Book of the Month/June 2014

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Darwin Hitler

This book is why God gave us scholars. The connection between evolutionary Darwinism and “scientific” racism is a straight line connection, and Richard Weikart draws it carefully.

Weikart handles sensational material, but does not do so in a sensationalistic way. He produces so many damning quotes he has to deliver them with a forklift. But he is a quiet scholar, letting the historical information make its own appalling point. Occasionally, once in a while, he will deliver an understated aside in his own voice. But for the rest, it is just raw history — and for the dedicated evolutionist, a very unpleasant history.

Weikart says this, near the beginning:

“I also need to make clear from the start that this is a historical study. When I draw connections between Darwin, German Darwinists, eugenicists, racial theorists, and militarists, I am not thereby endorsing their logic — I leave it to the read to decide the logic of their case” (p. 9).

Having been thus invited, on my read, given their premises, the logic was sound. He who says A must eventually say B, even if B is atrocious. But they said it anyway.

The book provides a window into another time, yet another time when the “science was settled,” and you were a buffoon on the wrong side of history if you didn’t go along with them. It shows that the first century of Darwinism (and there have not yet been two centuries of it) was represented by men whose racial hubris and intellectual pride drove them all barking mad. But, in their defense, the science was settled. There’s that.

So let me give you one quote, and one book plate illustration, both from Haeckel, the man who gave us the “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” wheeze, the idea that we all go through the varying stages of evolution in the womb. This concept also provided justification for abortion, by the way, because each individual has to evolve all the way up to the status of regular folks. A child in the womb is still at the “brute” stage and, if he doesn’t want to get treated like a cephalopod, needs to get a move on.

Haeckel said this:

“The theory of evolution finally makes clear, that the ‘eternal, iron laws of nature‘ of the inorganic world are also valid in the organic and moral world” (From Darwin to Hitler, p. 25).

Roll that around in your mind for a few minutes. And then run.

Here is the frontispiece from Haeckel’s Naturaliche Schopfungsgeschichte. Remember that the science is settled.

Frontispiece

In the eyes of contemporary Darwinists, it is, of course, mandatory for us all to draw a sharp distinction between Darwinism as a theorem in biology and social Darwinism, which wound up doing a bunch of wicked things to the planet. But why should we draw this distinction? If there is no God, we are just protoplasm that has gotten as far as the junior high school of meaninglessness, and what on earth do you mean by wicked?

The first chapter of this book is on the rise of moral relativism. Evolution produced its own ethic from inside — which had to be survival — and this was necessary because there was no longer any “outside” from which we might derive any objective meaning.

Weikart shows the attitudes that many believed Darwinism created on a host of related issues. What do we do with the less fit? Eugenics and euthanasia were intertwined. What about war and peace? A number of the Darwinists were militarists, but even the Darwinian pacifists were against the First World War, not because people were getting killed, but rather because the wrong people were getting killed. As soon as the superiors quit fighting among themselves, the lower races were going to have to fend for themselves, and the white Europeans were going to overrun the globe. What fun that would be! This is just the way it was. History had this inexorable mojo going.

Darwin’s Origin was published in 1859, and the racist implications of that theory were widely held for almost a century after that point — and were significant factors in two World Wars. And the point was dropped more for PR reasons than logical reasons. Hitler was kind of a disastrous poster boy for racial purity. But the implications of the theory cannot be just waved away. Take this as an example in a book just recently published.

Any Christian pastor who wants to contribute meaningfully to the issues that swirl around cultural engagement needs to get this book. This is not a piece of antiquarian intellectual history. None of this has gone away yet, and will not go away until we get the bad root completely out.

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Tim H
Tim H
7 years ago

There are too many confusions here to quickly sort out. Highly debatable if not simply false: 1. Germany started WW1. 2. Germany started WW2. 3. Germans were motivated primarily by Darwinism. 4. The Glorious Allies were motivated primarily by anti-Darwinism. 5. Darwinism (macro-evolution) is the only theory that could motivate eugenics. Moreover, the narrative is basically modus tollens on “if Darwinism then racial differences” and the consequent is something one is not allowed to say. Yet everyone knows there are substantial racial differences. So the premise for the modus tollens to work is purely political, not factual. This approach might… Read more »

Brian Darby
Brian Darby
7 years ago

What is your stance on mental illness do you think some of its manifestations are Satanic or some such utter complete total nonsense. We know how the Christian church dealt with these issues over several hundreds of years. In my reading you are a young earth creationist and you deny the evidence that supports the theory of evolution, if I am incorrect I am sorry. What is your take on germ theory, the theory of relativity, plate tectonics etc. Oh Pastor Wilson what is your take on vaccines, do you think it would serve the Gospel of Jesus to have… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
7 years ago

Darwin proposed the theory of evolution because he believed it was true. His “Origin” clearly states that all humans are one species, and he was no friend to slavery. Racism is as old as humanity, and Plato himself suggested an early form of eugenics in The Republic. We can hold Darwin accountable for the subsequent perversions of his theory only if we believe that any writer or thinker is morally responsible for any misunderstanding or misconduct arising from his ideas. Is Galileo to blame if any Christian’s faith was weakened by the discovery that the earth is not the center… Read more »

David
David
7 years ago

Dear Tim H, I do not see where Doug was offering a modus tollens argument, especially based on your summary, though if he had, modus tollens is a valid form of argumentation. I do not think it is dishonest for an author to provide quotes from people who committed atrocities and who argued that their actions were acceptable on the basis of a Darwinian view of origins. Now, it would be fallacious if one side in a debate only chose the worst instances of the views of their debate opponents, and ignored better representations. It is quite another, however, if… Read more »

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

The book sounds much better than this post. A historical study is not a logical argument, or even a polemic. I also like how Darwinist inspired racism suddenly became a major factor in WW1. Please try again, maybe without your culture war blinders this time.

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

Germany DID NOT start [email protected] if the author said that, then that is historically wrong.

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

If the author stated thatGermany started WW1, then the author is simply wrong. The Austro-Hungarian Empire started the war because of the assassination in Sarajevo or the Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian terrorist.

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

So Pastor Wilson, do you plan on reading Nicholas Wade’s new book? I haven’t gotten to it yet but I did enjoy his last book, “Before the Dawn”.

David Mullin
David Mullin
7 years ago

Read the book. The theme of the book is not that Darwin foresaw where his theories led, but that the intellectuals of the next hundred years followed them to their logical conclusions. These were not fringe characters, but people like Haeckel. His fraudulent pictures of evolutionary recapitulation in the human womb were in standard high schoold science textbooks at least until the early seventies. Others like Huxley and Sanger are still influential today. Few people today understand how powerful the eugenics movement was and how it still has a powerful hold on American thinking. I had a liberal buddy tell… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

This is really not a strong agument. An evolutionist could certainly point out that racial violence was much more widespread prior to Darwin and that racial violence is less frequent today amongst populations that have more fully embraced Darwinism.
Me against my brother, me and my brothers against my cousins, me, my brothers and my cousins against the world. No Darwin needed.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Nobody said Germany started WWI, except Tim H who said Wilson and/or Weikart were wrong for saying it.

John Rabe
John Rabe
7 years ago

Since no one else has asked, allow me:

Brian Darby, what in the world are you on about?

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

Just a heads up that I am praying for you Pastor Wilson and I appreciate you taking the guff you do. I hope you are not allergic to straw as its been a bit thick about here lately.

St. Lee
7 years ago

By the time I was a couple lines into the post, I knew that it would bring out the religious fanatics in full force, …you know the ones who worship the creation AS the creator.

But where is comrade Eric, did he take the day off?

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

The theme of the book is not that Darwin foresaw where his theories led, but that the intellectuals of the next hundred years followed them to their logical conclusions. The logical conclusions of Darwin’s theories are that isolated populations will diverge over time and exhibit different traits. Which is uncontroversial aside from Darwin’s assertion that new species will arise over time from this process. People don’t seem to realize, especially when they’re mired in right wing resentments, that Darwin was attempting to explain what everyone could readily observe, not shoot us off into a new set of ideological crusades. That… Read more »

St. Lee
7 years ago

Matt, you said:

“That eugenics was based on evolutionary theories is similarly uncontroversial, not some huge gotcha that will finally bring them godless liberals to their knees.”

Of course not, since liberals are already on their knees worshiping at the alter of evolution, environmentalism, etc. They are not really godless, but the closest they come to worshiping the Living God is in their worship of the earth and His creation.

Matt A
Matt A
7 years ago

I’ve got three honest questions: 1. Can we now talk about 2014 instead of 1934? Oh, good. 2. Now, what reason does the Chinese government give for killing (often through abortion) children (mostly females)? 3. And do they use “science” or “religion” arguments to legitimize their genocide of children (again, mostly women)? An aside: Take the hint feminists, abortion is the WMD for the world war on women – the GOP is not. Totalitarian, misogynistic cultures are waging a war on women that makes Hitler look like an incompetent scrub. And finally (rhetorically), did this war become so one-sided before… Read more »

Roy
Roy
7 years ago

Matt wrote “one huge gotcha”…….not sure that intent was implied. But the obvious (at least to me) results are easily inferred.

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

Jill Smith wrote: “Clearly a lot of people didn’t need to read Darwin in order to become segregationists and to use Scripture to justify their racial animosity. My point is that no sensible person would consider the Bible a dangerous book because wicked people have perverted its teachings for evil purposes. That some people wilfully misunderstood Darwin in order to use his theory to justify wickedness is undeniable; I simply can’t understand, however, in what way Darwin was to blame for publishing a work of science that he believed to be true.” Jill seems to be obscuring the issue here,… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

This arguement is completely beside the point. You can argue whether evolution occurrs or the extent to which it occurrs but you can’t say that it doesn’t occurr because you don’t like the social implications. Nuclear weapons are terrible and could destroy all life on this planet. That doesn’t mean that nuclear physics are untrue.
If everyone needs to be exactly the same to keep you from killing certain groups of people then its only a matter of time until the killing begins. There are obvious and demonstrable differences between individuals and differences between groups.

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

As Wilson (and Matt) observes, such a racist conclusion is spawned naturally from their evolutionary premises. Not sure how you got this from anything I said, unless, as Barnabas says, the mere fact of racial differences are enough to legitimize racial hatred in this crowd. That says more about the Christian Right than it does about evolution. Fact is, evolution is established, and the only disagreement is on how extensive it is. What would make the rules change just because we got here? Humans subvert natural and sexual selection all the time. Evolutionary theory won’t tell you that this is… Read more »

Tim Bushong
7 years ago

Matt wrote: Fact is, evolution is established, and the only disagreement is on how extensive it is. But it’s the extent that changes the direction of the whole conversation, right? If we’re talking about the extent of evolution in the sense of adaptation within species (an easily and readily observable phenom), then there’s no problem from the perspective of Bible-believing Christians, and “…each after its own kind.” But if we’re we’re talking about the extent of evolution in the sense of the ‘Blind Watchmaker’, or ‘matter/energy+time+chance=cosmos’, then the logical outworkings of scientific Darwinism as related to social Darwinism are inescapable,… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

Fact is, evolution is established, and the only disagreement is on how extensive it is. Just like Global cooling in the 1970’s followed by Global Warming in the 2000’s and then into ‘Climate Change’ and now ‘Climate Disruption’–because the science is settled. ya. When making a blanket statement like that, Matt, you discredit yourself. Please start by defining evolution. Darwinian TENS? Neo-Darwinianism? micro-evolution–everything about it? If you are not qualified in the science, that is fine–the process of how you arrive at your moral pronouncements is what I am interested in. If you are a scientist, please provide links to… Read more »

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

But it’s the extent that changes the direction of the whole conversation, right? Only if we’re talking about different races evolving into different species over time. An evolutionist has to allow for this potential, though subversion of selection processes makes it unlikely. At any rate, it hasn’t happened yet and wouldn’t anytime soon. …then the logical outworkings of scientific Darwinism as related to social Darwinism are inescapable… There are no “logical outworkings”. Evolution tells you that things will change, but doesn’t tell you what to think about that. It was pre-existing racism and classism that lead to social Darwinism. Timothy,… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

Timothy, I’m not really talking about “science”, but rather the easily observed fact that isolated populations diverge over time. Evolution is a term for the processes by which this happens.

Thank you Matt.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Not sure how you got this from anything I said, unless, as Barnabas says, the mere fact of racial differences are enough to legitimize racial hatred in this crowd. It’s like this: if there is no fixed boundary to racial differences since races can eventually evolve into, or may have evolved from, different species, then there is no absolute, incontrovertible basis for insisting that all must regard all races as equally deserving of charity and justice. Can you propose a reason to insist that, past, future, and present, it would be definitively unjust to regard every member of what we… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Sorry, paragraph 2 should read,

Can you propose a reason to insist that, past, future, and present, it would be definitively unjust NOT to regard every member of what we now include in the human species as morally and socially equal to every other member, regardless of what evolution may have occurred in the past or what it may yield in the future?

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

I wrote: As Wilson (and Matt) observes, such a racist conclusion is spawned naturally from their evolutionary premises. And Matt responded with: “Not sure how you got this from anything I said…” I got it from where Matt said: “That eugenics was based on evolutionary theories is similarly uncontroversial, not some huge gotcha that will finally bring them godless liberals to their knees.” With more context, Matt wrote: “Not sure how you got this from anything I said, unless, as Barnabas says, the mere fact of racial differences are enough to legitimize racial hatred in this crowd. That says more… Read more »

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

Matt wrote: “Only if we’re talking about different races evolving into different species over time. An evolutionist has to allow for this potential, though subversion of selection processes makes it unlikely. At any rate, it hasn’t happened yet and wouldn’t anytime soon.” Odd that Matt would suggest that it “hasn’t happened yet”. It’s how we got here according to the narrative. For example, divergence between us and Neanderthals, happened. We “won”. Likewise, every reproductive person alive today is potentially the fountainhead for a brand new species in their image. It may have already started. Matt really needs to explain what… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

@Jane. Christians have a reason: all are created in the image of God and are of one human blood, and any observed differences, of any degree of importance, are subordinate to that principle. If humans were not all of the same origin and evolutionary destiny and fixed nature, what would be inherently wrong with deciding that some belonged in a sub-class or a super-class, socially or spiritually or morally speaking? Brava! As a quick aside, C.S. Lewis took it one step further in ‘Out of The Silent Planet’ such that our relationship to all God’s creatures is one of respect,… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

Re my last link at quoted paragraph–the author at the link does mention some subtleties in Darwin’s thought that bear attention, so do not take that quote as definitive of Darwin’s views without further research. We do know that Darwin was aware of the implication.

Also, for Discovery is an article about some of the Progressive Era Protestants involvement in that debacle. So we know that that cancer spread to organized religion as well.

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

If humans were not all of the same origin and evolutionary destiny and fixed nature, what would be inherently wrong with deciding that some belonged in a sub-class or a super-class, socially or spiritually or morally speaking? If humans were all of the same origin and evolutionary destiny and fixed nature, what would be inherently wrong with deciding this? It is not as if it had never been decided until the supervillain Charles Darwin burst on the scene. Your question isn’t about evolution, in other words. As Wilson (and Matt) observes, such a racist conclusion is spawned naturally from their… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Matt, are you saying it is not inherently wrong to make such decisions? Purportedly undermining my defense against it does not strengthen the case for it, unless you can make that case some other way.

The obvious rejoinder to your question is that it is inherently wrong to treat like things in an unlike way, if there is any such thing as justice at all. That people were so foolish as to deny this before Darwin does not change the fact. Nor does pointing out that people did it without Darwinism exempt Darwinism from the charge of enabling it.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

BTW, Matt, were you under the impression that Schweikart or anyone here was arguing that Darwinism was necessary to racism and/or eugenics? Surely it’s not a new idea that something can be causative in the sense of exacerbating an existing tendency, without being a necessary condition. I believe the proposition here is more modest: Darwinism did not cause a previously non-existent racism to arise; it provided a fertile soil for it to flourish. Did you really think that more was being claimed than that?

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

I wrote: “As Wilson (and Matt) observes, such a racist conclusion is spawned naturally from their evolutionary premises.” because Matt had written: “That eugenics was based on evolutionary theories is similarly uncontroversial…” But now, after conceding it, Matt apparently wants to resume disputing the relationship anyway. Matt says: “Doug thinks evolution entails racism, I’ve been arguing otherwise, so we can’t be saying the same thing. Quit trying to find gotchas and actually engage with those you disagree with.” Perhaps Matt should clarify in his own mind whether racism finds a ready champion in evolution theory or not. He has indicated… Read more »

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

I wrote: “He [Matt] imagines that “this crowd” seeks to legitimize racial hatred.” and Matt objected: “Wrong again. For being as enamored with reductios as people are around here, they’re quite bad at recognizing them.” but Matt is the one who previously had said: “Not sure how you got this from anything I said, unless, as Barnabas says, the mere fact of racial differences are enough to legitimize racial hatred in this crowd.” This is not a reductio. It’s a false dichotomy, which is a logical fallacy. I addressed both false alternatives. I showed how I got my conclusion directly… Read more »

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

Matt wrote: “I don’t know if you can subvert “nature”, but you can certainly subvert a natural process, by way of choosing not to engage in it. For example, natural selection is subverted in that we don’t leave our weak or disabled to die. Since this obviously happens, I’m not sure what you’re actually disagreeing with, save the semantics of it all.” I don’t recall if Matt is speaking as a materialist evolutionist, or if he adheres to some flavor of theistic evolutionism. In any case, he seems to be using semantic categories that Darwin’s evolutionism doesn’t have access to.… Read more »

katecho
katecho
7 years ago

Matt wrote: “Of course I was referring to current races. I’ll tell you what, if they ever diverge into separate species we can congregate here again and I’ll admit I was wrong.” I’m not sure why Matt is holding on to the quaint idea that humans will forever be one happy homogeneous species, with no differential survival pressures. He certainly doesn’t get this idyllic notion from evolution theory, and it certainly wasn’t how we got here. Even supposing that some remote tribe hasn’t already formed a reproductively isolated population, this condition is inevitable according to the evolutionary doctrines of time… Read more »

Tim H
Tim H
7 years ago

Jane and Douglas, Obviously you don’t “state” those things, but that’s why this kind of essay is so dishonest. It triggers memes with winks and nods, mentioning of wars, atrocities, eugenics, etc., (and we all know who we’re talking about here: hint: read the title) all the while maintaining plausible deniability. Take the throw-away sentence: “and the white Europeans were going to overrun the globe.” No one, in any of the four powers, thought that way, that I know of; but Hitler least of all. [BTW what other kind of Europeans are there than “white”?] Note that the eugenics program… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Note that the eugenics program was directed against fellow Germans — hardly reinforcing the “racist” charge. I don’t think anyone was claiming that eugenics is racist, but that eugenics and racism are both the result of a similar kind of thinking about humanity — some count fully, some don’t. The argument being made is that both ideas are supported by evolutionary assumptions. I really don’t think “you don’t state that but I inferred it based on basically nothing so you’re responsible” is a sound charge. Can you please point to the specific thing that you think is meant to create… Read more »

St. Lee
7 years ago

Tim H, you said: “As a result of the kind of propaganda you are helping perpetuate, today, I suppose as punishment, “white Europeans” are not allowed even a small corner of the “globe” to claim as their own. “ By God’s grace that type of thought is totally foreign to me today, though I can remember my pre Christian days when it would not have been so. I now have far more in common with, and affection for, a Christian of any color than a non Christian of my skin color. You seem to be awfully defensive about Germany. By… Read more »

Tim H
Tim H
7 years ago

Saint Lee — okay, you don’t think Europeans have a right to a homeland, but does your theory apply to all tribes on earth? It would be perfectly fine for 10 million Englishmen or French to settle in Nigeria, or Japan, and in due time get the right to vote? Usually, the “open borders” only works in one direction it seems. (And this question is much bigger than who Saint Lee feels comfy hanging out with.) Jane — well I gave a list of key words, which combined with the book title makes the point. Let me turn the question… Read more »

St. Lee
7 years ago

Tim H, I do admit you have given me pause for thought. (don’t have much time for pause so the thought will also be short). You said: “…okay, you don’t think Europeans have a right to a homeland…” I guess what I saw as disagreeable was that in your comment that I was responding to you used the phrase “white Europeans” which is slightly different than just Europeans. If you base your “tribes” exclusively on skin color, then I suppose it is fine for you and all your fellow neo-Nazis to have a homeland to keep pure. I personally would… Read more »

Tim H
Tim H
7 years ago

Saint — “white Europeans” was in quotes because I was quoting Douglas!

Perhaps before you are so quick to use the N-word on people, you might contemplate a globe of the world, and ponder the fact that the nations basically ARE racial in composition (or ethnic if you prefer — same difference). This is not an invention of nationalists, German or otherwise. It is a fact of world history. (Prominently acknowledged in the Bible also, by the way.)

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

The obvious rejoinder to your question is that it is inherently wrong to treat like things in an unlike way, if there is any such thing as justice at all. The first problem there is that a plain observation of equality is not enough to justify any moral position. You need some moral premise to do the work (it is inherently wrong to treat like things in an unlike way). The second problem is that humans are not “like things”. Again, no one ever needed the theory of evolution to note this; population differences are plain to see. Your issue… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

Not sure what the book claims, but Doug is quite openly claiming that evolution not only can be used as a basis for racism, but inevitably leads to it in a plain logical progression From the Lede of Dougs Post (In BIG BOLD FONT AT THE TOP, just in case you cannot find it) This book is why God gave us scholars. The connection between evolutionary Darwinism and “scientific” racism is a straight line connection, and Richard Weikart draws it carefully. So, the Author Weikart documents the claim; Doug finds that analysis compelling and agrees with it. You, having not… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

It feels very strange to be taking Matt’s side on something but he couldn’t be any more logical with his analysis of this and his opponents are just coming off as evasive. He’s laid out both his premises and his conclusions pretty clearly if anyone wants to attack them. I don’t think that someone with a solid understanding of these issues and the courage of their convictions should have to prevaricate like this. If you feel the need to call someone Hitler then you’ve clearly lost the argument.

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

It feels very strange to be taking Matt’s side on something but he couldn’t be any more logical with his analysis of this and his opponents are just coming off as evasive. I know you are not addressing me on the hitler point. but regarding Matt’s argument what did I miss? I have a hard time making out Matt’s actual argument through the fog of straw-men and red herrings. I am not being snarky or accusative. If I missed something, I want to know what it is. If you could summarize it, that would be most helpful. What I see… Read more »