Monday, March 27, 2006

Were the Nazis Christian?

Another post on Ed Brayton's site dealt with evolution and Hitler. There is a recurring skit that gets replayed on pro-evolution sites, like remakes of the same bad movie:
  1. Someone on anti-evolution site, let's call him Ken, posts an article that attempts to link evolution to Nazi "Master Race" philosophy.

  2. A post goes up on the pro-evolution site denying that evolution is in any way responsible for Nazism.

  3. Commenters on the anti-evolution blog will not only universally condemn Ken, but there will be an inevitable (an rapid) shift from debunking the false link between evolution and Nazism to establishing what is in their mind the indisputably true connection: Christianity and Nazism.
First, I would like to point out that my view is the link between Nazism and evolution is superficial at most. One can find quotes from high-ranking Nazis using evolution to support their philosophy—but this is no more than an attempt to use scientific language to give one's vile philosophy credibility.

In some sense, the link between my field of nuclear physics and sociopathic nuclear states (Iran, North Korea) is stronger—obviously they truly use the science to advance their hideous agendas. Nazi Germany, on the other hand, would have been Nazi Germany with or without Darwin.

The apologists on evolution sites often argue this way:
  1. The connection between evolution and Nazism is superficial; those Nazis who spouted evolution as justification surely knew no biology whatsoever, and they did not understand Darwin at all.

  2. However, those Nazis who claim to be Christian (as Hitler did) are therefore Christian. All it takes is the claim. And any modern Christian who argues that Hitler was not a true Christian is guilty of the "True Scotsman" fallacy. In other words: how dare anyone be so arrogant as to argue that someone (Hitler, Fred Phelps) who claims to be a Christian is not a "true" Christian. Yes they are, and therefore they are perfect candidates for displaying the moral vacuum known as Christianity.
Point two is specious. One can co-opt the teachings of anything (evolution, Christianity) to provide a faux matrix of authenticity. Even worse, you can find useful idiots from the co-opted philosophy to agree with you. But Christianity is not joined by claiming the title. There are basic principles and ideals affirmed by the vast majority of its adherents. If someone (Hitler, Phelps) do not meet even minimal standards, it is quite correct to say: they are not "true" Christians.

Even if (because you are a bigot—I see no other explanation) you insist that Hitler claiming to be a Christian makes him just as much of a Christian as, say, Thomas Aquinas, there is a little bit of history you'll have to explain to support your contention. (Or not—bigots have no problem living in a constant state of cognitive dissonance.)

Rutgers University (that hotbed of fundamentalist Christendom) has a "Nuremberg" project where they are investigating some new documents. One major part of the Nazi Master plan, it turns out, was "The Persecution of the Christian Churches." (I haven't seen a Nazi "The Persecution of Evolutionists" document on the Rutgers site. I'll let you know if I do.)

You can find some of this here and here.

The editor of the project, Julie Mandel, quoted in the Phildelphia Inquirer, Jan. 9, 2002:
A lot of people will say, 'I didn’t realize that they were trying to convert Christians to a Nazi philosophy.' … They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity.
And from a 1945 OSS report:
Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked to meet this situation [church influence] by complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion
Source: Christianity Today blog 01.09.2002

Yeah those Nazis, they sure were true Christians.

Speaking of which, Basic Instinct 2??? Please tell me I only imagined the trailer.

CLARIFICATION: Point 3 of the "recurring skit" should make it clear that the claim is that commenters on Ed’s post would link Nazism to Christianity. They did. I did not mean to imply that Ed Brayton, as the author rather than a commenter, linked Nazism to Christianity. He emphatically does not, and I regret if I was not clear enough on that point.

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