Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rebuttal to Phipps - Hitler and Darwinism

A debate at CaseAgainstFaith:


Just read Phipps' "rebuttal" of my thing on Hitler, regarding Hitler's animosity to Christianity and affirmation - and practical application - of Darwinism.
Regarding his complaint that I gave no reference, anyone willing to take the four-year degree necessary to get versed in the intricate workings of the web might find it quite easily by following the hyperlink provided. By this subterfuge, it would be discovered that these are not merely "opinions" but referenced quotes.
As to Hitler saying that he was "doing the work of Darwin," it was clearly a foundation of the Nazi party that they were following the "scientific" method, i.e. Darwinism. "In the 1933 Nuremberg party rally, Hitler proclaimed that 'higher race subjects to itself a lower race …a right which we see in nature and which can be regarded as the sole conceivable right,' because it was founded on science."
Phipps is right that quoting Haeckel does not prove Hitler's views. However, Hitler's own views were quite clear.
Regarding the Pope, the facts of history now bear out that he was instrumental in saving many Jews. I am no apologist for him, but I direct readers to "The Myth of Hitler's Pope," written by a rabbi, in defense of the man. Regarding "Hitler's Pope" by Cornwell, these points from a reviewer (search for "Williamson") might be of interest:
  • Jeno Levai, a Jew and leading Holocaust scholar, said that Pope Pius XII "did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences", and elsewhere: "From that day on, acting in accordance with the instructions of the Holy See and always in the name of Pius XII, the Nuncio never ceased from intervening against the disposition concerning Jews, and the inhuman character of the anti-Jewish Legislation."
  • Rabbi Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem: "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness (Pius XII) and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world."
  • Emilio Zolli, Chief Rabbi in Rome during the German occupation: "no hero in all of history was more militant, more fought against, none more heroic, than Pius XII." Zolli was so moved by Pius XII's work that after the War be became a Catholic. He took the Pope's name as his baptismal name.
  • Albert Einstein noted that to prevent the Holocaust, "only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth."
  • Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel (1949-52), writing during the war: "The Holy See is lending its powerful help wherever it can, to mitigate the fate of my persecuted coreligionists."
  • Moshe Sharett, Israel's first foreign minister and second prime minister, upon meeting Pope Pius XII during the war: "I told [the Pope] that my first duty was to thank him, and through him, the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public, for all they had done in various countries to save Jews, to save children, and Jews in general. We are deeply grateful to the Catholic Church."
  • Pinchas E. Lapide, Israeli consul in Italy for a number of years: "The Catholic Church saved more Jewish lives during the war than all the other churches, religious institutions, and rescue organizations put together. Its record stands in startling contrast to the achievements of the International Red Cross and the Western democracies ... The Holy See, the Nuncios and the entire Catholic Church saved some 400 000 Jews from certain death." [The latter figure was officially recognized by the State of Israel with the planting of over 400 000 trees in remembrance of the efforts of the Vatican and the Catholic Church.]
  • Pinchas E. Lapide, Israeli consul in Italy, again: "When an armed force ruled well-nigh omnipotent, and morality was at its lowest ebb, Pius XII commanded none of the former and could only appeal to the latter, in confronting, with bare hands, the full might of evil. A sounding protest, which might turn out to be self-thwarting - or quiet piecemeal rescue? Loud words or prudent deeds? The dilemma must have been sheer agony, for whatever course he chose, horrible consequences were inevitable. Unable to cure the sickness of an entire civilization, and unwilling to bear the brunt of Hitler's fury, the Pope, unlike many far mightier than he, alleviated, relieved, retrieved, appealed, petitioned and saved as best he could by his own lights. Who, but a prophet or a martyr could have done much more?"
Hitler's own words clearly make him an enemy of Christianity, as I have shown. To say that he wanted to create this church or that should arise questions about the beliefs of this church, rather than blind faith that he meant historic Christianity, which he abhorred.
Joseph Goebbels, for example, notes in a diary entry in 1939: "The F├╝hrer is deeply religious, but deeply anti-Christian. He regards Christianity as a symptom of decay."
If Phipps regards Hitler's "Positive Christianity" as Christianity, well ... not much could convince him otherwise.
Phipps says:
In any case, Darwin did not speak of "higher stages" of evolution. This is coming from Hitler's own mind.
This concept is in the mind of anyone who has ever learned about evolution. This is evident from, for example, calling this or that life form "primitive", or Darwin's concept of "favored races", "the higher civilized races", etc.
Darwin's theory of natural selection talks of the "survival of the fittest" but it defines "the fittest" as those who survive.
Are you sure Phipps is not a closet creationist? He has just confirmed a major creationist charge (although it is a lament that has also been made by noncreationist scientists, as documented amply in Bird's "Origin of Species Revisited"), that Darwinism is nothing more than a useless tautology: "survival of the fittest" = "survival of those who survive".
It doesn't claim that those who survive are superior to those who died, only that some species survive and some don't.
If his claim is true, Phipps has just demolished the foundations of natural selection, which depends on the conservation of beneficial mutation. Not that I'm complaining.

Again, I must re-explain what I clearly stated - the serial killer of my challenge is not mentally unbalanced; he is merely a rational evolutionist who rightly views others as competition. Having this now re-explained, I invite readers to seriously consider this challenge.
Wright's claims about morality deriving from evolution are touching, but ultimately vapid. If this were true, our condemnation of Hitler has no more force than Hitler's condemnation of the Jews. For which morality is superior - simply that which survives? What if Hitler or Japan had won? They had moral codes which protected their own people, too. I don't imagine that Phipp agrees that female circumcision is moral, although the cultures that practice it are still surviving.
As to other cultures being moral, I'm sure you're aware of the Christian position that God has not "left himself without witness," but dispenses "common grace" to all peoples, as C.S. Lewis has written about; and that we do not deny that other cultures and peoples might also have various aspects of the truth, though not the whole truth. This has been the Christian view since ... quite a long time, at least since . However, some views, such as Buddha's, may work out to be quite unpalatable and incoherent, as Ravi Zacharias demonstrates in his new book, "The Lotus and the Cross". 
Phipps' claim that Darwin and Hitler had opposing views concerning race are simply after-the-fact rationalizations. Historically, Darwinism has always led to racism, as in Australia (aborigines) and America (eugenics, Ota Benga, etc.) ... no surprise, because Darwin himself felt similarly:
Charles Darwin himself, though strongly opposed to slavery on moral grounds, was convinced of white racial superiority. He wrote on one occasion as follows:
"I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit.... The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world." (Charles Darwin: Life and Letters, I, letter to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, p. 316)
That he felt this was a good thing is evident by the fact that he felt this was "progress."
Perhaps Darwin's views on women are better ...?
Darwin concludes that men attain,
. . . a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive of both composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on "Hereditary Genius" that . . . the average of mental power in man must be above that of women (Darwin, 1896:564).
Phipps' explanation of Hitler's anti-Semitism does not explain how the Jews are not "images of God," nor does it reconcile how Jesus and his followers were Jews. There is probably no help for anyone who finds Hitler's own reasoning cogent; and if anyone truly considers Hitler to be a Christian, then perhaps he is arguing against a phantom institution to no avail. It is strange to see that there are those who are ready and willing to take Hitler's claims about his deeply Christian beliefs at face value, by faith (since his actions and other words, e.g. his aim of destroying the Church, speak otherwise). But faith is not the surpreme virtue.
Perhaps I need to repeat this: Hitler said that religion was an
' ... organized lie [that] must be smashed. The State must remain the absolute master. ... it's impossible to eternally hold humanity in bondage and lies ... [It] was only between the sixth and eighth centuries that Christianity was imposed upon our peoples ... Our peoples had previously succeeded in living all right without this religion. I have six divisions of SS men absolutely indifferent in matters of religion."
I submit that he really could not be any clearer. To those who find the task of reconciling his different statements (about being a Christian vs. viewing Christianity as a recently introduced, organized lie imposed upon his people) too daunting, I suggest more effort than simply ignoring one of the two.
Lastly, perhaps it is not accurate to say that Hitler was an atheist. He was perhaps a pagan and surely a Darwinist.

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