Respectful Insolence

Nasal drone Ben Stein, as you would be hard-pressed not to know if you are a regular reader of ScienceBlogs, is hosting what looks to be a truly execrable crap-fest called Expelled!: No Intelligence Allowed. The movie basically consists of two themes: (1) Whining about “intellectual oppression” by those evil “Darwinists” directed against any valiant “intelligent design” creationist or anyone else who “questions” Darwin and (2) lots of blaming the Holocaust and other atrocities (but mainly Hitler and the Holocaust) on “Darwinism,” replete with lots of shots of Nazis, Ben Stein clumsily emoting at Dachau (and thus pissing on the ashes of his fellow Jews murdered by Hitler), and a few pictures of Stalin and other violent dictators thrown in for good measure. Indeed, it was not for nothing that I directed a Hitler Zombie attack against Ben Stein not too long ago.

I just have one question for Ben Stein: Why pick on Charles Darwin as the inspiration for the Holocaust?

P.Z. may have facetiously asked why Stein isn’t blaming Sir Isaac Newton for Hitler and demanding the academic freedom to “question” Newtonian physics, but it was clearly facetious. Hitler never mentioned Darwin in Mein Kampf, and, as far as I can tell, never mentioned him or “Darwinism” in any of his many public speeches, with the possible exception of one.

So why all this focus on Charles Darwin?

Consider this quote by Hitler:

For us, this is not a problem you can turn a blind eye to-one to be solved by small concessions. For us, it is a problem of whether our nation can ever recover its health, whether the Jewish spirit can ever really be eradicated. Don’t be misled into thinking you can fight a disease without killing the carrier, without destroying the bacillus. Don’t think you can fight racial tuberculosis without taking care to rid the nation of the carrier of that racial tuberculosis. This Jewish contamination will not subside, this poisoning of the nation will not end, until the carrier himself, the Jew, has been banished from our midst. Speech delivered by Hitler in Salzburg, 7 or 8 August 1920. (NSDAP meeting)

Hmmm. Here Hitler is likening the Jew to a disease, to a “racial tuberculosis” even. Who originated the germ theory of disease? Louis Pasteur! So why doesn’t Stein blame the Holocaust on Louis Pasteur instead of Darwin?

But, wait, here’s an even better example. Hitler actually explicitly likened himself to a a scientist, but not just any scientist…one specific scientist:

On the evening of 10 July 1941, Hitler declared at his table: ‘I feel I am like Robert Koch in politics. He discovered the bacillus and thereby ushered medical science onto new paths. I discovered the Jew as the bacillus and the fermenting agent of all social decomposition.’

Hitler never explicitly likened himself to Charles Darwin. At least, if he did there is no record of it. Indeed, I challenge Ben Stein to show me an example where Hitler ever likened himself to Darwin. But he did explicitily liken himself to Robert Koch! (That evil atheistic baby-killer! Who knew?) In fact, Hitler even went one step further:

At Hitler’s table talk on 22 February 1942, the following statement was recorded:

It is one of the greatest revolutions there has ever been in the world. The Jew will be identified! The same fight that Pasteur and Koch had to fight must be led by us today. Innumerable sicknesses have their origin in one bacillus: the Jew! Japan would also have got them if it had remained open any longer to the Jew. We will get well when we eliminate the Jew.

In fact, it has been seriously argued that the Holocaust was based on not evolution, but concepts of immunology:

The law to which Hitler believed Germany was subject, I hypothesize, was the law of the immune system. Insofar as the German nation constituted a “single organism,” therefore one might expect it to act like every other organism–to reject cells identified as not-self. The Final Solution, it would appear, was generated based on this idea or fantasy that Germany was an actual body (politic) possessing an immune system. As a body possessing an immune system, the German nation would react like any other body–automatically destroying cells identified as foreign.

[...]

One of the clearest explications of National Socialism’s immunological concept of the nation-state was presented by Konrad Lorenz (later to win a Noble Prize for his work in ethology) in the 1930′s in the “German Journal of Applied Psychology and Characterology.” Lorenz explained that there was a close analogy between a “human body invaded by a cancer” and a nation “afflicted with subpopulations whose inborn defects cause them to become social liabilities.” Just as in cancer the best treatment is to eradicate the parasitic growth as quickly as possible, the eugenic defense against afflicted subpopulations, Lorenz claimed, is of necessity “limited to equally drastic measures.”

[...]

One of the images appearing with greatest frequency in the rhetoric of Nazi leaders is that of the Jew as bacteria or virus. In a speech before the Reichstag on January 30, 1937, Hitler explained that the anti-Jewish policy he had inaugurated in National Socialist Germany reflected his endeavor to make the German people “immune against this infection.” Measures enacted by National Socialism, Hitler said, were designed to enable the German people to avoid “close relationship with the carriers of this poisonous bacillus.”

[...]

At the Wansee Conference in 1942, Nazi chief Reinhardt Heydrich and other high-ranking Nazi officials met to determine the fate of 11 million European Jews. Their files contained voluminous statistics on the precise number of Jews in each country under Nazi occupation. With fanatic determination, they plotted to kill every single Jew in each of these countries. Immunologist Ronald Glasser reports that our battles against microbes have “never been a war of percentages.” Every microbe that enters our body, Glasser explains, has to be destroyed, not 98% of them or 99, but 100%. It has to be “total war; not one single enemy can be left alive.” Just one survivor, by continuing to grow, would eventually mean death, and “so all have to be eliminated.”

The above principles for eliminating the Jew from Nazi territory are clearly those of Pasteur and Koch, not Charles Darwin, and Hitler repeated this rationale on many occasions, as did his underlings! Oh, the perfidy! Where is Ben Stein on this one? How is it that he can’t recognize the true sources of Hitler’s evil. Not Charles Darwin. Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur! And, the clincher:

A chapter of Edleff Schwab book Hitler’s Mind (1992) focusing on Hitler’s attraction to immunology is entitled “The Pasteur-Koch complex.” Schwab poses the question of what possible connection Hitler could have discovered between the work of two scientists who had devoted their lives to the betterment of the human race and his own obsession with destroying Jewish people? He suggests that something must have “struck a chord when early in his life he heard and Pasteur & Koch;” their major scientific breakthroughs must have “fascinated him as he pondered the meaning of the world.” Hitler, Schwab suggests, found in Pasteur’s and Koch’s contributions a model that became the “nuclear element in his paranoid system and assumed a major role in his entire emotional life.”

The renowned chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-95) had reasoned that sickness in animals and people can be caused by bacteria. Support for this notion was provided soon after by the German researcher Robert Koch (1843-1910). The concept of social disease, Schwab theorizes, fused in Hitler’s mind with the teachings of these two bacteriologists, Pasteur and Koch. Hitler took it upon himself to become a self-appointed crusader to salvage the health of the nation.

Like Pasteur and Koch, Hitler saw himself as a benefactor of humankind. Just as a physician kills bacteria and viruses by applying medication to restore health, Hitler felt that by killing people he could save human civilization. In planning the Final Solution, Schwab suggests, Hitler thought he was applying the procedures of modern medical technology on a massive scale as a health-restoring program to assure human existence in the future. Thus did ideas about the body, disease and the immune system become the basis of Hitler’s paranoid belief system.

Clearly, if Pasteur’s and Koch’s discoveries were able to affect the young mind of the future mass murderer Hitler in such a profound manner, there must be something inherently evil in them, right? After all, that seems to be just what Expelled! says about Charles Darwin, isn’t it? So, Ben Stein, by your own sorts of arguments, shouldn’t you be blaming Pasteur and Koch for the Holocaust even more than Charles Darwin? After all, it’s questionable whether Hitler ever even mentioned Charles Darwin publicly even once as the inspiration for the Holocaust, but it’s undeniable that he mentioned Koch and Pasteur in public many times as his inspiration. In fact, based on the above information, I submit to you that it is at least as plausible to blame Pasteur’s and Koch’s sciences of immunology and microbiology for the Holocaust as it is to blame Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

So where are all the attacks on immunology and microbiology, Stein? Clearly Hitler admired those sciences far beyond evolution. Arguably, he found them far more inspirational to his evil mission than anything Charles Darwin ever wrote.

How about it Stein?

Comments

  1. #1 Dan S.
    March 29, 2008

    Wow.

    I’m not an expert on the history of anti-semitism, nor of European attitudes towards other dangerous Others-among-us!! (real or imagained) – witches, lepers, heretics, etc. – but my impression is this sort of distortion of genuine science plugged into long-standing attitudes about social contagion and sickness . . .?

  2. #2 Bob O'H
    March 29, 2008

    I guess this post won’t be printed out and put on the walls of many pathology labs, then.

  3. #3 chezjake
    March 29, 2008

    Oh, well done!

    Of course, the thing about Hitler that we should be talking most loudly and frequently about is that Hitler was a Christian Creationist. http://www.skepticwiki.org/index.php/Hitler_and_evolution

  4. #4 David Marjanović
    March 29, 2008

    The Final Solution, it would appear, was generated based on this idea or fantasy that Germany was an actual body (politic) possessing an immune system.

    Not politic at all — organic, vitalistic, mystic. The Body of the People (Volkskörper) and the Healthy Body of the People (gesunder Volkskörper) were very commonly used terms in NS ideology, as was the comparison of the Jew (singular like the enemy always is) to a cancer in the Otherwise Healthy Body of the People.

    An evolutionary biologist might regard the German People as a population, or (more realistically) as a rather arbitrary part of a population. A Nazi views it as an individual, as a body.

  5. #5 SLC
    March 29, 2008

    Mr. Stein is also ignorant of the fact that Stalin believed in “Lamarckism” and sent “Darwinists” to slave labor camps.

  6. #6 Thony C.
    March 29, 2008

    If you’re going to pick on a scientist why not Fritz Haber, Nobel Laureate for Chemistry in 1918 and the inventor of Zyklon B the gas used in Auschwitz. Also known as the father of chemical warfare for his work in WWI. Just one small problem he was Jewish!

  7. #7 ellazimm
    March 29, 2008

    Hold on there SLC, Mr Stein is a confessed member of the Intelligentsia! What gives you the right to question his knowledge?

    Mega :-)

  8. #8 Thony C.
    March 29, 2008

    If you’re going to pick on a scientist why not Fritz Haber, Nobel Laureate for Chemistry in 1918 and the inventor of Zyklon B the gas used in Auschwitz. Also known as the father of chemical warfare for his work in WWI. Just one small problem he was Jewish!

  9. #9 daedalus2u
    March 29, 2008

    Orac: Say it ain’t so!

    “there was a close analogy between a “human body invaded by a cancer” and a nation “afflicted with subpopulations whose inborn defects cause them to become social liabilities.” Just as in cancer the best treatment is to eradicate the parasitic growth as quickly as possible, the eugenic defense against afflicted subpopulations, Lorenz claimed, is of necessity “limited to equally drastic measures.”

    Don’t analogies go both ways? Doesn’t this mean that all cancer docs are all closet eugenicists? Or is that only successful cancer docs? Unsuccessful cancer docs being analogous to unsuccessful eugenicists?

    Or have you successfully channeled your compulsion to “eradicate the parasitic growth as quickly as possible” into woo fighting?

  10. #10 scote
    March 29, 2008

    “Mr. Stein is also ignorant of the fact that Stalin believed in “Lamarckism” and sent “Darwinists” to slave labor camps.

    Posted by: SLC”

    Wasn’t Darwin a Lamarkian to a certain degree?

    That aside, great post. I would change ” I submit to you that it is at least as plausible to blame Pasteur’s and Koch’s sciences of immunology and microbiology for the Holocaust as it is to blame Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.” to “Far more plausible” considering the evidence for the Pasteur and Koch quotes.

  11. #11 Bee
    March 29, 2008

    Ben Stein is utterly out of his depth, as is evident every time he opens his mouth, especially outside the confines of the lines he’s memorized. I wonder if he’ll ever realize what a career ender this fiasco of a film probably is – not that he had much of a career anyway.

    Great post, Orac, but far too fact based to make any sense to the Darwin=Hitler crowd.

  12. #12 scote
    March 29, 2008

    I’m a little puzzled at the attempt by the creationists at laying the idea genocide for selective breeding at the feet of Darwin. The idea of genocide for selective breeding is part of the Old Testament and is the fundamental tenet of the Flood Story. Everybody in the world was wicked but Noah and his family so God, in a clumsy manner, kills of every living thing not in the arc to persue His latest eugenics program.

    The idea for the holocaust is very clearly written out in the Old Testment, but for some reason neither Jews nor Christians are eager to point this undeniable fact out.

  13. #13 Beowulff
    March 29, 2008

    I’m probably not the only one, but when I read this, “Careful what you wish for” and “Don’t give them any bright ideas” came to mind… Now I have visions of “Expelled 2: expelled from Med school” showing how the Germinists are keeping CAM out of medicine, and they don’t even have to write a new script. Hmm, now I need to stop feeding them ideas…

  14. #14 scote
    March 29, 2008

    I’m a little puzzled at the attempt by the creationists at laying the idea genocide for selective breeding at the feet of Darwin. The idea of genocide for selective breeding is part of the Old Testament and is the fundamental tenet of the Flood Story. Everybody in the world was wicked but Noah and his family so God, in a clumsy manner, kills of every living thing not in the arc to persue His latest eugenics program.

    The idea for the holocaust is very clearly written out in the Old Testament, but for some reason neither Jews nor Christians are eager to point this undeniable fact out.

  15. #15 Scote
    March 29, 2008

    Apologies for the double post. I was getting error messages and I assumed, incorrectly, the post hadn’t gone through.

  16. #16 chuckv
    March 29, 2008

    Of course Darwin had zero responsibility for Hitler’s crimes, but as a point of historical fact, Darwin’s theory indirectly was important to Hitler’s thinking. A school of thought developed called “Social Darwinism,” which applied the “survival of the fittest” idea to social and economic affairs. Hitler picked up these ideas from the cranks he read during his youth in Vienna. He had a very basic and strong belief that only the strongest societies survive. Since the basic principle of the natural world is that the strong kill and eat the weak, it followed that anything he might do (lie, kill, make war) to make Germany bigger and stronger was right and in accord with the way of the world.

  17. #17 chuckv
    March 29, 2008

    Of course Darwin had zero responsibility for Hitler’s crimes, but as a point of historical fact, Darwin’s theory indirectly was important to Hitler’s thinking. A school of thought developed called “Social Darwinism,” which applied the “survival of the fittest” idea to social and economic affairs. Hitler picked up these ideas from the cranks he read during his youth in Vienna. He had a very basic and strong belief that only the strongest societies survive. Since the basic principle of the natural world is that the strong kill and eat the weak, it followed that anything he might do (lie, kill, make war) to make Germany bigger and stronger was right and in accord with the way of the world.

  18. #18 Skeptico
    March 29, 2008

    “Hitler is likening the Jew to a disease, to a “racial tuberculosis” even. Who originated the germ theory of disease? Louis Pasteur!”

    …don’t tell Bill Maher.

  19. #19 chuckv
    March 29, 2008

    Of course Darwin had zero responsibility for Hitler’s crimes, but as a point of historical fact, Darwin’s theory indirectly was important to Hitler’s thinking. A school of thought developed called “Social Darwinism,” which applied the “survival of the fittest” idea to social and economic affairs. Hitler picked up these ideas from the cranks he read during his youth in Vienna. He had a very basic and strong belief that only the strongest societies survive. Since the basic principle of the natural world is that the strong kill and eat the weak, it followed that anything he might do (lie, kill, make war) to make Germany bigger and stronger was right and in accord with the way of the world.

  20. #20 Leni
    March 29, 2008

    Skeptico, does that mean you want to tell Bill Maher? ;)

  21. #21 Joseph
    March 29, 2008

    So one the problems with Hitler seems to be confusing ‘different type of person’ with ‘disease’. Not that it doesn’t happen anymore.

  22. #22 Harry Eagar
    March 29, 2008

    Ernst Mayr said ‘social darwinism’ should properly have been called ‘social spencerism.’

    He was right.

  23. #23 Colugo
    March 29, 2008

    The germ and cancer analogies arise from social organicism, which has roots in Hegel and much earlier but was given “scientific” validity by Spencer and Haeckel. Social organicist thinking was mainstream in the natural history, social science (Durkheim), and political discourse (Woodrow Wilson, Hayek) for decades. Therefore, reference to germs and cancer in discussing allegedly problematic groups is not necessarily an alternative to an evolutionary biology context, but can be part of one.

    Herbert Spencer, The Social Organism, 1860:

    “Such, then, is a general outline of the evidence which justifies the comparison of societies to living organisms. That they gradually increase in mass; that they become little by little more complex; that at the same time their parts grow more mutually dependent; and that they continue to live and grow as wholes, while successive generations of their units appear and disappear; are broad peculiarities which bodies-politic display in common with all living bodies; and in which they and living bodies differ from everything else. And on carrying out the comparison in detail, we find that these major analogies involve many minor analogies, far closer than might have been expected.”

    Ernst Haeckel, The Wonders of Life, 1905:

    “Hundreds of thousands of incurables-lunatics, lepers, people with cancer, etc. – who are artificially kept alive …without the slightest profit to themselves or the general body.”

    Ernst Haeckel, Eternity: World War Thoughts on Life and Death, Religion, and the Theory of Evolution, 1916:

    “Each cell, though autonomous, is subordinated to the body as a whole; in the same way in the societies of bees, ants, and termites, in the vertebrate herds, and in the human state, each individual is subordinate to the social body of which he is a member.”

    Adolf Hitler, speech, 1934:

    “My movement encompasses every aspect of the entire Volk. It conceives of Germany as a corporate body, as a single organism. There is no such thing as non-responsibility in this organic being, not a single cell which is not responsible, by its very existence, for the welfare and well-being of the whole.”

    On the other hand, this use of a cancer analogy is presumably not situated in an evolutionary biology context.

    MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), 5/17/05:

    “The following are excerpts from this week’s official Friday sermon on Palestinian Authority (PA) TV. The preacher is Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, a paid employee of the PA.:

    “With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers.””

    [Sorry if this post hiccups and more than one appears.]

  24. #24 royniles
    March 29, 2008

    Someone just opined “Since the basic principle of the natural world is that the strong kill and eat the weak—”
    That made me wonder, do the strong inevitably eat the weak, or do we in the end cooperatively eat each other?

  25. #25 Laser Potato
    March 29, 2008

    “Since the basic principle of the natural world is that the strong kill and eat the weak”
    EVOLUTION DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA500.html

  26. #26 Dan S.
    March 29, 2008

    or do we in the end cooperatively eat each other?

    I’m not even gonna say it.

  27. #27 royniles
    March 29, 2008

    Say what, that you don’t do irony?

  28. #28 Inquisitive Raven
    March 29, 2008

    Laser Potato: I don’t think Chuckv necessarily believes that “Since the basic principle of the natural world is that the strong kill and eat the weak—” Rather, he was ascribing the view to Hitler in explaining the man’s reasoning.

    Scote: IIRC, yes, Darwin was Lamarckian in that he believed that acquired traits could be passed on. He never saw Mendel’s plant studies and knew nothing about genetics. Darwin didn’t invent the idea of evolution. Lamarck predated him on that score. Darwin’s contribution was the idea of natural selection causing differential reproductive success.

  29. #29 SLC
    March 29, 2008

    Re Inquisitive Raven

    “Darwin was Lamarckian in that he believed that acquired traits could be passed on. He never saw Mendel’s plant studies and knew nothing about genetics.”

    Actually, after Darwin died, a copy of Mendels’ paper on his peas experiment was found among Darwins’ effects. However, it was written in German, which Darwin was only slightly familiar with. Apparently, because he had never heard of Mendel, he never had the paper translated. It is interesting to contemplate what might have happened if the paper had been written in Latin or French, both of which Darwin was quite comfortable with, as were most educated Englishmen of the period.

  30. #30 Mike the Mad Biologist
    March 29, 2008

    Great, now you’re going to incite the germ-theory denialists…

  31. #31 Flaky
    March 29, 2008

    Shhh, Orac. You’ll awaken the anti-vac daemons. Ignorance of evolution never killed anyone; not so with vaccines.

  32. #32 Militant Agnostic
    March 30, 2008

    Ironically many holocaust deniers and anti-semites are anti-evolution. Former high school social studies teacher (he was decertified), former mayor of Eckville, Alberta, Canada, and briefly leader of the Social Credit Party of Canada James Keegstra was a good example. (Social Credit is to economics what free energy is to thermodynamics.)

    I suspect you will find many anti-semites and holocaust deniers amongst the germ theory denialists as well. One of Tara Smith’s annoying trolls is an advocate of the blatantly anti-semitic Germanic New Medicine (previously blogged on by Orac)

  33. #33 Blaidd Drwg
    March 30, 2008

    In reality, it’s more likely that Hitler’s agenda for dealing with the Jews came more from a “Christian” source than from Science.

    “First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. …”
    “Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. …”
    “Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. …”
    “Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. …”
    “Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. …”
    “Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them. … Such money should now be used in … the following [way]… Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed [a certain amount]…”
    “Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow… For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.”
    “If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country” and “we must drive them out like mad dogs.”

    Martin Luther

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_and_the_Jews

  34. #34 Harry Eagar
    March 30, 2008

    Well, it’s a lead pipe cinch that few if any of the Slavic helpers in the extermination camps had ever heard of Darwin, but they’d heard plenty about Jews in church, both Orthodox and Uniate.

  35. #35 Joe Z
    March 30, 2008

    One can no more blame Darwin for Hitler than blame Jesus for the Inquisition, but the tremendous influence of Darwin’s ideas on European culture, including German National Socialism and Soviet Communism is undeniable; in fact it is the main intellectual influence from the mid-19th century to the mid- to late-20th. Stein’s mistake is to assume that Darwin has any fault in this, but then that doesn’t stop atheists from blaming religious people from all sorts of atrocities, as this thread makes clear.

  36. #36 Calli Arcale
    March 30, 2008

    Blaidd Drwg — ouch. I’m a Lutheran. *shudders*

    I’d never read any of his treatises against the Jews, but it shouldn’t surprise me too much. Hitler did not invent anti-semitism in Germany; it actually goes back many centuries. Luther didn’t invent it either; it was very much a part of the culture in that time and place to blame all of society’s woes on the Jewish communities in their midst.

    (By the way, really cool nickname! Watch out for Slitheen….)

  37. #37 trrll
    March 30, 2008

    Ironically many holocaust deniers and anti-semites are anti-evolution.

    Ironic, perhaps, but not surprising. I think that most denialists share a common central pathology of thought, the substitution of rationalization for rationality.

    For example, we know that George Bush is a creationist, and it is likely that he shares this with much of his inner circle. I see many similarities between creationist thought and the way they denied the evidence that Iraq had no WMD or involvement with 9/11, and later the way they denied that their strategy in Iraq was failing, leading Woodward to title his book “State of Denial.”

  38. #38 Bad
    March 31, 2008

    chuckv, I think it’s a little silly to credit “Darwinism” or even Social Darwinism with the idea that strong societies do better than weak ones.

    I mean, are really you really going to argue that this idea wasn’t around prior to Darwin, or that it even needed Darwin to have its full expression? Really?

    People seeking power have NEVER had any lack of justifications they could and have appealed to as to why power and strength and aggressiveness are good.

    And the irony here is that evolution is probably amongst the inapt of these, because biological evolution basically explodes the normal idea of “fit” and “strong” by pointing out that the race goes as often to the best hider or the best avoider as it does to the most aggressive or selfish.

  39. #39 Bad
    March 31, 2008

    chuckv, I think it’s a little silly to credit “Darwinism” or even Social Darwinism with the idea that strong societies do better than weak ones.

    I mean, are really you really going to argue that this idea wasn’t around prior to Darwin, or that it even needed Darwin to have its full expression? Really?

    People seeking power have NEVER had any lack of justifications they could and have appealed to as to why power and strength and aggressiveness are good.

    And the irony here is that evolution is probably amongst the inapt of these, because biological evolution basically explodes the normal idea of “fit” and “strong” by pointing out that the race goes as often to the best hider or the best avoider as it does to the most aggressive or selfish.

  40. #40 Bad
    March 31, 2008

    Orac, you can address yourself to Stein all you want, but the guy isn’t going to seriously have an answer for you even if he reads it.

    The game these guys are playing is very simple. The have a message. And they are going to deliver that message regardless of anything you or anyone else says to contradict or rebut it. If they acknowledged those criticisms to do anything more than just play into their message of persecution and “see, they’re scared of our message!” then they would be getting off their message, giving time over to dissenting views.

    It’s dishonest, it’s cowardly, and most of all it’s embarrassingly hypocritical. But that’s the game.

  41. #41 grasshopper
    March 31, 2008

    … Mr Stein is a confessed member of the Intelligentsia! …

    But is he a member of the “educated, intelligent segment of the culture.”
    I think not.

  42. #42 grasshopper
    March 31, 2008

    … Mr Stein is a confessed member of the Intelligentsia! …

    But is he a member of the “educated, intelligent segment of the culture.”
    I think not.

  43. #43 Deaisme
    April 3, 2008

    chezjake: Nice ironic remark, calling Hitler a “Christian Creationist,” but not accurate. Hitler worked hard at crushing true Christianity within Germany by having all pastors sign an oath of allegiance to Hitler, which, for real Christians, would be impossible to sign. The pastors who did not sign had to go underground.

    Calli Arcale: Martin Luther did reflect his times, but these harsh writing regarding the Jews, most Lutheran scholars agree, reflect Luther’s illnesses as he got older. His earlier writings were much more concilatory, even though there is no way (since he only wanted (his idea) of “the best” for them) that Luther could ever not want the Jews to convert to Christianity.

    scote: The great flood was not created for building a master race. Selective breeding was never the issue; evil behavior was. However, I suppose now I will get a full lecture about how slicing your children open and offering them to some rock as a sacrifice is a perfectly good and natural way to behave. Or that (of course!) sex should be a natural part of a worship service. Oh, that’s right, that is just someone’s “alternate lifestyle” (“lifestyle” is a word coined by Hitler in “Mein Kaumpf”) and should not be condemned or punished.

    I think Joe Z is right – you can no more blame Darwin for Hitler’s madness than you can blame Jesus Christ for the Roman Catholic Church’s badness. And the orginal discussion of Hitler seeing the Jews as a disease is very insightful. This is an excellent thread with a lot of good discussion!

  44. #44 IronHorse
    April 16, 2008

    Mr.Ben Stein is out to make a quick buck from crippled christen shut-ins, like televangelist, by selling books, cd’s & dvd’s on a HOT Topic:

    “The separation of politics and religion.” While making science the scapegoat.

    Not an original idea form people like Mr.Stein but, it pays the mortgage’s for their several homes & cars.

  45. #45 Bronze Dog
    April 16, 2008

    Hitler worked hard at crushing true Christianity within Germany by having all pastors sign an oath of allegiance to Hitler, which, for real Christians, would be impossible to sign. The pastors who did not sign had to go underground.

    Ye olde “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Every Christian calls every other Christian false so that they can evade any charge against their religion. When I left the church, it was because I perceived the whole to be too corrupt, made of would-be tyrants, moral relativists, and so forth that I decided trying to define “True Christian” was futile. So I just dumped the word as a lost cause. Of course, having a firm morality kind of ended up leading me to atheism before I studied the science to come to the conclusion on a logical basis, rather than as something of a moral necessity.

    However, I suppose now I will get a full lecture about how slicing your children open and offering them to some rock as a sacrifice is a perfectly good and natural way to behave.

    Strange that I find lots of people calling themselves “Christians” trying to give me that lecture, and to date no atheists, evolutionists, scientists, or whatever. Closest I’ve seen to that hypothetical lecture is some sociologists or something calling it natural in a completely values-neutral way (natural is not a synonym for good), and as part of a viable society. But those discussions always have people like me feeling obligated to point out the gross immorality and uselessness of the act. And that’s when the trolls calling themselves “Christians” get extra-shrill.

    Or that (of course!) sex should be a natural part of a worship service. Oh, that’s right, that is just someone’s “alternate lifestyle” (“lifestyle” is a word coined by Hitler in “Mein Kaumpf”) and should not be condemned or punished.

    Don’t know about Scote, but I’m against the idea of worship service. Of course, I’ve got nothing against sex, so long as it’s between consenting parties. You won’t catch me applying flesh-based moral relativism to that stance like I see so often with people calling themselves “Christian.”

  46. #46 Natalie
    April 16, 2008

    “‘lifestyle’ is a word coined by Hitler in ‘Mein Kaumpf’”.

    Bzzzzt. Wrong.

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