During the debate over science curriculum standards in Texas early last year, anti-science fanatics argued that serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer’s depravity was the result of “believing” in evolution. Yeah, that was pretty crazy. But it’s not any crazier than the more common smear tactic of tying the acceptance of evolutionary science to Nazi Germany. The far-right group American Family Association sent out an e-mail yesterday doing just that.
The AFA is hawking a DVD set entitled What Hath Darwin Wrought?, which features an evangelical radio host (Todd Friel) and three “fellows” (John West, Richard Weikart, David Berlinski) with the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle. The propaganda program suggests that “the 20th century was the bloodiest century in human history” because of Charles Darwin and evolutionary science:
Why did the world suddenly find itself murdering millions of innocent people?
Is it possible that one specific idea influenced or provided a justification for the atrocities we know as Nazi Germany, the eugenics movement and abortion?
Is it possible that idea was Darwinian evolution? Charles Darwin loved his wife and children. He paid his taxes and he never kicked his dog. But Charles Darwin had a big idea, and ideas have consequences.
Can we thank the advocates of natural selection for the deaths of millions of people? Or were their ideas twisted and misapplied?
Yes, we know it’s really hard to take these folks seriously — until you remember that they are taken seriously by people who decide what millions of students will learn in their public school classrooms. Sadly, you will find people like that on the Texas State Board of Education.
14 thoughts on “Blame Hitler or Darwin?”
I addressed this Darwin –> Hitler claim last month:
Jonah Goldberg makes an interesting link between the various brands of fascism and various features of the liberal political themes leading to that time. He labors a bit much on trying to smear present day liberalism with parallels in the themes leading up to the fascist state. Nevertheless, the political, economic, and social themes stretching back to the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Bolshevik revolution and the politics do constitute a web of common concerns.
The common themes include the notion of nationality and nation being related instead of the older paradigm of the rule of princes, kings, dukes and the whole of rule by the blood lines of aristocrats or by divine right. Nationality and the rule based on the popular will proceeded from that and is at the heart of our revolution and many since. In 1910, there were only a handful of republics (France and the USA) and a few more monarchies with some modicum of popular validation like the UK. By 1960, the number of royal states became a relic.
Nationalism and liberal ideas marched hand in hand until the concept that the popular will could be interpreted by a chosen few without elections of note came along and manifested itself in Stalinism, Italian Faschims and Herr Hitler. The notion that a handful can deduce the popular will without popular involvement is still around in a wide variety of nations today (North Korea, Saddam’s Iraq, Libya, et al).
Many of the ideas that Mussolini and Hitler used in that regard were lauded by a fair number of [oliiticians who should have known better, including David Lloyd George UK PM in WW1. Ann Lindberg wrote a popular book callling fascism the wave of the future.
The Nurnberg Race Laws were based in large part on the race laws of New Jersey and California. Miscegnation was illegal in California well into the Fifties. The race laws in the US were based on the “science” of eugenics which was a derivative of the concept of “natural selection” sometimes called social Darwinism. The notion that “pure” races were inferior to mixed racial composition or “Mudblood” in Potter Speak misses the evolutionary error of in-breeding. Humans are infinitely more susceptible to major health problems due to inbreeding, hence the rule of cousins.
In short, the theories of racial purity were not only unscientific, but counter-productive.
Goldberg correctly points out that Fascism and Nazism were left of center, and no where near the “right”. Both denounced capitalism with the same verve as did the Communist and various variants of socialism. The name “NAZI” is national socialism. Fascism is named after a derivation of the word fasces which was the bundle of rods and an axe used in Roman times as symbols of justice, as in social and economic justice.
The Righteous Right has seized on Goldberg’s book and it as a cudgel on present day liberals, along with King James. Defending by denial only feeds the fire, which has more heat than light.
Alolph Hitler proved that one can be anti-abortion, but not pro-life. While trying to create his master race, if a white Ayrian woman had an abortion in Nazi Germany she was put to hard labor. If she had a second abortion she was put to death. Hitler himself was a survivor of abortion. His mother wanted to get an abortion before he was born, but was unable to. (The same was said of Saddam Hussein, whose mother also wanted to abort him). Those who are pro-life will say that Hitler and Saddam Hussein had a right to be born. Those who are pro-choice would say the Hitler, Hussein, (and murderers on death row) should never have been born in the first place.
* Why did the world suddenly find itself murdering millions of innocent people?
Er, the world did not SUDDENLY find itself murdering millions of innocent people. Genocides and mass murdering have been going on since homanids dropped out of the trees, and one family contested for territory and food with a rival family. One family had to win and the other family had to lose. When families congregated to form clans, the fighting escalated from there for self-preservation.
Sometimes mass killings have been for religious reasons (Bible, Koran, Crusades, etc for example) but even then the prizes of territorial conquest and wealth cannot be excluded.
Mass murder has been underway in Africa steadily since forever, and I bet a lot or most of these wars and mass murders have nothing to do with fascism or socialism. They are probably more related to someone claiming more power, territory, or natural resources (read: diamonds) over someone else, issues that can be a part of fascism or socialism but not necessarily.
Even the good ole USA engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing in the 18th and 19th centuries – again, for territory and natural resources. Yes, the genocide was uneven and on a small scale compared to 20th century standards, but that may have been due to the lack of modern technology and the already dwindling population of those targeted for elimination and subjugation.
* Is it possible that one specific idea influenced or provided a justification for the atrocities we know as Nazi Germany, the eugenics movement and abortion?
Not to defend Nazi Germany!, but Nazi Germany did not invent eugenics nor abortion. Abortion has been around since women have been getting pregnant. And did not the ancient Greeks practice a primitive form of eugenics? People practice eugenics naturally on their own. People tend to prefer to marry someone they find attractive, either physically, intellectually, or financially (preferably all three!) in order to produce offspring most likely to survive and thrive.
* Can we thank the advocates of natural selection for the deaths of millions of people? Or were their ideas twisted and misapplied?
No, natural selection means what it says: natural selection. The Nazi’s attempt to eliminate “unwanted” races and ethnicities was UNNATURAL. The Nazis were the instigators and the implementors. Nature had nothing to do with it.
As for the second half of the question, I don’t know if their ideas are “twisted” and/or “misapplied,” because I don’t know what is meant by those descriptions. But their ideas have never been proved wrong. If the Religious Wrong sees a correlation between natural selection and mass murder, it’s illogical to jump to the conclusion of causation. Correlation is not necessarily causation.
Reminds me of questions on part of the ASCP board of certification exam. A sentence will be presented containing two clauses. The certificate applicant will determine if the two clauses are true and related, true and unrelated, false and related, or… and you get the picture.
But I realize these concepts are way over the heads of the Religious Wrong. They are too simple-minded and incapable of independent thought or logic. In fact, independent thought and logic are very much discouraged among the Religious Wrong.
I do find it fascinating that the Religious Wrong is so opposed to what they call “darwinism,” yet they fully embrace “social darwinism,” i.e. those who fall through the socioeconomic cracks deserve the resultant failure they get.
Yeah Cytocop. These American Family Association fruitcakes apparently want people to believe that no person and no nation on Earth ever committed barbarous atrocities until Hitler arrived on the governmental scene in 1932. Human history is full of massive bloodshed that long predated Darwin’s time. Proportional to the populations of their times, I would bet you good money that the 20th century was not the bloodiest century in human history.
The Romans killed off the entire populations of villages and towns, including the children, every last living one of them, to send the message that no one messes around with Rome. Maybe the American Family Association can tell us about the secret German time machines that were used to send Nazi ideologues back into all past phases of human history throughout the globe to spread Darwin’s ideas. Maybe Darwin’s ideas caused Aztec citizens to be burned alive by Cortez and his priests for not accepting the gospel? Maybe Darwin instituted the Spanish Inquisition? Then again. Just possibly. The American Family Association is being dishonest with their followers because they know that they really are simple fools who are easily manipulated. As I have said in the past and will say again here, all they have to do is sprinkle the “J” name in with the description of whatever insanity they wish to commit, and these people will jump off a cliff for them. Jesus never told people to turn off their brains, but many of them have done just that.
“the advocates of natural selection”
That’s really funny, when you think about it. I don’t know any “advocates” of natural selection. I know people who accept it as fact, because of the massive evidence behind it, and many of these people study it, etc., but it’s not like they’re saying, “Yay, natural selection! You have my support!”
Saying “advocates of natural selection” is as silly as saying “advocates of gravity.”
Ben, early 21st century advocate for the laws of planetary motion, with the touch of this sword I bequeath to you a royal knighthood and bestow upon you the title “Isthmus of Panama.”
If we are going to start complaining about the unfortunate consequences of knowing about nature, what about that darn atomic theory of matter? Without atomic theory would there be any reason to worry about nuclear weapons? And don’t get me started about Newton and that darn theory of gravity!
[Oh, btw, speaking of nuclear theory: Happy Hiroshima Day!]
Thanks, Charles. I feel special now.
Eugenics involves selective breeding or artificial selection, not natural selection … just like Old McDonald did on his farm along with millions of other farmers throughout history, selecting for that beefier beef, that eggier chicken, that porkier pig, that milkier cow, those Aryanier Germans. And, hey, if you were culled by the Fuhrer, I mean farmer, tough luck, you weren’t the wooliest lamb. But, all that is selective breeding or artificial selection, not natural selection. Equating selective breeding to natural selection is a flaw in one’s thinking. Natural selection is a mindless process, selective breeding is mindful. Furthermore, I’m certain that many of those farmers were Christians. So, I say, blame it on the Christian farmers. Problem solved.
The AFA people should thoroughly study the book “PREACHING EUGENICS” by Christine Rosen.
Eugenics was embraced by those who wanted to improve the human race in order to expedite the return (or the arrival) of the “Messiah”.
By the 1930’s only a few pseudo-scientists (and Hitler) still “believed” in eugenics.
Who could take any theory seriously when it is named after some guy named Eugene? I mean really. Doesn’t that just beat all?
Hey, Charles, I take issue with your last comment. My father was a Eugene! Just kidding. (But his name really was Eugene). Ha.
Reminds me of a line from Mystery Science Theatre: “Who’d want to beaten up by a guy named Kevin”? (With apologies to all the Kevins who might be here).
derBrat, yeah and if it weren’t for that darn Color Theory, I’d be out of my hobby. And if it weren’t for that darn Cell Theory, I’d be out of a job!