This won’t be news to any rational people, but it may be news to creationists. And I know the subject has already been dealt with by numerous others, but this creationist post (also here – highlight the text after “spoiler” at the bottom), describing PZ’s recent expulsion from the creationist movie “Expelled”, describes some “specific content” of the film that I think needs a reply. It’s this:
Many scenes are centered around the Berlin Wall, and Ben Stein being Jewish actually visits many death camps and death showers. In fact, Nazi Germany is the thread that ties everything in the movie together. Evolution leads to atheism leads to eugenics leads to Holocaust and Nazi Germany.
Really creationists? That’s what you’re going with? Really? Well OK, if that’s the approach the religious creationists want to take, I’m happy to debate that point. There are (at least) three reasons why this isn’t a valid argument against evolution. Each one by itself is enough to sink this ridiculous creationist canard. They are:
- So what?
- Hitler wasn’t inspired by evolution
- Hitler was religiously inspired
Really – so what? Even if it were true that wouldn’t mean evolution was wrong. The argument is just a fallacious appeal to consequences: the truth of something does not depend on the consequences of it being true; the truth of something depends on whether it is actually true or not. Nuclear weapons are terrible things, but that doesn’t mean that E does not equal M C squared. Even if Hitler was inspired by evolution, that wouldn’t mean evolution was wrong.
Even so, if it Hitler was actually inspired by evolution, that would be a bit of a black mark for evolution. But:
Hitler wasn’t inspired by evolution
Evolution is a process where favorable mutations are selected by nature – that is, mutations that make it more likely the organism will reproduce, will be passed to offspring. Although the phrase “survival of the fittest” has become popular, the idea that this means “only the strongest survive” or that living beings fight each other for survival (and so only the strongest survive), is false. “Fittest” actually means “most able to reproduce”. That sometimes means “the strongest”, but in social groups (such as primates), “fittest” can also mean “well regarded by the group”. For example, a rogue early hominid, who murdered his peers, might well have been excluded by the group and (therefore) would not have been able to reproduce.
Hitler’s solution was the opposite of allowing nature to select. Hitler’s approach was to artificially remove groups of people he didn’t like, from the gene pool, in what was undeniably a sickening version of selective breeding, as practiced by farmers for around 10,000 years before Darwin. If Hitler learned of the opportunities of such selective breeding from anywhere, it was from farmers’ knowledge and experience that predated Darwin. Which means that Hitler’s final solution was, if anything, an example of intelligent design.
So Hitler wasn’t inspired by Darwin. If Hitler was inspired by anything:
Hitler was religiously inspired
If you want to know what Hitler really believed, a good place to look would be what he actually wrote in his plan for the revival of Germany - Mein Kampf. Get a load of this:
The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Jew himself. His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine. Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took to the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while our present-day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties-and this against their own nation.
Not convinced? Try this:
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.
There’s a lot more of the same in Mein Kampf, and in other speeches Hitler gave, if you can stomach reading any more. It doesn’t sound to me as though Charles Darwin was much of an influence. In fact, I haven’t been able to find even one mention of Darwin or the theory of evolution in Mein Kampf. Not one. Now, isn’t that strange? Don’t you think that if Hitler had been influenced by Darwin that he would have mentioned it somewhere in his book? Why wouldn’t he? But not even once.
No. Hitler’s ideas of the superior Aryan race were quasi religious mythology based Christian and/or occult beliefs. This is what inspired the extermination of the Jews – not evolution.
Christians will say that Hitler wasn’t inspired by “true” Christianity (or even by a “True Scotsman”). Well, maybe not. But so what? They try to blame evolution for the Holocaust on much flimsier evidence. Actually no evidence – no link to Hitler at all apart from their own flawed understanding of evolution. But Hitler can be directly quoted using Christianity as a justification for his treatment of the Jews. It was clearly Hitler’s religious or quasi religious beliefs – not an over reliance on critical thinking and science – that inspired him. And these flawed beliefs were combined with an authoritarian streak that demanded respect and unquestioning obedience. Hum… religious or quasi religious, not backed by evidence, demanding respect and obedience it hadn’t earned…
… Remind you of anything?
Christian creationists may live to regret opening up this particular can of worms. In future, every time they trot out this tired piece of propaganda they should have Hitler’s real Christian influence, rationally for the Holocaust and his exact words thrust back down their throats. Evolution wasn’t responsible for the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the result of the exact same kind of unquestioning groupthink that characterizes religion. Or, to paraphrase the creationist twit I quoted at the top: Religion leads to unquestioning belief in what you’re told by authorities, leads to acceptance of an authoritarian state, leads to eugenics, leads to Holocaust, leads to Nazi Germany.
I’m not necessarily saying that Christianity alone was responsible for the Holocaust. Without Christianity, Hitler would probably have found another excuse. But I am saying religious thinking was responsible. And Hitler’s own words lay the blame with Christianity, not evolution. Hey, I didn’t start this.
Talk Reason’s Creationists, Hitler and Evolution.
A page of links about Hitler's Christianity
Red state Rabble writes Richard Weikart: Workin’ in a Quote Mine
Orac’s amusing take on Hitler Zombie massacre over evolution!