Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Darwinism and the Holocaust?

According to Jerry Bergman, there's a connection:

Of the many factors that produced the Nazi holocaust and World War II, one of the most important was Darwin’s notion that evolutionary progress occurs mainly as a result of the elimination of the weak in the struggle for survival. Although it is no easy task to assess the conflicting motives of Hitler and his supporters, Darwinism-inspired eugenics clearly played a critical role. Darwinism justified and encouraged the Nazi views on both race and war. If the Nazi party had fully embraced and consistently acted on the belief that all humans were descendants of Adam and Eve and equal before the creator God, as taught in both the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures, the holocaust would never have occurred.
The Holocaust was definitely an example of Darwinism at work. The Jews are still in existence and the Nazis aren't. The unfit disappeared.

The Nazis made two mistakes when it came to using theories of evolution:

  • They regarded “survival of the fittest” as prescriptive instead of descriptive. There is no more reason to back evolution with government power than there is a reason to back gravity with government power.

  • They thought the definition of “fittest” could be dreamed up a priori. If they had any sense, they would have imitated proven survivors.

On the other hand, if they had tried to imitate Jews, they would have imitated their idea of Jews and created a secret conspiracy against the rest of the world …

On the gripping hand, I might have just started the next generation of insane conspiracy theories …


Blogger Orac said...

The Nazis had a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution. They misinterpreted "survival of the fittest" to mean "survival of the strongest" (and, conversely) the elimination of the "weakest."

The problem is, evolution makes no requirement that the strong will survive or the weak be destroyed. It only states that the "fittest" will have better success at reproducing and thus over time the traits of the fittest will become more prevalent in the population. In more modern terms, that means the "fit" will be more successful at passing on their genes to subsequent generations. Also, "fitness" will mean different attributes in different situations. The other problem is that Germans thought they could control evolution by deciding what constituted "fit" and then selectively breeding. Even if they guessed right, that sort of project would take dozens of generations to bear fruit.

The Nazi view of "social Darwinism" (or "racial hygeine," which was the term that was used--and not just by the Nazis) was in actuality a gross perversion of Darwin's theory in a situation for which it was never intended.

2:37 PM  

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