Intelligent Design

Noor’s non sequitur, or: Did Hitler believe in Intelligent Design?

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Dr. Mohamed Noor is the Earl D. McLean Professor and Associate Chair of Biology at Duke University. His specialties include evolution, genetics and genomics.

Professor Noor also runs a free online course entitled, “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution” through Coursera, which “gives interested people a very basic overview of the principles behind these very fundamental areas of biology … and tries to clarify some misconceptions.” By all accounts, Professor Noor’s exposition of evolutionary theory is admirably lucid and succinct.

In the last week of his course, Dr. Noor discusses some applications and misapplications of the theory of evolution. In the final lecture, Dr. Noor puts up a Powerpoint slide claiming that Hitler believed in Intelligent Design! The text is below:

Nazi Germany also adopts:

* Nazi euthanasia program (Aktion T4) instituted to eliminate “life unworthy of life.”

– People with disabilities seen as drain on resources and killed

* BUT, contrary to claims, Hitler was not influenced by Darwin or true evolutionary theory

– No reference to Darwin in Mein Kampf

– Darwin DISAPPROVED of eugenics

Hitler believed in Intelligent Design:
“For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape…”

(End of slide.)

When I heard about this slide (from a friend of mine who took Dr. Noor’s course), my initial reaction was one of sadness and disappointment. How could such a learned scientist be so badly misinformed? Then I decided that I would turn this slide into a teachable moment. For it is clear that Professor Noor simply does not know what Intelligent Design is.

What is Intelligent Design?

Professor Noor seems to equate Intelligent Design with the belief that Nature has a Designer (or designers). On this point, he is mistaken. Intelligent Design is the search for circumstantial empirical evidence indicating that either Nature itself, or certain patterns in Nature, can be best explained scientifically as the product of an intelligent agent (or agents).

From this definition, it follows that someone’s having a belief in a Designer of Nature is not enough to make them an Intelligent Design theorist. They must also believe that the Designer left visible signs pointing to his/her activity, and that human scientists are capable of discovering these signs and showing that intelligent agency is the best explanation of their origin.

In case some readers are wondering about the basis of my claims, I would like to point out that Professor William Dembski and Dr. Jonathan Wells define intelligent design in the glossary of their book, The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological Systems (Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Dallas, 2008) as: “The study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the product of intelligence” (p. 315).

A more comprehensive explanation is provided by Professor Dembski in his 2003 essay, Intelligent Design (for the entry in Lindsay Jones’s Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, Macmillan, 2004), from which I shall quote the first three paragraphs:

Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? To see what’s at stake, consider Mount Rushmore. The evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design is direct—eyewitnesses saw the sculptor Gutzon Borglum spend the better part of his life designing and building this structure. But what if there were no direct evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design? What if humans went extinct and aliens, visiting the earth, discovered Mount Rushmore in substantially the same condition as it is now?

In that case, what about this rock formation would provide convincing circumstantial evidence that it was due to a designing intelligence and not merely to wind and erosion? Designed objects like Mount Rushmore exhibit characteristic features or patterns that point to an intelligence. Such features or patterns constitute signs of intelligence. Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence.

Because a sign is not the thing signified, intelligent design does not presume to identify the purposes of a designer. Intelligent design focuses not on the designer’s purposes (the thing signified) but on the artifacts resulting from a designer’s purposes (the sign). What a designer intends or purposes is, to be sure, an interesting question, and one may be able to infer something about a designer’s purposes from the designed objects that a designer produces. Nevertheless, the purposes of a designer lie outside the scope of intelligent design. As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

So the question we need to ask ourselves is: is there any evidence that Hitler believed in, or would have supported, such a scientific endeavor?

Is there any good evidence that Hitler believed in Intelligent Design?

RationalWiki, in its article, Hitler and evolution, provides three quotes in support of its claim that Adolf Hitler believed in the intelligent design of human beings by God:

“Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise. (Mein Kampf, vol. 2, chapter IV.)

“[I]t was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God’s Creation and God’s Will. (Mein Kampf, vol. 2, chapter I.)

“The most marvelous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator. (Mein Kampf, vol 2, chapter X.)

In the passages above, Hitler declares his belief in a Creator who designed human beings. He also declares that human beings, unlike other creatures, are made in the image of their Creator, and are capable of understanding that there must be a Creator. But those beliefs do not make Hitler a believer in Intelligent Design. At most, they would make him a creationist (although as we’ll see, he probably wasn’t one).

Professor Noor is doubtless aware that Intelligent Design advocates come in all shapes and stripes: some are young-earth or old-earth creationists, while others (like myself) accept common descent.
Just as being an Intelligent Design advocate doesn’t entail a belief in creationism, so too, being a creationist doesn’t entail a belief in Intelligent Design. Put simply: believing in a Creator doesn’t necessarily commit you to believing in a Creator Who left visible traces of His existence and His activity, which science can discern.

For instance, someone might believe in a Creator, while at the same time believing that His existence either (a) cannot be demonstrated at all, or (b) can be known by us, but not empirically demonstrated. Judging from the foregoing remarks, Hitler may well have fallen into category (b). He may have held that human beings know their Creator through introspection (e.g. by the argument from conscience, which gives us a knowledge of right and wrong) or through personal revelation (e.g. hearing the voice of God when they pray). However, there is nothing in Hitler’s works which suggests that he believed that a scientific argument could be formulated, showing that the human body – or any other part of Nature – was the product of intelligent design. Nor is there any evidence indicating that Hitler thought humans could demonstrate that this Designer must be God, and not merely some superior intelligence, such as an angel or advanced alien. (Since it is a modest research program, Intelligent Design makes no pronouncements regarding the identity of the Designer.)

If the quote in his last slide is the best evidence Dr. Noor has for Hitler’s belief in Intelligent Design, then I have to say it’s very poor evidence indeed. To see why, I’d like to contrast it with a quote from a well-known independent thinker who encouraged his own nephew to “question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear,” but who argued on rational grounds that the universe and its numerous life-forms could only be the product of an Intelligent Agent:

I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms.

We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view, comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and, were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos. So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed thro’ all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of the few in the other hypothesis. Some early Christians indeed have believed in the coeternal pre-existence of both the Creator and the world, without changing their relation of cause and effect.

Now that’s what I call Intelligent Design. Let Professor Noor show me a passage like that in the writings of Hitler, and I’ll be impressed. The writer from whom I’m quoting is of course President Thomas Jefferson. The passage reproduced above is taken from his letter to John Adams, from Monticello, dated April 11, 1823.

Was Hitler even a creationist?

So far, we have assumed that Hitler was a creationist of some sort. But even this is highly doubtful. There is good evidence that Hitler believed in human evolution. Let me begin with Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In the chapter on Nation and Race, he wrote:

The stronger must rule; it must not unite with the weaker, thus sacrificing its own stature. Only the born weakling can think this cruel, and that is why he is a weak and defective man; for if this law did not hold, any conceivable evolution [Entwicklung] of organic living things would be unthinkable. (p. 278)

But little as Nature wishes a mating of weaker with stronger individuals, still less does she want the fusion of a higher with a lower race, since otherwise the whole labor of selective evolution [Entwicklung], perhaps through thousands of years, would be set at naught. (p. 279)

(Quoted from Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Barrows Mussey, New York: Stackpole Sons, 1939.)

While Professor Noor is correct in stating that there is no reference to Darwin in Mein Kampf, Hitler certainly makes reference to evolution in that book. What’s more, Hitler describes it as “selective evolution” and declares his belief that “the stronger must rule.”

I should add that the German term Entwicklung is translated as “evolution” by leading scholars, as Professor Richard Weikart points out in an online article entitled, Did Hitler Use the Term “Evolution” in Mein Kampf? (August 27, 2012).

I’d also like to draw attention to a statement Hitler made in a 1927 speech. After emphasizing the importance of the “law of the eternal struggle,” he told pacifists:

You are the product of this struggle. If your ancestors had not fought, today you would be an animal. They did not gain their rights through peaceful debates with wild animals, and later perhaps also with humans, through the comparative adjustment of relations by a pacifist court of arbitration, but rather the earth has been acquired on the basis of the right of the stronger.

In a 1933 Nuremberg speech, Hitler stated:

The gulf between the lowest creature which can still be styled man and our highest races is greater than that between the lowest type of man and the highest ape.

It follows that since Hitler believed that the gulf between the “lowest” and “highest” races had been crossed naturally, he must also have believed that the far smaller gulf separating the highest ape from “the lowest creature which can still be styled man” must also have been crossed naturally. Hitler’s 1933 statement paraphrases the German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who declared in 1866 that “the differences between the highest and the lowest humans is greater than that between the lowest human and the highest animal.”

Hitler also discussed evolution at length in his Table Talk of October 24, 1941, when he stated: “There have been humans at the rank at least of a baboon in any case for 300,000 years at least. The ape is distinguished from the lowest human less than such a human is from a thinker like, for example, Schopenhauer.”

And on February 27, 1942, Hitler stated in his Table Talk that men shaving off their beards is “nothing but the continuation of an evolution that has been proceeding for millions of years: Gradually humans lost their hair.”

The foregoing quotes are all documented on pages 46-52 of Professor Richard Weikart’s book, Hitler’s ethic (Palgrave Macmillan, Reprint edition, 2011).

Even Rationalwiki, in its article, Hitler and evolution, concedes that Hitler “shows at least an awareness of the concept of humanity’s evolution from primates” in another remark that he made in his Table Talk, justifying his vegetarianism on the grounds that “[t]he monkeys, our ancestors of prehistoric times, are strictly vegetarian” (Hitler’s Table Talk – 1941-1944, edited by Hugh Trevor-Roper, Enigma Books, 2000, p. 231).

Hitler, it seems, thought monkeys were our ancestors. Rationalwiki archly notes that “it is a common misconception to state that humans evolved from apes or monkeys, since these animals, like humans, are the results of divergent evolution from our common ancestors.” However, it is worth pointing out that even Charles Darwin, in his work, The Descent of Man, traced our evolution as follows: “The Simiadae then branched off into two great stems, the New World and Old World monkeys; and from the latter, at a remote period, Man, the wonder and glory of the Universe, proceeded.” (Volume I, Chapter VI, p. 213.) And in the final chapter of his book, Darwin wrote:

For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the life of his keeper; or from that old baboon, who, descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs—as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.
(Volume II, General Summary and Concluding Remarks, Chapter XXI, pp. 404-405.)

Thus in declaring that monkeys were our ancestors, Hitler was not saying anything un-Darwinian.

In fairness, I should point out that there is one passage in Hitler’s Table Talk which seems to cast doubt on human evolution. As far as scholars are aware, this is the only statement made by Hitler in which he expressed reservations about human evolution. In January 1942, Hitler stated:

Where do we get the right to believe that humanity was not already from its earliest origins what it is today? Looking at nature teaches us that in the realm of plants and animals transformations and further developments occur. But never within a genus has evolution [Entwicklung] made such a wide leap, which humans must have made, if they had been transformed from an ape-like condition to what they are now. (Monologe im Fuhrer-Hauptquartier, 25-26 January 1942.)

Professor Robert Richards provides a slightly different translation in his elegantly written 2011 essay, Was Hitler a Darwinian? Professor Richard Weikart has written a crushing rejoinder entitled, Rallying to Darwin’s Defense: Robert J. Richards and the Historical Record (November 28, 2011). In his reply, Weikart points out the flaws in Richards’ argument:

This is Richards’s strongest evidence that Hitler did not believe in human evolution, but interestingly, he fails to note that in this same passage Hitler clearly stated his belief in the evolution of other species of animals and plants. In this instance Hitler was mentioning humans as a possible exception to the evolutionary rule in nature. So Hitler even at this point did believe in some kind of evolution. Nonetheless, if this were the only statement Hitler ever made about human evolution, then Richards would be right to criticize my position.

Immediately after quoting this passage in Hitler’s Ethic, I note that Hitler often spoke about humans not being very separate from apes, a point that contradicts his position quoted above, since there he claimed a “wide leap” existed between humans and apes. Richards mentions one of my quotations from a 1933 Nuremberg speech by Hitler, which shows that Hitler did not always hold this view about there being a “wide leap.” Hitler in that speech stated, “The gulf between the lowest creature which can still be styled man and our highest races is greater than that between the lowest type of man and the highest ape.

On balance, then, I think it is probable that Hitler believed in human evolution. That of course does not preclude him from having believed in some kind of Intelligent Design; but in the absence of any arguments put forward by Hitler for the existence of a Designer, we must be skeptical of the idea that he would have endorsed Intelligent Design as a scientific research program.

Professor Robert Richards also adduces a quotation from the chapter on “Nation and Race” in Mein Kampf, where Hitler seemed to espouse a belief in essentialism:

The consequence of this racial purity, which is characteristic of all animals in nature, is not only a sharp separation of the particular races externally, but also in their uniformity of the essence of the very type itself. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, and so on.

But as Professor Richard Weikart points out, Hitler was making another point entirely:

The main point Hitler was trying to make in this passage was that racial mixing is deleterious. His intention was not to say that fox, geese, and tigers cannot change over geological time, but rather that they do not mate with each other. It should also be noted that Hitler and most Nazis rejected Lamarckian soft heredity, believing in Weismann’s hard heredity. Thus they believed that over brief periods of time, geologically speaking, measured in hundreds or even a few thousand years, types were fairly fixed. However, like Weismann, Hitler believed that over geological epochs evolution did indeed occur, as he often made clear (see above).

Hitler’s Nazi regime ordered human evolution to be taught in schools and universities

I’d like to finish with a quote from Professor Richard Weikart’s essay, Rallying to Darwin’s Defense: Robert J. Richards and the Historical Record (November 28, 2011), which shows that whatever his private views on human origins may have been, the teaching of human evolution in schools and universities was official Nazi policy:

The following points show that the Nazis embraced evolutionary theory, including the evolution of humans:

1) The official biology curriculum endorsed by the Nazi Ministry of Education, as well as lists of books approved for schools, uniformly called for teaching biological evolution, including human evolution. Specifically the biology curriculum endorsed Darwinian theory and rejected Lamarckism.

2) Biology textbooks during the Third Reich, which were approved by the Ministry of Education, all taught evolution, including human evolution, and they taught the Darwinian mechanism for evolution, while opposing Lamarckism.

3) German anthropologists, including Hans F. K. Guenther and many others who lectured at official Nazi functions, uniformly taught human evolution. The Nazi Racial Policy Office listed these anthropologists’ books on human evolution as recommended reading material.

4) Karl Astel, who was trying to help turn the University of Jena into a “brown university,” solicited and received Himmler’s help in recruiting Gerhard Heberer to the university. Heberer was a leading evolutionary anthropologist who was on the forefront in introducing the neo-Darwinian synthesis to Germany. The infamous Nazi Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel pleaded with the Nazi Minister of Education not to allow Heberer to be called elsewhere, because he wanted Jena to be a Nazi bastion.

5) The Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte, an official party organ edited by Alfred Rosenberg, published articles supporting evolution and even bashing creationism.

6) Other official Nazi magazines, such as Der Schulungsbrief , Neues Volk, Volk und Rasse, and Rasse: Monatsschrift der Nordischen Bewegung, all published articles making clear that they believed in biological evolution, including human evolution.

7) Der Biologe, which from 1935 to 1939 was an official organ of the National Socialist Teachers’ League, before being taken over in 1939 by the SS Ahnenerbe, published many articles attacking creationists, both before and after the SS took it over. Not one article in this biology journal ever challenged evolutionary theory.

8) Nazi manuals designed to inculcate the Nazi worldview into the army, police forces, and general public, contained sections teaching human evolution. These included the following: (a) the SS pamphlet Rassenpolitik (Racial Policy); (b) the SS manual for worldview training, Lehrplan für die weltanschauliche Erziehung in der SS und Polizei (Curriculum for the Worldview Training of the SS and Police): (c) a propaganda pamphlet that Hitler personally endorsed, written for the German military during World War II, Wofür kämpfen wir? (What Are We Fighting For?); and (d) writings by the medical professor Martin Staemmler that were officially approved by the Nazis.

9) The official Nazi newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter, published a tribute to Haeckel on the twentieth anniversary of Haeckel’s death in August 1939. The article was entitled, “Um die Abstammung des Menschen: Zum 20. Jahrestage Ernst Haeckels” (“On the Descent of Man: For the Twentieth Anniversary of Ernst Haeckel[‘s death]”). The title and the article clearly avowed belief in human evolution and praised Haeckel for his evolutionary ideas.

Concluding remarks

Let me say that I think that Darwin’s ideas should be judged on their scientific merits. I am well aware, too, that Charles Darwin was a man who abhorred violence, fought against the slave trade, and rejected the view (espoused by some of his disciples) that the strong should rule the weak. I have no doubt that he would have been horrified by the Holocaust.

I should also like to add that there were many factors contributing to Hitler’s sick and twisted worldview, including a then-prevalent racism, nationalism, Prussian militarism and Christian anti-Semitism.

The point I want to make, however, is that just as it would be wrong to discredit Darwin’s ideas by arguing that Hitler was a Darwinist, it is utterly unfair of Professor Noor to attempt to smear Intelligent Design by stating that “Hitler believed in Intelligent Design.” Let us therefore hope that Professor Noor amends his last slide before his next online course starts in January 2013.

41 Replies to “Noor’s non sequitur, or: Did Hitler believe in Intelligent Design?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    Well researched as usual.

    The passage on foxes always being that of course is the same where he goes on to describe the strong preying on the weak as a law of nature, foxes on geese and cats on mice. He is also speaking of malthusian struggle and “solves” a problem of the higher fecundity of the weak by speaking of a higher mortality through checks.

    The overall tone of Dr Noor’s comment comes across as attempted well poisoning by invidious suggestion, probably in the wider issues context of the want of a worldview foundational is in evolutionary materialism capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT and the issues that have been seen as flowing therefrom since Plato in The Laws Bk X.

    KF

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: That “problem” was posed by Darwin in Descent of Man Chs 5 – 7.

  3. 3
    djockovic says:

    Surely the question is what on earth such claims are doing in a science course? Their mere presence showing how ridiculously politicised the theory of evolution has become. The appropriate place for such discussion being politics, or history, courses, and the appropriate people to teach such things being lecturers in politics, or history. This is pseudoscience plain and simple.

  4. 4

    Overall Dr. Noor’s course was excellent and well worth the time to take. I also found him to be energetic, engaging and humorous, all of which made the course more enjoyable.

    Substantively it was slightly marred in Week 1 by his over-zealous proclamations of “evolution is true,” without so much as mentioning the gaping chasm between changes in allele frequencies in a population and, say, the formation of an echolocation system in bats. This is par for the course, however, for committed evolutionists, so nothing surprising there; just a bit disappointing.

    Like rust-worn and out-of-place bookends to an otherwise excellent course, the second substantive problem occurred at the end of Week 10. Noor’s reference to Hitler believing in intelligent design was no-doubt a poorly-veiled attempt to discredit intelligent design by association (and, one imagines he thought, strengthen the case for evolution in the process). His comment was completely unnecessary and appeared thrown in almost at the last moment, but was clearly intentional. It is unfortunate that he brought it up in passing, because he obviously didn’t have and didn’t take time to actually discuss what intelligent design is (if he even knows).

    Further, his point was marred by the fact that Hitler is not alone. We can point to many offensive people in history, including Darwin himself, and find a quote somewhere in their papers, interviews, books, that refers to God’s creation of man, the animals, nature, the cosmos or otherwise. Darwin even referred to a creator of life at the end of his magnum opus. So by Noor’s logic, Darwin also believed in intelligent design! Kind of eviscerates whatever point Noor was trying to make . . .

    —–

    Of course a separate, but important, question remains as to what extent Hitler was influenced by evolutionary thinking. Noor argued that Hitler was not, but there is plenty of scholarship pointing in the opposite direction.

  5. 5
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Funny that neither you nor Weikart could be bothered to produce a balanced account and mention things like:

    1935 Die Bucherei, the official Nazi journal for lending libraries, published these collection evaluation “guidelines” during the second round of “purifications” (sauberung).

    […]

    Guidelines from Die Bucherei 2:6 (1935), p. 279

    1. The works of traitors, emigrants and authors from foreign countries who believe they can attack and denigrate the new German (H.G. Wells, Rolland).

    2. The literature of Marxism, Communism and Bolshevism.

    3. Pacifist literature.

    4. Literature with liberal, democratic tendencies and attitudes, and writing supporting the Weimar Republic (Rathenau, Heinrich Mann).

    5. All historical writings whose purpose is to denigrate the origin, the spirit and the culture of the German Volk, or to dissolve the racial and structural order of the Volk, or that denies the force and importance of leading historical figures in favor of egalitarianism and the masses, and which seeks to drag them through the mud (Emil Ludwig).

    6. Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Haeckel).

    7. Books that advocate “art” which is decadent, bloodless, or purely constructivist (Grosz, Dix, Bauhaus, Mendelsohn).

    8. Writings on sexuality and sexual education which serve the egocentric pleasure of the individual and thus, completely destroy the principles of race and Volk (Hirschfeld).

    9. The decadent, destructive and Volk-damaging writings of “Asphalt and Civilization” literati! (Graf, H. Mann, Stefan Zweig, Wassermann, Franz Blei). [transl. note: a derogatory term for writers dealing with upper middle class urban society].

    10. Literature by Jewish authors, regardless of the field.

    11. Popular entertainment literature that depicts life and life’s goals in a superficial, unrealistic and sickly sweet manner, based on a bourgeois or upper class view of life.

    12. Nationalistic and patriotic kitsch in literature (P.O. HAPcker!).

    [Source for German text: pp. 143-144 of Strothmann, Dietrich. Nationalsozialistische Literaturpolitik: ein Beitrag zur Publizistik im Dritten Reich. Bonn: H. Bouvier, 1968. Translation by Dr. Roland Richter. Bold added.]

    Another list, the “Blacklist for Public Libraries and Commercial Lending Libraries,” includes this as an item:

    According to the principles governing the compilation of this list, the following publications must be removed from public and commercial lending libraries:

    a) All writings that ridicule and belittle the state and its institutions, or that attack or question its moral foundation.

    b) All writings that attack or attempt to dissolve the order of the community of the Volk and its moral foundation, specifically those against the race and biological requirements of a healthy Volk (marriage, family, etc.).

    c) All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk.

    Source: http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc.....-to-2.html

    PS: Weikart’s response to Richards is actually a fair bit of backpedaling, i.e. acknowledging that the non-Darwinian biological racists Gobineau and Chamberlain were far more direct influences on the Nazis and Hitler than was Darwin or Haeckel, but then somehow trying to maintain that it is intellectually respectable to write books with titles like “From Darwin to Hitler”, to appear in and support ID/creationist documentaries and other propaganda drawing a straight line between Darwin and Hitler, etc.

  6. 6
    djockovic says:

    @Matzke
    A “balanced account”! What know ye of such things?

  7. 7
    Arthur Hunt says:

    More than once over the years, ID proponents have told me that the evolution seen in domesticated animals and plants is actually intelligently-designed biological change. In other words, plant and animal breeding = Intelligent Design.

    Eugenics is at its core nothing more than human breeding. Thus, the assertion that Hitler was an IDist is quite spot on.

    Heck, when it comes to human evolution, all IDists are eugenicists. They just argue over the identity of the breeder.

  8. 8

    Arthur Hunt, your “logic” is astounding.

    Everyone believes in intelligent design!

  9. 9
    Robert Byers says:

    If hitler was a convinced evolutionist would that of made evolution wrong?
    If a convinced YEC/ID (including Koran stuff) would that make this side wrong?
    I read Mein kamph a few months ago and absolutely Hitler accepted selection on people produced positive or negative results in populations.
    This from evolutionary presumptions that all learned people in those nations accepted.
    Hitler absolutely understood evolution was the dominant belief of his audience or the educated audience.
    Long ages were real.
    He was not a creationist relative to evolutionary theory.
    Just basic ideas about man being above animals etc.
    He believed in the races being, seemingly, corrupted by foreign races and especially inferior ones.
    Absolutely the idea in evolution of genetics being affected with results diminishing populations.

    Evolution is not to blame for Hitlers killings.
    Its responsible for building a intellectual culture that easily accepted ideas about racial superiority but not the murdering.
    Just as it does today for many.
    If evolutionary biology had not existed there would not of been a case for racial superiority stuff but instead the old equality of man stuff from Christianity or general opinions.
    the killings would of happened anyways by Hitler.
    the racial stuff was an excuse.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Hmm Hitler believed in ID not Darwinism? Interesting claim, I think I will file this article with the claim from atheists that ‘Hitler was a Christian’:

    Adolf Hitler: A Christian? – Eric Metaxas – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZqycNUvHYo

    Was Hitler influenced by Darwin or by Christianity? Some thoughts on posts by Mr ‘Godwin’
    http://hitchensblog.mailonsund.....odwin.html

    The Moral Impact Of Darwinism On Society – Dr. Phil Fernandes – video
    http://www.nwcreation.net/vide.....ciety.html
    Charles Darwin, in his classic Origin of Species which still is venerated by the

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Charles Darwin, in his classic Origin of Species which still is venerated by Darwinian elites today, stated that…

    ‘At some future period … the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous [Having or suggesting human form and appearance] apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope … the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla”

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    a) All writings that ridicule and belittle the state and its institutions, or that attack or question its moral foundation.

    Great. So the Tea Party would have been banned in Nazi Germany. What’s your point?

  13. 13

    BA77 @11:

    Yeah, but you forgot the part in the Origin where he also said the “Creator breathed life” into the first organism(s).

    QED, Darwin believed in intelligent design! 🙂

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Excuse me, The quote I listed from Darwin is actually from The Descent of Man pg. 201, published in 1871, not from Origin:

    http://darwin-online.org.uk/co.....ageseq=214

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Yes Eric that’s quite right, Darwin’s book ‘Origin’ is full of theological argumentation. This came as quite a surprise for me to learn that Darwinism is, at heart, more properly thought of as a Theodicy than of as hard science. And frankly took me a very long time to realize just how deeply imbedded Theodicy is in Darwinian thought, though Dr. Hunter kept pointing it out over and over again.

  16. 16
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Nick,

    Thank you for your comments (#5). I think you might like to have a look at this article in Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....olf_Hitler

    What it demonstrates is that there was a considerable difference between the public statements Hitler made about Christianity and his own private views, which were probably anti-Christian.

    The removal of anti-Christian books from lending libraries was probably done to appease the Churches and to get them on side. Hitler would have viewed this as a small price to pay, to secure their support.

    The removal of anti-Darwinian works may well have been for the same reason.

    However, the fact that biology textbooks all taught Darwinian evolution during the Third Reich, and that Nazi publications taught human evolution and even criticized creationism surely speaks for itself. That “trumps” the fact that Darwin-friendly books were banned from libraries. What was on the school curriculum (Darwinism) was what really mattered.

    As I said in my post, I don’t think this fact counts against Darwinism as a scientific theory. In any case, my post is not about Hitler’s views on Darwinism but on the question of whether he believed in Intelligent Design. I think it’s fair to say he probably didn’t.

  17. 17
    djockovic says:

    @VJTorley

    It’s not even clear that it was simply Darwin friendly books. The above quote relates quite specifically to certain social and philosophical extensions of Darwin’s view (“simplistic Darwinism”) and the example given is Haeckel. But if we check the w’pedia article on his politico-philosophical views it may be that it was that particular political take on things expressed there that was objected to.

    So, for example, Haeckel emphasised the pre-eminence of the Mediterranean race (which would include Jews), whereas Hitler was obviously in favour of the Nordic peoples which is distinguished from the Mediterranean and Alpine people who made up the three sub races of the Caucasians.

    I don’t know if this was behind it but it does suggest that this kind of stuff is complex and we should look to politics/history scholars because only they will really know what categories and distinctions were in wide circulation at those times.

  18. 18
    Toni Pereira says:

    Like Orwell said,There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them…

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    Hitler would be welcome amongst today’s Christian intelligent design advocates. Right Nick?

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    All:

    A UD reader has sent me a PM indicating a concern that the above point by Dr Noor may in part cause some to make an invidious connexion between Hitler’s Nazism and the Christian faith, churches and people.

    Certainly, those who use such talking points on the ground or on the Internet routinely make such accusations and use them in well-poisoning.

    (These thus reveal their fundamental lack of good faith and their lack of honour. Someone who has done reasonable due diligence in a day where direct Nuremberg documents are available, could not make such assertions if s/he intended to be fair and truthful. And, those who do not do due diligence before making invidious associations or outright accusations are reckless slanderers who speak with disregard for the truth, in the hope that what they say will be taken as true to the detriment and harm of others. That is a species of lying and it is utterly dishonourable.)

    Accordingly, I note my own comment on the true anti-Christian spirit that animated Hitler as may be seen form the record and visually through a devastating Nazi poster, here.

    The reader highlights some relevant documentation links here: http://library2.lawschool.corn.....ristianity

    And an article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01.....038;src=pm

    The fundamental intent of the Nazis to subvert, supplant and destroy the Christian faith, as a matter of policy, should be quite plain.

    KF

  21. 21
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Hitler would be welcome amongst today’s Christian intelligent design advocates. Right Nick?

    No.

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    The argument, Nick, is not that modern Darwinists would embrace Hitler. No one, as far as I know, is claiming that.

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    Art Hunt:

    Eugenics is at its core nothing more than human breeding.

    No, eugenics is at its core nothing more than allowing nature to take its course, ie undoing what artificial selection, ie keeping the unfit alive long enough to reproduce and have unfit offspring, has done.

    IOW what eugenicists are saying is that we have artificially kept the unfit alive so we have to step in and stop it, ie stop the unfit from reproducing.

    Also in the movie “Expelled…” there was an interview with a GERMAN currator, and SHE instantly said “Darwin” when asked about the basis for Nazi program. So I guess the conspiracy is that Ben Stein and/ or the producers paid her to lie. 🙄

  24. 24
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    MungDecember 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    The argument, Nick, is not that modern Darwinists would embrace Hitler. No one, as far as I know, is claiming that.

    I don’t know what the heck *your* argument is supposed to be, but *my* argument is that vjtorley and Weikart are presenting a one-sided, biased view of things.

    Above, I pointed out once major piece of evidence that indicates the situation wasn’t as simple as they let on. One thing that the responders don’t get is that, due to the depression, many people didn’t have the money to buy books, and as a result commercial lending libraries were everywhere — thousands and thousands of them, probably more common than video stores were at their peak. They were the major source of books for the public in their day. Banning Darwinism and Haeckel in all of them cannot just be brushed under the rug by creationists eager to tar Darwin with a Nazi brush.

    Here’s another consideration that any fair discussion of the question would have to include:

    Sure, there were a lot of Darwinist/proto-Neo-Darwinian biologists in Nazi Germany. This was the mainstream biological science of the day, and, shocker, Nazi Germany had professional biologists. They had chemists who taught the periodic table, too, and physicists who taught Newton. And yes, many of the professors were Nazis or collaborated with them — professors in Germany, on average, were conservative members of the old ruling class, raised in the old Imperial Germany, suspicious of democracy and Weimar, etc. Just like the other professions — lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc., a lot of them signed up with the Nazis or at least went along with it.

    But there were also lot of anti-Darwinist biologists, and especially anti-Darwinists pseudo-biologists, and these were the ones right at the core of the Nazi ideology. E.g., Gobineau, Chamberlain, Rosenberg. I don’t know if any were classic Biblical creationists, but there were prominent people who liked the concept of absolute racial fixity — an anti-Darwinian concept if ever there was one — and mystical, vitalist, origins of Aryans.

    You can start to get a sense of the real picture, and it’s complexity, if you look at the book Biologists Under Hitler:

    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    A number of influential anti-Darwinists close to the Nazis are mentioned: Ernst Krieck, Ernst Bergdolt, Wilhelm Troll, Walter Gross. E.g. Gross:

    [Ute Deichmann (1999), translated by Thomas Dunlap. Biologists under Hitler, p. 270]

    ThE NSDAP’s Office of Race Policy had been founded in 1934 to supervise the racial-political education within the party and its branches. In addition, this office, in cooperation with the Reich Ministry of Education and the Propaganda Ministry, also functioned as a censorship authority with regard to all publications and lectures on topics dealing with population and race policy (Gross 1937). Its head, racial anthropologist Walter Gross, advocated the concept of complete scientific freedom in research on human origins; however, he believed that the publications and public talks of racial scientists should take into consideration their political and psychological effects on the population. His stance is revealed by the notes he made on the use of the work of anthropologist Hans Weinert, a decided Darwinist, in public education courses on race policy. Gross, who considered Weinert the most competent specialist in the field of the theory of human origins [“the field of the theory”?? – sic], did not initiate any restriction on his research and teaching; in doing so he emphasized, however, that no case is known “in which [Weinert] has directly presented his theory of evolution as part of National Socialist ideas on race. On the other hand, it is my opinion that the political racial doctrine of National Socialism should maintain sufficient distance from the doctrine of human evolution, which is … still subject to the changes of scientific theories, is frequently still pervaded with Haeckelian ways of thinking in its basic ideological ideas…and is thus publicly considered a part of materialistic, monist ideas.”63

    [all ellipses original to Deichmann 1999]

    The Nazis were big on the “struggle for existence” (actually a pre-Darwinian concept), and on “selection” — but not so much on humans descending from apes, phylogeny (a word invented by Haeckel), Haeckel’s ideas, monism, humanism, classical scientific liberalism, etc. (They did like Haeckel’s reputation, of course, just like the Nazis played up other famous Germans who were actually Enlightenment liberals, like Alexander von Humboldt, Beethoven, etc.)

    Strangely, the parts on “Darwinism” which the Nazis were big on — natural selection, and adaptation-within-the-species — are actually the parts of Darwinism that creationists totally accept. The parts they don’t like — humans descending from apes, phylogeny — are the parts that Nazis weren’t big on either. This doesn’t prove anything except that if you use the lazy, loose, cherrypicking criteria that creationists use to associate Darwin and Hitler, you can just as easily associate creationism and Hitler.

  25. 25
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    PS This should be outside of the blockquote above:

    A number of influential anti-Darwinists close to the Nazis are mentioned: Ernst Krieck, Ernst Bergdolt, Wilhelm Troll, Walter Gross. E.g. Gross:

  26. 26
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Nick,

    As I have stated previously, the topic of this post is whether Hitler believed in Intelligent Design. Professor Noor has since graciously acknowledged that he did not. See here.

    Regarding Hitler’s (and the Nazis’) views on Darwinism, I expressly stated above that “it would be wrong to discredit Darwin’s ideas by arguing that Hitler was a Darwinist.” I don’t know how much clearer you can get than that. Nor do I think Darwin was in any way to blame for the Holocaust.

    But if you were to ask me whether the Holocaust could have happened without a large proportion of the German population having come to accept the belief that they were nothing more than animals sprung up from Nature by a dog-eat-dog process, that there were different races of man at different levels of development, and that the strong should rule the weak, then I would say No. Without widespread acceptance of those beliefs, the Holocaust would not have been possible. Hitler accepted those beliefs. As he wrote in Mein Kampf in the chapter on Nation and Race:

    The stronger must rule; it must not unite with the weaker, thus sacrificing its own stature. Only the born weakling can think this cruel, and that is why he is a weak and defective man; for if this law did not hold, any conceivable evolution [Entwicklung] of organic living things would be unthinkable. (p. 278)

    But little as Nature wishes a mating of weaker with stronger individuals, still less does she want the fusion of a higher with a lower race, since otherwise the whole labor of selective evolution [Entwicklung], perhaps through thousands of years, would be set at naught. (p. 279)

    (Quoted from Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Barrows Mussey, New York: Stackpole Sons, 1939.)

    Of course, Darwin himself did not accept the notion that the strong should rule the weak, but many of his disciples did. And of course, Darwin did not invent scientific racism; if anyone did that, it was Linnaeus. However, the main mischief wrought by Darwin’s ideas was that they destroyed, in many people’s minds, the conviction that human beings were special and set apart from the rest of Nature by virtue of possessing the godlike faculty of reason. After Darwin, the dominant view among the intelligentsia was that we were just animals, albeit highly sophisticated ones, and our actions were ultimately determined by forces beyond our control. With the best of intentions, Darwin debased our view of ourselves: even as he called us “the wonder and glory of the universe,” he embraced a materialistic, deterministic view of man, which he adopted as far back as 1837. In his Notebook C: Transmutation of species (2-7.1838), Darwin playfully scolds himself for being a materialist. He must have appreciated the humor of the situation, given that he had previously studied to be an Anglican clergyman! The mis-spellings and grammar and punctuation errors are Darwin’s:

    Thought (or desires more properly) being heredetary.- it is difficult to imagine it anything but structure of brain heredetary,. – analogy points out to this.- love of the deity effect of organization. oh you Materialist! – Read Barclay on organization!! (Paragraph 166)

    In defiance of the common view that human beings were unique, Darwin argued that there was nothing particularly special about man’s intellectual capacities. In his Notebook B: Transmutation of species (1837-1838), he downplayed human uniqueness in this regard:

    It is absurd to talk of one animal as being higher than another. – We consider those, where the cerebral structure {intellectual faculties} most developed, as highest. – A bee doubtless would when the instincts were. (Paragraph 74)

    Darwin was a consistent determinist. In his other metaphysical writings from that period (c. 1837), Darwin made it clear that he did not really regard human beings as morally responsible for their good or bad choices. He also held that criminals should be punished solely in order to deter others who might break the law:

    The general delusion about free will obvious.— because man has power of action, & he can seldom analyse his motives (originally mostly INSTINCTIVE, & therefore now great effort of reason to discover them: this is important explanation) he thinks they have none.—

    Effects.— One must view a wrecked man like a sickly one — We cannot help loathing a diseased offensive object, so we view wickedness.— it would however be more proper to pity them [than] to hate & be disgusted with them. Yet it is right to punish criminals; but solely to deter others.— It is not more strange that there should be necessary wickedness than disease.

    This view should teach one profound humility, one deserves no credit for anything. (yet one takes it for beauty & good temper), nor ought one to blame others.—

    (See Darwin’s Old and USELESS Notes about the moral sense & some metaphysical points written about the year 1837 & earlier, pp. 25-27. For original transcription, see Paul Barrett, et al., Charles Darwin’s Notebooks, 1836-1844, New York: Cornell University Press, 1987, p. 608.)

    Once people accepted (a) the demoralizing Darwinian idea that we were just sophisticated machines, combined with (b) the then-prevalent belief (which goes back to Linnaeus) in the inequality of races, and (c) the prescriptive notion (not advocated by Darwin) that the stronger races should prevail in the struggle for existence, then the notion of killing off an entire race became less revolting. Indeed, it became conceivable that it might even be a duty to eradicate a weaker race.

    That’s my own reading of the intellectual history leading up to the Holocaust. By the way, I have visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. I would see Darwinism, with its materialistic, deterministic view of man, as one enabling condition among many others; but it was a psychologically insidious one, all the same. And as we have seen, Hitler did not think we were fundamentally different from the beasts in our mental capacities. In a 1933 Nuremberg speech, he stated: “The gulf between the lowest creature which can still be styled man and our highest races is greater than that between the lowest type of man and the highest ape.”

    So even if it were the case that Hitler disliked Darwinian evolution, as you maintain, it is still true to say that he accepted Darwin’s view of man.

    Now of course Darwin was not the first to articulate this view. One thinks of Julien Offray de la Mettrie’s L’homme machine in the mid-eighteenth century. But few people were persuaded by de la Mettrie’s book. Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, was what finally smashed intellectual resistance to the idea that man was just a part of Nature.

    I’ve read Martin Luther’s diatribes against the Jews; horrid and savage as they are, I think they still fail to account for the enormity of the Holocaust and the meticulous preparation that underlay it. As historian Paul Halsall put it:

    While there is little doubt that Christian anti-Semitism laid the social and cultural basis for modern anti-Semitism, modern anti-Semitism does differ in being based on pseudo-scientific notions of race. The Nazis imprisoned and killed Jews who had converted to Christianity: Luther would have welcomed them.

    In the end, the blame for the Holocaust lies with Hitler and his henchmen, not Darwin or Luther or Linnaeus. But the Holocaust would not have been possible in a different intellectual climate. In order for it to happen, a large number of people had to have already accepted a debased view of man.

    I’ll email your quote from Biologists under Hitler to Professor Richard Weikart, Nick, as it’s up his alley. By the way, I understand that your background is in science. Where did you get hold of these historical sources?

    Well, I’ll sign off here Nick, as I have a busy weekend ahead of me. By the way, merry Christmas to you and to readers of this thread.

  27. 27
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Darwin was a consistent determinist. In his other metaphysical writings from that period (c. 1837), Darwin made it clear that he did not really regard human beings as morally responsible for their good or bad choices. He also held that criminals should be punished solely in order to deter others who might break the law:

    The general delusion about free will obvious.— because man has power of action, & he can seldom analyse his motives (originally mostly INSTINCTIVE, & therefore now great effort of reason to discover them: this is important explanation) he thinks they have none.—

    Effects.— One must view a wrecked man like a sickly one — We cannot help loathing a diseased offensive object, so we view wickedness.— it would however be more proper to pity them [than] to hate & be disgusted with them. Yet it is right to punish criminals; but solely to deter others.— It is not more strange that there should be necessary wickedness than disease.

    This view should teach one profound humility, one deserves no credit for anything. (yet one takes it for beauty & good temper), nor ought one to blame others.—

    (See Darwin’s Old and USELESS Notes about the moral sense & some metaphysical points written about the year 1837 & earlier, pp. 25-27. For original transcription, see Paul Barrett, et al., Charles Darwin’s Notebooks, 1836-1844, New York: Cornell University Press, 1987, p. 608.)

    Once people accepted (a) the demoralizing Darwinian idea that we were just sophisticated machines, combined with (b) the then-prevalent belief (which goes back to Linnaeus) in the inequality of races, and (c) the prescriptive notion (not advocated by Darwin) that the stronger races should prevail in the struggle for existence, then the notion of killing off an entire race became less revolting. Indeed, it became conceivable that it might even be a duty to eradicate a weaker race.

    Citing Darwin’s notebooks written at the age of 28, which he himself later labeled “old and USELESS”, and which were not published nor widely known, at least mostly, until well after WW2, is not much of an argument.

    In the end, the blame for the Holocaust lies with Hitler and his henchmen, not Darwin or Luther or Linnaeus. But the Holocaust would not have been possible in a different intellectual climate. In order for it to happen, a large number of people had to have already accepted a debased view of man.

    This is just ye olde fundamentalist notion that blames arbitrary bad things that happen (partially) outside of a Christian context on the loss of that context due to Darwin (any necessary connection between Darwin and loss of Christianity is extremely debatable to everyone except the fundamentalists on each side, but that’s another argument). It ignores all the slaughter and conquering and genocide that happened unarguably directly inside a Christian context, which is pretty much everything that western nations did before the 1800s. Random example: the 30 years war, in which something like 20% of the population of Germany died.

    And it’s not like genocide is a new idea either. It’s in the Bible, for goodness sake.

    I think about the only thing that one can reliably say in these sorts of “history and intellectual influence” arguments is that Enlightenment values (democracy, human rights, freedom of religion/speech/etc.) are the strongest negative correlates of genocidal war and similar atrocities. The further you get from these, the worse things get, and this is true whether the culture is Christian, non-Christian, or some mix.

    I’ll email your quote from Biologists under Hitler to Professor Richard Weikart, Nick, as it’s up his alley. By the way, I understand that your background is in science. Where did you get hold of these historical sources?

    Google. It’s not hard. Although, I will say that I think I have an above-average knack for history :-). Mostly it involves fairly surveying a topic rather than cherry-picking. Be sure to ask Weikart to quote & respond to page 269, also, I don’t have time to type out the full quote, but again it makes Weikart’s “from Darwin to Hitler” rhetoric look like creationist character assassination rather than sober, fair, balanced scholarship.

  28. 28
    Mung says:

    Wickert, unlike Nick, has shown the relevance of his source material to his thesis. That’s what scholars do.

    http://www.discovery.org/p/37

    Internet hacks quote mine and ask people to infer there’s a connection even though none is shown.

  29. 29
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    28
    MungDecember 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Wickert, unlike Nick, has shown the relevance of his source material to his thesis. That’s what scholars do.

    http://www.discovery.org/p/37

    Internet hacks quote mine and ask people to infer there’s a connection even though none is shown.

    Scholars try to spell names right, also. It’s Weikart.

    And really, you are challenging the relevance of a book entitled Biologists under Hitler?

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Scholars try to spell names right, also. It’s Weikart.

    I thought I had corrected that. Thanks. I managed to spell it correctly when I used Google to find his CV. 🙂

    And really, you are challenging the relevance of a book entitled Biologists under Hitler?

    Yes. And you seem to be making my point. How does it rebut anything Weikart has written?

    And you really ought to do your homework.

    The push for higher birthrates, eugenics, and racial purity were all part of the programs to biologically reinvigorate the German people. As Walter Gross explained in the forward to Hitler’s pamphlet Volk und Rasse (an excerpt from Mein Kampf), Nazism was tackling three major manifestations of racial decline: the sinking birthrate, degeneration through hereditary illness, and racial mixture.

    Walter Gross’s Racial Policy Office produced five documentary films between 1935 and 1937 promoting eugenics. The titles of these films – one was named “All Life Is Struggle” – “referred to the social Darwinian ideology of the continuous struggle for survival in human society, hereditary health and race hygiene,” according to Ulf Schmidt. The narrator of “Victims of the Past” stated,

    Everything weak unfailingly perishes in nature. We have sinned terribly against this law of natural selection in the last decades. We have not only preserved the life [of the weak], but we have even allowed them to reproduce. All this misery could have been prevented, if we had previously prevented the reproduction of the hereditarily ill.

    See also page 201.

    Quotes from Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress

    It’s not as if Weikart is unaware of Nazi biologists and what they wrote and propogated, which seems to be the nonsense you’re attempting to troll here.

  31. 31
    Richard Weikart says:

    Nick,

    If we want to answer to question about whether or not the Nazis believed in Darwinism, I would suggest three good means (these are just three among others, by the way). First, it would be good to look at their periodicals, including the official Nazi newspaper. Second, look at which biologists and anthropologists they were appointing to professorships and inviting to teach seminars on racial theory. Third, find out what the official Nazi biology curriculum looked like.

    I can only briefly touch on each of these. In the course of my research I have found two articles in the official Nazi newspaper, _Voelkischer Beobachter_, devoted to Darwinism. Both approved of it, including human evolution. I have never seen any articles in their newspaper denying Darwinism. In the official Nazi periodical _Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte_, the leading Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg published multiple articles promoting Darwinian theory, including the evolution of humans and human races. Many other Nazi periodicals published articles supporting Darwinian evolution. Just to name a few: _ Der Schulungsbrief_; the Hitler Youth organ _Wille und Macht_; Nazi Racial Policy Office magazine Neues Volk, _Volk und Rasse_, etc. The journal _Der Biologe_, after being taken over by the SS, published articles bashing creationism and promoting Darwinian evolution.

    If you look at the biologists and anthropologists appointed to professorships by the Nazis and invited to teach seminars on racial theory, these include some of the leading evolutionary anthropologists in Germany, and all of these believed in Darwinian evolution: Hans F. K. Guenther, Otto Reche, Hans Weinert, Karl Astel, Wilhelm Gieseler, Gerhard Heberer, Christian von Krogh, etc. (of these Weinert, Astel, Heberer, Gieseler, and Krogh were SS officers).

    Concerning Deichmann’s book, I have read it, and all she shows is that some German biologists during the Nazi period did not believe in Darwinism. However, even most of these biologists did believe in some kind of evolution, even if they weren’t committed to Darwinian selection. But what does this prove about Nazism? Some politicians in Nazi Germany didn’t believe in dictatorship either—so what?

    Also, if you looked one page over in Deichmann, to p. 270 you would have found that Walter Gross, a racial anthropologist and the head of the Nazi Office of Race Policy supported the work of the Darwinian anthropologist Hans Weinert. Gross “considered Weinert the most competent specialist in the field of the theory of human origins.” Contrary to your own claims about Gross, Gross did indeed believe in Darwinian evolution, as evidenced by an article he wrote in 1943 in _Die Naturwissenschaften_, where he discusses the various theories of human evolution.

    Concerning the Nazi biology curriculum (and biology textbooks published during the Nazi period): It required a large dose of Darwinian evolution.

    Finally, let me acknowledge the one tiny piece of evidence you have in your favor: the list published in _Die Buecherei_ by a Saxon state library official banning from public libraries Haeckel’s writings and “primitive Darwinism.” You might be interested to know that other articles in this same library periodical strongly recommended many books that teach Darwinian evolution. Apparently other librarians in Nazi Germany did not take this Saxon library official’s list to mean that Darwinism was banned. (Also, Haeckel was a contested figure in Nazi Germany, but this would require more discussion). In any case, one Saxon library official’s list cannot trump the mountains of evidence that leading Nazis believed in and promoted Darwinian evolution, including human evolution and the evolution of races.

    Richard Weikart

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    Nick as to:,

    This is just ye olde fundamentalist notion that blames s that happen (partially) outside of a Christian context on the loss of that context due to Darwin

    Nick, since you are in the correcting other people’s grammar mode, should not the holocaust be more properly classified as “an evil thing” instead of an “arbitrary bad thing”??? Moreover Nick, on evolutionary naturalism, exactly how does an atheist ground objective moral values so as to be able to say whether or not something is ‘arbitrarily bad’, much less whether they can say it is “an evil thing”?

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc

    Stephen Meyer – Morality Presupposes Theism (1 of 4) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpdh1b0X_M

    At Emory University, Consternation over Ben Carson, Evolution, and Morality – Richard Weikart – May 10, 2012
    Excerpt: If Emory University (biology) professors want to argue that evolution has no ethical implications, they are free to make that argument (I wonder how many of them actually believe this). However, if they do, they need to recognize that they are not just arguing against “benighted” anti-evolutionists, but against many of their cherished colleagues in evolutionary biology, including Darwin himself.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....59491.html

  33. 33

    Richard Weikart @31:

    Thank you for visiting and providing some insight and perspective. The discussion here and the things you listed serve as a reminder that we need to look at the overall scheme of things and the broader weight of the evidence, rather than a single document or a handful of quotes.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Weikart (attn Dr Nick Natzke):

    Thank you for taking time to lay out a summary. Onlookers will find the Jan 2, 2012 UD post of your videotaped lecture here, a useful and well-documented survey of the relevant ways and means by which Darwinism in Germany — through the influence of Haeckel and many others — helped shape the cultural climate in which Nazism evolved.

    I add to this, two things.

    First, we must recognise that, decades before the Second World War, the trends in Germany were evident and for instance there were events in the First World War that highlighted these; e.g. the 1914 on rape of Belgium which was in effect a stepping stone to what would happen on a much broader basis a generation later. This trend was recognised at the time it was happening, indeed the famous literary prophecy of the consequences of Germany’s even then evident apostasy from the Cristian Faith and its consequences (as in Dr Matzke, your dismissal of “fundamental[ism]” is so off base that it is ridiculous and revelatory of your willful ignorance or equally willful suppression of relevant history, philosophy and ethics . . . ) by Heine of the 1830’s was cited in respect of Germany’s behaviour in Belgium in 1914, in the NYT — at the time.

    It is also noteworthy that Hitler was a soldier in the army in and around the area of the infamous rape of Belgium, and that he spoke in very favourable terms of the behaviour of one of the most notorious generals involved in that situation. (And before this, there was a problem linked to German behaviour in its colonies, including especially a genocidal colonial war in Namibia.)

    It is well worth citing Heine’s prophecy, as it strongly raises the question of debasing of restraining values in a cultural context where there is a cultural heritage of violence, with particular relevance to the undermining of ethics implied, which Dr Matzke would dismiss by namecalling:

    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 . . .], 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. …

    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.]

    Nor is this concern unique to Germany or modern times, I have often cited at UD the classic warning in The Laws Bk X by that Bible-thumping fundy — NOT — Plato c. 360 BC (2350 years ago) on the implications of evolutionary materialism’s inherent amorality for the undermining of values and unlocking the door to might and manipulation make ‘right’ ruthless opportunistic nihilism.

    More centrally, Dr Matzke — especially as former publicist for the NCSE for some years — has a particular duty of care to frankly face and address the question of the IS-OUGHT gap in ethics and its implications for that evolutionary materialism that was already old in Plato’s day but which in our time loves to dress up in the holy lab coat and claim to be uniquely scientific.

    By that, I am pointing to the notorious Hume guillotine argument in which he spoke of how on reading, he would see the usual links is, is, thus therefore, then he would be “surpriz’d” to suddenly see OUGHT appearing.

    That is, he was highlighting the issue that OUGHT needs and often lacks grounding in our thinking and discussions.

    The only place where OUGHT can find solid grounding in an IS, is in the foundation of a worldview, the cluster of first plausibles that provides the basis for all else. Otherwise, OUGHT will float ungrounded in a relativistic miasma and will be subject to manipulation and challenge by those who are opportunistic nihilists. Which is exactly what is going on in our civilisation as we speak, and it is exactly what Plato warned against.

    Now, of course, I am quite aware of the rebuttal that appeals to how foundationalism in worldviews — NB: a philosophical issue, as opposed to the theological view that modernist skeptical scholarship is questionable and should be rejected in light of the credibility of foundational texts and history rooted in C1 and the apostolic testimony (esp. the resurrection of Jesus, cf here) — under challenge and how coherence, especially on a broad basis is to be substituted. As I have pointed out here with reference to KN’s raising of that issue here at UD, this fails, fails decisively.

    Not only is it true that the major analogical parables used to support such coherentism actually imply a foundation or its equivalent [I here allude to for instance how a rope that supports a load through the cumulative effect of twisted and counter-twisted fibres must be solidly anchored], but there is a reason that points to that necessity.

    For example, if we take a claim or cluster of claims A, and ask, why should we accept them, we are asking for grounding or warranting it. This brings us to B. Then, repeat. We are at C, D . . .

    That leads us to a three-pronged choice.

    First, step by step infinite regress, which cannot be traversed to arrive at A, and which also faces the problem that such cannot successfully be traversed by the finite and fallible. Finite beings such as ourselves who are prone to err, must have finite worldviews, which means that we invariably go back to finitely remote clusters of first plausibles, i.e. to a foundation.

    The second problem then surfaces, circularity.

    To use the rope metaphor, a rope in a circle that is unanchored, is not going to hold us in the face of storms. That is, worldview level question-begging is not a good basis for civilisation. (I am going to raise this issue regarding Dr Matzke’s evident evolutionary materialism in a moment.) We need good ground and a sound anchor, tie and rope.

    At worldviews level, the answer to this is grounding on first plausibles that partly are self-evident (like the first principles of right reason and claims like: error exists as was championed by Royce and Trueblood) and which otherwise play a role of integrating the worldview and are themselves tied to such self-evident principles. Also, our presuppositions are partly sustained by comparative difficulties across viable alternatives that lead us to sound conviction in the face of inevitable difficulties with factual adequacy, coherence and simple but not simplistic explanatory power of broad scope.

    It is particularly easy to see that “error exists” [E] is self evident, as to attempt its denial [NOT-E] leads immediately to exemplifying its truth, as one or the other of E and NOT-E must be true and the opposite false. Which immediately implies that it is E that is so.

    This may at first seem trivial, but it is momentous. For it means that:

    (i) truth exists as that which accurately describes or corresponds to reality [not just strongly held opinion or belief],

    (ii) such truth can be warranted, in this case to undeniable certainty,

    (iii) so also, knowledge exists as well warranted, credibly true beliefs [in this case to undeniable certainty]

    (iv) thus, subjectivity of belief and objectivity of warrant are bridged through soundness in reasoning on solid foundations, and

    (v) thus, worldviews that imply that truth as accuracy to reality is to be dismissed, or that knowledge is radically relativised, or that reduce knowledge, truth and warrant to balances of power and strong opinion, are decisively undercut. (Evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers, this means you.)

    Now, I would further hold that there are self evident moral truths, on pain of being undeniably true.

    For example, it is patently so that we ought not to abduct, torture, rape and murder innocent young children, or we ought not to break into elementary school classrooms, guns in hand and blaze away at children and teachers going about the ordinary affairs of life.

    (Notice, the premise in the overwrought debates currently ongoing, that it is a consensus of humanity that such is the case. That is telling, as evolutionary materialism dressed up in the holy lab coat implies the direct opposite. I notice, the obvious solution to the 5 – 20 minute gap to the arrival of police SWAT teams in a world where we now have repeated nihilistic attacks on schools and other soft targets, to induct, arm and train selected teachers into a School Marshal corps — as was successfully done in Israel after the Maalot incident in the 1970’s — is evidently not on the cards. That alone tells me worlds about agendas and want of genuine capacity or seriousness on the actual issue at stake.)

    That is, we face a situation where there are undeniable moral truths, on pain of being exposed as monstrous, as monstrous as a bin Laden or the latest crazed school shooter and stabber over the past few days. (I notice, that here is a tendency to skip over the incident in China that happened earlier the same day, or at least reached the news earlier the same day. It seems that case does not fit the talking point manipulative rhetorical agendas and ideological power games that so often substitute for sound and straightforward reasoning in our day. I will begin to have some hope for our civilisation, when I see things like the teachers unions and PTAs as well as the usual media talking head suspects calling for common sense and historically grounded solutions such as creation of a school marshal corps based on inducting, training, arming and managing suitable teachers, which would have a response time of seconds, not 5 – 20 or more minutes. [BTW, I gather the Thais are now doing this or something much like it. Islamist terrorists are attacking teachers and students there.])

    But I need to point out the big worldview-level question begging, science undermining and education censorship issue with evolutionary materialism before I close. Let me cite the notorious 1997 NYRB remarks by prof Richard Lewontin, that lay the problem bare, so bare that anyone who cites it is pounced on as quote mining [don’t dare go there, cf. here on in context for my response, not that at this stage I expect basic honesty through respect for truth on the part of many advocates of evo mat, especially on the web]:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    In short, science, education and culture have been taken ideological captivity to a priori materialism dressed p int eh holy lab coat, which begs all sorts of questions, makes self refuting claims or has such implications on how science is the only begetter of truth, and locks out otherwise credible alternative worldviews and scientific issues or arguments.

    Plato, in the Laws, Bk X, long since warned on the consequences, consequences that are increasingly evident as we speak, as more and more people are acting out nihilistically on the debasing of core moral values, starting with respect for life (starting with the no one holocaust of our day, in the womb, the one that simply will not be frankly and fairly faced by the cultural elites):

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [ –> In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily “scientific” view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [–> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    We can hardly say that our civilisation has not been warned in good time on the fires the matches we have been playing with can set.

    KF

  35. 35
    vjtorley says:

    Professor Weikart,

    Thanks very much for your very thorough and helpful response to Dr. Matzke’s earlier remarks.

  36. 36
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Nick,

    I just thought I’d tie up a couple of loose ends.

    Re Biblical acts of genocide: whatever you think of these, the fact remains that Judaism repudiated religious violence (including capital punishment for blasphemy) 2,000 years ago, at least in practice. See here and here. Likening the Holocaust to events that took place over 3,000 years ago really is reaching.

    Regarding the Thirty Years’ War, I suggest you have a look at this article from a review of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature: here. The commonly accepted figure of 7.5 million deaths includes deaths caused by disease; the number of military casualties was actually around 450,000. Moreover, the war was not an ethnic one. This is a very poor parallel to the Holocaust.

    By the way, I cited Darwin’s early notebooks (which were not widely available) merely to show that materialism and determinism pervaded his thinking. While Darwin’s notebooks were not available to the public, his theory of human origins was clearly understood to be a materialistic and deterministic one. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, the human soul was widely believed to be capable of interacting with matter, so it was possible to view humans as an exception to Newton’s deterministic physics. In his Descent of Man, however, Darwin argued that the difference between man and the beasts was one of degree rather than kind. If correct, this would have rendered immaterial soul a redundant hypothesis. The behavior of animals in Darwin’s day was universally regarded as deterministic; if humans were mere animals, the same would hold true for them. The metaphysical implications of Darwinism were clear enough to his contemporaries, even though Darwin strove to be as non-offensive as possible in the way he presented his theory.

  37. 37
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Meh. Weikart doesn’t really deal with the material I quoted from Biologists under Hitler, p. 270, let alone the material on p 269.

  38. 38
    Joe says:

    Meh. Matzke doesn’t want to deal with reality. Heck it is a given that reality and Matzke just don’t get along…

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Just to remind: De Weikart posted here at 31 above. It is instructive to contrast that with NM’s talking points. KF

  40. 40
    vjtorley says:

    Nick,

    Thanks for your comment (#37). I believe I should clarify matters. In my original email to Professor Weikart, I asked him to respond to comment #24, which did not mention page 269 of Deichmann’s book, but only mentioned page 270. I’m very sorry that I forgot to pass on your special request that he address the comments on page 269, in comment #27, Nick. Mea culpa.

    I have since relayed your latest comment (#37) to Professor Weikart. I hope he will respond when he returns from his vacation.

    Happy New Year, by the way.

  41. 41
    Richard Weikart says:

    Nick,

    I was away from the internet for awhile, so I didn’t see your response until today. I provided a pretty extensive response, so I’m surprised you would say I didn’t respond to your Deichmann quote. I’ve read Deichmann, and her work is by not means a refutation of my position, as you seem to imply.

    Deichmann on pp. 169-70 provides some evidence that some German biologists (and one Nazi philosopher) did not believe in Darwinism. So? I never argued that every single German biologist was a Darwinist, so how does this refute my position? But two problems (for you): elsewhere in her book she provides evidence that many German biologists did believe in Dariwnism; and even many of these “non-Darwinian” biologists did believe in evolution. They were not “creationists.” Concerning the quote from Gross and Deichmann’s discussion about him, if you read Deichmann carefully, you will find that her evidence does not support your position at all. Gross fully supported Weinert, who was a Darwinian anthropologist. According to Deichmann, he “considered Weinert the most competent specialist in the field of the theory of human origins.” The only question was one of details of evolutionary theory, not whether evolution had occurred. Gross wrote an article in 1943 in which he discussed human evolution and fully supported the idea, including the importance of natural selection in driving human evolution. Gross was a Darwinist.

    Also, you forgot that Deichmann, even on pp. 169-70 provides evidence against your view. For example, on p. 269 she reminds us that the journal _Der Biologe_ celebrated Haeckel’s hundredth birthday in 1934, calling him a pioneer of Nazism. Then, on pp. 269-70 she states that the Ernst Haeckel Society, formed in 1933 [sic–it was formed later] from the Monist League, was supported by Fritz Sauckel, Gauleiter of Thuringia. On p. 270 she also notes that Alfred Rosenberg endorsed natural selection of human races and “sharply rejected Krieck’s attacks against Haeckel.”

    If I was so remiss for not responding to your quote from Deichmann, when are you going to respond to the avalanche of evidence I provided in my earlier comments supporting my position?

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