The evolution of a monster!
Adolf Hitler and eugenics
When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, it was hailed by many as the end of any scientific justification for the existence of a Creator God. Science was now freed from having to conform to ‘outdated’ Biblical ideas. In the resulting vacuum of religious authority, men such as Darwin’s agnostic cousin, Francis Galton, founded a new religion based on the idea of improving the human race according to the theory of evolution. In 1883, Galton called this improved-race idea ‘eugenics’.1
A group arose called the ‘Social Darwinists’ and, taking their cue from evolutionary theory, they divided humanity into the ‘fit’ and the ‘unfit’. Eugenics was seen as a way of making sure that the ‘fit’ had children and the ‘unfit’ did not. Books on eugenics were written by scientists which argued that the most humane method of preventing reproduction of the unworthy was a ‘gentle, painless death’.1 It was claimed ‘where the life of the state is threatened [by the presence of mental defectives] extreme measures may and must be taken’.2
In Germany, the leaders of the eugenics movement, using evolution as their justification, caused sterilisation laws and immigration restriction laws to be enacted during the 1930s. Immigration should be limited, they said, owing to the ‘biological inferiority’ of people from southern and eastern Europe.3
The racism of such leaders was founded on evolution, and the German people were being prepared to regard themselves as the superior race.
Many scientists came to see the promotion of eugenic programs as almost a religious duty imposed by the theory of evolution.3 Leading eugenists became Nazi officials, and the eugenics movement in Germany became totally interwoven into the Nazi system. Eugenics became the scientific justification for Hitler’s extermination program.3
Many scientists had seen the dangers. In 1916, Franz Boas, Margaret Mead’s trusted counsellor, had issued a condemnation of eugenics in the November issue of The Scientific Monthly. This began a split in the biological science community, with Boas as the leader of the group that believed that social stimulus was much more of a determining factor than genetic inheritance. He warned that the idea of eliminating the unfit was not a panacea that would cure human ills, but a dangerous sword which might well turn against those who relied on its strength.4
In the 1920s, ironically, eugenics as applied to humans was found to be incorrect owing to a misunderstanding of Mendel’s laws of heredity. Humans were more complex than the peas which were the basis of Mendel’s experiments.1 Apparently, however, many eugenists had made a religious commitment to the movement sufficient to continue expansion of eugenic ideas. Statements were still being made in 1940 by top American scientists about the ‘inexcusable process of allowing the feeble-minded to reproduce their kind’.5
Modern-day apologists for evolution might say that eugenics was a perversion of evolution. But the fact remains that this ‘perversion’ became very popular. It could become popular primarily because evolution had seemed to do away with the need for a sovereign Creator with absolute moral laws. And the ‘good’ evolutionists had no right to say that the ‘bad’ eugenists were wrong, since change—not moral law—was the only constant. There was no foundation on which to base their argument for the immorality of ‘eugenic selection’—that is, sterilising or removing those judged to be unfit—except their own intuition. However, they could not expect the eugenists to yield to intuition.
After the world had seen what Hitler was actually doing, and the lengths to which he was taking his ‘super-race’ idea, the history of eugenics was promptly forgotten. For instance, a 1971 book on genetic improvement titled The Heredity Factor did not mention the word ‘eugenics’. A history of genetics given in the book, beginning with Darwin, gave no hint of the existence of anything called ‘eugenics’, although it gave a glowing review of the contribution of Francis Galton to genetics.6 The popular encyclopedia, World Book, had an article under the heading ‘eugenics’ in the 1955 edition which explained how eugenics led to Hitler.7 In the 1983 edition, all reference to Hitler had been deleted.8
Hitler did not form his ideas in a mysterious vacuum, which is the impression that history books give us. He was instructed by the idea called ‘eugenics’, which was derived from the so-called ‘fact’ of evolution by a cousin of the originator of the scientific respectability of evolution.
As much as they wish that the general public would forget all about eugenics, evolutionists must accept the fact that their favourite idea, ‘the fact of evolution’, was the basis for eugenics, which led directly to Hitler’s death camps. The idea of an evolutionary theory, which Darwin timidly proposed, was seized upon by many men of great intellect and forced on the scientific world as fact. The motivation of those men should be clear—by excluding God and accepting themselves as members of the evolutionary superior species, they decided they could be as God.
Media analysts sometimes use Hitler to give warnings of the dangers of religious zeal. It is interesting that the ‘religious zeal’ that really contributed to the rise of Hitler—zeal for evolution as fact—is never associated with him.
Hitler’s case teaches us the danger of denying the existence of a sovereign Creator, who judges disobedience to His law. To be sure, Hitler believed in gods, but not the Creator God of the Bible. Even so, the basis for his actions had been laid down before by those men of great intellect who so eagerly promoted the idea of eugenics which had no real place for any religion except secular humanism.
Geneticists and others in the scientific community are quite aware of the history of eugenics, but somehow it never gets into print, especially with the logical connection of evolution with eugenics, and eugenics with Hitler. These men are knowingly forgetting history and dooming themselves to repeat it.
References and notes
- Haller, M.H., Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought, Rahway, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 1963, Galton’s religion, pp. 8–10; Gentle death, p. 42; Eugenics found incorrect, pp. 95–110; Galton, F., F.R.S., Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences, London: Macmillan and Company, 1925, First Printing 1869. Return to text.
- Davenport, C.B., Eugenics: The Science of Human Improvement by Better Breeding, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1910, p. 16. Return to text.
- Encyclopedia of Bioethics, The Free Press, a division of Macmillan Publishing Company Inc., New York, 1978, pp. 457–468; Biological inferiority, p. 460; Religious duty, p. 459; Scientific justification, p. 460. Return to text.
- Freeman, D., Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1983, pp. 38–39. Return to text.
- Osborn, F., Preface to Eugenics, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1940, p. 31. Return to text.
- Nyhan, W.L., The Heredity Factor, Grossett & Dunlap, New York, 1976, p. 44. Return to text.
- World Book Encyclopedia, Field Enterprises, Inc., Chicago, 1955, pp. 2402–2403. Return to text.
- World Book Encyclopedia, World Book, Inc., Chicago, 1983, vol. 6, p. 303. Return to text.
It should be noted that Hitler's "Almighty Creator" was not the God of the Bible. Hitler's "god" was a pantheistic force that pervaded the universe and found its supreme expression in the German people. Hence another quote from Hitler: "We have no God but Germany."
For D.C., further to Dr. Walker’s response and referenced links,
Re. the “ban” of total destruction of local peoples in the promised land:
About the context:
The Christian ThinkTank (CTT) apologetics website very helpfully points out Exodus 23:28. In it, given a generation before the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan, there was originally not to have been contact between them and the local inhabitants. Because of hundreds of previous years of the locals filling a cup of iniquity—not least in sacrificing their babies / young children to the demonic false-god Molech (Leviticus 18), divine judgment required the locals to be expelled from the land. (Maybe this would shake them up to stop that enstructured evil practice.) “Hornets” would go ahead of the Israelites and drive out the locals. No need for the Israelites to do any killing. (The “hornets”, as CTT suggests, may simply be fear from the knowledge of the Red Sea crossing.) But the sin of God’s people—their attempted murder of Moses—and the resultant one generation spent in the desert, apparently allowed the hearts of the next-generation locals to harden further—requiring the ugly necessity of rooting out the locals, lethally. (The exceptions, “taken to wife”, spread horrific Molech-worship within the Israelites.)
Ultimate context: Jesus, on the cross (Is. 53: 4, carrying our sorrows, experiencing all of humanity’s sin-caused suffering), experienced the Canaanites’ horror and death. The Deuteronomy 7:1-11 directive was not lightly given by God, since it added all that pain to Jesus on the cross. A dire need necessitated it.
“The Law” context: It is full of anti-xenophobic content. Israelites are to love non-Canaanite ethnic-others, make sure none are driven out of the land, having the same law for both.
This is an outstandingly bad article. Conflating two quite different matters: evolution by natural selection and eugenics. And by so doing tarring the first with the evils of the second. This is wrong. Take a few minutes and read something written with great intellectual and moral clarity, an article that reflects the Church of England's official position on Darwin and evolution by natural selection. [Link to Good Religion Meets Good Science by Revd Dr Malcolm Brown on the Chruch of England website has been removed as per our feedback rules.]
You, and the article your refer to, have conflated two meanings of the word "evolution". Adaptation by means of natural selection is discussed in many places on this site and presented as a valid, observable process. It is an integral part of the creation/Flood model. However, the idea that this process explains diversity of life on the planet by natural processes over billions of years from a single celled organism is not supported by the evidence and contradicts biblical history.
That this article is referring to the second meaning is clear from the first sentence when it says, "When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, it was hailed by many as the end of any scientific justification for the existence of a Creator God." That is the connection with eugenics; without God there is no basis for any restraint on the way people treat each other.
Can I encourage you to use the search box at the top of this page and read more about evolution and natural selection. Understand better the differences between these two meanings and how that affects our understanding of world history.
First of all DC, Abraham and his descendants acquired the land through various deals etc. You have to read Genesis to see the history. Moses came back to reclaim it and found squatters, you know, people who have taken over your house while you were out on holidays or down at the annual Atheist GM.
But what made these squatters particularly nasty were their unacceptable vile practices. For example, starting wars for the heck of it (see Numbers 20:1), refusing safe passage to refugees and attacking them (see Numbers 21:21-23,31; 22:), attacking and sending spies and being general sleazebags (Numbers 25:18), being a cheapskate evil malicious depraved idiot (see Deuteronomy 2:26ff), sacrificing their own children (Deut 12:31), and finally, not wanting to make peace with you but endeavouring to always fight (Deut. 20:12).
Now I suppose, you could send off a protest via an email to the United Nations but that wouldn't be of much use would it. Or you could travel onto another land and start the whole immigration process over again, but, well, the land was theirs and so why should they not reclaim it? Or, as real men do when there’s no one to stand up for you, you take ‘em on. Only cowards run and let their children be taken into slavery or allow them to be sacrificed to their idols and watch as their old folk die of thirst and hunger.
BTW, on whose unchanging gold standard do you claim that the Israelites were morally wrong?
So, what say you, DC?
Eugenics is alive and doing quite well in our 21st century world, thank you very much! Designer babies, helped along by elitist sperm banks, amniocentesis etc are a much more refined version of 20th century eugenics.
And this time it's much more successful because it's not the government pushing it alla Nazism or various US state governments, but individuals demanding it through such clever and unassailable logic as "it's a woman's right [to murder her kid]", "I don't demand you to not abort [your unformed blob of tissue]" or "That's not yet a human [whoops, almost gave the game away with that slip], I mean, person."
Of course, the whole distorted discourse is fuelled by the output from such great philosophical minds and moral giants as Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer.
Maybe Hitler stumbled upon this:
When Yahweh your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you — the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites...and when Yahweh your God gives them over to you...you must utterly destroy them...Show them no mercy...For you are a people holy to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7.1-11; see also 9.1-5; 11.8-9, 23, 31-32).
It's important that we read Scripture in context. What you quoted is a specific command to a specific people for a specific time for a specific situation. For you to suggest it is a general command to be applied by all people everywhere is to take it out of context. It's the teachings of Christ that are of general application, such as, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) and "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" (Romans 12:19) You can find a few articles that deal with this by using the search box on creation.com, such as Is God inconsistent? and Is God a moral monster?
Hitler was indeed an evil man. We must never forget his words, "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator" [Hitler, Mein Kampf p.60]. Supposed believers in that same 'Almighty Creator' abound today. Many are teaching our children evolution is a fact. They're in our churches and governments as well. These wolves in sheep clothing are having their day in the light but will soon fall at the feet of the 'Almighty Creator' whose name they used to gather in the innocent for slaughter just before they're cast into total darkness.