THE DARWIN PAPERS
VOLUME 1 NUMBER XII
DARWIN AT NUREMBERG
"I don't claim that Darwin and his theory of evolution brought on the holocaust;
but I cannot deny that the theory of evolution, and the atheism it engendered,
led to the moral climate that made a holocaust possible"Jewish scholar Edward Simon (1)
From The Nebulous Hypothesis:
A Study of the Philosophical
and Historical Implications of
Darwinian Theory © 1996
James M. Foard
The Darwin Papers may be copied, printed
and distributed for free for non-profit and
educational uses provided acknowledgement
is made for material written by the author.
The Darwin Papers © 2000 James M. Foard
© 2004 James Foard
Now we must look into one of the darker, more ominous sides to Darwin's theory. We are going to investigate how our world-view affects our lives and see whether Darwin's world-view contributed to the genocidal Nazi holocaust of the 20th century. Indeed, there are certain very serious issues that need to be answered here. Do our ideas of our origin and destiny have significance for our everyday lives, and the lives of others around us? Does it affect the criterion we use by which we place value on human life and conduct? How do we define man? Is he merely the product of natural selection and of the society he lives in and hence merely a subject of the secular state, or is he a moral and spiritual being as well as a rational and physical being who answers to a higher set of laws and standards?
There are some momentous historic reasons why we should seek answers to the questions just posed. Do ideas of our origin and destiny take the form of actions that have moral and/or spiritual consequences to them, and if so, what has been the result of applying Darwinian theories in the world politic: how has the theory of evolution affected human life and culture; by what set of principles should people and nations be governed, and thus ultimately we must ask ourselves what is the purpose of human government and social institutions, whose set of laws and morals should we obey, and what should be the standard of accountability for the common citizen and for those in public office?
Mention was made in the earlier chapters of the notion of racial superiority implicit in Darwin's concept of evolution through natural selection. Did Darwin consider some races of man to be sub-species, not as equals created in the image of God, and did these evolutionary ideas make their way into the manner that nations conducted their social policies during the latter part of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth centuries?
From his own journal in Chapter One we have read where Darwin regarded the Indians of South America as little better than beasts that should be slaughtered to make way for better grazing land for cattle. Did writings in his Origin and in his Descent of Man contain these same ideas, ideas that some took and applied to human populations, ideas that Hitler and Stalin carried out, or is this simply an unwarranted criticism of his work? Is it unfair to suggest that the death camps at Auschwitz and the entire culture of death that spawned them were merely the next horrible and logical step in the application of his theory?
Often when it is pointed out by Darwin's critics that there is a historical link between Darwin's writings and the holocaust of the Nazis, apologists for Darwin will object that this was a perversion of his original idea, and that there is nothing in what he wrote that would imply or advocate a racist ideology. Is this indeed the truth or was there really a connection between what Darwin wrote and what Hitler carried out on a massive scale in Nazi Germany? In order to find out the truth of the matter, let us look at what Darwin actually had to say on the subject.
Darwin began the very first chapter of his Descent of Man by posing this
"He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws which prevail with the lower animals."
Thus Darwin is asking whether the same law or laws that govern the evolution of what he refers to as the lower animals also govern in the affairs of man as well.
What law could he be referring to? To find this out, we must go back to his Origin of Species, where in the final paragraph of his chapter on Instinct, he wrote: "Finally, it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination it is far more satisfactory to look at such instincts as the young cuckoo ejecting its foster-brothers, ants making slaves, the larvae of ichneumonidae feeding within the live bodies of caterpillars, not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings--namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die."
Thus Darwin is asking at the beginning of his Descent if this law of his leading to the advancement of all organic beings, "multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die," also applies to the race of humankind as well.
He goes on to ask in his Descent if the races of man actually differ enough to be divided up into what he later refers to as sub-species of man: "It might also naturally be enquired whether man, like so many other animals, has given rise to varieties and sub-races, differing but slightly from each other, or to races differing so much that they must be classed as doubtful species?"
Finally, again all on the very first page of his Descent of Man, for any reader to see, he poses the genocidal question as to whether or not a race war might produce "beneficial" results for mankind, with one race of man surviving and another race being exterminated:
"The enquirer would next come to the important point, whether man tends to increase at so rapid a rate, as to lead to occasional severe struggles for existence; and consequently to beneficial variations, whether in body or mind, being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated. Do the races or species of men, whichever term may be applied, encroach on and replace one another, so that some finally become extinct?"
To even pose such a question should naturally revolt any intelligent and moral person in a civilized society, however Darwin not only posed these questions at the beginning of his Descent of Man, we also find out that his own answer to all three questions, again on the very first page of his Descent of Man was YES!
"We shall see that all these questions, as indeed is obvious in respect to most of them, must be answered in the affirmative, in the same manner as with the lower animals."
Thus Darwin said that his "general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings . . . let the strongest live and the weakest die" also applied to the various races of man, and he saw "beneficial" results coming from a race war between the different races, or what he called later on in the same chapter the "sub-species" of man, with one race surviving and one race being exterminated!
Darwin elaborates on this theme further on in his Descent, describing this dream of his for mankind's future when the black races of man, as well as the mountain gorilla of Africa, will become extinct, thus enhancing the chances for the evolutionary advancement of the more "civilized" races of man:
"At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla." (Descent of Man, Chapter Six: On the Affinities and Geneology of Man, On the Birthplace and Antiquity of Man)
It may surprise some people to find out the dark truth about Darwin, but the fact remains nevertheless that he did indeed propose in his second major work, The Descent of Man, that certain races of human beings were actually sub-species, that a race war among mankind's different races, with the extermination of one race and the survival of another would bring "beneficial" results in evolutionary terms, and he did explicitly state, as we have just read, that black people were intermediate on the evolutionary ladder between apes and white people. and wrote that it was his hope that in the near future the black races of mankind, the aborigines, and the African gorillas would become extinct, thus enhancing the evolutionary potential of the Caucasian race!
Darwin proposed in horrifying and explicit language that black Africans and Australian aborigines occupied a sub-species position between white Europeans and baboons! He not only stated this as his belief, but proposed that in the near future "as we may hope" according to his evolutionary theory, these "sub-races" of man will eventually be exterminated in a struggle for survival, along with the endangered mountain gorilla of Africa!
This type of statement makes the term "ethnic cleansing" seem mild by comparison.
Certain evolutionists, in attempting to excuse Darwin, have made the claim that Darwin was merely an impartial observer of the natural processes, and that he was only noting the historical fact that extinctions have and are occurring. This type of reasoning completely misses the point.
There is a vast difference between observing that there are endangered species, such as the gray whale, the mountain gorilla etc., and encouraging the extinction of those species, which Darwin did! He was anything but impartial. And it should be noted that he made those predictions according to his theory, and said that they would be "beneficial" to evolution, and he applied the "beneficial" results of extinction, as can be clearly seen by anyone with a reasonable degree of intelligence from the above quotes, to the different races of man as well! To blur the line between observation and advocating would be like saying that Hitler was a social scientist who was concerned that the Jews were an endangered ethnic group!
This was Darwin's "final solution" to the race problem years before the Nazi's had their bloody hand in it. (In light of this, I think it seems a great disservice to our distinguished sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, that the most notorious modern adulator of Darwin's theory, evolutionist Steven Jay Gould, wrote this kind of fawning praise for Darwin in a noted scientific journal: "I have long considered Abraham Lincoln to be Charles Darwin's American soul-mate-for they were born on the same day of February 12, 1809." (Steven Jay Gould, On A Toothed Bird's Place In Nature, This View Of Life, Natural History, February 1996, pp.23.-Note: Since writing this, Steven Jay Gould, life-long enemy of Christ, who learned Marxism at his father's knee, went to his eternal reward on May 20, 2002)
When I brought up Darwin's endorsement of racial genocide on the CNN Web discussion board under the evolution topic (03/13-15/01), I became the unfortunate victim of an internet mugging by a motley gang of evolutionists who descended on me like a swarm of angry gnats. There were too many of them for me to swat away, so I had to exit while I still had my shirt on. I learned a lesson that night about wandering down dark evolutionary alleyways without proper armament.
Along with the typical evolutionist stereotyping about being a narrow minded creationist who doesn't believe in "science", I was accused of taking Darwin out of context and of paraphrasing Darwin even after providing the quotes that anyone with enough energy, intellect and interest could easily look up for themselves, but the icing on the cake came when the evolutionist moderator of the discussion board accused me of spamming when quoting myself; for using my own written material in the debate, material which is freely distributed for anyone to read, I was censored.
Also the traditional evolutionist's argument was made that Darwin was merely expressing the prevalent view common to the intellectual climate of his day, and an evolutionist by the name of Brennan attempted to excuse Darwin by claiming that when Darwin was using the term "sub-species" to refer to the various races of man, this term in the English language did not mean the same as it does today.
For one thing, for anyone to make the excuse that Darwin was merely
reflecting the contemporary attitude of his day completely ignores the fact that
Darwin's Descent was published some fifty years after the great
Christian, Wilberforce, lobbied successfully to outlaw slavery in England; ten
years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation; and seven years after the end
of the American Civil War. Also, there were some very prominent blacks at that
time in England and America who had attained financial prosperity and achieved
notable educational success and who would not have appreciated Darwin's
designation of their status.
As noted already, to use this type of historical revisionism to excuse Darwin one might just as well say that what Hitler was saying about the Jews in Germany during the Third Reich was not so bad because, well after all, it was being said all over Germany back then.
Regarding Brennan's contention that species and sub-species did not meant the same thing back then as it does now, let it be said that Darwin was not using medieval English. The Linnean binomial system of scientific classification had been in use for well over a hundred years when Darwin published his Descent of Man and African blacks were definitely classified within the genus and species Homo sapiens, i.e. human beings, and Darwin was surely aware of this. The word "species" meant the same thing then as it does now, and when Darwin called certain races of man "sub-species", that is exactly what he meant, in all of it's xenophobia and racism.
Let it never be said that Darwin was overflowing with the milk of human kindness in his evolutionary theory when applying it to mankind. Could anything more horrible be imagined from the writings of Adolf Hitler than what Darwin plainly stated in the above quote.
Darwin was a zealous advocate of the extinction of species (see Chapter Fourteen of The Darwin Papers) and of the extermination of certain races of man, and were he alive today he would be beating the drum to the clubbing of the baby harp seals in Alaska. He was no mere impartial observer of nature. And he left his stamp on the National Socialist and Marxist totalitarian dictatorships that led to the deaths of millions of people in the twentienth century in the name of evolutionary "social progress".
Some defenders of Darwin have noted that he followed the fashionable trend among the wealthy elite in England during the American Civil war in writing against slavery in his correspondences. This is indeed true, for Darwin did not want to make slaves of the blacks and aborigines, he preferred the much more deadly, "efficient" and brutal solution to the race problem. After all, Hitler did not want to make slaves of the Jews, he wanted to exterminate them. And it should be born in mind that Darwin's ideas on the eventual extermination of the black races were written years after slavery had already ended, thus if there was any shift in his attitude or opinion concerning black-white relations, it was from a moderate position to an extreme position of advocacy of ethnic cleansing.
I am continually amazed at the way evolutionists will go to any extreme to defend Darwin whenever any type of criticism of him or his theory is put forth. They will literally bend over backwards to excuse him of any fault in his person or argument, and yet these same defenders of Darwin, "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel", will jump to join in with any attack on or imagined fault of great men of principle, faith, courage and vision such as Washington, Jefferson and Columbus.
Let us read more regarding Darwin's viewpoint of certain races of man as subspecies. We find where he wrote in Chapter Seven of his Descent: "It is not my intention here to describe the several so-called races of men; but I am about to enquire what is the value of the differences between them under a classificatory point of view, and how they have originated."
After quoting various opinions on both sides of the issue, Darwin gave us his opinion on the subject: "Some naturalists have lately employed the term "sub-species" to designate forms which possess many of the characteristics of true species, but which hardly deserve so high a rank. Now if we reflect on the weighty arguments above given, for raising the races of man to the dignity of species, and the insuperable difficulties on the other side in defining them, it seems that the term "sub-species" might here be used with propriety. But from long habit the term "race" will perhaps always be employed. The choice of terms is only so far important in that it is desirable to use, as far as possible, the same terms for the same degrees of difference."(Descent, Chapter 7, p.347, Benton Edition)
Darwin often referred to the different races of mankind as sub-species:
"In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point when the term "man" ought to be used. But this is a matter of very little importance. So again, it is almost a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of man are thus designated, or are ranked as species or sub-species; but the latter term appears the more appropriate." (Descent, Chapter Seven: On the Races of Man: Sub-species)
Thus Darwin restated his view that the various races of man were of different species, again calling some races "sub-species," even proposing that certain races had differing mental capabilities: "The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatization and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties." (Descent, Chapter Seven: On the Races of Man, pp.343)
Darwin not only had a racially biased view of the non-Aryan races, he even held other Europeans who were not of English descent with contempt. Here is his opinion of the Irish, taken from his Descent of Man:
"A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton, namely, the fact that the very poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves and their children in comfort. . .Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr. Duncan they produce many more children. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: 'The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits..."(Descent, Chapter Five: On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties During Primeval and Civilised Times: Natural selection as affecting civilised nations.)
Darwin quoted Greg here in referring to his Irish neighbors as degraded members of society.
He also wrote that the western nations of Europe owed none of their "superiority" to Greek ancestry: "The western nations of Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors, and stand at the summit of civilisation, owe little or none of their superiority to direct inheritance from the old Greeks", to whom he referred in a quote from Greg as "'corrupt to the very core.'" (Descent, ibid.)
Darwin shared with us his evolutionary viewpoint on what happens to more primitive cultures when encountering more "advanced" (i.e. European) cultures in Chapter Seven of the Descent, On the Races of Man: On the Extinction of the Races of Man: "The partial or complete extinction of many races of man is historically known . . . Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, and race with race . . .the contest is soon settled by war, slaughter, cannibalism, slavery, and absorption . . .When civilized nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race."
Darwin also stated that the wealthy nations would eventually replace the less
privileged races in the struggle for life, and it is apparent that he believed
this to be a good thing:
"But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil; for without the accumulation of capital the arts could not progress; and it is chiefly through their power that the civilised races have extended, and are now everywhere extending their range, so as to take the place of the lower races."(Ibid)
This very concept of the strong ruling over the weak by brute force was precisely what Hitler advocated in the Tenth chapter of Mein Kampf:
"Man must realize that a fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole realm of Nature and that his existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife . . .where the strong are always the masters of the weak and where those subject to such laws must obey them or be destroyed,"echoing Darwin's idea of a struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, and his "one general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings . . . let the strongest live and the weakest die."
Darwin's idea of a battle for survival sounds eerily like the speech that Hitler gave in Munich on April 13, 1923, where he stated:
" So the strength which each people possesses decides the day. ALWAYS BEFORE GOD AND THE WORLD THE STRONGER HAS THE RIGHT TO CARRY THROUGH WHAT HE WILLS. History proves: He who has not the strength - him the 'right in itself' profits not a whit. A world court without a world police would be a joke. And from what nations of the present League of Nations would then this force be recruited? Perhaps from the ranks of the old German Army? THE WHOLE WORLD OF NATURE IS A MIGHTY STRUGGLE BETWEEN STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS - AN ETERNAL VICTORY OF THE STRONG OVER THE WEAK. There would be nothing but decay in the whole of Nature if this were not so. States which should offend against the elementary law would fall into decay. You need not seek for long to find an example of such mortal decay: you can see it in the Reich of today...."
It should be remembered that the subtitle to Darwin's Origin of Species was The Preservation of favored Races in the Struggle For Life, which we now see he applied to the races of man as well. What we are beginning to see is a chapter largely neglected by historians, a chapter that chronicles one of the darkest pictures of human history; the attempted extermination of entire races of human beings based on the evolutionary concept that some races are more advanced than others and that according to Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest and a struggle for survival there should be open competition between the different races of man for dominance on this planet.
There is an amazing similarity between what Darwin wrote and what the Nazis were expounding during the reign of Adolf Hitler. The Nuremberg Law passed by the Nazis in Germany in 1933 was specified as a "Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health: The Attempt to Improve the German Aryan Breed."
Article I Section 1 of the Nuremberg Law stated: "Anyone who suffers from an inheritable disease may be surgically sterilized if, in the judgement of medical science, it could be expected that his descendants will suffer from serious inherited mental or physical defects."
Article I Section 2 stated: "Anyone who suffers from one of the following is to be regarded as inheritable diseased within the meaning of this law:"
Inheritable St. Vitus dance (Huntington's Chorea)
Serious inheritable malformations
Article II Section 1 of the Nuremberg Law states:
"Anyone who requests sterilization is entitled to it. If he be incapacitated or under a guardian because of low state of mental health or not yet 18 years of age, his legal guardian is empowered to make the request. In other cases of limited capacity the request must receive the approval of the legal representative. If a person be of age and has a nurse, the latter's consent is required."
These laws sound as though they could have been taken directly from the
conclusion to Darwin's Descent of Man, where Darwin wrote that only those
deemed physically fit should have children, and that those deemed physically or
mentally inferior should not breed:
"Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care. . .Yet he might by selection do something not only for the bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but for their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian and will never be even partially realised until the laws of inheritance are thoroughly known. Everyone does good service, who aids towards this end. When the principles of breeding and inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man. . . .The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring. (Darwin, Descent of Man, Conclusion)
Darwin even advocated that the poor, the sick, the lame and the socially disadvantaged should be discouraged from producing offspring, and in fact suggested that vaccinations against disease, aid to help the poor, and asylums and hospital care for the sick were wrongly directed and would lead to the degeneration of our species! "I have hitherto only considered the advancement of man from a semi-human condition to that of the modern savage. But some remarks on the action of natural selection on civilized nations may be worth adding . . . With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. . . .The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected " (Descent of Man, Chapter Five, On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties during Primeval and Civilized Times: Natural Selection as affecting Civilized Nations.)
It was precisely this evolutionary ideology that led to the sterilization, torture and murder of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and children of mixed racial heritage and to the Nazi concentration camps of Dachau, Ravensbruck, Treblinka and Auschwitz in the years just prior to and during the era of the Third Reich in Germany. The Sterilization Law eventually led to the legalization of euthanasia in Germany in 1939, which in turn led to the murder of millions of "undesirables". Hitler's ideas were rooted firmly in Darwin's theory of evolution and eugenics. This was not borderline lunatic science but was in the vanguard of respectable genetics in what was one of the most progressive scientific and technological societies of its day.(2)
The similarity between Darwin's writings and Hitler's is scandalous, yet even more scandalous is the fact that this has not been pointed out before among most scholars on evolution and Darwin. Some Christians, in a myopic attempt to bring Darwin within the fold of the Church, have made the patronizing claim that Darwin himself was a Christian during much of his life, or that he had a death bed repentance and conversion from his evolutionary views to more conventional Christian beliefs. One might as well boast that Hitler or Stalin were Christians in that case. As far as Darwin's own feelings for religion and his objectivity towards the Biblical account of creation, after his abandoned candidacy for Holy Orders he said of the Old testament that "from its manifestly false history of the earth...and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian."
Of his view of the New Testament of Jesus Christ, he could not see how "anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine."" (The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, Edited by Nora Barlow, W.W. Norton and Co., New York, London, 1958.)
Here we have Darwin's views on Christianity, and it appears that those were the views he was brought up around as well, so there was no gradual conversion, as he sometimes claimed, depending on whom he was trying to convince, from Christian beliefs to evolution. He did state categorically, nonetheless, that by the time he was forty years old he had totally given up on Christianity, (Desmond and Moore, pp. 658), saying to one correspondent "I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God." (Ibid, pp. 635). He also wrote that he did not believe that there ever has been any Revelation. (Ibid, pp. 635)
He further wrote in his Autobiography that his belief in evolution was incompatible with the belief in the immortality of the human soul, stating that if the soul were immortal, and if this life were not the all in all, then evolution would be meaningless: "Believing as I do that man in the distant future [through evolutionary development] will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation [referring to the Christian belief that this world will be consumed someday, but that there shall be a new heavens and earth afterward] after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful". (Autobiography of Charles Darwin and Selected Letters, Edited by Francis Darwin, 1892)
Here Darwin was criticizing the Christian belief in the immortality of the human soul, stating that those who adhere to this belief, along with the belief that there would be an after-life in a better world after this one, and that this present world will come to an end someday, thus that this present life was not the end result of existence, were in direct contradiction to his hope that evolutionary development would go on and on forever in this life.
Hitler, whom we have seen also emphasized the struggle for existence as a mainstay of his belief system, also repudiated Christianity in his private conversations. In fact we find out that Hitler's hatred of Christianity and the Jews was tied in with his attempt to apply Darwinian theories of a master race on a worldwide scale. He said on October, 10, 1941: "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical conclusion, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure."(From Hitler's Secret Conversations, October 10, 1941)
Hitler was not referring to the Natural Law spoken of in the Declaration of Independence, which acknowledged that all men were created equal, but he was referring to the law of "survival of the fittest," found in Darwin's writings, and from which he gained much of his fuel for his propaganda campaign.
Having read of Darwin's views on religion in the first chapter, should it seem like much of a surprise that Karl Marx, the author of the Communist Manifesto desired to dedicate his book to Darwin. Even though Darwin declined the offer, Marx, who stated that religion is the "opiate of the people,"wrote to his friend Engels: "Darwin's book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle." (3)
University of Columbia historian Jacques Barzun wrote, "The path from Darwin to Marx to Wagner is an unbroken circle, and our world of action lies within it as in an iron wring." (4)
Jonathan Miller wrote, "Like Freud and Marx, Darwin exploited the monotonous security of a happy marriage to work undisturbed at a revolutionary theory. Under the cover of respectable matrimony, all three men succeeded in hatching ideas which did much to undermine the world upon which traditional family life was based."(5)
Darwin stated that one reason that he did not accept the idea of the Judeo-Christian God was because of so much suffering in the world. It has still to be estimated how many millions of people died under the cruel blow of the hammer and sickle during the seventy year reign of atheistic Communism in the Soviet Union, the reign of Mao Tse Tung in China, and the communist regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, but the high estimates in the twentieth century alone suggest that more than 100 million people have been slaughtered in the name of Communism, over 50 million in the Soviet Union, and more recently three million in Southeast Asia under the regime of Pol Pot, the mad dictator responsible for the "Killing Fields."
Barzun wrote, "Darwin did not invent the Machiavellian image that the world is the playground of the lion and the fox, but thousands discovered that he had transformed political science . . . War became the symbol, the image, the inducement, the reason, and the language of all human beings on the planet. No one who has not waded through some sizable part of the literature of the period 1870-1914 has any conception of the extent to which it is one long call for blood . . . " (6)
Ralph Ross, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities and Chairman of the Humanities Program at the University of Minnesota has written: "We can probably guess what Hitler means if we see how Christianity as 'the systematic cultivation of the human failure' is 'a rebellion against natural law' if natural law includes human equality, justice, and liberty, as eighteenth-century thinkers conceived it. But if "Christianity" here means chiefly . . . moral precepts like Love your neighbor, The meek shall inherit the earth, and If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other, then it is, "a protest against nature" if nature is thought of as opposed to these. 'Nature red in fang and claw,' the battle ground of the struggle for survival, dog eat dog! Nature is thus conceived as the survival of the fittest. That would be opposed to the Christianity of the Gospels. And surely Hitler, from what the world knows of him, worshiped strength and abhorred weakness. Failures, in his mind, would be the weak . . .Then natural law would be Darwinism: the survival of the fittest (7)
Unfortunately Ross, as many apologists for Darwin have done, made the mistaken claim that Darwin was not talking about human society in his writings, but only about animal species, thus absconding Darwin from any responsibility for the horrors we have seen perpetuated on the human race during the twentieth century, but we have seen that this is anything but the truth. Darwin was clearly referring to human society as well as animals when applying his law of survival of the fittest.
Adrian Desmond and James Moore, in their epic 808 page work Darwin, write: "Social Darwinism' is often taken to be something extraneous (to Darwin's theory), an ugly concretion added to the pure Darwinian corpus after the event, tarnishing Darwin's image. But his notebooks make plain that competition, free trade, imperialism, racial extermination, and sexual inequality were written into the equation from the start -Darwinism' was always intended to explain society." (8)
Thus Darwin suggested as perfectly consistent with his theory the odious "final solution" to the race problem, a solution as simple and barbaric as anything uttered by Goebbels or Hitler during the period of Nazi domination, written in Darwin's Descent before either of them were born.
The Britannica said of Darwin: "He had no historical or political sense whatever, as may be seen in what he wrote to the Austrian explorer Karl von Scherzer (December 26, 1869): 'What a foolish idea seems to prevail in Germany on the connection between Socialism and Evolution through Natural Selection."(9)
In other words, it was foolish on Darwin's part not to see the obvious connection between belief in natural selection and Socialism, the mixture that produced the bitter fruit of National Socialism later on in the next century with the frightening concept of a "master race" and "inferior races" and the idea of eliminating those "unfit to breed"; applying the horrific scientific implications of Darwinian natural selection to human populations.
Jewish scholar Edward Simon wrote: "I don't claim that Darwin and his theory of evolution brought on the holocaust; but I cannot deny that the theory of evolution, and the atheism it engendered, led to the moral climate that made a holocaust possible."(10)
According to Alan Bullock, the basis of Hitler's beliefs was Social Darwinism.(11)
Echoing Darwin's law of a struggle for survival and "let the strongest live and the weakest die", Hitler wrote: ""Man has become great through struggle . . .Whatever goal man has reached is due to his originality plus his brutality . . .All life is bound up in three thesis: struggle is the father of all things, virtue lies in the blood, leadership is primary and decisive."(12)
Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf his theory of struggle, nearly identical to Darwin's ideas on the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest: "He who wants to live must fight, and he who does not want to fight in this world where eternal struggle is the law of life has no right to exist."(13)
Is it any wonder that Hitler, the philosophic step-child of Charles Darwin, persecuted Christians in Germany under the Third Reich. He jailed hundreds of Protestant ministers and shut down many Catholic monasteries in Germany. Is it surprising then in light of Hitler's evolutionary beliefs that he could say "The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity." (Hitler's Secret Conversations, July 11, 1941.) And in calling Christianity "the invention of the Jew" we find out at least one reason for his horrible gassing and burning six million of the fellow countrymen of the Lord. (Ibid, pp. 131)
There is generally a history to the growth of an idea. The philosophy of the superiority of the Aryan race did not spring up overnight when Adolph Hitler seized control of the government in Germany in 1932, although most historians when writing about this period of history have grossly oversimplified the reasons behind his rise to power and of the Nazi movement in general, making it appear as though he was just one isolated, foaming at the mouth racist madman with a group of like-minded thugs who assumed the reigns of power in Germany because he promised the people jobs and a return to tradition, and since the German economy was in a terrible depression the people voted him in.
This is often portrayed as merely an issue of German nationalism, which to a certain degree it was, yet seldom mentioned is the fact that the inhuman policies of exterminating "inferior races," Jews and other non-Aryan peoples, was not just some private idea of Hitler's own concoction, nor did it originate from the band of socialists who supported him. That terrible experiment conducted on innocent human beings by Germany during the Third Reich to "improve the breeding stock" of humanity did not spring up out of an intellectual void. The idea of the superiority of the Aryan race had been around for quite a few years before Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Josiah Strong, Herbert Spencer, and the notorious Earnst Haeckel all enthusiastically promoted this concept and claimed that the idea was intrinsically tied in with Darwin's ideas of natural selection. The German people, indeed the intellectual elite the world over had been actively lapping up these ideas ever since the publication of the Origin of Species and later of his Descent of Man.
Now we have traced these ideas back to Darwin himself, we have seen what Darwin had to say on this issue in his second major work. Darwin held that some races were more "evolved" than others, which led to the idea of a "master race" and "inferior races", along with the prospect of "improving" our breeding stock through elimination of those unfit to breed.
The connection between Darwin and Hitler and Stalin runs like an iron thread through this dark period in history, and Darwin's conclusions regarding this issue must be taken at their full weight of seriousness in evaluating the man and his work, for since we have now seen that he did come to the conclusion that the extinction of certain races of mankind would be beneficial in the evolutionary scheme of things, and put this odious concept into his major writings, then we should have a new referendum on this man, it would be time for a reassessment of the applicability of the theories of Charles Darwin to human species, lest we wander down that same slippery slope again
But what was the precise chain of intellectual events that led from Darwin to the Holocaust?
Who were the men involved in this transmission of genocidal ideas that fueled Adolf Hitler's idea of a master race? And who was the man related to Darwin and whom Darwin made frequent reference to in his Descent of Man who developed the ghoulish pseudo-science of eugenics, which the Nazis used to sterilize hundreds of thousands of people during the Third Reich?
We will attempt to answer some of these questions in the next issue ofThe Darwin Papers.
1. Taken from a quotation by Edward Simon, (Another Side to the Evolution Problem, Jewish Press, Jan. 7,1983, pp.248), also from Henry Morris's excellent book, History of Modern Creationism, Master Book Publishers, 1984, pp. 49.
2. Art Caplan, “What's Morally Wrong With Eugenics”, University of
Bioethics.net, The Moral Implications of Science, Medicine and Research, 7/10/2000, Http:health/upenn.edu/~bioethics/library/papers/art/EugenicsNotreDame.html
3. Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944), pp.31.
4. Barzun Darwin, Marx, and Wagner, Little, Brown and Company, 1941, pp.17-18.
5. Jonathan Miller, Darwin For Beginners, Pantheon Books, Random House, New York, 1982, pp.83.
6. Barzun, pp.100.
7. Ralph Ross, John Berryman, and Allen Tate, The Art of Reading, pp. 128, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1966.
(8)Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin, Warner Books, 1991.
(9)Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol.16, pp.1029, Darwin, (1986)
(10)Taken from a quotation by Edward Simon, (Another Side to the Evolution Problem, Jewish Press, Jan. 7,1983, pp.248), from Henry Morris’s excellent book, History of Modern Creationism, Master Book Publishers, 1984, pp. 49.
(11)Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin, Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, p. 11
(12)Speech at Chemnitz, April 2, 1938
(13)Mein Kampf, Murphy trans. P. 242