Dispatches from the Creation Wars

D. James Kennedy, Darwin and Hitler

Religious right fraud D. James Kennedy has a special coming up called Darwin’s Deadly Legacy (which, naturally, the Worldnutdaily is pimping). In it, he will make the standard “evolution leads to naziism” argument that creationists have tried to peddle for decades (they also claim it leads to communism and to the capitalist robber barons, so clearly they’ve got a wee problem with consistency). I’ve commented on this ridiculous claim in the past. The fact is that Hitler used all sorts of conflicting ideas to sell his agenda, depending on who he was talking to. And the evidence for Christianity as the cause of the third reich is even stronger than it is for evolution. In a 1922 speech, Hitler said:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…. And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people…. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.

Likewise, in 1933:

Except the Lord built the house they labour in vain…. The truth of that text was proved if one looks at the house of which the foundations were laid in 1918 and which since then has been in building…. The world will not help, the people must help itself. Its own strength is the source of life. That strength the Almighty has given us to use; that in it and through it we may wage the battle of our life…. The others in the past years have not had the blessing of the Almighty– of Him Who in the last resort, whatever man may do, holds in His hands the final decision. Lord God, let us never hesitate or play the coward, let us never forget the duty which we have taken upon us…. We are all proud that through God’s powerful aid we have become once more true Germans.

In the 1920s, Hitler’s German Workers Party platform included this statement:

We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession. It combats the Jewish-materialist spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health from within only on the principle: the common interest before self-interest.

In a speech to the Reichstag in 1933, he said:

It will be the Government’s care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavouring to develop them.

One could literally go on all day with such quotes. One can also trace the roots of Hitler’s fanatical anti-Semitism back through Christian history. Christian anti-Semitism has a very long history to it, going all the way back to the original church fathers, but it was particularly prevalent in the writings of Marin Luther, Germany’s most influential theologian. Luther authored a document called On the Jews and Their Lies. Here’s an excerpt:

What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.

First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.

Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.

Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.

Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…

Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home…If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination…

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews…

His fellow reformer, John Calvin, was nowhere near Luther in this regard, but he was plenty bad enough. He wrote of Jews, “Their rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.” And the Catholic counter-reformation clamped down even further on Jews, requiring them to either convert or be forced into ghettos, and even forced to build the walls which would become, for all practical purposes, their prison.

You can trace this all the way back to the early church fathers. Origen, for example, accused the Jews of hatching “conspiracy against the Savior of the human race.” St. John Chrysostom wrote:

The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition.”…”I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason.

When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire, legal attacks on the Jewish people were common. The Justinian Code, established in the mid 6th century, forbid Jews from building synagogues, reading their sacred texts in Hebrew and celebrating passover. They were even forbidden from giving evidence in any judicial case involving a Christian. In a series of councils in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Lateran Councils, the Catholic Church imposed more and more restrictions upon Jews, including forbidding Christians from giving some types of medical treatment to Jews and requiring Jews (and Muslims) to wear special clothing to distinguish them from Christians.

Now, does this mean that Christianity is to blame for Hitler and the Holocaust? Of course not. Hitler’s religious invocations were a perversion of Christianity. But the same is true of the few instances where one can cite an evolutionary justification for his twisted views on eugenics. Eugenics and “social Darwinism” are perversions of evolution based upon logical fallacy and misapplication. The fact that some of Hitler’s followers appealed to evolution to justify killing the weak has no more bearing on the validity of evolution than his constant invocation of Christianity as a justification invalidates Christianity.


  1. #1 Russell
    August 20, 2006

    Something bothers me about the phrase “eugenics and social Darwinism are perversions of evolution.” That wording typically is used when some moral is wrongly drawn from an ethical system that doesn’t support it.

    Evolution isn’t an ethical system, and has no ethical implications. Social darwinism is no more a perversion of evolution than the Boy Scout creed is a perversion of general relativity. Scientific theories are simply misapplied when people try to derive morals from them, whatever we think of the morals derived. Social darwinism isn’t so much a perversion of evolution as it is the persistent commission of the naturalistic fallacy.

    But that’s a nit. Please continue flailing James Kennedy’s nonsense. :-)

  2. #2 pough
    August 20, 2006

    1) Hitler was inspired to be evil by Evilution.
    2) Hitler seems to have been inspired to be evil by Christianity, too.
    3) We know he wasn’t inspired by REAL Christianity because REAL Christianity is obviously Good and True, so it could never lead to evil.
    4) Evilution, on the other hand, is evil because it inspires people to do evil things. See #1.

  3. #3 Ted
    August 20, 2006

    4) Evilution, on the other hand, is evil because it inspires people to do evil things. See #1.

    You wouldn’t believe the enormous atrocities committed during the Great North-African Fossil Hunt of 1995…

    It was horrible…

  4. #4 kemibe
    August 20, 2006

    I recently noted that good ol’ D. James is a hateful, lying nutcase, and this was before becoming aware of his delightful roundtable for extremist ideologues and delusionals. I guess he’s stepping up his game.

    I wonder how it is (not that this is the first, tenth or hundredth example of hypocrisy from the faithful) that fundagelicals can finger “Darwinism” as a cause of murderous evil, yet ignore the number of atrocities committed by people, against people in the name of [insert imaginary skylord of choice]. If you stacked up the number of people killed expressly in the name of religion throughout history against those killed by Nazi “scientists” — and don’t get me wrong, I’m not trivializing the holocaust — it wouldn’t be remotely close.

  5. #5 Russell
    August 20, 2006

    Actually, WW II and its sequelae killed more people than any other war previous, by several times over. The total number killed exceeded 50 million. The reason is the populations of the nations involved were greater than at times past, warfare involved a greater fraction of the population in the fighting, and warfare had become more efficient.

  6. #6 Mike Crichton
    August 20, 2006

    IIRC, the total death toll for both European and Asian theaters was between 60-70 million, with the margin of error due to uncertainty over exactly how many Russian and Chinese peasents were slaughtered.

  7. #7 L
    August 20, 2006

    Ted wrote:

    You wouldn’t believe the enormous atrocities committed during the Great North-African Fossil Hunt of 1995..

    LOL. It’s a good thing we supply our professors with an unending supply of shoddy equipment and pith helmets. Things could have been even uglier.

  8. #8 Joe Shelby
    August 20, 2006

    My first introduction to the phrase “social darwinism” came from educator/personality James Burke in episode 8 of The Day the Universe Changed.

    From that, even though Burke didn’t do as much debunking of the concept as I feel now (knowing more) he should have, he did at least show how the words of Darwin were manipulated by the three social engineering movements that came out of it (robber baron capitalism, fascism, and communism). I know now that what was done wrong was the mis-use of the word “populations”, which in biology has a very different meaning from individuals (which has always been a creationist mistake) and the socio-political concepts of nations and classes.

    I at least understood the difference, even without the increased study of evolution I’ve done 20 years since, though I’m not so sure about many of my classmates.

    One other strong example of supported anti-semitism in the Catholic church came during the crusades. Many times when a pope or other nation called for a crusade, there would be reprisals against German and French Jews in the months leading up to the expedition, often with the thoughts running “why go all the way to the holy land when the Jews who ‘killed Christ’ were right here in our own lands?”.

  9. #9 Matthew
    August 20, 2006

    People who cut me off in traffic are exactly like Hitler.

  10. #10 dogmeatIB
    August 21, 2006

    So let me get this straight. Prior to Darwinism, because we were “created by God,” life was valued? So those three days of pillaging when Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders (“God’s army on Earth) was … ?

    Second point, Ann Coulter is an expert? I’m not sure I’d classify her as an expert on converting oxygen into CO2.

  11. #11 (different) matthew (note the lowercase "m")
    August 21, 2006



    you’re welcome

  12. #12 Steve Reuland
    August 21, 2006

    Here’s something that recently occurred to me, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

    Since creationists have no problem with “microevolution”, they should have no problem with eugenics in general or with Hitler applying evolution as an excuse to get rid of “undesirables”. Afterall, insofar as Hitler was applying eugenics (rather than crude racism, which was probably more the case) he wasn’t trying to create a new species, he was simply trying to improve, or prevent the degredation of, the human species at it existed. And the fact that individual species can adapt is something that creationists accept, at least on paper.

    So the facets of evolutionary theory that creationists object to are irrelevant to eugenics and the Holocaust, and there is nothing about creationism per se that would prevent them from joining in such atrocities. While creationists may claim a moral imperative not to commit such heinous acts (as would nearly everyone), there is nothing about their rejection of evolution that is logically inconsistent with eugenics or genocide.

  13. #13 Steve_C
    August 22, 2006

    Ummm hello, Isn’t the Aryan nation’s symbol a big German Cross.

    It’s all so painfully obvious.

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