Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Little Kansas Nazis

You, poor reality-based, wooly-headed heathen, you thought scientists were busy peering into test tubes trying to find a cure for malaria and AIDS, tramping through farm fields to develop new and hardier crop species, plumbing the depths to learn how ocean currents affect weather patterns, or just generally being busy bodies and trying to save the rain forrest.

Little did you suspect that...
"Auschwitz... did not come from the Nazi high command," as John James told told those of us huddled in the Schlagle High auditorium for the first of the science hearings in February, "they (sic) came, rather, from the teachings of the scientific and philosophical worlds, which produced nihilism, and I submit to you that much of that, if not vast proportion of it, came due to the teaching of Evolution which, in turn, produces nihilism. So what are we doing? Are we producing little Kansas Nazis?"

If that statement galls you -- coming as it does from representatives of a movement that, not long ago, was telling us that AIDS was God's punishment to gays, or that the 9/11 terror attacks happened because the activities of pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU, and People For the American Way "which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812" -- well, you'd better get used to it. There's more on the way. (To read the whole incredible statement, look here)

On Thursday, April 7, at Seattle Pacific University, Dr. Richard Weikart a fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture is scheduled to deliver the lecture "From Darwin to Hitler: Does Darwinism Devalue Human Life" based on his book which concludes that Darwinism played a key role not only in the rise of eugenics, but also in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis.

There is no doubt that many German scientists shared the anti-semetic cultural assumptions of the Nazis. Some allowed themselves to be used in the war effort. Others conducted inhuman experiments on Nazi concentration camp victims.

But, it should also be remembered that many other scientists courageously fought back against the Nazis at the risk of their own lives. Some, like Albert Einstein, escaped Germany, coming to the U.S. and Britain, to help the allies defeat Hitler.

It is important that all of us take the time to understand how the horror in Germany happened. While we're doing that, here's something the religious right might want to consider:

Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a scholar of European history, who has devoted a lifetime to analyzing how the Nazi barbarity became possible says this:
"We who were born at the end of the Weimar Republic and who witnessed the rise of National Socialism (are) left with that all-consuming, complex question: how could this horror have seized a nation and corrupted so much of Europe?"

Stern does not see science as the culprit.

"Hitler himself, a brilliant populist manipulator who insisted and probably believed that Providence had chosen him as Germany’s savior, that he was the instrument of Providence, a leader who was charged with executing a divine mission. God had been drafted into national politics before, but Hitler’s success in fusing racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

Science is a human activity. Its conclusions are provisional, and subject to revision based on new evidence. For those defenders of science who want to understand the issues that lie beneath this looming discussion, "The Mismeasure of Man," by the eminent palentologist and leading spokesperson for evolution, Stephen Jay Gould, takes an indepth look at the uses, and misuses, of science. Also take a look at Gould's "Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life" for its surprisingly sympathetic portrait of William Jennings Bryan, and condemantion of eugenics, which was then fashionable in scientific circles.


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