Darwin-Nazi Link: Fundamentally Wrongheaded?

Darwin-Nazi Link: Fundamentally Wrongheaded?

A few days ago Tony Hoffman suggested,

Expelled’s charge and the constant revival of this aspersion on this website — that Darwin leads to Hitler — seems fundamentally wrongheaded….

Tom, you keep saying that although you concede that there is no philosophical link from Darwin to Hitler there is in fact a historical one. While I agree with you, I have no idea what your point is in raising it….

It’s a good question. Besides having had about half a dozen deadlines land on me since then, I’ve had to take time to give it some serious thought. Now that I have some time again, what, indeed, is the point of all this?

I hope Tony recognizes I didn’t start this discussion. It was brought up by a movie that’s proving to be fairly popular, as documentaries go. There were some who objected that the Darwin-Hitler link was an ID proponents’ fabrication. I’ve weighed in to respond to that, but I didn’t start it.

Also, if one reviews what I’ve actually posted on this topic, I think “constant revival of this aspersion” is overstated. I wrote one post calling for understanding on why this is such a sensitive issue. I hope an approach of that sort isn’t considered off limits. Other than that, I’ve posted just one link to an article on another website, and two other sentences. Of course there has also been discussion, fueled by participants on all sides of the issue.

But whether or not I’m not to blame as Tony apparently thinks I am, that doesn’t address his real question: why would anybody expend any effort on this at all? Isn’t it all a complete red herring, a distraction from genuine issues? I don’t think so.

First, we ought to learn from history. That ought to be relatively uncontroversial. If the German scientists made a mistake interpreting Darwin, then for heaven’s sake, let’s not forget what they did, and make the same kinds of mistakes all over again! I see potential for it even in our enlightened 21st century. Haeckel’s biggest error was dehumanizing some races of humanity. Peter Singer and PETA are doing the same for the whole human race. For Ingrid Newkirk of PETA, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” For Singer, we are guilty of “speciesism” if we hold humans to be of more value than animals. This is Haeckel’s error writ large.

Second, it’s not quite true that there is no philosophical link from Darwin to Hitler. There are two at least two valid connections between them.

A. There is an ethical consequence to Darwinism. It is not, as was supposed at the time, that it leads to a moral requirement that we “advance the species.” The connection is this: naturalistic Darwinism, if taken to be the sole explanation for all of life,* erases all ethical requirements. It is specifically the naturalism–closely related to atheism–that is the serious problem in all non-theistic versions of evolution (which I think answers Point 1 in Tony’s comment).

I’ve never seen a good refutation or even rebuttal for this. Paul stated the issue quite well two and a half years ago, long before the current debate began:


Just to be clear, I think the Holocaust was wrong. From my culture’s morality, from many cultures’ morality, but not from Hitler’s. I would fight against it no less.

That’s a hole big enough to drive a Panzer division through. Paul would “fight against it,” and for that I commend him; yet for him, that’s all he has. The only ultimate moral decider is power:


A relativistic moral law is made when a group of people (family, tribe, culture, country, etc.) decide to do so. There is no absolute or objective foundation for doing so: as I’ve said before, it is merely a question of power what laws are made…. When differing moral cultures clash, it’s up to power to decide the difference. Doesn’t look pretty, but that’s the way it is, assuming there’s no God.

Fighting is all anyone can do. There’s no recourse to any higher ethic. If Hitler had won, his power would have decided the difference between the differing moral cultures. Now, lest anyone think I’m picking on Paul, I think he’s right, based on his assumptions. I think he gets it. “That’s the way it is, assuming there’s no God,” says Paul, quite rightly; and that’s an assumption that squares up quite nicely with naturalistic, unguided evolution.

B. There is an ontological implication in Darwinism: humans are the same kind of thing as animals. Hitler applied this selectively, to be sure, but he applied it with great effect. He packed up hordes of people on trains like cattle, took them to the slaughtering plant, and used their parts as raw materials for industry. Yes–they wove gunny sacks out of Jewish hair. You can see unused remains of it still warehoused at Dachau. This, I believe, is why we abhor Hitler so much more than other great murderers like Stalin or Mao: they all killed; but only Hitler so thoroughly dehumanized. Darwinism dehumanizes in a different way. Hitler treated humans like animals; Darwinism says that’s what we are.

Third, ideas matter. I suppose we could trace all kinds of historical linkages to the Holocaust. In fact, I’ve actually heard people say this, even taking it to ridiculous extremes: “if you’re going to say Darwin was responsible, then so were the people who invented shower heads. It couldn’t have happened without them, either!” The difference is in ideas and their consequences. Darwinism–the naturalistic version–is not ethically neutral. It is not lacking in ethical implications. True, it doesn’t prescribe an ethic–it just applies a kind of metaphorical poison gas to any overarching, culture-transcending ethic a nation might turn to, in deciding whether to stand with or against a would-be tyrant like Hitler.

Fourth, contrary to Tony’s point 2, influencers certainly can be blamed for the actions of others that follow. They can be blamed to the extent that others did harm while following them:

  • Doing actions the influencers recommended, taught, or prescribed, or
  • Doing actions for which the influencers opened an ideological or ethical door, which would not otherwise have been opened.

Darwin was responsible in the second sense. This is the sense in which Berlinski (in Expelled), and Weikart (in his book on this topic) said, “Darwinism was not a sufficient condition for Hitler’s atrocities, but it was a necessary condition.” Without Darwinism, I believe, Germany would have resisted Hitler. It was not the only necessary link leading up to Nazism, but it was one of them.

*This is the sense in which I am speaking of “Darwinism” throughout this article: naturalistic evolution by means of random variation and natural selection, unguided by any intelligence. I recognize there are other versions of evolutionary theory.

Series Navigation (Darwin to Hitler?):<<< Why the Darwin-Hitler Link Is So SensitiveThe Darwin-Hitler Question: Reflecting on the Process >>>

73 thoughts on “Darwin-Nazi Link: Fundamentally Wrongheaded?

  1. I love being featured in the original post. Even if my quoted comments are completely wrong, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, as they say.

    The connection rather is this: naturalistic Darwinism, if taken to be the sole explanation for all of life,* erases all ethical requirements.

    As you note in your discussion of my previous comments, it’s not that naturalism erases *all* ethical requirements, only all *ultimate* ethical requirements. I think that’s an important qualifier.

    (If you assert that missing an ultimate requirements is the same as having no requirement at all, that’s like saying that *all* sense of motion disappeared when Einstein showed that motion is relative.)

  2. But just because evolution says we are animals doesn’t mean that we can’t be animals with unique characteristics, one of which is a highly developed social order that nearly always includes, yes, ethical prohibitions against Hitler’s atrocities.

    Also, Tom, what do you think about using “the theory of evolution” instead of “Darwinism?” You know, no one believes in Einsteinism, but many accept the theory of relativity; no one believes in Maxwellism, but many accept the theory of electromagnetism; etc.

  3. Sorry, Tom, I didn’t see your qualifier about how you intended the word “Darwinism.” I suspect that the word “Darwinism” is still problematic, but I’m not prepared right now to argue that.

  4. Paul:

    As you note in your discussion of my previous comments, it’s not that naturalism erases *all* ethical requirements, only all *ultimate* ethical requirements. I think that’s an important qualifier.

    Naturalism is a bottom-up way of thinking about the universe. If there are no ethical requirements prior to the origin of life, and if evolution produces no ethical requirements – where do you find room for any? They can be made up by various individuals, but at that point I wouldn’t call them *requirements*. Would you?

  5. (If you assert that missing an ultimate requirements is the same as having no requirement at all, that’s like saying that *all* sense of motion disappeared when Einstein showed that motion is relative.)

    What does “requirement” then mean? What or who is “requiring?” I’m sorry, but your having a contrary moral opinion doesn’t make it a requirement for me, or for the Nazis, or for anyone.

  6. We are indeed animals with unique characteristics. So are kangaroos.

    As to the ethical implications of that, I refer you to Richard Dawkins. On this, at least, he was right.

    I’m interested still to hear how you are going to get to a requirement from your starting point.

  7. In The Devil’s Delusion David Berlinski remarks on the consistency, at least of Rorty’s position on the Holocaust. Rorty called the West’s moral tradition a “cobbled together…”one that regards free consensus of the citizens of a democratic society, rather than a Divine Will, as the source of moral imperatives”(Rorty).
    As such, he rightly “had no criticism to offer Nazi Germany beyond a personal sense of revulsion” (Berlinski).
    page 40
    If there is no God then everything is permissible. Just as there are not absolute truths, to the relativist, there are no moral absolutes.
    “Of these positions, no one believes the first, and no one is prepared to live with the second.
    This is precisely the dilemma in which we find ourselves.”
    41

  8. Tom, the requirement was merely a logical one, it’s not someone (God, evolution, etc.) requiring something morally. At first I thought that’s what your comment about requirements was about, but then I re-read the thread. So I don’t get the point of your rhetorical questions about requirements.

    I’m sorry, but your having a contrary moral opinion doesn’t make it a requirement for me, or for the Nazis, or for anyone.

    Righto. That’s not how it works. We only hold moral suasion over someone when they have, for their own reasons, committed themselves to the moral code we are merely reminding them about, which is what is amounts to. We can also correctly expose moral hypocrisy, when someone claims to hold a moral position but then acts differently. Those two situation sactually cover a whole lot of ground.

    But when two different moral codes clash, the strongest wins, as you’ve already said that I’ve admitted before.

  9. There’s an important context here. Ultimately, and that’s an importantly qualifier, the last several posts are on point. But, in practical terms, it often doesn’t get to such ultimate concerns because evolution has created us as highly social animals, who have, apparently (I admit this isn’t a scientific consensus yet, but try it as a hypothesis) genetic predispositions (not the qualifier, the lack of an absolute) against things such as infanticide, torture (especially within one’s social group), etc. Evolution gives us the ability to see others as selves not our own self (I recall vaguely that other primates have this ability, too), and this helps instill in us a revulsion against torture, for instance, because we can see it being done to us.

    So, much of the time, everyone is on the same page morally because evolution has made us what we are. But our brains give us so much flexibility that morality is not an instinct that we follow blindly, but must process through our brains, and therein lies the source of conflict.

  10. Paul, I’m not understanding what you’re saying here:

    Tom, the requirement was merely a logical one, it’s not someone (God, evolution, etc.) requiring something morally. At first I thought that’s what your comment about requirements was about, but then I re-read the thread. So I don’t get the point of your rhetorical questions about requirements.

    The questions were not rhetorical, and to me, the word requirement as originally used here requires a requirer.

    I don’t want to try to respond to the rest of this until I understand this much of it.

  11. Sorry, Tom, my mistake. The word requirement does require a requirer. For evolution and relativistic morality, the requirer is either (or both) (1) a social group, or (2) natural selection, so to speak. That is, if it produces a survival value for social animals to be revulsed at, say, infanticide, then that trait will be selected for. The animals who have that trait will behave that way, and, if they have the capacity for language, will express what natural selection requires of them into words, and call that a moral code.

    Joining my (1) and 2) above, a moral code that has its basis in evolution will be *expressed* verbally by animals with language. Then, the animals with language can then put the cart before the horse, thinking that it was the code, not the behavior, that came first. They can then use language to create other moral codes that expand those original behaviors (treat others fairly, etc.).

  12. Tom,

    Thanks for taking the time to engage in this discussion; I appreciate your both responding and broadening the topic as it moves along from the original post(s).

    I’m curious — you earlier wrote:

    Nevertheless, we must be quite cautious never to suggest that Darwin led inevitably to Hitler by philosophical necessity.

    Later, in reply to one of my comments on this topic, you wrote:

    Were they right on that [Were the Nazi’s right that Darwinism should lead to the Nazi position on Eugenics]? No, for that ethic does not follow from Darwinism (or from the Darwinism/OOL package). But the reason it does not follow is because no ethic follows from Darwinism. That means that Darwinism also lacks a corrective to that ethic. It has no oughts. It doesn’t say you ought to pursue racial eugenics, and it doesn’t say you ought not to.

    I believe that your position has evolved (no pun intended) from the above statements to the belief that studying Evolution leads to naturalism, which (inevitably) leads to amorality. So, rather than there being only a historical link from Evolution to Nazi Eugenics, it seems that you now also believe there is indeed a philosophical link — that Evolution leads to amoralism, which then leads to crimes like the Nazi atrocities.

    Is this a fair distillation of your position?

  13. You expect me to believe you didn’t intend that pun? 🙂

    Thank you, too, for this good discussion.

    I don’t think studying evolution inevitably, philosophically, leads to Naturalism. I’m not sure I quite understand how they link. There’s a socio-psychological aspect to it, most likely. I’m conjecturing now, quite admittedly. I suppose that those who seriously study evolution are likely to be hanging around a lot of naturalists, who exercise their persuasive effect. Conversely, those who have a strong prior aversion to naturalism are likely to select themselves out of those situations.

    (I suspect that in this sense strict dogmatic naturalistic evolution is a sociological science-stopper: it dissuades many young people from entering the study of biology.)

    There is also a link between belief in evolution and rejection of the Bible as moral authority. That in itself takes one a long way down the road toward relativistic morality.

    Anyway, I’ve written on how the physical evidence of evolution need not lead to atheism (of which naturalism is a close cousin); but that a prior commitment to naturalism inevitably leads to belief in evolution.

    So evolution simpliciter does not entail amoralism. Naturalistic evolution does. I’m hedging, as you can tell, on whether studying evolution leads to a belief in naturalism, because it’s a socio-psychological question requiring that kind of treatment, for which I don’t have the right information.

    Historically, though, that’s apparently what it did in Germany. Weikart’s book traces how evolutionary theory was taken to lead toward relativistic ethics, and of course also how it led to the Nazi crimes.

  14. Tom, I’m more than happy to continue here, but let me sidetrack the current, specific point we’re at, I think I can cut to the chase. We need to define what our larger context here is for this discussion.

    Imagine, for the sake of argument, that there is no God, and no soul, materialism reigns. Could you describe what the situation would be regarding morality and ethics? Wouldn’t that description be just what I’m explaining to you?

    So, what’s the point? I agree that morality is absolute if God exists, and I think you would agree with my description of relative and evolutionary morality if you would assume that God doesn’t exist. So our discussion here boils down to a disagreement as to whether God exists, ho hum.

    It feels to me that you’re trying to either falsify relativistic morality, or show that it’s inconsistent, or unsatisfying, or something, whereas I think you could hypothesize a relativistic morality that would be just like the one I envisage if you assumed, for the sake of argument, that God didn’t exist. This makes it not false, nor inconsistent (it might be unstaisfying, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue), it would just be.

    So what are we arguing, ultimately?

  15. If there is no God and materialism reigns, then the situation you’ve described is accurate as far as you’ve described it. I doubt, however, that evolutionary explanations for morality are adequate to explain human ethics. They’re ad hoc attempts to save the hypothesis of evolution. If there were no God, and no “common grace” as it is called–God’s revelation of his general will through conscience, in this case–then I don’t think human ethics would bear any resemblance to what they are now.

    Further, even those who deny Christianity as a ground for ethics are living off its borrowed capital. Example: virtually any insistence on human rights, including racial rights and women’s rights, is historically a product of some Christian culture. Case in point is the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was championed by Charles Malik, a Lebanese Christian.

    Anyway, what’s the point? I think that even though you have in a circumscribed sense described a situation accurately, your description leaves out too much. Your description says that if there is no God we all choose our own morality and nothing is in itself right or wrong. The whole description must account for the fact that humans everywhere know that some things are, in themselves, right or wrong.

    So by that argument I am trying to falsify relativistic morality. You can’t hypothesize a relativistic morality that fits all the facts of human reality.

  16. I should explain why I used the term ad hoc just now.

    There is no actual evidence anywhere for the development of morality in human prehistory or history. There is no evidence whatever on which to build a theory, except perhaps for the extremely inconsistent and controversial parallel with other contemporary mammals.

    Evolution must be, it is presumed, the explanation for everything in human biology and behavior. Therefore ethics must have arisen by evolutionary methods. QED: No evidence, but the theory is proven. That’s ad hoc.

  17. More on this:

    Strictly speaking I doubt one can fully falsify the relativistic hypothesis. It’s possible that every person who thinks there is a real right and wrong is just deluded. This seems nonsensical, however, and a significant violation of shared human knowledge. That doesn’t make it absolutely impossible, just extremely improbable.

  18. nothing is in itself right or wrong

    This is phrase is so much better than others I’ve read. It doesn’t presuppose that morality must be absolute, etc. We can both agree that this is what my comments have been implying.

    The whole description must account for the fact that humans everywhere know that some things are, in themselves, right or wrong.

    a significant violation of shared human knowledge.

    You’re assuming that when people, even a lot of them, know something, they are correct, especially when it just happens, is largely unexamined, etc. Do I really have to give you a counter-example? That is definitely *not* a good standard by which to judge whether something is correct, it is fraught with error.

    There is no actual evidence anywhere for the development of morality in human prehistory or history.

    This is not the evidence, but it implies that it is there (“the incremental development of moral complexity”) (from Wikipedia on “morality”

    Christopher Boehm (1982) has hypothesized that the incremental development of moral complexity throughout hominid evolution was due to the increasing need to avoid disputes and injuries in moving to open savanna and developing stone weapons. Other theories are that increasing complexity was simply a correlate of increasing group size and brain size, and in particular the development of theory of mind abilities.

  19. Tom, I don’t want to get sidetracked, but you wrote:

    Evolution must be, it is presumed, the explanation for everything in human biology and behavior. Therefore ethics must have arisen by evolutionary methods. QED: No evidence, but the theory is proven. That’s ad hoc.

    “Evolution must be, it is presumed, the explanation for everything in human biology and behavior.” This is not true. Evolution is a biological theory. There’s a reason we have separate fields of study for things like anthropology, history, linquistics, etc. Just because some of these fields might use something they describe as an evolutionary technique does not mean that Evolution has invalidated or replaced these other fields of study, nor that evolutionary theory is the only prism with which developments in these fields can be explained.

    Dawkins speculates on Memes in the Selfish Gene, but in The Extended Phenotype he lists all the ways that Memes do not act like the replicators that Evolutionary theory relies on — in other words, Dawkins himself points out the limitations of evolutionary theory in application to something like ethics.

    “Therefore ethics must have arisen by evolutionary methods.” Once again, the Theory of Evolution uses biological facts to explain that all living organisms come from living organisms, and that natural selection acts on genetic variation and mutation to bring about changes in those organisms. The Theory of Evolution is a biological theory; your saying that it has any other implications is your speculation and and does not serve to falsify the theory. (Example: “The Big Bang theory says that the universe is constantly expanding, and because I am part of the universe but am not constantly expanding, the Big Bang Theory is therefore wrong.”)

    “No evidence, but the theory is proven. That’s ad hoc.” Actually, this is classic strawman logic by you; you’re the one adding your speculation about the origins of ethics to the Theory of Evolution.

    The Theory of Evolution is biological study that explains living organisms. Ethics are not living organisms.

  20. The theory of evolution is an explanation for origins. It applies not only to bodily structures but also to behaviors.

    Let’s stay with in a naturalistic framework. If ethics do not have an evolutionary origin, what else is a candidate for their origin?

  21. Tom,

    Let’s stay with in a naturalistic framework. If ethics do not have an evolutionary origin, what else is a candidate for their origin?

    If, according to Paul, brain states are reasons then I suppose brain states are ethics – that is, the name we give the brain state that produces the ethical behavior.

    Yeah, I don’t buy it either.

  22. Tom,

    Sorry to demur, but I am not even an amateur student of ethics or the origin of ethics; I have to say that I just don’t know what else would be a reasonable candidate for the origin of ethics.

    Of course, I imagine that a theist posits that God and the bible form the origins of ethics, and that this would be your position.

    Like I said, I didn’t want to get sidetracked — I didn’t want to divert the post, but also because I have very little of educated thought to offer on the subject.

  23. If, according to Paul, brain states are reasons then I suppose brain states are ethics – that is, the name we give the brain state that produces the ethical behavior.

    Yeah, I don’t buy it either.

    Argument from personal poverty? ; )

    Sorry.

  24. Okay, I’ve poked around and see that there is a whole field called Evolutionary Ethics, along with multiple books on the topic by eminent (names I recognize) philosophers, thinkers, etc.

    So my only point is that I need to do some homework before I give you (Tom) anything like a cogent response to your question.

    I am curious, though — are you implying that the origin of ethics through evolutionary means is falsifiable? I’d like to hear that if you feel it is.

  25. Tony, I appreciate that response.

    Am I implying that an evolutionary origin of ethics is falsifiable? No and Yes. My three comments starting here apply to this question, I think.

    There is no evidence other than “it must be so.” Paul ironically stated, “This is not the evidence, but it implies that it is there.” Implied evidence–just a hypothesis, actually, in what he quoted–is not evidence. So I think this counts strongly against that theory. It is certainly unsupported, and I think also implausible.

    Now if we introduce other evidence, the revelation God gave us in the Bible, then the evolutionary theory is clearly falsified. Obviously that evidence is not universally accepted. So: I am quite convinced the evolutionary theory is false and falsified; but if we restrict ourselves to evidence that more people accept, then the most I can say is that it is lacking in evidence and implausible.

    Paul, you wrote,

    You’re assuming that when people, even a lot of them, know something, they are correct, especially when it just happens, is largely unexamined, etc. Do I really have to give you a counter-example? That is definitely *not* a good standard by which to judge whether something is correct, it is fraught with error.

    I’m saying that the testimony of 6 billion people is a lot to overturn, when the only basis for overturning it is a questionable philosophy. That testimony is actual evidence. The hypothesis you provided in that quote most decidedly is not.

  26. Tom,

    I do have to agree with Paul on this one — the Argumentuma ad Populum thing is so discredited as a logical argument it has its own Latin shorthand. (Paul was too big a man to throw out some counter-examples, but I am a smaller and weaker person, thus: A few thousand years ago everyone would testify that the world is manifestly flat; Today, a billion or more Muslims would testify that Allah is the one God. People, even a majority of them, can be wrong.)

    I think, if I can step back, there is sometimes an attitude in these debates that if a scientific theory is proving to be productive THEN EVERYTHING IT IMPLIES MUST BE SO AND EVERYTHING ELSE MUST BE FALSE. I think a scientific theory can be productive while simultaneously failing to provide facts for all of its numerous implications, and that we should be comfortable with that.

    Along that line I think you (Tom) have a provocative writing style, in that you attack these topics headlong and tend to overstate in a way that generates argument. I like it because folks like me are enticed into engagement, and I know that it compels me to learn along the way.

  27. Actually, the world-is-flat belief was a fiction invented by Washington Irving. He wrote a lot of fantasy.

    The argumentum ad populum is a technical argument. What I have done is in a different track. I have called people’s awareness of right and wrong an evidence, and one that is not easily overturned by something as weak as a questionable philosophy.

    Your overall observation is an interesting one… thanks for that. I am in fact trying to draw out what I think are logical implications of arguments, not just scientific ones though. It seems to me that if an argument, taken to its logical conclusions, leads to a contradictory or absurd end, that counts against the validity or truth of that argument.

  28. I don’t think Tom overstates very often and is quick to admit if he has.
    What classically happens here is that his statements are often over-read by those looking for an argument.

  29. Charlie,

    I meant my previous comment to Tom to be a compliment; I enjoy the site, and the discussions (arguments) it engenders.

    And Tom does tend to overstate, as do many of the commentators (myself included). If he didn’t there’d be nothing to respond to. It’s actually a skill (or a gift) to be able to provoke an argument that does not routinely escalate to ad hominem’s; I enjoy coming to this site because I enjoy the arguments and I learn from them.

    That was what I meant to say, anyway.

  30. Tom,

    I agree with you that an argument that leads to a contradictory end should be discarded, but absurdity is not a good disqualifier. Many educated people once thought that a ship made of steel was absurd. To my eye, a 747 flying is absurd. Fiber optic transmissions, semiconductors, all of these devices are absurd, and yet they conform to the theories behind their development no matter how outlandish their outcomes may first appear.

    Absurdity (as opposed to contradiction) is a subjective reaction, and throws itself in with the fallacy of logic by personal incredulity. Demanding that every logical outcome of an argument (theory) conform to subjective expectations would halt exploration, either in argument or science. I think the best we can do is falsify what we can, then define what may be falsifiable, and realize that while the remaining questions left unanswered in an argument do not disprove an argument, their failure to explain or predict must be considered a deficiency compared to arguments (science) that does.

  31. I think that you guys are losing site of the real issue here. Essentially,
    Ben Stein is exploiting the victims of the Holocaust in an attempt to
    defame a significant portion of the scientific community.

    As should be obvious, the scientific community is not composed of Nazis,
    or nazi-like people. Furthermore, the big irony is that the eugenecists were
    not up on the current ideas of evolutionary biology, and instead were attempting
    to apply a naive “stock breeder’s” notion of fitness. As early as the
    1930s it was known that the fitness of a population is determined by its
    diversity. The greater the diversity the greater the fitness of the population.
    Accordingly, racists and eugenecists are all on the wrong side of the
    evolution fence.

    Ben Stein’s movie is filled with falshoods and inaccuracies and should not
    be defended. See http://www.expelledexposed.com

  32. John, we’ve discussed the racists and eugenicists’ errors regarding evolution in detail here before. Maybe you haven’t seen it. I have acknowledged they made significant errors in interpreting evolution’s implications.

    But the historical facts remain the historical facts; and as I wrote above, a correct interpretation of Nazism is still problematical.

    Ben Stein’s movie’s truthfulness is admittedly a matter of controversy. Expelled Exposed’s truthfulness is also a matter of controversy. I’ve been appalled at statements I’ve seen and heard from ID opponents. One supposedly well-informed journalist at Scientific American said Stein distorted the Dover trial by inventing the claim that the trial involved an opinion on what is or is not science. “The trial was about the propriety of religion in the schools!” This is so wrong. Yes, the trial was brought on religion grounds. But Judge Jones, in his opinion, was the one who extended it into what does or does not constitute science. Ben Stein and Expelled didn’t make it up. But this journalist (heard on audio) was positively angry at the movie for “making up” this point. As if.

    So I thought about blogging about that and about other distortions and misrepresentations, but I thought no, it’s all too distasteful, people get nasty with each other, and others are doing covering these topics anyway. So I have dealt with only limited topics, and I refuse to go any further than this into charges and counter-charges about lying and deceit.

  33. Tony,

    Good points.

    Absurdity is not so much a falsifier as it is a signal that we’re not understanding something correctly. It should cause the kind of discomfort that propels us into further investigation.

  34. Tom, the problem with relying on what 6 billion people know is that if those 6 billion conclusions are naive and un-informed, they do not necessarily add up to a good conclusion (similarly, no matter how many scientists think global warming is not man-made, unless they are climatologists, their opinion means very little).

  35. Granted.

    Now, would you be kind enough to address what I wrote: Is the opinion of 6 billion people evidence or not? Is it (at least) a fact to weigh, among other facts? And does the shared experience of 6 billion carry any more weight at all than, say, a half dozen people? (I’m only including people who are currently alive, by the way.) And though I know I haven’t surveyed all of them, I am nevertheless confident that all of them have a sense of right and wrong being real–all of them, that is, who haven’t tried to talk themselves out of it on abstruse philosophical grounds.

  36. Yes, it is evidence. But that is saying very little. It could be good evidence, bad evidence, evidence of A, or evidence of B.

    More people believing something only counts more than fewer if the process they used is good (not naive, informed, critically applied, etc.). So, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how many people believe something *in and of itself.* What counts is the quality of the process used to come to a conclusion. If 6 billion people believe A and 5 believe B and both used good process, then you have to go with A, but that’s only on the foundation of good process.

    So, when you say

    . . . that the testimony of 6 billion people is a lot to overturn, when the only basis for overturning it is a questionable philosophy

    I still disagree. Unless you can confirm that those 6 billion opinions are not naive, unexamined, etc., 6 billion pieces of questionable (and I use that word very carefully) evidence don’t add up to much at all, perhaps only defining a direction to continue investigation.

  37. Okay…

    Can you prove that it is not naive, philosophically uninformed, etc. for 6 billion people to believe other minds exist? That there is an external world? That their perceptions bear any relation to the world as it is in itself?

    Your argument is on the precipice of proving too much.

  38. Tom,

    I, too, don’t get what you’re driving at here. Paul’s argument against sheer numbers of opinion makes perfect sense to me. I would go even one step further than Paul and say that a majority of people could still find the incorrect conclusion to an argument given the same process as those who did not — if the people were naive, prejudiced, etc., it is very possible to sway them with an incorrect argument. In that way I am philosophically opposed to counting the number of people who “believe” something to be any indicator of an argument’s correctness.

    Here’s an example of how difficult your appeal to numbers can be. When Lister pioneered antiseptic surgery, the majority of surgeons opposed it; the majority of surgeons were men who prided themselves on speed and precision, and antiseptic steps and anesthesia robbed them of their professional identity.

    If one were to appeal to the majority of surgeons at the time of Lister, one would a) suppose that the surgeons were all the best educated to decide the favorability of “strength and speed” surgery over antiseptic surgery, and b) accept the majority of surgeons’ conclusion that antiseptic surgery was inferior as evidence that this was true.

    Of course, the majority of surgeons at the time of Lister were wrong about antiseptic surgery. Lister’s and his (initially) few supporters’ repeated successes proved his argument over time despite initial resistance.

    Are the number or quality of supporters of a conclusion absolutely without merit. Of course not. But I think it is among the weakest pieces of evidence you can enter into an argument — it seldom holds any sway with me, at least. But maybe that’s just because I’m skeptical by nature.

  39. Here’s the situation. If you are going to mount an argument that the evidence of multiple billions of persons’ experience is invalid, you have to do it in a way that works. That would mean things like not taking a tack that proves too much, as I indicated last time. It would also mean having a countering position that is based on evidence considerably stronger than that of billions of persons’ experience.

    So yes, large numbers of persons can be wrong. Lister’s approach won over because of the massive evidence he was able to marshall for it over a period of time. That’s the kind of thing I don’t think is forthcoming in this case; or at least, it’s certainly lacking now. Paul said (29 Apr 6:56 pm) that evolution had created highly social animals that learned that something like ethical behavior was advantageous (or rather, that behavior was selected for). There is no evidence for that. None. It doesn’t stack up very well against billions and billions of peoples’ experience.

  40. Such astounding ignorance of Darwin and his theories, and his ideas about morality!

    Did it ever occur to anybody to look at history, rather than assume a history that does not exist?

    1. Hitler was anti-Darwin. There is a lesson there, for the wise, in the ultimate results of being anti-learning and anti-Darwin. Hitler never invoked Darwin nor evolution himself, and to the best of my searching over the past 30 years, I can’t find where any of his scientists did, either. Bet you can’t find a clear reference.

    (Hitler assumed the Biblically-based idea that heritage is passed in the blood; one practical outfall of this anti-Darwin understanding was Hitler’s prohibition on the use of blood banks. As Ashley Montagu explained in 1959, Hitler didn’t want “Jewish blood” changing his soldiers into Jews. As a consequence, tens of thousands of German soldiers died from shock and other traumas, while Allied soldiers survived due to blood transfusions. Sadly, in the U.S. there was fear about “Negro blood;” happily for U.S. soldiers, the racial identity of blood was often lost when it was shipped overseas. In any case, don’t confuse old biases with Darwin’s theory, when Darwin’s theory goes exactly the opposite way.)

    2. Eugenics and murder are contrary to the theory of natural selection. Darwin was opposed to both, and he scoriated Haeckel for straying from science with his political views.

    Ben Stein doesn’t get the history right. He also gets the science wrong. If you’re going to defend Stein, you[re starting from an anti-science, not-Christian foundation.

    Why would any Christian do that?

  41. Hi eddarrel,

    2. Eugenics and murder are contrary to the theory of natural selection. Darwin was opposed to both, and he scoriated Haeckel for straying from science with his political views.

    Let’s see that direct reference. I see Darwin saying that Haeckel is doing a great job in furthering public acceptance of their cause while warning him that he might make enemies. I see Darwin saying in Descent Of Man that he is merely echoing Haeckel throughout. He tells Haeckel that everything Haeckel says came independently to him. He and Huxley agreed that Haeckel was following the theory to its logical consequences.

    Darwin was not against eugenics and wrote about it in Descent of Man. He wrote only favourably about both his eugenicist cousin, Galton and Haeckel in it. The closest he came to criticizing them was to say that the eugenic, evolutionary ideal was likely an unattainable Utopia.

    The chapter on the rise and fall of morals says that morality could have required any actions of us whatsoever, depending upon the vagaries of chance and evolution.

    eddarrel, you are speaking from ignorance while acting like an authority. You are wrong throughout. Your insults and ad hominems are childish and you have no place at the table for discussion.

  42. I have collected and scanned about 200 quotes and figures on the importance of Haeckel’s frauds and recapitulation here:
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Sitaatit.htm

    I will pick some comments by the Jewish scholar and ardent critic of Richard Dawkins SJ Gould. Remember that it was Gould the paleontologist who stated that there is a ‘dirty, little trade secret in paleontology’ which is the lack of intermediate fossils. So he came up with the punctualism contra gradualism theory of evolution. Gould’s proof was that there were no fossil proofs, in a sense.

    “We grasp the importance of recapitulation only when we understand that it served as the organizing idea for generations of work in comparative embryology, physiology, and morphology.” Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and phylogeny (1977), s. 116.

    “Haeckel’s forceful, eminently comprehensible, if not always accurate, books appeared in all major languages and surely exerted more influence than the works of any other scientist, including Darwin and Huxley (by Huxley’s own frank admission), in convincing people throughout the world about the validity of evolution… To cut to the quick of this drama: Haeckel had exaggerated the similarities by idealizations and omissions. He also, in some cases – in a procedure that can only be called fraudulent – simply copied the same figure over and over again.” (SJ Gould, Natural History 3/2000 p. 42, 44.)

    “Once ensconced in textbooks, misinformation becomes cocooned and effectively permanent, because, as stated above, textbooks copy from previous texts. (I have written two essays on this lamentable practise: one on the amusingly perennial description of the eohippus, or ‘dawn horse’, as the size of a fox terrier, even though most authors, including yours only, have no idea of the dimensions or appearance of this breed; and the other on the persistent claim that elongating giraffe necks provide our best illustration of Darwinian natural selection versus Lamarckian use and disuse when, in fact, no meaningful data exist on the evolution of this justly celebrated structure.)” (SJ Gould, Natural History 3/2000 p. 44.)

    “Yet Haeckel’s critics recognized from the start that this master naturalist, this more than competent artist, took systematic license in ‘improving’ his specimens to make them more symmetrical or more beautiful. In particular, the gorgeous plates for his technical monograph on the taxonomy of radiolarians (intricate and delicate skeletons of single-celled planktonic organisms) ofteh ‘enhanced’ the actual appearances (already stunningly complex and remarkably symmetrical) by inventing structures with perfect geometric regularity.” (SJ Gould, Natural History 3/2000 p. 43.)

    “Haeckel remains most famous today as the chief architect and propagandist for a famous argument that science disproved long ago but that popular culture has never fully abandoned, if only because the standard description sounds so wonderfully arcane and mellifluous: ‘Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’, otherwise known as the theory of recapitulation…” SJ Gould, Natural History 3/2000 p. 44.

    [email protected]
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  43. Charlie, Weikart can’t muster any evidence either. It never ceases to amaze me that people keep citing Weikart, but never can produce anything that provides a link between Darwin and Nazi atrocities. I know Weikart said it, but why can no one find the evidence?

  44. Darwin was not against eugenics and wrote about it in Descent of Man.

    I urge people to actually read the book. Darwin did not write in favor of eugenics in Descent of Man. If you’re stripping out Darwin’s complaints about the abuse of aboriginals in clashes between cultures, you could force something in there contrary to what Darwin wrote. But Darwin did not endorse eugenics among humans.

  45. Tom, if you don’t like my noting that your claim is completely baseless, say so. If you object to my characterizing the complete absence of base euphemistically, you can edit out the euphemism.

    I’ll wager you won’t let this comment stand either:

    The connection is this: naturalistic Darwinism, if taken to be the sole explanation for all of life,* erases all ethical requirements.

    That’s absurd, completely without reference to anything Darwin ever wrote, and quite contrary to what he did write.

  46. Twisting the meaning away:

    For Ingrid Newkirk of PETA, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”

    Of course, she said that in urging that we treat rats and pigs and dogs better, not that we kill the boy.

    Looking through the microscope the wrong way.

  47. Ed,

    Tom, if you don’t like my noting that your claim is completely baseless, say so. If you object to my characterizing the complete absence of base euphemistically, you can edit out the euphemism.

    Did you forget what you wrote? What I deleted was a total ad hominem complete with scatology. Would you like me to email it back to you? I still have it in my mailbox.

    You implied I ran from the evidence. Not so, and I hope you will recognize that in the future. I welcome disagreement here but I expect people to treat others respectfully. I also expect something better than “Weikart couldn’t muster any evidence.” His entire book . I also expect something better than,

    That’s absurd, completely without reference to anything Darwin ever wrote, and quite contrary to what he did write.

    That’s a lot of bluster; but in fact in the course of discussion here I have argued (with reference to Darwin’s theory) how it follows from his theory.

    Even though he said this:

    Check the book again. Chapter 5, on the rise of morality, and how moral behaviors are necessary in a social species.

    The topic here has not been behaviors, but the ontological grounding of morality. There is a huge difference, of which I hope you are aware.

    If you want to argue against something here:
    1. Argue against it, don’t bluster against it.
    2. Try to observe the topic we are on.
    3. Do it with respect for the human beings with who you are communicating.

  48. Of course, she said that in urging that we treat rats and pigs and dogs better, not that we kill the boy.

    Looking through the microscope the wrong way.

    Again, it’s about ontology, not about behavior. She made them equivalent.

  49. Yes, Tom, I’ve seen you argue that these atrocities flow from Darwin’s theory, but not once have you suggested any part of the theory that such a conclusion would flow from, nor has anyone ever quoted the language where Darwin is supposed to have made those links.

    Here is Darwin’s theory in a nutshell — and note, there is no room for such claims.

    Darwin said, first, species have great fertility. There are more offspring than can grow to maturity.

    Second, he said populations generally remain stable, at about the same size over time (we’ve removed the barriers for humans here, but of course that’s exactly the opposite of your claim).

    Third, Darwin observed that food supplies are almost always limited (this is a natural brake on overpopulation, but one brake we’ve generally removed for humans — again, contrary to your claim).

    Darwin noted that where populations push food supply, there is competition for food between individuals. This competition almost never rises to murder; murder would be a very odd occurrence in almost all species. Murder for food is virtually unknown, even among humans.

    Fourth, Darwin noted that no two individuals are identical. Variation runs rampant throughout life. (This is quite contrary to the general theme that humans should be treated as all alike, interchangeable, and not of intrinsic worth.)

    Fifith, Darwin observed that the traits that make individuals uniqure are, often, heritable. This is the basis of much of the Old Testament’s discussion, of course.

    So, Darwin said, in a world where food is limited, in the competition to eat, any individual with an advantage in gathering food, or using food, will be more likely to survive to breed. If they survive to breed, the traits that granted the advantage will be passed along to the offspring.

    When those variations passed to offspring add up enough, we can say we have a new species.

    From which of those principles do you claim Hitler drew his inspiration? Which of those, do you claim, advocates murder?

    I don’t think you understand what Darwin’s theory is — Stein and his accomplices in the movie surely do not — and I do not understand any of those points that Hitler agreed with, nor do I see how any of those claims would apply to the Holocaust, which did not set out nor end up to be an “us or them” sort of competition.

  50. Again, it’s about ontology, not about behavior. She made them equivalent.

    Balderdash. If I argue that the common man has the same human rights as a king and should be honored and treated in that fashion, I am not arguing for the murder of either.

    I find your argument repugnant. When people claim that rights should be extended to the less privileged, you turn that to a claim that all rights should be restricted. That’s not the woman’s claim, and I find that twist to be dishonest. Any expansion of human rights, any claim of human rights, is a claim for genocide, in your reading. That’s complete balderdash.

  51. You’re not reading what we wrote, Ed, or else you don’t understand the differences between (a) a theory and its logical implications, or possibly (b) behavior and ontology. Given the comment that was deleted, and the misrepresentations you’ve made about it here and on your blog, I don’t think there’s a good reason to continue with this.

  52. Ed,

    If I argue that the common man has the same human rights as a king and should be honored and treated in that fashion, I am not arguing for the murder of either.

    What, then, are you arguing for? Equality in what way? Get specific, Ed, instead of just giving us platitudes. What should be equal about rats, pigs, dogs and boys?

  53. I find your argument repugnant. When people claim that rights should be extended to the less privileged, you turn that to a claim that all rights should be restricted. That’s not the woman’s claim, and I find that twist to be dishonest. Any expansion of human rights, any claim of human rights, is a claim for genocide, in your reading. That’s complete balderdash.

    If I had made the argument you say I made, I would find it repugnant too.

    The woman’s claim–and PETA’s–is that all animals are on an equivalent ontological level. I did not turn that into a claim that all rights should be restricted. Nor did I say there was any argument anywhere for genocide.

    Ed, I encourage you to re-read the entirety of what I’ve written about Hitler and Darwin. I have explicitly said that Hitler’s evil did not follow logically from Darwin’s teachings. I have noted that there was an historical connection nevertheless. I have noted that there were scientific and philosophical mistakes made in the course of that historical connection. You have accused me of making those same mistakes all over again, which I think reveals that you haven’t read what I wrote.

    And then I noted how naturalistic evolution opens the door for ethical problems in at least two ways. One is that if it is taken to be the sole explanation for all of life, it undercuts the grounding for all real ethics. Relativism remains, but it’s the kind of ethic whereby Hitler could have been (and has been) seen as being right from within his own cultural framework. I stand by that claim. Note that I have stated it in abbreviated form here; the full argument has been given previously.

    The second is that the ontological status of humans as uniquely valuable is eradicated. This does not entail any particular crimes by any means. It does, however, open the door for dehumanizing persons, which is very closely parallel to what Hitler did to the Jews.

    You are appalled at things I believe, but you have not read carefully enough to know whether I do in fact believe them. I would ask you to be more discerning, please.

  54. The woman’s claim–and PETA’s–is that all animals are on an equivalent ontological level. I did not turn that into a claim that all rights should be restricted. Nor did I say there was any argument anywhere for genocide.

    No, that’s not her claim.

    When the garbagemen of Memphis protested, carrying picket signs that said “I am a man,” they were not arguing for anything other than an expansion of human rights.

    PETA was not arguing that boys should be treated badly. Nor did they anticipate what you seem to assume, that noting the relationship between other mammals and humans, was a devaluing of the the human. They were arguing that dogs, pigs and rats deserve BETTER rights, and should not be used as beasts of burden, as food, or as objects for scientific research.

    That is, of course, 180 degrees the opposite of the Nazi Holocaust.

  55. Ed,

    They were arguing that dogs, pigs and rats deserve BETTER rights, and should not be used as beasts of burden, as food, or as objects for scientific research.

    That is, of course, 180 degrees the opposite of the Nazi Holocaust.

    Once again you are talking about behavior (better treatment) not ontology. PETA’s argument is rooted in the metaphysical belief that there is a sameness on some ontological level.

    PETA could have advocated that humans deserve WORSE rights, and should be treated like dogs, pigs, and rats. Their ontological argument would have been the exact same as the argument above – they deserve worse rights because they are ontologically similar/same. The treatment/behavior would be different, but that’s not what is being argued here.

  56. eddarrel,

    I urge people to actually read the book. Darwin did not write in favor of eugenics in Descent of Man. If you’re stripping out Darwin’s complaints about the abuse of aboriginals in clashes between cultures, you could force something in there contrary to what Darwin wrote. But Darwin did not endorse eugenics among humans.

    Yes he did. I read it and you’ve had it read to you.
    Darwin and his eugenics are on this Telic Thoughts thread.
    http://telicthoughts.com/cue-outrage-in-three-two-one/

    It’s a short thread, the evidence starts here:
    http://telicthoughts.com/cue-outrage-in-three-two-one/#comment-71844

    As for whether or not Darwin was an influence on Hitler, the evidence abounds.
    You’re a fan of Telic Thoughts. Where are your refutations on those threads where the issue was front and centre for weeks?
    http://telicthoughts.com/on-holocaust-memorial-day/#comments
    http://telicthoughts.com/more-on-expelled-no-intelligence-allowed/#comments
    http://telicthoughts.com/textbook-discussion-of-eugenics/#comment-181388

    As you’ll see if you follow the arguments and links there, it’s easy enough, any way you slice it. Haeckel was the premier biologist and evolution-popularizer in Germany of his day. He supported de Gobineau’s Aryan ideas and his own eugenic ideas with Darwin’s science and was a member of the eugenics society. He wrote that Darwin was his inspiration, that Darwin was the originator of “struggle to exist” and that he, Haeckel, studied natural selection every day. Darwin wrote back that he was greatly influenced by Haeckel and that Haeckel, among few, truly understood natural selection. Hitler used this phrase, “struggle for existence” over and over again in his writings, as well as “natural selection”. He practically quoted Haeckel on evolution and monism in his paraphrases.
    Don’t like that? Go from Darwin to his cousin Galton then. Galton was writing about his African adventures when he read Origins… and became a eugenicist. The American eugenics movement developed out of his ideas and they even named their foundations after him. Hitler wrote these eugenicists fan letters regarding their works, which he read while starting Mein Kampf.
    Darwin did not distance himself from either Haeckel or Galton but cited their influence and lauded them greatly in Descent…(as he did “our great philosopher, Herbert Spencer” – you know Spencer, right?).

    Charlie, Darwin said evolution encourages the morality of Jesus, especially with regard to what we call the Golden Rule. That’s not what I see you describing. Check the book again. Chapter 5, on the rise of morality, and how moral behaviors are necessary in a social species.

    You check chapter 5 again for eugenics.

    That’s absurd, completely without reference to anything Darwin ever wrote, and quite contrary to what he did write.

    That’s exactly what he wrote if you bother to read him. Morals can be anything they evolve to be.
    In chapter 4 he tells us that, evolved another way, it would be moral for us to murder:

    It may be well first to premise that I do not wish to maintain that any strictly social animal, if its intellectual faculties were to become as active and as highly developed as in man, would acquire exactly the same moral sense as ours. In the same manner as various animals have some sense of beauty, though they admire widely-different objects, so they might have a sense of right and wrong, though led by it to follow widely different lines of conduct. If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.* Nevertheless, the bee, or any other social animal, would gain in our supposed case, as it appears to me, some feeling of right or wrong, or a conscience. For each individual would have an inward sense of possessing certain stronger or more enduring instincts, and others less strong or enduring; so that there would often be a struggle as to which impulse should be followed; and satisfaction, dissatisfaction, or even misery would be felt, as past impressions were compared during their incessant passage through the mind. In this case an inward monitor would tell the animal that it would have been better to have followed the one impulse rather than the other. The one course ought to have been followed, and the other ought not; the one would have been right and the other wrong; but to these terms I shall recur.

    As he says, the one would be right and the other wrong. And these are habitual and instinctual gifts bestowed by evolution based upon pleasure, inward satisfaction and social approbation.
    As he continues through various moral questions and cultures Darwin makes clear that there are no moral absolutes, and that what is determined at one time and place to be a moral good is just that.

    Here’s some Hitler for you:
    Zweites Buchs:
    http://www.zogsnightmare.com/books/NEWBOOKS2_4_08/newbooks!/ZweitesBuch.pdf

    The struggle for existence and continuance in life waged by billions upon billions of organisms
    takes place on the surface of an exactly measured sphere. The compulsion to engage in the struggle for
    existence
    lies in the limitation of the living space; but in the life struggle for this living space lies also the basis
    for evolution.

    [Darwin, anyone?]

    In the times before man, world history was primarily a presentation of geological events: the struggle of natural
    forces with one another, the creation of an inhabitable surface on this planet, the separation of water from land,
    the formation of mountains, of plains, and of the seas. This is the world history of this time. Later, with the
    emergence of organic life, man’s interest concentrated on the process of becoming and the passing away of its
    thousandfold forms. And only very late did man finally become visible to himself, and thus by the concept of
    world history he began to understand first and foremost only the history of his own becoming, that is, the
    presentation of his own evolution. This evolution is characterised by an eternal struggle of men against beasts
    and against men themselves. From the invisible confusion of the organisms there finally emerged formations:
    Clans, Tribes, Folks, States. The description of their origins and their passing away is but the representation of
    an eternal struggle for existence.

    ..
    First of all a very violent struggle for existence sets in, which only individuals who are the
    strongest and have the greatest capacity for resistance can survive. A high infant mortality rate on the one hand
    and a high proportion of aged people on the other are the chief signs of a time which shows little regard for
    individual life.
    Since, under such conditions, all weaklings are swept away through acute distress and illness,
    and only the healthiest remain alive, a kind of natural selection takes place. Thus the number of a Folk can
    easily be subject to a limitation, but the inner value can remain, indeed it can experience an inner heightening.
    But such a process cannot last for too long, otherwise the distress can also turn into its opposite. In nations
    composed of racial elements that are not wholly of equal value, permanent malnutrition can ultimately lead to a
    dull surrender to the distress, which gradually reduces energy, and instead of a struggle which fosters a natural
    selection, a gradual degeneration sets in
    . This is surely the case once man, in order to control the chronic
    distress, no longer attaches any value to an increase of his number, and resorts on his own to birth control. For
    then he himself immediately embarks upon a road opposite to that taken by nature. Whereas nature, out of the
    multitude of beings who are born, spares the few who are most fitted in terms of health and resistance to wage
    life’s struggle, man limits the number of births, and then tries to keep alive those who have been born with no
    regard to their real value or to their inner worth. Here his humanity is only the handmaiden of his weakness, and
    at the same time it is actually the cruellest destroyer of his existence. If man wants to limit the number of births
    on his own, without producing the terrible consequences which arise from birth control, he must give the
    number of births free rein but cut down on the number of those remaining alive.

    Only a conscious Folkish race policy [eugenics] would be able to save European
    nations from losing the law of action to America, in consequence of the inferior value of European Folks vis-à-
    vis the American Folk. If in place of this, however, the German Folk, along with a bastardisation systematically
    conducted by Jews with inferior human material and a lowering of its racial value as such caused thereby, also
    lets its best bloodbearers be taken away by a continuation of emigration in hundreds upon hundreds of
    thousands of individual specimens, it will slowly sink to the level of an equally inferior race, and hence to that
    of an incompetent and valueless Folk. The danger is especially great since, because of the complete indifference
    on our side, the American Union itself, inspired by the teachings of its own ethnologists, has established special
    standards for immigration
    [eugenics]. By making entry to American soil dependent on definite racial prerequisites on the
    one hand, as well as on the definite physical health of the individual as such, bleeding Europe of its best people
    has, indeed, perforce been legally regulated. …
    To this lowering, imposed by Nature, of the general value of our Folk by forced emigration in consequence of
    our economic policy, is added birth control as a second disadvantage. I have already set forth the consequences
    of the fight against the child. They lie in a reduction of the count of individuals brought to life, so that a further
    selection cannot take place. On the contrary, people take pains that all who are once born are kept alive under
    any circumstances.
    Since, however, ability, energy, and so on, are not necessarily connected with the first born,
    but instead become visible in each case only in the course of the struggle for existence, the possibility of a
    weeding out and a selection
    according to such criteria is removed. Nations become impoverished in talents and
    energies. Again, this is especially bad in nations in which the dissimilarity of basic racial elements extends even
    into families. For then, according to the Mendelian Law Of Division[Mendel, while a great historian of ancient Sparta, was even better known for his science], a separation takes place in every family
    which can partly be attributed to one racial side, partly to the other. If, however, these racial values vary in their
    importance for a Folk, then even the value of the children of one family already will be dissimilar on racial
    grounds. Since the firstborn in no way must grow according to the racially valuable sides of both parents, it lies
    in the interest of a nation that later life at least search out the more racially valuable from among the total
    number of children, through the struggle for existence, and preserve them for the nation and, conversely, put the
    nation in the possession of the accomplishments of these racially valuable individuals.
    But if man himself
    prevents the procreation of a greater number of children and limits himself to the firstborn or at least to the
    secondborn, he will nevertheless want to preserve especially these inferior racial elements of the nation, even if
    these do not possess the most valuable characteristics. Thus he artificially hinders nature’s process of selection,
    he prevents it, and thereby helps to impoverish a nation of powerful personalities. He destroys the peak value of
    a Folk.

    It will be the task of the National Socialist Movement to carry over into a policy applied in practice the
    knowledge and scientific insights of race theory, either already existing or in the course of development, as well
    as the world history clarified through it.

    Now read Darwin again.

  57. SteveK, I see that the “ontology argument” is more divorced from reality than I had ever feared anyone ever would be.

    As I noted earlier, the reductio ad absurdum of this “ontological argument” is that no one can ever argue for greater human rights, because noting that the lowest of the low is human and therefore equal to the highest of the high is exactly the same ontological argument.

    If you refuse to recognize the difference in the arguments, recognizing that arguing for greater human rights is different than arguing for fewer rights, then by that argument, Jesus was nothing, because after all, He was born in a barn, with a manger for a crib. And you can’t argue He was King of Kings, because that’s an ontological argument . . .

    Arguing for greater rights is different from arguing for fewer rights.

    And, of course, the Final Solution didn’t make that claim anyway.

    Not only is this entire discussion based on a gross distortion of evolution, and completely ungrounded in any history of the Holocaust, it’s completely divorced from reality, too.

  58. Ed,

    This is your opportunity to call me dense, but really, I don’t have a clue what you are saying here, or to be more specific, I can’t see how it fits into the prior discussion. (Maybe it’s because of all the commotion around here–we’ve done a major cleaning of the garage today, and there have been teenagers running around the house through all of this time.)

    Anyway, we have been saying that there is an ontological difference between humans and other animals, an ontological difference that naturalistic evolution would erase. All humans, in our view, are of immeasurably higher worth than any animal. It has nothing to do with where someone was born, so I don’t see how that enters into the discussion at all.

    Jesus is ontologically the King of Kings by virtue of his being (ontologically) God.

    The Final Solution may not have argued according to this scheme. Fine. Even if Hitler did not draw his dehumanizing ways from evolutionary theory (which I’ll leave as moot for now) there remains a very concerning parallel, between evolution’s dehumanizing of all homo sapiens and Hitler’s dehumanizing of the Jews; and we see similar kinds of thought patterns erupting in Peter Singer and PETA (not to mention the really radical animal rights activists). I stand by that also, and furthermore I believe the current form of this dehumanizing (if not Hitler’s) is highly dependent on evolutionary theory as a philosophical backdrop. Not divorced from reality; just observing what comes out of ideas as their consequences.

  59. I don’t think you have a point, at least not a point grounded in any form of rational thought.

    Let’s avoid the word “ontology” for a moment — I think some people are applying an arcane definition to it that clutters discussion. You’ve accused people who argue for greater rights of arguing for fewer rights, on the grounds of ontology. You think I’m confusing? Have you read that argument through?

    A woman from PETA argues that we should treat animals as having all the rights of humans — right to life, right to liberty and pursuit of happiness — and you say she’s making the same argument Hitler made.

    If ontology takes us into such a Bizarro world, let’s avoid the word.

    Let’s talk reality for a moment. Humans are mammals. Recognizing that scientific categorizing — a categorization first made by Christians, by the way (please don’t argue that there’s a link from Linne to Hitler) — is different from making a legal argument. You seem unable to distinguish between a statement of fact, such as “humans are animals,” from a statement of philosophy, such as “human lives are worth no more than the lives of insects.” If you can’t make such basic distinctions in reality, then finding a basis for morality is the least of your worries, or rather, of our worries about you.

    This is the reality that the Bible recognizes, for example, in Ecclesiastes 3.17-21. I fear now someone here will try to drum that book out of the Bible.

    Can we agree that humans are animals?

    Wholly apart from whatever additional baggage being human may entail, can we agree that humans are a subset of that group of living things we call animals?

  60. Ed, you wrote,

    You seem unable to distinguish between a statement of fact, such as “humans are animals,” from a statement of philosophy, such as “human lives are worth no more than the lives of insects.” If you can’t make such basic distinctions in reality, then finding a basis for morality is the least of your worries, or rather, of our worries about you.

    I agree humans are animals. I am sorry to hear you are worried about me, though. Ontological beliefs may quite validly lead to beliefs about value. If you are not able to follow that progression of thought, then this is going to be very difficult to proceed with. I think it’s not a question of ability, however….

    Anyway, earlier in that comment you had written,

    A woman from PETA argues that we should treat animals as having all the rights of humans — right to life, right to liberty and pursuit of happiness — and you say she’s making the same argument Hitler made.

    If ontology takes us into such a Bizarro world, let’s avoid the word.

    You can avoid ontology if you want, but I’m not about to. You cannot make it unimportant just be wishing it so. Ontology is the study of being; informally you could say it is the philosophical study of what things are in themselves or in their ultimate nature. There are (at least) two broad competing views on human ontology. One places humans in the same ontological category as animals: we have different properties but at bottom we are the same kind of thing; there is no fundamental difference between humans and animals. The other recognizes humans as animals but also unique in significant ways. For Jews and Christians, that includes being made in the image of God, having the capacity for spiritual relatedness, and so on. Darwin and the animal rights activists (generally) are in the first group, as is Singer. Their ideologies flow from their ontologies.

    But once again you’ve twisted my words. I said that there are concerning parallels between Hitler’s dehumanization of the Jews, and the dehumanizing stance that others have taken as a consequence of Darwinian-based ontological beliefs. You turned that into “you say she’s making the same argument Hitler made.”

    You are repeatedly caricaturing and distorting what I say. I do not see any good reason to make myself available for that kind of “argument,” which is actually not argument but something else altogether. This is ending for good now. I’ll check in to see what shows up on your blog in your “call for help,” but this is enough for this blog.

  61. Hitler didn’t do anything Martin Luther wouldn’t have done if he’d had access to 20th century technology. There were Christian pogroms and purges to exterminate Jews all throughout Europe for half a millennium before Darwin was even born. Hitler specifically claimed he was working as a Catholic and Christian to do his Lord’s will, as well as citing inspiration from Drs. Koch and Pasteur who inspired him to cure an infected human race of the Jew bacillus. Shall we now try and suss out the “historical links” between medical science and the Holocaust? And then there were Hitler’s highly favorable comments about the U.S. treatment of Native Americans, or British colonists against the Zulu. I guess it’s EVERYBODY’S fault.

  62. Judging the past in the present context is the arch error in history. If you went and studied the late medieval or renessance literature, you would see that the language was harsh and exaggerating.

    I have emphasized that the persecution of the Jews is a long but less honoured tradition. Jews have been EXPELLED from every single country in Europe at least once collectively. Take, for instance, the merchant of Venice -play by William Shakespeare. The Shylock stereotype was written in a time when the Jews had been EXPELLED from England for 300 years or so. Shakespeare never saw a Jew.

    The Sefardi Jews were expelled from Spain in the very date when Christoffer Colombo lifted up his anchors and sailed away from Spain. The Jews had to leave and their possessions were stolen.

    In 1800-1900 maybe even 1,5 million Jews were murdered in Russia only in the pogroms. But the pogroms did NOT have the biologization in it! It was the new thing in the Haeckelian and Rassenhygiene -driven German phenomenon, in the areas where the Monist League had spread.

    See the statistics of expulsion of the Jews from various countries and cities:
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-Jews-statistics.htm

    [email protected]
    Biochemist, drop-out (M.Sci. Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  63. TTT,

    The Luther connection has been well discussed on this blog, beginning here. In summary, Luther was wrong. He was wrong within the understandings of his own overarching theory, which is Biblical ethics. Hitler was wrong, but his overarching theory contained no corrective for what he did wrong.

    Thus if the discussion is about the historical linkages (which it is) then let’s stipulate that Luther and Darwin both had an influence on German thought at the time. The extent to which Luther contributed to 20th century anti-Semitism is controversial among historians, of which I am not one, so I do not expect to be able to resolve that matter here.

    If the discussion is about the overarching theory (which it also is) then recognize that Christian ethics includes an ethical corrective which a naturalistic worldview (like naturalistic Darwinism) does not contain. Again, Luther was wrong within the framework of his overall beliefs; Hitler was not wrong within the framework of his own beliefs.

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