Saturday, December 28, 2013

More Than a Theory: The Role of Darwinism in Nazi Racial Thought

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

There is much disagreement over evolution but it is not controversial that evolution is the most influential theory in the history of modern science. This is particularly true in areas outside of science. Evolutionary thought has permeated, for example, education, media, law, public policy, and environmentalism. And just as evolutionary theory is deeply flawed its various influences have had disastrous results. A prominent example from the twentieth century was evolution’s role in the formation of racial thought in Nazi Germany, as historian Richard Weikart documents in a recent paper. Here is how Weikart summarizes the ways that Nazi racial thought was shaped by Darwinism:

First, almost all Nazi racial theorists believed that humans had evolved from primates. Second, they provided evolutionary explanations for the development of different human races, including the Nordic or Aryan race (these two terms were used synonymously). Specifically, they believed that the Nordic race had become superior because harsh climatic conditions in north-central Europe during the Ice Ages had sharpened the struggle for existence, causing the weak to perish and leaving only the most vigorous. Third, they believed that the differential evolutionary development of the races provided scientific evidence for racial inequality. Fourth, they held that the different and unequal human races were locked in an ineluctable struggle for existence. Fifth, they thought that the way for their own race to triumph in the struggle for existence was to procreate more prolifically than competing races and to gain more “living space” (Lebensraum) into which to expand. Sixth, many argued that Darwinism promoted a collectivist ideal. These six points—derived from the view that humans and human races evolved and are still evolving through the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection—profoundly impacted Nazi policy. They formed the backdrop for eugenics, killing the disabled, the quest for “living space,” and racial extermination.

Of course Nazi racial ideology was not derived exclusively from Darwinism or evolutionary biology, but evolution provided a key part of the foundation. Indeed many German anthropologists and biologists supported Nazi racism as they were already committed to it before the Nazis came to power. And as Weikart explains, evolution was an important theme in Hitler’s ideas:

In his writings and speeches Hitler regularly invoked Darwinian concepts, such as evolution (Entwicklung), higher evolution (Höherentwicklung), struggle for existence (Existenzkampf or Daseinskampf ), struggle for life (Lebenskampf ), and selection (Auslese). In a 1937 speech he not only expressed belief in human evolution, but also endorsed Haeckel’s theory that each organism in its embryological development repeats earlier stages of evolutionary history. … Hitler clearly thought the Nordic race had evolved, as he explained in a 1920 speech, “Why We are Anti-Semites.” The Nordic race, Hitler averred, had developed its key traits, especially its propensity for hard work and its moral fiber, but also its physical prowess, due to the harsh northern climate.

Of course Nazi curriculum and texts also espoused Darwinism:

In 1938 the Ministry of Education published an official curriculum handbook for the schools. This handbook mandated teaching evolution, including the evolution of human races, which evolved through “selection and elimination.” It stipulated, “The student must accept as something self-evident this most essential and most important natural law of elimination [of unfit] together with evolution and reproduction.” In the fifth class, teachers were instructed to teach about the “emergence of the primitive human races (in connection with the evolution of animals).” In the eighth class, students were to be taught evolution even more extensively, including lessons on “Lamarckism and Darwinism and their worldview and political implications,” as well as the “origin and evolution of humanity and its races,” which included segments on “prehistoric humanity and its races” and “contemporary human races in view of evolutionary history.”

This mandate to teach evolution and indoctrinate students reflected the position of the National Socialist Teachers’ League:

The Ministry of Education’s 1938 biology curriculum reflected the biology curriculum developed by the National Socialist Teachers’ League in 1936–37, which likewise heavily emphasized evolution, including the evolution of human races. The Teachers’ League document, authored by H. Linder and R. Lotze, encouraged teachers to stress evolution, because “The individual organism is temporary, the life of the species to which it belongs, is lasting, but is also a member in the great evolution of life in the course of geological times. Humans are also included in this life.” Thus evolution was supposed to support the Nazis’ collectivist ideals—the importance of the species or race over the individual. This biology curriculum called for teaching plant and animal evolution in classes three and four and human evolution in class five. Of the ten topics required for biology instruction in the upper grades, one was evolution and another was human evolution, which included instruction on the origin of human races.

The position of the National Socialist Teachers’ League, as summarized above, illustrates how evolutionary dogma, that the species are the result of blind materialism, has important political implications. This was also evident in later biology textbooks:

Jakob Graf’s 1942 biology textbook has an entire chapter on “Evolution and Its Importance for Worldview.” Therein Graf combated Lamarckism and promoted Darwinian evolution through natural selection. He claimed that knowing about human evolution is important, because it shows that humans are not special among organisms. He also argued that evolution substantiates human inequality. In the following chapter on “Racial Science” Graf spent about fifteen pages discussing human evolution and insisted that humans and apes have common ancestors. Erich Meyer and Karl Zimmermann likewise discuss human evolution in their biology textbook. They state … As seen in these examples, human evolution was standard fare in Nazi biology texts. … A 1942 biology text by Hermann Wiehle and Marie Harm gave extended attention to human evolution. Of the ten main chapters, two were on evolution generally and another one was devoted exclusively to human evolution. One of the recommended activities for classes was a zoo visit to view the primates: “Since in the curriculum we have covered evolution and the origin of humanity, during a visit to the zoo the primates will especially grip us.” As this text and the accompanying activity make clear, German school children during the Third Reich were encouraged to see primates as their evolutionary relatives.

Evolution underwrote human inequality (i.e., racism). But this is only the beginning and there is much more to Weikart’s paper. This chapter in history is another unfortunate example of how ideas have consequences.

Religion drives science, and it matters.


  1. There is no evidence that Hitler had read On the Origin of Species and, according to accounts, he never mentioned Darwin by name. Winston Churchill, on the other hand, admitted to having read Origins and, of course, Darwinian theory was an English creation.

    Nazi Germany adopted the most abhorrent racialist policies culmination in the appalling Final Solution to the "Jewish problem". Britain did nothing of the kind. Instead it fought a world war, at great personal cost, to defeat the Nazi abomination.

    Now, what was that about Darwinism leading inevitably to Nazism?

    1. Ian H Spedding: There is no evidence that Hitler had read On the Origin of Species

      But there is evidence that the Nazis burned Origin of Species

  2. Here are a few facts that the Nazis would have found, and current Darwinists ‘should’ find, very embarrassing towards their belief that humans evolved from some chimp/ape-like ancestor. First and foremost, the genetic differences between individuals is now known to be much greater than the genetic differences between races.

    Genetic Similarities Within and Between Human Populations - 2007
    Excerpt: The proportion of human genetic variation due to differences between populations is modest, and individuals from different populations can be genetically more similar than individuals from the same population. Yet sufficient genetic data can permit accurate classification of individuals into populations.

    This fact caused Craig Venter to remark:

    ‘The Human Genome Project shows there is no such thing as race’.
    Craig Venter

    In fact instead of evolving upwards as the Nazis presupposed, researchers have found that the differences of the younger human races (Chinese, Europeans, American Indians, etc.. etc..) are losing genetic information when compared to the supposed original race of humans in east Africa.

    “We found an enormous amount of diversity within and between the African populations, and we found much less diversity in non-African populations,” Tishkoff told attendees today (Jan. 22) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim. “Only a small subset of the diversity in Africa is found in Europe and the Middle East, and an even narrower set is found in American Indians.” Tishkoff; Andrew Clark, Penn State; Kenneth Kidd, Yale University; Giovanni Destro-Bisol, University “La Sapienza,” Rome, and Himla Soodyall and Trefor Jenkins, WITS University, South Africa, looked at three locations on DNA samples from 13 to 18 populations in Africa and 30 to 45 populations in the remainder of the world.-

    New analysis provides fuller picture of human expansion from Africa – October 22, 2012
    Excerpt: A new, comprehensive review of humans’ anthropological and genetic records gives the most up-to-date story of the “Out of Africa” expansion that occurred about 45,000 to 60,000 years ago.
    This expansion, detailed by three Stanford geneticists, had a dramatic effect on human genetic diversity, which persists in present-day populations. As a small group of modern humans migrated out of Africa into Eurasia and the Americas, their genetic diversity was substantially reduced.

  3. In fact, Genetic Entropy in Human Genome is found to be ‘recent’:

    Human Genetic Variation Recent, Varies Among Populations – (Nov. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins — the workhorses of the cell — occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years,,,
    “One of the most interesting points is that Europeans have more new deleterious (potentially disease-causing) mutations than Africans,”,,,
    “Having so many of these new variants can be partially explained by the population explosion in the European population. However, variation that occur in genes that are involved in Mendelian traits and in those that affect genes essential to the proper functioning of the cell tend to be much older.” (A Mendelian trait is controlled by a single gene. Mutations in that gene can have devastating effects.) The amount variation or mutation identified in protein-coding genes (the exome) in this study is very different from what would have been seen 5,000 years ago,,,
    The report shows that “recent” events have a potent effect on the human genome. Eighty-six percent of the genetic variation or mutations that are expected to be harmful arose in European-Americans in the last five thousand years, said the researchers.
    The researchers used established bioinformatics techniques to calculate the age of more than a million changes in single base pairs (the A-T, C-G of the genetic code) that are part of the exome or protein-coding portion of the genomes (human genetic blueprint) of 6,515 people of both European-American and African-American decent.,,,

    I wonder what Hitler would have thought of all these studies that indicate that East Africans are actually more genetically robust than Europeans?

    Along that line, blue eyes are the result of a loss of genetic information, not a gain:

    Daily thought: blue eyes and other gene mutations, April 25, 2013
    Excerpt: “Research on blue-eyes has led many scientist to further affirm that humans are truly mere variations of the same origin. About 8% of the world’s total population has blue eyes so blue eyes are fairly rare. In fact, blue eyes are actually a gene mutation that scientist have researched and found to have happened when the OCA2 gene “turned off the ability to produce brown eyes.”

    Same too with hair color and skin color. i.e. it is the result of a loss, not gain, of genetic information:

    Excerpt: The melanin in the skin is produced by melanocytes, which are found in the basal layer of the epidermis. Although, in general, human beings possess a similar concentration of melanocytes in their skin, the melanocytes in some individuals and ethnic groups more frequently or less frequently express the melanin-producing genes, thereby conferring a greater or lesser concentration of skin melanin. Some individual animals and humans have very little or no melanin synthesis in their bodies, a condition known as albinism.
    per wikipedia

  4. Also of note: The ‘Bell curve’ I.Q. tests, that have supposedly shown large differences in the intelligence between races of humans, are all shown to be biased by overlooked environmental factors:

    Myth: The black/white IQ gap is largely genetically caused.

    Fact: Almost all studies show the black/white IQ gap is environmental.
    (i.e. children from an enriched learning environment always perform equally well on I.Q. tests, no matter what their race may be.)

    Along that line:

    Geometric Principles Appear Universal in Our Minds – May 2011
    Excerpt: Villagers belonging to an Amazonian group called the Mundurucú intuitively grasp abstract geometric principles despite having no formal math education,,, Mundurucú adults and 7- to 13-year-olds demonstrate as firm an understanding of the properties of points, lines and surfaces as adults and school-age children in the United States and France,,,

    In fact, I’m pretty certain Hitler and his henchmen would have been thoroughly shocked by the following fact;

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – January 20, 2011
    Excerpt: John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.”
    “Shrinking?” I ask. “I thought it was getting larger.” The whole ascent-of-man thing.,,,
    He rattles off some dismaying numbers: Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.”

    Supplemental note, just this last year it has been shown that,,,

    Human Origins(?) by Brian Thomas, M.S. – December 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Three major pillars supporting a human-chimp link crashed in 2013.
    1. Genetic similarity (70% instead of 98%)
    2. beta-globin pseudogene (functional instead of leftover junk)
    3. Chromosome 2 fusion site (encodes a functional feature within an important gene instead of a being a fusion site)
    All three key genetic pillars of human evolution (for Darwinists) turned out to be specious—overstatements based on ignorance of genetic function.

    Verse and Music:

    Numbers 12:1 & 9-10
    And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.,,,
    And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
    And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.

    Mandisa – Esther – Born For This – music video

    1. Let's see the claims for the ICR article. #1 the 70% thing:
      As for the paper that showed this function? "Evolutionary constraints in the β-globin cluster: the signature of purifying selection at the δ-globin (HBD) locus and its role in developmental gene regulation."
      Good lord is the ICR even trying to be honest? This is evolution in action.
      As for #3?
      Tomkins’ 2013 article in the ICR’s in-house publication (Answers Research Journal)
      claims that the fusion site is located “inside a complex and highly expressed gene –
      negating fusion.” That gene is called DDX11L2, but it’s not located quite where Tomkins
      claims, and it certainly doesn’t negate fusion. Check out the location of this gene on a
      web-based resource like the UCSC Genome Browser, and you’ll find it’s actually located next to the fusion site. So no evolution hasn't been debunked. And the ICR is being dishonest.

  5. Newton's theories led to ballistic missiles, and combining that with Einstein's theories, we have ICBMs and the threat of total thermonuclear annihilation.

    1. Whatever his merits as an historian - and there seems to be no doubt about his detailed knowledge of the period and events he describes - Weikart's thesis comes across as one massive argumentum ad consequentiam

  6. "The case for Darwinism cannot be based on any edification that is supposed to come from its truths. Through eugenics, Darwinism was a bad influence on Nazism, one of the greatest killers in world history. Darwinism probably contributed to the upsurge of racism in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and thus it helped foment twentieth-century racism generally. Darwinism was also used to exacerbate the neglect of the poor in the nineteenth century. All things considered, Darwinism has had many regrettable, and sometimes actually vicious, effects on the social climate of the modern world. Modern Darwinism does not offer any guarantee of unending progress. It is understandable that so many hate Darwin and Darwinism. It is often a bitter burden to live with Darwinism and its implications. Unlike so many doctrines, religions, and ideologies, it certainly isn't intellectual opium. No one can make a case for Darwinism based on moral hygiene."

    (Rose M.R. [Professor of Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine], "Darwin's Spectre: Evolutionary Biology in the Modern World," [1998], Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 2000, Third printing, p.210).

  7. Hitler never said he killed the Jews because of race but because to punish them for allegations of bringing death to europeans. He said this in his will and before that.
    The nazi's made the race claims to justify to the public a germanization of Germany but thats another matter.
    I believe Hitler and others killed the Jews because of the sincere complaints and secret complaints.
    They said Jewish domination had done and would do evil. the secret complaint was jews were superior to Europeans. not inferior.

    by the way Stephen Pinker says almost the same thing.
    He says Jews are superior to others and race determines intelligence to some extent. he is well accepted today with no problem. Watson said it about black africans and was punished but most evolutionists today agree, i think, race and smarts is genetic.
    The nazis would fit in fine today.
    the world just doesn't like the murder thing.

    Yes evolution made the educated classes change the old belief in human intellectual equality, based on the bible, into
    the evolving intelligence.
    Coming from apes it made sense selection had made a difference on races. Why not if evolution is true??
    The racial conclusions were a result of the educated europeans acceptance of evolution and rejection of Genesis.

    Any science fiction show I ever saw said intelligence was based on brain size. So start measuring everyone.
    Evolution always says THE BRAINS are bigger in this or that critter.
    Well how about boys and girls and races.

    Darwin had to immediately fight against the concept of races having different intelligence. He said no but already most of those who accepted his stuff said YEAH race/sex equals smarts.

    What are the polls today?

    1. Darwin did write in "The Descent of Man" that he expected the more highly evolved European races to exterminate the less highly evolved Non-Europeans,.

    2. Many groups of humans were wiped out over history, including during the European colonial period. Of course, Darwin wasn't an anthropologist.

    3. Actually Nat ,he said " savage" races, not less evolved. In that he was correct. Technology can provide an edge when it comes to natural selection

    4. natschuster January 1, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      Darwin did write in "The Descent of Man" that he expected the more highly evolved European races to exterminate the less highly evolved Non-Europeans,.

      Given the treatment native peoples had received - and continued to receive - at the hands of European colonists in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and the United States it was not exactly a far-fetched prediction. But nowhere does he say he thinks that the extermination of the "savage" races is a Good Thing.

    5. Vel:

      "Actually Nat ,he said " savage" races, not less evolved. In that he was correct. Technology can provide an edge when it comes to natural selection"

      He wa actually comparing non-Europeans to apes, saying that it is inevitable that both would become extinct at the hands of the Europeans, thus widening the gap between humans and monkeys. This process was how he explained the wide morphological gap between groups.

  8. Dr Hunter,
    Evolution underwrote human inequality (i.e., racism). But this is only the beginning and there is much more to Weikart’s paper

    Isn't the only way this is true,that if one attaches a teleological quality to Darwin's theory? That natural selection has a goal. That sounds more religious than Darwinian, after all isn't that an large objection to ToE , that man is not special?

    Isn't what the Nazis are doing more akin to directed selection, like animal husbandry which like racism predated Darwin?

    1. velikovskys: Isn't what the Nazis are doing more akin to directed selection, like animal husbandry which like racism predated Darwin?

      In many respects, the Nazi program was Mendelian. They wanted to breed true to the German archetype.

    2. No profit in blaming Mendel, I guess.

  9. Of course we also could get to the source. Then we find

    "Even a superficial glance is sufficient to show that all the innumerable forms in which the life-urge of Nature manifests itself are subject to a fundamental law – one may call it an iron law of Nature – which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind."

    This is something Cornelius Hunter could have written. He didn't. Hitler did. In chapter 11 of Mein Kampf.

  10. Off course he gives few examples of these speeches, unlike me: