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History prof talks to Michael Medved about the evolutionary roots of Nazism

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From David Klinghoffer at ENST:

The newly launched podcast Great Minds with Michael Medved goes where few other podcasts would dare to tread. On a new episode, Medved talks with historian Richard Weikart about the clear intellectual and genealogical links between the thought of Charles Darwin and that of Adolf Hitler. Weikart, a meticulous scholar, traces the connection in his book From Darwin to Hitler, demonstrating that Darwin’s theory is tainted at its origins. This is an aspect of history that most historians won’t tell you about.

It’s timely for me because over the weekend my family went to see Darkest Hour, about the crucial moment of decision for Great Britain under Winston Churchill — whether to appease Hitler and seek peace, or to risk absolutely everything and fight. The movie is amazing, the best film I’ve seen in a while. It struck me that the tidal wave of evil unleased by Nazi Germany, which the Allies were able to defeat once America entered the war, can in a certain respect be explained as the working out of the ideas, evolutionary ideas, that we cover here. More.

Program is here.

Of course Nazism is rooted in a Darwinian view of life.  Few things are easier to demonstrate. But it is one of those fact bases that get howled down by people who don’t want to confront where their philosophy of life has been and can so easily return.

Note: Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler and Hitler’s Ethic. is also the author of The Death of Humanity, From Darwin to Hitler and Hitler’s Ethic.

See also: Webinar Saturday: Richard Weikart on “The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life”

and

Richard Weikart asks Christian Darwinists some pretty obvious questions (2012)

21 Replies to “History prof talks to Michael Medved about the evolutionary roots of Nazism

  1. 1
    Molson Bleu says:

    This is exactly the type of hype that I wish ID would steer clear of. Linking evolution with eugenics and Hitler is just a dishonest tactic used to justify dismissing the arguments made by people who support evolution rather than address the specific arguments being made and the evidence they provide to support it. It is no different than ID opponents labelling ID as creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

    Even if Hitler was inspired by Darwin, or ID was inspired by religion, how does either claim support which theory better explains reality? They don’t. They are just intended to cast doubt on the motivations of those who support the opposing view.

    I know that we can never eliminate the use of this tactic, but why stoop to their level?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, please see here on eugenics: “the self-direction of human evolution.” The issue of the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism is also relevant, which BTW includes undermining rationality as rationality is governed by duties to truth, sound reasoning and more, that is self referential undermining of rationality is also at work. Consequences are documented from Plato in The Laws Bk X forward. In short, reflecting soberly on this is a legitimate part of the worldviews question relevant to our concerns for the future of our civilisation. KF

  3. 3
    Molson Bleu says:

    “In short, reflecting soberly on this is a legitimate part of the worldviews question relevant to our concerns for the future of our civilisation.”

    But it says absolutely nothing about the truthfulness, or not, of evolution.

    You don’t defeat evolution by saying that it can be abused and misused. The same can be said for chemistry, physics, nucljear physics, and any other science. The same can be said for Christianity and Islam.

    The evolutionists use the same lame tactic to discredit Christianity.

    Stop playing a game where they are making the rules. And, frankly, play it much better than we do.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, the amorality of evolutionary materialism undermines the duties to truth, sound reasoning etc that are inextricably entangled with rational reflection or discussion. That is inherently self referential and destructive to reason. That is highly material, as it points to cognition and communication being turned into little more than tools of manipulation (Pilate’s cynical “what is truth” then rules the roost); thence, were such to spread far and wide, disintegration of civil society. KF

  5. 5
    Molson Bleu says:

    “MB, the amorality of evolutionary materialism undermines the duties to truth, sound reasoning etc that are inextricably entangled with rational reflection or discussion.”

    In essence, you are saying that evolution and materialism are wrong because they are amoral. And that you don’t like the consequences that would result if this were true. Neither do I. But our opinions and fears are not evidence for or against anything. The only way that we can gain credibility for ID is to stay away from arguments like this.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, no. I am pointing out that for cause (and not just on theory) evolutionary materialism has shown itself to be untrustworthy and to be radically undermining of rationality and responsibility with full implications of its ruinous moral nature drawn out under the Categorical Imperative. So, our response to such agendas must be guided and guarded by that hard-bought insight. Separately, we have good reason to understand that by reduction of mindedness to absurd grand delusion in many interacting and mutually reinforcing ways, the worldview is self-refuting and so it is necessarily false and therefore an intellectually untenable, irrational worldview; which unfortunately does not prevent it from being a dominant, domineering, manipulative, massively destructive cultural influence that initiates, leads and enforces civilisation-level marches of suicidal folly — which is exactly what I noted on just above. BTW, it often does so by wearing the lab coat as a means of prestige, attempting to impose the equally self-refuting notion, scientism: science [usually, as radically redefined on evo mat terms] monopolises serious knowledge, though of course some allowance is made for “other” forms that are inferior to science and are of no account once science comes a -knocking at the door. That is how eugenics was imposed and the link to the 1921 International Conference logo tells the sorry story, a point you have not responded to. So, we must be warned about that and we must be on our guard to defend our civilisation, which is part of what News has done above, as a part of UD’s mandate. And, I must note that in the BA77 thread, I have responded in reasonable detail to your challenge to UD’s mandate. You have yet to respond there in a cogent fashion. Perhaps, there is where you need to go and address matters before raising talking points already answered there in other threads — a notorious behaviour pattern of a “concern troll.” KF

  7. 7
    asauber says:

    You don’t defeat evolution by saying that it can be abused and misused.

    MB,

    Pointing out that something can be used and abused is actually a great starting point for inquiry. A good next step for someone to take is, “I see abuse here, from where does it originate?” Start peeling the layers of the onion. In the case of things like evolution and climate change, it stinks all the way down, which is good to know.

    Andrew

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    Weikart is by many accounts a highly respected historian but, in my view, his scholarship is tainted by his anti-Darwinian agenda.

    The Nazis were pragmatists and opportunists. They fed on the bitter resentment in Germany over its defeat in World War One and the humiliating terms forced on it at Versailles. They sought to restore Germany to what they believed was its rightful position of power an prestige amongst the nations of the world. They took advantage of the hardship, fear and uncertainty caused by the Great Depression to offer the prospect of strong leadership and a vision of a prosperous and powerful new Germany.

    To those ends they were prepared to enlist anything that could be made to serve them. They appealed to the Christian beliefs of what was still a strongly Christian nation while planning to create a Nazi church because they feared existing churches as rival political power bases.

    As far as the theory of evolution was concerned, the Nazis were only interested in what furthered their ideal of a pure-bred Aryan master-race. That meant ideas drawn from eugenics and animal husbandry rather than Darwinian natural selection.

    And the question still remains, if Christianity is not tainted by association with the Nazis then how does their adoption of eugenics have any bearing on the scientific credibility of the theory of evolution in biology?

    Besides, if you want to know what influenced the real horrors of the Nazi regime just read a treatise called On The Jews And Their Lies by Martin Luther. In its virulent anti-Semitism it could easily have been written by a leading Nazi propagandist. Yet, historically, it was just one instance of an anti-Semitism that has been endemic in Europe for centuries and which undoubtedly provided fertile ground in which the seeds of Nazism could take root and grow. It is that, far more than anything Darwin wrote, that led to the Holocaust.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Molson Bleu:

    This is exactly the type of hype that I wish ID would steer clear of. Linking evolution with eugenics and Hitler is just a dishonest tactic used to justify dismissing the arguments made by people who support evolution rather than address the specific arguments being made and the evidence they provide to support it.

    What specific arguments and evidence would that be? Please be specific

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky,

    it is patent that you wish to avoid the force of massive evidence in haste to attach primary blame to the West’s Christian heritage.

    Let me cite Herr Schcklegruber himself in his best known work:

    Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents . . . 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 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 . . . .

    In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right or opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. [That is, Darwinian sexual selection.] And struggle is always a means for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development.

    If the process were different, all further and higher development would cease and the opposite would occur. For, since the inferior always predominates numerically over the best [NB: this is a theme in Darwin’s discussion of the Irish, the Scots and the English in Descent], if both had the same possibility of preserving life and propagating, the inferior would multiply so much more rapidly that in the end the best would inevitably be driven into the background, unless a correction of this state of affairs were undertaken. Nature does just this by subjecting the weaker part to such severe living conditions that by them alone the number is limited, and by not permitting the remainder to increase promiscuously, but making a new and ruthless choice according to strength and health . . .

    Kindly, observe the clear sources of these thoughts, especially by comparison with Ch 6 of Darwin’s 1871 Descent of Man:

    Man is liable to numerous, slight, and diversified variations, which are induced by the same general causes, are governed and transmitted in accordance with the same general laws, as in the lower animals. Man has multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species . . . .

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    KF

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Heine, turn of the 183o’s is also relevant — and documents precisely the rising tide of waning of Christian influence and its implications that you need to address:

    Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [–> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . do not overlook the obvious], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame [–> an irrational battle- and blood- lust]. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world.

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [–> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [–> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831]

    Provine then draws out what we should all carefully note:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    NB: When i get back I will document the actual relevant teachings of foundational Christian scriptures on relevant topics of moral duty and on race. Insofar as figures like Luther fell short of these that is their wrong, not the fault of the actual Christian Faith itself. Yes we ever struggle to learn, acknowledge and do the right, but that is our challenge. KF

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let us address the follow-up.

    First, there is a longstanding (and in the end saddening) agenda in our civilisation to taint its Christian heritage, especially by one-sidedly harping on a litany of the real and imagined sins and wrongs of Christendom, while suppressing, re-assigning or even scoffing at its many contributions to genuine progress. (This can be detected by asking for the other side of the story, including the implications of the global evidence of struggle to do the good. [Cf here.])

    There is also a wider refusal to address cogently the grounding of moral government and responsible, rational freedom in light of the IS-OUGHT gap.

    Such, we must correct and turn away from.

    Now, on the already mentioned, let us see Paul, speaking to the Areopagus Council in the presence of the Athenians, c. 50 AD:

    Ac 17:22 So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I observe [with every turn I make throughout the city] that you are very religious and devout in all respects. 23 Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN [d]UNKNOWN GOD.’

    Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

    24 The God who created the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He [e]served by human hands, as though He needed anything, because it is He who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things.

    26 And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. 27 This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

    28 For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of [f]your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ [AMP]

    This grounds our fundamental equality as children of God, and grounds it as naturally evident to the reasonable, responsible, reflective person. It also places such in a sacred context, that we are created equal and so have neighbourly duties of respect and nurture. There is no ground in this for despising the other as inferior and setting out to plunder or destroy.

    Seven years later, writing to the Christians of the capital, Rome, he would remark; illuminated by Moshe and Jesus:

    Rom 13:8 [b]Owe nothing to anyone except to [c]love and seek the best for one another; for he who [unselfishly] loves his neighbor has fulfilled the [essence of the] law [relating to one’s fellowman].

    9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law.

    11 Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ].

    12 The night [this present evil age] is almost gone and the day [of Christ’s return] is almost here. So let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light. 13 Let us conduct ourselves properly and honorably as in the [light of] day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, not in quarreling and jealousy.

    14 But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for [nor even think about gratifying] the flesh in regard to its improper desires. [AMP]

    In this, we find no excuse or justification for hating one’s fellow child of God but instead the duty of neighbourly respect and support in the community of the civil peace of justice. Where, indeed, one may understand that rights are the dual to this: that as we are God’s children, equally in his image and equally open to the rescue of the gospel of Messiah, thence equally tasked to walk in the good works laid out in advance for us, then we have a proper expectation of respect and support.

    Now, too, it can be responsibly argued that we are finite, fallible, morally struggling/fallen, and too often ill-willed. This means that individually and collectively, there is an uphill fight to live by the good. So it is to be expected that the story of any civilisation will reflect that two-sidedness. The challenge to be explained is reform, not the struggle implicit in historian (and Christian) Lord Acton, when he observed that power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely and that the pivotal great men [of history] are . . . as a rule! . . . bad men.

    Of course, only if one is corruptible can one be corrupted, which brings us full circle to the moral hazard of being human: finite, fallible, struggling morally, too often ill-willed.

    And more, but enough for now.

    KF

  14. 14
    Molson Bleu says:

    “NB: When i get back I will document the actual relevant teachings of foundational Christian scriptures on relevant topics of moral duty and on race. Insofar as figures like Luther fell short of these that is their wrong, not the fault of the actual Christian Faith itself.”

    The challenge that all religions face is that everyone believes that they properly interpret the respective scriptures. I am sure that Luther strongly believed that his anti-semetism was soundly grounded in Christian scriptures. And, sadly, Christian interpretations of scripture have been used/misused throughout history to justify anti-Semitism and other things that we abhor today. As they are used today to oppose things like the normalization of homosexuality and same sex marriage, and to promote things like faithfulness, mutual support and charity.

    Human nature is such that our first gut reaction to anyone who is different than us (skin colour, faith, culture…) is a level of wariness and caution. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, unfortunately, a significant number of people will grasp at any justification to marginalize those who are different. And the more authoritative that justification, the better. If people can interpret scriptures to justify their biases and prejudices, these become, in their minds, justifications of the highest authority. None of this is the fault of the Christian faith, or Islamic or Jewish or Hindu faiths. But these faiths, especially in their organized manifestations, have a huge responsibility and obligation given the ease with which their foundational documents can be misinterpreted and misused.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    MB:

    Just a quick note:

    I am sure that Luther strongly believed that his anti-semetism was soundly grounded in Christian scriptures.

    That is objectively testable. It was clearly out of line with the as already cited [which texts are by no means obscure or hidden, indeed are of high historical significance . . . ], and things that take it further are worse.

    So, no, the premise of your onward objection fails.

    As to the reaction against the different, actually the scriptures in question directly answer that too, as can be read.

    yes, we may struggle with our prejudices and worse, but that is the point, they are here identified as to be challenged and overcome.

    Kindly, see the text above as cited from Ac 17 and Rom 13. The Sermon on the Mount, the core of Christian ethics — as was BTW recently highlighted here at UD because of patterns of objections that reveal utter ignorance, will be found fully compatible with these remarks from Paul. And of course he cites the decalogue and highlights that neighbour love is the underlying premise.

    Prejudice is real but it cannot be justified on the suggested grounds.

    KF

  16. 16
    Molson Bleu says:

    “That is objectively testable. It was clearly out of line with the as already cited [which texts are by no means obscure or hidden, indeed are of high historical significance . . . ], and things that take it further are worse.”

    You can certainly provide scriptural evidence to counter the validity of Luther’s anti-Semitic views. But that is not the same thing as saying that he didn’t feel that his anti-Semitic views were soundly grounded in Christian scriptures. Those are two very different things.

    “Prejudice is real but it cannot be justified on the suggested grounds.”

    I am not talking about whether or not scriptures can be used to irrefutably justify prejudice, which I don’t believe they can. I am talking about whether individual people have used scriptures, and continue to use them, to justify their prejudices. There is far too many examples of this that to deny it would be the height of absurdity. And because this does undoubtedly happen, each religion has responsibilities and obligations to take steps to correct people (and governments) when this occurs.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, we are back at a worldview issue, what knowledge is. Warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief. Here, The foundational Christian teachings do not trace to Luther but to 1500 years earlier. And as seen, those are quite clear. Luther was simply wrong. It is possible to wrench texts to reinforce prejudices and wrongdoing — similar to many rhetorical games we see with empirical evidence, ideological redefinition of science and even playing games with first principles of right reason. That is why we go to first undeniable principles to set things to right. When someone insists on dancing “wrong but strong,” the truth has already been pointed out and it will stand. In this case the “evidence” is first principles of creation order and first principles of Christian ethics. The struggle to acknowledge and turn from even patent error can be difficult, but that is by no means unique to theists. Indeed, one of the first self-evident truths is that error exists. It then flows into that we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed. The moral hazard of being human. Where, too, back on the main issue, it is quite evident from primary source materials what the roots of Herr Schicklegruber’s views were. But, that is often stoutly resisted. As is the premise that we are under moral government. The answer is to actually examine the evidence. Objections on how people may dance wrong but strong do not change that. Nor do distractions, turnabouts and the like informal fallacies. Weikart has a serious point, one we need to face. KF

  18. 18
    Molson Bleu says:

    KF, I think that we are saying the same thing, but approaching it from a different angle. I agree that you can’t use scripture to rationally justify prejudice. But, sadly, there are always people willing to use them to irrationally justify prejudice. And, even more sadly, they always have people willing to listen to them. That is why I am saying that organized religion has a responsibility and an obligation to take action whenever they see it happen and not keep silent.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, “irrational justif[ication]” is incoherent. A square circle. An irrational position is an irresponsible one, it is not even a view of innocent ignorance and error, it is to try to hold that wrong is right, or in Plato’s cave and Sermon on the Mount terms, that light is darkness, darkness is light, etc. Yes, people do dance wrong but strong, and are often closed-minded, those are compounding errors. KF

    PS: All of this brings us full circle to:

    back on the main issue, it is quite evident from primary source materials what the roots of Herr Schicklegruber’s views were. But, that is often stoutly resisted. As is the premise that we are under moral government. The answer is to actually examine the evidence. Objections on how people may dance wrong but strong do not change that. Nor do distractions, turnabouts and the like informal fallacies. Weikart has a serious point, one we need to face.

  20. 20
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 10

    Seversky,

    it is patent that you wish to avoid the force of massive evidence in haste to attach primary blame to the West’s Christian heritage

    No, I see the proximate causes as being, first, the Armistice which ended WW1 and barely staved off Germany’s inevitable defeat on the battlefield followed by the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles which generated a lasting sense of bitter humiliation, second, the perceived weakness and incompetence of the Weimar Republic coupled with the crushing second blow of the Great Depression and, third, a fearful country splitting right and left looking for stronger leadership to get them out of the mess with the Nazis offering a vision of a new Germany that was not a vassal state of the Soviet Union.

    Part of that new vision involved scapegoating the Jews for the alleged failures that had led to Germany’s defeat. That tactic played into the anti-Semitism endemic throughout Europe for centuries. The breeding of a master-race owes much more to Houston Stewart Chamberlain than it does to Darwin.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, you have failed to address evidence that is patently on the table, ranging from Darwin to Hitler, and involving sobering issues such as the rape of Belgium [where Hitler served]. Imperial Germany was involved in several cases that sadly foreshadowed Hitler, especially in Namibia. Notice, H G Wells in his opening passage of War of the Worlds taxes Britain with similar guilt in matter of fact terms. Events in Belgium from 1914 on simply carried that back home to Europe. What was done to the Belgians and was not adequately addressed was done again to more extreme degree a generation later under a man who lived and fought in Belgium for four years under an army that failed to purge itself of what it had done. And, what the Austrians did to Serbians from 1914 on will also not stand scrutiny. Worldviews, institutional patterns and associated cultural agendas count. Ideas — especially bad ideas — have consequences. KF

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