Had It Up To Here: Arguing Against Evolution by Invoking Hitler

I’ve had it up to here with this crap. I try to restrict my use of profanity on this site, but this argument is batshit insane, and it’s time for it to die. I want to save you from viewing the idiocy expressed therein, so I’ll gist the arguments of the link for you: it’s the typical creationist canard, that evolution, by iterating the idea of the “survival of the fittest,” gave Hitler the intellectual armaments he needed to perpetrate the Holocaust. As the author (Benjamin Wikier, “PhD”) says,

All this doesn’t mean that Darwinism was the sole cause of Hitler’s barbarism. But it does make clear that Darwinism must shoulder its share of the moral burden, because the connection is undeniable.

Lunacy. First, be suspicious of anyone who puts “PhD” in their public names. It’s a shameless plug that does nothing more than display the author’s own intellectual insecurity. But then again, what do we expect from the Discovery Institute?

More importantly, though, science does not imply a moral conclusion. While evolution posits that, in a state of nature, natural forces will weed out animals which are incapable of survival, it is a long jump from this statement of fact to the ethical (and extremely immoral) conclusion that mankind ought to attribute different subjective values to different races and social castes, and assume the duties of “selection” itself by weeding out those races. Let’s continue below the line.

This conclusion follows from a simple legal concept. In tort law, where someone creates a circumstance, exploited by another for harm, the initial creator of the circumstance is relieved of liability on the doctrine of “intervening, superseding causation.” This makes plain sense. Say I dig a pool. Am I liable to the victim of a murderer who drowns his victim in the pool, which I innocently dug? Clearly no.

Similarly, evolution as stated is a bland scientific argument, stripped bare of moral judgment. It nowhere suggests the forced application to human society of what the theory notes are qualities of the state of nature. If a madman seizes upon the theory to justify mass extermination and eugenics, his conversion of an an amoral (read: without moral consequence) theory into an evil purpose constitutes an intervening, superseding cause.

Further, Darwin’s own admitted racism is not imputed to the theory which he created. This tortured argument arises from the attempted creationist characterization of evolution as “Darwinism.” No scientific theory is bound up with its mortal creator. The body of knowledge that has become evolutionary theory (the “modern synthesis” or what have you) is unrecognizable from the bare foundations by Charles Darwin, having been built upon by scientists for 150 years. One could no more call all Protestants – or protestantism – antisemitic (based on Luther’s rampant antisemitism… link here, but be warned) than impute Darwin’s beliefs to later scientists, or to his theory.

Finally, this disgusting argument is an insult to the memory of the Jews who died in the Holocaust as a result of an extremely evil man and his own ideology of death. As the Anti-Defamation League states:

The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness.

Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

This antisemitic lunacy is a last-ditch effort to discredit evolution, an effort which doesn’t even contest the validity of the theory. There’s an old law that someone who invokes Hitler in an argument should be held to have lost the argument. I couldn’t agree more. This shameless pandering ought to be – but sadly will not be – creationism’s final disgrace.

For shame, Stein. For shame, Human Events. I hope that the marketplace of ideas, buttressed by an informed populace, takes it upon itself to “select” out your deranged, antisemitic arguments.

20 comments

  1. Very well put!

    I’m over on Human Events causing trouble for the far-right-wingers on a fairly regular basis. Call me a joker, call me a fool…but I can’t stay away from their drool-inspiring stupidity.

    I will keep an eye on your blog!

  2. Thanks friend! I approve of the Billy Joel reference (go to extremes, right?). Well done :-)

  3. parallelsidewalk · ·

    I’m not a big fan of the ADL (Foxman’s decision last year to participate in denial of the Armenian Holocaust for his Turkish buddies hurt their credibility in my eyes), but I’m pleased that they’re calling Stein on his shameless misuse of one of history’s biggest tragedies.

    I’m not going to blame Christianity for Hitler, but Hitler was a Christian, and it gets downright surreal for me to hear them try to palm Hitler off onto atheists, Norse pagans, and Muslims. Hitler’s inspiration came, by his own admission, from Christianity and Right-wing Nationalism. He was very clear on this, and Darwin’s theories had no observable correlation with anything he did. He also wasn’t a vegetarian, but that’s a different story.

  4. Mr. Amazing · ·

    A little piece of my dies every tiem I see this logic being used. It’s way up there with the idea that “people are only athiests because they don’t want to be held accountable for their sins!”. I was very happy, when I read the comments, to find that I was not the only person banging his head against his desk while reading that.

  5. Mr. Amazing · ·

    A little piece of me dies every time…* I’m really having an off day. :/

  6. Progressive Conservative · ·

    I get the outrage over ID and all that. But the issue is completely dominating this blog and a lot of other liberal blogs. Y’know, Ben Stein is a pretty smart guy and to my knowledge he was never a fundamentalist before. Did it ever occur to you all that he made this movie in order to get you all to take your eyes off the ball in an important election year? All you libs could be discussing the merits of Obama and Clinton and instead you’re wasting a lot of time defending science against a spiritual philosophy. You’re not even discussing a specific effort to get it in a school system. You’re having a pointless debate with folks that will never be swayed.

    THIS is the failure of liberalism today. Getting distracted by silliness. And I think Ben Stein is laughing about it.

  7. PC, I think you’re actually right. But I honestly think the problem is that we’re out of the process now. The next two primaries won’t matter. One of the candidates needs to leave, and it’s up to Howard Dean to not frack it up.

  8. Addendum – I’m blogging to where I get my traffic from, too. That might be a big part of it :-)

  9. Eminence · ·

    The bottom line basis of this hitler ‘involvement’ is that darwinistic theory on survival of the fittest was adopted by hitler and his cohorts. This was then built upon and served as their justification for the dehumanization and genocide that followed. Highlighting this correlation may serve to prove that purporting darwinism without the healthy co-existence of Intelligent design theories can facilitate a repeat of wide spread dehumanistic philosophy.

  10. parallelsidewalk · ·

    Sigh.

    “The bottom line basis of this hitler ‘involvement’ is that darwinistic theory on survival of the fittest was adopted by hitler and his cohorts.”

    No, it really wasn’t. Hitler believed in artificial selection, which from a scientific viewpoint is actually the opposite of natural selection. Dog breeders, by your definition, are staunch evolutionists one and all. However, Hitler never mentions Darwin in Mein Kamph or as far as I know in any document or record that we have. Not one. He mentions Jesus a lot. But not Darwin.

    “Highlighting this correlation”

    Which is a product of your imagination…

    “that purporting darwinism without the healthy co-existence of Intelligent design theories can facilitate a repeat of wide spread dehumanistic philosophy.”

    The weirdest thing to me is that IDers seem to be unaware that killing/oppressing people different from oneself not only predates Hitler, it predates Darwin. And these actions not only often, but USUALLY had a religious component. Yeah, when Europe was almost entirely Christian, with no evolutionary history (or literacy or education) to speak of, there were never any roundups or killings of Jews or other undesirables right? Believing in a young earth sure kept that place peaceful and humane! And now, when (predominantly) creationist Muslims and (predominantly) creationist Christians are trying to tear each other apart, you’re going to tell me there’s ANY correlation between creationism and recognizing each others common humanity? I’m sorry, but that’s insane.

  11. Tauriq · ·

    Nicely done! Just joined the Facebook group, cos I just looked at PZ’s groups. I hope you will read my blog, too.

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  13. chunque · ·

    The truths of science and the truths of revealed religion (the kind with miracles like raising the dead and the sun moving retrograde in the sky to help one side of a battle win) are incompatible.

    Period.

    http://www.stuffwhitedbagslike.wordpress.com

  14. Good one. I’m linking to this in a post-dated way: my article will appear May 12 at noon.

  15. James F · ·

    Ames,

    I, too, am appalled by the claim that Darwin was “necessary but not sufficient” for the Holocaust. Aside from the fallacy of imputing moral outcome to a scientific theory, the creationist crowd overlooks that “survival of the fittest” – where fitness is an intrinsic value, like strongest or best – is not the same as natural selection. Neither Darwin nor the principle of natural selection appears in Mein Kampf, very unusual for something “necessary” for the Holocaust. If anything, their grudge should be against “Spencerism,” not “Darwinism.” Of course, this defeats the purpose, since modern evolutionary theory is not based upon Spencer’s ideas.

    To extend your tort law analogy, it would be like blaming the murder not on the pool owner, but on the writer of an outdoor furniture catalog that inspired the pool owner to build his pool (a pool which, on quick inspection, is actually of a very different design from the one in the catalog).

    In the end, however, I can’t explain it more eloquently than Dr. Jacob Bronowski:

  16. [...] — monado Blog Submitted to a Candid World has a good article about the nonsense of “Arguing against evolution by Invoking Hitler.” I’ve had it up to here with this crap. I try to restrict my use of profanity on this [...]

  17. Very good post,
    “his conversion of an an amoral (read: without moral consequence)”
    but I think “non-moral” would have been clearer.

  18. ““his conversion of an an amoral (read: without moral consequence)”
    but I think “non-moral” would have been clearer.”

    one would hope the people reading this blog understand the dictionary definition of “amoral” — otherwise they may struggle to keep up…

  19. [...] mainstream liberals don’t toss around the “Hitler” word so easily, unlike some conservatives I know.  This highlights a typical Coulter tactic: invent someone with ridiculous views, then call [...]

  20. christian :P · ·

    Hi all, just to let you know, jesus forgives you and welcomes you. He loves you and it is not too late to find him!

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