Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Darwin/Nazi Connection

The Darwin/Nazi Connection

Jack Cashill discusses the connection between Darwin and Nazi racial ideology here:

Darwin critics know Ernst Haeckel as the German philosopher whose faked embryo drawings helped generations of clueless students accept Darwinism--“Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” and all that.

But there is still another problem with Haeckel, a darker one than mere fraud. Critics of the Ben Stein film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, apparently do not know this.

If they had, they would not have savaged Stein for daring to connect Adolph Hitler to Charles Darwin . In Scientific American, for instance, editor John Rennie describes this connection as “heavy-handed.” In Reuters, Frank Scheck calls it “truly offensive.”

It reality, it is neither. If anything, Stein and the makers of Expelled understate this historically irrefutable link, and the key to understanding it is Haeckel.

Born in Potsdam in 1834, Haeckel read Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in the summer it was first published in German, 1860, and fell immediately under its sway. He could see straight off that Darwin offered a useful exit strategy from a God-dominated cosmos.

Once liberated, Haeckel created his own secular religion called “Monism.” Not lacking for confidence, he imagined Monism as nothing less than a unified, naturalistic understanding of the entire universe.

“The modern science of evolution has shown that there never was any such creation,” claims Haeckel of the Judeo-Christian tradition, “but that the universe is eternal and the law of substance all-ruling.”

In his 1971 book, The Scientific Origins of National Socialism, Dr. Daniel Gasman of John Jay College shows the “decisive” role that Haeckel played in the development of the German “Volkish” movement, a revival of pre-Christian German culture and spiritualism that found its eventual ecological outlet in the Holocaust.

As it happens, many of the most influential Volkish spokesmen were tied in with either Haeckel or his Monist followers. These were the semi-respectable zanies that found common cause in National Socialism, and they were problem enough.

But it was in the field of eugenics and racial science that Haeckel had the most direct and lethal impact. Germany’s leading advocates of racial anthropology and eugenics, notes Gasman, “were deeply and consciously indebted to Haeckel for many, if not for most, of their ideas.”

Otto Ammon, (1842-1916), a Haeckel disciple, went public with what many Darwinists prefer to keep private, and that is the oddly spiritual nature of the Darwinian experience.

“In obvious imitation of Haeckel,” writes Gasman, “Ammon taught that Darwinism had to become Germany’s new religion. It had to be accepted as a complete Weltanschauung and its ideas had to be encouraged in every facet of life.”

Haeckel’s co-editor at the leading Darwinian joumal Kosmos, Ernst Krause, introduced still another unhinged idea, one that proved to have serious geo-political consequences.

It was Krause who transformed Germans into “Aryans.” In his two influential books, he labored to trace the origin of his imagined Aryan race back to classical Greece and to show the natural fitness of this race of people over time.

When the Nazis came to power, their narrow reading of just who was and who wasn’t an Aryan might have even seemed comic were it not so catastrophic.

I would recommend that you go and read it in full. It makes a nice companion piece to my discussion of American scientists writing about evolution, racism, and eugenics.

If evolutionary theory was misused for genocidal purposes, that doesn't make evolution false. But let's not pretend, as the National Center for Science Education does, that there was no substantial connection--and a perfectly logical connection at that. Ideologies that lead to forced sterilization, genocide, and suppression of alternative viewpoints in the sciences (such as the denial of "Jewish physics" by the Germans) should make their proponents at least a little embarrassed when the connections are pointed out.

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