Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Evolution is not the source of all evil in the World

This is really just a philosophical argument trying to argue that evolution should not be taught in schools and, in some cases, should prevent us from believing in it.

The most commonly used example of “evil” resulting from “Darwinism” is, not surprisingly, Adolf Hitler. Hitler is, quite deservedly, considered to be evil incarnate by just about all thinking people. Many people try to understand the forces that made him into the monster that he was. Creationists like to point to evolution as one of those influences.

If you do a Google search for web sites with the words “Darwinism” and “Hitler” you’ll get nearly a million hits. The vast majority of those accuse Charles Darwin’s ideas of being a major influence on Hitler.

For example, one web site is titled “Hitler used Evolutionary Theory to Justify the Holocaust”[1]. That web page begins with these words:

“Darwin's idea that evolution means ‘the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life’ eventually led to Nazism and the Jewish holocaust…”

There’s even at least one book written on that subject. It’s titled “From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany”. The author is Richard Weikart.

As a side issue, it is more likely that Hitler was more strongly influenced by Ernst Haeckel than he was by Charles Darwin. Haeckel himself was an evolutionist who was influenced by Darwin. The argument for Haeckel being a larger direct influence than Darwin on Hitler is that Haeckel died in 1919 so his life overlapped with Hitler’s by a few years. Also Haeckel lived and worked in Germany, wrote in German, was an anti-Semite and campaigned strongly for a biological basis for racism, and was also a strong promoter of eugenics. All of those are beliefs shared by Hitler. Darwin had none of those beliefs – except, of course, for a belief in evolution.

But the real issue is whether or not “evolutionary theories” resulted in the Holocaust, especially whether or not the Holocaust would have taken place without Darwin publishing the idea of evolution through natural selection.

The answer is: almost certainly.

Long before Darwin wrote “The Origin of Species” people, farmers in particular, knew that they could control the genetic characteristics of plants or animals by killing those that had the characteristics they didn’t want, and letting the others reproduce.

If you want fat pigs, kill the skinny ones before they reproduce and let the fat ones breed.

Though Hitler applied these methods to human beings, that’s really what he was doing. If you only want people with blonde hair, kill the people that have hair of a different color. That isn’t really evolution; it’s artificial selection. People have been using those methods to create different breeds of dogs for thousands of years.

We all know that Hitler was an anti-Semite. His anti-Semitism, more than anything else, drove his evil plans. What contributed to his anti-Semitism?

A significant influence on Hitler was a famous Christian leader – Martin Luther.

Martin Luther’s importance in reforming the Christian church and establishing Protestant denominations is well known and I won’t discuss that here. It is not as well known that Luther was a strong anti-Semite. One of his books was titled “Von den Juden und Ihren L├╝gen (On the Jews and Their Lies)”. You can probably guess just from the title what that book is about. In that book he advocated setting synagogues on fire, destroying Jewish prayerbooks, forbidding rabbis from preaching, seizing Jews' property and money, smashing up their homes, and ensuring that these "poisonous envenomed worms" be forced into labor or expelled "for all time." He also seemed to sanction their murder, writing "We are at fault in not slaying them."[2]

Luther was a German and wrote in German so his writings would have been easy for Hitler to read.

Many of Hitler’s Nazi associates confirm that Luther had a significant influence on all of their anti-Semite views.

Walter Buch, the head of the Nazi Party court, admitted Luther's influence on Nazi Germany:

"Many people confess their amazement that Hitler preaches ideas which they have always held.... From the Middle Ages we can look to the same example in Martin Luther. What stirred in the soul and spirit of the German people of that time, finally found expression in his person, in his words and deeds. "

-"Geist und Kampf" (speech), Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf

Bernhard Rust served as Minister of Education in Nazi Germany. He wrote:

" Since Martin Luther closed his eyes, no such son of our people has appeared again. It has been decided that we shall be the first to witness his reappearance.... I think the time is past when one may not say the names of Hitler and Luther in the same breath. They belong together; they are of the same old stamp [Schrot und Korn]."
-Volkischer Beobachter, 25 Aug. 1933.

There are a number of similar quotes which can be found. A good source is The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 by Richard Steigmann-Gall.

So a strong case can be made that the Holocaust was more significantly influenced by Christian leaders than it was by any evolutionary scientist!

Of course I don’t think that Christianity was the direct cause of the Holocaust either. Hitler was a deranged psychopath. He would have found some excuse for murdering people.

The same thing is true of others who have committed evil acts. All of them had personalities formed from many influences. Here and there it is even possible that someone’s misunderstanding of evolution was one of those influences, but evolution is not evil.

Which brings us to the most important point: regardless of whether or not evolution is evil, that doesn’t in any way falsify it as a scientific hypothesis. We might find out tomorrow that a huge meteorite, large enough to kill all life, is on a collision course with Earth. Even if we got the unanimous opinion of everyone on Earth that the meteorite was “evil”, that consensus wouldn’t change its path by even a fraction of an inch.

In the same way, calling evolution “evil” won’t change a single base-pair in the DNA that we share with chimpanzees.

[1] http://www.straight-talk.net/evolution/hit.htm, 04/01/2008.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther, April 3, 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment