Re: Darwin Inspired Hitler.

This is a comment I gave in response to someone’s blog about the above topic, I thought it repost-worthy.  Hope you find it informative:

 

“…but the following are pretty indisputable:  1. Evolutionary theory and social darwinism inspired Hitler. I think there are many sources talking about how the early eugenics movement (with much closer ties to leading evolutionary figures than scientist are comfortable admitting) was central to Hitler’s thinking.”

Darwin did not invent the idea of different races or racism or heredity or genetics or of one group being better than the other.  That hitler invoked biological pseudoscience to justify his views does not automatically mean they were based on darwin’s ideas specifically, and in fact they weren’t.  As evidenced by the fact that, as far as I know, there is not one single instance of hitler ever referring to darwin once in any of his writings, speeches or the quotes attributed to him, and there are many examples of him saying things which contradict evolutionary ideas, like that species can only vary within established “kinds”.  Add to this that what hitler was doing was not eugenics but was actually systematic in-breeding and completely goes against not only the principles of darwinian evolution where a larger gene pool is always better but the pre-darwinian principles of basic animal husbandry.  Add to this that darwin said that forced eugenics would be, in his exact words, an “overwhelming present evil” and that darwin’s writings are on the lists of books banned and burned under the nazi regime, the idea that hitler was inspired by darwin is absolute bullshit.  Know what he was actually inspired by?  The same thing modern anti-semites are inspired by.

“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.  In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. “

– Adolph Hitler

The flaming cross is the symbol of choice for the KKK for a reason you know.

This “hitler was inspired by darwin” garbage is just another form of holocaust denial.  A complete rewrite of history.  Yes the nazis invoked science to justify their views but scientists in germany were not allowed to disagree with those views.  And the nazis also chiseled swastikas in ancient ruins and released news reels about how they’ve discovered the ancient remains of the third reich.  So why aren’t creationists blaming archeologists for the holocaust?

“2. Processes can’t be trivially extended across time scales. Things go wrong. The difference between micro and macro is a fundamental hole in our current understanding of evolution.”

Micro is change within a species, macro is everything else.  Once a species splits off into two there is no mechanism to keep them similar and the two groups diverge more and more over time.  I don’t see what your objection is really.

“3.” Like everyone else, scientists are influenced by prejudice and preconceived ideas. You should also remember that just because most people believe a particular thing does not necessarily make it true.”

Yes but the beauty of science is that it’s based on tests, not opinions.  A scientist digging up a fossil and then speculating about it’s origins is pseudoscience.  A scientist using a theory to predict what fossil should be in what strata in what environment, in what region of the world and should have what characteristics then going out and finding it or someone else finding it for him – that’s science.  Once you know and declare what has to be true and can’t be true if your theory is correct, the chips fall where they may and your opinion or belief or bias is irrelevant.

“This last point has always been a fundamental critique leveled by the left – see for example the excellent work of Levins and Lewontin. In fact, the most dangerous manifestation of this is not creationism, but the rise of biological determinism and social Darwinist thinking.”

“Social darwinism” is, ironically, embraced by the religious right and generally not embraced by people who actually believe in evolution.  The reason for this is, I suspect, that only people who believe in a personal, infallible deity are subject to the naturalistic fallacy, the idea that if something is natural it must therefore be good.  But people who understand the actual science know that evolution and natural processes lead to extinction, pain, parasites, poisonous creatures, animals that can suffer eating each other and many other terrible things.  In the united states you have the republican party which is disproportionately religious and contains virtually all of the evangelicals and fundamentalists and they’re the party of screw the poor and only the rich should get to go to the hospital.  The secular, evolution accepting, liberal party is the party that believes in a universal social security net for everyone.  So the idea that accepting evolution is a slippery slope to “social darwinism” to me seems backwards.  Understanding what evolution actually is and how it works tends to inoculate people against it.  It did with darwin.

“I think we have to be more honest about how we confront criticism of evolution. The creationists are clearly wrong — their theories are entirely made-up — but evolution is far from complete or correct in its current form. Defending evolution reflexively opens the door for dangerous biological deterministic currents, a problem much more serious than the cartoon critiques of Creationists.”

Of course we don’t understand everything, but that life evolves and has been evolving a long time is undeniable.  We should be careful with our words, I agree.

 

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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8 Responses to Re: Darwin Inspired Hitler.

  1. chialphagirl says:

    Even if Darwin did inspire him that means nothing. People take ideas and corrupt them or use them for corrupt purposes all the time. It is not like Darwin would have approved of the use of his ideas in this manner.

    Your rebuttal was good.

    • agnophilo says:

      When religions promote something evil it is by dogma, fear, totalitarianism etc, all of which are bad whether in a religious or secular context. Strip them all away and I have no problem with religion.

  2. lotharson says:

    It might interest some of you that it is clear that Luther inspired Hitler:
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/on-luther-hitler-and-religious-confusion/

    The case is so serious that there are German Protestants who want the name “Luther” to be erased from the streets as well as from the current religious books.

    Otherwise asserting that Darwin inspired Hitler is presumably as meaningful as saying that Newton or Galileo influenced the Führer.

    But the religious right needs a “Feindbild” (an “image of the enemy”) they make up so that they can have the noble feelings they are the righteous ones opposing the force of evil.

    To be fair, this is a general human problem.

    • agnophilo says:

      Sadly it is. And yeah I recently had a similar debate on here with someone making similar claims and they, in their argument about how hitler could not have possibly been a true christian, quoted martin luther explaining how to tell true christianity from false christianity… I had to point out the irony there.

      • lotharson says:

        I’m going to gently disagree with you here.

        Well, it all depends on the definition of a “Christian”.

        If it just means someone asserting he is a Christian, then Hitler was one.

        If it means someone sincerely believing he is one, it is hugely debatable. The Führer was undoubtedly one of the greatest liars of mankind’s history and it is just NOT POSSIBLE to take for granted everything he said about himself, especially if it would be very useful for manipulating the German Folk.

        And if you stick to the historical definition of being a Christian http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/the-definition-of-christianity-die-definition-des-christentums-unten/ it is very unlikely he was one, although we can never know that for sure.

        My grand father was a German speaking Frenchman in Lorraine/Lothringen who lived under the Nazi occupation.
        He told me that the overwhelming majority of Nazis officers were either non-religious or neo-pagans believing in an esoteric Jesus.

        Cheers from Europe.

        • agnophilo says:

          I define “christian” broadly as anyone who believes in the divinity of jesus, regardless of how they interpret his teachings. And hitler didn’t just say he was christian, his anti-semitism was rooted in christian dogma and he used biblical references constantly. I once read a bit of mein kampf (a friend had a copy on their bookshelf) and I literally couldn’t go one page into it without finding a biblical reference – in that case hitler was saying that germans have the right to invade other countries to provide their “daily bread” (a reference to the lord’s prayer, “give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses…”). I think he was sincere in his beliefs. I think he was also a drugged up sociopath with a drugged up sociopath’s theology.

          As for nazi officers being non-religious or neo-pagans who believed in an esoteric jesus – which was it? Statistically weren’t something like 80% of the SS soldiers supposed to be confessing catholics? And are you referring to german soldiers in general or nazis specifically?

          • lotharson says:

            “I think he was sincere in his beliefs.”

            How can you know that? Are we talking about one of our decent neighbors?
            Or about the worst monster of human history?
            Maybe he was sincere, but we cannot know.
            He might have well be psychopathic (as you seem to believe), and psychopaths have an extraordinary, limitless ability to tell CONSISTENT lies.
            I DON’T KNOW if he was sincere in his belief in the deity of Jesus, or the immorality of British imperialism.
            In both cases he would have had very good grounds for making up lies.

            “As for nazi officers being non-religious or neo-pagans who believed in an esoteric jesus – which was it? Statistically weren’t something like 80% of the SS soldiers supposed to be confessing catholics?”

            I meant convinced Nazis, at the very least those who occupied Alsace-Lorraine.

            ” his anti-semitism was rooted in christian dogma and he used biblical references constantly.”

            Since the Bible is a self-contradictory collection of various books, you can prove almost everything you want by quoting some texts while ignoring others.
            Yet you have to honestly ask yourself: is that consistent with the overall teaching of Jesus?
            http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/did-jesus-endorse-atrocities-hat-jesus-greueltaten-befurwortet/

            I understand it might be very hard to objectively think about such topics if you have been suffering since your birth under American fundamentalism and I emphatize with that.
            Were I born in the Bible Belt, I might very well be a resentful atheist believing that the Shoah was a logical consequence of the teachings of Jesus.

            Cheers.

            • agnophilo says:

              “How can you know that? Are we talking about one of our decent neighbors?
              Or about the worst monster of human history?
              Maybe he was sincere, but we cannot know.”

              Where did I say he was morally decent? I just think he was genuine in his religiously fueled anti-semitism, he did after all put a fair amount of work into it.

              “He might have well be psychopathic (as you seem to believe), and psychopaths have an extraordinary, limitless ability to tell CONSISTENT lies.”

              That is true, and I could be wrong. If the evidence of his beliefs were limited to his public speeches I’d say you’re probably right, but he seemed consistent publicly, privately, even when he painted he painted things like the virgin mary holding an aryan jesus.

              “I DON’T KNOW if he was sincere in his belief in the deity of Jesus, or the immorality of British imperialism.
              In both cases he would have had very good grounds for making up lies.”

              I agree, an argument could be made to the contrary, and we will probably never know for sure.

              “I meant convinced Nazis, at the very least those who occupied Alsace-Lorraine.”

              Anecdotal evidence is not exactly the best kind. There are, I believe, statistics on these things.

              “Since the Bible is a self-contradictory collection of various books, you can prove almost everything you want by quoting some texts while ignoring others.
              Yet you have to honestly ask yourself: is that consistent with the overall teaching of Jesus?”

              If the bible is self-contradictory and anyone who does not follow parts of it is not a true christian then no one is a true christian, because the peace love and tolerance christians ignore just as much as the burn the heretic christians. I understand why it is preferable to ignore the bad passages in favor of the good, but if christianity is defined as obedience and following doctrine then nobody does it, and good christians don’t do it any more or less than demented christians, they just follow different bits of scripture.

              “http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/did-jesus-endorse-atrocities-hat-jesus-greueltaten-befurwortet/ I understand it might be very hard to objectively think about such topics if you have been suffering since your birth under American fundamentalism and I emphatize with that.
              Were I born in the Bible Belt, I might very well be a resentful atheist believing that the Shoah was a logical consequence of the teachings of Jesus. Cheers.”

              On the contrary, if anything I have a tolerance built up to fundamentalism that most people from other places wouldn’t have. I was not meaning to suggest that what hitler did was “true” christianity, but rather that there is no such thing as “true” christianity, and that christianity is defined more by the user than by scripture. Today it is probably about 5% the teachings of jesus and about 95% popular culture. When people say “what would jesus do?” they answer it with their own imagination, not scripture. There have actually been studies on this – ask people what they think about x, y and z and then ask them what god thinks and not only do they answer the same way, but when you put them in an MRI machine they use the same parts of the brain to figure out one as they do to figure out the other.

              God communicates through our own biases, hopes, fears, guilt, etc. It is whatever echo of consciousness people wish to call god when they look inside themselves. It does not surprise me that a psychopath would look inside themselves and see something terrible and call it god any more than it would that a kind, sweet, warm, loving person would look inside themselves, see something nice, and call that god.

Speak yer mind.

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