Two articles presenting opposing views on whether Natural Selection
influenced the policies of the Third Reich
1 K. Foth-Regner
Documenting Darwin's influence on the Third Reich:
who was anyone
embraced his doctrine
153, 2013 November)
When I was a journalism student back in the 1970s, I spent every
precious elective on history classes, with an emphasis on modern German
coursework did some damage to my near-perfect grade-point average,
because it meant studying under a professor who considered "C" an
adequate reward for mastering the material. Still, I persisted. I
studied obsessively and read all the best books about that era, from
Allan Bullock's acclaimed Hitler: A Study in Tyranny to Albert
Speer's Inside the Third Reich.
somehow, I don't remember hearing much about the philosophy underlying
Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews. Maybe if I'd ever read Mein
Kampf, I would have had a clue, but not one professor ever
recommended it. Maybe they believed, with George Eliot, that cruelty
requires no motive.
was wrong, and I'm afraid my beloved professors were, too. The "why" of
the Holocaust is critically important, both for evaluating our past
errors and for doing everything possible to prevent another, perhaps
even deadlier, catastrophe.
and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview: How the Nazi Eugenic Crusade for a
Superior Race Caused the Greatest Holocaust in World History. The
latest work of Dr. Jerry Bergman, it is one of those books that
explores what should be obvious – but, like the proverbial elephant in
the room, is for some reason never discussed in polite company.
shame. Dr. Bergman's book explains the inexplicable, makes sense out of
the nonsensical, and reveals the thought that allowed the unthinkable
to come to pass. It should be mandatory reading in college history
classes. And it should top the reading list of anyone who understands
that what we believe really does matter.
Bergman's premise about "doctrinaire Darwinist" Adolf Hitler – a
premise that he documents exhaustively:
central goal of Hitler and his government was the development and
implementation of eugenics to produce a "superior race," often called
the Aryan, Teutonic or Nordic race. At the very least, this goal
required preventing the "inferior races" from mixing with those judged
superior in order to reduce contamination of the gene pool. Hitler
believed that what we today recognize as the human gene pool could be
improved by using selective breeding, similar to how farmers breed
Bergman makes an airtight case that this was indeed the philosophy
driving Hitler's murderous machine – the philosophy that unfortunately
"culminated in the Final Solution, the extermination of 6 million Jews
and over 5 million Poles and others who belonged to what German
scientists judged were 'inferior races.'"
that there were many factors leading up to the Holocaust, Dr. Bergman
points out that "Of the many factors that produced Hitler's eugenic and
genocidal [programs], according to his own writings, one of the more
important was Darwin's notion that evolutionary progress occurs
primarily as a result of the elimination of the weak in the struggle
for survival and allowing the strong to flourish... Darwin-inspired
eugenics clearly played a critical role."
then goes on to prove it, point by terrifying point, in a frighteningly
compelling read. He uses excellent techniques to pull the reader
through, for instance by foreshadowing what we'll learn in subsequent
chapters to give context to the subject at hand. And in addition to
setting the stage generally, he provides up-close-and-personal analyses
of Hitler's most important and influential henchmen – Mengele, Bormann,
Himmler, Goebbels, Göring, Heydrich, Rosenberg and Streicher.
Bergman closes his book with a weighty chapter entitled "What can be
learned from attempts to apply Darwinism to society." This chapter
alone is worth the price of admission.
and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview is full of surprises. The margins
of my copy are filled with exclamation points to highlight facts about,
for instance, the German government subsidizing reproduction among
"racially and biologically desirable" couples, perfecting its
Lebensborn program to advance the breeding of the Nordic
super-race, and sponsoring mass kidnapping of "racially valuable"
recurring (and unfortunately less surprising) theme was the
enthusiastic support lent to Hitler by members of the scientific
establishment. Germany was known in the first part of the 20th century
as the home of the most accomplished scientists in the world, including
the majority of Nobel Laureates. These were the experts who gave Hitler
the scientific justification he needed to advance his horrific
that some Nazi scientists received accolades and awards long after the
fall of the Third Reich, Dr. Bergman provides this chilling insight
from Dr. Susanne Heim: "Scientists are highly vulnerable to
intellectual and moral corruption – opportunities will be used if they
promise more influence and success."
not even medical doctors could resist. Forget the Hippocratic oath;
"the psychiatric and medical professions were among the most
enthusiastic supporters of Nazi race programs."
Bergman is not alone in believing that Darwinism impacted Hitler and
his supporters. He quotes other authorities extensively throughout his
book, and notes that scholars such as Professor Richard Weikart have
also documented its role in Nazism. And as outspoken Harvard
professor Stephen Jay Gould wrote in his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny,
"'Biological arguments for racism…increased by orders of magnitude
following the acceptance of evolutionary theory' by scientists in most
book may be the first to gather all this evidence under one convenient
cover and to make such a persuasive case for what happens when
Darwinism is taken to its logical conclusion.
It's not a
book I'd recommend for bedtime reading.
midst of reading Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview, I had
the chance to watch Ray Comfort's powerful pro-life documentary 180,
in which he uses the Holocaust as an analogy for abortion (watch it at
www.180movie.com/). Ray opens with clips of interviews with young
people. Astoundingly, almost none knew who Hitler was.
you have it. We are raising a nation of people who don't know who Adolf
Hitler was, or what he did; yet they have been raised on the same
existential philosophy that drove his killing machine.
really such a problem?
It is if
Dr. Bergman is correct about the parallels that he and others are
drawing to events in our world today.
for example, the alarming increase in reports of Antisemitism in many
parts of the world.
consider the "weaning of Americans from Christianity by banning public
display of Christian symbols and ritual." This is, he points out,
"remarkably reminiscent of what Nazi Germany did."
consider any of the other steps that the western world is taking, from
gun control legislation to interfering with (and in some cases
persecuting) home-schooling parents – all echoes of Hitler's own
Dr. Bergman's latest book, and consider the similarities between the
philosophies underlying the Third Reich, and those prevailing in our
you think? Is there cause for concern?
Germany, early on, recognized the harm of Darwinism, and the Prussian
Minister of Education for a time in 1875 forbade the "schoolmasters in
the country to have anything to do with Darwinism…with a view of
protecting schoolchildren from the dangers of the new doctrines." A
significant question is this: Would the Nazi Holocaust have occurred if
this ban had remained in effect?
question – one that I believe Dr. Bergman answers affirmatively and
persuasively in this very important book.
Foth-Regner is a freelance writer and the author of Heaven Without Her
(Thomas Nelson 2008) – a memoir describing how, in the wake of her
beloved Christian mother's death, creation science pointed her to the
truth of the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lavoisier's influence on the Third Reich:
who was anyone embraced Chemistry
155, 2014 March)
(#153) answers the "why" of the Holocaust. She blames it chiefly on
Hitler's acceptance of eugenics — the belief that selective breeding
and sterilization can improve "races" — which in turn supposedly came
from Charles Darwin's idea of "natural selection". With natural
selection tied up with the Holocaust, Evolution has to be wrong and
argument is a variation of "attack the man and ignore his evidence"
with the difference that Foth-Regner attacks the science (by
associating it with something evil).
three quotes from Scientific American to summarize the
unscientific status of eugenics but scientific status of Natural
Darwinism and the eugenics movement that flourished in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries were pseudoscientific attempts, now
discredited, to apply Darwin's ideas to social planning." (Gary Stix)
get hundreds of similar quotes every year because discoveries in
genetics and geology and related sciences are ongoing and generate
countless scientific reports. To reject what evolution is based on i.e.
thousands of discoveries is rejection of science.
"The status of
natural selection is now secure, reflecting decades of detailed
empirical work." (Allen Orr)
of evolution is fostering powerful technologies for health care, law
enforcement, ecology, and all manner of optimization and design
problems." (David Mindel)
broaden Foth-Regner's argument and get rid of chemistry too?
We simply besmirch the character of Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) the
"founder of modern chemistry" because the Nazi regime used products of
chemistry to gas people to death.
that such thinking is silly I paraphrased Foth-Regner's title in my
title, by changing "Darwin" to "Lavoisier" and "[Darwin's] doctrine" to
we do not normally label as "doctrine" anything confirmed by 150 years
of discovery, tests and successful predictions. The existence of
electricity or the moons of Jupiter, for example, are not "doctrines".
became pseudoscience when Genetics became a scientific discipline
around 1920. Natural Selection in contrast has passed tests and
challenges for 150 years, and was backed by genetics rather than
refuted by it, and made predictions which it also passed, and so is
wanted to put into action the ideas of Social Darwinists such as
Herbert Spencer. Allan Chase in The Legacy of Malthus says:
Spencer, the guru of Social Darwinism — with its fierce injunctions
against the Undeserving Poor; against free universal education, against
free meals for indigent schoolchildren; against clinics, hospitals, and
social services for the non-rich; against all laws that either
regulated working hours or called for minimum standards of occupational
safety and health in mines and factories; against laws establishing
minimum standards of health and safety in dwellings built, sold, and
rented for human habitation; and above all, against trade unions, which
Spencer saw as instruments of human tyranny that would destroy
civilization — quickly became the favoured philosophy of the affluent.
He not only proclaimed the moral rights of the Deserving Rich to
heaven; Spencer also denounced the immorality and impracticability of
health, education, safety, and welfare programs that would have
materially increased their taxes here on earth… (p. 105)
ideas were also fodder to racists such as Madison Grant ("The Passing
of the Great Race") and Lothrup Stoddard ("The Rising Tide of Color")
avidly read by Hitler's closest advisors.
Spencerian concept of millions of inferior people born worthy only of a
quick and unmourned death, and of far lesser numbers of superior people
prospering because they were born fittest to survive, formed an
important element of conventional wisdom of the educated classes of the
nineteenth century. So pervasive was this common error that "the
survival of the fittest" was what evolution was all about that most
educated people also believed that it was Darwin, and not Spencer, who
had coined this phrase originally. Although Darwin considered Spencer
to be a conceited and ill-informed boor who made sweeping scientific
statements on the basis of inadequate evidence and personal
observation, this did not stop educated people from regarding Spencer
as the man who had applied Darwinian evolution to sociology. (p. 106)
Eugenic and racist political agendas had little in common with the
"origin of species" or with genetics.
who blame the Holocaust on evolution are conducting a smear campaign as
surely as atheists who argue that Hitler was a Christian and blame the
Holocaust on The Bible.
position is, let science do its work and accept what's discovered,
including evolution to the extent science demonstrates it.
If we cannot confirm the Bible with science then we cannot confirm it —
full stop. Over the years I've shown hundreds of Bible statements
substantiated in mainstream scientific publications, but this is undone
and faith becomes fantasy if science is invalid.
Social Darwinism, Investigator #33, November 1993, 8-24
1980 The Legacy of Malthus, Alfred A. Knopf
Testing Natural Selection, Scientific American, January 2009,
D.P. Evolution in the Everyday World, Scientific American,
January 2009, 68-75
Darwin's Living Legacy, Scientific American, January 2009, 24-29