Will they ever give up?

At the American Spectator we find an article by Richard Weikart titled thusly:

Darwin and the Nazis

Uh – oh. It’s almost as if Weikart is about to try and blame Hitler and the Holocaust on Darwin and evolutionary biology. This type of rhetoric is currently the centrepiece of the Intelligent Design Creationist (IDC) modus operandi. As I’ve remarked on numerous occasions, continued failure to provide real evidence for their religiously motivated theories has forced IDC’s to resort to this mud throwing tactic. They can’t win on the science, so they try to get attention by mentioning Darwin and Hitler in the same sentence as frequently as possible. But wait, maybe I’m jumping the gun here. Perhaps Weikart has some new and convincing arguments which make a water-tight case for the connection between evolutionary biology and the Final Solution. Let’s see what he has offer…

Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, and some other Darwinists are horrified that the forthcoming documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, will promote Intelligent Design to a large audience when it opens at over a thousand theaters nationwide on April 18. Ironically, their campaign to discredit Ben Stein and the film confirms its main point, which is to expose the persecution meted out by Darwinists to those daring to criticize Darwinian theory.

Not off to a good start. Weikart reveals that he is unable to draw a distinction between criticism and persecution. If someone disagrees with you and says so, that’s not persecution. If you make sloppy, fallacy ridden arguments and someone calls you out on it, that’s not persecution. By Weikart’s definition of persecution, this very blog post is an act of persecution. If IDC’s want to be taken seriously a good start would be to drop the whole cry-and-run-home-to-mummy routine every time someone says or writes a few unkind words about them.

[W]hat is most objectionable about the Nazis’ worldview? Isn’t it that they had no respect for human life? Their rejection of the sanctity of human life led the Nazi regime to murder millions of Jews, hundreds of thousands of Gypsies, and about 200,000 disabled Germans. Where did the Nazis get the idea that some human beings were “lives unworthy of life”?

As I show in meticulous detail in my book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, the Nazis’ devaluing of human life derived from Darwinian ideology (this does not mean that all Nazi ideology came from Darwinism). There were six features of Darwinian theory that have contributed to the devaluing of human life (then and now):

1. Darwin argued that humans were not qualitatively different from animals. The leading Darwinist in Germany, Ernst Haeckel, attacked the “anthropocentric” view that humans are unique and special.

Technically, humans aren’t any different from animals. Homo-sapiens is a type of animal. To acknowledge that humans are a part of the animal kingdom is not to suggest that humans have less value. Science does not rule on the value of things.

2. Darwin denied that humans had an immaterial soul. He and other Darwinists believed that all aspects of the human psyche, including reason, morality, aesthetics, and even religion, originated through completely natural processes.

Darwin had every right to disbelieve in the existence of immaterial souls. Why? Because he saw no evidence to support there existence. Perhaps Weikart may feel better if he believes in immaterial souls, but that doesn’t mean they are real. Furthermore, he doesn’t explain why not believing in immaterial souls is a bad thing. Presumably he believes it to be self-evident. Weikart also fails to explain why natural origins for reasoning and morals is problematic. Why do these things need magical origins to have meaning?

3. Darwin and other Darwinists recognized that if morality was the product of mindless evolution, then there is no objective, fixed morality and thus no objective human rights. Darwin stated in his Autobiography that one “can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones.”

So it seems Weikart believes there exists an objective, fixed morality. But can he tell us what this morality is? Can he tell us why this morality is superior and why we can rely on it? No. I, for one, do not share Weikart’s theological presuppositions; if he wants to convince me a given action is moral (or immoral) he needs to employ logic and reason. He can’t appeal to a holy book or religious dogma to which I do not subscribe.
Also, it takes a lot of lateral thinking to interpret Darwin’s quote as “do whatever the hell you like”.

4. Since evolution requires variation, Darwin and other early Darwinists believed in human inequality. Haeckel emphasized inequality to such as extent that he even classified human races as twelve distinct species and claimed that the lowest humans were closer to primates than to the highest humans.

And of course the idea that some races were inferior to others existed long before Darwin. In the 1800’s it wasn’t unusual for Europeans to consider themselves as superior to others, and no doubt many of these Europeans were devoutly religious people who would have rejected Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

5. Darwin and most Darwinists believe that humans are locked in an ineluctable struggle for existence. Darwin claimed in The Descent of Man that because of this struggle, “[a]t some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

In the grand scheme of things (especially if we look at things on a geological timescale), humans are locked in an ineluctable struggle for existence. And unsurprisingly, Darwin’s quote is taken out of context. Refer to the TalkOrigins quote mine project for more details.

6. Darwinism overturned the Judeo-Christian view of death as an enemy, construing it instead as a beneficial engine of progress. Darwin remarked in The Origin of Species, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”

Would all subscribers of the Judeo-Christian worldview agree that death is an “enemy”? Remember, when you die, you don’t really die, and if you’ve been a good boy or girl you reap a wonderful reward. And again, Weikart sees no need to explain why Darwin’s interpretation of the workings of nature is wrong. For him it just ‘sounds bad’, and that’s enough.

These six ideas were promoted by many prominent Darwinian biologists and Darwinian-inspired social thinkers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All six were enthusiastically embraced by Hitler and many other leading Nazis. Hitler thought that killing “inferior” humans would bring about evolutionary progress. Most historians who specialize in the Nazi era recognize the Darwinian underpinnings of many aspects of Hitler’s ideology.

Again, Weikart pretends genocide and the notion of racial superiority didn’t exist prior the the publication of The Origin of Species. Even if Hitler had explicitly cited Darwin’s insights into biology in justifying his programs of mass extermination it would not change the fact that species evolve. And are these historians the same historians cited by David Klinghoffer at Evolution News & Views? The historians that don’t really sign-on to the Darwin-to-Hitler meme?

But what does this have to do with the present? Darwinists today are not Nazis.

If you look back at the six points outlined above, however, you will find that many Darwinists today are advancing the same or similar ideas. Many leading Darwinists today teach that morality is nothing but a natural product of evolution, thus undermining human rights.

Non-sequitur. If human morality has natural explanations why does it logically follow that human rights are undermined?

E. O. Wilson, one of the most prominent Darwinian biologists in the world, and Michael Ruse, a leading philosopher of science (the latter is in Expelled) famously stated that ethics is “an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes.”

Many leading Darwinists today also claim that Darwinism undermines the Judeo-Christian conception of the sanctity of human life. Dawkins wrote in 2001 that we should try to genetically engineer an evolutionary ancestor to the human species to demolish the “speciesist” illusion that humans are special or sacred. In the same article he expressed support for involuntary euthanasia. Another critic of “speciesism,” Peter Singer, one of the leading bioethicists in the world, argues that Darwinism destroyed the Judeo-Christian sanctity-of-life ethic, so infanticide and euthanasia are permissible. James Watson, one of the world’s most famous geneticists and a staunch Darwinist, has railed at the idea that humans are sacred and special.

Given Weikart’s track record so far on presenting the thoughts and words of others, I think it’s fair to take all of this with a grain of salt. If Dawkins had really suggested that we should be running around euthanising people at any chance we get I think I would have heard about it by now. Furthermore, whether or not humans are ‘special’ depends on the context of the discussion. I suspect in the above cases Weikart has omitted this context.

This is yet another poor attempt to smear evolutionary biology by the IDC’s. Non-sequitur after non-sequitur is offered in place of any real arguments. It’s getting boring – the crap churned out in favour of this absurd notion is as monotonous as it is illogical.

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~ by Sammy Jankis on April 17, 2008.

4 Responses to “Will they ever give up?”

  1. Hitler had some interesting views on the Darwinian concept that man had evolved from other animals.

    From Hitler’s Tischgespraeche for 1942 ‘Woher nehmen wir das Recht zu glauben, der Mensch sei nicht von Uranfaengen das gewesen , was er heute ist? Der Blick in die Natur zeigt uns, dass im Bereich der Pflanzen und Tiere Veraenderungen und Weiterbildungen vorkommen. Aber nirgends zeigt sich innherhalb einer Gattung eine Entwicklung von der Weite des Sprungs, den der Mensch gemacht haben muesste, sollte er sich aus einem affenartigen Zustand zu dem, was er ist, fortgebildet haben.’

    I shall translate Hitler’s words, as recorded by the stenographer.

    ‘From where do we get the right to believe that man was not from the very beginning what he is today.

    A glance in Nature shows us , that changes and developments happen in the realm of plants and animals. But nowhere do we see inside a kind, a development of the size of the leap that Man must have made, if he supposedly has advanced from an ape-like condition to what he is’ (now)

    And in the entry for 27 February 1942 , Hitler says ‘Das, was der Mensch von dem Tier voraushat, der veilleicht wunderbarste Beweis fuer die Ueberlegenheit des Menschen ist, dass er begriffen hat, dass es eine Schoepferkraft geben muss.’

    Hitler was influenced by the ideas of the Reverend Thomas Malthus, as was Darwin, and indeed as was everybody in the 20th century.

  2. In the fundie universe, evidence counts for nothing; only the capital W Word of their preferred capital A Authorities counts. And so they judge everyone else, believing that if they are able to poison the Charles Darwin well, evolutionary biology falls.

  3. Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for ‘exaggerating’ or ‘going easy’ on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the ‘Politics-is-applied-biology’ Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of ‘agnostism’ was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany. Haeckel was also the first one to propose a systematic answer to the Judenfrage: To EXPEL all the Jews from their chairs at the universities.

    ‘Kampf’ was a direct translation of ‘struggle’ from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

    Catch 22: As an indication of the evolutionary ‘PUS’, Haeckel’s 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled in most biology text books until this millennium. This despite the fact that Haeckel’s crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). It was the second to most cross/scientific paradigm in the 20th century. Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS – and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it. Text book authors are making a mockery out of science.

    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, ‘legally’. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    More from conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology:
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  4. Thanks for your comments Pauli…

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