Two articles presenting opposing views on whether Natural Selection influenced the policies of the Third Reich

1   K. Foth-Regner
2   Anonymous


Documenting Darwin's influence on the Third Reich:
Everyone who was anyone embraced his doctrine

By Kitty Foth-Regner

(Investigator 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 history.


This 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.

Yet 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.

But Eliot 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.

Enter Hitler 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.  

What a 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.

Here's Dr. Bergman's premise about "doctrinaire Darwinist" Adolf Hitler – a premise that he documents exhaustively:
A 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 superior cattle.
Dr. 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.'"

Acknowledging 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."

The author 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.

Dr. 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.

Hitler 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" children.

Another 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 programs.

Noting 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."

Apparently 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."

Dr. 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 nations."

But this 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.

In the 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.

And there 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.

Is this 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.

Consider, for example, the alarming increase in reports of Antisemitism in many parts of the world.

Or 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."

Or 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 policies.

Then read Dr. Bergman's latest book, and consider the similarities between the philosophies underlying the Third Reich, and those prevailing in our culture today.

What do you think? Is there cause for concern?

Many in 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?

Great question – one that I believe Dr. Bergman answers affirmatively and persuasively in this very important book.
 
Kitty 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:
Everyone who was anyone embraced Chemistry


Anonymous

(Investigator 155, 2014 March)


Foth-Regner (#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 unscientific.

This 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).

Here are three quotes from Scientific American to summarize the unscientific status of eugenics but scientific status of Natural Selection:
"Social 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)

"The status of natural selection is now secure, reflecting decades of detailed empirical work." (Allen Orr)

"Understanding of evolution is fostering powerful technologies for health care, law enforcement, ecology, and all manner of optimization and design problems." (David Mindel)
We could 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.

Why not 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.


To show that such thinking is silly I paraphrased Foth-Regner's title in my title, by changing "Darwin" to "Lavoisier" and "[Darwin's] doctrine" to "Chemistry".

Furthermore, 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".

Eugenics 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 scientific.

Eugenicists wanted to put into action the ideas of Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer. Allan Chase in The Legacy of Malthus says:
"Herbert 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)

The cruel 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)
Spencer's 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.

Eugenic and racist political agendas had little in common with the "origin of species" or with genetics.


Creationists 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.

My 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.



References:

Anonymous. Social Darwinism, Investigator #33, November 1993, 8-24

Chase, A. 1980 The Legacy of Malthus, Alfred A. Knopf

Orr, H.A. Testing Natural Selection, Scientific American, January 2009, 30-36

Mindel, D.P. Evolution in the Everyday World, Scientific American, January 2009, 68-75

Stix, G. Darwin's Living Legacy, Scientific American, January 2009, 24-29



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