We have seen the tactics exhibited by expelledexposed against individuals who its parent, the NCSE, deems to have "left the reservation" of legitimate science. Lets see how history is presented by expelledexposed. The picture isn't any prettier.
Those responsible for expelledexposed take great exception to the charge made by Expelled that Darwinism was an essential historical ingredient in bringing about the Holocaust. They also deny any connection between evolution and the formation of Communism, the rise of atheism and the development of the Eugenics movement which sought to "cleanse" the human race of the mentally and physically challenged. Is history as presented by Expelled a false history, as expelledexposed charges? Is this history the work of a "narrow" group of Protestants? Is the alternative history put forth by expelledexposed a trustworthy account?
Expelledexposed states that to blame Darwinian Evolution for the rise of the Nazis and the subsequent destruction of 6 million Jews is to ignore the historical roots of these events. The website points to the devastation suffered by Europe during WW I plus the postwar social, political and economic turmoil suffered by its citizens as the real roots of the rise of Nazi Germany. An especially important factor in the Nazi takeover were the reparations imposed on Germany by the victorious European and American powers in the Treaty of Versailles. Increasing nationalism and anti-semitism were also historical factors, according to expelledexposed.
There is much truth in this historical account. Some group claiming it would end Germany's humiliation would have certainly come to power with or without the existence of Darwin's theories. The "peace" imposed by the victors brought humiliation and starvation to Germany. In Germany, money had become so worthless that people brought wheelbarrows full of cash just to buy a loaf of bread. Revenge for these peace terms as well as the urge to regain a lost empire was opportunity enough for the Nazis to gain ascendance by blaming the Jews for the hard times. Any group that promised a way out by eliminating domestic "enemies" would have gained followers. The Nazis were simply exploiting existing anti-semitism that was present in Germany and the rest of Europe. Not even the Church is to escape the charge of anti-semitism or blame for acting upon it throughout history. Anyone unfamiliar with this sad history can inform themselves of it by reading Michael Brown's "Our Hands Are Stained Blood."
This being the case, can it be legitimately claimed that Evolution was no factor at all in the formation of Nazi ideology and the Holocaust? Expelledexposed and the NCSE would have you think so. According to expelledexposed, the only group that considers Evolution to be a factor in these events is a "narrow" group of Protestants such as Henry Morris, The Institute For Creation Research, Answers In Genesis and Coral Ridge Ministries. Again, here we see the NCSE strategy at work. Present a historical account, which is truthful as far as it goes, and then present the alternatives as the product of the imagination and shoddy research of fringe groups. In this case, the fringe group being creationists. Expelledexposed makes it look that the view that Evolution was a factor in creating the Holocaust is not shared by reputable historians. And it does so without providing citations for its own conclusions.
British historian Paul Johnson, who is not a narrow Protestant but a Catholic, properly puts Darwinian Evolution in its proper historical perspective. In "Modern Times", he points out that the great scientific revolutions change the mindset of humanity more than any other historical factor. The work of Galileo introduced an empiricism and a natural philosophy that gave rise to the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Newton's physics led to the 18th Century Enlightenment, Nationalism and Revolutionary Politics. And Evolution certainly had a vital impact on the formation of the thought of Hitler and Marx. (Johnson, p.5) It would be intellectually inconsistent to recognize Evolution for the scientific revolution it was and then argue it had no impact on the world view of the following generations, including the most important negative developments in the 20th century. Can anyone really divorce Evolution from the increasing atheism in the western world? According to Johnson, evolution was a major factor in the rise of anti-semitism in 19th Century Germany. Previously, anti-semitism was greater in other European countries such as Russia and France. But in 19th Century Germany, with the rise of Industrialization and its attendant consequences on an alienated proletariat, the introduction of the notion of the survival of the fittest applying to humans had consequences. It gave rise to the belief that certain weaker social and ethnic groups were enslaving the masses and poisoning the natural selection among the races. This led to the targeting of the Jews as the race responsible for the bad times. (Johnson, p.117) As for the formation of Nazi ideology, and its outworking in the Holocaust, one of the factors was the eugenics movement, which we will be discussing shortly.
Expelledexposed denies the link between Evolution and Communism. Yet the Marxist view of class warfare developed from the evolutionary concept of the survival of the fittest: the destruction of the middle class addicted to the status quo which kept the masses poor developed from an evolutionary world view. Marx recognized this and asked Darwin if he could dedicate Das Kapital to him. (To be fair, Darwin refused. At least this blog engages in full disclosure, even if expelledexposed does not.) The marriage of Marxism and Evolution lasted well into the 1920's. Later, Stalin rejected the connection between the two because he thought Evolution was too connected to Nazi ideology. This is according to historian Robert Gellately's book "Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe." This is a secular book like Johnson's, not the work of a "narrow Protestant."
Does all this mean that Darwin foresaw all the consequences that his ideas would bring about, or that all who applied Darwinism to their own ideologies had a perfect understanding of his writings? Of course not. Darwin was not a monster; he would have been appalled by the slaughter of 6 million Jews and would have denied any connection between the notion of the survival of the fittest to the destruction of whole races. But acknowledging that does not let Darwin and his evolutionary theories off the hook. Evolution challenges the belief that Man is a special creation, made in God's image, God's greatest creation. When we reject the special creation of man, then man is viewed as just another animal. The most developed, the most evolved, but an animal none the less. When man is viewed as an animal, he will be experimented on as if he was an animal. There are those who will inevitably apply the evolutionary concept of the survival of the fittest to mankind. They will identify those classes of humanity who they believe threaten the process of natural selection among the races and contaminate future generations, which they fear could lead to extinction. Yes, the Jews would have been targeted whether Darwin published his theories or not. Yet the systematic destruction of 6 million Jews, carried out with such scientific efficiency, would never have occurred without the evolutionary belief that man was just an animal. The scientific establishment that sought how to murder the most people with the greatest of efficiency would never have been formulated had not Darwin lowered the status of man in the eyes of humanity. This is a historical fact that the NCSE does not want you to understand.
Nor does the NCSE want you to understand the connection with Evolution and the Eugenics movement.
The Father of the Eugenics movement was Sir Francis Galton. Galton happened to be the 1/2 cousin of none other than Charles Darwin. Galton proposed that the physique, ability and character are inherited traits as are intellectual ability, zeal and devotion to work. Therefore, for the good of the human race, all encouragement should be given to encourage the healthy to bear children, while every effort should be made to prevent child-bearing among the "dysgenic", those mentally, physically and behaviorally unfit. (Gellately, p.331) Galton himself expressed the connection between Eugenics and Evolution: "I was encouraged by the new views to pursue many inquiries that interested me, which clustered around the central topic of Heredity." It is true that Darwin did not agree with Galton's application of his own views to the human race. To acknowledge this does not necessarily obligate one to deny a connection between Evolution and Eugenics. Just because a scientist or philosopher objects to implications made by others of his own work does not make them the final authority as to where their original theories may lead. Nor does that bar subsequent generations from connecting those theories to later historical developments. And it is clear that Darwin and Galton corresponded regularly concerning each other's work. Can anyone find me a quote from Darwin decidedly rejecting the direction his cousin's theories took? Did not Darwin encourage him in his work? Darwin himself acknowledged his own debt to his cousin's views in "The Descent of Man" (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1998) :
"I have hitherto only considered the advancement of man from a semi-human condition to that of the modern savage. But some remarks on the action of natural selection on civilized nations may be worth adding. This subject has been ably discussed by Mr. W.R. Greg, and previously by Mr. Wallace and Mr. Galton."
The footnote to this section cites the work by Galton entitled "Hereditary Genius." (Darwin, "The Descent of Man", p.138)
Can we acknowledge family ties between Darwin and Galton and at the same time deny an intellectual kinship between their work? Can we deny a connection between the Eugenics Movement's purpose of preventing the "unfit" from propagating and the Darwinian notion of the survival of the fittest? We can no more deny that the Eugenics Movement was a child of Darwinism than we can deny the family relationship between both men.
Expelledexposed rightly points out that all segments of society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries embraced the Eugenics movement at some level, including the Church. It also points out that the movement had its critics. Who were these critics? Expelledexposed gives credit to some clergy and some of the intelligentsia. But the Evolutionary Icon, the late Stephen Jay Gould is more specific:
"We usually regard eugenics as a conservative movement and its most vocal critics as members of the left. This alignment has generally held in our own decade. But eugenics, touted in its day as the latest in scientific modernism, attracted many liberals and numbered among its most vociferous critics groups often labeled as reactionary and anti scientific." (Gould, "The Flamingo's Smile", p. 310)
"...groups often labeled as reactionary and anti scientific." Dare we say "narrow Protestants"? As Gould points out, it was "conservative Virginia Christians" who challenged a Virginia law that required women who were "feeble minded" to be sterilized. The case , known as "Buck v. Bell", was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the Virginia law. Writing for the majority, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared : "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." (Gould, p310)
Yes, it was the "narrow Protestants", the Creationists, who were in the forefront of the battle against Eugenics. Yes, in many ways Fundamentalists were at a loss as to how to deal with modern culture. Yet they understood that accepting Evolution devalued the status of man in the eyes of mankind. And Fundamentalists recognized that that thinking inevitably led to attempts to control the development of the human race, to encourage the strong to rid itself of the weak. That is why its the most "vociferous" critics of Eugenics were Fundamentalists, those narrow Protestants. And we have the word of Stephen Jay Gould on this point. I make this point especially to you who work at or are allied with the NCSE: if we can't trust Stephen Jay Gould on this issue, who can we trust?
Part VI will deal with the quote from Darwin's "Descent of Man" that Ben Stein read in Expelled.