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Darwin and Hitler: The idea of a master race and subhuman Jews does not fit well with Darwin’s theory

The film claims that Darwinism involves a “deprivileging of human life,” which was instrumental to the Holocaust. There is absolutely no question that Darwinism, when wedded to atheism, can and for some does lead to this devaluing, and many Darwinians not only recognize but also overtly endorse this.See, for example, James Rachels, Created From Animals: the Moral Implications of Darwinism. Oxford, 1999. On the other hand, many prominent Darwinists, including Richard Dawkins himself, repudiate this and argue that Darwinian theory actually helps illuminate what is most distinctive and precious in humanity. We are capable of “nurturing pure, disinterested altruism -- something that has no place in nature something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world...We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.”Richard Dawkins. The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. 3rd edition. 2006. p201. And of course for a Christian who accepts evolution, there is no necessary devaluation at all. Humans are made in the image of God, by virtue of divine decree and special relationship to the Creator, whether the mode of creation was by primary or secondary, supernatural or natural, causes.

But for purposes of argument, what if Darwin does lead to devaluation, at least for some thinkers? Contrary to what the film claims and what it might seem on the face of things, it is actually not the deprivileging or devaluing of human life that was necessary to fuel the Holocaust fires. Rather, it is the selective deprivileging and devaluing of some lives. It is not that humans are claimed to be mere animals with no value, terrible though this would be. It is that some humans are super valuable - Ubermenschen - and others are subhuman, toxic pollutants. This is the essence of monstrous notions of “race hygiene” and, in fact, is the core of all genocidal attempts to eliminate groups of people who are viewed as evil or inferior. People are treated inhumanely, when they are viewed as distinctively inhuman or somehow essentially different than ourselves.

This has nothing intrinsically to do with Darwin. It is a tragically archetypal human problem embodied in the self-deluded profession of the Pharisee, “I thank you, Lord, that you have not made me like that other man.” And the modern versions of this sentiment, so destructively tied to racism, are themselves pre-Darwinian. The monumental race based interpretation of human history that inspired all future versions - On the Inequality of Human Races - was written by the 19th Century Frenchman, Arthur de Gobineau, before Darwin ever published anything about evolution.

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Darwin and Hitler: The idea of a master race and subhuman Jews does not fit well with Darwin’s theory

Seeking an Open Inquiry
Is Evolution Wedded to Atheism?
Do “anti-science bigots...censor scientists and stifle science”?
Are ID advocates being expelled?
Was Caroline Crocker expelled?
Was Richard von Sternberg expelled?
Was Guillermo Gonzalez expelled?
Should ID advocates be expelled?
Did Darwin lead to Hitler?
Darwin and Hitler: Darwin disavowed selective breeding of humans
Darwin and Hitler: Prominent anti-Jewish voices rejected Darwin
Concluding Comments: Walls Torn Down?


Dr. Jeff Schloss
Dr. Jeff Schloss

See also:

The Relation of Science & Religion
Purpose and Design
The Argument From Design
The Anthropic Principle
Charles Darwin
DNA Double-Helix