Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Producer Defends Darwin/Hitler Special

Like the Worldnutdaily, Agape Press has been frantically trying to defend D. James Kennedy’s absurd documentary claiming that Darwin led directly to Hitler. Their latest attempt has the producer of the documentary, Jerry Newcombe, trying to defend it. Predictably, he falls flat on his face in the attempt.

The documentary’s producer, Jerry Newcombe, says it is important for Christians in particular to understand the social impact of Darwin’s theory. “”Ideas have consequences,” he explains, “and evolution lays at the root of so many different factors of our culture. We deal with some of those in the special, such as the school violence and the hopelessness among some young people today.”

I love this argument that violence in schools and violence in society in general are to be blamed on evolution. Survey after survey around the world shows that the United States has the lowest acceptance of evolutionary theory in the western industrialized world by a huge margin and the highest degree of religious belief by a huge margin. Yet it is the United States that leads the way in violent crimes, again by a very large margin, and where events like Columbine take place most frequently.

If there were any correlation between lack of religious belief or acceptance of evolution and such things, we should see them happen far more often in Europe, Canada, Japan and our other allies than we do here. Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden, for example, show rates of acceptance of the validity of evolution over 80%. Japan is at 78%. That’s double the number of Americans who accept evolution. Why, then, do all of those nations have rates of violent crime many times lower than us? If evolution is to blame for such things, the evidence is impossible to explain.

And taking the realm of contemporary law and policy as another example, Newcombe notes, “Right now we’re in a fight, in a battle over the judiciary. Even in the Supreme Court itself, you have a conflict between those who believe and accept unguided evolution versus those who believe in God.”

This is an absolutely bizarre statement. How on earth does Newcombe know which judges believe in “unguided evolution” and which ones believe in God? The only possible cases where it would even come up are generally presided over by judges who do, in fact, believe in God. Judge Jones, who presided over the Dover trial, is a Christian just like Newcombe is, and a conservative Republican to boot. I would love to see what actual evidence Newcombe has for the religious and/or scientific beliefs of anyone on the Supreme Court. There are only two sitting justices who have ever dealt with an evolution case (Scalia and Stevens), and while we know that Scalia is a conservative Catholic, we don’t have any idea what Stevens thinks about evolution. Newcombe is simply talking out his posterior.

Darwin’s Deadly Legacy even connects evolutionary theory to Adolph Hitler’s policies during his Third Reich. The documentary makes the case that the Holocaust can be linked to efforts by the German dictator to speed up the evolutionary process, as he understood it.

Here’s what absolutely jumps out at me: in all of the defenses that have been writen of this program over the last week, including statements directly from Kennedy and Newcombe, not a single one of them has even mentioned the hundreds of statements from Hitler tying the final solution directly to Christianity. I’ve listed many of them, as have others. They are widely available all over the web and in any number of scholarly books and articles on the Nazi ideology, yet these people pretend as though they do not exist.

It’s perfectly obvious why that is, of course; they cannot admit they exist without completely undermining the propaganda they are putting out. Even if one does not take the position that Christianity is to blame for Hitler (and that is my position), the fact that Hitler repeatedly and explicitly justified his plans by reference to Christian history and theology proves, at the very least, that Hitler used whatever ideological means he had at his disposal to defend and justify his actions. And that clearly undermines the argument that Darwinism led to Hitler and supports instead the idea that Hitler simply used scientific language when speaking to one audience and religious language when speaking to another. But Newcombe and Kennedy have to cover all of that up in order to protect their propaganda piece from the facts that obviously destroy the logic of their argument.

Comments

  1. #1 Rich
    August 26, 2006

    although there are no stats, I suspect the pre Darwin world was bloodier than the post Darwin world in violence per capita terms.

  2. #2 nicole
    August 26, 2006

    What gets me more than the school violence is the “hopelessness among young people today.” Because evolution takes away all meaning from life, of course. But to say that teen angst is all because they’re taught evolution in school…wow, that’s just…no, I don’t think so.

    Of course, I also don’t see how evolution takes away any meaning from life, so.

  3. #3 kehrsam
    August 26, 2006

    The real error here is assuming that the ideology is to blame for the violence occurring; it’s not, save for some general sense of deciding which group different from us is going to get it today. Almost all group violence is carried out by gangs of teenage males: The odds that they have a nuanced understanding of ideology is precisely nil.

    Even less do they have any understanding of the grand strategic import of their violence. This was Hitler’s problem with Stennes and the Berlin SA: He wanted their violence to achieve political ends, they just wanted to break heads.

    As for the larger argument being made here, Newcombe is making a common enough mistake. The notion that morality comes only from God has a long history, and has been persuasively argued as recently as C.S. Lewis. However, the argument is only persuasive if one is already a theist; if one starts without this premise, the necessity of Divine revelation disappears.

    The real thing Newcombe is complaining about is the misunderstanding and misuse of evolution in popular culture. He could throw in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem if he liked, but he may not have heard of those yet. In any case, it is not apparent why the unscientific misuse of a perfectly good theory is to held against the theory.

  4. #4 Chance
    August 26, 2006

    The notion that morality comes only from God has a long history, and has been persuasively argued as recently as C.S. Lewis

    Two things here:

    1. Even if one is a theist I think this premise is almost untenable simply do to the findings of the natural world. It is obvious that animals have the same basic foundation and ours is evolved from what is seen there. In fact to me this is simply a ‘God of the gaps’ argument.

    2. Lewis in my view didn’t argue persuasively at all. There are many Gods claimed and his arguments come from one narrow view. And again don’t take into account what the animal kingdom has to offer in this area.

  5. #5 kehrsam
    August 26, 2006

    Gee, Chance, I already said it was a circular argument, what do you want? I submit circular arguments tend to be persuasive to those inside the circle.

    As for animal evidence for morality being developed via evolutionary forces, so far there isn’t much there, unless one tends to believe the just-so stories of scoiobiology.

    As I have argued in the past, the proper argument here is to say that social — not physical — evolution is most important here. In other words, human social groups recurrently devolop moral rules within their cultures because these rules lead to a higher standard of living for the culture as a whole. No gods are required for this interpretation of morality; the down side is 1) that moral rules can change as the needs of society change; and 2) that individuals who see themselves as more important than the society can be troublesome.

  6. #6 Chance
    August 26, 2006

    kehrsam,

    As for animal evidence for morality being developed via evolutionary forces, so far there isn’t much there, unless one tends to believe the just-so stories of scoiobiology.

    Your definetly not correct here. There is quite abit coming out of animal studies, particuarlly group animals, that indicate a natural evolutionary cause to ‘morals’. There certainly aren’t ‘just so stories’ of sociobiology but are the continued observations of zoologists and animal behaviorists.

    In other words, human social groups recurrently devolop moral rules within their cultures because these rules lead to a higher standard of living for the culture as a whole. No gods are required for this interpretation of morality; the down side is 1) that moral rules can change as the needs of society change; and 2) that individuals who see themselves as more important than the society can be troublesome.

    I would agree with all of that but is that not a product of physical evolution(isn’t everything) as well? And why is it a downside if the moral rules can change? How is this a negative? Perhaps they change for the better?

  7. #7 kehrsam
    August 26, 2006

    Your definetly not correct here. There is quite abit coming out of animal studies, particuarlly group animals, that indicate a natural evolutionary cause to ‘morals’. There certainly aren’t ‘just so stories’ of sociobiology but are the continued observations of zoologists and animal behaviorists.

    I apologise if I did not make myself clear here: I did not intend to say such work did not exist, because it is fascinating for what it is. What I meant to say was that such work had little bearing on human morality. Allow me to explain.

    There are two great mysteries to resolve in the evolution of genus Homo, both within the last 500,000 or so years. First there are the physical changes to the phenotype and the genotypical changes corresponding to these. Expansion of the brain and development of the voicebox are the two biggies here.

    The other question centers around the cultural explosion that has allowed man to alter and control his environment. One part of this cultural takeoff clearly has a largely genetic component: It appears all human brains come hard-wired for communication skills, especially speech. Most of culture, however is not passed this way; a feral child will know nothing of concepts such as currency or barter, although they can be taught these easily enough.

    In other words, although we can show how say,altruism might develop among animals, it is rather difficult to show how that becomes “human nature.” Especially since so much of human behavior is not altruistic. My hunch is that physical evolution of humans largely stopped at the point that cultural evolution began solving problems at some sufficient rate. Any physical evolution past that point is either purely random (shovel-shaped incisors) or a reaction to local environmental conditions (skin color).

    I would agree with all of that but is that not a product of physical evolution(isn’t everything) as well?

    In a word, no. Some cultures eat grubs and worms with regularity; Western ones do not. This is not evidence of an evolutionary difference, but of cultural adaptations to environmental factors.

    And why is it a downside if the moral rules can change? How is this a negative? Perhaps they change for the better?

    Or the worse; you are correct, change need be neither good nor bad, only different. However, it’s easier to sell a moral code that sets fixed rules. The only downside is in the marketing.

    Thanks for the criticism, I do tend to get sloppy writing quick comments. Peace.

  8. #8 Chance
    August 26, 2006

    In other words, although we can show how say,altruism might develop among animals, it is rather difficult to show how that becomes “human nature.” Especially since so much of human behavior is not altruistic. My hunch is that physical evolution of humans largely stopped at the point that cultural evolution began solving problems at some sufficient rate. Any physical evolution past that point is either purely random (shovel-shaped incisors) or a reaction to local environmental conditions (skin color).

    You had me up until this paragraph. It seems to me this is essentially the same argument that creationists use when talking about the fossil record. We have evidence of our ancestors and relatives social behaviour. We know how we currently behave. The ‘gap’ in between the two is slowly being filled by more and more evidence as the years pass. It is not difficult to see how the beaviours of a group of our relatives, say Pan, could be added to and modified through time to arrive at our current ‘moral’ sense varied as it is.

    I also don’t agree that physical evolution of humans has even remotely stopped. And the two examples you give would qualify as evolutionary change.

    Some cultures eat grubs and worms with regularity; Western ones do not. This is not evidence of an evolutionary difference, but of cultural adaptations to environmental factors.

    This is simply an example of learned behaviour. There is no reason we could not do so. This has nothing to do with evolution as we are discussing it. Both groups have physically evolved to be able to eat grubs.

    Given enough time however it is not inconcievable that distinct groups of humans could evolve adaptions for these different diets that would impart survival advantages for that population should they remain isolated.

  9. #9 goddogtired
    August 26, 2006

    “Chance and kehrsam sittin’ in a tree…”

  10. #10 Pattanowski
    August 26, 2006

    Quick reminder to those pondering current human physical evolution: human selection! Now who do I thank for all these guys that look like Larry the Cable Guy? Please girls; you might like them but I have to look at them too!

  11. #11 Chance
    August 26, 2006

    haha, gogdogtired.

    Point taken.:-)

  12. #12 DragonScholar
    August 27, 2006

    Hell, alone I’d note the vile statements by Martin Luther concerning the Jews.

    However, one mistake of those pushing the Darwin-Hitler idea is it does ASK the questions about what Hitler believed in. They opened the gate – they can deal with the results – that Hitler was a product not of Darwin’s theory, but of the time and pathologies of his culture.

  13. #13 Pieter B
    August 27, 2006

    I ran across a page of quotes the other day while researching some curch-state history, and one stuck with me and seems relevant here in reference to Hitler wrapping himself with the mantle of christianity. From Seneca the Younger:

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.