The Darwin-Hitler Link

I’ve been following this controversy for the past couple of days and don’t know yet what I think of it. Coral Ridge Ministries will be airing a documentary called Darwin’s Deadly Legacy in which they draw links between Darwinian evolution and the extermination of the Jews in Nazi Germany.
My main concern with the documentary is that it may be discrediting evolutionary theory using the fallacy of guilt by association. While it may be true that Darwinian evolution leads to moral decay, that in and of itself doesn’t falsify the theory. I don’t doubt for a second that a worldview that is based upon the theory of evolution will lead to a destruction of ethics, or that Hitler used it as a foundation for his own horrifying natural selection. But does this video devolve (pardon the pun) into one big ad hominem attack? I won’t know until I watch it I guess.
If the documentary is seeking to point out an inconsistency in the worldview of evolutionists by showing the logical conclusion that ethics are destroyed by evolutionary theory, I’m all for it. But if the argument is merely, “Darwin, therefore Hitler,” I don’t know if that will do any good. To say to an evolutionist, “Hey, why are you making ethical decisions? Your worldview doesn’t allow for ethics. Take the case of Hitler for example, he was a consistent evolutionist…” is a valid argument because you are pointing out the flaw in their own thinking. But that is a far cry from saying that evolution is false because Hitler believed in it.
What is incredibly interesting about this controversy is the amount of reaction it has garnered from its critics. Of course, the documentary hasn’t been released, so it is quite mind-blowing to see the venom spewed from the mouths of its already-detractors. You think that these people, including the Anti-Defamation League, would hold off on its criticism until the show actually goes public. How do you criticise something you know nothing about? It really displays the bias of these people against anything but evolutionary theory. Their adherence to it is a pre-committment – a presupposition if you will. Why not wait, evaluate the facts, and then make a decision either for or against. And why all the hysteria? Can’t we be rational about this?
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4 Comments

Filed under apologetics, charles darwin, evolution

4 responses to “The Darwin-Hitler Link

  1. Steven Carr

    Hitler, of course, was a creationist, at least as far as human beings were concerned.

    Hitler explicity rejected Darwinism and the evolution of man.

    From Hitler’s Tischgespraeche for the night of the 25th to 26th February 1942 ‘Woher nehmen wir das Recht zu glauben, der Mensch sei nicht von Uranfaengen das gewesen , was er heute ist? Der Blick in die Natur zeigt uns, dass im Bereich der Pflanzen und Tiere Veraenderungen und Weiterbildungen vorkommen. Aber nirgends zeigt sich innherhalb einer Gattung eine Entwicklung von der Weite des Sprungs, den der Mensch gemacht haben muesste, sollte er sich aus einem affenartigen Zustand zu dem, was er ist, fortgebildet haben.’

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

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

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

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

    From Mein Kampf – Volume 2

    “Thus for the first time a high inner purpose is accredited to the State. In face of the ridiculous phrase that the State should do no more than act as the guardian of public order and tranquillity, so that everybody can peacefully dupe everybody else, it is given a very high mission indeed to preserve and encourage the highest type of humanity which a beneficent Creator has bestowed on this earth.”

    “And, further, they ought to be brought to realize that it is their bounden duty to give to the Almighty Creator beings such as He himself made to His own image.”

    Nobody has ever found one word by Hitler mentioning Darwin, Darwinism or claiming that human beings evolved from creatures that were not human beings.

  2. Stephen

    Thanks for the call for balance here. I agree with you – it is important not to pre-judge issues.

    On Usenet a man called Godwin came up with a principle that all discussions eventually descend into a compariosn with Hitler and the Nazi’s. There is an honourable tradition in Usenet discussions, therefore, that the first person to compare their opponent with Hitler and the Nazi’s automatically loses the argument! The thread is said to be “Godwinated”.

    Traditional media, meanwhile, is happy to demonise anyone they feel they can compare with Hitler and the Nazis. It makes for good ratings!

    I doubt that anyone will be persuaded of the error of their view by such a programme.

  3. Ian

    Steven Carr: Thanks for the quotes. I have to admit, I haven’t read anything by Hitler. Really, my knowledge of his thought is quite shallow (in terms of primary sources). Your quotes have given me pause to consider Hitler’s writings first hand, instead of depending on secondary sources.
    Stephen: You are right, the worst ad hominem is often the most frequently used: “What, you believe in pink unicorns?!?! You’re a Nazi.” Pretty standard stuff these days.
    Although, in terms of the documentary, at least they’re trying to establish an historical and philosophical link using evidence. It’s not a mere off-the-cuff remark. There at least appears to be precedent.

  4. Western geologist

    Ian,

    I was happy to read your concerns about the fallacy of guilt by association. Thanks for bringing that up. I do want to take issue with something else you wrote:

    “While it may be true that Darwinian evolution leads to moral decay, that in and of itself doesn’t falsify the theory. I don’t doubt for a second that a worldview that is based upon the theory of evolution will lead to a destruction of ethics, or that Hitler used it as a foundation for his own horrifying natural selection.”

    I want to add a little to the material provided by Steven Carr. I’m just an amateur in this area, but I found this post quite interesting:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/08/d_james_kennedy_darwin_and_hit.php

    In that post you can read about instances where Hitler (mis)used Christianity to justify his actions.

    My primary reason for writing is your statement that acceptance of evolution leads to moral decay. I don’t see how that’s true. Imagine someone claiming that acceptance of gravity leads to moral decay.
    According to the theory of gravity anything that’s dropped from a window will fall to the earth, therefore accroding to Newtonists there’s nothing wrong with dropping a baby out of a window. That example is certainly flippant, but I don’t mean it to be insulting. My point is that neither the theory of gravity or the theory of evolution have moral implications, they simply describe the natural world. If you try to draw moral implications from either you’re using the wrong tool.

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