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…on Darwin’s historical influence

Ben Stein says …

Darwinism led – in a pretty much straight line – to Nazism and the Holocaust. – quoted by Ken Ham, Crosswalk, April 15, 2008

and Matt Crawford replies

Evolution is not racist … people are. Was there racism before the theory of evolution? Why, yes, there was. To be fair, evolution did allow people to justify their own racism by providing a potential biological (rather than social or institutional) argument for racial inequalities. But again, that’s people, not evolution. In a massive stretch of credulity, these same creationists argue that the Bible teaches all men are created equal, and thus actively argues against racism. However, the Bible itself was used as justification for slavery, the “civilization” of the “godless” native “savages.” This isn’t the Bible, or religion, or evolution, but people. People justify their beliefs and social reality by grasping anything that confirms those views. Without evolution, Hitler still would have killed millions and managed to justify it some other way.

Ben Stein says …

Darwinism is not a sufficient condition for the Holocaust, but it is a necessary condition. – quoted in Florida Baptist Witness, February 28, 2008

and Carrie Snider replies

Virtually any theory can be used for harm. Just as an immoral businessman can use economic theories to bring financial ruin to his competitors, an immoral political leader can use an evolutionary theory to bring evil to his fellow human beings; but this does not disprove the theory.

Let’s consider what it would mean if Darwin’s theory were a necessary component to the Nazi regime’s power, and the resulting murders. Here are a few things which were necessary to the Holocaust and which, I suggest, are therefore discreditable by Ben Stein’s criterion:

· Government
· Brains
· Leaders
· Language
· Thumbs
· Labor
· Money
· Weaponry
· Buildings
· Military
· Transportation
· Numerical systems
· Medicine
· Anatomy

Whether or not something is a “necessary component” of a deeply tragic event says nothing about whether that thing is useful, much less whether it is true.

Ben Stein says …

Well, the issue with that Darwinism, which is a brilliant theory, and a great, great relic of the Age of Imperialism in the 19th century, basically said that mankind evolved from apes, and monkeys, and primitive cells, and so forth. – interview on The O’Reilly Factor, October 22, 2007

and a student of history replies

“Darwinism,” or more properly evolution, is no more a relic of imperialism than any other scientific discovery in the nineteenth century. Historically speaking, imperialism, in particular British imperialism, was part of a long process that did not begin or end during the nineteenth century. Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell’s equations describe the behavior and relation of electric and magnetic fields in 1864. That was in the same era of “Darwinism” and British imperialism. Eventually, his equations led to the development of sonar and radio equipment. This was the same technology the British used in wars for the expansion and maintenance of the Empire. So are Maxwell’s equations also a “relic of imperialism”?

Ben Stein says …

Hitler was a lineal descendent of Darwin. – interview on Hannity & Colmes, April 11, 2008

and Benjamin C., tongue firmly in cheek, replies

For the record, Darwin had ten children, born from 1839 to 1856. Hitler’s father was born in 1837, and his mother was born in 1860. Hitler’s father was born before any of Darwin’s children, and Hitler’s mother was not Darwin’s granddaughter.