Friday, November 16, 2012

Hitler and Darwinism, Materialism Vs Atheism, and No True Scotsman

Last night I received a comment on a post I wrote in 2010 "The Pope Says I'm a Nazi (t-shirt available soon)" I was planning to just reply in the comments and move on but, well... There's just too much to deal with, and the claim that Darwin was somehow responsible for Hitler, is one I have yet to deal with here anyway. So I responded briefly to direct the commenter to this entry, where I could address his comment in full without trying to force a small essay into the comment section. So, pop over and read the original entry for context ( Don't worry, it's short) and then read on if you like.

"Ratzinger's statement you quoted is indeed full of incorrect ideas, but not completely. There were indeed many pastors, christians etc. who did speak out against the Nazis (and protected Jews) and that did indeed pay for it with their lives. The church of Rome did nothing but help Hitler most of the time. Roman Catholicism is a false Christianity. According to Nuremberg trials evidence, the Nazis next target after the Jews was the Christian church. The truth is that Nazism was founded in Darwinism - which in turn was founded on materialism (atheism) - and which led to their mission of eliminating the "inferior races" in order to better build the "master race", all by helping evolution along by artificial selection."

I wrote this quite some time ago when I was less careful about my wording, since no one was really reading anyway. So, I agree that my statement that EVERYTHING he said was wrong, was too general. There were of course pastors, ETC., who did oppose Hitler, protected Jews, and died because of it. And though the claim that Hitler intended to attack the christian church is speculative, it seems reasonable to think that Hitler would have targeted outside religions, as he would likely have viewed their position of power and influence in the world as a threat to his own. However, none of that changes the purpose of Ratzinger's statement or my objection to it, as the statement in question was meant to deliberately misrepresent- A) atheism as evil and destructive- B) Hitler's actions as the ultimate example of said evil and destruction- and C) The catholic church, and by proxy religious faith, as the noble savior of mankind. None of which is supported by the facts of reality.

As for the rest of  your comment.

First- materialism is not atheism. There are plenty of materialists who also choose to maintain a belief in god, as Christians are often delighted to point out. There are plenty of otherwise empirically minded scientists in the world who also believe in god; though they are certainly the minority

Second- Your claim that roman catholicism is "false christianity", is problematic. Though you weren't specific as to why you believe it "false". All (or at least all 3 Abrahamic) religious faiths, are ambiguous belief systems. Meaning- because they reject "materialism", the god on which they are based has not -or cannot be- directly observed, verified, quantified, or defined by any empirical means. And because their exact historical origins are also confused and obscured, and their doctrines treated as interpretive, you have no meaningful way (historically or philosophically) by which to assert your definition of "true" christianity, over anyone else's.

Finally- The claim that Hitler was influenced by Darwin or Darwinism, is old, tired, and nonsense.  Darwin's books were banned (as were atheist/freethought groups) by the Nazi regime, because Hitler rejected the idea that Aryans could have evolved from "lower orders" of animals; an interpretation BTW, which is identical to the modern creationist position on evolution. Though Hitler did make statements in Mein Kampf resembling the concepts of natural selection, the views he expresses most closely resemble ideas expressed within social Darwinism;[2] which was created by a British Philosopher and "agnostic realist" named Herbert Spencer;[2] not Charles Darwin. More importantly, there are NO examples of Hitler directly citing Darwin, Darwinism, ETC. as the inspiration for his deeds. So any such links can only be implied through personal interpretation.

When it comes to Christianity, on the other hand. Hitlers writings and speeches are littered with Christ-based justifications for his actions. Such as:

"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 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 against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before 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. And when I look on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have only for their wages wretchedness and misery. 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 today this poor people are plundered and exposed.”

    [Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich on April 12, 1922, countering a political opponent, Count Lerchenfeld, who opposed antisemitism on his personal Christian feelings. Published in "My New Order"]

Which is just one of MANY examples.

Of course, this does not prove that Hitler did what he did because god told him to, therefore- all religion is evil. In the same way "This idea sounds like natural selection" or " Darwin influenced Spencer" , doesn't prove that Darwin inspired Hitler. But what it does do, is provide a material link between Hitler's stated philosophy, and his stated interpretation of "god's will" and christianity; which, weather you agree with it or not- you have no viable means of disputing. There is no such fact-based historical link between Darwinism/atheism, and Hitler's actions or motivations.



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