Refutation of New Scientist’s Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions
The Darwin–Hitler connection
19 November 2008
Ed. Note: this is the first instalment of a detailed critique of a major New Scientist anti-creationist diatribe (see introduction and index page). This one deals with a substantial section in the article, which tries to downplay the Nazi reliance on Darwinian theories, and instead tries to smear Christianity as a cause of the Holocaust. This is another clear example of New Scientist’s atheopathy.1
Evolutionary theory leads to racism and genocide
Darwin’s ideas have been invoked as justification for all sorts of policies, including some very unpleasant ones. But evolutionary theory is a descriptive science. It cannot tell us what is right and wrong.
Rather than attack evolution directly, some try to tar it by association. The claim is often made that the theory of evolution leads inevitably to eugenics and to atrocities like those perpetrated by Hitler. These claims are irrelevant to the reality of evolution and are also largely untrue.
Let’s start with Darwin himself, who is often accused of being a racist and a eugenicist. Yet Darwin went very much against the ideas of his time by dismissing some of the perceived differences between races. For instance: ‘…this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers.‘
The following passage is often quoted by those who accuse him of supporting eugenics: ‘It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.’
Darwinism and Eugenics
It’s not surprising that Darwin is accused of supporting eugenics. His first cousin, Francis Galton, was the one who coined the term! And Galton justified it by Darwin’s evolutionism.
And in 1912, Darwin’s son Leonard gave the presidential address at the First International Congress of Eugenics, a landmark gathering in London of racial biologists from Germany, the United States.
The next few paragraphs are often left out:
Left out by whom? Not by CMI, that’s for sure.
‘…If we were to intentionally neglect the weak and the helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind…’
Yet as we show in Darwin was indeed a Social Darwinist , anti-creationist Peter Quinn pointed out:
‘Sounding more like Colonel Blimp than Lieutenant Columbo, Darwin envisions a far grimmer future for races or sub-species less fit than the Anglo-Saxon. ‘At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world,’ he predicts. ‘At the same time the anthropological apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state … even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.’‘
There is no doubt that some of those who supported eugenics cited Darwin’s theory of evolution as inspiration or justification, but then evolution has been invoked to support all kinds of notions and schemes, from communism to capitalism.
Biology tells us what is, not what ought to be. It is descriptive, not prescriptive or normative. It can inform our decisions by telling us what the likely outcome of different actions will be, but not which of these outcomes are ethical or desirable.
As we have said. But then what does an evolutionist use instead?
In retrospect, it is clear that many of the eugenic policies implemented in the early 20th century were based as much if not more on racial and social prejudices than on any understanding of genetics and evolution. Some may have used evolutionary theory as an excuse, but that does not make it the cause.
Yet eugenics was founded by leading evolutionists, who used evolutionary ideas to justify it. It flourished strongly in America, as documented by Edwin in his book War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race (see review).
The shocking results of the eugenics program included laws against so-called mixed-race marriages in 27 states, human breeding programs, forced sterilization of over 60,000 US citizens and even euthanasia. Eugenics was even allowed by the Supreme Court, which had once declared slaves to be non-persons and now denies humanity to unborn babies.
Ideas and funding from American eugenicists also inspired German eugenics research, which culminated in Josef Mengele’s horrific experiments on inmates at the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz.
The American Eugenics Society began in 1922 and lasted as long as 1994. Famous evolutionist scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky was its chairman of the board in 1956, and also included ardent evolutionist scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Richard Lewontin as members.
Eugenics was also promoted by the evolutionary textbook involved in the Scopes Trial, Hunter’s A Civic Biology—see A Civic Biology and eugenics. This book also promoted white supremacist ideas:
‘At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the others in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.’
What’s more, many of the most enthusiastic promoters of the eugenics movement in the US, which led to policies such as compulsory sterilisation, were evangelical Christians. As Mary Teats explained in her book The Way of God in Marriage: ‘The great and rapidly increasing army of idiots, insane, imbeciles, blind, deaf-mutes, epileptics, paralytics, the murderers, thieves, drunkards and moral perverts are very poor material with which to ‘subdue the world’, and usher in the glad day when ‘all shall know the Lord’.’
Despite the atheopathic mendacity of New Scientist, it was the liberal (pro-evolution, Bible-disbelieving) churches that supported eugenics, while the evangelical ones opposed it. Christine Rosen documented this in her book Preaching Genetics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement.2 She writes that eugenicists:
‘included Protestants of nearly every denomination, Jews and Catholics, and they overwhelmingly represented the liberal wings of their respective faiths. … They were the ministers, priests, and rabbis who were inspired by the developments of modern science and accepted much of the new historical criticism of the Bible. … Supporters ranged from high-ranking clerics to small-town ministers in the Methodist, Unitarian, Congregational, Protestant Episcopal, Baptist and Presbyterian churches.’3
‘In eugenics, these men found a faith stronger than their Christianity, fulfilling Francis Galton’s hopes of replacing religion with eugenics.’4
‘Looking back one might expect to find a little more hesitation from religious leaders before they offered their support to a movement that … replaced God with science as the shaper of the human race.’5
In contrast, she documents:
‘Those who clung stubbornly to tradition, to doctrine, and to biblical infallibility opposed eugenics and became, for a time, the objects of derision for their rejection of this most modern science.’6
See also a detailed review of Rosen’s book.
As for the Holocaust, the murder of able-bodied and able-minded people solely on the basis of their religion can hardly be called eugenics. It is incredible to blame Darwin while overlooking the role of Christianity in fostering anti-Semitism over the centuries.
Whatever fostered anti-Semitism was not Christianity, considering that Jesus and all His disciples and all NT authors (including Luke) were Jewish. And just consider Romans 9–11, for example, written by the Apostle Paul (himself a Jew).
While CMI is not Catholic, I find that the book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis by Rabbi David Dalin7 provides incontrovertible proof of pro-Semitism in the Roman Catholic Church, and that Pope Pius XII (1876–1958), saved far more Jews than Oskar Schindler—Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide argued that Pius ‘was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands’, compared to the 1200 on ‘Schindler’s List’. One review states:
‘Rabbi Dalin also notes that prominent Catholics who were honored for their efforts on behalf of the Jews have pointed to Pope Pius XII as the inspiration behind their actions. The future Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, while still Cardinals Roncalli and Montini, respectively, received high praise for their efforts to shelter and rescue Jews. In both cases, the future pontiffs shrugged that they were just following the orders of Pope Pius XII. Cardinal Pietro Palazzini, who hid many Italian Jews for several months in 1943 and 1944, was honored by Yad Vashem in 1985 as a “righteous Gentile”. Cardinal Palazzini emphasized that “the merit is entirely Pius XII’s, who ordered us to do whatever we could to save the Jews from persecution.”
‘It was partly because of his sympathy for the Jews and his opposition to National Socialism that Pius was in fact strongly disliked by the Nazis; Hitler’s regime actually lobbied against the election of Pacelli to replace Pius XI as pope. Pacelli was referred to as Pius XI’s “Jew-loving” cardinal. Rabbi Dalin points out that “of the forty-four speeches Pacelli gave in Germany as papal nuncio between 1917 and 1929, forty denounced some aspect of the emerging Nazi ideology.”
‘As Cardinal Pacelli he had played a central role in the drafting of Mit Brennender Sorge, Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical condemning Nazism. His inaugural encyclical, Summi Pontificatus (1939), made clear the incompatibility of National Socialism with the Catholic faith. The New York Times headline read, “Pope Condemns Dictators, Treaty Violators, Racism.” Allied aircraft even dropped some 88,000 copies of the Pope’s document over Germany in order to undermine the Nazi government.’
Rabbi Louis Finkelstein (1895–1991), chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, stated:
‘No keener rebuke has come to Nazism than from Pope Pius XI and his successor, Pope Pius XII.’
And upon his death, prominent Israeli politician (and later Prime Minister) Golda Meir (1898–1978) said:
‘We share in the grief of humanity … . When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.’
During the war, Jewish leaders who praised Pius included Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Israel; Chaim Weizmann, later Israel’s first president; and Moshe Sharett, later Israel’s second prime minister.
In 1543, for instance, Martin Luther wrote a booklet called On the Jews and Their Lies calling, among other things, for Jews to be expelled or forced to do manual labour, and their synagogues and schools burned. The booklet was displayed at Nazi rallies.
Yes, we all know about Luther’s disgraceful attacks on Jews late in his life. They should not be condoned, but Luther’s antisemitism was totally different to Hitler’s. Luther trashed anyone he saw as an opponent of the Gospel, and his choicest barbs were for the papacy. For example, his debates with Roman Catholic politician and writer Sir Thomas More included overtly scatalogical language on both sides.39 Luther was certainly capable of trashing Gentiles:
‘The Jews crucified Christ with words, but the Gentiles have crucified him with works and deeds. His sufferings were prophetical of our wickedness, for Christ suffers still to this day in our church much more than in the synagogue of the Jews; far greater blaspheming of God, contempt, and tyranny, is now among us than heretofore among the Jews.’ [Table Talk, ’Of Jesus Christ’, CCIV]
But nothing Luther said has the slightest indication about mass murder of Jews, and certainly nothing about murdering the disabled, Slavs and gypsies; or for that matter eugenics, euthanasia and the other Nazi barbarities. Hitler cared nothing for the Gospel, and killed Jews just because they were Jews, including quarter of a million Jewish Christians. Luther’s goal was baptism of the Jews, not genocide. For example, even in his rant against the Jews, Luther said towards the end:
‘Thus the dear Son of David, Jesus Christ, is also our King and Messiah, and we glory in being his kingdom and people, just as much as David himself and all children of Israel and Abraham. … “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord”; that is, we will also live after death, as we just heard, and as St. Paul preaches in Romans 14:8. We look for no bloodthirsty Kokhba in him, but the true Messiah who can give life and salvation. That is what is meant by a son of David sitting on his throne eternally. The blind Jews and Turks know nothing at all of this. May God have mercy on them as he has had and will have on us. Amen.’
Luther’s standard biography states:
‘Luther was sanguine that his own reform, by eliminating the abuses of the papacy, would accomplish the conversion of the Jews. But the converts were few, and unstable. When he endeavored to proselytize some rabbis, they undertook in return to make a Jew of him. The rumor that a Jew had been suborned by the papists to murder him was not received with complete incredulity. In Luther’s latter days, when he was often sorely frayed … he came out with a vulgar blast in which he recommended that all Jews be deported to Palestine. Failing that, they should be forbidden to practice usury, should be compelled to earn their living on the land, their synagogues should be burned, and their books including the Bible should be taken away from them.
‘One might wish that Luther had died before ever this tract was written. Yet one must be clear as to what he was recommending and why. His position was entirely religious, and in no respect racial.’8
The rise of anti-semitism in 19th Century Germany was due to evolutionists like Teodor Fritsch (1852–1933). He was a notorious promoter of Aryan racial supremacy and author of The Handbook of the Jewish Question aka the Anti-Semitic Catechism, which was read by millions in Germany. As examples of his evolutionary teachings, he wrote:
‘The preservation of the health of our generation belongs to our highest commands … .We do not approve of false humaneness. Whoever aims at preserving the degenerate and depraved, limits the space for the healthy and strong, suppresses the life of the whole community, multiplies the sorrow and burden of existence, and helps rob happiness and sunshine from life.’9
‘Morality and ethics arise from the law of preservation of the species, of the race. Whatever insures the future of the species, whatever is suited to raise the species to an ever higher level of physical and mental perfection, that is moral.’10
As further evidence that Christianity, Lutheran or otherwise, had nothing to do with Nazism, take the famous evolutionist Ernst Mayr (1904–2005), who grew up in early 20th-century Germany. He testified that biblical Christianity was virtually non-existent, which is not surprising in the birthplace of liberal theology:
‘Curiously, I cannot pinpoint the age at which I became an evolutionist. I received all of my education in Germany, where evolution was not really controversial. In the gymnasium (equivalent to a U.S. high school), my biology teacher took evolution for granted. So, I am quite certain, did my parents—who, to interest their three teenage sons, subscribed to a popular natural history journal that accepted evolution as a fact. Indeed, in Germany at that time there was no Protestant fundamentalism. And after I had entered university, no one raised any questions about evolution, either in my medical curriculum or in my preparations for the Ph.D. Those who were unable to adopt creation as a plausible solution for biological diversity concluded that evolution was the only rational explanation for the living world.’11
Various atheopaths have pointed to the belt buckles in Hitler’s army as alleged proof of his Christianity, since they said ‘Gott mit uns’ (‘God with us’). However, this was merely the traditional slogan of the main German armed forces or Wehrmacht (‘defence force’), a slogan inherited from Kaiser’s Imperial standard of 1870. Such buckles are found in German WW1 uniforms too, so atheopaths (and some of their compromising churchian allies) are simply ignorant to claim that they are Nazi insignia. Furthermore, the Wehrmacht for a long time banned soldiers from being members of any political party (the Nazis lifted this ban), so it was not a Nazi army by definition. So the presence of ‘Gott mit uns’ means little more than these same atheopaths using American money with the motto ‘In God We Trust’. As further evidence, the genuine Nazi army, the Waffen SS, replaced ‘Gott mit uns’ with ‘Meine Ehre heißt Treue’ (‘My honor is named loyalty’). (Waffen SS = armed SS, where SS was Hitler’s paramilitary organization the Schutzstaffel, ‘Protective Squadron’).
Finally, data on the culture of Germans both home and abroad also shatters the link between Lutheranism and Nazism. Dr Thomas Sowell has documented this in detail, without any stake in the creation-evolution issue, in the chapter ‘Germans around the world’ in his book Migrations and Culture.12
At the conclusion, Sowell writes:
‘The dozen years of Germany’s history dominated by the Nazis cast a shadow over Germans, at home and abroad, for decades after the Hitler regime was buried in the dust and rubble at the end of World War 2. While the Nazi movement exploited certain features of German culture, including obedience to authority and a romanticising of culture and violence, in other ways the Nazis represented a sharp break with more civilized aspects of German tradition. For example, the racial fanaticism of the Nazi era in Germany was in sharp contrast to the historic tolerant cosmopolitanism of Germans in the Baltic and Czechoslovakia, or the German antislavery position in Brazil and in the United States, their ability to get along with the indigenous American Indians in the Western Hemisphere, their charitable efforts toward the aborigines in Australia. Group prejudice and discrimination were by no means unknown among Germans, at home and abroad, but it tended to be less rather than more prevalent, as compared to other Europeans—or to Asians or Africans, for that matter.’13
Sowell also documented how Jews in Germany were the most assimilated in Europe: very patriotic, serving their country in WW1, and calling themselves ‘Germans of the Mosaic Faith’. Overseas, it was the same story. In the 19th century USA, German immigrants formed German cultural associations, and welcomed German Jews, e.g. to the Turnvereine (singing groups).
One characteristic of overseas Germans was loyalty to the new country. This is largely because they came from different German-speaking regions of Europe before Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) had unified them into one country. Yet the Germans retained cultural characteristics such as hard work, honesty, skill in farming and technology, music, optics, brewing. So the Germans generally had cultural loyalty not nationalistic loyalty.
One special skill Germans brought was military. In fact, a number of great military leaders who fought against Germany were of German extraction. In WW1, General John Pershing (Pfersching) led the American troops; while the leading Australian General, John Monash (Monasch) of German Jewish ancestry, invented new strategy at the Battle of Hamel which largely helped to win the war, and was the first commander in 200 years to be personally knighted by a British monarch on a battlefield. The Supreme Allied Commander was Ferdinand Foch. In WW2, General Dwight Eisenhower (Eisenhauer) led the Allied forces in Europe, General Carl Spaatz’s bombers pulverized much of Germany, and Admiral Chester Nimitz commanded the Pacific Fleet. The commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, which played a vital role in the decisive Second Battle of El Alamein, was Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg. And on the losing French side were generals Maxime Weygand and Charles Huntziger.
Furthermore, in Australia, the Germans were overwhelmingly Lutheran, in two main branches. The United Evangelical Lutheran Church maintained ties to Germany where most of its pastors came from, while the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia developed ties with the theologically conservative Missouri Synod in the USA.14
During WW2, Nazi agents tried to infiltrate German organizations in Australia. But the Lutheran Synod rebuffed them, while the United Lutherans rejected Nazi ideology, but more ambiguously. When war was declared, both factions urged their ‘members to fight for Australia and to cooperate with Australian authorities.’15
The above analysis shows that racial and anti-semitic ideas have not been part of German culture for the most part. Yet Lutheranism has been a huge influence for centuries on Germans whether in Germany or overseas. This suggests that Lutheran churches in Germany and overseas understood the nature of trash talk, which is why they and German culture didn’t take the antisemitism on board. So to explain the Nazi aberration in Germans in Germany that was overwhelmingly rejected by overseas Germans, it is logical to look to a more recent and localized cause.
Jews: misunderstood middleman minorities
Why Jews? Dr Sowell documents a peculiar feature of Jews that made them easy prey for unscrupulous demagogues like Hitler. He explains that Jews, as well as the overseas Chinese in Asia, Indians in East Africa and Lebanese in West Africa, were ‘middleman minorities’. That is, they acted as go-betweens between producer and consumer, taking a profit; or were money-lenders. This led to many similar patterns in these disparate people groups with no connection with each other.
One of the unfortunate similarities is the way that demagogues accused them of being ‘parasites’ who merely transferred what others produced, supposedly profiting off other people’s labour. All these middlemen minorities suffered much persecution. Yet these middlemen provided an important economic function, enabling the efficient flow of money and goods. This was shown when demagogues succeeded in driving them out (e.g. the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, Idi Amin driving the Indians from Uganda): their economies collapsed.
For more explanation, see Dr Sowell’s article Is Anti-Semitism Generic? Is Anti-Semitism Generic? What do Jews have in common with Armenians, Ibos, and Marwaris? An historically similar pattern of economic and social roles—and of persecution.
Hitler’s Darwinian precedents
And this is how Hitler described his motivations in Mein Kampf, in which there is no mention of Darwin or the theory of evolution
How strange that experts on Hitler noted his fanatical Darwinism, e.g.
The German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) wrote:
‘Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human being.’16
British evolutionist Sir Arthur Keith (1866–1955) wrote:
‘To see evolutionary measures and tribal morality being applied rigorously to the affairs of a great modern nation, we must turn again to Germany of 1942. We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution provides the only real basis for a national policy. … The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.’17
Alan Bullock (Baron Bullock) (1914–2004) wrote in Hitler: A Study in Tyranny:18
‘The basis of Hitler’s political beliefs was a crude Darwinism.’
The bookThe Coming of the Third Reich (Penguin, 2003) by British historian Richard Evans (1947– ) also argues that the eugenics movement and social Darwinism gained wide acceptance among German élites starting in the last decades of the 19th century. Evans argued that this new secularist world view overturned the Judeo-Christian teaching ‘of the sanctity of marriage and parenthood, or the equal value of every being endowed with an immortal soul …’ He documents that the German Darwinist philosopher Alexander Tille (1866–1912) strongly advocated the killing of the mentally and physically unfit and leaving congenital children’s diseases untreated ‘so that the weak could be eliminated from the chain of heredity.’ Evans concluded that the Nazis’ anti-Semitism and racial hygiene were extensions of this secularization of society.
It’s hardly surprising that Nazi propaganda films showed strong animals overpowering the weak, and argued that humans should apply the same principles. One 1937 Nazi film, Victims of the Past, showed a retarded person accompanied by the narration:
‘In the last few decades, mankind has sinned terribly against the law of natural selection. We haven’t just maintained life unworthy of life, we have even allowed it to multiply. The descendants of these sick people look like this!’
The German youth were also told to confess the same thing: ‘mankind has sinned terribly against the law of natural selection’. This is actually divinizing darwinian natural selection. Compare the Gospel accounts (Matthew 9 and Luke 5) where Jesus told a paralytic, ‘your sins are forgiven’, and the Pharisees accused him of blasphemy, claiming to be God, since the only one who can forgive sins is the Lawgiver who is sinned against. Their logic was sound, actually; Jesus was implicitly claiming divinity. The same logic applies to the Nazis.
And in this religion, Hitler was regarded as a substitute Saviour—the ‘Heil’ in ‘Heil Hitler!’ may have been because it has connotations of salvation, as well as wellbeing and healing; Heiland is the German for Saviour. For example, a Nazi leader quoted in J.P. Stern, Hitler: The Führer and the People, said:
‘My belief is that our Leader, Adolf Hitler, was given by fate to the German Nation as our saviour bringing light into darkness.’
Thus Hitler fits the biblical definition of an anti-Christ, because the prefix αντί–(anti–) not only means ‘against’ but also ‘instead of’, i.e. a substitute, and Hitler fulfilled both.
The most comprehensive documentation is by Richard Weikart (1958–), professor of modern European history at California State University, Stanislaus, in his 2004 book From Darwin to Hitler19 and his subsequent article Darwin and the Nazis). This documents how Darwinian ideas helped undermine Judeo-Christian views of the sanctity of innocent human life, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–28, 9:5–6). Since Darwin taught that man was just another animal, the German evolutionists replaced Christian morality with a new evolutionary ‘morality’, where evolutionary fitness was the highest moral good.
Evolutionists today claim that Hitler’s views were a distortion of Darwinism, but leading Darwinists of his day didn’t think so. Weikart points out:
‘[This] ignores the pesky historical fact that Hitler’s views of Darwinism were pretty similar to those of Fritz Lenz, a leading geneticist (who called attention to those similarities and bragged about it), Eugen Fischer, a leading anthropologist, etc. This doesn’t prove that Hitler’s views of Darwinism were valid, but they were in line with the leading Darwinists of his time … ’
Weikart summarizes the seven major aspects of Nazi ideology that were heavily influenced by Darwinism, but on which churchian anti-Judaism had no influence:
- Nazi eugenics policies, which led to the compulsory sterilization of 200,000 disabled people, forced abortions for the disabled, and in 1939 killing the disabled (about 200,000 disabled people were murdered).
- The drive for population expansion (Darwin claimed in Descent of Man that the birthrate should not be limited, because a higher birthrate was advantageous for evolution). Hitler often expressed the same view.
- The need for living space or Lebensraum (this was one cause of World War II, not just a minor feature). Hitler often expressed the need for living space in evolutionary terms.
- Racial inequality—Darwin and Haeckel argued for human inequality on the basis of Darwinian evolution.
- Anti-Marxism—the leading German Darwinist Haeckel argued that Darwinism disproved Marxism.
- History as a racial struggle for existence.
- The evolution of moral traits—Hitler believed that Jews had evolved bad moral traits, while Aryans had evolved good moral traits.
All these views were all upheld by prominent Darwinists on the basis of Darwinism. They permeated racial ideology in the pre-Nazi period. Hitler also upheld them and made clear they were central aspects of his ideology.
The first eugenics society was founded in Germany. It says a lot that evolutionary currents were inspiring eugenics in both the USA and Germany. And from there, it is a short step to euthanasia. One book written four years before Mein Kampf (1924) and very much part of the German cultural milieu was Allowing the Annihilation of Life Unworthy of Life (Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens) 1920 by two evolutionists, lawyer Karl Binding (1841–1920) and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche (1865–1943). So it’s not surprising that Hitler’s tome said about such annihilation of unworthy life:
‘It will spare millions of unfortunates undeserved sufferings, and consequently will lead to a rising improvement of health as a whole.’
‘There must be no half-measures. It is a half-measure to let incurably sick people steadily contaminate the remaining healthy ones. This in keeping with the humanitarianism which, to avoid hurting one individual, lets a hundred others perish.’
This could only have occurred because Darwinism had replaced the Judeo-Christian ethic of sanctity of innocent human life with an evolutionary ‘ethic’. Such abominable ‘ethics’ have not disappeared. Many of the same arguments of Binding and Hoche are used by modern euthanasia advocates: compassion, saving costs of treatment freeing money for treating healthier patients. And atheist philosopher Peter Singer defends abortion, infanticide and euthanasia (as well as bestiality), yet the academic establishment rewarded these views with a personal chair at Princeton.20
An example of this mentality was Eduard Krebsbach (1894–1947), SS doctor in the Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen. He murdered over 900 prisoners by lethal injection, and was hanged as a war criminal. Here is a dialogue from the war crimes trial, cited from Hans Maršálek, Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen, p. 174:
Krebsbach: When I started work I was ordered by the head of Office III D to kill or have killed all those who were unable to work, and the incurably sick.
Prosecutor: And how did you carry out this order?
Krebsbach:Incurably sick inmates who were absolutely incapable of work were generally gassed. Some were also killed by benzene injection.
Prosecutor: To your knowledge, how many persons were killed in this way in your presence?
Krebsbach: (no answer)
Prosecutor: You were ordered to kill those unfit to live?
Krebsbach: Yes. I was ordered to have persons killed if I was of the opinion that they were a burden on the state.
Prosecutor: Did it never occur to you that these were human beings, people who had the misfortune to be inmates or who had been neglected?
Krebsbach: No. People are like animals. Animals that are born deformed or incapable of living are put down at birth. This should be done for humanitarian reasons with people as well. This would prevent a lot of misery and unhappiness.
Prosecutor: That is your opinion. The world does not agree with you. Did it never occur to you that killing a human being is a terrible crime?
Krebsbach:No. Every state is entitled to protect itself against asocial persons including those unfit to live.
Prosecutor: In other words, it never occurred to you that what you were doing was a crime?
Krebsbach: No. I carried out my work to the best of my knowledge and belief because I had to.
Dr Augusto Zimmerman, Law Lecturer at Murdoch University, Western Australia, has documented how Darwinian ideas even infested the German juridical system with ‘legal positivism’, and left them with no resistance to Nazism.21 He writes:
‘The idea that human law was to be subject to God’s law began to be more deeply challenged in the 19th century, when Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was interpreted as an attempt to promote a worldview that is based on the non-existence of God. But whenever the value of law is entwined in such belief in “evolution”, law automatically loses its transcendent dignity, and the whole idea of government under law loses its most important philosophical foundation. Whereas Christianity sees God’s laws as a manifestation of divine reason and justice, Darwinism provides no transcendent basis for law, such that legality is seen to be no more than the prosaic codification of a government’s policies. As such, the idea of law is reduced to a managerial skill employed in the service of social engineering, the dominant view in the legal profession today.22
In this sense, legal positivists developed a theory that “law” is a mere product of human will, essentially a result of force and social struggle.23 To strict legal positivists, any law which in procedural terms can be properly enacted by the state must not be disobeyed or rendered invalid on account of its immorality.24 Thus, a legal theory was developed; one which may be defined in terms of “a philosophy without metaphysics, an epistemology without certainty of truth, or a jurisprudence without an idea of right”.25
‘According to the American law professor and Catholic apologist Charles Edward Rice (1931– ), “when the Nazis moved against the Jews, German lawyers were disarmed … by legal positivism”.26 Rice also says that this would not have been the case had most of the German legal profession not fully embraced legal positivism but had instead responded to the early Nazi injustices with a sound and ‘principled denunciation’ rooted in traditional principles of natural law.
‘In this sense the Nazi legal system cannot be isolated, like some sort of accident, from the viewpoints of the powerful legal elite in Germany. Though Germany in 1933 had a constitutional order, the tradition of constitutional law was solely based on positivist legal principles. Most German judges and lawyers were anxious to establish an authoritarian rule that was supported by a legal system which rejected any protection of the individual against the state. Such lawyers had been hostile to the Weimar Republic, and they generally welcomed the Nazi regime in 1933.27
‘In conformity to the Volks-Nomos theory developed during the Nazi regime, the Nazi jurists denied the existence of any individual right against the power of the state. In the Nazi legal view, Aurel Kolnai explains, law was not a safeguard the citizen held against violence and oppression “but another means of securing omnipotence for the Lords of the State … In a word, the object of law was no longer to check but rather to encourage arbitrary exertion of public power.”28 Naturally, “such interpretations by highly regarded legal theorists were of inestimable value in legitimating a form of domination which … effectively undermined the rule of law in favour of arbitrary exercise of political will.”29’
‘Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.’
Of course, Hitler was a master political opportunist who would say anything to get into power, and he even said so in Mein Kampf. But any ‘religion’ of the Nazis was paganism. This is why Hitler loved the music of Richard Wagner, who turned much Teutonic mythology into opera. Indeed, the swastika was an ancient pagan symbol, and many Nazi ceremonies resembled pagan rituals.
Weikart points out that Hitler’s social Darwinist and racist predecessors in Nazi Germany were opposed to Christianity precisely because it taught human equality, in response to a critic:
‘Actually, if you look at the late nineteenth century discourse on social Darwinism and equality in Germany, you find that Haeckel, Hellwald, and many others railed at Christianity precisely because in their view Christianity upheld human equality. Whatever Christianity stood for before the late nineteenth century, the social Darwinists of the nineteenth century forthrightly criticized Christianity for its egalitarianism. Darwinists who opposed the “equal moral dignity of all human beings” were forthrightly critical of Christianity, which they thought did uphold the sanctity of life for all. If you want to argue that Christianity is not egalitarian, fine, do so. But then you are arguing against fellow (nineteenth-century) Darwinists.
‘Again, what is interesting is that the Darwinists of the nineteenth century who attacked the sanctity-of-life ethic were convinced that they were attacking a Christian position … ’
It’s also notable that Hitler would never have risen to power without the support of the SA (Sturmabteilung) or Brownshirts, led by Ernst Röhm (1887–1934). Yet in his huge volume on Nazi history, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, journalist and historian William Shirer (1904–1993) describes Röhm as ‘a stocky, bull-necked, piggish-eyed, scar-faced professional soldier…[and] like so many of the early Nazis, a homosexual.’30 Of course, it is not politically correct to mention this connection.
But as for Christianity, biographer Bullock wrote that Hitler:
‘had no time at all for Catholic teaching, regarding it as a religion fit only for slaves and detesting its ethics.’
Indian-born American author Dinesh D’Souza (1961– ) writes:
‘In his multi-volume history of the Third Reich, historian Richard Evans writes that “the Nazis regarded the churches as the strongest and toughest reservoirs of ideological opposition to the principles they believed in.” Once Hitler and the Nazis came to power, they launched a ruthless drive to subdue and weaken the Christian churches in Germany. Evans points out that after 1937 the policies of Hitler’s government became increasingly anti-religious.
The Nazis stopped celebrating Christmas, and the Hitler Youth recited a prayer thanking the Fuhrer rather than God for their blessings. Clergy regarded as “troublemakers” were ordered not to preach, hundreds of them were imprisoned, and many were simply murdered. Churches were under constant Gestapo surveillance. The Nazis closed religious schools, forced Christian organizations to disband, dismissed civil servants who were practicing Christians, confiscated church property, and censored religious newspapers. Poor Sam Harris [atheist propagandist] cannot explain how an ideology that Hitler and his associates perceived as a repudiation of Christianity can be portrayed as a “culmination” of Christianity.31
Indeed, the Nuremberg prosecutor, General William Donovan, documented copious proof that the Nazis planned to exterminate Christianity. The documents are now being posted online at the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion. Indeed, the Nazis wiped out 3 million Polish Christians (see Poland’s Holocaust: 6 million citizens dead: (3 million Christians and 3 million Jews).
And the Chief U.S. Prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson (1892–1954), declared that ‘The Nazi Party always was predominantly anti-Christian in its ideology’, and ‘carried out a systematic and relentless repression of all Christian sects and churches.’32
And at the time, opponents also noted the anti-Christianity of the Nazis. Winston Churchill (1874–1965), during his address after Chamberlain’s ill-fated attempt at appeasement at Munich, 1938, stated (emphasis added):
‘ … there can never be friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi power, that power which spurns Christian ethics, which cheers its onward course by a barbarous paganism, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution, and uses, as we have seen with pitiless brutality, the threat of murderous force. That power cannot be the trusted friend of the British democracy … ’
Not only should we judge his actions rather than his political speeches, but it’s also relevant to see what he said to his closest friends. John Baskette’s article Was Hitler a Christian? documents the following from Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941–1944:33
Night of 11th–12th July, 1941:
National Socialism and religion cannot exist together…. The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity. … Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (pp. 6–7)
10th October, 1941, midday:
Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p. 43)
14th October, 1941, midday:
The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death…. When understanding of the universe has become widespread. … Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity. … Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity. … And that’s why someday its structure will collapse. … the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little. … Christianity the liar. … We’ll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (pp. 49–52)
19th October, 1941, night:
The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.
21st October, 1941, midday:
Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer. … The decisive falsification of Jesus’ doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work … for the purposes of personal exploitation. … Didn’t the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it’s in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St. Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea. (pp. 63–65)
13th December, 1941, midnight:
Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery. … When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunised against the disease. (pp. 118–119)
14th December, 1941, midday:
Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don’t believe the thing’s possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself…. Pure Christianity—the Christianity of the catacombs—is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics. (pp. 119–120)
9th April, 1942, dinner:
There is something very unhealthy about Christianity (p. 339)
27th February, 1942, midday:
It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors—but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity. … My regret will have been that I couldn’t … behold (p. 278)
Some misotheists try to dismiss these quotes as edited by the anti-Catholic Martin Bormann. But would Bormann have dared to edit Hitler’s words while he was alive? Note that Bormann was never found after the War and was sentenced to death in absentia. And if Hitler really were such a devout Christian as some misotheists claim, then how could such an anti-Catholic as Bormann reach such a high rank? Hitler took no action when Bormann declared:
‘More and more the people must be separated from the churches and their organs, the pastors.’
And why were Hitler’s other closest friends so anti-Christian? At the Nuremberg Trial, Hermann Göring had no time for religion, and Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi ‘philosopher’, declared himself an atheist to Gustave Gilbert, the psychologist who interviewed the Nuremberg defendants at length.34 Hitler's buddy Benito Mussolini was also well known as a rabid antitheist, challenging God to strike him dead if He existed.35
The viciously anti-Jewish propagandist and pornographer, Julius Streicher, complained that Christian teachings have stood in the way of ‘racial solution of the Jewish question in Europe.’ He told Gilbert that he had no time for ideas of God.33
Christianity and Freedom
As a final note, the ideas of political freedom came from Christianity.36 John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, also wrote Areopagitica: A speech of Mr John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England to protest against censorship:
‘For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.’
‘As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye.’
‘And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play on the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?’
‘I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.’
It’s no accident that the countries in an atheistic grip have reduced freedom. To show the connection between atheism and political oppression and thought police, consider the modern atheistic apologist Sam Harris:37
‘The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.’38
- Leading misotheist Clinton R. Dawkins often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology. One has to wonder if this pathology is due to a contagion that has spread the New Scientist offices. Return to text.
- Christine Rosen, Preaching Genetics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004. See also review by Grigg, R., ‘Hooray for eugenics’, Creation 30(3):50–52, 2008. Return to text.
- Rosen, ref. 2, pp. 14–15. Return to text.
- Rosen, ref. 2, p. 22. Return to text.
- Rosen, ref. 2, p. 184. Return to text.
- Rosen, ref. 2, p. 5. Return to text.
- Dalin, D.G., The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis, Regnery, Washington DC, 2005. See another review, Pius the Good; The brief for a much-maligned pope. Return to text.
- Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, p. 297, Mentor Books, NY, 1950. Return to text.
- Theodor Fritsch, Fundamental Principles of the Renewal Community (Leipzig: Verlag Hammer, 1914), p. 240. Weikart’s translation, ref. 19, p. 69. Return to text.
- Weikart’s translation, ref. 19, p. 55. Return to text.
- Ernst Mayr, 80 years of Watching the Evolutionary Scenery, Science 305:46–47, 2004. Return to text.
- Sowell, T., Migrations and Cultures: a World View, ch. 2, Basic Books, USA, 1996. Return to text.
- Sowell, Ref. 12, p. 103; emphasis added. Return to text.
- Sowell, Ref. 12, p. 96. Return to text.
- Sowell, Ref. 12, p. 99. Return to text.
- Arendt, H., The Origins of Totalitarianism, Schocken, NY, 1951. Return to text.
- Keith, A., Evolution and Ethics, Putnam, NY, USA, pp. 28–30, 230, 1947. Return to text.
- Bullock, A., Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Bantam, NY, 1961. Return to text.
- Weikart, R., From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, USA, 2004. See review by Sarfati, J., The Darwinian roots of the Nazi tree, Creation 27(4):39, 2005. Return to text.
- Peter Singer was installed as the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values in 1999 and still works part-time in this capacity. He also has been working part-time as Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics since 2005. See also Cosner, Lita, Blurring the line between abortion and infanticide?, 2 July 2008; creation.com/obama. Return to text.
- Zimmerman, A., The Darwinian Roots of the Nazi Legal System, J. Creation 22(3):109–114, 2008. Return to text.
- Colson, Chuck and Pearcey, Nancy, How Now Shall We Live? p. 93, Tyndale, 1999. Return to text.
- See Noebel, David, The Battle for Truth, p. 232, Harvest House Publishers, 2001. Return to text.
- Hughes, R.A., Leane, G.W.G., and Clarke, A., Australian Legal Institutions: Principles, Structure and Organisation, p. 32, Lawbook, Sydney, 2003. Return to text.
- Rommen, Heinrich A., The Natural Law: A Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy, p. 35, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 1989.Return to text.
- Rice, Charles ‘Some Reasons for a Restoration of Natural Law Jurisprudence’, Wake Forest Law Review 24(3):539–570, 1989, p. 567. In fact, just after World War II, the German jurist Gustav Radbruch (1878–1949) made the same claim that a prevailing legal positivism had helped pave the way for National Socialism. Return to text.
- For instance, Carl Schmitt (1888–1985), the famous constitutional law professor at the University of Berlin, supported the emergence of the Nazi power structures because he thought the institutional practices of parliamentary government in the Weimar Republic did not provide for a strong and stable government, and that they were unconvincingly justified by a mere faith in rational discussion and openness. Schmitt, who developed a conception of law in which law and morality are the mere products of a battle for political supremacy between hostile groups, joined the Nazi Party in May 1933. Between 1933 and 1936 Schmitt produced several essays in support of the Nazi regime’s most brutal policies. Return to text.
- Kolnai, Aurel, The War Against the West, p. 300, Victor Gollancz, London, 1938. Return to text.
- Kershaw, Ian, Hitler: Profiles in Power, p. 78, Longman, London , 1991. Return to text.
- See Lively Scott, Homosexuality and the Nazi Party, Leadership University, 13 July 2002; see also The Pink Swastika as Holocaust Revisionist History by Dr Judith Reisman. Indeed, even the atheistic homosexual Johann Hari admits in The strange, unexplored overlap between homosexuality and fascism: “The twisted truth is that gay men have been at the heart of every major fascist movement that ever was — including the gay-gassing, homo-cidal Third Reich.” Return to text.
- D’Souza, D., What’s So Great About Christianity? p. 219, Regnery, 2007; see review by Cosner, Lita, ‘Mostly masterful defence of Christianity; pity it’s slack on creation’, J. Creation 22(2):32–35, 2008. Return to text.
- Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 2, The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School, www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/proc/11–21–45.htm Return to text.
- Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941–1944, (Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953). Return to text.
- Gilbert, G., The Nuremberg Diary, 1947. Return to text.
- Goldberg, J., Liberal Fascism, New York: Doubleday, 2007. Return to text.
- Zimmermann, A., The Christian foundations of the rule of law in the West: a legacy of liberty and resistance against tyranny, J. Creation 19(2):67–73, 2005; creation.com/christianlaw. Return to text.
- For refutations of his later works, see Holding, J.P., Letter to a Maladjusted Misotheist; Wilson, Doug, Letter from a Christian Citizen; Cosner, Lita, An Apology: The Case Against Atheism: Atheism does untold damage to our society. A Christian’s Response. Return to text.
- Harris, S., The End of Faith, pp. 52–53,W.W. Norton, USA, 2004. Return to text.
- Furey, Constance M., Invective and Discernment in Martin Luther, D. Erasmus, and Thomas More, Harvard Theological Review 98(4):469–488, Cambridge Univerity Press, 2005. Return to text.