ONE OF THE LATEST and most despicable ploys of the Intelligent Design creationists (who have neither science nor sanity in their toolbox) is promoting the lie that Darwin’s theory of evolution led to Hitler’s insane policies. Here is just a tiny sample from the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids): The Historical Connection from Darwin to Hitler, and Hitler’s Debt to Darwin.
Let’s consider a few questions about this bizarre Discoveroid contention:
1. Did Hitler know anything about Darwin’s theory? Answer — there’s no evidence that he did. Hitler was a high-school dropout, and may not have studied it at all. His interests were art and architecture. And killing people.
2. Did Hitler actually apply Darwin’s theory? Answer — even if he tried, his actions don’t make any biological sense. Limiting the diversity of the gene pool is detrimental (and perhaps suicidal in the long run). Biologists who know and work with Darwin’s theory don’t practice or teach Hitler’s policies. [Addendum: Darwin expressly disapproved of eugenics, saying it was contrary to evolution. See: Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin.]
3. How much knowledge of evolution does it take to round up Jews, Gypsies, retardates, etc., and slaughter them? Answer — none. Deliberately ridding society of those deemed unfit isn’t in Darwin’s writings, but it’s an idea that’s been around for millennia, and such historical practices were available to Hitler as examples. Infanticide to eliminate inferiors, for example, was practiced by the state in Sparta. There are extreme examples of mass extermination in the Bible — Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example.
We don’t know if Hitler used those accounts when framing his policies, but at least they existed and were commonly known — unlike Darwin’s biological work which contained nothing comparable. For more scriptural examples of genocide which may have influenced Hitler, see:
Deuteronomy 7:1-2: “… the seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.”
Joshua 6:21: “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”
4. Was Darwin the source of Hitler’s “master race” obsession? Answer — nothing like that is in Darwin’s writings. Darwin observed (and who has not?) that some nations are more culturally advanced than others. He never concluded that this was due to racial superiority. Indeed, in the final chapter of Descent of Man, Darwin wrote:
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.
5. What about Hitler’s attempt to deliberately breed a master race? Answer — Darwin never discussed anything like that. Hitler’s program of matching SS studs with compliant wenches is not a new idea — horse breeders have been using such “science” since before the Trojan war. Cattle breeders have known how to improve their herds ever since humans have kept domesticated animals. Plato (the darling of mystics everywhere) recommended state-supervised selective breeding of children: The Republic by Plato, Book 5.
5. So who did influence Hitler? Answer — Mein Kampf mentions Bismarck, Henry Ford, Frederick the Great, Lenin, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Napoleon, Richard Wagner, and many others — but not one word about Darwin. The Darwin-Hitler “connection” is non-existent.
We should point out the obvious truth that Darwin — being outspoken against slavery and stating clearly in Descent of Man that all humans were a single species — was probably the least racist of his contemporaries. Winston Churchill and his British countrymen were unquestionably educated in Darwin’s science, yet they opposed Hitler’s policies.
One more thing should be mentioned. In Mein Kampf, Hitler clearly indicates that he’s a creationist. Check it for yourself: Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, Volume Two, Chapter X:
For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God’s Creation and God’s Will.
We have no idea if Hitler actually believed that, but whatever he believed, there’s certainly no “Darwinism” there.
For a far more likely influence on Hitler, one which was widely circulated in German society, check out On the Jews and Their Lies, by Martin Luther.
[You may also want to see our essay on a similar matter: Marx, Stalin, and Darwin.]
Addendum: Panda’s Thumb has an interesting article on this: Darwin → Hitler? Naw.
[I]f there is this strong connection between Darwin and Hitler, it is interesting that Hitler’s biographers all seem to have missed it. Experts on the deranged architect of the holocaust have spent countless hours tracing the origins of Hitler’s virulent anti-Semitism and none of them have discovered this link to Darwin.
Update: See Hitler, Darwin, and … Winston Churchill?
Update: See Hey, Klinghoffer: How About Hitler & Gobineau?
Update: See Hitler & Darwin, Part II.
Update: Hitler & Darwin, Part III.
See also: WorldNetDaily, Darwin, and Hitler.
See also: Darwin, Churchill, and Hitler.
See also: The Ultimate Hitler-Darwin Debunking.
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