Friday, February 4, 2011

Darwin Did Not Inspire Hitler

One idea proposed by the Born Again Christians is that without Charles Darwin, Hitler would not have started World War 2, and would not have tried to exterminate the Jews.

Of course, the reason they want to show this connection is that Hitler is considered so evil, that if you can somehow connect Hitler to your enemy, your enemy becomes as evil as Hitler. And therefore your enemy's logic will be disproved.

Well I intend to prove the exact opposite. Charles Darwin could not possibly have inspired Hitler to exterminate the Jews. On the contrary, Hitler drew much of his inspiration from the very Christian southern USA slave holding states, including the tell-tale use of the word Aryan.

But to get back to Charles Darwin. It is true that Darwin preceded Hitler, thereby making it possible for Hitler to have read the Origin of Species, and natural selection. But the idea that "only the strongest survive" was not invented by Charles Darwin. The idea of "the strongest survive" has been with us ever since humans have been able to think. It is the idea that has fuelled wars since the beginning. I'm pretty sure Genghis Khan operated on the theory of "the strongest survive". There has never been a battle in history where the defeated leader ever said "well, by golly who would have guessed that the weakest would lose the battle. Next time we will make sure we are the strongest."

I think the confusion exists between the inputs and the outputs of Darwin's thought process. One input to Darwin's theory was the well known law of "survival of the strongest". The output (and here was Darwin's original thought) was that evolutionary changes result from survival of the fittest. What Darwin was saying was that by eliminating the unfit, that a species would begin to morph into a different form.

Born Agains argue that Hitler wanted to "evolve" the German race by purifying it of its bad elements (Killing the mentally handicapped, the genetic mutants, the Jews, etc.). And the way to purify it was to kill the non-pure members. Again, this was not an idea that Darwin thought up. Long before Darwin, humans had learned to modify a species by killing or breeding it selectively to achieve the traits they wanted. Dogs, horses, pigeons, seeds. This is called "Selective breeding", and has been known almost as long as "survival of the strongest".

So Darwin did not invent either "survival of the fittest" or "selective breeding". And those are the two ideas that Born Again Christians accuse Darwin of inventing that lead directly to Hitler. But because both those ideas had existed long before Darwin, that logically refutes the connection between Darwin and the Nazi holocaust.

But there is more. Hitler also needed a something else to be able to go ahead with the holocaust. He needed a moral justification, which he would never get from Darwin. And he needed an example of some other country that had benefited from genocide and racism. He needed to look no further than the Christian USA, which used the Bible to effectively argue for the moral goodness of slavery and racial superiority during the time of the conquest of the Indians and the enslavement of the Africans. And, it seemed to Hitler that the USA had achieved remarkable success following this path of religiously sanctioned genocide and racism.

I forgot to mention one other thing Hitler needed and that was maybe just a touch of insanity.

In any case, I wish the Born Again Christians would let up on their endless attacks on Darwin. It is far more likely that, without the USA, Hitler could never have thought up these ideas of genocide leading to wealth and power. Charles Darwin had absolutely nothing to do with it.

1 comment:

  1. Charles Darwin's primary contribution to the science of biology was identifying the mechanism of natural selection in the process of speciation.

    As you correctly point out, 'unnatural selection' has been practiced by homo sapiens for millennia. One need look no further than Canis familiaris.

    'Social Darwinism' was essentially a pejorative term used to criticize those who espoused social programs of 'survival of the strongest.'

    As you indicate, Hitler needed neither Darwin nor the theories of speciation from biology to formulate his programs.

    For millenia, religion has served as a stalking horse for political ambitions, and continues to do so to this day. From an objective standpoint, it is immaterial whether the specific religion is Islam or Christianity - religious tenets have invariably been distorted to advance political agendas.

    Racism, xenophobia, genocide and 'ethnic cleansing' had been around for a long time before Darwin. And Americans may blithely choose to ignore that aspect of their own history (certainly predating Darwin) but, in doing so, are simply displaying their ignorance and irrelevance to this discussion.