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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy 4: Hitler's Ethic and the Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress in Nazi Policy

On this episode of ID the Future, Logan Gage interviews historian Richard Weikart on his new book, Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress, and how Darwinism influenced and inspired much of Nazi ideology.

Weikart’s provocative book, out tomorrow, argues that Hitler's immorality was not the result of ignoring or rejecting ethics, but rather came from embracing a coherent -- albeit pernicious -- ethic of improving the human race through "evolutionary progress." Directly inspired by Darwin's theory of evolution, this ethic underlay or influenced almost every major feature of Nazi policy: eugenics (i.e., measures to improved human heredity, including compulsory sterilization), euthanasia, racism, population expansion, offensive warfare, and racial extermination. By embracing this particular brand of ethics, Hitler perpetrated much greater evil than he would have had he been merely opportunistic or amoral.
Go here to listen.

[From Denyse: Personally, I have never understood why Darwin's fans freak out when anyone tries to talk about the relationship between Darwinism and eugenics, Darwinism and racism, and Darwinism and the Nazis.
It is a hands down, no contest fact that Darwin made eugenics and racism seem "scientific." There was a time when racism depended on obscure arguments from the Bible and such, but Darwin changed all that with The Descent of Man. There is no question, either, that the Nazis were inspired in part by German translations of Darwin's Descent. Dr. Weikart has been subjected to predicable attempts to muddy the waters by claiming that someone other than Darwin is always to blame for making mayhem respectable.

To one such effort, Weikart replies,
Hoppe claims in this blog that Bronn inserted progressivism into Darwin’s theory in his translation of _Origin of Species_. However, anyone reading _Origin_ carefully can find many passages where Darwin embraced progressivism, for example:
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.
This is laced with progressivism, and many other passages reinforce this point.
The part I find intriguing is that the Darwin fans would do themselves such a big favour if they just admitted it and got past it. No one holds them responsible individually or collectively for what happened in centuries past. It is their continued defensiveness and misrepresentation, creating a continued need to set the record straight, that keeps the issue alive. And they have only themselves to blame for that.

See also:

Expelled: Did Darwin really lead to Hitler? Better question: Did the suggestion lead tofree publicity?

Finnish school shooter: Social Darwinism's role in mass murder

O'Leary's review of Weikart's seminal work From Darwin to Hitler.
Next: Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy 5: Seeking God in Science: An Atheist
Defends Intelligent Design


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