From Darwin to Hitler, or not? Part II

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Last year, I wrote a post called From Darwin to Hitler, or not? This post discussed the book From Darwin to Hitler by historian Richard Weikart, who just happens to be a Discovery Institute fellow. The thesis of the book is that Darwin and his ideas – common ancestry and natural selection – somehow led to Hitler and Naziism, although the logic connection between the two sets of ideas is extremely murky. Weikart’s book has been used by the Discovery Institute (see e.g. here), ARN (see the description of the new video – also look carefully at the tasteful video cover, posted at left), and other creationist groups to promote exactly this idea, which creationists had already been promoting for decades anyway, just without an official historian behind them.

While it is tempting, and I think legitimate, to dismiss the whole thing as a severe expression of Godwin’s Law, there are more sophisticated criticisms. My major points in my post were that (a) Weikart goes out of his way to bash and dismiss the “Haeckel to Hitler” thesis promoted by an earlier historian (Daniel Gasman), noting among other things that Haeckel was a pacificist, but (b) Haeckel has much more direct links to Naziism than does Darwin – Haeckel was closer in time, location, idealogy, promotion of eugenics, influence on Germany in the early 1900s, etc; therefore (c} Weikart’s Darwin-to-Hitler thesis is even sillier than the Haeckel-to-Hitler thesis that Weikart himself criticizes. But I’m just a blogger.

I previously linked to a news story describing a lecture by a University of Chicago historian of Darwin and eugenics, Robert Richards. The news article did not specifically mention Weikart, but I surmised then that Weikart’s book was the target of Richards’s critique. It looks like I was right, because Richards has now posted the published version of his lecture on his website (pdf). Richards’s conclusion?

Robert J. Richards Wrote:

[…]

The Judgment of “Historical Responsibility”

Brücher’s attribution of moral responsibility to Haeckel is of a type commonly found in history, though the structure of these kinds of judgments usually goes unnoticed, lying as it does in the deep grammar of historiography. For example, historians will often credit, say, Copernicus, in the fifteenth century, with the courage to have broken through the rigidity of Ptolemaic assumption and, thus, by unshackling men’s minds, to have initiated the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This, too, is a moral appraisal of historical responsibility, though, needless to say, Copernicus himself never uttered: “I now intend to free men’s minds and initiate the scientific revolution.” Yet, historians do assign him credit for that – moral credit for giving successors the ability to think differently and productively.

The epistemological and historical justification for this type of judgment is simply that the meaning and value of an idea or set of ideas can be realized only in actions that themselves may take some long time to develop – this signals the ineluctable teleological feature of history. While this type of judgment derives from the moral grammar of history, this doesn’t mean, of course, that every particular judgment of this sort is justified.

The Reaction of Contemporary Historians

How has Haeckel gone down with contemporary historians? Not well. His ideas, mixed with his aggressive and combative personality, have lodged in the arteries feeding the critical faculties of many historians, causing sputtering convulsions. Daniel Gasman has argued that Haeckel’s “social Darwinism became one of the most important formative causes for the rise of the Nazi movement.” [14] Stephen Jay Gould and many others concur that Haeckel’s biological theories, supported, as Gould contends, by an “irrational mysticism” and a penchant for casting all into inevitable laws, “contributed to the rise of Nazism.” [15] And most recently, in a book published last summer, entitled From Darwin to Hitler, Richard Weikart traces the metastatic line his title describes, with the mid-center of that line encircling Ernst Haeckel.

Weikart offers his book as a disinterested historical analysis. In the objective fashion that bespeaks the scientific historian, he declares, “I will leave it to the reader to decide how straight or twisted the path is from Darwinism to Hitler after reading my account.” [16] Well, after reading his account, there can be little doubt not only of the direct causal path from Charles Darwin through Ernst Haeckel to Adolf Hitler but also of Darwin’s and Haeckel’s complicity in the atrocities committed by Hitler and his party. They bear historical responsibility.

It is disingenuous, I believe, for the author to pretend that most readers might come to their own conclusions despite the moral grammar of this history. Weikart, Gasman, Gould, and many other historians have created a historical narrative implicitly following – they could not do otherwise – the principles of narrative grammar: they have conceptualized an end point – Hitler’s behavior regarded here as ethically horrendous – and have traced back causal lines to antecedent sources that might have given rise to those attitudes of Hitler, tainting those sources along the way. It is like a spreading oil slick carried on an indifferent current and polluting everything it touches.

Now one can cavil, which I certainly would, about many deficiencies in the performance of these historians. They have not, for instance, properly weighed the significance of the many other causal lines that led to Hitler’s behavior – the social, political, cultural, and psychological strands that many other historians have, in fact, emphasized. And they thus have produced a mono-causal analysis which quite distorts the historical picture.

While responsibility assigned Darwin and Haeckel might be mitigated by a more realistic weighing of causal trajectories, some culpability might, nonetheless, remain. Yet is there any consideration that might make us sever not the causal chain but the chain of moral responsibility? After all, Haeckel and, of course, Darwin had been dead decades before the rise of the Nazis. And as Monty Python might have put it, they’re still dead.

[…]

Conclusion

It can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis. I will confess, though, that I have not yet made up my own mind about the historical responsibility of Haeckel, with whom I have considerable sympathy.

[…]

[Robert J. Richards (2005). The 2005 Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture: “The Narrative Structure of Moral Judgments in History: Evolution and Nazi Biology.” Given on April 12, 2005. The University of Chicago Record, May 26, 2005.]

To be fair to Weikart, his webpage lists his replies to historian critics, including Richards (evidently Weikart has another critic who bashed his book in the Journal of Modern History, although I have not yet read the review in the March 2006 issue of the journal).

Weikart’s reply is basically “But I didn’t mean to tar Darwin and evolution with the odious reputation of Hitler and the Nazis, I put some weak disclaimers to this effect at the beginning of my book.” But this is ludicrous. The title of Weikart’s book is From Darwin to Hitler, and he has participated in and endorsed the streams of anti-evolution propaganda put out by the Discovery Institute and related groups – see the links above, and don’t miss www.darwintohitler.com – based explicitly on Weikart’s book (which, if memory serves, the Discovery Institute financed in the first place). At best, Weikart is an innocent academic who is being used by the creationists for their own nefarious ends. But it’s impossible to believe that he is that stupid, especially since he has regularly shown up at ID conferences and events (and in their videos) to advocate his thesis.

Some people think that the fake science of ID is a threat only to biology. But here is another piece of evidence showing that the ID movement is quite willing to twist any academic subject to carry out their mission to take down evolution.

141 Comments

I’ve never understood why historians felt a need to the apparent source of Hitlers behavior.

you don’t need a linneage; all you need are three things to explain Hitler’s rise to power:

Ignorance Desperation Apathy

Ignorance of information about the how much each of us share, rahter than what divides us. in Hitler’s case, he used that ignorance to make the jewish into a scapegoat for…

Desperation - Whenever a group of peope feel threatened, and see a dim future, desperation can motivate behavior that would otherwise seem unlikely. Germany after the treaty of Versailles was a MESS. sending a letter cost 1-2 million marks; buying a loaf of bread cost a “wheelbarrow” full of cash.

Apathy - It became easy to “look the other way” when given promises of a better life to come.

No need to propose any particular historical linneage. The pattern repeats itself throughout history, up to the present day.

Ignorance Desperation Apathy

Sounds kind of familiar, eh?

Weikart’s reply is basically “But I didn’t mean to tar Darwin and evolution with the odious reputation of Hitler and the Nazis, I put some weak disclaimers to this effect at the beginning of my book.” But this is ludicrous. The title of Weikart’s book is From Darwin to Hitler, and he has participated in and endorsed the streams of anti-evolution propaganda put out by the Discovery Institute and related groups — see the links above, and don’t miss www.darwintohitler.com — based explicitly on Weikart’s book (which, if memory serves, the Discovery Institute financed in the first place). At best, Weikart is an innocent academic who is being used by the creationists for their own nefarious ends. But it’s impossible to believe that he is that stupid, especially since he has regularly shown up at ID conferences and events (and in their videos) to advocate his thesis.

As with everything else in ID “theory”, all this “evolution caused Hitler” crap was standard YEC boilerplate thirty years ago, and is just being recycled and repackaged by the cheap-tuxedo’d IDers.

“However one may react morally against Hitler, he was certainly a consistent evolutionst.” (Morris, “Evolution and Modern racism”, ICR Impact, October 1973) “The philosophies of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche–the forerunners of Stalin and Hitler–have been particularly baleful in their effect: both were dedicated evolutionists.” (Morris, Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1974 p. 33)

Once again, we see that ID simply has nothing to offer, nothing at all whatsoever, that wasn’t already said decades ago by the creation “scientists”. (shrug)

I had a weird conversation with a YEC co-worker on this subject. When she made this Darwin-Hitler connection, I asked, “So, are you calling ME a Nazi? Are you saying that I believe in the extermination of Jews, or in eugenics, or anything else, at all, that the Nazis believed? Have you seen ANY evidence that would give support to that concusion?” She pretty much abandoned the idea on the spot, because when directed at any actual human being, it’s obviously ridiculous. Her easy capitulation was actually MORE frustrating, because I know she’ll still use the argument later. Intellectual integrity doesn’t seem to be a vital component of that worldview, so being thoroughly refuted, even to the point of admitting that your argument is illogical, doesn’t preclude using it later if it serves the cause. Ad hominem arguments, however, are okey-dokey.

Note that pages 268-274 of Ann Coulter’s book Godless (part of chapter 11, “The Aped Crusader”) are all about Darwin/Hitler. Weikart’s From Darwin to Hitler is cited repeatedly. This Nazi section comes right after the section blaming Darwin for Marxism/communism. Fun quote:

Ann Coulter Wrote:

The path between Darwinism and Nazism may not be ineluctable, but it is more ineluctable than the evolutionary path from monkey to man. Darwin’s theory overturned every aspect of Biblical morality. Instead of honor they mother and father, the Darwinian ethic was honor they children. Instead of enshrining moral values, the Darwinian ethic enshrined biological instincts. Instead of transcendent moral values, the Darwinian ethic sanctified death.

So it should not be surprising that eugenicists, racists, and assorted psychopaths always gravitate to Darwinism. From the most evil dictators to today’s antismoking crusaders, sexual profligates, and animal rights nuts, Darwinism has infect the whole culture. And yet small schooolchildren who know that George Washington had slaves are never told of the centrality of Darwin’s theory to Nazism, eugenics, abortion, infanticide, “racial hygiene” societies, genocide, and the Soviet gulags.

In his magnificent book From Darwin to Hitler, Richard Weikart documents the proliferation of eugenics organizations in Germany around 1900, all of which asserted their “scientific imprimatur by claiming harmony with the laws of evolution.”

[Ann Coulter (2006), Godless, p. 269.]

Sir_Toejam

I’ve never understood why historians felt a need to the apparent source of Hitlers behavior.

you don’t need a linneage; all you need are three things to explain Hitler’s rise to power:

Ignorance Desperation Apathy

While ignorance, desperation and apathy are root causes in most of the evils humanity has perpetrated on itself, the particular forms of the atrocities, and the ideology that justify them are shaped by cultural influences - the influences historians seek to trace. Ignorance, desperation and apathy may have led to Nazism in 1930’s Germany, but in an Islamic society, in a nation forged by a political union with a fundamentalist sect, they led to Al Qaeda in the 80’s and 90’s.

So historians do well to recognise the influences that led ignorance, desperation and apathy into Nazism in Germany - a recent recognition of the Germans as a people and a nation; a thwarted nationalism; a centuries long tradition of religiously justified anti-semitism; and sad to say, a eugenicist movement cloaked in Darwinian terminology. The moral responsibility for the latter does not, of course, lay with Darwin. Those same eugenicists without Darwin would have resorted to relgious justifications against miscegination, as their more religious racist contemporaries still did.

This Nazi section comes right after the section blaming Darwin for Marxism/communism.

hilarious, but not surprising coming from Coulter. she just stream-of-conscious like spews any rhetoric she ever heard that might please her fan base.

I hereby officially claim the idea of blaming George Bush on Darwinism.

oh, and I should probably claim the idea of darwinism being culpable for “Coulterism” as well.

;)

cultural influences - the influences historians seek to trace. Ignorance, desperation and apathy may have led to Nazism in 1930’s Germany, but in an Islamic society, in a nation forged by a political union with a fundamentalist sect, they led to Al Qaeda in the 80’s and 90’s.

thanks; that’s the point i was hinting at when i mentioned the same factors as a modern influence.

None of us are excepted.

My standard response to all the “Hitler is the result of evolution” crapola can be found at:

http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Hitler.cfm

“My standard response to all the “Hitler is the result of evolution” crapola can be found at:

http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Hitler.cfm

Ahh… but that there is facts and reason. Facts and reason come from the Devil.

I hope everyone here will pre-order my book, From Goehring to Weikart: the History of Propagandists, Intelligent Design, and Liars for Jesus”.

The best chapter I can tell you about is the one where Weikart gets Casey Luskin drunk on wine for the first time. It’s called “Cathedral of Tears” and when you read the transcripts you will freak.

Nick Matzke Wrote:

…Weikart has another critic who bashed his book in the Journal of Modern History, …

Nick, I’ve sent you a .pdf to your gmail account.

A couple of quote-mines from the review:

Up until the late nineteenth century, he [Weikart] claims, European civilization was governed by what he calls the “Judeo-Christian ethic” and its central principle, the “right to life.” This principle was “reflected in European legal codes which strictly forbade assisted suicide, infanticide, and abortion” (75). Weikart does not explain how other aspects of these codes, such as their requirement of the death penalty and their acceptance of domestic abuse, child labor, and other life-threatening practices, affirmed the “sanctity of human life.”

and the conclusion:

Neither religion nor science is well served by this oversimplified view of their complex history.

Bob

Good article Rev. Dr. I was not aware that Hitler justified much of his crimes via Divine Right.

Sadly, it’s expected that the creationists/IDers would assert that a “philosophy” (evolution) that produces mass violence is evil, while they completely ignore the fact that religious literature is the inspiration for much of the violence through history. I guess, as usual, there is simply no reason to expect them to apply any form of logic in the first place.

Regardless of his professional title, Weikart is just another IDiot jackass, and is treated properly by Pat Hayes here:

http://redstaterabble.blogspot.com/[…]te-mine.html

I have made my share of mistakes. We all do. That being said, even as an undergraduate, I would never have dared (or wanted to) employ the sort of quote mining that is routine in your published work. It is a shame that the professors who guided your education did not require you to fully engage the people and ideas that are the subject of your research.…

You also remind me that you’ve read extensively in the primary sources. I would say extensively, but not deeply. As a university professor, you have had the rare privilege of reading, thinking and writing for a living. I think it’s a shame you’ve wasted the opportunity to come to a deeper more rounded understanding of all the factors involved in the rise of Nazi ideology, and allowed yourself to become a mere propagandist instead.

Demonizing Darwin, evolution, and science is not a noble calling.

Who does the DI blame for all those “tyrants” and mass murderers before 1859? Vlad Tepes, et al. Could it be they all had precognition of The Origin? Were the witch hunts a precursor of natural selection? History, bloody history, makes so much sense now.

To the extent that any theory of eugenics is based on evolution, it would seem to me to be based on the principles of microevolution, understood by plant and animal breeders for centuries prior to Darwin.  The connection between macroevolution and eugenics (never mind Nazism) has never made any sense to me.

A couple of points:

The early 20th century was known as the period in which “darwinian evolution” was out of favor with scientists. It was called the “Eclipse of Darwinism”. It seems to be that the various social/political movements of that era relied more on “mendelism” or even “lamarckianism” or just simply the kind of folkloric beliefs about “blood lines”.

Our contemporaneous anti-evolutionists make a point of telling us that they accept “micro”evolution - evolution “within kinds” - and reject only “macro”evolution. There is no way that anyone can tie major evolutionary events (such as the natural origin of the bacterial flagellum) to these social/political movements. If there is any evolution implicated, it is most clearly evolution within “human kind”.

If the anti-evolutionists want to suggest that acceptance of evolution has evil consequences, then they ought to tell us how they can reconcile this with their acceptance of “micro”evolution.

Registered User wrote:

“I hope everyone here will pre-order my book, From Goehring to Weikart: the History of Propagandists, Intelligent Design, and Liars for Jesus.”

May I suggest a book cover to parody the one with Darwin and Hitler? How about a cover showing pictures of Dr. William Dembski and Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels? …and a fading picture of all the DI fellows in the background!!!!

One point that might be made: Darwin discovered something that turns out to be true. He didn’t develop a school of thought or a branch of philosophy. He can be “blamed” for nothing. If it were true that various people abandoned morality in the face of this truth, that doesn’t make evolution less true. It is also true that the earth does not sit on the back of a turtle, and revolves around the sun. But to fundamentalists, (potentially) dangerous truth = false. Here, the creationist/ID message can be seen most starkly: we must suppress knowledge for the good of the people.

Charles Darwin was an opponent of eugenics despite the fact that it was a product of his cousin Francis Galton. The theory of natural selection depends on diversity of inherited characteristics. Those species that are the most successful will have the greatest variety of potential adaptations. This will permit some of their populations to enter new ecologic niches and successfully compete with the occupants of these niches. This was his “wedge strategy”. Then when barriers (usually physical ones) separated those populations from the original parental stock then over time these divergences of characters would prevent these separate groups from interbreeding when they later became reintroduced by some other natural event. This is how a new species is created. The idea of a “purity of race” was diametrically opposed to natural selection which depended on variability and Darwin fought it whenever it came up, starting with Herbert Spencer. A lot of the Coulterization of the abuse of the word “evolution” is like terrorist bombers like Timothy McVey justifying their actions because they were told that “the big bang” was the “scientific truth” in physics class which is scientific proof that explosions are beneficial.

My personal reaction, which I’m sure has been repeated any number of times before, was “Whaaat… Wasn’t hatred of jews and that particular miscegenation based on Hitler’s and the culture’s belief in christianity? Which, btw, is the basis for creationism. Can DI play that game much longer?”

I also thought Hitler and his closest associates was flirting with pantheism and german mythology (“aryan races”) as mentioned elsewhere, but reading Lenny’s article I’m not so sure anymore.

One might also notice that there are similarly titled books that do intend to draw some connection between the people mentioned. For example, the famous From Frege to Gödel, which is a collection of papers and commentary about logic from 1879 to 1931. The editor certainly means to put Gödel’s work in the same class as Frege’s - of profound importance and on the same subject. This is where I would be skeptical of a Darwin to Hitler thesis. (Admittedly, this requirement is vague.)

Tom Curtis Wrote:

The moral responsibility for the latter does not, of course, lay with Darwin. Those same eugenicists without Darwin would have resorted to relgious justifications against miscegination, as their more religious racist contemporaries still did.

And of course there were other strands of Nazism somewhat independent of this, making up Volkish excuses to be barbarians. Cf. Heidegger, who can be blamed in a small way for some of the monstrosities of the Nazis, since he was one and carried out their policies eagerly. I would think a historical analysis would start with proximate influences, like Heidegger’s. Note especially that since Heidegger was so hostile to science, he was somewhat invulnerable to the pseudoscience that the Nazis put out … So if Heidegger had rose to greater ascendency (i.e., got his wish of being court philosopher to Hitler) we would have seen contentious interpretations of the Presocratics and other stuff mixed in with Nazi propaganda rather than pseudobiology.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC shows a short film about Hitler’s rise to power. According to the film, Hitler derived much of his anti-Semitic rhetoric from some writings of Martin Luther. I wonder how Weikart missed that?

To the extent that any theory of eugenics is based on evolution, it would seem to me to be based on the principles of microevolution, understood by plant and animal breeders for centuries prior to Darwin. The connection between macroevolution and eugenics (never mind Nazism) has never made any sense to me.

Indeed, anyone who understands evolution would realize that “eugenics” is inevitably an evolutionary failure. After all, the whole point behind eugenics is to produce a “genetically pure” “master race” in whcih everyone is genetically the same. Evolution, however, is based on genetic VARIETY, and the more genetic variety there is, the more stable the species is. Take away that variety by inbreeding the “master race”, and all you have left is a genetic *monoculture*, the weakest and most vulnerable form of population.

Evolution and eugenics work at cross purposes.

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I also thought Hitler and his closest associates was flirting with pantheism and german mythology (“aryan races”) as mentioned elsewhere,

Some of the Nazi hierarchy thought Christianity was “too Jewish”, and started a cult of Odin-worship instead. Hitler, as far as I can tell, never embraced them and remained a Catholic throughout his life.

It should perhaps be noted that the Catholic Church enthusiastically supported Hitler during his rise to power.

It should perhaps also be noted that a large percentage of the US population also supported Hitler during his rise to power, including the Catholic priest Charles Coughlin (one of the first radio evangelists), Charles Lindbergh (who got a medal from Goebbels for his work on behalf of the Reich) and Henry Ford (who wrote a book called “The International Jew” that was reprinted and distributed in Nazi Germany).

Pat Robertson’s idiotic book “The New World Order” cites a large number of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites as “sources”, so apparently the fundie-Nazi connection is still alive and well in certain quarters.

Oppressive Totalitarian Regimes are a direct result of evolution.

When’s the Discovery Institute going to write books about Al Queda and Sadam?

Oh, that might fly in the face of their logic and it would require an original argument. I guess it will be a long time in coming.

Lenny:

It should perhaps also be noted that a large percentage of the US population also supported Hitler during his rise to power, including the Catholic priest Charles Coughlin (one of the first radio evangelists), Charles Lindbergh (who got a medal from Goebbels for his work on behalf of the Reich) and Henry Ford (who wrote a book called “The International Jew” that was reprinted and distributed in Nazi Germany).

Don’t forget Shrub’s grand pappy, Prescott.

In October 1942, ten months after entering World War II, America was preparing its first assault against Nazi military forces. Prescott Bush was managing partner of Brown Brothers Harriman. His 18-year-old son George, the future U.S. President, had just begun training to become a naval pilot. On Oct. 20, 1942, the U.S. government ordered the seizure of Nazi German banking operations in New York City which were being conducted by Prescott Bush.

Under the Trading with the Enemy Act, the government took over the Union Banking Corporation, in which Bush was a director. The U.S. Alien Property Custodian seized Union Banking Corp.’s stock shares, all of which were owned by Prescott Bush, E. Roland “ Bunny ” Harriman, three Nazi executives, and two other associates of [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

The order seizing the bank “ vests ” (seizes) “ all of the capital stock of Union Banking Corporation, a New York corporation, ” and names the holders of its shares as:

“ E. Roland Harriman–3991 shares ” [chairman and director of Union Banking Corp. (UBC); this is “ Bunny ” Harriman, described by Prescott Bush as a place holder who didn’t get much into banking affairs; Prescott managed his personal investments]

“ Cornelis Lievense–4 shares ” [president and director of UBC; New York resident banking functionary for the Nazis]

“ Harold D. Pennington–1 share ” [treasurer and director of UBC; an office manager employed by Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman]

“ Ray Morris–1 share ”

[director of UBC; partner of Bush and the Harrimans]

“ Prescott S. Bush–1 share ” [director of UBC, which was co-founded and sponsored by his father-in-law George Walker; senior managing partner for E. Roland Harriman and Averell Harriman]

“ H.J. Kouwenhoven–1 share ” [director of UBC; organized UBC as the emissary of Fritz Thyssen in negotiations with George Walker and Averell Harriman; managing director of UBC’s Netherlands affiliate under Nazi occupation; industrial executive in Nazi Germany; director and chief foreign financial executive of the German Steel Trust]

“ Johann G. Groeninger–1 share ” [director of UBC and of its Netherlands affiliate; industrial executive in Nazi Germany]

“ all of which shares are held for the benefit of … members of the Thyssen family, [and] is property of nationals … of a designated enemy country.… ”

By Oct. 26, 1942, U.S. troops were under way for North Africa. On Oct. 28, the government issued orders seizing two Nazi front organizations run by the Bush-Harriman bank: the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

U.S. forces landed under fire near Algiers on Nov. 8, 1942; heavy combat raged throughout November. Nazi interests in the Silesian-American Corporation, long managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law George Herbert Walker, were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act on Nov. 17, 1942. In this action, the government announced that it was seizing only the Nazi interests, leaving the Nazis’ U.S. partners to carry on the business.

Bush Property Seized–Trading with the Enemy

doyle Wrote:

we must suppress knowledge for the good of the people

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil still casts its shadow over them.

It seems absurd though. My response to complaints about how evolution”ism” is evil it simply that the potential social, political, or ethical consequences of a scientific theory have absolutely no bearing on whether or not that theory is (scientifically) true.

People interested in this complicated topic might take a look at the work of the late George Mosse. A leading expert on Nazi ideology, Mosse wrote some interesting essays on 19th century racism. One of his basic points is that 19th century racism often involved the deliberate rejection of scientific rationalism.

I’d select Ted Bundy over Ken Miller for Ann any day.

SirToejam:

Has anybody else seen a better example of anthropomorphism?

Pick any religious text ever written, anywhere.

Holy crap. I hardly ever comment here (though I lurk a fair bit), and I really have to say, Carol, that you’re totally out of it. I’m amazed that you don’t realize the fact that you contradict yourself constantly and talk complete rubbish without even seeming to realize it, and then you get real real MAD at people who call you out on it.

Also, this stuff about trying to keep animals from being mean to each other is just…I mean, it’s just crazy-talk.

Carol, do you really think humans ought to be in the business of trying to keep animals from killing and eating each other? If so, why? Your posted quote from Schweitzer doesn’t support that idea, by the way. Alls it says is that people shouldn’t harm animals. Which is all PETA says, too, as far as I know. Not too many people think it’s worthwhile to try to keep wild animals from killing each other. Wonder why?

Pick any religious text ever written, anywhere.

I’m gonna have to disagree with you there. Most religions focus on morality as applied to its practitioners, which are, in any case i can think of, always human.

I was wrong to equate Carol with a standard creationist. Creobots only care about converting humans to their religion. Carol not only wants to convert us, she wants to convert all the animals too!

I’m sure when she realizes that even plants can be cruel and vicious, she’ll want to convert them as well.

no, she’s more of a SuperCreobot!

I think the person who suggested she act as missionary to the hyenas of the world was correct.

In fact, I’ll play the role of hyena so Carol can try to convince me her morals apply:

http://home.earthlink.net/~tjneal/hyenas.wav

Ethyl,

“I really have to say, Carol, that you’re totally out of it. I’m amazed that you don’t realize the fact that you contradict yourself constantly and talk complete rubbish without even seeming to realize it, and then you get real MAD at people who call you out on it.”

Thanks for the introduction. That was real sweet of you.

“Also, this stuff about trying to keep animals from being mean to each other is just…I mean, it’s just crazy-talk. Carol, do you really think humans ought to be in the business of trying to keep animals from killing and eating each other? If so, why?”

I never said anything of the sort. I even comlimented lions on their finesse. The issue is cruelty and suffering in the animal kingdom.

“Your posted quote from Schweitzer doesn’t support that idea, by the way. All it says is that people shouldn’t harm animals.”

That is false. Go read it again, carefully this time. Especially the part that says, “A man is really ethical only when he obeys the constraint laid on him to aid all life which he is able to help … He does not ask how far this or that life deserves sympathy … nor how far it is capable of feeling.” In other words, Schweitzer advocates that humans be proactive here.

“Which is all PETA says, too, as far as I know.”

Well, by now you SHOULD know better, since I quoted the PETA folks above saying, “We can’t stop all suffering, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stop any.”

Now, what aspect of this do you disagree with or think of as “rubbish”?

And if you asked the zebras do you think they would distinguish between cruelty perpetrated against them by humans (bad, must be stopped) and that by hyenas (good, natural, keep it up fells)?

“you get real real MAD at people who call you out on it.”

Wrong. I DO NOT get mad or angry, as a rule. And you certainly have not “called me out” on anything.

The issue is cruelty and suffering in the animal kingdom.

you’re not helping your case, here, Carol.

In other words, Schweitzer advocates that humans be proactive here.

and what would schweitzer say to the idea of culling herds “humanely”, because you thought that the natural predators that did so were being “cruel”?

It’s called projection, Carol. look it up sometime, so you can figure out why it is that you post this drivel.

here.. Carol, I’m a hyena!

convince me of the evil of my ways!

http://home.earthlink.net/~tjneal/hyenas.wav

Glen says;

“As a non-religious person, I am well aware that religious people did often help to make the environment in which I can be secular and scientific.”

I agree. Though I think at the time religion was an economic and political power which either benefited from beneficiary duties, or didn’t see any immediate power loss to do so.

Carol says:

“But careful examination reveals some key differences between the camps. In evolution the process (1) has been going on for billions of years,”

That evolution is a fact have nothing to do with claiming it was a basis for nazism.

““I really have to say, Carol, that you’re totally out of it. I’m amazed that you don’t realize the fact that you contradict yourself constantly and talk complete rubbish without even seeming to realize it, and then you get real MAD at people who call you out on it.”

Thanks for the introduction. That was real sweet of you.”

It was an honest assesment from a first time blogger. And it happens to accord with what some older blogger have told you earlier. That should tell you something.

Sir TJ: Quite right, the thrust of most spirituality is an attempt at “better living”. The anthropomorphism I’m thinking of is in the depiction of the divine.

The anthropomorphism I’m thinking of is in the depiction of the divine.

ahh, gotchya.

just goes to show those that those who practice anthropomorphism in one direction, usually end filtering all the world through that perspective.

Yeesh.

Carol, I did read those quotes. Several times. They say nothing, NOTHING about whether animals killing and eating one another is something humans should attempt to put a stop to. They refer solely to the acts of humans towards animals.

Do you think we should try to stop animals from killing one another?

If the answer to the above is yes, can you really not see that that’s pretty, um, wacky?

I have to admit, I found it hard to pin down exactly where Carol was coming from with some of her comments. The ones about ‘free will’ for example. Is this intentional on her part? Anyway, I’m glad it’s not just me.

Ethyl,

“Do you think we should try to stop animals from killing one another?”

That ridiculous question is like asking if I think we should try to stop the tide from coming in. Have you not read a word I wrote in this thread? What is the point of engaging in conversation if people don’t listen to each other?

I wonder if the over-sensitivity here to discussing this issue is perhaps related to the performance of nasty experiments on animals that some of the biologists here might be engaged in, now or in the past. By “nasty” I mean anything the animals would strongly prefer not be done. If this discussion is making you feel guilty there, well, you do have free will and the guilt demonstrates that some latent humanity is still present since animals experience no guilt, shame or embarrassment.

hmm, I don’t catch any guilt in any of the responses to your, to put it mildly, rather odd worldview.

However, I do wonder if you feel any guilt for claiming yourself to be a scientist, and yet hold such an anthropomorphic, emotional view of the world.

I bet you do feel guilt at the level of cognitive dissonance you can’t seem to help but display every time you start posting on PT.

Is that why you have stuck here so long? Are you waiting for someone to call you on this?

You’ve set youself a quandry that neither religion nor science can solve for you Carol.

the dichotomy represented by your horribly clashing worldviews highly suggest you pick one or the other, and stop pretending.

based on the direction and content of most of your posts on PT, I personally think you would be much happier abandoning the science part of your worldview set altogether, even if you did spend a significant amount of effort getting a PhD in physics.

You are not now, nor apparently ever have, pursued a career in science after getting your degree (if you even did). However, your aplogetics on moral issues and Landa’s Judaism has been quite clear, and apparently you have spent a very large proportion of your time investigating and promoting these aspects of your worldview set.

so, drop the science pretense, Carol. Embrace your apparent view of how the lion will lie with the lamb, and get on with your life.

seriously.

Well, I’m a little late to the party, but this is a pretty interesting thread. Carol, I admit that I normally find you pretty goofy, and have no idea why you hang out here rather than on Christian forums where your message of Bible=Science might actually have a benefit, but I appreciate your willingness to take utilitarianism to its logical conclusion. Nature sucks, and a good utilitarian ought to seek to aleviate suffering there as well as in civilization.

I will conjecture, however, that you have never owned a dog, because this statement:

… animals experience no guilt, shame or embarrassment.

is utterly false.

Ok, Carol. Thanks for proving you’re a complete whacko.

“Ethyl,

“Do you think we should try to stop animals from killing one another?”

That ridiculous question is like asking if I think we should try to stop the tide from coming in. Have you not read a word I wrote in this thread?”

So, wait. Is it rediculous because you feel like you’ve made your point and I’m just not getting it? Or rediculous because you never said such a thing? If it’s the latter, you’re contradicting yourself again!

So, Carol, do you really think that we should be trying to get hyenas to eat zebras more nicely?

Why is poor old Darwin akin to Satan for the Cretinist? Nature isn’t cruel because Darwin said so. If you’re going to blame people for the observation of scientific principles which might later be abused to inflict harm, you might as well also blame Newton for aerial bombing raids. They could never happen if he hadn’t noticed the effects of gravity.

So, Carol, do you really think that we should be trying to get hyenas to eat zebras more nicely?

no need to ask, really, that was pretty much her starting point.

I really can’t say I’ve ever met anybody who thought we should curb the behavior of predators because they are “cruel” before.

If the Clouserbot is anything, she is unique.

“no need to ask, really, that was pretty much her starting point.

I really can’t say I’ve ever met anybody who thought we should curb the behavior of predators because they are “cruel” before.

If the Clouserbot is anything, she is unique.”

I can’t tell what she’s saying anymore. At first that sounded like her position, then she posted lots of quotes that seemed to say that only people should be nice to animals, then she seemed to think I was missing something. Unique? Yeah.…that’s one word that springs to mind. Though…there are others.

Re “Nature isn’t cruel because Darwin said so.”

Nor would that cruelty go away if evolution weren’t a factor - animals have been eating each other all along regardless of whether they evolved that way or were “intelligently designed” (AKA deliberately engineered) that way.

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on June 17, 2006 3:05 PM.

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