Richard Dawkins on Expelled, evolution and hitler

i really enjoyed reading this letter.  some great information on hitler’s religious views are summarized here.  if this jew’s reaction to the film is typical, expelled is much more evil than i initially imagined.  letter via:

On 18th April, the day Ben Stein‘s infamous film was released, Michael Shermer received the following letter from a Jew (referencing a past article that Shermer had written debunking the Holocaust deniers) whose identity I shall conceal as “David J”.

Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing. We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!

Shermer wrote to Mr J to ask if he had by any chance just seen Expelled, and he received this reply:

Yes I have. You know, I respect you as a human being and you have done great work exposing psychics and frauds, but this is a very touchy issue that affects me and family emotionally. Our family business was affected because of Auschwitz because now, our family has nothing. It is gone. Things began to make sense once I saw the movie and I am just appalled. I have learned a lot from Ben Stein, a Jewish brother, who has opened my eyes up a bit.

It seemed to me that Ben Stein and his lying crew were more to blame than Mr J himself for his revolting letter. I therefore decided to write him a personal letter and try to explain a few things to him. It then occurred to me (indeed, Michael Shermer suggested as much) that there are probably many others like him, whose minds have been twisted in this evil way by the man Stein, and that it would be a good idea to publish the letter. I decided to wait 24 hours to see if he would reply, although I didn’t expect him to. I am now publishing my letter to him, exactly as I sent it to him except that I have removed his name.

Richard


Dear Mr JMichael Shermer forwarded me a letter from you which suggests that you have unfortunately been taken in by Ben Stein’s mendacious and/or ignorant suggestion that Darwin is somehow to blame for Hitler. I hope you will not mind if I write to you and try to undo this grievous error.

1. I deeply sympathize with you for the loss of your relatives in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, I don’t think that could really be said to justify the tone of your letter to Michael Shermer, who is a kind and decent man, as even you seemed to concede in your second letter to him, and the very antithesis of a Nazi sympathizer.

Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing. We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!

Just look at those words of yours. Probably you regret them by now. I certainly hope so, but I’ll continue to write my letter to you, on the assumption that you still feel at least a part of what you wrote.

2. Hitler’s horrible opinions were not all that unusual for his time, not just in Germany but throughout Europe, including my own country of Britain, by the way. What singled Hitler out was the fact that he somehow managed to come to power in one of Europe’s leading nations, which was also one of the world’s most technologically advanced nations. Hitler had a lot of support in Germany. His horrible bidding was done by millions of ordinary German footsoldiers, and the great majority of them were Christians. Many were Lutheran, and many (like Hitler himself) were Roman Catholic. Very few were atheists, and whatever else Hitler was he most certainly was not an atheist. It is sometimes said that Hitler only pretended to be Catholic, in order to win the Church’s support for his regime. In this he was very largely successful. So, whether or not Hitler was himself a true Catholic (as he often claimed) the Church bears a heavy responsibility for what happened. And Hitler himself used religion to justify his anti-Semitism. For example, here is a typical quotation, from the end of Chapter 2 of Mein Kampf.

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

Hitler’s obscene anti-Semitism was able to hold sway in Germany because there was a deeply embedded history of anti-Semitism in Germany, and indeed in Europe generally.

3. Going further back in history, where do we think the toxic anti-Semitism of Hitler, and of the many Germans whose support gave him power, came from? You can’t seriously think it came from Darwin. Anti-Semitism has been rife in Europe for many many centuries, positively encouraged by most Christian churches, including especially the two that dominate Germany. The Roman Catholic Church has notoriously persecuted Jews as “Christ-killers”. While, as for the Lutherans, Martin Luther himself wrote a book called On the Jews and their Lies from which Hitler quoted. And Luther publicly said that “All Jews should be driven from Germany.” By the way, do you hear an echo of those words in your own letter to Michael Shermer, “We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States.” Don’t you feel just a twinge of shame at those truly horrible words of yours? Don’t you feel that, as a Jew, you should feel especially regretful that you used those words?

4. Now, to the matter of Darwin. The first thing to say is that natural selection is a scientific theory about the way evolution works in fact. It is either true or it is not, and whether or not we like it politically or morally is irrelevant. Scientific theories are not prescriptions for how we should behave. I have many times written (for example in the first chapter of A Devil’s Chaplain) that I am a passionate Darwinian when it comes to the science of how life has actually evolved, but a passionate ANTI-Darwinian when it comes to the politics of how humans ought to behave. I have several times said that a society based on Darwinian principles would be a very unpleasant society in which to live. I have several times said, starting at the beginning of my very first book, The Selfish Gene, that we should learn to understand natural selection, so that we can oppose any tendency to apply it to human politics. Darwin himself said the same thing, in various different ways. So did his great friend and champion Thomas Henry Huxley.

5. Darwinism gives NO support to racism of any kind. Quite the contrary. It is emphatically NOT about natural selection between races. It is about natural selection between individuals. It is true that the subtitle of The Origin of Species is “Or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life” but Darwin was using the word “race” in a very different sense from ours. It is totaly clear, if you read past the title to the book itself, that a “favoured race” meant something like ‘that set of individuals who possess a certain favoured genetic mutation” (although Darwin would not have used that language because he did not have our modern concept of a genetic mutation).

6. There is no mention of Darwin in Mein Kampf. Not one single, solitary mention, not one mention in any of the 27 chapters of this long and tedious book. Don’t you think that, if Hitler was truly influenced by Darwin, he would have given him at least one teeny weeny mention in his book? Was he, perhaps, INDIRECTLY influenced by some of Darwin’s ideas, without knowing it? Only if you completely misunderstand Darwin’s ideas, as some have definitely done: the so-called Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer and John D Rockefeller. Hitler could fairly be described as a Social Darwinist, but all modern evolutionists, almost literally without exception, have been vocal in their condemnation of Social Darwinism. This of course includes Michael Shermer and me and PZ Myers and all the other evolutionary scientists whom Ben Stein and his team tricked into taking part in his film by lying to us about their true intentions.

7. Hitler did attempt eugenic breeding of humans, and this is sometimes misrepresented as an attempt to apply Darwinian principles to humans. But this interpretation gets it historically backwards, as PZ Myers has pointed out. Darwin’s great achievement was to look at the familiar practice of domestic livestock breeding by artificial selection, and realise that the same principle might apply in NATURE, thereby explaining the evolution of the whole of life: “natural selection”, the “survival of the fittest”. Hitler didn’t apply NATURAL selection to humans. He was probably even more ignorant of natural selection than Ben Stein evidiently is. Hitler tried to apply ARTIFICIAL selection to humans, and there is nothing specifically Darwinian about artificial selection. It has been familiar to farmers, gardeners, horse trainers, dog breeders, pigeon fanciers and many others for centuries, even millennia. Everybody knew about artificial selection, and Hitler was no exception. What was unique about Darwin was his idea of NATURAL selection; and Hitler’s eugenic policies had nothing to do with natural selection.

8. Mr J, you have been cruelly duped by Ben Stein and his unscrupulous colleagues. It is a wicked, evil thing they have done to you, and potentially to many others. I do not know whether they knowingly and wantonly perpetrated the falsehood that fooled you. Perhaps they genuinely and sincerely believed it, although other actions by them, which you can read about all over the Internet, persuade me that they are fully capable of deliberate and calculated deception. You are perhaps not to be blamed for swallowing the film’s falsehoods, because you probably assumed that nobody would have the gall to make a whole film like that without checking their facts first. Perhaps even you will need a little more convincing that they were wrong, in which case I urge you to read it up and study the matter in detail — something that Ben Stein and his crew manifestly and lamentably failed to do.

With my good wishes, and sympathy for the losses your family suffered in the Holocaust.

Yours sincerely

Richard Dawkins

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One thought on “Richard Dawkins on Expelled, evolution and hitler

  1. Stein is under heavy attack for ‘exaggerating’ the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the ‘Politics-is-applied-biology’ Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I.

    It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous Haeckel with his still recycled fraud embryo drawings in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871.

    Darwin did not apply his revolutionary theory to the human beings until his Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. This was after the ambitious Haeckel had firmly stepped in the print, and the old Darwin paid hommage in his introduction:
    “The conclusion that man is the co-descendant with other species… is not in any degree new… maintained by several eminent naturalists and philosophers… and especially by Häckel. This last naturalist, besides his great work
    ‘Generelle Morphologie’ (1866), has recently (1868, with a second edit. in 1870), published his ‘Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte,’ in which he fully discusses the genealogy of man. If this work had appeared before my essay
    had been written, I should probably never have completed it. Almost all the conclusions at which I have arrived I find confirmed by this naturalist, whose knowledge on many points is much fuller than mine.”

    I quote from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline them a bit):
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

    Race biological reason was not only rhetoric, it was scientific. There is evidence, that In Ukraine and Baltic countries, the people wellcomed the German troops as redeemers. These illusions evaporated soon, when the SS (Schutzstaffel) and civilian administration followed the field-army. Hitler did not even try to separate the Russian people from the Soviet government. The Eastern Europeans Slavic people were born “slaves”, indeed. For Hitler, they were “Untermenschen” (Bullock 1958 pp- 423-5). The ethymology for the Greek “barbaros” was in their uncomprehensible tongue, the word was onomatopoetic.

    BUT marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between “white” and “colored races” was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould’s scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87).

    So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular Finnish media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the ‘Up’ of the ancient city from Plinius’ Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17).

    Hitler’s formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the “Nordics”, a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel’s position on the Jewish question was assimilation, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

    In 1917 the immigration of “defective” groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census.
    Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the “nordic” balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
    and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the “yellow” group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

    Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century, and in 1933 the German people had not lived normal life for twenty years. And so Adolf Hitler did not need his revolution. He did not have to break the laws in Haeckel’s country, in principle, but to constitute them.
    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee, that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

    PS. Here’s the final chapter scanned from an evolutionist scholar D. Gasman from his The Scientific Origins of National Socialism: Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League (chapter 7, Gasman 1971)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Gasman.htm
    I emphasize that Daniel Gasman is NOT an IDist or Idealist of any kind.

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