Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Dr. Josef Mengele, Angel of Death and “Devotee of Darwin”

posted by David Klinghoffer
Auschwitz_Mengele_Block_10.jpg
Try to imagine being operated on without anesthesia. A kidney is removed and then, while you are still fully awake, the surgeon displays it to you for your consideration in his hand. Sounds like a very bad nightmare but this is the kind of thing Dr. Josef Mengele did routinely with patients at Auschwitz. What would inspire a human being to such devilry? What influence, perhaps early in life, might have nudged him off the course of what could have otherwise been a conventional medical career?
Darwinists will throw up their hands in disgust at my question, because they think they know where I am taking this. But it’s not I who am taking it anywhere, but Mengele’s biographers.
What prompted me to ask in the first place, however, is a horrendous interview in Der Spiegel with a survivor of Mengele’s experimentation, a Greek-born Jew named Yitzhak Ganon, now living near Tel Aviv. Till very recently, when he had a heart attack, Mr. Ganon had strictly avoided doctors of all kinds. And no wonder about that. The magazine recounts:

Ganon was taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau hospital, where Josef Mengele, the so-called “Angel of Death,” conducted grisly experiments on Jewish prisoners.

Ganon had to lie down on a table and was tied down. Without any anesthetics, Mengele cut him open and removed his kidney. “I saw the kidney pulsing in his hand and cried like a crazy man,” Ganon says. “I screamed the ‘Shema Yisrael.’ I begged for death, to stop the suffering.”

After the “operation,” he had to work in the Auschwitz sewing room without painkillers. Among other things, he had to clean bloody medical instruments. Once, he had to spend the whole night in a bath of ice-cold water because Mengele wanted to “test” his lung function. Altogether, Ganon spent six and a half months in the concentration camp’s hospital.

The hospital building is pictured above.
In Mengele: The Complete Story, Gerald L. Posner and John Ware ask the same question I did:

Precisely what corrupted Mengele’s eager young mind is hard to pin down. Probably it was a combination of the political climate and that his real interest in genetics and evolution happened to coincide with the developing concept that some human beings afflicted by disorders were unfit to reproduce, even to live. Perhaps the real catalyst in this lethal brew was that Mengele, first at Munich and later at Frankfurt, studied under the leading exponents of this “unworthy life” theory. His consummate ambition was to succeed in this fashionable new field of evolutionary research.

More:

Medicine at German universities was in any case more complementary to Mengele’s real interest in evolution, since it was taught in accordance with the guidelines of the social Darwinist theory that Hitler and a growing number of German academics found so attractive.

More:

One of the earliest influence on the student doctor was Dr. Ernst Rudin, whose lectures Mengele regularly attended….Rudin was a leading proponent of the theory that doctors should destroy “life devoid of value.” Rudin himself was one of the architects of Hitler’s compulsory sterilization laws, which were enacted in July 1933.

As Richard Weikart notes in Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress, Rudin co-wrote the official commentary on the 1933 legislation, which proved to be a dress rehearsal for the Holocaust. In the commentary, Mengele’s teacher and his co-authors lamented that with “inferior” people at the present time,

…the reduced adaptation, as Darwin expressed it, does not lead to eradication, but rather the effect of natural selection has been transformed through civilization into its opposite and thus to contraselection.

This was a point directly borrowed from Darwin’s own notorious observation to the same effect in The Descent of Man. The purpose that evolutionary eugenics advocates sought was to counter the deleterious influence of civilization, restoring the pristine workings of natural selection. That way, the “inferior” either wouldn’t be born in the first place or, failing that, could be otherwise disposed of.
In their book on Mengele’s experiments on twins, Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz, Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel refer to Mengele as a “devotee of Darwin.” They write:

The messianic quality of social Darwinism seems to have appealed to the young Mengele. His writings suggest that he was especially struck by their use of the phrase “the fate of mankind.” From his youthful encounter with their distorted ideals, to his old age, a weary and broken exile, Mengele would continue to feel a personal allegiance to the social Darwinists. At the university, the question of the “biological quality of mankind” may have been esoteric to most of Mengele’s classmates. But for him, it was apparently a clarion call.

“Social Darwinism” is, of course, simply the politically correct way of saying “applied Darwinism.” More:

Indeed, the ideas Mengele was so anxiously absorbing in his studies were precisely the ones that would propel him down the road to Auschwitz.

I’m tired of having to explain that an idea’s having been put to an evil use, even if that occurred time after time for more than a century and a half, doesn’t by itself make the idea a false description of reality. But if that is what happened, as it is here, it’s an awfully good reason to think twice and carefully, for yourself, about the evidence said to underlie claims made on behalf of the idea. 
One thing’s for sure. If Mengele in his university studies had instead been a devotee of the Bible, that fact would be well known to everyone with an interest in the Holocaust and in one of its most supremely notorious figures. In fact, Dr. Mengele’s devotion to Darwin’s scientific and social teachings has been kept strangely quiet. And why do you think that is?


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Steven J.

posted December 24, 2009 at 1:45 am


Perhaps the reason so little is said of Mengele’s “devotion to Darwin’s scientific and social teachings” is that Mengele himself never said anything to indicate such devotion. At least, you cite nothing from Mengele himself; you quote historians who speak of how something they call “social Darwinism” “seems to have appealed” to Mengele, but that does nothing to show that Mengele himself found inspiration in Darwin’s writings or thought of his own ideas as in any sense “Darwinian.”
“Social Darwinism” is a phrase that has meant many and contradictory things over the years. The last people to apply it to their own views — who regarded it as an extension, not an application, of evolutionary theory — seem to have died before Mengele was born, and it’s hard to find detailed accounts of the original meaning of the term. Early 20th-century progressives used the term to describe the laissez-faire beliefs of Herbert Spencer, including opposition to eugenics and other coercive government policies (note that progressives have always been opposed to whatever they call “social Darwinism”). I don’t know Mengele’s economic and political views, but the Nazis as a whole were not enthusiastic about limited government and laissez-faire. After World War II and the association of eugenics with Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust, “social Darwinism” came to be used to include eugenics. Still later, it came to mean pretty much anything the person using the term wanted to blame on “Darwinism;” the term is too protean and nebulous to be denote any specific ideology.
Darwin did indeed worry that vaccination and modern medicine were preserving the lives of many people who in earlier times would have died, and thus weakening the species. Note that his “social teaching” was that we must tolerate this; to refuse compassion and succor would be to deny “the noblest parts of our nature.” This particular social teaching (in the same paragraph where Darwin worries about the effects of vaccination on fitness) does not seem to have been so appealing to Mengele (assuming, of course, that he ever encountered it or thought about it at all).
Note that Darwin’s worry about weaking the species was a failure to apply his own theory. Fitness is not an absolute or universal quality; it is contingent on a particular environment, and what is fitter in one environment may be less fit in another. What is fitter for a shark may be very different from what is fitter for a giraffe, and what is fitter for a human in an environment that includes antibiotics may be different from what is fitter for humans in an environment that does not.
This brings up, of course, another point: evolutionary theory is not “Darwinism.” It is not limited to Darwin’s original ideas, nor need it incorporate every idea he ever had about selection or evolution, nor does it rest on his personal authority, or indeed depend on him at all.
And evolutionary theory cannot be “applied” to politics. It posits no goals of natural selection for us to assist (or resist, for that matter), no grand direction for evolution towards which we must or could strive. Different social structures presumably have somewhat different selective effects, influencing who is more likely to leave behind descendants, but evolutionary theory gives us no reason to prefer one set of selective pressures to another or one intensity of selection to a lesser or greater one. Eugenics is artificial selection; a theory dealing with natural selection offers no guidelines or justification for eugenics.
It’s good of you to concede that misuse of an idea doesn’t prove the idea false. But it would be better if you noted that whatever it is you’re calling “social Darwinism” is not an application of evolutionary theory. It is at most the application of a bad analogy between evolutionary theory and some social policy, and sometimes not even that. If the ability to misuse a distorted analog to an idea shows that we need to “think twice” about the idea, what ideas shall we not need to examine suspiciously?
On the other hand, of course, people have been “thinking twice” (and thrice and four times) about evolutionary theory since Darwin first proposed it. I myself was once a creationist. Actually carefully examining evolutionary theory and the evidence for it tends to increase greatly one’s chances of accepting it.



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David Klinghoffer

posted December 24, 2009 at 2:17 am


Steven J., you’re asking why I don’t quote from JM directly — because I haven’t reviewed his unpublished German autobiographical writings. Unfortunately I can’t read German. I’m basing myself on his biographers, who I assume have done their homework. These are reputable people. In any other field of inquiry, that would be more than sufficient. If Mengele had studied the Bible intensely in his youth, you can be sure there would be plenty of easily accessible English translations of his reflections, don’t you think?



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Steven J.

posted December 24, 2009 at 4:13 am


If Mengele had cited the Bible as a justification for his activities, I’m pretty sure someone would have quoted him doing so, and there would be English translations of those secondary works quoting him. Whether there would be English translations of his own writings on the Bible, I cannot say; my understanding is that there are only fragmentary translations of Mengele’s writings into English.
My point, of course, was that if Mengele’s biographers had run across such writings, directly citing Darwin or “Darwinism” as justification for his actions, they would have referred to such writings explicitly, if not, indeed, quoting them, rather than simply saying that “social Darwinism” “apparently” influenced him. Either you have not read his biographers all the way through, or they have found no compelling evidence that he actually thought of himself as “Darwinian” in any sense.



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Steven J.

posted December 24, 2009 at 4:22 am


Side note: in an earlier post, you stated that “life has a history,” going on to describe that history (if I recall correctly) as including life changing over time. Could you elaborate on this point? Obviously, even from a creationist standpoint, life has a history. Most young-earth creationists will allow that life has about 6000 years’ worth of history, during which, among other things, the several hundred mammalian “kinds” aboard Noah’s Ark “microevolved” into the thousands of mammalian species around today. An old-earth creationist, on the other hand, will allow for much less branching descent with modification, but will insist on a much longer period in which life has been on Earth, with older species being periodically replaced by new models created miraculously along the same general lines. And a guided-evolutionist will concede that common descent and the “tree of life” is real, but that evolution needed miracles to make it happen. Even a “Last Thursdayist,” if such existed outside of arguments against omphalism, would concede that life had a history of several days’ duration.
So just how much of the history of life reconstructed by evolutionists would you dispute, and what sort of history would you put in its place?



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John Pieret

posted December 24, 2009 at 8:35 am


Rober Bannister, in “Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought” has shown that there was no such “thing” as “Social Darwinism” … it was a term of abuse used by people of many political viewpoints … liberal, conservative and everything in between … to describe viewpoints they didn’t like. Applying it to Nazis is nothing more than carrying on a disreputable tradition. Steven J.’s point, if I may make so bold, was that “Social Darwinism” (and your version of “Darwinism”) is not the same thing as scientific evolutionary theory.
As to whether Mengele studying the Bible would have been trumpeted by anti-theists, are you actually arguing that two wrongs make a right? After all, we can certainly come up with examples of people who intensely studied the Bible who, over far more than a century and a half, did great wrongs … Torquemada leaps to mind as one of many examples … but is that reason to think twice and carefully about about the evidence said to underlie claims made on behalf the Bible, rather than about the person who is supposedly “applying” it?
If so, the evidence for evolution far outstrips that for the Bible.



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Ray Ingles

posted December 24, 2009 at 9:40 am


You write, “Social Darwinism” is, of course, simply the politically correct way of saying “applied Darwinism.”
In the same way that Martin Luther’s virulent antisemitism was “applied Christianity”?



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N.Schuster

posted December 24, 2009 at 10:06 am


Darwin himslef believed in Social Darwinism. He wrotr in chapters five and six of the “Descent of Man” that he expected the more highly evolved Europeans to exterminate the less highly evolved no-Europeans, along with the great apes. This was an attempt to explain why there are morphological gaps between existing species. The imtermidiate became extinct. So non-Europeans would be exterminated, leaving a bigger gap between Europeans and monkeys.



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John Pieret

posted December 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm


“Darwin himslef believed in Social Darwinism. He wrotr in chapters five and six of the “Descent of Man” that he expected the more highly evolved Europeans to exterminate the less highly evolved no-Europeans, along with the great apes.”
There is a considerable difference between expecting something and thinking it is good or desirable. As he said about aiding the sick and infirm:
“The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.”



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Mainer

posted December 24, 2009 at 2:07 pm


Klinghoffer provides more smoke, mirrors, and rhetorical theatrics. Since the Density Institute cannot handle the science, their minions resort to pathetic and persistent slight-of-hand ad hominem attacks to thwart scrutiny towards the poverty of their own thinking (2009 has passed with not a solitary bit of significant scientific work emerging from their empty thinktank once again). The old chestnut that social Darwinism is some valid interpretation of Darwinian thought is dragged out like ancient fruitcake. Needless-to-say, ample rebuttals have demonstrated that such connections are groundless. Still, DIers hope that if they simply make the claim enough times that eventually it will become a reality, and they’ll have the great success of having created something from nothing.
However, this particular post features little more than a few carefully selected quotations that don’t really provide any definitive evidence to incontrovertibly support the claim. Klinghoffer’s tactics rather reminds me of those employed on pseudo-science shows like “UFO Hunters” on the History Channel: he attempts to connect a lot of dots that point towards a conclusion that he wishes he could demonstrate, but in the end, any substantive findings are seriously lacking.
By comparison, abundant evidence in “Mein Kampf” and Nazi policies demonstrates that Hitler’s thinking was heavily influenced by his own perverted religious interpretation of Christian thought. God and his divine directives are mentioned repeatedly in Hitler’s book whilst not once does he ever mention Darwin in its covers. That is a evidence from which we can draw compelling and telling conclusions–perhaps Hitler’s reprehensible program should be labled “applied Creationism.”



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N.Schuster

posted December 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm


I chapter 11 of part 1 Hitler said quite clearly that humans must follow the Darwinian loaws of nature as surely as the Earth goes around the sun. He also said he felt he was doing the will of the creaor by following Darwinian racialist theories. He also seems to use nature and the creator interchangably, so he may have been more of a pantheist than a conventional Christian. And in Chapter 4 of book 2, he says quite clearly that humans evolved from animals. And in Chapter 5, he seems to take a pragmaic approach to religion, that it was useful for organizing society. But it was time to move on to a more scientific, Darwinian race based approach.



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Mainer

posted December 24, 2009 at 8:52 pm


N. Schuster: A careful examination of Hitler’s statements reveal that they merely reflect a pedestrian and rather muddled notion of evolution as “progress.” The passage you reference in Part I, Ch. 11 clearly reveals Hitler’s non-scientific understanding of natural selection and would tend to indicate that he held at least a form of ID/Creationism: “This means that the offspring will indeed be superior to the parent which stands in the biologically lower order of being, but not so high as the higher parent. For this reason it must eventually succumb in any struggle against the higher species. Such mating contradicts the will of Nature towards the selective improvements of life in general.” Hitler’s “will of Nature” implies an intelligence directing what he takes to be the evolutionary progress of the races from lower to higher orders. Indeed, this sounds like an old pre-Darwinian conception of hierarchial structure of nature derived from neo-Platonic thought–the so-called “Great Chain of Being.” What Hitler describes is not a Darwinian concept.
Hitler’s misconception is further demonstrated in Pt. I, Ch. 11 as he continues leading to the only reference to evolution in the chapter: “The favourable preliminary to this improvement is not to mate individuals of higher and lower orders of being but rather to allow the complete triumph of the higher order. The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all.” When Hitler mentions evolution in this passage, it is the popular, non-scientific conception of evolution as leading to an improvement (cf. “higher develoment of organic life”). Furthermore, he clearly thinks that there is some guiding “law” which “directs the process of evolution” towards some end–which, in his twisted worldview, is “the complete triumph of the higher order.” Darwin’s natural selection merely selects for adaptations that inable any species to reproduce in greater numbers–there is no “higher” or “lower” hierarchy in Darwin’s theory. However, if we compare Hitler’s lone use of the word “evolution,” and incorrectly at that, to the about a dozen or so times in this same chapter that he references religious motivations for his thought, Hitler’s primary inspiration is much clearer.
As for the mention of Part II, Chapter 4, Hitler mentions evolution, but in the context of societal–not biological–change: “In order to elucidate this point of view it may be worth while to glance once again at the real origins and causes of the cultural evolution of mankind. The first step which visibly brought mankind away from the animal world was that which led to the first invention. The invention itself was its origin to the ruses and stratagems which man employed to assist him in the struggle with other creatures for his existence and often to provide him with the only means he could adopt to achieve success in the struggle. Those first very crude inventions cannot be attributed to the individual; for the subsequent observer, that is to say the modern observer, recognizes them only as collective phenomena. Certain tricks and skilful tactics which can be observed in use among the animals strike the eye of the observer as established facts which may be seen everywhere; and man is no longer in a position to discover or explain their primary cause and so he contents himself with calling such phenomena ‘instinctive.’ In our case this term has no meaning. Because everyone who believes in the higher evolution of living organisms must admit that every manifestation of the vital urge and struggle to live must have had a definite beginning in time and that one subject alone must have manifested it for the first time. It was then repeated again and again; and the practice of it spread over a widening area, until finally it passed into the subconscience of every member of the species, where it manifested itself as ‘instinct. This is more easily understood and more easy to believe in the case of man. His first skilled tactics in the struggle with the rest of the animals undoubtedly originated in his management of creatures which possessed special capabilities. There can be no doubt that personality was then the sole factor in all decisions and achievements, which were afterwards taken over by the whole of humanity as a matter of course. An exact exemplification of this may be found in those fundamental military principles which have now become the basis of all strategy in war. Originally they sprang from the brain of a single individual and in the course of many years, maybe even thousands of years, they were accepted all round as a matter of course and this gained universal validity.” The one short clause wherein Hitler mentions “higher evolution of living organisms” once again invokes a non-scientific, popular conception of the term–not the Darwinian conception. However, the passage clearly discusses Hitler’s theory of the development of ideas and inventions rather than biological development, and it has been selectively quote mined by Creationists ad nauseum.
While Creationists revel in quote mining Hitler in a vain attempt to link his thought with Darwin, anyone taking the time to actually examine “Mein Kampf” (albeit certainly a distasteful chore) will see that he does not mention Darwinian natural selection at any point in the text. When he does reference evolution, it is always in the sense of “advancement” or “progress”–never in the proper scientific context–and with the notion of some sort of guiding power at work–a much more Creationist notion than a Darwinian one.



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Steven J.

posted December 24, 2009 at 11:39 pm


N. Schuster, first, Darwin spoke of “civilized” and “savage” races, not of Europeans and non-Europeans; while admittedly he did not always distinguish between biological and cultural changes, the distinction here is between technological levels, not between “more evolved” and “less evolved” races.
By the way, in evolutionary theory, “more evolved” means simply “more changed from the ancestral state,” with no implication of being smarter or stronger or globally superior.
Darwin, in predicting the eventual extermination of “savage races,” was not advocating anything; he was simply extrapolating from history. White Europeans had behaved this way, in Darwin’s past, towards many American Indian tribes, the Khoisan hunter-gatherers of southern Africa, the Tasmanians in Australia, etc. But then, pretty much the entire history of civilization is the same story: farmers with better weapons pushing out or killing off hunter-gatherers. Darwin assumed that this, along with human encroachment on the jungle habitat of living nonhuman ape species, would continue into the future. How many thousands of years before “Darwinism” was “social Darwinism” worked out?



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Ray Ingles

posted December 25, 2009 at 7:51 am


Ed Ellision – I posted this before, the last time this came up. It’s eerily appropriate now: “…when evaluating a social scheme like, e.g., Marxism, looking at its consequences makes sense. Does it deliver what it promises? Religions – at least their social aspects – can also be evaluated on similar grounds. Does a religion that promises to enhance moral behavior and promote justice actually do so in practice?
But scientific theories can’t be evaluated on such grounds. Geology, for example, tells us why there are a lot of diamonds in Africa. But the horrors inflicted over ‘conflict diamonds’ don’t call geology into question. Meteorology can tell us why hurricanes form near the equator, but what Katrina wrought in New Orleans doesn’t hint that meteorology is false.”



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Your Name

posted December 25, 2009 at 9:11 am


Mainer: But in the very quote you posted, he wrote that animals evolved. That’s not the great chain of being. And are you saying that “visibly brough mankind away from the animal world” does not mean that humans evolved from animals? Some anthropologists have said that the main force drinving human evolution was the invwention of tools. That’s pretty conventional evolutionary theory. And the fact that he didn’t get Darwin exactly right doesn’t mean that he wasn’t influenced by Darwinian thought. Now as I sited above, Darwin did say that the more highly evolved races would exterminate the less highly evolved races. That’s very close to Nazism.



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Mainer

posted December 25, 2009 at 9:46 am


Steven J: Good points. Darwin, while quite advanced in his thinking, also reflects attitudes common during his period in the Victorian era. His attitude is similar to that of Abraham Lincoln, a man who abhorred slavery and eventually abolished it, but who also, sadly, considered people of color inferior to whites. Darwin’s personal thoughts on race have no impact on the independent validity of natural selection as a scientific theory; Abraham Lincoln’s personal thoughts on racial inequality do not invalidate the independent legality of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. Neither concept is bound to the individual idiosyncrasies of the individual propounding it. We don’t toss out genetic theory merely because James Watson happens to have rather bigoted notions of race, do we?
In addition, someone who expounds a theory, belief, etc. cannot control how that idea is utilized by others. Blaming Darwin for Hitler is analogous to blaming Christ for the Inquisition or the Wright Brothers for 9/11. In the later case, the Wright Brothers discovered the principle of the thee-axis control system which enables a pilot to control an aircraft in flight. The principles behind three-axis control existed as an independent quality of aerodynamic physics—-the Wright Brothers merely figured out how it worked. By comparison, Darwin discovered the independent fact of natural selection which governs evolutionary adaptations, and worked out the fundamentals despite his era’s slim knowledge of genetics. Clearly, none of these men dreamed up any ideas that didn’t already exist autonomously in some fashion in nature. Furthermore, I imagine that the Wright Brothers had no notion that their discovery would be used one day as a means of slaughtering thousands of innocent people as the fanatics did on September 11. Likewise, Darwin had no intention or ability to foresee that his theory would be misappropriated by others—-such as the so–called “social Darwinists”—and applied in ways he would never have condoned.



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N.Schuster

posted December 25, 2009 at 11:35 am


Stephen J.
I do believe that the history of the world is more a story of assimilation and accomodation than extermination.



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Emily with the Kippah

posted December 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm


Stephen J. makes excellent points about the lack of control over one’s ideas – this is especially true post-mortem of the brain that gave us the idea.
Unfortunately, people will take something they don’t like for some reason – in this case, Charles Darwin (which I think for many “ID”ers and Creationists means evolutionary theory in general, but for some reason only Darwin is ever picked on) – and find dark things it has been associated with in the hope that this will somehow “disprove” it.
Ronald Fisher of Cambridge University was quite keen on eugenics. But his contributions to the world of statistics are invaluable.
People who hate Jews often make the claim that Jews control the banks of the world. They can point to Bernie Madoff and the controversies associated with Goldman Sachs to “prove” their point about Jews. Of course, it is simply out and out hatred and nothing more.



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Mainer

posted December 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm


Your Name: “But in the very quote you posted, he wrote that animals evolved. That’s not the great chain of being. And are you saying that “visibly brough mankind away from the animal world” does not mean that humans evolved from animals?.”
Again, it appears that you are taking Hitler’s use of “evolution” = natural selection, but he is not. Throughout the lengthy passage I cited, he is discussing progress–not the change of species from one form to another. In the passage cited, Hitler is discussing humanity’s inventiveness which constitutes the major difference of Man from animals. He nowhere invokes natural selection to account for this process. Indeed, in his “Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier” (“The Fuhrer’s Tabletalk”), he unequivocally states, “From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.”
Hitler mentions humankind’s progression above the state of the animals, but he does not state anything that constitutes an acceptance of the scientific theory of natural selection. Elsewherre in “Mein Kampf” (Part 1, Ch. 11), he states “This urge for the maintenance of the unmixed breed, which is a phenomenon that prevails throughout the whole of the natural world, results not only in the sharply defined outward distinction between one species and another but also in the internal similarity of characteristic qualities which are peculiar to each breed or species. The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger. The only difference that can exist within the species must be in the various degrees of structural strength and active power, in the intelligence, efficiency, endurance, etc., with which the individual specimens are endowed.” This is a clear and unequivocal acceptance of the fixity of species–a standard Creationist belief.
As for the “Great Chain of Being,” prior to Darwin, religious thinkers and philosophers, primarily influenced by Neoplatonic thought (e.g., that of Plotinus) developed the hierarchialization of everything from God down to amoebas and this did far more to establish the notion of racial superiority in the West’s cultural mindset. Thus, the Great Chain of Being and its residual influence in Western thought had more influence on Hitler–who never mentions Darwin anywhere in any of his writings ever (and let’s not forget that all Darwinian texts were on the Nazi’s official censorship list) . Furthermore, anyone who takes the time to actually read Darwin (rather than accepting Creationist quote mining prima facie) will see that natural selection assumes no hierarchy whatsoever–natural selection purely selects based on reproductive success–not physical strength or weaknesses.
Your Name also stated, “Some anthropologists have said that the main force drinving human evolution was the invention of tools. That’s pretty conventional evolutionary theory. And the fact that he didn’t get Darwin exactly right doesn’t mean that he wasn’t influenced by Darwinian thought.”
Your Name seems to be lumping all scientific endeavors together in some sort of indiscriminate mulligan stew. The vast majority of anthropologists accept Darwin’s theory on the origin of humankind. However, attributing human success to tool usage is an anthropological–not a biological–theory. Thus, your statement that “That’s pretty conventional evolutionary theory” is inaccurate and oversimplifies significant differences between the various fields of scientific research.
With regard to your final comment, please demonstrate a single solid instance where Hitler refers to natural selection, correctly interpreted scientifically, as the basis of any of his mad notions. As stated by myself and others, you will never find a single instance of Hitler properly using the term evolution in the sense Darwin understood it to be. As I’ve stated repeatedly, Hitler never ever mentions Darwin anywhere in his works, bans Darwinian writings, yet fills his works with abundant references to a divine mandate for his hateful and repugnant schemes.



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greg

posted December 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm


This makes almost no sense. Mengele presumably drank milk and read the Bible; by this logic we should do neither. Another strawman argument.



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Your Name

posted December 26, 2009 at 8:25 am


Reinhard Heydrich invoked “natural selection” to justify the Holocaust. The actual orders, Wannsee, January 20, 1942 say that those Jews who survive what was until theb a brutal forced-labor program would represent a “natural selection” who might survive to breed tougher Jews would could threaten the Aryan control of Europe. This is all down in writing, available verbatim on the web, anc quoted in William O. Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” Turning a slave labor program into a mass extermination program was Darwinian, plain and simple. Also worth noting — the British, who were themselves Darwinians, resisted saving or accepting any significant number of Jewish refugees. The countries which accepted fugitives from mass murder were the United States, mostly Christian, the Dominican Republic, mostly Catholic, and the Japanese Empire, where people were amused by racist whites who thought the Japanese were monkeys. (The principal Japanese rescuer, Chiune Sugihara, was Christin convert.) AntiSemtism would have existed without Darwin due to economic envy, intellectual envy, and identification of Jews as Marxists and Bolsheviks. The mass murder of innocent people without Darwin is inconceivable. Past pogroms had generally spared women, children, and converts: the Nazi murder program was racial rather that religious — due to Darwin — converts were not spared, and women and children died FIRST. Darwinism all the way. May it never happen again — and may it finlly be understood.



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Your Name

posted December 26, 2009 at 12:31 pm


If Mengele was “shaped” by social Darwinists, what excuse do we in the west have? Canada and America both sterilized mental defectives into the mid 20th century, belittled, dismissed and exterminated aboriginal peoples, kept out “undesirable” races, imprisoned our own citizens for their ethnic background (regardless of their place of birth), conducted vile experiments with venereal diseases on black Americans, and questioned the loyalty of a president because he was Catholic.
Mengele was a callous monster ‘who chose belief over science and tried to justify and rationalize it.’
That last statement makes him sound like some pious theologians, doesn’t it?



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Harriet B

posted December 26, 2009 at 1:17 pm


First of all, many terrible things have been done, in the name of religion; and that applies to all religions.
And, many people who study and agree with Darwin, wouldn’t dream of doing anything like that.



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Your Name

posted December 26, 2009 at 9:13 pm


But he clearly says in that passage that animals evolved.What else can that mean? And he says that humans seperated from animals. What else can that mean besides evolution? It certainly can’t mean that humans were created in God’s image. And in the tabole talk speach, you sited, he seems to consider evolution from apes a possibility.



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Your Name

posted December 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm


This is the whole quote about foxes:
“The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice.”
It is quite obvious that he meant that it fox didn’t show compasion to geese. The whole passage is basically about how the superior races shouldn’t interbreed with the inferior races, or show them compassion. And the concept of a species barrier is completely in line with evolutionary theory.



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Your Name

posted December 26, 2009 at 9:25 pm


Here’s another quote from chapter 11:
“Therefore, here, too, the struggle among themselves arises less from inner aversion than from hunger and love. In both cases, Nature looks on calmly, with satisfaction, in fact. In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right or opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. And struggle is always a means for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development.
If the process were different, all further and higher development would cease and the opposite would occur. For, since the inferior always predominates numerically over the best, if both had the same possibility of preserving life and propagating, the inferior would multiply so much more rapidly that in the end the best would inevitably be driven into the background, unless a correction of this state of affairs were undertaken. Nature does just this by subjecting the weaker part to such severe living conditions that by them alone the number is limited, and by not permitting the remainder to increase promiscuously, but making a new and ruthless choice according to strength and health.
No more than Nature desires the mating of weaker with stronger individuals, even less does she desire the blending of a higher with a lower race, since, if she did, her whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, night be ruined with one blow.
Historical experience offers countless proofs of this. It shows with terrifying clarity that in every mingling of Aryan blood with that of lower peoples the result was the end of the cultured people. North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale. By this one example, we can clearly and distinctly recognize the effect of racial mixture. The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood”
He might not call it natural selection, but it ahure souds like it.



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Your Name

posted December 26, 2009 at 9:29 pm


What else can this passage mean but evolution by natural selection er time?
“No more than Nature desires the mating of weaker with stronger individuals, even less does she desire the blending of a higher with a lower race, since, if she did, her whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, night be ruined with one blow.



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Steven J.

posted December 27, 2009 at 2:26 am


Your Name, I grant that that the Nazis accepted natural selection. How well they understood the concept is questionable, but certainly their textbooks are full of references to the struggle for survival as it serves to purify races and species (and with rather fewer references to how natural selection can fundamentally change a population into something quite different). Are you suggesting that you, personally, reject natural selection? That would, I think, leave, e.g. the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria rather hard to explain. If the reality of natural selection justifies the policies of a Hitler or a Heydrich, well, so much the worse for any hope of morality, inasmuch as natural selection is quite real.
Now, I presume you, like Mr. Klinghoffer, would deny that natural selection could alter a population enough for, e.g. something like _Tiktaalik_ to give rise to human beings, eagles, stegosaurs, etc. So did a number of prominent Nazis: Heinrich Himmler was appalled at the notion that he shared ancestors with gorillas. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how the proposition “humans and hamsters share a common ancestor” yields the proposition “let’s kill all the Jews.” The Nazis were interested in differences among human beings: microevolutionary differences within a single species.
One point: you note a number of causes for anti-Semitism in Europe, but fail to note one that antedated Marxism or worry about Jews as economic competition: the tendency for many Christians to view Jews as Christ-killers and Christ-haters. Old hatreds have a way of finding new justifications, but I think you would have a very hard time showing a positive correlation between anti-semitism and acceptance of evolutionary theory. I am no expert on European pogroms, though I doubt greatly that they were so polite to women and children as you suggest. Certainly lynchings of women were not unknown in that apparent hotbed of Darwinism, the American South of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
A second point: certainly reproductive barriers between species can evolve. But an implication of evolutionary theory is that there should be populations where such barriers are only partly evolved, and where the boundaries of species are fuzzy and debatable. Examples of such populations are a staple of any textbook on evolution; the idea that species are always sharply distinct from one another is, at least, a mark of a mind not marinated in “Darwinism.”



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Steven J.

posted December 27, 2009 at 2:28 am


N. Schuster replied to me, “I do believe that the history of the world is more a story of assimilation and accomodation than extermination.”
One may hope so. But there are enough cases of extermination to suggest that it is well within the range of human behaviors. And remember, Darwin was discussing, not how humans ought to treat one another, not even how humans typically do treat one another, but why, if there are still monkeys and apes, there are no ape-men walking around today. One human culture can adopt the technology and customs of another; a pithecanthropine couldn’t adopt the superior technology of modern humans, or intermarry with them. When dealing, not with competing tribes, but with competing species, assimilation and accomodation wouldn’t really be an option.



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Mainer

posted December 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm


Once again, Steven J. provides some sage remarks regarding the Nazi mindset. For my part, I’ll put it like this: natural selection is a fact. It is a natural principle that functions in the world just like gravity. Natural selection functions regardless of whether anyone believes in it or not. Just like gravity, natural selection requires no one to believe in it in order to exist. Cherry-picking passages out of Darwin to attempt to point the finger of blame for subsequent historical events and incidences is like blaming Sir Isaac Newton for the uses or misuses of gravity by subsequent (or even preceding) generations. While Sir Isaac Newton discovered “gravity” (in a manner of speaking) his personal opinions and beliefs had no bearing on gravity’s existence or applications whatsoever, and he could not control what anyone else did with his concepts once he published his discoveries. Likewise, natural selection exists independently of Darwin who merely discovered the principle, and who cannot be personally held responsible for how individuals or groups in subsequent history utilized or interpreted that information. It would be analogous to blaming Paul McCartney and John Lennon for the murders of Sharon Tate and others simply because Charles Manson states that the song “Helter Skelter” inspired him to commit his insane acts. The long and short of it is that Manson was mad and no rational person would hold any interpretation he makes of any concept to be valid.
Therefore, to claim that Darwin somehow inspired or would have condoned the Nazi madness is simply ridiculous. In fact, even had Darwin never existed, the Holocaust could still have occurred since that horrible event was based more on long standing Christian worldviews and bigotry than on anything Darwin ever wrote. For instance, just consider all the medieval butchery that supposedly good Christians inflicted on the Jews and others well before Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Thus, an attempt to blame Darwin for Mengele’s or Hitler’s views is merely an attempt to shift responsibility from those who committed the atrocities by scapegoating someone else. Indeed, trying to utilize the horrors of the Nazi regime to undermine people’s belief in a scientific fact is an ethically questionable activity. As Abraham H. Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, noted in a 2006 press release regarding the anti-evolution documentary, “Darwin’s Deadly Legacy, “This [documentary] is an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust. Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.”
Pointing to Darwin as the primary inspiration of Hitler or Mengele is to engage in monocasual analysis of the rise of the Nazi ideology by assuming it has only a single source. No, Hitler and his disciples were influenced by a wide-range of factors–religious, social, economic, and political. In point of fact, Ernst Haeckel’s inaccurate interpretation of Darwinian theory is a far more heavily demonstrable influence on Hitler, who never quotes Darwin or mentions him by name anywhere in his writing. And, even had Hitler done so, are we to take the ravings of a mad megalomaniac to be some sort of universal truth? I daresay most rational people would consider the source (i.e., Hitler) and be most wary of accepting anything he wrote as holding any validity from a scientific, sociological, political, or religious basis.
Anyone engaging in a rational consideration of the writings of the two men will find that whereas Hitler’s writings only promote a purely racist, hate-filled agenda, Darwin’s thoughts about social responsibility for the weaker members of society–which he expressed in “The Descent of Man”–and the his theory of common descent does far more to demonstrate that all forms of racial prejudice are fallacious. Indeed, Darwin’s ideas provide far credence to humanitarian activities since his theory of common descent—and the modern genetics that supports it–clearly and unequivocally establish the kinship that all humans share. Darwin’s theories conclusively demonstrate that Hitler’s notions on the separation and superiority of any race was based on completely false pseudo-science like that was promulgated by the social Darwinians who misappropriated and misapplied the theory of natural selection to promote their racist and anti-humanitarian agenda over which Darwin had absolutely no control.



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Your Name

posted December 27, 2009 at 8:31 pm


When Darwin spoke about having compassion for the weak in chapter 5 of he was talking primarily abotu caring for the members of one’s own tribe. He wrtoe that tribes where the members take care of eac other will out compete those that don’t. I didn’t see any mention of the universal brotherhood of man. Now, Hitler wroter something similar. He wrote that the fact that Aryans will sacrifice for the race is proof of their superiority. The parallels are uncanny.
Now here’s a quote from “The Descnet of Man”
The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies- between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae- between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked,* will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
Wow, what a racist! And what does that “as we may hope” mean?



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Mainer

posted December 28, 2009 at 12:19 pm


Your Name: You provide a classic case of quote mining material from Darwin to support your viewpoint and mislead those who are unfamiliar with the actual content of “The Descent of Man.”
First, as noted, no one is stating that Darwin, as typical of practically every living Victorian Englishman, did not consider the technologically advanced European to be socially superior to the so-called “savages.” Certainly, Darwin held the view that the less-civilized races and tribes were likely to be wiped out, but in an era when British Imperialism was circling the globe, what would be unusual about that? He was stating an opinion based on prevalent policies and events, and a belief that European civilization would dominate the planet.
Nonetheless, even though he held such views, he also states in Chapter 21 of “Descent”: “Through the means just specified, aided perhaps by others as yet undiscovered, man has been raised to his present state. But since he attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species. Some of these, such as the Negro and European, are so distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as good and true species. Nevertheless all the races agree in so many unimportant details of structure and in so many mental peculiarities that these can be accounted for only by inheritance from a common progenitor; and a progenitor thus characterised would probably deserve to rank as man.”
Darwin’s thinking went quite against the prevalent mindset of the Victorian period–in an era when most anthropologists accepted, without hesitation, the thought that any less-civilized race (including Celts, Africans, Native Americans, etc.) were variant or more primitive species of humanity that had evolved parallel to the white European (this hypothesis was termed polygenism=”multiple origins”). For instance, John Beddoe, the President of the Anthropological Institute in the late 1880s, created a schema in “The Races of Britain” (1862) which argued that Celts–particularly the Irish–belonged to the species of Cro-Magnon humanity–much more ape-like and more closely allied with Africans whom he considered to have descended from a more primitive species of human. Likewise, Charles Kinglsey referred to Irish as “chimpanzees” and considered the fact that if they were black, seeing them would not be so bad an experience. Such thinking was rampant during this period, and anyone who challenged the polygenist hypothesis–backed by such well-known scientists like Louis Agassiz–risked great ridicule.
However, Darwin did challenge the polygenist viewpoint in “Descent” where he takes an unequivocal stand for monogenism–descent from a single original form: “The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind- such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful. They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on what they could catch; they had no government, and were merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins.”
Victorian polygenists were horrified at Darwin’s daring assertion–that all races of humanity are descended from a common ancestor–most likely an ape-like creature most likely originating in Africa (we can almost hear the Victorian racist gasp!). Darwin’s monogenist view was so radical that Ernst Haeckel dismissed it outright and it is Haeckel’s polygenist viewpoint–not Darwin’s monogenist orientation–that was adopted by many subsequent racists—including the Nazis. Indeed, Darwin’s advocacy of the monogenist origins of humanity did far more to combat polygenist racism in the long run since he unequivocally demonstrates that all humans belong to a single species, albeit a species in which evolution had, in his opinion, occurred at different rates and which would likely, (based on the socio-economic-political power structures of his era) conclude by the less advanced societies being eliminated.
However, Darwin did not look down on these cultures, and abhorred the European treatment of them. For instance, in his “Autobiography,” he recounts a quarrel with Captain Fitzroy during his voyage on the Beagle: “We had several quarrels; for when out of temper he was utterly unreasonable. For instance, early in the voyage at Bahia in Brazil he defended and praised slavery, which I abominated, and told me that he had just visited a slave-owner, who had called up many of his slaves and asked them whether they were happy, and whether they wished to be free, and all answered “No.” I then asked him, perhaps with a sneer, whether he thought that the answers of slaves in the presence of their master was worth anything. This made him excessively angry, and he said that as I doubted his word, we could not live any longer together” (pp. 73-74).
As the preceding quotation indicates, Darwin was no racist and his monogenist view of the origins of humanity gave greater weight to humanitarian and abolitionist causes. Creationists will continue to point the finger of racism at Darwin, cherry-picking his material to attempt to make claims that somehow Darwin’s personal opinions cast doubt on the validity of natural selection which exists independently of anyone’s personal beliefs and attitudes.
Furthermore, if we take Your Name’s statements—that a person’s racist remarks thereby taint anything that person produces, then what are we to make of Creationism? Any examination of the history of modern Creationism and the individuals involved with it reveal a strong strand of racism running through some leading proponents. William Jennings Bryan was an ardent segregationist and agitated for segregationists policies throughout his legal career. Several of his lecture tours were funded by the Ku Klux Klan and he, in turn, endorsed Klan candidates in elections. Henry M. Morris promulgated the “Descendants of Ham” hypothesis that indicated darker-skinned individuals were destined to be servants of the light-skinned races “Somehow they [Hamites] have only gone so far and no farther. The Japhethites and Semites have, sooner or later, taken over their territories, and their inventions, and then developed them and utilized them for their own enlargement. Often the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have become actual personal servants or even slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane matters, they have eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites” (“The Beginning of the World,” pub. 1991). Kent Hovind sold several anti-Semitic book including the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” rubbish. Bob Jones, Sr. was an arch-Creationist who allowed no evolutionary theory to be taught in his self-named university. Oh, and don’t forget that he banned blacks from attending until 1975, and interracial dating is still prohibited since according to a school spokesman, “breaks down the barriers God has established” (qtd. in “Journal of Blacks in Higher Education” (Spring 2002), 65-66). Ken Ham’s Creationist “museum” has “exhibits” promoting the “Descendants of Ham” Creationist hypothesis.
All of these examples demonstrate some type of racist orientation to varying degrees. Compare these attitudes towards those repugnant ones held by Hitler in “Mein Kampf”: “The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not let God’s word be desecrated. For God’s will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will” (Part II, Ch. 10). What is “God’s will” according to the ravings of Adolf Hitler? According to “Mein Kampf” Part II, Ch. 2, it is “to put an end to the constant and continuous original sin of racial poisoning, and to give the Almighty Creator beings such as He Himself created”.
Therefore, following the logic Your Name employs, since many Creationists exhibit racist tendencies in their writings and these statements are clearly similar to viewpoints expressed by Hitler–who undeniably uses Creationist language throughout his work to promulgate his genocidal ideology–we are consequently forced to conclude that Creationism promotes racism and encourages all manner of depravity towards those of belonging to ethnicities other than Caucasian. Compare that thinking to Darwin’s conclusion of the “Descent of Man”: “We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system- with all these exalted powers- Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin” (Ch. 21). Darwin, in opposition to practically every major biological scientist of his day, insists that humanity is a single species united in common descent from earlier ancestor species. Racism simply holds no credibility in Darwin’s worldview.



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Steven J.

posted December 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm


Your Name, there is a difference, subtle but crucial, between Darwin’s point about the advantages of cooperation within the tribe and Hitler’s point about Aryan’s capacity for self-sacrifice making them “superior.” Darwin isn’t arguing about what is “superior” or “inferior;” he is attempting to argue that natural selection can account for a moral sense. A sense of compassion, a desire to do good to others, has to start within a local population, like any other trait, and spread outward, and it is not likely to spread outward, any more than a mutation for eye color or lactose-tolerance will, unless it helps the mutant pass on his own genes (for a recent mutation, copies of those genes may well exist in close kin — which most of his tribe is — but not in distant tribes). Evolution cannot explain a moral sense of “the universal brotherhood of man” unless it starts as a sense of “the brotherhood of the men I actually hang out with from day to day.”
About the quote from _The Descent of Man_, let me make two points. First, the distinction between “the Negro or the Australian” and “the Caucasian” is a contrast between the most high-tech societies known to Darwin and the best-known low-tech societies. “Civilized” and “savage” races is a techological rather than a “racial” distinction. Second, I have read a number of creationist sources from within the last couple of decades that make the same casual assumptions about technological levels and literacy and obvious distinctions between humanity and non-humanity.
Many creationists make comments such as, e.g. “the texts on animal psychology are all in the zookeeper’s office; there are none in the cages” (there will be none in the buildings of illiterate tribes in the interior of Papua New Guinea, either), or “the distance between an ape and a human being who can read and write is the distance of infinity” (at the time Darwin wrote, of course, most human beings couldn’t read and write; many cultures were still unaware that the ability even existed). This intuitive sense that technological and economic distinctions — horse-drawn carriages, gas lighting, and printed books as opposed to hunter-gatherer lifestyle — separate us as sharply from gorillas and chimpanzees as do purely anatomical, intellectual and linguistic distinctions is not limited to Darwin or to evolutionists or to nineteenth-century Anglo-Saxon supremacists.
I do not see, here, any necessary implication that darker-skinned peoples cannot become literate and high-tech. The point is, rather, that it’s easier to see the similarities between any humans and nonhuman apes when both are pursuing a hunter-gather lifestyle without metals or literacy.
And “as we may hope” modifies “in a more civilized state.” Darwin was implying that motor vehicles and the internet distinguish a society even more sharply from stone-age hunter-gatherers than do horse-drawn carriages and lending libraries, and hoping that over time humanity would grow more technologically advanced and more able to care for the weak and ill rather than regressing to barbarism or even remaining static.



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N.Schuster

posted December 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm


Mainer:
Didn’t most Victorians focus on civilizing the “Savages?” Y’know, the “white mans burden.” Darwin insisted that their extinction was inevitable. And even if humans are all one species, natural selection occurs between members of the same species. Or between groups. In chapetr 5 he writes about how natural selection happens even in modern cities. Darwin wrote about human tribes fighting each other. Common origins don’t prevent competion. And conventional theology has it that all humans are descended from one couple.
And Hitler does seem to use “the creator” and “nature” intechangibly.
Steven J:
Are you saying that exterminate does not mean exterminate?



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Steven J.

posted December 28, 2009 at 6:59 pm


N. Schuster asked me, “Are you saying that exterminate does not mean exterminate?”
I’m saying two things.
First, Darwin was describing, not prescribing; noting that other cultures have been exterminated in the past and predicting that further genocides will occur is not advocating genocide.
But second, that Darwin’s point is not primarily sociological or political, but taxonomical: he’s explaining why we find apes as living intermediates between monkeys and humans, but not ape-men as living intermediates between apes and humans. Given this, it’s not entirely relevant whether humans, in conflict over resources with other human cultures, invariably resort to extermination rather than assimilation, or whether hunter-gatherer cultures sometimes vanish peacefully without the biological extinction of their members.
Stone-age hunter-gatherers of our own species can be assimilated; ape-man hunter-gatherers could not, and competition for resources in the same ecological niche alone would have driven them extinct, even if modern humans never deliberately hunted them down and killed them (but given the number of times modern humans have hunted down and killed even other modern humans, our _H. sapiens_ ancestors probably were not gentle with relict populations of _H. erectus_).
As for your question to N. Schuster about what Victorians typically did, Darwin had seen 19th-century white Europeans hunting South American Indians like so many wild animals. He’d surely heard about the slaughter of the Tasmanians, and probably about the Indian Wars (“the only good Indians are dead”) in the United States. And Victorian-era Europeans were not the only civilized people on Earth ever to encroach on the territories of less civilized peoples: the Black populations of Africa are mostly descendants of agriculturalists who displaced earlier hunter-gatherer peoples akin to the Khoisan of southern Africa. Maybe they always peacefully assimilated the displaced hunter-gatherers. I’d guess that was not invariably the case, though.



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Mainer

posted December 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm


N. Schuster: “Darwin insisted that their extinction was inevitable.” Darwin expressed an opinion–not a fact. His statement is no different today than a zoologist speculating that the orangutan may be extinct in the wild in a decade. In the end, thankfully, Darwin’s prediction did not come true. He also consistently disparaged the deplorable treatment of colonials and slaves by some of his Victorian brethren, and was thrilled when American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison approved of his anti-slavery diatribe in “The Voyage of the Beagle.” That’s hardly the reaction of someone who desired the extermination of other human beings, I daresay.



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Yitzhak

posted December 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm


In your heart of hearts you know you are wrong because you cannot face your critics—only censor them.



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David Klinghoffer

posted December 29, 2009 at 12:37 am


Censor critics? How on earth could you think to accuse me of that? Just read this thread. Most of the comments here are critical. Please do explain, “Yitzhak.”



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N.Schuster

posted December 29, 2009 at 7:28 am


Darwin was making a prediction based on his theory, scientists do that all the time.



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Mainer

posted December 29, 2009 at 3:49 pm


N. Schuster: Darwin made an observation based on the status of information available at the time. Europeans were wiping out other groups with impunity at the time (or forcing them to accept European hegemony).
Likewise, a scientist today might state, based on the rate that rain forest destruction is proceeding, that the rain forest will be exterminated in “x” number of years. Scientists alter their opinions all the time since science is based on confirmation or refutation of observed data. Indeed, we know that Darwin was wrong on several points due to the state of information available to him. If Darwin were alive and had access to genetics–which he did not in his era–he would have certainly modified his predictions based on new information. That’s what scientists do.



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Lauren

posted December 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm


Knowledge is not evil; the application of knowledge can be. If someone is unjustly hanged do we blame gravity? I once again ask David if he has or would consider taking a college course in evolution? I would be interested in your perspective of taking such a course. What do you think?



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Anderson

posted December 30, 2009 at 9:22 am


David,
Reading this would do you a lot of good:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem



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David Klinghoffer

posted December 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm


Anderson, rather than giving me a website to look at, why not try explaining to me in your own words how quoting historians on the impact that Darwinism had on Mengele constitutes an ad hominem attack on anyone? My subject here is an idea, not a person.



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Ollie

posted January 5, 2010 at 12:54 am


Mainer, you wrote on Dec. 24
“When [Hitler] does reference evolution, it is always in the sense of “advancement” or “progress”–never in the proper scientific context–and with the notion of some sort of guiding power at work–a much more Creationist notion than a Darwinian one.”
This is just a problem of translation. The German word for Evolution is “Entwicklungslehre”, which also could be translated as “Progression Theory”.
http://www.dict.cc/german-english/Entwicklungslehre.html
http://www.dict.cc/german-english/Entwicklung.html
Thus, Hitler was using the word in the same context and the same understanding as the scientists of his time.
btw, I am a native German speaker



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Mere_Me

posted January 5, 2010 at 10:27 am


Social Darwinism (of course) is a satanic idea. No doubt a demon-possessed man like mengele used it satanically.
Just cruise the Atheist websites these days and you see the intense hatred for “bible-believers” is setting the stage for another visit of hell to earth.
Call that ad hom all you want to.
I’ll call it evidence.



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Your Name

posted January 5, 2010 at 8:02 pm


Some of the commenter’s here doubt that Joseph Mengele was a Darwinist? That’s a joke right – they’re trying to be funny? Believe me, If Mengele was not 100% Darwinian he would never have worked for the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology. His supervisors, Eugen Fisher and Otmar Von Verschuer, would have thrown him out in less than a minute.



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Mainer

posted January 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm


Ollie and Your Name: If Hitler was such a “Darwinist,” then why does he never mention him ever and had his works banned? Hitler was certainly influenced by social Darwinism which, as many of us have indicated ad nauseum, is a misapplication and misinterpretation of Darwinian theory. Social darwinism, Mere_Me is certainly what Mengele was influenced by, not Darwinian theory. Furthermore, anyone taking the time can pour over “Mein Kampf” and find far more religiously-inspired statements than those based on any semblance of scientific thought. Hitler repeatedly proclaims he is doing God’s work. Furthermore, “Gott Mit Uns” was on Nazi soldiers’ belt buckles–not “Darwin with us.” Rational people can quickly ascertain the roots of Hitler’s insane ideology, and it certainly isn’t Darwinian.



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm


Mainer
The practise of putting “Gott Mit Uns” on the belt buckles was started in the Kaiser’s time. It was merely the continuation of a German military tradition.



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Your Name

posted January 7, 2010 at 7:43 am


I like to construct theories; it’s really fun – and educational too. I have a theory about those German military belt buckles stamped with the slogan Gott Mit Uns. My special theory is (and remember this is my theory, I made it up all on my own, you must give me credit for it) – my theory is that they were most likely used to hold up a soldiers pants. Related to that is another special theory of mine; that paper money and coins with the slogan In God We Trust, and found in the pocket of PZ Myers, were most likely used for spending. Don’t forget! My name is No Name. So you must credit me, No Name, if you mention these theories.



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Mainer

posted January 7, 2010 at 9:00 am


“We are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls [...] We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity [...] in fact our movement is Christian.” — Adolf Hitler, 1928 Speech.
Deflecting the major role Christianity played in inspiring the Nazi movement onto red herrings–like Hitler’s inaccurate and sophmoric knowledge of science–dishonors the memory of those who died at the hands of the Nazi murderers.



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Andrew Ryan

posted September 6, 2010 at 11:50 am


“The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger”
Who said this? Someone refuting Darwinism no doubt. Well it was Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. Hitler carefully included all of Darwin’s works in his banned books list. In fact all books pertaining to the “false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism” were banned by the Nazis.
It doesn’t matter how much you remind us how unpleasant Mengele was – this article offers not a scrap of evidence to tie it or eugenics to Darwin’s theory of NATURAL selection, which, being natural, not artificial, has nothing to do with eugenics.
“Social Darwinism” is, of course, simply the politically correct way of saying “applied Darwinism.”
I might as well say that you accepting the evidence that Mengele removed people’s kidney’s without anaesthetic puts YOU on a slippery slope to ‘applying’ that information and performing such ghastly experiments yourself. Why not say that genocide is simply the PC way of saying ‘applied accepting of that the holocaust took place’?
Thus every Christian (or anyone else) who accepts the holocaust took place is on a slippery slope to committing genocide, as surely as anyone who accepts that natural selection is the best explanation we have for biological diversity is on a slippery slope performing ghastly medical experiments. Obviously this would be an absurd argument.



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kiana and sofia

posted May 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm


the hallocaust was horrible



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kiana and sofia

posted May 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm


i can’t believe this even happend.!! :(



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kiana and sofia

posted May 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm


i cant believe josef mengele would do such a thing



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