There are times in our lives when we have moments of clarity about something we didn’t previously understand. Last night, I had one of those moments.
American Freedom Alliance’s Avi Davis presented another informative and insightful Literary Café event, “Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany”. The book discussed was “From Darwin to Hitler” by Richard Weikart.
The evening started with a short film by John West: “The Biology of the Second Reich (the Social Darwinist Origins of the First World War)”. This was followed by a Skype chat with Mr. West himself. His film is based on Richard Weikart’s book, which is about the influence Darwin’s Theory of Evolution had on Germany’s leaders and society. Before World War I, Germany had a very sophisticated society. Its educational system was second to none, and its scholarly and scientific output was admired worldwide. The intelligentsia, in their arrogance, fell prey to Darwin’s theory.
Darwinism undermines the Judeo-Christian ethic and the sanctity of life. I have never understood how an intelligent, sophisticated society could go from being so civilized, to exterminating entire races of people. I wondered why there was little to no outcry from the general population. But, if you believe man is the result of “natural selection”, and life is about “survival of the fittest”, then it isn’t such a leap to accept that extermination of an inferior race is a necessary part of the evolutionary process ~ no matter how distasteful such a necessary part might be.
Germans believed they were a superior race. Many saw war as a biological, even moral, necessity in the progression toward natural selection. Evolutionary ethics promoted eugenics as a way of keeping the race superior. The only way to do that was to eliminate “inferior” people. The conflict was who would decide which people were inferior.
Darwinism spawned many movements that denied the sanctity of life. I think that’s what I had not previously realized, that Darwinism had influenced so many biologists, philosophers, and scholars during late 1800’s and early 1900’s. People like Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood to eliminate the black race. And Peter Singer, who believed humans are not superior to animals. He coined the term “speciesism”, which is the “prejudice” of human superiority to animals.
Darwinists believed morality was not fixed, that it “evolved” as times changed. They believed anything that improved the superior race was moral, and anything that degraded the superior race was immoral. Therefore it was moral to eliminate inferior, weaker people.
Professor Weikart’s book examines Darwinism’s influence on Hitler and German scholars. He explores moral relativism, evolutionary ethics, devaluing the sanctity of life, de-humanizing the disabled, and eugenics. He doesn’t suggest that Darwinism caused Nazism, only that it was an influence. Hitler embraced evolution’s survival of the fittest and claimed it was a moral imperative. In “MeinKampf”, he says “preservation of culture is tied to the iron law of necessity and the right of victory of the best and strongest … Whoever wants to live, must struggle, and whoever will not fight in this world of eternal struggle, does not deserve to live. Even if this is harsh, it is simply the way it is”. Hitler considered the Jews dishonest, greedy, and immoral, and, therefore, inferior. Eliminating them was moral, according to evolutionary principles.
Richard Weikart’s book is well researched and extensively footnoted. Dr. Weikart is a professor of history at Cal State, Stanislaus.
I had never realized the depth of influence Darwin had on scholars of that era, and I wonder how much he prejudiced their studies. Were they able to be objective, or did they look for how evolution fit their worldview? I can see how Darwinism was so readily embraced by the authors and founders of every political movement responsible for the moral decline of recent history.
Fabian Socialist George Bernard Shaw believed that people should have to justify their existence, or not be allowed to live. I can’t help but compare that to what is happening today.
Our schools are teaching evolution as fact, although it is still only a theory. If schools insist on teaching it as fact, they should, then, accept its “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” precepts. They should reject the sanctity of life. According to evolution, if a life can’t survive on its own, it shouldn’t. Superior races should reproduce, and inferior ones should be allowed to die out. That would require us to stop vaccinating people, stop using life-saving methods, stop transplanting organs, and stop supporting the poor. Wouldn’t that be the natural evolution of Darwin’s theory?