|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
Re: The Holocaust and Evolution
(A comment at http://www.theconservativevoice.com/modules....ent2132 in response to the opinion piece by AiG's Jonathan Sarfati.)
I've long held that propagandists use whatever is convenient to advance their agenda. In Hitler's case, it is apparent that he claimed both a divine calling in his genocidal program, as well as pragmatics to influence the intelligentsia.
In this regard, one should expect that a propagandist of whatever stripe will inappropriately utilize whatever concepts have widespread currency in the target culture. The issue is not whether a propagandist makes reference to a concept, since such a person will do or say whatever will render others more likely to give them assistance or assent. That a concept is widespread is enough to make it likely for a propagandist to usurp it to his own ends. The issue, then, is whether adherence to some conceptual framework compels a particular course of action.
It is clear that accepting the concepts of evolutionary biology does not compel genocidal behavior. Nor does it compel fascism, communism, or robber-baron style Social Darwinism. (If it did compel behavior of some sort, only one of the options would be engaged, not some opting for A, others for B, and still others for options C through Z.)
Antievolution advocates know they have no chance of showing compelled human behavior stemming from evolutionary biology. Instead, they concentrate upon hints and allegations that evolutionary biology was mentioned by history's villains, or was discussed by them, or even that they must have been taught the concepts and therefore influenced in some malign fashion. While antieovlutionists will readily recognize that Hitler and the Nazi leadership's use of Christian rhetoric and references in their public speeches and writings are belied by their actions, the antievolutionists seem not to recognize that Nazi invocation of recognizable scientific concepts has no more reliability as an indication of causal influence.
While Sir Arthur Keith's views on Hitler and Darwinism are a staple of antievolutionist screeds, it is my opinion that Keith was simply mistaken in his analysis of Hitler. Even a cursory reading of Hitler's own output shows far more familiarity and reliance upon scriptural sources than any esoteric realm of scientific endeavor. The passages in Mein Kampf that are offered as evidence of Hitler's adherence to Darwinian principles are invariably weak allusions which would require nothing more than listening to overheard conversations in a cafe for buzzphrases to spice up a speech or passage, not nuanced arguments showing any depth of acquaintance with biological practice. Hitler and his band of fellow propagandists did what dissembling dictators and sycophants have always done, which was to try to bind the people to them through rhetoric. And, as dissemblers past, present, and future will show, that is done by referring to concepts that are known to the people and spinning a tale that suits their ends.
Wesley R. Elsberry
Examples of invidious comparisons by antievolutionists:
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker