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Saturday, September 02, 2006

What did Hitler believe about evolution?: From the Comments box

I'm not sure how many people read the - often very interesting - comments in the comments boxes, so I want to draw your attention to a pair of them:

In response to the post on the Coral Ridge TV special on social Darwinism, blogger Steven Carr commented that Hitler was a creationist:
Hitler, of course, believed that mankind was specially created.

Hitler explicitly rejected Darwinism and the evolution of man.

From Hitler's Tischgespraeche for the night of the 25th to 26th 1942 'Woher nehmen wir das Recht zu glauben, der Mensch sei nicht von Uranfaengen das gewesen , was er heute ist? Der Blick in die Natur zeigt uns, dass im Bereich der Pflanzen und Tiere Veraenderungen und Weiterbildungen vorkommen. Aber nirgends zeigt sich innherhalb einer Gattung eine Entwicklung von der Weite des Sprungs, den der Mensch gemacht haben muesste, sollte er sich aus einem affenartigen Zustand zu dem, was er ist, fortgebildet haben.'

I shall translate Hitler's words, as recorded by the stenographer.

'From where do we get the right to believe that man was not from the very beginning what he is today.
A glance in Nature shows us , that changes and developments happen in the realm of plants and animals. But nowhere do we see inside a kind, a development of the size of the leap that Man must have made, if he supposedly has advanced from an ape-like condition to what he is' (now)

And in the entry for 27 February 1942 , Hitler says 'Das, was der Mensch von dem Tier voraushat, der veilleicht wunderbarste Beweis fuer die Ueberlegenheit des Menschen ist, dass er begriffen hat, dass es eine Schoepferkraft geben muss.'

However, Cal State prof Richard Weikart, who specializes in Hitler and the Nazis' view of Darwinism, responded to Carr, saying:
Stephen Carr has perceptively located a passage from Hitler's table talks (which were off-the-cuff conversations he held with his colleagues), which seems to deny that humans evolved from apes. If this were all we knew about Hitler's views on the subject, Mr. Carr would have a strong case; we could conclude that Hitler did not even believe in human evolution (though this same passage implies that he does believe in the evolution of animals and plants).
However, Mr. Carr ignores a multitude of passages in Hitler's writings (which should carry more weight than off-the-cuff comments) and speeches. In _Mein Kampf_, especially in the chapter, "Nation and Race," Hitler expostulates on his evolutionary views and their application to humanity. Hitler's _Second Book_, especially the first two chapters, spend even more time discussing human evolution and the human struggle for existence. And, Mr. Carr also overlooked some passages in the table talks (see Oct. 24, 1941, for example), where Hitler explicitly rejected creationism in favor of evolution.

I should also note that I don't know of any reputable historians who claim that Hitler was a creationist, but almost all historians admit he was a social Darwinist.

My own view is that the reason for the controversy around films like the Coral Ridge special is precisely the fact that Darwinists have never really dealt with the implications of social Darwinism, so it keeps coming back to them like a bad penny.

While we are on this subject, here are some other recent posts on Hitler/ Hitler fans and Darwinism, to add to the mix:

Prof Richard Weikart, again, as horrified by student views on the moral neutrality of Hitler:
A number of years ago two intelligent students surprised me in a class discussion by defending the proposition that Hitler was neither good nor evil. Though I kept my composure, I was horrified. One of the worst mass murderers in history wasn't evil? How could they believe this? How could they justify such a view?

They did it by appealing to Darwinism.

H.L. Mencken as Hitler fan:
H.L. Mencken, who popularized the view that only the booboisie would oppose Darwinism, supported eugenics. While I am here, I have noticed a tendency in American literati to refuse to face up to the fact the Mencken was a Hitler fan and an anti-democrat, as Terry Teachout shows. I am always hearing excuses, excuses, excuses for Mencken from the lar-di-dah quarters. Why?

Steve Gould on Darwinism as promoting racism by orders of magnitude:
"Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850 but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory."

Philosopher Fr. Edwin Oakes on Darwinism as unmitigated disaster:
But leaving aside whether natural selection actually does any explanatory work, the importation of that concept into human relations has been nothing but an unmitigated disaster for the 20th century: Karl Marx, John D. Rockefeller and Adolf Hitler were all enthusiastic Darwinians.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
Blog policy note:Comments are permitted on this blog, but they are moderated. Fully anonymous posts and URLs posted without comment are rarely accepted. To Mr. Anonymous: I'm not psychic, so if you won't tell me who you are, I can't guess and don't care. To Mr. Nude World (URL): If you can't be bothered telling site visitors why they should go on to your fave site next, why should I post your comment? They're all busy people, like you. To Mr. Rudeby International and Mr. Pottymouth: I also have a tendency to delete comments that are merely offensive. Go be offensive to someone who can smack you a good one upside the head. That may provide you with a needed incentive to stop and think about what you are trying to accomplish. To Mr. Righteous but Wrong: I don't publish comments that contain known or probable factual errors. There's already enough widely repeated misinformation out there, and if you don't have the time to do your homework, I don't either. To those who write to announce that at death I will either 1) disintegrate into nothingness or 2) go to Hell by a fast post, please pester someone else. I am a Catholic in communion with the Church and haven't the time for either village atheism or aimless Jesus-hollering.

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