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O’Leary’s review of Weikart’s controversial work From Darwin to Hitler


I first determined to make a point of reading historian Richard Weikart’s meticulously researched book, From Darwin to Hitler because Darwinists were very clearly upset by the implications of his work.

Some seemed obsessed with proving Weikart, who teaches at California State University (Stanislaus) not only wrong but dishonest and irresponsible – which he certainly isn’t.

I am glad I read this magisterial work, because I now understand much better the relationship between 19th century Darwinism and the rise of Hitler. Weikart unearths so many old, almost buried 19th and early 20th century German sources. Indeed, one can only wonder at his patience, systematically reading through the many, many articles and books of long-dead eugenicists, imperialists, pacifists, socialists, and such.

Weikart unearths several lines of evidence that are critical for understanding what happened. (Clicking the link takes you to the ID Arts site for the rest of the review. While you are there, look around. It’s all fun and all free.)

Above posters: I understand where you're coming from, and agree with some of what you're saying, but I have two problems still: 1. Why can't the motive of ID simply be scientific curiosity? Doesn't history show that other motives for endorsing a theory, sooner or later, get in the way of finding the truth? Isn't that the mistake the Darwinists have been making all along (i.e. seeing the battle against religious creationism as their goal, rather than just trying to find out what really happened). 2. If "Darwin leads to mass murder" is a legitimate argument to use in defense of ID, then isn't this also a legitimate argument to use against it: "Allowing for less than 100% pure naturalism/materialism will lead to the destruction of science, and a halt/regression of technological progress." Aren't both of these arguments just distractions from the question of whether the physical evidence reveals design irrespective of what the answer may or may not do to human society? Of course, I'm aware that scientists, Darwinists, IDists, bloggers, and in fact every human is probably, at some level, concerned about things like Nazism. But should our concern extend to the point where it wants to share authority with physical evidence in answering questions that, scientifically, can be answered only by physical evidence? Saving society from mass murder, and saving science and technology from corrosive superstition, are lofty goals which I don't automatically reject. But seeing such a social goal mixed up with ID in the main blog of the ID leadership discourages me greatly, and makes me wonder if the movement is already slipping off track. Maybe a wholly separate website devoted to the alleged connection of Darwinism to social ills would be in order. DarelRex
DarrelRex, Two things seem to be common amongst all ID proponents. One has to do with science and one has to do with sociology or psychology. I am not sure how to categorize the second. The science aspect that seems to be common in all ID proponents is that Neo Darwinism is bogus science for all but trivial changes in life forms over the course of history. It can definitely explain minor changes in genomes and organisms but is incapable of explaining the changes that we see in the fossil record or the diversity we see in life in the world today. Because Neo Darwinism cannot explain the fossil record or the diversity of life forms ID proponents hypothesize another mechanism for the origin of some of these various life forms and that is intelligence. This is the science part. We all agree that Neo Darwinism is limited (It is only a bogus science if it is carried too far in trying to explain life's diversity. It is an extremely useful science when applied to genetics and medical issues.). After our agreement that Neo Darwinism has limited applicability to evolutionary biology we may have very little agreement on other aspects of science. The second thing we agree on is that the teaching of Neo Darwinism in the schools has a deteriorating effect on society. If the science was wrong and it had no effect on society there would be no pro ID efforts as we would all be doing something else with our time. But the teaching and acceptance of Neo Darwinism has deleterious effects and thus heightens the interests of those who believe it is bogus science. So examples such as Hitler or Communism or the thinking of German militarism that led to World War I are examples of why people are very interested in eliminating the bogus science part of Neo Darwinism. Also the rapid rise of atheism and the potential for no ethical standards that are good for society that often accompany atheism are of concern. Few doubt that Neo Darwinism facilitates acceptance of atheism because if it was labeled as bogus science few then would be able to use science as support for their atheism. In other words we tend to believe that Neo Darwinism leads to mass murder and that is one of our concerns. It is not the only cause of mass murder as we are witnessing in the world today a potentially greater threat that probably rejects Neo Darwinism outriight. Outside of these two things, pro ID people have little in common and if Neo Darwinism would disappear as an explanation of life forms, we would all very likely be opposite sides of the fence on many important issues. jerry
"“Darwinism leads to mass-murder,” true or not, is simply not relevant to the activity of scientifically probing whether life was designed — the supposed focus of the ID revolution, and the characteristic which distinguishes ID from previous, failed anti-Darwin campaigns." Actually, I think the (ab)use of Darwinism/evolution to advance social and political agendas is an apt topic for ID proponents. I say this as an observer, but I don't even see ID as 'Anti-Darwin', certainly not 'anti-evolution'. Some people in the ID movement may reject evolution altogether, or Darwin's thoughts altogether, but there's a healthy number of people - a majority? who knows - who accept all of the scientific data, but strongly question the interpretation of that data, particularly with regards to the philosophical. So for me, highlighting how Darwinism was used as a popular justification of some past actions we now regard as distasteful (eugenics, etc) is important. Especially when compared with, say, using Darwinism as a tool to advance an atheistic or materialistic philosophy. Though they both vary in degree of severity, they're still the same thing to me; improperly advancing a bad worldview, under the guise of it being 'scientific!'. nullasalus
Didn't Hitler also offer various other, bizarre justifications for his policies, such as that Jews were somehow evil and needed to be destroyed to improve the safety of all? (Or something like that.) Hitler may have had multiple reasons for doing what he did, and we can't even really know which ones were sincere, or if his actual reasons were even publicly revealed. I think that in our attempts to prevent another disaster of Nazi proportions, we should be much more concerned with understanding what particular events in post-WWI Europe led to a guy like Hitler being able to seize the reins of an advanced nation, rather than what may or may not have made Hitler himself an anti-social pathogen. Our society is probably crawling with thousands of would-be Hitlers this very minute -- but they are simply not able to take over. Now the really important part (as related to the subject of this website): "Darwinism leads to mass-murder," true or not, is simply not relevant to the activity of scientifically probing whether life was designed -- the supposed focus of the ID revolution, and the characteristic which distinguishes ID from previous, failed anti-Darwin campaigns. "Darwinism leads to mass-murder" is in the same category of ascientific arguments as, "Allowing for less than 100% pure naturalism/materialism will lead to the destruction of science, and a halt/regression of technological progress." Even if the argument has some merit, it's not relevant to scientifically exploring the question of evolution/design. And neither is the whole subject of possible Darwin/Hitler connections. DarelRex
The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution. ~ Arthur Keith National Socialism is nothing but applied biology. ~ Rudolph Hess If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. ~ Voltaire bevets
Weikart's documentation is well complemented by: Stéphane Courtois et al. The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (1999) Harvard Univ. Press ISBN: 0674076087 http://www.amazon.com/Black-Book-Communism-Crimes-Repression/dp/0674076087 This reveals how more than 100 million people were killed or starved by communists in the 20th century - based on the same foundations of Darwinism and atheism. (The US Congress estimates at least 125 million.) Communists killed far more than the 38 million killed in all wars during the 20th century. Atheistic Darwinism is thus far more dangerous than all conventional causes of war. C.S. Lewis in "That Hideous Strength", (e.g .,ISBN: 978-0007157174) the last his space trilogy, eloquently depicts these consequences of Darwinism. He exposes the dehumanizing and brutal consequences of such thought and policies on both the perpetrators and their victims. DLH

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