have not read all the details of everyone’s arguments nor have I read Weikart’s book about the influence of Darwinian ideas on the holocaust and other parts of the Nazi eugenics movement. There were certainly large scale anti-Semitic activities before the Nazis which resulted in much death and disruption of the Jews. There were certainly many ideas of promoting better breeding before the eugenics movement. Dave points to anti-miscegenation laws in many places long times before Darwin. The idea of class was alive and well in Victorian England. There is no natural link between Darwin’s idea of natural selection and eugenics. Or is there?
    But what led to the eugenics movement just after Darwin’s publications and what caused the leadership of the movement to be highly associated with Darwin’s family and people promoting Darwinian evolution? Is there no connection? I could speculate and I am sure many others have but there must be a connection between the two especially in Germany. What effect does the concept of “Survival of the Fittest” have on this progression and this is definitely connected with Darwin even though he may not be the originator of the term, he used it. Survival of the fittest does not necessarily lead to the holocaust but in some distorted minds I can see where it could. What Darwin did was release a a bunch of Genies out of the bottle and most people of good conscious could ignore some of these genies, some couldn’t and some others knew how to exploit it.

    One of the genies was that some people are better than others and of course whoever your are, your people will be the ones that are better. Another genie released is that there is no reason for God in any part of biological life with the implication there is no need of God period.
    To me the latter is the worse genie especially since Darwin’s ideas are bogus and have never been supported by science for the most important of his ideas. Namely, that natural processes can account for macro evolution.”

  13. StephenB

    If you follow the links I left you’ll find the answers to both your questions.

  14. Dave

    I find evidence that [A] some misguided Christians misapplied passages in the Old Testament to justify anti-miscegenation laws.

    I also find evidence that [B] some misguided atheists used passages in Darwin’s works to justify eugenics.
    What I do not find is evidence of your claim that [C] misguided Christians cited Old Testament writings to justify eugenics.

    To the best of my knowledge, Alexander Graham Bell was the first American to propose eugenics in 1881. That date ties in very well with Darwin, Galton and his bunch. I know of no Biblical connections? Are you doing that infamous “emanations” and “penumbras” thing (i.e. eugenics “emanated” from anti-miscegenation laws, which were, in turn, justified by bad Old Testament theology)? Surely, you are not resting your argument on a platform such as that.

  15. 15

    Dave,
    Look for evil in men and you shall surely not have to dig very far.

    Many atrocities can be traced to misguided Christianity (inquisition, slavery in the south to name a couple) Yet you will always find that these misguided Christians always had to subtly twist scripture to overcome the overriding moral impetus of the golden rule found in Christianity (Love others as yourself). As well you will find that, overtime, a self correcting measure is “built into” Christianity when “men of power” get out of control. In fact, almost all of the most notable figures of history who led the drive for emancipation of slaves were devout Christians to the core. Whereas Darwinism does not have this self correcting measure built into it. The evil done in the name of materialistic/atheistic regimes (Stalin/Pol Pot etc…) and pagan regimes (Mussolini/Hit^ler etc..etc..) drastically towers over any of the evil done in the name of Christianity. In fact, I believe the US senate passed a resolution noting the over 60 million executed in Stalin’s USSR alone. The point being is that with no moral impetus to stop them naturalists/atheists are free to sink to the very pits of human depravity with no self correcting measure built in for overcoming it (unless you count massive a self correcting measure).

    As well as that fact I find that , Christianity has sufficient scientific evidence backing up its claim for the ressurection of Jesus in the Shroud of Turin whereas, as you well know, evolution is bankrupt of validating evidence to substantiate it.

    This followiing paper has a brief but VERY good overview of the compelling scientific evidence for the Shroud:

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    As well here is the Paper that overturns 1988 carbon dating:

    Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the shroud of turin:

    per: Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pages 189-194, by Raymond N. Rogers, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California) (Raymond N. Rogers (1927-2005) was an American chemist who was considered a leading expert in thermal analysis.He was appointed Director of Chemical Research for the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) in 1978)

    http://www.ntskeptics.org/issu.....oudold.htm

    And if you are interested in a well done book that gives a very good “readable” treatment of the facts backing up the Shroud’s authenticity I suggest “Portrait of Jesus” by Frank C. Tribbe.

    The point being, in all this Dave, is that even though men have always done evil things no matter what religion or philosophy they belonged to, the fact that Christianity is verifiable to a high level of certainty and is, aside from the infamous atrocities committed in its name, arguably the most positive influence in western culture. I could list pages upon pages of outstanding good works done by devout Christians who denied themselves solely because of their belief in Christ, whereas the atheists materialist has no moral grounding to try as such.
    Surely it is clear that when comparing the relative merits of each philosophy Christianity is miles above atheism. Would you not agree?

  16. StephenB

    Eugenics is just a word coined in 1883 by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton to describe selective breeding. Galton didn’t invent selective breeding, he just made up a new word for it. Anti-miscegenation laws are human eugenic legal codes and they’ve been around at least since 17th century American colonies.

    What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~Wm.Shakespeare

  17. DaveScot wrote:

    “I’m not sure whether it’s dishonesty or ignorance that makes people want to demonize Darwin by connecting the theory with Hitler . . ”

    Is there indeed no connection? All I’ve heard so far in your posts is that people did bad things in the name of the Bible as well, which, while interesting and deserving of its own discussion, is quite irrelevant to the question of whether Darwinism contributed to the Nazi regime (either in its formation, domination, or rhetorical support).

    The movie was clear that Darwin does not necessarily lead to Hitler. Perhaps it could have been clearer on that point. Perhaps it could have mentioned the Inquisition and other bad things done in the name of other philosophies. But if we were to deny that the Nazi regime obtained “scientific” or rhetorical support from Darwinism it would seem pretty off the mark, and frankly, a bit naive on our part.

  18. Eric Anderson

    Guilt by association. A special case of it, since it happens so often, is guilt by association with Hitler and Nazis. There are a number of names for it:

    reductio ad Hitlerum
    argumentum ad Hitlerum
    reductio ad Nazium
    playing the Nazi card

    It deserves no intellectual respect and I give it none.

    Expelled promoted the message (expressed at least explicitely by Berlinski) that Darwinism was a necessary condition for the holocaust.

    First of all, that’s nothing but speculation as we can’t go back in history, remove Darwin, and see if the holocaust still happened. It’s intellectual woolgathering by that measure alone. If Darwin didn’t write what he wrote the holocaust wouldn’t have happened. Uh right. And if pigs had wings they could fly. Spare me. Academics can be SO frustrating at times.

  19. tribune7,

    What happened to the Germans. German soldiers now are fat and lazy and run from battle.

  20. Actually, what’s missing from a lot of this conversation is where Expelled goes first on its NAZI tour. It follows the timeline known to me pretty closely. First on the agenda was the gassing of the “useless eaters”, the sick, disabled, and mentally ill.

    No amount of quotes from previous German antisemites can explain why the death of the weakest members of society was sought first, and more openly.

  21. Dave

    On a third try: please, re-look at what was actually said in 7 above (and in some other posts by others).

    In the mod piled post from earlier on today, You will see I take a key case from the older Judeo-Christian text [N^u^m 12], and so illustrate how one of the greatest worthies of that tradition — M^oshe had an inter-ra^cial [second, it seems] marriage to a black African woman.

    Leaders of Israel (including siblings!) objected, in terms that more than hint of r^acism etc (and by extension concerns on r^acial mixing etc). The text subjects them to a direct judge^ment for this.

    More to the point, the issue is that CD’s work and the movement that stremmed form it HISTORICALLY and CONCEPTUALLY — as a matter of fact and the dynamics of the history of ideas not inevitability of logic (though we must obserfvge that the “scientific” movement of that time denigrated traditional morality, especially as it flowed into the hands of the nekulturny –helped to trigger the line of thought that in turn gave rise to the modern “scientific” eugenics we saw that led to the sad events of 60 – 70 years ago. Indeed, it was only after the horrible outcome on the ground became general knowledge that eugenics and wider social darwinism found themselves discredited. And it took decades thereafter for some of the relevant laws to be repealed.

    When we turn to — for illustrative instance — the texts in CD’s second book, of 1871, chs 5 through 7 [not just a notorious letter as cited above], we see that he put out very ill-considered remarks based on his theorising; without immediatley stating balancing concerns, which indisputably helped lend a scientific aura to an agenda that ended up in destructive impact, once it got into the hands of a m^adman who artfully manipulated the “scientific” consensus of his culture.

    Then, of course I note en passant that the J-C tradition holds that in fact the GR is writ on our hearts, whether or no we have ever heard of that tradition and its major book and teachers.

    But, in particular eras, laws, institutions and views may help or hinder moral behaviour to one extent or another. In a th^eistic one, by donning the robes of a p^arson. in a scientific one, by putting on a lab coat.

    In either case, we have to face the issue that we must reflect, hard on what we are thinking and saying and doing, and what we tolerate in our community. Expelled is helping us do that by putting the spotlight on the abuse of intellectual freedom by evolutionary materialists who hold power in key scientific institutions.

    So, again echoing Santayana: we need to learn and heed the lessons of history, lest we repeat its worst chapters — whether under secular or rel^igious themes.

    GEM of TKI

  22. Of course Darwin had no influence on Hitler. How silly of you to think he did! And while I’m at it, Nietzsche had no influence on Hitler either. So what if Hitler spent so many idle hours at his shrine? I spend many of my idle hours in the bathroom. Does that mean I’m influenced by Crapper? And Darwin also had no influence on Nietzsche. Never mind what Nietzsche said or the fact that the will to power is an unscientific rip-off of the survival of the fittest. That doesn’t mean anything! Only stupid people think it does.

    Also it’s quite clear that Locke had nothing to do with the Constitution or the thinking of the founding fathers. And Descartes had no influence on the Enlightenment. Anyone who thinks he did is either stupid or misinformed! Thomas had no influence on Scholasticism. How could anybody ever think anything so stupid? And what about those idiots who think Luther influenced the Reformation?

    Gosh, I wish everybody was as smart as me. And don’t talk to me about grammar! One more wisecrack out of you, and you’re out of here! But there IS one thing I don’t understand, for all my obvious intelligence. Why don’t they get it? How many posts is it going to take to make this crazy Darwin-Hitler connection go away? I’ve already made—well, let me see—I lost count. The strange thing is these morons aren’t catching on. It seems like the more I post, the more they become convinced that Hitler really was a Darwinist. How stupid can you get!

    I’m getting tired of playing Mister Nice Guy all the time. I really am a good person, you know (see my other post) and wouldn’t hurt a fly—certainly not a puppy. But sometimes to save the human race from its own massive stupidity you just have to give in and act like a Darwinist—oops! I mean assert yourself. They want Hitler? I’ll give them Hitler. At least ten more posts on this subject tomorrow—maybe twenty the next day, thirty after that—who knows? Whatever it takes to get these morons to capitulate. Check out MY blitzkrieg, baby.

    So what if people think I’m beating a dead horse? I wouldn’t beat a horse even if it was dead. (See my other post. I’m a good person!)

  23. KF

    In order for this idea that Darwinism was a necessary factor for the holocaust to rise above mere speculation it must be somehow either verifiable or falsifiable. If it isn’t then it’s just another boring just-so story told and retold by people with an agenda.

    How do you propose we test this speculation? It seems to me that’s quite impossible as there’s no way to go back in time, remove Darwin from the scene, and see if the holocaust still happens or not.

  24. Dave

    Thanks for the response. I see that the earlier comment is still in cyberspace somewhere . . .

    I am speaking of historical lines of ideas, action and influence, not logical or dynamical mechanical necessity or “scientific”-causal connexion. This leads to moral certainty, not demonstrative certainty. Cf Greenleaf’s principles on this sort of historico-forensic assessment of warrant, here.

    In particular, history is about agents who act with motives [sometimes hidden], who in order to act think or at least absorb ideas from their surroundings, and decide then act. Through the use of key terms and patterns of thought and events, we can trace the lines of influence. Indeed, we see here an extension to the basic design inference: identification of agents and their influences through diagnostic/characteristic features that betray patterns of familial inheritance.

    Such is usually expressed by tracking down the documents trail that shows in this case the key ideas and the policies that stem from those ideas, then their results on the ground. The general epistemological framework is inference to best explanation per the observed facts.

    Here, following Weikart et al:

    1 –> Darwin to Haekel et al, creating a German [including Austro-Hungarian of course] intellectual and then cultural climate that was strongly darwinistic, across late C19 – early C20. (This even took over theology, e.g. the Welthausen JEDP evolution of religions militantly pre-archaeological theses on the origins of the Judaeo-Christian religion and texts.]

    2 –> This climate included ideas that were connected to social darwinism and eugenics, at a time when the German university system, post Humboldt, was the dominant one for advanced studies in the world. A time when “Science” was viewed in such circles much as holy writ once had been.

    3 –> The pattern spread across the wider culture, and reacted off the longstandsing European problems of racism and antisemitism. Mix in the stab in the back myth on the loss of WW 1 and the chaos and impotence of the Weimar Republic [including the hyperinflation of 1923 -- monetising off the debts of WW 1], plus the red panic triggered by the Spartacist uprising and the wider red scares. notice in particular events in Bavaria, home of the Nazi party.

    4 –> Add in millions of disillusioned and often otherwise unemployed WW 1 veterans, then the most seasoned and expert soldiers and killers in the world; in a land that per Versailles Diktat (defence forces of 100,000) was not properly armed to resist Poland much less Russia or France. Put in the Freikorps and the SA as an effective unofficial reserve, multiplying by alliance to the otherwise of little account Nazi party.

    5 –> Rush through the 1923 putsch attempt, which failed, and the judge who was far too lenient. (BTW, notice half-mad Ludendorf who marched with the Nazis and walked right through the police lines, rifles cracking.) Then put in Hitler’s book, written in Landsberg prison.

    6 –> Observe the disintegration of the Weimar republic, and the gradual rise of the idea that the Nazis were the credible alternative to the Bolsheviks. Bring in a couple of smoke-filled rooms and the deal that gave Hitelr the Chancellorship on a compromise with Papen.

    7 –> Then put in the half mad Dutch youth who burned the Reichstag and the death of Hindenberg. Out comes the enabling act at the Kroll Opera house [fittingly enough] and dictatorial powers, in a climate that was strongly social darwinist and racist with a special hostility to Jews. Bring on the night of the long knives and the rise of Himmler to go with Goering, multiplied by the spinelessness of the German Army leadership.

    8 –> Voila, a conscienceless, ruthless madman in power with no effective checks and balances, and radical racialist-nationalist, social darwinist ideas; plus an angry middle class and no shortage of equally ruthless henchmen. Add in the oath that personally bound the armed forces to him.

    9 –> The result: first, eugenics [in part based on explicitly Darwinist American laws], then propaganda then euthanising of the mentally ill etc [including bed-wetting children . . .], culminating in the killing off of disabled WW 1 vets as Germany tumbled into WW 2.

    10 –> Then, the setting up of ghettos and the — relatively speaking concealed — slaughter of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs etc etc. The concentration camps — a modification of a BRITISH idea used against the Boers — just made it industrial scale.

    11 –> Dont forget the fate of the first to expose what was going on, the White Rose mov’t: kangaroo courted and beheaded in one afternoon. But after teh war, at Nuremberg the crimes came out. You may be able to find a copy of the trials of the major war criminals at a well-stocked library, which will bring out a lot of the underlying principles and lines of thought.

    12 –> It is at this time that he racist, social darwinist eugenics reading of Darwininan science took a death blow.

    Many historians have documented the line of influences for this case, and Weikart — to name just one — is not talking blue smoke and mirrors. Why not read his book or at least Oakes’ review here?

    Editorial reviews:

    “This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story.”–Ian Dowbiggin, University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

    “Richard Weikart’s outstanding book shows in sober and convincing detail how Darwinist thinkers in Germany had developed an amoral attitude to human society by the time of the First World War, in which the supposed good of the race was applied as the sole criterion of public policy and ‘racial hygiene’. Without over-simplifying the lines that connected this body of thought to Hitler, he demonstrates with chilling clarity how policies such as infanticide, assisted suicide, marriage prohibitions and much else were being proposed for those considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power.”–Richard Evans, University of Cambridge, and author of The Coming of the Third Reich

    “This is an impressive piece of intellectual and cultural history–a well-researched, clearly presented argument with good, balanced, fair judgements. Weikart has a thorough knowledge of the relevant historiography in both German and English.”–Alfred Kelly, Hamilton College

    “Taking a middle ground between scholars on both sides, Richard Weikart has traveled far and wide to bring together a broad range of important programs, institutions, and thinkers who shaped the social and political ramification of Darwinian thought in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany. Many of the voices Weikart conveys appear here in English for the first time.”–Kevin Repp, Yale University

    Okay, gotta go prepare to sit on a hot seat this evening.

    GEM of TKI

  25. KF

    I’ll take that as a “no” to my question of whether we can travel back in time, remove the influence of Charles Darwin’s biological theory of natural selection, and see if the holocaust or something like it still happened. My bet is that it would because man’s inhumanity to man is as old as history itself. I suppose there might be cases of like eskimos or aborigines with earth-momma type religions living in peace for a thousand years straight but it never seems to happen for long where larger groups are involved.

  26. Dave

    Please look at the epistemological principles you are using, and their implications. (Do you — and can you — consistently apply the same standard to all cases of historical and forensic knowledge? And, if you were to try, what would happen; not just to our knowledge of the past, but to the court system and then the society as a whole? [By contrast what I have summarised, linked on, and adverted to above, is based on the generally used standard approach.])

    We can with high confidence know the past without being able to replicate it in a lab so to speak. On the generally used principles of sound historical research, the connexion I have summarised is quite evident and well-warranted.

    Regards

    GEM of TKI

  27. Dave

    Even in Darwin’s day the religious implications of what he claimed were recognized.

    In every generation since Christ there have been religious hypocrites, atheists and maliciously false teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) but with Darwinists in the robes of science the final restraint fell, and you had the 20th century.

  28. DaveScot:

    Although it may be a useful debating tactic to point to reductio ad Hitlerum arguments, and thereby quickly dismiss them, in this case it is inapplicable and your dismissal unwarranted.

    If one reads your post one could get the impression that you are arguing that it is never appropriate to mention Hitler or the Nazis even when the question on the table is what contributed to the Nazi regime. Obviously, in that context, mentioning Hitler or the Nazis is not inappropriate. Indeed, it is part of the very debate.

    To the extent Expelled drew unsupported comparisons to the Nazi regime (and there may be some specific examples), that would be inappropriate. However, the overall section of the movie that talked about Darwinism’s influence on the Nazi regime, is not a case of reductio ad Hitlerum, given that the entire question is whether Darwinism contributed to the Nazi regime.

    Clearly it is appropriate to discuss what may have contributed to the Nazi regime. Whether Darwinism contributed thus becomes a question of fact. Perhaps reasonable minds can differ and perhaps Stein and Berlinski are overly sensitive to the topic due to their backgrounds. However, it is clearly an appropriate topic for discussion. To the extent that evidence shows that Darwinian thought contributed to the rise of the Nazi regime, or its duration, or the “scientific” and rhetorical support of the regime, it is certainly appropriate to say so.

    One can of course counter that viewpoint with alternative facts and by demonstrating that the ties between proponents of Darwinism and the Nazi regime and the written propaganda coming out of the Nazi regime are just coincidental.

    Weikart may be wrong on his research. Berlinski may be wrong in his opinion that Darwinism was necessary for the Nazi regime as we know it. However, any counterpoint would need to be done on a careful review of the facts, not by a facile invocation of victory due to an (incorrectly) perceived use of reductio ad Hitlerum.

  29. 30

    Dave I hate to pile on top here but I think you miss the entire point of the Natural Selection Nazi Germany analogy.

    The point here is this. Darwin’s theory says, as opposed to ID, that all of the complexity, SC and intrinsic value, comes from a purposeless material process that through natural selection became “improved” and fit for life. Now there are degrees of dissent within the Darwinists themselves on this issue. For example Dawkins thinks that NS really does almost all of the designing work and in fact it is the driving force of more fit and “superior” species. Gould on the other hand looked at evolution and NS as not being such an important factor in the superiority of races, breeds, species etc.

    While Gould would have viewed evolution process physically in a similar view to Darwin’s, Dawkins on the other hand views evolution “philosophically” closer to Darwin. Dawkins sees nature as this higgly piggly purification process that is utterly detached from the lives of those living things that are being killed and preserved and that it is through this purposeless machine process that things become “fit” or even perhaps worthy to survive.

    The most important connection between Darwinism and Nazism is that they both think of the process as being the designer and “good of life” no mater how many lives are destroyed in in the purification process. Evolution is not concerned with numbers or individuals. That is to say that while ID says things have a purpose and value that comes from outside of material processes Darwinism and Nazism say the opposite is true.

    So the relationship and demarcation between Darwin’s theory and Nazism is not a case that has to be made “merely” on connections of historical evidence that for example prove that the Nazi’s read Darwin. The connection is about “what is right and wrong” and “what is life about” and the obviously similar view between Darwin‘s and the Nazi‘s. If purification of races is viewed as a good thing as in Darwinism then we have a major problem on our hands.

    If however we think of life as a process that is left up to individuals to “choose” based upon a certain level of “free will” what is right and what is wrong- then we can mark the moment when Darwinian Evolution naturally selects itself out of the picture. Aquinas said “the mind is inclined but not compelled.”- not exactly a Darwinian or Nazi value.

    This debate between MM and ID is the dialectic of our time. Nazism and Darwinism are manifestations of one in the same demon. It is the dialectic of every time. The bible says choose life and Jesus is said to have died for our sins– not to have eliminated us for them or preserve us for their possible reproductive value.

    So the connection is a philosophical one that is obvious to all who look at DE and the Nazi’s modes operandi. If a person believes there is something universally valuable about ALL life (not just the life that nature deems fit) a view that is supported by an ID perspective, then you have a society that is what most of us find civil. If on the other hand life is a purposless process then anything goes and you are left with a savage Darwinian, Nazi world view where man and his sexual ambitions are the only good.

    This analogy is a serious one about world views and inferences via scientific evidence. One view point judges individuals for what good they do and the other for how reproductively successful they are. This is a dichotomy that is about “truth” and I find it interesting enough that all of those smart strapping young German boys who were merely moving along the process for the good of mankind were destroyed by the same process that they worshiped.Perhaps there is more to the truth than meets the eye?

    This defines the main reason why we protect and respect our right to bare arms. Not because we want to kill, but because we seek to retain the natural right to do to those as they have choose to do to others.

    One more quick logical point. When Bill Dembski agrees that Darwinism is a necessary condition though not a sufficient condition for Nazism he means that the view that races, through their reproductive capabilities, are preserved and purified- and the thought that only the more fit are naturally selected to survive- was a necessary construct to warrant the killings of the Jews and all of the mentally ill rambling of Mein Kampf. This is clearly correct because why else would you try to purify a race by killing off the weak unless you knew that their death would prevent future off spring from carrying their unwanted characteristics? And the Nazi’s certianly knew about animal breeding and the concepts of morphological inheritance. It was a respect for life’s dignity and the reality of the prime Designer that that they Nazi’s rejected and they paid dearly for it. Darwinism is merely the philosophical mechanical vechical that facilitated their destruction. Good riddance.

    The analogy is in my view well warranted indeed.

  30. DaveScott at 10
    US History Encyclopedia states on Miscegenation:

    The first antimiscegenation statute appears to have been enacted in Maryland in 1661, in part for economic reasons. The statute forbidding interracial marriage in effect gave slave owners the ability to increase their number of slaves through birth. The statute deemed any child born of a free mother and slave father to be a slave of the father’s master. . . .The effect of the statute, however, was to increase forced interracial marriages because of the economic incentive for slave owners to force indentured white female servants to marry black male slaves to produce more slaves by birth from a slave father.. . .

    Thus apparently, this law was NOT for racial purity, but because of the economics of slavery – it effectively ENCOURAGED marrying white females to black males to generate more slaves.

    This actually shows the same worldview as Darwin – treating some men as slaves – not as created equal.

    If you search history, it is the Christians who led the campaign to end slavery. See William Wilberforce. e.g., in the movie Amazing Grace.

  31. 32
    Vladimir Krondan

    A thought or two

    Here’s a thought from Leonard Darwin:

    “As an agency making for progress, conscious selection must replace the blind forces of natural selection; and men must utilize all the knowledge acquired by studying the process of evolution in the past in order to promote moral and physical progress in the future. The nation which first takes this great work thoroughly in hand will surely not only win in all matters of international competition, but will be given a place of honour in the history of the world.

    - Leonard Darwin, Presidential address, First International Eugenics Congress, 1912.

    More such thoughts here: Euvolution 0.4.6.1

  32. David Hagen

    I don’t appreciate the dishonesty in your partial quote. You lied by omission. That does not live up to the standard I expect in authors here.

    The parts you left out:

    The enactment of antimiscegenation laws can be attributed to a variety of factors, including economic considerations and a desire on the part of some for the maintenance of so-called “racial purity.”

    Some states’ antimiscegenation laws prohibited marriage between any races, but most laws were more concerned with preserving white racial purity. Many antimiscegenation laws were enacted at a time when slavery and notions of white supremacy had already become fixtures in the epic of American history. The notion of white supremacy and preserving “whiteness” encompassed the idea that marriage between races producing “mixed” children would “muddle” the purity of the white race. The “one drop rule” of classifying a person as black because the person had one drop of black blood exemplified the concern of some in the United States for preserving whiteness. To preserve white racial purity and prevent production of mixed offspring, many American states forbade the marriage between whites and blacks. This view was vindicated in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), in which Homer A. Plessy, whose only non white ancestor was one of his eight great-grandparents, was determined to be black in the eyes of the law. Other states, such as California in 1909, added people of Japanese descent to the list of those banned from marrying whites.

  33. DLH

    If you search history, it is the Christians who led the campaign to end slavery.

    It was also Christians (in the south) who led the campaign to continue slavery.

    Your attempts to misrepresent history are lame and easily exposed.

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