We weren’t expecting to write a sequel so soon to our post from two days ago, Hitler & Darwin, Part II, but the occasion calls for it and we can’t resist.
If you need background, we laid it out at the start of our earlier post before we wrote about a paper by University of Chicago historian Robert J. Richards titled Was Hitler a Darwinian? We also discussed an article by Faye Flam which was not only about Richards’ paper, but also about the campaign by Richard Weikart to claim that Darwin was the intellectual cause of the mad policies of Adolf Hitler.
Weikart is described in our earlier post so we won’t repeat that here. The main thing to know about him is that he holds the coveted title of “fellow” (i.e., full-blown creationist) awarded by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
After being confronted by Richards’ paper and also by Flam’s column about it, Weikart responded by writing Can Darwinists Condemn Hitler and Remain Consistent with Their Darwinism?, which which appears at the Discoveroids’ blog.
As you read Weikart’s blog article, keep in mind what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t defend his “Darwin caused Hitler” theory in any specific way. He doesn’t address Richards’ paper at all — not a bit. What he does instead is criticize Faye Flam — on a totally peripheral point. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us. He begins by describing his interview with Flam before she wrote her article:
I threw down the gauntlet to many of my Darwinian opponents by telling her that if Darwinism is indeed a purposeless, non-teleological process, as many evolutionists and biology textbooks proclaim, and if morality is the product of these mindless evolutionary processes, as Darwin and many other prominent Darwinists maintain, then “I don’t think [they] have any grounds to criticize Hitler.”
We’ve seen this claim before from other creationist outfits, but they never seem to focus exclusively on Hitler — that obsession is almost unique to Weikart and his Discoveroid colleagues. The other creationist organizations usually just babble about morality in general — and we’ve written about such nonsense several times before. For example, see Creationism and Morality, and also see Morality, Evolution, and Darwin. Now we’re going to observe the same “Darwinism = Immorality” argument coming from the Discoveroids — who steadfastly deny being creationists despite using their key arguments. Weikart says:
… I have spoken with intelligent Darwinists who admit point-blank that they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler, so I am not just making this up. [Skipping some alleged quotes from “Darwinists.”]
This is obviously not an undisputed point among Darwinists, but it is a position embraced by many leading Darwinists, and it does seem to reflect Darwin’s own position. If indeed ethics is an illusion, merely the product of mindless, purposeless processes, it is hard to see what basis Darwinists could have to condemn Hitler morally. Indeed, on several occasions I have asked those committed to the evolutionary origins of morality about the implications of their views: “Can you say then that Hitler is objectively evil or not?” Usually, they reluctantly admit to me that they have no objective basis to condemn Hitler or any other purveyors of atrocities.
Strange stuff. Very strange. Let’s read on:
Flam, however, tries to take a different approach. First, she seems to imply that since we don’t suppose that Galileo or Newton or Einstein should provide us with any moral guidance, neither should we expect it from Darwin.
That’s a fair statement, isn’t it? Not to Weikart. He continues:
However, she (like many other Darwinists I’ve talked with) fails to make a crucial distinction here. Most scientists, including Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, did not ever claim to explain anything about morality. … . On the other hand, Darwin devoted quite a few pages of Descent of Man to explaining the evolutionary origins of morality. Applying Darwinian insights to morality is not distorting the theory at all (as it would be for someone to draw moral implications from relativity theory). Rather, it is explicitly part and parcel of Darwin’s own theory of human evolution.
Ah, we get it. Darwin’s theory of evolution is all about morality. No doubt, were we to consistently apply Weikart’s style of reasoning, we should conclude that Hitler’s National Socialism was all about Darwinism. Stay with us, it gets worse:
Secondly, she [Faye Flam] argues that “Darwin himself wrote that violence, selfishness, charity, and goodwill are all part of human nature. He hoped that we would choose to act on the better parts.” Wait a minute. Where did this notion of “better” come from? If Flam is taking a fully naturalistic Darwinian perspective, as she seems to be, with evolution being a purposeless, non-teleological process, why does she think that charity and goodwill are any “better” than violence and selfishness.
See there? Weikart brilliantly points out that only creationists can distinguish good from evil — which explains why we see such … such nobility of character continuously exhibited by all Discoveroids. The rest of us are wandering around in an immoral fog of random chaos. Weikart is too much of a gentleman to mention it, but his thesis easily explains the enormously high number of violent crimes committed by biologists, and — compared to all other categories of inmates — their embarrassingly high rate of incarceration in maximum security prisons. Here’s more:
Flam’s third response is plagued with the same problem. She concludes her article by asking, “If our lives really did hinge on countless accidents, couldn’t that notion make life ever more precious?”
We like that one. It’s been one of our oft-repeated notions. The last time we expounded on it was Creationism and the Value of Life. Responding to that, Weikart says:
Again, she is smuggling ideas into her argument that are fundamentally incompatible with her worldview. “Precious” implies that something has value, meaning, and significance; indeed it means that something has more value than other things. However, a naturalistic understanding of Darwinism cannot sustain the notion that life is precious, because everything, not just life, is the product of chance and would be equally valuable, making life no more precious than anything else in the cosmos.
Got that? Only creationism allows you to value things. How do we know? Weikart says so, and he’s a Discoveroid “fellow” so he knows what he’s talking about.
Is there any reason to go on with this? Well, we’ve come this far so here’s a little bit more from Weikart’s final paragraph:
I’m happy, of course, that Flam thinks that charity and goodwill are better than violence and selfishness. I’m also glad that she thinks human life is precious. Her inconsistency rescues her from the nihilism implicit in her worldview. … However, it would be even nicer if she were to embrace Christianity, which actually provides us with reasons to believe that human life has value, that loving your neighbors is superior to hating them, that acts of kindness are superior to acts of violence, and that Hitler was objectively evil.
Truly, this is creationism’s finest moment. When Weikart’s “Darwin caused Hitler” theory is taken down by a genuine academic publication, one which is mentioned by Faye Flam in her column, Weikart responds only to Faye. And how does he do that? By claiming that she has no morality — thus leaving it to his Discoveroid readers to conclude that they should ignore her because she’s probably some kind of hussy. Weikart is a classy guy.
Oh, Faye has posted a response: I Get Spanked by Creationists for Accepting Reality and being a “Darwinist”, but no response at all would have been better. That’s what creationists deserve.
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