Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism

by Coel Hellier

Summary

  • Nazi racial ideology was creationist. Hitler considered that the different human races had been created separately. The Aryan race was the “master” race, created as “God’s highest handiwork”, the other races (Jewish, Black, Slav, etc) were literally “sub-human”. The races had been created by God in their current form (humans had not evolved from other animals).
  • Nazi ideology pointed to both artificial and natural selection as a mechanism preserving the health of a species by weeding out the weaker and less able. This struggle for existence countered a natural tendency for things to decay. To the Nazis this mechanism preserved species in their original (God created) form. They did not consider that natural selection operating over long periods of time caused species to evolve; they regarded the species as fixed.
  • Hitler considered that allowing interbreeding between the separately created races would destroy the Aryan race, and thus be a sin against God. He considered it a high imperative to preserve the Aryan race in its primordial excellence. In Mein Kampf he advocated that Jews should be celibate to prevent such interbreeding. Later he developed a “final solution” to this “problem”.
  • Nazi ideologues strongly opposed most Darwinian concepts; they rejected macro-evolution, they rejected the common origin of the different human races, they rejected human evolution from animals. They rejected such doctrines which they saw as depriving man of his soul. They banned Darwin’s works and called his theories an “English sickness”.
  • Hitler saw the Christian churches as having been corrupted by Jews, starting with Paul. He regarded Jesus as an Aryan, and wanted to restore what he saw as the original message of Jesus. The Nazis formed their own church, the “German Christians”, and their own theological institutes, promoting the idea of Jesus as an Aryan. Hitler despised atheism and had “stamped it out” on taking power with the disbanding of the German Freethinker’s League.
  • The German people during the Third Reich were overwhelmingly Christian, with among the highest church-attendance rates in Europe. In a 1939 Census 94% declared themselves Christian. Nearly all of those involved in the Holocaust regarded themselves as Christian; the Auschwitz SS self-labelled as Catholic (42.6%), Protestant (36.5%) or Gottgläubig (20.1%; the word means God-believer or devout, and was the term favoured by the “German Christians”); not one was recorded as “without faith” (atheist). Indeed Himmler declared that: “I have never tolerated an atheist in the ranks of the SS. Every member has a deep faith in God”.
  • Since the war many in the largely-Christian victorious West have conducted a misinformation campaign trying to exonerate religion of any blame for the Nazis, and instead place the blame on atheists and Darwinian ideology. The truth is the opposite. Yet, the misinformation campaign has been sufficiently sucessful that many people still believe it. Creationists, particularly, as still trying to promote this disinformation.

1: Introduction
2: Nazi Racial Theory (de Gobineau)
3: Houston Stewart Chamberlain
4: Hans Günther
5: Hitler and Mein Kampf
6: Creationist denial
7: Religion in the Third Reich
8: Christian Denial
9: Conclusion

1: Introduction

Among those who dislike Darwin’s explanation of human beings as the product of evolution a common accusation is that Darwinian thinking has led to horrors such as the Nazi holocaust. For example the American religious commentator Ann Coulter writes: “From Marx to Hitler, the men responsible for the greatest mass murders of the twentieth century were avid Darwinists” (which is wrong on all the others, not just Hitler). So widespread is the claim that even many who accept that Darwinian evolution has been established as true, well beyond any reasonable doubt, also believe that Darwinian ideas were misused to justify Nazi atrocities. For example the British political commentator Andrew Marr writes that Darwinism was “used to justify … the Nazi holocaust”.

Are these claims correct? Remarkably, for a claim so widely accepted, no they aren’t. Indeed, the Nazi ideology underpinning the extermination of the Jews was opposed to and incompatible with Darwinism, instead being a religious and creationist doctrine.

Even such a staunch Darwinian as Richard Dawkins fails to appreciate how anti-Darwin the Nazis were, hugely underplaying the differences. These differences are best illustrated by the schematics in Figure 1. On the left is the Darwinian evolutionary tree showing the origin of man out of monkey-like ancestors. In the middle is a schematic of the “family tree” of today’s dogs. The domestic dog, as with other domesticated and farmed species, is partially the product of Darwinian natural selection and partially the product of human artificial selection to produce desired outcomes. Dawkins is correct to make a distinction between artificial selection — something we’ve known about since the invention of farming — and natural selection, Darwin’s idea explaining the evolution of species over geological timescales.

Fig. 1: The `branching' pattern of descent produced by Darwinian natural selection and by artificial selection contrasts with Nazi racial ideology of separate creation of distinct races, and the sinfulness of "contaminating" the "God's handiwork" Aryan race by allowing inter-breeding with "lesser" races.

Dawkins writes, in response to Ben Stein’s propaganda film Expelled

“Hitler didn’t apply NATURAL selection to humans. [...] Hitler tried to apply ARTIFICIAL selection to humans, and there is nothing specifically Darwinian about artificial selection. It has been familiar to farmers, gardeners, horse trainers, dog breeders, pigeon fanciers and many others for centuries, even millennia”.

The suggestion here is that Hitler wanted to use farming techniques to artificially select desired traits and so produce a “master race”. This would indeed be an ideology that had some similarities to Darwinism. However, while Professor Dawkins can be excused for never having looked into Nazi ideology, abhorrent and unscientific as it is, this misunderstands Nazi racial doctrine and what they were trying to achieve. In fact, Nazi racial ideology was radically different, being based on a creationist vision that was totally incompatible with and opposed to Darwinian evolution.

The panel on the right of Fig. 1 illustrates Nazi racial doctrine. They believed that the different human races were distinct and separate, created as God wanted them, and they regarded these permanent racial characteristics as all important to human culture and destiny. Further, they believed that allowing racial inter-mixing had led to the downfall of civilizations, and was a sin against God’s creation. Thus they considered it of overwhelming importance to preserve their own Nordic/Aryan race, which they regarded as superior and created in “God’s own image”, by preventing inter-breeding with “inferior” races which they regarded as literally “sub-human”, being separate creations.

Flag of the Nazi 'Deutsche Christen'

Flag of the Nazi ‘Deutsche Christen’

So, yes, the Nazis wanted to use selective breeding, but not to create a “master race”, but to preserve an Aryan master race, preserving the primordial Aryan characteristics which they believed were the “highest image of God”.

This ideology shares one thing with Darwinism, namely the possibility of using selective breeding to achieve a desired end, a possibility mankind had known about since the invention of farming, about 12,000 yrs ago. But in all other respects it is profoundly anti-Darwinian. Whereas in Darwinian evolution all mankind evolved out of a common monkey-like ancestor, with all human races sharing a common origin in the recent past, in Nazi ideology the different human races were distinct and separate creations.

In other words, the Nazis, like many creationists today, accepted what creationists call “micro-evolution”, the operation of natural selection within a species; but, like other creationists, they totally rejected “macro-evolution”, the evolution of one species into another.

While the mutability of species, with new species evolving out of distant ancestors, is the central theme of Darwinism, the Nazis found that idea anathema, and placed a heavy emphasis on racial purity and the distinctiveness and separateness of different species. Further, the Nazis found abhorrent the materialist notion that man might be just like other animals, and, from their religious and moralistic perspective, they insisted that man had a spiritual soul.

That is why leading Nazi ideologues wrote books explicitly rejecting Darwinism, and why they banned Darwinian works from public libraries. The truth is that nothing in Nazi ideology derives from Darwin — the slight overlap is only in areas known about long pre-Darwin. Nor are there any quotes of leading Nazis looking to Darwin or pointing to Darwin as justification — if there were the creationists would likely have found them by now. In short, the association of Nazi doctrine with Darwinism is an outright fabrication by those who wish to discredit Darwinism and the scientific account of the origin of man.

2: Nazi Racial Theory (de Gobineau) (back to top)

The Nazi’s racial theory is straightforwardly traced back to the writings of Arthur de Gobineau (1816–1882), a French aristocrat, novelist and diplomat. His work on the “Inequality of the Human Races” was published in 1853–1855 (before Darwin’s Origin of Species), and was translated into English in 1856, and into German in 1897, by Ludwig Schemann, a leading proponent of Nazi theory.

Arthur de Gobineau

Arthur de Gobineau

De Gobineau’s central argument is that humans races are distinct and unequal, and he argues against the “unitarian” idea that all men are descended from a common origin. In Chapter 11, headed “Racial differences are permanent”, he writes:

“I conclude, from this refutation of the only arguments brought forward by the Unitarians, that the permanence of racial types is beyond dispute; it is so strong and indestructible that the most complete change of environment has no power to overthrow it, so long as no crossing takes place.”

By “crossing” de Gobineau means inter-racial breeding. He argues that inter-racial mixing causes “degeneracy”, with the blood of the “superior” races being polluted by that of “inferior” races.

Much of the book is concerned with the “fall of civilizations”, asking why the great civilizations of the past fell. He argues that it resulted from the “degeneration” caused by inter-racial mixing:

“And when I have shown by examples that great peoples, at the moment of their death, have only a very small and insignificant share in the blood of the founders, into whose inheritance they come, I shall thereby have explained clearly enough how it is possible for civilizations to fall …”.

In Chapter 1 de Gobineau, a Catholic Christian, wrote:

“The fall of civilizations is the most striking, and, at the same time, the most obscure, of all the phenomena of history. … The wisdom of the ancients yields little that throws light on our subject, except one fundamental axiom, the recognition of the finger of God in the conduct of this world; to this firm and ultimate principle we must adhere, accepting it in the full sense in which it is understood by the Catholic Church. It is certain that no civilisation falls to the ground unless God wills it …”.

gobineau essai race

This laid the seeds of an idea that would be echoed in Mein Kampf, that the “fall” of civilizations was God-ordained as a punishment for racial inter-mixing, that God wanted his separately created races to be kept separate, and that allowing racial inter-mixing was counter to God’s will.

de Gobineau admits that one counter-argument which “I confess, gives me more concern” is that “It is said that Genesis does not admit of a multiple origin for our species.” He argues that:

“We must, of course, acknowledge that Adam is the ancestor of the *white* race. The scriptures are evidently meant to be so understood, for the generations deriving from him are certainly white”,

and that:

“… there is nothing to show that, in the view of the first compilers of the Adamite genealogies, those outside the white race were counted as part of the species at all. Not a word is said about the yellow races, and it is only an arbitrary interpretation of the text that makes us regard the patriarch Ham as black”.

Thus de Gobineau is arguing that the Mankind created by God in the Garden of Eden was the White race, and that the other races, who could be regarded as “sub-human”, had had separate creations. This idea has cropped up periodically in Christian thought, for example in the Dutch Reformed Church as a justification of apartheid, and explains puzzles such as why the “Mark of Cain” was needed to protect Cain if there were no other peoples.

3: Houston Stewart Chamberlain (back to top)

Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855–1927) was one of the intellectual founders of Nazism. His “The Foundations Of The Nineteenth Century” sold a quarter of a million copies by 1938. On Chamberlain’s 70th birthday, the Nazi party newspaper dedicated five columns to him, describing “The Foundations” as the “gospel of the Nazi movement”. This book’s ideas of Aryan supremacy and a struggle against Jewish influence became the intellectual justification of Nazism, being carried in all public libraries and included in school curricula. Rosenberg described himself as “electrified” by reading this book, which he regarded as the inspiration for his own “Myth Of The Twentieth Century”.

Hitler visited Chamberlain several times between 1923 and 1926, and attended his funeral in 1927. In 1923 Chamberlain wrote to Hitler saying:

“Most respected and dear Hitler … That Germany, in the hour of her greatest need, brings forth a Hitler – that is proof of her vitality … I can now go untroubled to sleep… May God protect you!”.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain

Houston Stewart Chamberlain

Chamberlain was a Christian, devoting chapters of his “Foundations” to his version of Christianity. He believed that much of Church doctrine was a distortion of Christ’s teaching, writing that

“the whole superstructure of the Christian Churches has hitherto been outside of the personality of Christ”

and that:

“… we need … a regeneration that shall be specifically religious: we need to tear away the foreign rags and tatters that still hang upon our Christianity as the trappings of slavish hypocrisy: we need the creative power to construct out of the words and the spectacle of the crucified Son of Man a perfect religion fitting the truth of our nature …”.

In the introduction to “Foundations” Chamberlain writes of Darwinism as “A manifestly unsound system”. He explicitly advocates a dualistic and spiritual vision of man, rejecting “monism” (the idea that humans are simply physical material) and saying that Darwinism and “so-called `scientific’ monism, materialism” were “shallow and therefore injurious systems [...] which have nevertheless in the nineteenth century produced so much confusion of thought”. He then says that as a result of such “errors” … “theists become in the twinkling of an eye atheists, a strikingly common thing in the case of Jews …”.

This association of atheism with Jews was later echoed by Hitler in Mein Kampf.

Chamberlain continued that “… for us (Teutons) God is always in the background”. He contrasts this with “a Jewish scholar” in whom he “had occasion” to “observe the genesis and obstinacy of the apparently opposite `atheistical’ conception”, and remarked that

“It is absolutely impossible ever to bring home to such a man what we Teutons understand by Godhead, religion, morality. Here lies the hard insoluble kernel of the `Jewish problem’. And this is the reason why an impartial man, without a trace of contempt for the in many respects worthy and excellent Jews, can and must regard the presence of a large number of them in our midst as a danger not to be under-estimated.”

Although Chamberlain did some work in botany, he described himself in his book “The Aryan Worldview” (1905) as someone “who has no scientific knowledge”. Nevertheless, as with many Christians, he had deep antipathy to Darwinism, which he saw as materialist and soul-less. In his major work “Immanuel Kant” (1905) he attacked Darwinism at length.

In the section “Plato” he defended ideas of a Platonic “essence”, such that different races were of different “essence”, and totally rejected Darwin’s ideas of races and species as malleable, and evolving into different species. Here are some quotes:

“A characteristic symptom of our modern intellectual disease is the increasing tendency to relegate things to ever remoter and remoter origins. Thus, for instance, man was said to be descended from the ape; the anatomical impossibility of this is established to-day by a thousand reasons …”

“the nonsensical dogmas of the theorisers on natural selection and descent may once and for all be rejected.”

“That is how anti-science and phantasticism have invaded our times. And how did this happen? It was the inevitable consequence of wishing to understand nature from the process of growth instead of from its Being, …” [The "Being" here being the constant Platonic essence, in contrast to changeable Darwinian "growth".]

“Constancy, not only of single species without any change from the oldest palaeozoic strata until to-day … but, as I have just shown, constancy of precisely the same structural conditions down to every detail … that is the great fundamental fact, the fact of all facts, which pure conception gives us in regard to life. Life is form, constant form.”

And he gets quite disparaging about Darwin: “These few remarks only serve to show what a want of reflection disfigures the fundamental thoughts of Darwin and his followers.”

And lauds a Darwin critic: “This testimony of a professional man rich in knowledge and prudent in judgement, deserves attention at a time when the Darwinian craze works such mischief [...]“

Further, Chamberlain is totally dismissive of the Darwinian idea that man could ascend from “a bestial past” and that “… natural selection, in its blind choice, is forsooth to transfigure us into an exalted being”.

This passage is worth quoting more fully, since the usual accusation is that the Nazis took from Darwin an idea of using selective breeding to create a “master race”. Chamberlain, the foremost intellectual founder of Nazism, totally and explicitly rejects this, instead wanting to preserve the past:

“Darwin specially recommends his theory for our acceptance in that it also promises to mankind that all corporal and mental endowments will tend to progress in the direction towards perfection. I, on the contrary, should have thought that we might have contented ourselves with the gifts of a Plato, a Descartes, a Leonardo, a Goethe, a Kant … how far better this than that we, fooled by delusions out of a bestial past that is no past … should with outstretched greedy hands, without cease or rest, clutch at a phantastic future in which natural selection, in its blind choice, is forsooth to transfigure us into an exalted being, the like of which is beyond the imagination of the great and holy and sublime men of the present generation!”

Thus, to Chamberlain, Nazi theory was not about using selective breeding to perfect a master race, Nazi ideology was that the Aryans were already a master race, and had always been, since an original creation by God. And that the Aryan master race was now threatened by interbreeding with “lesser” races of human, which it was their duty to prevent. This theme was later to make up a large swathe of Mein Kampf.

This is a complete rejection of the Darwinian idea of humans having a common origin and having evolved from apes. Indeed Chamberlain is quite disparaging about Darwinism, calling it an “English sickness”:

“If we might not say that this craze [Darwinism] is only the last belated straggler of romanticism and Hegelism in alliance with flat English utilitarianism, and that a hundred years will not have passed before it will be judged as men to-day judge alchemy, … if we did not see around us … an energetic shaking off of this “English sickness”, as the Zoologist Friedrich Dreyer called it in a happy phrase, we might abandon all hope of a future for Science and culture.”

Alfred Rosenberg was another leading Nazi, and a major proponent of Nazi ideology, who also explicitly opposed and criticised Darwinism. In his “Myth Of The Twentieth Century” he writes:

“The liberal epoch brought enormous desolation in the church domain. This was precipitated by its many pseudoscientific beliefs such as evolution. [...] The tragic thing about the spiritual history of the last hundred years is that the churches have made the liberal materialistic outlook their own. [...] Thus the Darwinian era was able to create enormous confusion.”

4: Hans Günther (back to top)

The above sections have shown how Nazi racial ideology originated prior to Darwin, in the form of de Gobineau, and from ideologues such as Chamberlain who explicitly opposed and rejected Darwinism. Let’s now turn to Nazi ideologues during the Third Reich era, of whom Hans Günther is a prominent example.

Hans Günther

Hans Günther

Hans Günther (1891–1968), known as the “Race Pope” (Rassenpapst) was the leading Third Reich exponent of Nazi racial ideology. His “Short Ethnology of the German People” was published in 1929, selling 270,000 copies. He was appointed to a chair in “racial theory” at Jena in 1931, and joined the Nazi party in 1932, being lauded and decorated by Hitler.

Günther’s major work was “The Racial Elements of European History” (English translation, 1927). Günther drew heavily on de Gobineau and Chamberlain, writing (Chapter 12):

“The French Count Arthur Gobineau (1816-82), was the first to point out in his work, Essai sur l’inegalite des races humaines (1853-5), the importance of the Nordic race for the life of the peoples. Count Gobineau, too, was the first to see that, through the mixture of the Nordic with other races, the way was being prepared for what to-day (with Spengler) is called the ‘Fall of the West’. … it is thanks to Schemann … [and] his translation of the Essay on the Inequality of Human Races, which appeared 1898-1901, that Gobineau’s name and the foundations he traced for the Nordic ideal have not fallen into forgetfulness. The very great importance of Gobineau’s work in the history of the culture of our day is shown by Schemann in his book, Gobineaus Rassenwerk (1910).”

“About the same time, too, in 1899, appeared the work which for the first time brought the racial ideal, and particularly the Nordic ideal, into the consciousness of a very wide circle through the enthusiasm, and also the opposition, which it aroused: this work was The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by H. S. Chamberlain … “

“Since the works of Gobineau and Chamberlain appeared, many investigators, in the realms of natural and social science, have devoted themselves eagerly to bringing light into racial questions, so that to-day not only the core of the theory both of Gobineau and of Chamberlain stands secure, but also much new territory has been won for an ideal of the Nordic race. A new standpoint in history, the ‘racial historical standpoint,’ is shaping itself. Following the terms used by Gobineau and Chamberlain, we come here and there upon more or less clear conceptions of the need for keeping the ‘Germanic’ blood pure, or (following Lapouge) of keeping the ‘Aryan’ blood pure.”

Thus we have the leading Third Reich race ideologue explicitly attributing his ideas to pre-Darwin and anti-Darwin writers. It is true, though, that Günther then goes on to mention selection and Darwin, saying: “the influence of the conception of selection only really begins to show itself after the foundations of modern biology were laid by Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859. The conception of selection was bound to have an effect on the view taken of the destiny of the peoples. Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton (1822–1911), the ‘father of eugenics’, was the first to see this.”

However, it is clear that from Darwin he is taking only a mechanism, namely selection, whereas it is from Gobineau and Chamberlain that he is taking motivation. He continues: “Through researches such as these [Darwin, Galton, Mendel] Gobineau’s teachings received a deeper meaning, and found fresh support from all these sources, from the sciences of heredity, eugenics, and race: the Nordic movement was born.” And Gobineau’s central thesis was the anti-Darwinian idea of separately created and permanent racial types, and the idea that allowing racial mixing would destroy the Aryan/Nordic “superior” race.

5: Hitler and Mein Kampf (back to top)

After a lengthy lead-up reviewing the origins of Nazi doctrine, let’s now turn to Mein Kampf (1925–1926). This was the book that sold 10 million copies, it was this book above all that was read by the German populace, being the single most influential statement of Nazi doctrine. If a people were willing to support or silently acquiesce to the removal and elimination of the Jews from German society, it was above all the justification presented in Mein Kampf — building on a thousand years of Christian antipathy towards Jews — that mattered.

Mein Kampf does not mention Darwin even once. Where atheism is mentioned (twice) it is pejorative, associating atheism with Jews and Marxism (namely: “They even enter into political intrigues with the atheistic Jewish parties against the interests of their own Christian nation” and “… atheistic Marxist newspapers …”). Instead, Mein Kampf presents a religious, creationist and moralistic argument for removing Jews from German society. That is the major theme of the book, running through it repeatedly.

In line with the above Nazi thinkers, Hitler believed that mankind did not have a common origin, but consisted of several distinct and separately created races. The Aryan race was the superior race, with other races such as Jews and Slavs being literally “sub-human”. Hitler believed that the Aryans had enjoyed a golden past, and that Germany’s current troubles were the result of allowing racial inter-mixing, which was destroying the master race, leading to a degeneration of society. Thus it was morally necessary to prevent racial inter-mixing, if necessary by a “final solution” to the “Jewish problem”.

Hitler spends much time criticising the churches for opposing each other rather than the Jews:

“Catholics and Protestants are fighting with one another to their hearts’ content, while the enemy [Jews] of Aryan humanity and all Christendom is laughing up his sleeve. Look at the ravages from which our people are suffering daily as a result of being contaminated with Jewish blood.”

“… Think further of how the process of racial decomposition is debasing and in some cases even destroying the fundamental Aryan qualities of our German people.”

“This pestilential adulteration of the blood, of which hundreds of thousands of our people take no account, is being systematically practised by the Jew to-day.”

“Systematically [Jews] corrupt our innocent fair-haired girls and thus destroy something which can no longer be replaced in this world.”

Note the “can no longer be replaced”. Hitler’s conception was of an original creation of the Aryan race by God, and that any change from there is degeneration. This is creationist and the opposite of idea of creating a “master race” by selective breeding.

“The two Christian denominations look on with indifference at the profanation and destruction of a noble and unique creature who was given to the world as a gift of God’s grace.”

So to Hitler the Aryan was “a noble and unique creature” who was given to the world “as a gift of God’s grace”, an ideal that was being corrupted.

“Everybody who has the right kind of feeling for his country is solemnly bound, each within his own denomination, to see to it that he is not constantly talking about the Will of God merely from the lips but that in actual fact he fulfils the Will of God and does not allow God’s handiwork to be debased.”

So to Hitler the Aryan race was God’s handiwork and the “Will of God” was that it be preserved.

“For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God’s Creation and God’s Will.”

So the Aryans are “God’s Creation” and whoever allows racial inter-mixing “destroys His work” and “wages war” on “God’s Will”.

“Over against all this, the VOLKISCH concept of the world recognises that the primordial racial elements are of the greatest significance for mankind.”

The “primordial racial elements” refers to the distinct races as separately created by God. This is the complete opposite of any Darwinian evolutionary account.

“In principle, the State is looked upon only as a means to an end and this end is the conservation of the racial characteristics of mankind.”

“Conservation” of what already exists, of a created Aryan race, not the Darwinian idea of an evolving man.

“But, on the other hand, [the Volkish principle] denies that an ethical ideal has the right to prevail if it endangers the existence of a race that is the standard-bearer of a higher ethical ideal.”

Excusing what might be seen as unethical (oppressing Jews) by appeal to “a higher ethical ideal” of preserving God’s creation as God intended.

“For in a world which would be composed of mongrels and negroids all ideals of human beauty and nobility and all hopes of an idealised future for our humanity would be lost forever.”

“On this planet of ours human culture and civilisation are indissolubly bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he should be exterminated or subjugated, then the dark shroud of a new barbarian era would enfold the earth.”

“To undermine the existence of human culture by exterminating its founders and custodians [i.e. Aryans] would be an execrable crime in the eyes of those who believe that the folk-idea lies at the basis of human existence.”

“Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures [i.e. Aryans] would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.”

DeutscheChristenBadge

So it is the Aryan race that is the “highest image of God among His creatures”, and allowing racial inter-mixing is sinful and leads to a separation from God and his will. The “expulsion from Paradise” is both explicitly Christian and creationist and a harking back to the lost ideal, including racial purity.

“If the Aryan, who is the creator and custodian of civilisation, should disappear, all culture that is on an adequate level with the spiritual needs of the superior nations to-day would also disappear.”

“We may go still further and say that the fact that States have been created by human beings does not in the least exclude the possibility that the human race may become extinct, because the superior intellectual faculties and powers of adaptation would be lost when the racial bearer of these faculties and powers disappeared.”

So Hitler fears that inter-racial marriage will destroy mankind.

“Thus for the first time a high inner purpose is accredited to the State. In face of the ridiculous phrase that the State should do no more than act as the guardian of public order and tranquillity, so that everybody can peacefully dupe everybody else, it is given a very high mission indeed to preserve and encourage the highest type of humanity which a beneficent Creator has bestowed on this earth.”

Again, the creationist idea that the “highest type of humanity” was as originally bestowed by “a beneficent Creator”. Hitler then advocates celibacy of “lesser” non-Aryan people. He thinks they could be induced to accept this.

“Why should it not be possible to induce people to make this sacrifice if … they were simply told that they ought to put an end to this truly original sin of racial corruption which is steadily being passed on from one generation to another. And, further, they ought to be brought to realise that it is their bounden duty to give to the Almighty Creator beings such as He himself made to His own image.”

Note the revealing “truly original sin” — that is, the destruction of the past ideal of the Aryan race in the Garden of Eden. And the concept that it is Aryans who were made in God’s image.

Later, in a speech in 1937 (June 27, p153 of “Essential Hitler”) Hitler argued the same, saying:

” … it is my conviction that the human beings God created also wish to lead their lives modeled after the will of the Almighty. God did not create the peoples so that they might deliver themselves up to foolishness and be pulped soft and ruined by it, but that they might preserve themselves as He created them! Because we support their preservation in their original, God-given form, we believe our actions correspond to the will of the Almighty.”

The passage in Mein Kampf that is superficially closest to Darwinian thought comes in Chapter XI “Race and People”, though on examination it is incompatible with Darwinism. Again, the basis of the whole argument is the idea (totally opposed to Darwinism) that the races were separate and distinct creations that should remain separate. Hitler refers to an:

“iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind.”

“Such mating [inter-breeding] contradicts the will of Nature towards the selective improvements of life in general. … The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker …”

“This urge for the maintenance of the unmixed breed … prevails throughout the whole of the natural world … The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.”

“If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

“History furnishes us with innumerable instances that prove this law. [...] whenever Aryans have mingled their blood with that of an inferior race the result has been the downfall of the people who were the standard-bearers of a higher culture.”

“The act which brings about such a development is a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator. And as a sin this act will be avenged.”

“All the great civilizations of the past became decadent because the originally creative race died out, as a result of contamination of the blood.”

The above passages share with Darwinism one idea, that of struggle and competition between species and within species, though of course this idea was not original to Darwin, with nature “red in tooth and claw” being a commonplace long before Darwin. In all other regards the passage is incompatible with Darwinism, and instead appeals to ideas that “Nature” has a purpose and desired direction to create a “higher stage of being”, and that this is the “will of the Eternal Creator”. Further, it says that hybridisation is always harmful, is against the “law of Nature” and “a sin”, whereas in Darwinian biology hybridization produces “hybrid vigour” and can often produce novelties and more successful offspring. Further, nothing in Darwinism says that one race is “superior” to another, indeed Darwin wrote a note to himself: “Never say `higher’ or `lower'”.

Thus, from Mein Kampf, it is clear that Hitler does believe in the operation of natural selection, though operating within species boundaries. This is also seen in many of today’s creationists, who accept natural selection within species boundaries, which they call “microevolution”, while rejecting the evolution of new species, which they call “macroevolution”. For example the creationist Jonathan Wells writes that: “nobody doubts that variation and selection can produce minor changes within existing species (“microevolution”)”.

Accepting natural or artificial selection is not in itself a motivation (a farmer doesn’t breed animals just because he’s a Darwinist, he breeds animals because he wants food; knowing about selection is a means to an end, not an end in itself). And Hitler’s motivation and preoccuption, expounded at length in Mein Kampf is the preservation of the primoridal purity and strength of his Aryan race, seeing it as God’s will that “God’s handiwork” remain as God created it.

Thus Hitler sees the main role of natural selection, not in creating new species, but in preserving the strength of the existing species; for example in Mein Kampf he writes:

“Whatever survives these hardships of existence has been tested and tried a thousandfold, hardened and renders fit to continue the process of procreation; so that the same thorough selection will begin all over again. By thus dealing brutally with the individual and recalling him the very moment he shows that he is not fitted for the trials of life, Nature preserves the strength of the race and the species and raises it to the highest degree of efficiency.”

and he says that without such selection

“the seeds are sown for a human progeny which will become more and more miserable from one generation to another, as long as Nature’s will is scorned.”

In summary, Nazi racial doctrine, as expounded in Mein Kampf, is that (1) human races were distinct and separate creations with the Aryan race being “God’s highest handiwork” in its primordial form; (2) that the operation of natural selection within the species is necessary to keep the species healthy and prevent it degenerating (this `microevolution’ is the one resemblence to Darwinism, and it is also shared by today’s creationists; indeed today’s creationists also place an emphasis on primordial perfection and the tendency to degenerate from that perfection); (3) that another possible cause of dengeration of the Aryan race would be inter-breeding with a “lesser” race, such as Jews, which would quickly “render futile” all of Nature’s “efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years” of microevolution; and (4) that allowing that would be “a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator”.

Nazi Chaplain's cap

Nazi Chaplain’s cap

Thus Nazi doctrine is fundamentally incompatible with Darwinism. Whereas Darwinism says that all humans have a common origin, that species and races are malleable, evolving over time, and that one could (as with all animals, and if one so wished) artificially control breeding to enhance and select desired characteristics, Nazi doctrine says that human races are distinct and primordial, created separately by the Will of God, who desires that they remain separate, that the moral imperative is to preserve the races in their current state by preventing any racial intermixing, which would be both harmful and sinful.

Above all, while any similarity with Darwinism is only in one mechanism, namely competition and selection (both of which were known long before Darwin), the Nazi motivation for keeping the races separate is profoundly anti-Darwinian and instead religious and creationist.

Further, this motivation of keeping races separate long pre-dates Darwin. For example, before Darwin’s Origin of Species, and dating back as far as 1691, 30 American states had anti-miscegenation laws making inter-racial marriage illegal. The rationale for such laws (in an overwhelmingly Christian country) was the same religious “God created the races separate” justification held by the Nazis.

Virtually nothing in Hitler’s ideas traces back to Darwin, indeed he had probably never read Darwin and never mentions him in any writings. As Hector Avalos notes a far bigger influence was his religious heritage and the Old Testament, in which notions of racial purity abound. One passage in Mein Kampf:

…it is one of those concerning which it is said with such terrible justice that the sins of the fathers are avenged down to the tenth generation … Blood sin and desecration of the race are the original sin in this world …

is a direct echo of Deuteronomy 23:2-3:

No bastard shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the LORD for ever.

Hitler’s rejection of Darwinism is also explicit in “Hitler’s Table Talk” — though one should bear in mind that the conversations recorded in this work were edited by others and so are less reliable as being Hitler’s true sentiments. As with many creationists, Hitler is willing to allow a certain degree of evolutionary change (which creationists call “microevolution”) but rejects the idea that one species can turn into a different species, insisting that Man had always been as he is today “from the very beginning”.

“From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump, as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.”

In this work Hitler is also reported as saying:

“The most marvellous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator.”

and also:

“An uneducated man, on the other hand, runs the risk of going over to atheism (which is a return to the state of the animal)”.

Thus to the Nazis Darwinism was something they largely rejected and opposed. As with many Christians they opposed Darwinism because it saw man as an evolved ape, whereas they saw man as God’s special creation, and they opposed Darwinism because it was materialist, stripping mankind of the spiritual dimension, and because it did not give man a moralistic destiny.

Nazi propaganda pamphlet

Nazi propaganda pamphlet

That is why, in a list of books they banned from Third Reich libraries, the Nazis listed:

“Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Haeckel).”

“Monism” is the idea that mankind is solely material, with no spiritual soul. Haeckel, as well as having been the foremost Darwinist in Germany, had founded the Monist League in 1905 (it was disbanded in 1933 when the Nazis gained power). The word “primitive” here is a pejorative epithet to denigrate Darwinism.

The same list of banned books also prohibits:

“All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk.”

Gunther Hecht, who represented the National Socialist’s Department of Race-Politics (Rassenpolitischen Amt der NSDAP), issued a monitum:

“The common position of materialistic monism is philosophically rejected completely by the volkisch-biological view of National Socialism. . . . The party and its representatives must not only reject a part of the Haeckelian conception — other parts of it have occasionally been advanced — but, more generally, every internal party dispute that involves the particulars of research and the teachings of Haeckel must cease.”

The Nuremberg Laws, depriving Jews of German citizenship and prohibiting marriage between Jews and other Germans, were proposed to the Reichstag by Hermann Goering, as President of the Reichstag. The justification he gave in a 1935 speech was explicitly theistic, and as in Mein Kampf, was aimed at keeping the races “pure” in accordance with God’s will:

God has created the races. He did not want equality and therefore we energetically reject any attempt to falsify the concept of race purity by making it equivalent with racial equality. We have experienced what it means when a people has to live in accordance with the laws of an equality that are alien to its kind and contrary to nature. For this equality does not exist. We have never acknowledged such an idea and therefore must reject it also, as a matter of principle, in our laws, and we must acknowledge that purity of race which Nature and Province have destined.

At the end of Mein Kampf Hitler writes, about German troubles in World War One:

“At the beginning of the War, or even during the War, if twelve or fifteen thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison-gas, just as hundreds of thousands of our best German workers from every social stratum and from every trade and calling had to face it in the field, then the millions of sacrifices made at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: If twelve thousand of these malefactors had been eliminated in proper time probably the lives of a million decent men, who would be of value to Germany in the future, might have been saved.”

Hitler attending church

This is reminiscent of Martin Luther’s utterly appalling work “On the Jews and Their Lies”, in which he wrote:

“We are at fault in not slaying them [Jews] … If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country … we must drive them out like mad dogs”.

Of course Lutheran Churches were the majority in Germany during the Third Reich, and they had not then repudiated Luther’s anti-Semitism.

6: Creationist denial (back to top)

Since WW2, many commentators, especially those who are religious, have tried to blame Darwinian doctrine for the Holocaust, and numerous Christian and creationist web sites state this as though it were an established fact.

Typical is the Christian and creationist Richard Weikart, whose 2004 book “From Darwin to Hitler, Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany” is designed to discredit Darwinism by associating it with the Holocaust. It is notable, though, that even he presents little evidence of a direct link, and argues purely by assertion and misrepresentation.

For example in his article: “Darwin and the Nazis” he is reduced to arguing that the Holocaust occurred because Darwinism had “devalued” humans. And Nazi ideology had indeed devalued the Jews as “sub-human”, but this was because Nazis regarded the non-Aryans as a separate creation, literally not fully human, in contrast to God’s prized Garden-of-Eden Aryans. Darwinism says exactly the opposite, that all humans derive, relatively recently in evolutionary terms, from the same ancestral stock. Thus it was a religious ideology, not evolution, that caused the Nazis to devalue non-Aryans.

At no point in Weikart’s essay does he quote Hitler or any leading Nazi either lauding Darwinism or basing their motivation on Darwinism. If, as is claimed, the Nazis were inspired by Darwin, would there not be evidence of it in their writings? In writing this piece I have scoured creationist web-sites for any quote by Hitler or other leading Nazis lauding Darwin; if there were such, wouldn’t the creationists have found them by now? Every actual quote says the opposite, that the Nazis opposed Darwinism, indeed banned his works, and disliked Darwinism precisely for the reasons that other Christians do, that it points to man as a product of material, natural world, whereas the Nazi’s preferred to regard man as a divine special creation endowed with a spiritual soul.

Standartenweihe des NSKK im Berliner Grunewald

Indeed, what records we have show that, far from being inspired by Darwin’s work (which there is no record of Hitler ever having read), Hitler was instead inspired by religious ideology and the Bible. A revealing notebook shows that Hitler’s ideas on race were inspired by his reading of the Old Testament.

Thus, Weikart is reduced to asserting that the “path” from Darwin to Hitler must have been vague and indirect. But, at root, all he really has is an antipathy towards Darwinism, and a desire to denigrate it, no matter how much he has to twist and misrepresent history to do so.

Another typical example, attempting to link Darwinism to the Nazis, is by the creationist Jerry Bergman. It is notable, though, that this piece consists almost entirely of assertions backed up, not by actual quotes from the Nazis, but merely by quotes from others about the Nazis. In contrast, in this article I have tried to present sufficient quotes from the Nazis themselves, in their own words, that their ideas and motivations are made clear. Read in that context Bergman’s article can be seen as nothing but misrepresentation.

[A note here about the German word "entwicklung", which creationists will always translate as referring to Darwinian evolution. While it can be used to refer to biological evolution its meaning is more general, and can refer to any form of development or cultural/historical change; thus one needs to check the context. When German speakers want to refer to Darwinian evolution specifically they use the same English word "evolution", which has now transferred into German.]

Some Christians accept that the direct link between Darwinism and the Nazis is not substantiated, and so attempt to make indirect or “philosophical” connections between them. For example a blogger calling himself “Thinking Christian” (Tom Gibson) writes:

There is an ethical consequence to Darwinism. … naturalistic Darwinism, if taken to be the sole explanation for all of life, erases all ethical requirements. … I’ve never seen a good refutation or even rebuttal for this.

The implication is that the lack of ethical requirements entailed in a naturalistic worldview would have allowed the Holocaust. But, so what, even if this were true, what does it have to do with the Nazis? The Nazis totally rejected naturalistic Darwinism for exactly the same reason that this Christian dislikes it!

The Nazi’s justification for the Holocaust was instead a moralistic one founded in reverence for God’s creation! As Hitler said in Mein Kampf

“Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures [allowing "contamination" of Aryan blood by accepting inter-breeding] would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.”

“Thinking Christian” continues:

“ … in Darwinism: humans are the same kind of thing as animals. … Hitler treated humans like animals; Darwinism says that’s what we are.”

Again, this has no relevance to the Nazis. The Nazi conception of the “lesser” races as being inferior resulted from them regarding such races as distinct and separate creations whom God valued less. That idea is about as far from naturalistic Darwinism as is possible!

Nazi election poster with Christian imagery

Nazi election poster with Christian imagery

Nevertheless, the Christian blaming of Darwin has been sufficiently widespread that even some who are sympathetic to Darwinism are taken in. An example is the political commentator Andrew Marr, who produced a three-part television series on Darwin’s legacy. Marr writes:

“But what has Charles Darwin ever done for … politics? It’s one of the great paradoxes of modern times that this liberal, kindly, cautious scientist has been used to justify … the Nazi holocaust …”.

Has it? What are the quotes that back this up? Marr also says: “Hitler’s generals quoted Darwin as they planned the ‘final solution’.” This is presumably a reference to the Wannsee Conference of 1942. One statement in the minutes from Wannsee is often taken as a “smoking gun” that proves Darwinism’s underpinning of the holocaust. That statement is Heydrich’s comment that:

“Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes. The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival …”.

This does indeed refer to Darwinian natural selection, saying that those Jews who survive hard labour will be the hardiest. But note that, here, Darwinian natural selection is acting against the interests of the Nazis (who wanted to exterminate all the Jews). And, most of all, that passage does not in any way provide any motivation for exterminating Jews, nor in any way point to Darwin to justify the extermination of the Jews. Yes, the Nazis seem to have accepted some degree of natural selection, the micro-evolution that today’s creationists also accept, but the motivation for the holocaust came from their religious, creationist ideology of separate creations of the human races that is totally contrary to and incompatible with Darwinism.

Another favourite quote of creationists is the remark by Rudolf Hess that “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology”. But which conception of biology? The scientific Darwinian conception?, or the religious, anti-scientific separate-creation-of-races conception of biology that was prevalent in Nazi writings? Without further context (and I haven’t been able to find any surrounding context for that snippet) the quote shows nothing. Is that quote and the Wannsee quote really the best that the creationists can come up with then trying to blame Darwin?

7: Religion in the Third Reich (back to top)

The topic of religion in the Third Reich is much too large to provide anything but a brief summary here. A good book-length account is Steigmann-Gall’s “The Holy Reich”, which demonstrates that the majority of the leading Nazis considered themselves to be Christian, with a minority also having leanings to Nordic/German pagan folk-religion. See also this accessible compilation of religious quotes, photos and artifacts by leading Nazis (a compilation from which the photos displayed here are taken).

Religion was central to the Nazi world view, with the Nazi party including in their 25-point program the declaration that: “The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination.”

Nazi theology, however, departed from mainstream Christianity in regarding the Christian churches as misguided and having been corrupted from the original aims of Jesus by Jewish influence, particularly that of Paul. The Nazis claimed that Jesus was not a Jew, but instead an Aryan (again, to the Nazis these were separately created races). For example, Rosenberg, in his influential Nazi book “The Myth of the Twentieth Century” wrote:

“There is no proof for the often made claim that Jesus was a Jew. Indeed, there is much to show the contrary. Jesus possibly was Aryan, or partially so, showing the Nordic type strongly.”

Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller, leader of the Deutsche Christen, with August Jäger

Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller, leader of the Deutsche Christen, with August Jäger

He also refers to:

“Christian, or, more correctly, Pauline, churches …”

and argues:

“The Gospel of Mark probably contains … the real core of the message of the child of god [...] Our Pauline churches are therefore, in essentials, not Christian. They are the product of the Jewish Syrian leanings of the apostles. These ideas were introduced by the Jerusalem author of the Matthew Gospel. Later, Paul completed the subversion of Christianity independently of Mark.”

Similarly Hitler said:

“My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them.” (Adolf Hitler, speech, April 12 1922).

deutsche_christen_march

The Nazis thus founded the German Christian movement, mixing Christian theology with Nazi racial ideology, and espousing a “Positive Christianity” which contrasted with what they saw as the “negative Christianity” of the existing Jewish-influenced churches. With Nazi support, the Deutsche Christen won two thirds of the vote in the 1932 church elections, claimed a membership of 600,000 pastors, bishops, professors of theology, religion teachers, and laity, and were aiming to supplant the Catholic and Protestant churches.

“For their interests [the Church's] cannot fail to coincide with ours [the National Socialists] alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against a Bolshevist culture, against atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for a consciousness of a community in our national life”. (Hitler, speech, Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942)

The Nazis founded a theological institute, the “Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life” to promote Nazi Christianity, and to give theological backing to the claim that Jesus was an Aryan (see “The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany” by Susannah Heschel, the introduction is available online).

This institute produced their own Bible, a Nazified version of the New Testament, Die Botschaft Gottes (‘The Message of God’). Jewish references were erased, except where they painted Jews as opposed to Jesus, and Jewish names were removed, with Jerusalem being called “the eternal city of God”. Published in 1940, 200,000 copies were distributed to churches. They also produced “Germans with God: a German Catechism” in which the first commandment was: “Honor God and believe in him wholeheartedly”, to which they added the Nazi commandments: “Keep the blood pure and your honour holy” and “Honour your Fuehrer”.

The advance of the Deutsche Christen led to the opposing “Confessional Church” who in 1934 issued the Barmen Declaration, objecting to Nazi doctrine and to the interference of the State in Church affairs. Notable members of the Confessing Church included Martin Niemoeller (who was imprisoned by the Nazis but survived) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who was executed for involvement in an attempt to assassinate Hitler).

One of the early acts of the Nazis one gaining power was to disband and outlaw atheist groups. By 1930 the German Freethinkers League had 500,000 members. It was closed down in 1933, with Hitler saying in a speech that year:

“We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” (Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on Oct.24, 1933)

Chairman of the German Freethinkers League was Max Sievers, who was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and executed.

Also in 1933, soon after gaining power, the Nazis negotiated the Reichskonkordat with the Vatican, with the future Pope Pius XII signing. The Concordat with an organisation of the standing of the Catholic Church was influential in establishing the legitimacy of the new Nazi government; it is still in force in Germany today.

The future Pope signs the Reichskonkordat

Article 21 gave the Catholic Church what it most wants, control over children’s education, saying:

“Catholic religious education in elementary, vocational, secondary schools and institutions of higher learning is a regular school subject, and is to be taught in accordance with the principles of the Catholic Church. … The opportunity will be given to the Church authorities to check, with the agreement of the school authorities, whether the pupils receive religious education in accordance with the teachings and specifications of the Church.”

In a speech that year Hitler said:

“Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith …” [April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant.]

In a similar speech (Reichstag on March 23, 1933), Hitler emphasises the religious and ethical values he has in common with the churches and warns against any compromise with atheists:

“By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleansing of our public life, the Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life. The advantages for the individual which may be derived from compromises with atheistic organizations do not compare in any way with the consequences which are visible in the destruction of our common religious and ethical values. The national Government sees in both Christian denominations the most important factor for the maintenance of our society.”

Hitler ends a speech with "let us pray".

Later he lauded the Christian faith as the “unshakable foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people” and condemned “materialistic ideology”:

“The struggle against the materialistic ideology and for the erection of a true people’s community serves as much the interests of the German nation as of our Christian faith. … The national Government, seeing in Christianity the unshakable foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people, attaches utmost importance to the cultivation and maintenance of the friendliest relations with the Holy See.”

In Mein Kampf Hitler warned that loss of religious faith is harmful to morals:

“While both denominations maintain missions in Asia and Africa in order to win new followers for their doctrine … in Europe they lose millions and millions of inward adherents who either are alien to all religious life or simply go their own ways. The consequences, particularly from a moral point of view, are not favourable.”

“In this human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. … faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. …

And in a speech he emphasized that:

“We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press – in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past years.” [The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872]

The theism of Hitler and the Nazis was a dominant theme running through their speeches, for example (the following from the “Essential Hitler” compilation, pages 161, 162 and 499):

“Hence this song [The German anthem] also constitutes a pledge to the Almighty, to His will and to His work: for man has not created this Volk, but God, that God who stands above us all. He formed this Volk, and it has become what it should according to God’s will, and according to our will, it shall remain, nevermore to fade!” (Speech, July 31, 1937)

“I believe that it was also God’s will that from here a boy was to be sent into the Reich, allowed to mature, and elevated to become the nation’s Fuhrer, thus enabling him to reintegrate his homeland into the Reich. There is a divine will, and all we are is its instruments.” (Speech, April 9, 1938)

“Besides that, I believe one thing: there is a Lord God! And this Lord God creates the peoples.” (Speech, February 24, 1940)

dcchurch

The ambivalent attitude of the Nazis to the Christian Churches can be seen in Heinrich Himmler’s attitude as head of the SS (all quotes in this section are taken from Peter Longerich’s biography “Heinrich Himmer: A Life”, OUP, 2012). He saw mainstream Christianity as weak and incompatible with Nazi racial ideology, describing it as a “perverse ideology that is alien to life” (p218), but he wanted to maintain a distance  between the churches and the Nazis, saying “politicization of religious life does not accord with our ideology”, and he prevented SS members from taking part in religious ceremonies when in uniform. Similarly he told a theology student that he could not remain a member of the SS, wanting to keep the SS “out of the conflicts among the religious denominations” (p219).

Himmler told Hitler that he “valued highly peaceful relations between the state and church”, and expelled an SS member for “a speech that was riddled with tactless remarks about Church matters”. Himmler held to the Nazi doctrine of Jesus  as an Aryan, and banned “any attacks on the person of Christ”, since “such attacks or the abuse of Christ as a Jew [are] unworthy of us” and “definitely historically untrue” (p219).

Notably, Himmler wrote in 1937:

“Every SS man is free to be a member of a church or not. It is a personal matter, which he has to answer for to God and his conscience”. However, SS men should not be atheists, for: “that is the only world or religious view that is not tolerated within the SS” (p220).

Similarly in 1944 Himmler stated:

“I have nothing to do with [church] denominations, I leave that to the individual. But I have never tolerated an atheist in the ranks of the SS. Every member has a deep faith in God, in what my ancestors called in their language Waralda, the ancient one, the one who is mightier than we are” (p220).

In a book written in 1937 describing the SS, Himmler recounts three questions, and the prescribed answers, that were part of the SS oath. These are (translated):

“What is your oath ?” – “I vow to you, Adolf Hitler, as Führer and chancellor of the German Reich loyalty and bravery. I vow to you and to the leaders that you set for me, absolute allegiance until death. So help me God !”

“So you believe in a God ?” – “Yes, I believe in a Lord God.”

“What do you think about a man who does not believe in a God?” – “I think he is overbearing, megalomaniac and foolish; he is not one of us.”

The Nazis (and perhaps Hitler himself) seemed to regard Hitler as a new Jesus, sent by God to rescue the German people. For example:

God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany. (Herman Goering)

We believe that the Fuhrer is fulfilling a divine mission to German destiny! This belief is beyond challenge.(Rudolf Hess)

We have a feeling that Germany has been transformed into a great house of God … where the Fuhrer as our mediator stood before the throne of the Almighty. (Joseph Goebbels)

He who serves our Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, serves Germany and he who serves Germany, serves God. (Baldur von Schirach, Head of the Hitler Youth)

We believe that Almighty God has sent us Adolf Hitler so that he may rid Germany of the hypocrites and Pharisees. (Robert Ley, Head of the German Labour Front)

8: Christian Denial (back to top)

When he visited Britain in 2010 Pope Ratzinger gave a speech including the now-notorious description of the Nazi regime as “atheist extremism” that “wished to eradicate God from society”. This labelling of the Nazis as “atheist” is common among the religious, despite being — as shown above — the opposite of the truth. It is understandable that Christians want to disassociate themselves from the Nazi Holocaust — the vilest crime in Christendom, perpetrated by an overwhelmingly Christian nation. It is also fair to regard the Nazi ideology as having departed so far from mainstream Christianity, in mixing Christianity with Nazi racial ideology, that it was not mainstream “Christian”, even though nearly all Nazis regarded themselves as Christian. However, “atheists” they were not.

Josef Ratzinger as a Hitler Youth

Joseph Ratzinger as a Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth oath ended “… so help me God”.

Ironically, the blaming of “atheism” for the Third Reich is itself a Nazi-style tactic: the Nazis blamed the ills of society on Jews, building on centuries of antipathy towards a group that refused to acknowledge the Christian god. Blaming the ills of society and history on “atheists”, as by Ratzinger and other Christians, has the same motive: antipathy towards a group that refuses to acknowledge their god. One can excuse Ratzinger for having joined the Hitler Youth at the impressionable age of 14, at a time when it was expected of all German boys; but he should not be excused for displaying Nazi-style prejudice at an age when he should know better.

Unfortunately, the claim that the Nazis were atheists has been repeated so often that many now believe it. When asked to respond to Pope Ratzinger’s remarks Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, said:

“The notion that it was the atheism of Nazis that led to their extremist and hateful views … is a terrible libel against those who do not believe in god.”

What “atheism of the Nazis”? In no sense were the Nazis atheist! No leading Nazi espoused atheism, their ideology was thoroughly theistic.

Martin Bormann was the Nazi furthest from Christianity, and he made clear that he wished to replace traditional Christianity with his own Nazified version of religion, but he was still a religious theist, and he was repudiated by many of the other leading Nazis who were mainstream Christians. Indeed Bormann was rebuked by Hitler for his views. (See Steigmann-Gall’s “The Holy Reich” for this and a scholarly discussion of the religious views of the Nazis.)

vatican46_30

Christian claims of being “persecuted” by the Nazis originated soon after the war among Allies who were, of course, predominantly Christian themselves, and who had an interest in disassociating the Nazis from Christianity as much as possible. Such claims often point to the report “The Persecution of the Christian Churches” prepared by the American Office of Strategic Services in preparation for the Nuremberg trials. However, much of this report is of such low value as evidence that it wasn’t used by the prosecution. A 1945 OSS memo presenting the report (see this pdf) notes that:

“The document is still seriously lacking in evidence of probative value, and is consequently ill-suited to serve as a basis for any international discussion … It will be noted in particular that much of the material on the persecution of the Catholic Church has been obtained from a secondary work entitled “The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich”, Burns Oates, London 1940. This volume contains much valuable material, but is poorly documented. Its author is not identified. It would be most profitable if a member of the staff in London could discover the author or authors through Burns Oates, the publisher, and secure the more solid documentary evidence which must be in his or their possession”.

This evidence has never surfaced, the author has never been identified, and thus the work “Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich” must be regarded as a work of propaganda, trying to paint the Nazis as black as possible at the height of the war. The Allies, being largely Christian, had every incentive to portray the Nazis as anti-Christian, and yet still regarded this work as too unreliable to use in the Nuremberg trials. Nevertheless, it is on this 1940 book and the OSS report based on it that claims of Nazi “persecution” of Christians are often based.

It is true that the traditional Protestant and Catholic churches were threatened by the rise of the Nazi-inspired Deutsche Christen movement, and, had the Nazis won the war, it is likely that other denominations would have been subsumed into the Deutsche Christen. But that was a rivalry between different religious factions (a fairly common occurrence) rather than, as often falsely claimed, an atheistic opposition to religion.

A relatively small number of Christians who were politically active against the Nazis, such as Martin Niemoeller and Deitrich Bonhoeffer, were imprisoned or executed; however there was no general move against Christians or the Churches — how could there be when, as shown by a 1939 census, Protestant Christians were 54% of the nation and Catholic Christians another 40%, with only 1.5% considering themselves unbelievers?

Catholics often point to von Galen, Bishop of Munster during 1933–1946, calling him the “Lion of Munster” for his speaking out repeatedly in opposition to Nazi policies. However he remained as Bishop throughout the Nazi era and died in his bed after the war, which is hardly “persecution”, and instead shows a degree of Nazi respect for the Catholic Church.

Martin Niemoeller famous poem, “First they came …” lists three groups, “communists”, “trade unionists”, “Jews” and then “me”. This is sometimes altered to include “Catholics”, which is both unfaithful to the original and historically inaccurate.

As an indication of Nazi oppression of Catholics it is pointed out, correctly, that 2579 Catholic priests were interned in Dachau concentration camp, of whom a thousand died. While true, the vast majority were captured Poles and Slavs, interned as part of a policy of removing the “middle management” from captured nations to subdue them; only 400 were German. This is still a relatively high number, about 1% of the total number of priests in Germany at the time. It showed that the Nazis readily interned any priests who politically opposed the Nazis, but the majority who kept silent were left alone, and it is not true that they were interned simply for being Catholic priests.

The book “Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp” (Gutman and Berenbaum, 1998) presents a table of the self-declared religious persuasion of Auschwitz SS Staff 1940–1945. The largest grouping was Catholic, at 42.6%. The next largest group was “Evangelical” (meaning Protestant) at 36.5%. Another 20.1% declared themselves as “Gottgläubig” (literally God-believer or “devout”).

The surrounding text, written by the Polish historian Aleksander Lasik, claims that “Gottgläubig … designated atheism”, a bizarre claim since any German dictionary reveals that “gläubig” means “believing, devout”. In fact “gottgläubig” was the term favoured by the German Christians, distinguishing them from the Protestant and Catholic churches. The German records allowed the alternative “without faith” (atheist), and it is notable that not one of the Auschwitz SS guards recorded by Lasik declared themselves so.

vatican46_33

Nevertheless, such is the desire to denigrate atheists and associate atheism with the Holocaust that there have been repeated claims, as made by Lasik, that those calling themselves “gottgläubig” were really atheists. Indeed, some even claim that the term God-believer was chosen because they couldn’t own up to being outright atheists — although how atheism could be a dominant ideology in a culture where atheists were afraid to own up to being an atheist is not explained.

Another example of Christian attempts to distance the Third Reich from Christianity concerns Hitler’s “Table Talk”, which derives from conversations at dinner parties where Hitler’s words were recorded by stenographers. The English edition of this work was edited by Hugh Trevor-Roper, and contains “quotes” such as “I shall never come to terms with the Christian lie” and “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity”. However, the historian Richard Carrier has discovered that these quotes are simply not in the original German, and appear to be fabrications by the translators (most likely by the Frenchman François Genoud) in order to make Hitler appear hostile to Christianity.

Carrier gives the example of a quote in the Trevor-Roper version: “But Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery”, which in the original German actually says: “Christianity teaches ‘transubstantiation,’ which is the maddest thing ever concocted by a human mind in its delusions, a mockery of all that is godly”. Thus Hitler was actually attacking a particular theological doctrine, not Christianity itself. As documented above, the Nazis did indeed have severe criticisms of the Christian churches, which they regarded as having been corrupted by Jews from Jesus’s original intent. Thus in Table Talk Hitler says:

“Christ was an Aryan. But Paul used his teachings to mobilize the underworld and organize a proto-bolshevism. With its breakdown, the beautiful clarity of the ancient world was lost.”

Again, this is not a rejection of religion or of Jesus as the founder of Christianity, simply a theological dispute about the “true” version of Christianity, something commonplace within Christendom.

9: Conclusion (back to top)

The Nazi doctrine of race was fundamentally opposed to and incompatible with Darwinism. Instead Nazi racial theory and their justification for extermination of the “sub-human” races was religious and creationist.

Nazi ideology did share with Darwinism the idea that nature was a “struggle” between the stronger and the weaker. But this was a commonplace long before Darwin, and the “red in tooth and claw” struggle in nature, both within species and between species, has been obvious to mankind for eons, as to anyone who has seen a predator chase its prey, or seen deer rutting, or cats fighting.

The main ideas of Darwinism are that natural selection, operating over lengthy time periods, can cause species to transform into other species, and that all modern mammals descend from a common ancestor. Both of these notions the Nazis explicitly rejected, finding them abhorrent, materialistic notions that would strip man of his soul and of his special status. The Nazis preferred, as do many other religious people, to see man as God’s special creation. It was seeing, in particular, the Aryan race as “God’s handiwork” that led the Nazis to consider it sinful to allow the destruction of the Aryan race by allowing racial inter-marriage, and hence the necessity for removing the possibility by finding a “final solution” to the “Jewish problem”.

Thus nothing in Nazi ideology derives from Darwinism. The few aspects in common were pre-Darwinian; the ideas that originated with Darwin were anathema to and rejected by the Nazis. The widespread blaming of Darwinism as an inspiration for Nazi crimes has no support in historical evidence and instead derives purely from a desire on the part of the religious to smear Darwinism.

The labelling of the Nazis as “atheistic” is similarly motivated and is also the exact opposite of what the evidence says. The Nazi ideology was theistic and religious and an offshoot of Christianity, merging Christianity with Nazi racial theory. It is true that the Nazified Christianity was opposed to more mainstream Christian views, and thus that the Nazis wanted radical reform of the Christian religion, but in no sense was it “atheistic”.

When presented with evidence such as documented above, showing the religious nature of Nazi ideology and their strong opposition to atheism, many Christians resort to arguing that these public statements were merely a facade to appeal to the public, and were deliberately hiding an underlying “atheism”. However, at no point do they present actual evidence for this claim, and Hitler was too much of a megalomaniac and placed too high an importance on his ideas to have hidden them away. Further, resorting to a claim that the Nazis hid their “atheism” is self defeating — it is an admission that the populace they were appealing to (the people who actually carried out the Holocaust) were overwhelmingly Christian, as indeed recorded as more than 95% Christian in a 1939 census.

Fifty thousand Germans were involved in the Holocaust, and another fifty thousand were close enough to it to have known what was happening, and these people were overwhelmingly Christian. You can’t tell a secret to 100,000 people, and thus their willingness to kill Jews was based on the public Nazi ideology, the religious, creationist and Christian ideology presented in Mein Kampf.

It is the unpalatability of that truth that leads Christians today to the Holocaust revisionism of trying to pass the blame, instead trying to blame what they least like, namely atheism and Darwinism — ideas which, with true irony, the Nazis disliked just as much as they do.

Bibliography (back to top)

Avalos, Hector (2007), “Creationists for Genocide”, this article by a Professor of Religious Studies replies to Weikart and shows that creationists have supported eugenics and genocide long pre-Darwin. Online here

Baynes, Norman. H., editor, (1942), “The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922 – August 1939″, Oxford University Press.

Chamberlain, Houston Stewart (1899), “The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century”, online here.

Chamberlain, Houston Stewart (1905), “Immanuel Kant”, online here.

Dormus, Max & Romane, Patrick (2007), “The Essential Hitler: Speeches and Commentary”, Publ: Bolchazy-Carducci, 862pp. online pdf here.

Gobineau, Arthur (Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau) (1853–1855), “The Inequality of Human Races”, translated by Adrian Collins

Günther, Hans (1927), “The Racial Elements of European History”, online here.

Heschel, Susannah (2010), “The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany”, Princeton University Press, publisher’s info and first chapter online.

Hill, Gary (2012), “Fundamental flaws underlie the myth that Darwin influenced Hitler”. Blog post compiling useful information.

Hitler, Adolf (1925), “Mein Kampf”. (All quotes from http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200601.txt)

Hitler, Adolf., et al. (2008), “Hitler’s Table Talk”. Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-66-7. Online pdf here. But see also this article by Richard Carrier casting doubt on the translation.

Lackey, Michael (2012), “The Modernist God State: A Literary Study of the Nazis’ Christian Reich”, Bloomsbury Academic (Amazon.com)

Longerich, Peter (2012), “Heinrich Himmler: A Life”,  Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199592322 Amazon link.

Price, R. G. (2006), “The Mis-portrayal of Darwin as a Racist”. This article argues that Darwin was much less racist than common strands of religious thought at the time. Online here

Richards, Robert J. (2011), “Was Hitler a Darwinian?” This article by a University of Chicago historian covers much relevant material. Online pdf here.

Rosenberg, Alfred (1930), Myth Of The Twentieth Century, online here.

Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003), The Holy Reich: Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, Cambridge University Press, publisher’s info and Google books page.

Weikart, Richard (2004), From Darwin to Hitler, Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany, Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1403972019. wiki page.

Acknowledgements: The photos displayed here were taken, with permission, from the collection at the website nobeliefs.com.

This entry was posted in Atheism, Religion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

397 Responses to Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism

  1. Charles Jones says:

    I am VERY impressed that you took all the time it takes to wade through all that old Nazi crap. I cannot imagine having the fortitude or patience to wade through so much dreck.

    Thank you for doing a hero’s work!

  2. It’s a sad reflection on the state of the world in the second decade of the twenty-first century that articles like this still need to be written. Good work!

  3. Marvol19 says:

    Excellent piece, I shall be keeping this in my bookmarks and flinging it at every christian (TM) that brings up the whole nazism = atheism/darwism canard.
    As well as that it, to me, also shows the folly of outlawing a book like Mein Kampf. We (society) need access to such original works to be able to find the *real* claims by nazis, not the later and, by your account, heavily modified views of nazi ideology.
    Again, my compliments. May it be read far and wide.

  4. Pingback: | Kalex's Tome

  5. garrett says:

    Doesn’t it make more sense to blame psychopaths, and the sheep-like nature of people to follow them?

    Blaming religion on the Third Reich’s atrocities just distracts from the very real pattern: that the most vile of historical dictators have characteristics that coincide with psychopathy.

    • garrett, I think you are missing the point. It is not a case of blaming Christianity, it is a case of dispelling the myths that the underlying cause was atheism and Darwinism – a myth predominantly spread by Christians.

    • garrett says:

      cabbages, thank you for the reply. my point here is that if someone were arguing the opposing point (i.e., from a christian perspective), my reply would be very similar to the above. that is, let’s shift focus to the “real” cause of such atrocities, as opposed to making a defensive argument. eg: some people believe the earth is flat. does it really make sense to devote research effort to debunking the nonsensical beliefs of the flat-earthers? I doubt it.

    • Stewart says:

      I don’t seem to have the option to reply to “garrett” below, so I’ll do it here. Using flat-earthers is a problematic analogy. If you agree that the earth is in fact round, you’ll also agree that no amount of flat-earth propaganda will change that fact, which can be rediscovered and re-affirmed anew endlessly despite all resources poured into the opposing argument. And whether or not the earth is flat does not reflect on the nature of those who inhabit it. As “cabbagesofdoom” already said, this is not about placing the blame somewhere, it is about demonstrating that it is not to be found where others are trying to place it. Look at the number of comments here by those relieved that the evidence exonerating their side is actually out there. Unlike an unchanging round earth, historical revisionism can seriously muddy the waters and make the truth very difficult to find. We are, in this case, talking about a concerted effort to re-draw history with the specific aim of attacking one group of people by associating the ideas they hold with the most shocking crimes ever committed. The arguments made by Weikart and “Expelled” are very comforting to some and I personally know people who hailed one or the other as finally demonstrating the truth they had felt all along (but which – before Weikart and “Expelled” – had never been supported by the historical research; I wonder why that was?). Some very nasty agenda-driven false propaganda has been gaining traction with the goal of besmirching political and religious opponents, tainting them by association with the almost unspeakable. If it doesn’t “make sense to devote research effort” to debunking false convictions with considerably more potential to harm than any flat-earther notions, then I don’t know what does.

    • Stewart says:

      The comment did land in the right place; please ignore my first sentence in the previous comment.

    • garrett says:

      stewart –
      I doubt anyone here would deny the right to defend against historical misattribution. Nothing wrong with that, and on that front this blog entry does its job.

      It’s dubious that this blog post will convince anyone: christians won’t believe it, atheists are already convinced, and everyone else is apathetic. But many of us can appreciate knowledge for its own sake, even if that knowledge doesn’t have practical impact.

      And that’s the problem with defensive arguments: their lack of persuasiveness. An easy counter-argument is to just say Hitler was an atheist who used christianity for his own ends (a reasonable conjecture, btw). Not arguing that atheism is the cause of the mass-murder, only that the defensive approach doesn’t work as well as alternatives.

      The alternative is to focus on the real causes of monstrous regimes, including political factors, economics, and of course the relevant mental health of the key players. That’s probably more useful, and more persuasive, than defensive argumentation that just preaches to the choir and convinces no one else.

    • Stewart says:

      garrett, you’re on a bit of a parallel track here: Coel had reasons for writing what he did and how he did and you’re essentially saying he should be expending his efforts elsewhere. If someone tells a lie implicating you in a crime and you can provide evidence that the claim is baseless, it makes more sense to me to actually do so, rather than refrain on the grounds that a defensive argument is a weak one. Not answering the accusations by changing the subject is something I can well imagine makes the accusers feel vindicated. You seem to be treating it all much more academically and not paying a great deal of attention to the fact that those making the accusations are not being academic, but are flinging well-aimed mud with the hope of concrete real-life consequences, e.g. to strengthen the revulsion that is already so prevalent against non-believers and ensure that political influence continues to be denied them.

    • garrett says:

      stewart,
      understood. I don’t object to coel’s rationale for writing what he did. just expressing my own views on the matter. Again, the blog post was interesting & I don’t intend to detract from it.

      The crux of my point is that it is useful to “transcend” the argument, else it becomes much too back-and-forth & control of the flow of discussion is ceded. People fall into this trap all the time, unfortunately.

      Also, let’s be realistic about the power that the faithful have over agnostics/atheists. Not much. Some people (not necessarily on this blog) imagine that atheists are under attack, demonized, etc. In reality, that view is much more fear-based than real, at least in countries like the US and UK. Let’s use reason over unfettered emotion in judging the “threat”; that is, after all, supposedly what atheists & agnostics do better.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      If you go by, say, US statistics atheists are clearly seen as less dependable than pedophiles (!) IIRC. And no atheist can realistically become a US president anytime soon because of such vilification.

      This isn’t about fear but about easily recognizable fact. All manners of countering willful or ignorant vilification matters.

    • garrett says:

      Torb,

      I don’t know who “US statistics” is and I’m not familiar with the study. It sounds like complete nonsense, but maybe I’m wrong.

      2nd point – that assumes there’s never been an atheistic or agnostic US president … a highly dubious claim.

      Last point – yes, this is about fear and defensiveness, as well as anger and contempt. Objectively speaking, in a country (like the US or UK) where church attendance has been dropping for decades and where religious fervor among the still-faithful is also waning, it’s nonsensical to believe that atheists or agnostics are facing substantial persecution. In some contexts, it’s the other way around.

    • coelsblog says:

      Saying that there may have been agnostic/atheist US Presidents in the distant past is not a rebuttal of a claim that none would be elected “anytime soon” without at least a public face of religiosity.

      The US and UK are very different here, and in the US atheists can still suffer real disadvantage and discrimination. This is not so in the UK, except for in a few notable areas of religious privilege, such as access to state schools. I’m not though aware of any “other way round” disadvantage in either nation.

    • garrett says:

      coels,

      “none would be elected “anytime soon” without at least a public face of religiosity.”
      >>>
      Yep, that’s right. Notice a couple US presidents in recent memory who gave a superficial nod to religion but whose piety is obviously the thinnest of veneers (clinton, obama). In comparison, one’s physical attractiveness (for eg) is far more crucial a factor and more difficult to fake.

      Regarding the “fairness” of the above: perhaps it’s not fair. Too bad. That doesn’t mean atheists are “oppressed” any more than unattractive people are oppressed. Politicans are free to represent or misrepresent their religious or secularist views. The people will vote accordingly based on many factors (not just religion), as is their right.

  6. t f rhoden says:

    I enjoyed this. And I think with a few stylistic changes could be published academically.

    Cheers, -Thomas

  7. Bob Davis says:

    I’m sorry, but this is so utterly wrongheaded in its understanding of the cultural roots of Nazi eugenics and the trashy cocktail of debased German Romantic vitalism, neopagan atavism and biologistic pseudoscience on which it drew that it is hard to know where to begin. You have fallen into the trap of subscribing to the Nazis’ own retrofit ragbag ideological pedigree, which we have long known bears little scrutiny and which was largely improvised in order to make it look as if National Socialism could line up against its supposedly formidable intellectual adversaries of democratic liberalism and Marxist historical materialism. We know that the Nazi leadership in fact cared little for any serious academic ancestry for their thought and actions and that Hitler (a famous non-reader) considered figures such as Chamberlain a bore. You need to look much more deeply at underlying cultural patterns in German society, art and education and the ‘Germanisation’ and Romanticisation of European Christianity that was so central to this. Cosima Wagner’s diaries are fascinating on this and the kind of anti-Jewish ‘gnostic’ Christianity extreme German nationalists preferred. (This helps explain the curious changes made to the German Religious Education curriculum: a primary curriculum content to retell selected Christian narratives of a heavily Aryanised Jesus; a secondary curriculum from which the Bible was increasingly banished and where devotion to the Fuhrer replaced devotion to God). In this context, it is neither here nor there who was an atheist or a believer. Few would ever align the pseudoreligious rhetoric of the Nazis with the full-blown atheist-atrocity regimes of Moscow or Peking. Similarly, while Hitler and his confidantes of course lacked any meaningful understanding of Darwinism, late 19th and early 20th century biology cannot for one moment shake off its complicity with the racial horrors of World War II and beyond. See Andre Pichot’s The Pure Society (2009), for the extent of the penetration of eugenics thought into the mainstream life sciences of Europe and North America.

    • coelsblog says:

      In this context, it is neither here nor there who was an atheist or a believer.

      Whether they were believers or atheists seems to matter to many Christians, such as Pope Ratzinger, who went out of his way to paint the Nazis (falsely) as “atheistic”. This article is essentially a reply, showing that, whatever the Nazi ideology could be described as, it wasn’t “atheistic” nor “Darwinist”. You’re also right that eugenics had penetrated Western culture in the late-19th/early-20th centuries, but eugenics has many roots pre-Darwin, going back to ancient Greeks.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      If the article is “utterly wrongheaded”, which on the face of its many references seems dubious, so is this comment.

      None of the communist states were based on atheism, but wanted to diminish the political power of the churches. Hence these regimes were no more “atheist-atrocity” than the Nazi regime. And similar to the latter, no sound evidence is proffered for the former, and in this case notably none at all.

      Another wrongheaded attempt to vilify atheism and its basis in consistency with empirical science is the mentioning of “Marxist historical materialism”. It was a philosophic idea of “just so” indefiniteness ducking out of empirical testing.

      And Marx’s dialectics was actually rejected by Engel’s and Lenin. The founders of USSR went back to Hegel’s idealism and fused the two ideas into a dualist “marxist science”. [I have read them on this.]

  8. Nice Marmot says:

    Lord Kitchener makes an excellent point. Recall also that large numbers of Christians, especially Catholics, perished in the camps.

    Hitler’s religion was a hodgepodge of occultic, Nietzschean, and corrupted Christian ideas mixed together in an insanely concocted stew. To ascribe any sort of coherence to it, as this article attempts to do, is frightfully wrongheaded. Hitler was not an atheist in the strict sense, that of being a philosophical naturalist. His rabid interest in the occult demonstrates that. He was, however, anti-God in the sense of being anti-Christian, his version of Christianity having next to nothing to do with traditional Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox manifestations.

    I’ve not read Weikart, and frankly, don’t plan to. On the philosophical connection between atheism and totalitarianism, one might consult de Lubac’s “The Drama of Atheist Humanism.”

    • coelsblog says:

      Hitler was not an atheist in the strict sense, …

      Or rather, he was not an atheist at all.

      He was, however, anti-God in the sense of being anti-Christian, his version of Christianity having next to nothing to do with traditional Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox manifestations.

      Yes, he was anti the mainstream Christian conception of God, instead having his own theological conceptions. So what?; plenty of theists have disagreed about how they conceive of God.

      On the philosophical connection between atheism and totalitarianism, one might consult de Lubac’s “The Drama of Atheist Humanism.”

      A philosophical connection between atheism and totalitarianism? Really? If you think you can make such a link stand up, go ahead.

    • Nice Marmot says:

      Nah, I don’t do atheists’ homework for them. Read Lubac yourself and see if he makes the link stand up.

    • coelsblog says:

      I’d need a good reason to bother reading Lubac, so far you haven’t given me one. The claim sounds like empty prejudice; atheists are used to that.

      On a quick look at Amazon, Lubac’s book is largely about Nietzsche, Feuerbach and Marx. Since I don’t look to any of those for any part of my world-view, why would I be interested in an analysis of them?

    • Nice Marmot says:

      de Lubac’s book is much different than your average “apologetic” work. It’s an extended study of the roots of modern atheism in such 19th century figures as Feuerbach, Nietzsche, and Comte. I think that even an atheist who disagrees with his conclusions might learn something from it.

    • coelsblog says:

      (Sorry, I was editing my above reply while you replied to it). Anyhow, modern scientific atheism does not derive from Neitzsche, Feuerbach, Marx etcetera. So you can critique them all you like (and you can show that their thought leads to totalitarianism if you wish) and I’ll just shrug. As above, I don’t base my thinking on them, and very few atheists today do, judging from the near total absence of discussion of them on atheist internet forums.

    • Nice Marmot says:

      Ah, so you’re a fundamentalist atheist: no tradition, no philosophical patrimony, no roots. Atheism is an idea, and ideas not only have consequences, they have antecedents. The history of ideas is as important for atheists as it is for anyone else who has a thought-out worldview.

    • coelsblog says:

      How did you leap from the statement that I do not look to Neitzsche, Feuerbach & Marx to the claim that I regard atheism as having no roots and history? Yes, atheism goes all the way back to (at least) the Ancient Greeks. But Neitzsche, Feuerbach & Marx seem to have been a dead-end side-branch that has almost no resonance with today’s science-based atheism. You are far more likely to find modern atheists quoting Euthyphro or Epicurus than those three.

    • W.Benson says:

      Fuzzy Marmot forgot to give Lubac’s (“The Drama of Atheist Humanism”) full name: Henri de Lubac, S.J. The book, published by Ignatius Press, which seems to be a Catholic Church business. I will not go so far as to accuse Fuzzy of pushing Catholic Apologetics. On second thought, I will. Lubac, in fact, caps off his first chapter by declaring that the New Atheism, “the great crisis of modern times, . . . takes its outward course in disorder, begets tyrannies and collective crimes, and finds its expression in blood, fire and ruin.”
      Can Fuzzy recommend a good book on Pius XII (aka Pe. Eugenio Pacelli) that shows he had nothing to do with the 1933 Concordat with Hitler, with Ante Pavelic and the Ustasah, or with Fascism in Spain (Franco) and Portugal (Salazar). If she can, I’ll call her ‘Nice’. Then again, maybe the whole bunch was atheist?

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      This was easily the 2nd dumbest comment of the thread after the very first comment. A believer in Jesus “anti-God”? That takes us back to the “heretics” of early christianity.

  9. Stewart says:

    “He was, however, anti-God in the sense of being anti-Christian…”

    I’d like to be witty about what is so silly about that, but I can’t come up with anything better than “He was, however, anti-football in the sense of being anti-Manchester United…”

    Does anything more need to be said?

    • Nice Marmot says:

      “Does anything more need to be said?”

      So you’re saying that in order to be anti-God, a person must be a full-blown materialist? Hitler couldn’t have been an anti-theistic Nietzschean and a occult-addled wackjob simultaneously?

    • coelsblog says:

      Nope, he’s saying that being opposed to one particular conception of God is not being “anti-God” if there is another conception of God which one does hold to and approve of. And if you have any evidence that Hitler was “anti-theistic” go ahead and present it (and in answering that please note the previous sentence).

    • Nice Marmot says:

      What Bob Davis said above. It’s hard to summarize it, since it’s such a hodgepodge, but it seems like it could be summarized as a sort of “magical deism,” or “god as life-force” kind of thing, as it has elements of both deism and pantheism. But it’s not theism except in the loosest possible sense, that of being nonmaterialist.

    • coelsblog says:

      I notice that in replying to my request for evidence you did not actually give evidence, but just made assertions.

    • Stewart says:

      I approve of Coel’s answer. Calling someone anti-God could also include belief in a god to which (or to whom?) one is opposed, which is out-and-out theistic, but I’ve assumed you mean lack of belief. A clue indicating that attitude might be, say, a statement that suggests that no such thing as a god exists. If Hitler was a non-believer, his statements have made it extremely difficult to conceive of him as such. And surely it is a sign of desperation when a private statement critical of Christianity is viewed as proof of atheism and given the task of outweighing all the many public statements in favour of God and Christianity and virulently against atheism and godlessness.

  10. Pingback: Hitler and Darwin « Thought du Jour

  11. tanukisan56 says:

    Excellent! Very well researched and written; you should seriously consider publication (and perhaps expansion?). I wrote a scathing comment on Richard Weikart’s page which I doubt will see the light of day. I can’t stand dishonest scholars.
    Well done!

  12. Bob Davis says:

    Hang on..if you are going to engage with a class-A intellect like Benedict’s, then you have to make an effort to understand him (even if only to rebut him convincingly). Benedict weighs his words carefully here and you need to grasp the theology of atheism as he invokes it. The best recent historical commentator on this is Michael Burley in his award-winning books Earthly Powers and Sacred Causes. There is indeed a kind of atheism at the dark heart of the confused Nazi apotheosis of state, race, volk, destiny. It is the atheism of the gnostic vision of history and is in this sense a kind of parodic inversion of the accusations of atheism levelled at the first Christians in the Roman persecutions (why would the philosophically literate Romans accuse Christians of being atheists? Because they refused to worship the Emperor, a god in this world: precisely the ‘atheism’ denounced by the Psalmist — ‘they have eyes but they cannot see; ears but they cannot hear’). This is then a theological allegation on Benedict’s part: that the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century committed the classic error of the idolator in making the divine an object in the world, to be equated with the various hotchpotch Nazi mystifications of the aryans, the thousand-year Reich, Gleichschaltung etc etc. The point about classical theism here is that the believer acts in the conviction that he will be held to account — judged — and that no abstraction of a finite, sinful world can be equated with the divine. All such surrogates are idols, denying the transcendence of God. Hence atheism.

    • Nice Marmot says:

      Slight correction, Bob — the author’s name you mention is spelled “Burleigh,” lest anyone seek and not find. Your posts are excellent and on the mark, btw.

    • coelsblog says:

      You are essentially saying that Pope Ratzinger was using the term “atheist” to mean “someone who doesn’t believe in *my* conception of God”. You are right that a lot of Christians and other theists have used the word in that sense. However, I regard it as irresponsible of him to have used the word in that sense without making clear exactly what he meant, since nowadays the term is generally taken to mean someone who lacks belief in any conception of God. There is a heck of a big difference between an atheist in that usual sense, and someone who believes in a conception of God different from the Christian one. And if he really is a “class-A intellect” who “weighs his words carefully” then he would presumably have realised that. Was he deliberately trying to insult, offend and cause a rift with atheists?

      As for your suggestion that the Nazis made “the divine an object in the world” and did not consider that they would be judged by a divinity, then please expound on that thesis and give your evidence. Having read things like Steigmann-Gall’s “The Holy Reich”, a detailed analysis of the Nazi’s religious views, that doesn’t seem to fit with the evidence, though I’m willing to consider what evidence you have.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      And the wrongheadedness continues.

      “a class-A intellect like Benedict’s”

      That unevidenced claim and a fairy tale of Santa Claus gives you exactly nothing.

      Btw, I seriously doubt any theologian can be “a class-A intellect”, seeing that they have to suppress a serious often lifelong cognitive dissonance. Certainly intelligence observationally helps to deceive others and yourself by implication. But intelligence doesn’t correspond to “class-A”: garbage in, garbage out.

      GIGO as in theology is rather “class-F” use of intelligence. And possibly worse considered as a product of intellect at large.

      “the theology of atheism”

      To claim that atheism has a theology is like calling not collecting stamps a hobby.

      – Most atheists seem to base their atheism in an empirical quest for evidence, as in fact and not belief.

      – Others like Dawkins (and me), notes that physicalism can be evidence based. In the absence of test it is overwhelmingly likely (Dawkins), if tested it is a fact beyond reasonable doubt (me).

      – A vocal group of atheists “have a belief in belief”, accommodationists, but that positive, warm, fuzzy feeling towards religion as a societal phenomena is not theology based.

      – A large group of undecided are agnostics. Most of those are indeed basing their belief in a non-empirical theological claim of “religion and science are orthogonal by fiat”. Whether you call them theists or atheists or neither is a matter of taste.

      “All such surrogates are idols, denying the transcendence of God. Hence atheism.”

      And this revolves around a “No True Scotsman” fallacy!? Please!

  13. Steve Smith says:

    If he hasn’t already, the author should familiarize himself with the criticisms of William Shirer’s history The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in which Shirer posits the historical connection from Martin Luther to Adolf Hitler. This is mostly laid out in Shirer’s history of the Nazification of Germany and the German churches. Shirer had a front-row seat in theater for this entire period and was one of the first writers to make use of the extensive Nazi records, captured intact. Shirer certainly shows that the Nazis were anything but atheists and also provides a balanced view of the Nazification of German churches, showing how these were both persecuted and willingly self-corrupted.

    [This comment then included a very long section of quote from Shirer, which fell foul of the comment length restriction, so I've edited it out; citing it by a link would be fine -- Coelsblog]

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      A brief look (it could possibly merit more) shows that Shirer is “positing that German history logically proceeded from Martin Luther to Adolf Hitler; that Hitler’s ascension to power was an expression of German national character,”. None of that is present here what I can see, neither a logical history, a necessary history nor an expression of national character.

      Also it seems many of Shirers’ critics are base on the same dubious “current scholarship of the Nazi period” that has been exposed as failing here.

    • Steve Smith says:

      Shirer’s history supports what is written here. Here’s a brief citation from the relevant section:

      It is difficult to understand the behavior of most German Protestants in the first Nazi years unless one is aware of two things: their history and the influence of Martin Luther. The great founder of Protestantism was both a passionate anti-Semite and a ferocious believer in absolute obedience to political authority. He wanted Germany rid of the Jews and when they were sent away he advised that they be deprived of ”all their cash and jewels and silver and gold” and, furthermore, ”that their synagogues or schools be set on fire, that their houses be broken up and destroyed . . . and they be put under a roof or stable, like the gypsies . . . in misery and captivity as they incessantly lament and complain to God about us” – advice that was literally followed four centuries later by Hitler, Goering and Himmler.
      In what was perhaps the only popular revolt in German history, the peasant uprising of 1525, Luther advised the princes to adopt the most ruthless measures against the ”mad dogs,” as he called the desperate, downtrodden peasants. Here, as in his utterances about the Jews, Luther employed a coarseness and brutality of language unequaled in German history until the Nazi time. The influence of this towering figure extended down the generations in Germany, especially among the Protestants. Among other results was the ease with which German Protestantism became the instrument of royal and princely absolutism from the sixteenth century until the kings and princes were overthrown in 1918. The hereditary monarchs and petty rulers became the supreme bishops of the Protestant Church in their lands. Thus in Prussia the Hohenzollern King was the head of the Church. In no country with the exception of Czarist Russia did the clergy become by tradition so completely servile to the political authority of the State. Its members, with few exceptions, stood solidly behind the King, the Junkers and the Army, and during the nineteenth century they dutifully opposed the rising liberal and democratic movements. Even the Weimar Republic was anathema to most Protestant pastors, not only because it had deposed the kings and princes but because it drew its main support from the Catholics and the Socialists. During the Reichstag elections one could not help but notice that the Protestant clergy – Niemoeller was typical – quite openly supported the Nationalist and even the Nazi enemies of the Republic. Like Niemoeller, most of the pastors welcomed the advent of Adolf Hitler to the chancellorship in 1933. …
      In the spring of 1938 Bishop Marahrens took the final step of ordering all pastors in his diocese to swear a personal oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer. In a short time the vast majority of Protestant clergymen took the oath, thus binding themselves legally and morally to obey the commands of the dictator. It would be misleading to give the impression that the persecution of Protestants and Catholics by the Nazi State tore the German people asunder or even greatly aroused the vast majority of them. It did not. A people who had so lightly given up their political and cultural and economic freedoms were not, except for a relatively few, going to die or even risk imprisonment to preserve freedom of worship. What really aroused the Germans in the Thirties were the glittering successes of Hitler in providing jobs, creating prosperity, restoring Germany’s military might, and moving from one triumph to another in his foreign policy. Not many Germans lost much sleep over the arrests of a few thousand pastors and priests or over the quarreling of the various Protestant sects.

    • Joe Keysor says:

      Shirer wrote a good general introduction to the Third Reich, but he had little or no understanding of Luther or of Christianity. Many German Lutherans went along because they did not want to be thrown into a concentration camp. There were Darwinists and prize winnnig scientists in Germany at that time and they also went along. Secondly, Lutheranism in the 19th century had adopted many liberal theories denying essential truths of the bible, considering it to be a human book full of errors, myths, and legends. Many pastors, bishops, theologians were very far from Luther’s belief in the literal truth of the bible and had, in fact, developed a new religion based on secular philosophy (especially Kant and Hegel) but using god-words.

      Also, Luther had nothing to do with many formative elements of the the Third Reich (Bismarck’s unification, WWI, inflation, the threat of Communism and so on). He was a man of the 16th century and all of the essential elements of National Socialism were completely foreign to him. Even his traditional religious anti-Semitism of a sort common in Europe at that time was radically different from the racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis.

      Everywhere Protestantism took root, Jews were well (if not perfectly) treated. This even applies to Germany before 1914 which, though far from perfect, had a rich and vibrant Jewish culture. Holland, Denmark, and Norway had strong Protestant, even Lutheran traditions, and nowehere in Nazi occupied Europe were Jews helped more. Luthers attack on the Jews, written only at the end of his life, partially in angry response to Jewish insults to Christianity (see Toldos Yeshu, or Toledoth Yeshu), were not representative of his life’s work, and were echoed by no other Protestant leader.

      Also, Luther said in his tract, in effect, the Jews should be persecuted, no, that wouldn’t accomplish anythnig, they should be expelled (this part is never quoted). This was practiced by England, France, and Spain, but did not envision exterminating Jews as subhuman vermin. Hitler’s ideological roots are in Kant, Fichte, Wagner, Lagarde, Langbehn, and others, not Luther.

      Hitler’s belief in Aryan supremacy had nothing to do with Christianity and is directly contradictory to basic biblical teachings about the common origin of all humanity. To blame Luther for what happened more than 400 years later is like lbaming George Washington for our current budget deficit.

      Also, Luther would never have allowed the state to dictate Christian belief, he put his life on the line over just such an issue. His concept of obedience to the authorities saw the authorities as themselves also subject to higher law, and not legitimate authorities to be obeyed when they went beyond their God given mandate. He never advocated or parcticed blind obedience on matters of faith.

  14. Steve Hayes says:

    Excellent article.

    On the issue around the veracity of ‘Table Talk’, a text the Christian apologists set such store by, I wrote in my blog:

    Christian Apologists love to represent Adolf Hitler as though he were not a Christian. They love to trot out quotes where he says something against Christianity. All of these quotes come from one source. It is called ‘Table Talk’ and was edited by Norman Cameron and H R Stevens, with an introduction by H R Trevor-Roper. The book is supposedly a collection of things that Hitler said at the dinner table. However, there are serious problems with the text.

    Cameron and Stevens’ English version of ‘Table Talk’ is based on a translation of the French version, which was produced by Francois Genoud. Now Genoud is an interesting character to say the least. He was a liar and a self confessed fraudster. When challenged by David Irving, the well known Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathiser, about the authenticity of the quotes he had attributed to Hitler, Genoud acknowledged that he had fabricated them and justified the forgery by saying, ‘But it is just what he would have said’.

    Now there are two German versions of ‘Table Talk’ and neither of the German versions contain the anti-Christian quotes. Yet, the Christian Apologists behave as though the English version of ‘Table Talk’ was authentic and historically reliable. One has to wonder why? There are only two possibilities. One is that they are ignorant of the textual problem. If this is the case, they are incredibly arrogant, presuming to have knowledge that is beyond their expertise. The other possibility is that they are aware of the unreliability of the text, yet deliberately choose to spread misinformation. Neither possibility speaks well of the Christian Apologist, who is always so careful to claim to be only concerned with the truth.

    However, the evidence that shows Hitler was a Christian is incontrovertible. Hitler was baptised and confirmed a Catholic and he remained a Catholic throughout his life. Indeed, he remains one to this day, as he has not been excommunicated. Hitler enjoyed cordial relations with the Christian churches throughout his life and his period in power. He repeatedly made statements in favour of Christianity, placed Christianity central to the Nazi party programme, and took active steps to promote Christianity in Germany.

    He was also vociferous in his denunciations of atheism. Indeed, Hitler took the view that ‘an uneducated man…runs the risk of going over to atheism (which is a return to the state of the animal).’ In fact, Hitler saw himself as engaged in a holy war against atheism. He was also entirely dismissive of pagan and occult notions, seeing them as both pre- and anti-Christian.

    Indeed, it is interesting to note that the Christian Apologists only began to claim that Hitler was not a Christian after the Second World War was over. Christians of the time certainly took a very different view. As Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich said: ‘the Chancellor lives in faith in God. He recognises Christianity as the foundation of Western culture.’

    • Lord Kitchener says:

      Hmmm. Diary of Joseph Goebbels (Fred Taylor Translation) – 29th April 1941

      ‘Afterwards, long discussions about Vatican and Christianity. The Fuhrer is a fierce opponent of all that humbug, but he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons. And so for a decade now I have paid my church taxes to support such rubbish. That is what hurts most.’

    • Stewart says:

      While, if accurate, that would certainly support those who claim Hitler’s Christianity was not sincerely felt, it can hardly outweigh official Nazi policies on religion and atheism. It also say nothing about Hitler’s belief or otherwise in a god of some kind.

    • coelsblog says:

      Yes, Hitler was severely critical of mainstream conceptions of Christianity (which he believed had been corrupted by Jews such as Paul) which is why they founded the Nazified Deutsche Christen movement and founded theological institutes merging their theology with Nazi ideology. The “long discussions” in your quote is revealling, and indicates a clash of theologies. There are several other reports that Hitler held forth at length on his theological ideas at private occasions.

      If your point is that Hitler had departed from mainstream Christianity then fair enough, though that’s besides the point with regard to the false accusation that he was an “atheist” or “Darwinist”.

    • Lord Kitchener says:

      Yes the linking of Darwinism and the Nazis is a bit suspect (similarly the attempt to portray the Nazis as Atheist) and your piece does a good job at combating the myths. Biology was at the core of Nazi ideology but in a highly derivative and diluted form – Darwin’s and the Nazis views on evolution and race are actually poles apart (Darwin had variable views on race, the human instinct and mutualism and did not focus exclusively on the annihilatory struggle in nature). Although a perverted science was central to the idea of a ‘race war’ in the east (e.g Konrad Meyer’s transfer of idea in plant breeding to notions of strengthening the German race and getting rid of degenerates) this was only possible because science was blended to Nazi values that do not come from evolutionary biology.

      On the point about Hitler’s personal beliefs – his personality was always a closed one so we will probably never know the truth on this. Similarly he was adept at attuning to the sensibilities of a conversation partner or an audience – hence the mass of conflicting statements. It seems likely however that he took the view that view science had largely supplanted Christianity without rationalism eradicating the need for belief, or undermining the existence of a creator God, in whom he continued to believe.

      Ultimately, the reason I think Hitler can’t be called a Christian is that he hated Christianity and wanted to exterminate it. That’s usually a bit of a fundamental stumbling block. His private statements are unambiguous in this respect and statements such as ‘Christianity is ripe for destruction’ don’t strike me as particularly devout. Around the time of that quote Goebbels wrote ‘The Fuhrer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity. According to Schopenhauer, Christianity and syphilis have made humanity unhappy and unfree’ so that seems to have been the gist of their ‘theological discussions’. We shouldn’t draw too much significance from the setting up of an institute to Nazify Christianity since that’s what they did with pretty much every discipline – it included stuff like rewriting the bible so that it included 12 commandments with no 1 being ‘ Honor your Fuhrer and master’

    • coelsblog says:

      His private statements are unambiguous in this respect and statements such as “Christianity is ripe for destruction” don’t strike me as particularly devout.

      Yeah, but when you give quotes such as “Christianity is ripe for destruction” you really need to cite an original source, and check the context of the remark, and discuss who recorded it, what their biases might be, and any translation issues from the German. You see, this is a topic where nearly everyone has an agenda, so un-sourced quotes are highly dubious.

      For example, Martin Luther thought that Christianity, as it then was, was seriously flawed and corrupted. Yet he was devout and saw himself as a reformer of a corrupted faith. There are many reliable Hitler quotes that suggest that he saw himself in a similar way. So did he want to “exterminate” the faith, or rather replace the then churches with Nazified versions with a Nazified version of religion?

      As I said, I’m not trying to paint Hitler as a mainstream Christian, I will readily accept that he was not (though the vast majority of the 50,000 Germans who carried out the Holocaust would indeed have considered themselves as mainstream Christians; and the public ideology by which they justified their acts was religious).

    • coelsblog says:

      To continue, I’ve tried to source your “destruction” quote, but without success so far (do you have an original source and context?). However, one quote says that the German word used was “untergang”. And google translate says that “untergang” is more naturally “downfall” rather than “destruction” (which would be “zerstorung”). There’s a difference there, in that “destruction” envisages someone actively destroying something, whereas “downfall” could mean decline through internal corruption. So your quote *could* mean something like “The christian churches are ripe for downfall owing to their corruption and need to be reformed and rebuilt better”.

      I’m not saying that that is indeed what was intended, I’m saying that we don’t know and can’t tell from your translated, un-sourced snippet alone and that issues of translation, context and reliability and possible biases of the source really are crucial.

    • Lord Kitchener says:

      No the literal meaning of ‘Untergang’ in German is ‘movement downwards’ and it is commonly taken to mean destruction. For example the German edition of William Kimber’s ‘The Destruction of Dresden was translated into the German edition as ‘Der Untergang Dresdens’.

    • coelsblog says:

      And a simple google search on “untergang” shows that it can also mean “downfall” or “decline” (which is in line with your “movement downwards”). This is why, in order to interpret the remark, we need to know the context of the surrounding sentences and the provenance. As you produced the quote, you should produce those, if you want to set store by it.

    • Lord Kitchener says:

      I think you have already found my source for the quote which is the excellent Hitler – 1936-45 Nemesis by Ian Kershaw p40. It concerns the Church struggle of 1936-37:

      ”Hitler’s impatience with the Churches prompted frequent outburst of hostility. In early 1937 he was declaring that ‘Christianity was ripe for destruction’ (Untergang) and that the churches must yield to the ‘primacy of the state’, railing against any compromise with ‘the most horrible institution imaginable” – The source once again is the diary of Joseph Goebbels (Die Tagebucher Von Joseph Goebbels’ 1/3 ,55 5 (5th January 1937) 10 14th of January 1937 – 37-8 9th February 1937).

      It’s certainly not an original source (though it came to light relatively recently) – it’s heavily used by modern historians of the Third Reich since it’s retrieval from the Soviet archives – and most notably in the David Irving holocaust denial trial. You won’t find it used too much by quote miners on the internet because the most complete version of the diary is only available in German published in some 20 volumes by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (there are some partial English versions – e.g Fred Taylor’s). Of course none of the above precludes the possibility that Hitler was some kind of radical Protestant who wanted to reform the churches by annihilating them – I think that is unlikely given the details from Goebbels’s diary entries but also the quotes from Dr Picker’s version of Table Talk which Richard Carrier claims is authentic and bypassed Bormann.

    • Lord Kitchener says:

      ‘And a simple google search on “untergang” shows that it can also mean “downfall” or “decline” (which is in line with your “movement downwards” This is why, in order to interpret the remark, we need to know the context of the surrounding sentences and the provenance. As you produced the quote, you should produce those, if you want to set store by it.

      No – I don’t see that. It’s perfectly acceptable in the circumstances for me to trust an eminent scholar such as Kershaw to have translated the sentence properly and to quote it as such. The burden of proof should be on those who seek to prove otherwise. I will note however that ‘Christianity is ripe for downfall’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

    • coelsblog says:

      OK, so you have a source, Goebbels’ diaries (about which there is some doubt as to their provenance, see the wiki page on them; and there is also the issue of Goebbels’s biases and whether he reported Hitler accurately), but we still don’t have the context of the surrounding text (your quote gives three short snippets).

      And no, I don’t simply trust Kershaw to translate accurately. That’s partly because of the number of times I’ve come across misinformation on this topic; partly because nearly everyone has an agenda; and partly because Hugh Trevor-Roper could also be described as an eminent historian, yet according to Carrier his version of Table Talk is full of mistranslations. In writing my above article, I tried as far as possible to read the Nazis in their own (translated) words in context (and gave extensive quotes of that), not just rely on what others had said about them.

    • Lord Kitchener says:

      Coel – the argument for non-authenticity for the Goebbels diaries from that Wikipedia article comes from the Institute for Historical Review – ‘the Worlds Leading Holocaust Denial organization’. You can see why they might have an agenda.

      I’m afraid that if you won’t accept contributions from leading scholars on this issue then there seems little point in this discussion – not if it means I am going to have to go all the way back to all 22 volumes of the primary source material. I could do that in the case of Dr Picker’s version of Table Talk but I see you view the whole thing as suspect – which is a far more extreme position than Carrier, Steigmann-Gall, Kershaw etc.. Then there’s the fact that neither of us really speak German which will leave us blundering around like a couple of amateurs.

      Anyway I think we actually agree on the main points of your article.

    • coelsblog says:

      On accepting leading scholars: I’m happy to be guided by them but I also like to track back to original sources where possible. That’s the attitude I take in my day job (science) and I’d presume that historians would take a similar attitude, especially on contentious issues.

      Anyway I think we actually agree on the main points of your article.

      OK, well perhaps we’re not far apart. I’m happy to accept that Hitler (while theistic in his own weird sense) was not a Christian (certainly not a mainstream one) and that the Nazi racial ideology did not derive from Christianity.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      “the argument for non-authenticity for the Goebbels diaries from that Wikipedia article comes from the Institute for Historical Review”

      The New York Magazine article referenced, by Sharon Churcher is from 1983. The IHR claims it started 1978. But IHR’s only argument on Goebbel’s diaries at his home site is Irving, based on his account of what he did 1992.

      How do you go from Churcher, the journalist of New York Magaizne and Daily Mail, to IHR sources? As it is now, it is an unreferenced claim.

  15. Joe Keysor says:

    A lot of research, but not a whole lot about the teachings of Christ. Can you show one teaching on the Sermon on the Mount that Hitler tried to follow? Can you show me where in the New Testament it teaches that the Aryans are the master race? that people are essentially animals and that life is a pitiless struggle for survival in which might makes right?

    Do you believe Hitler thought Jesus was God come to earth in human form who died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, so that people who believe in him can be saved from the anger of God and go to heaven? Hitler never mentioned those things, nor did he mention the Trinity or the virgin birth.

    Do you think Hitler believed the Jewish Old and New Testaments were the word of God? He specifically denied the historicity of the Old Testament in Mein Kampf, stating that the Jews were never nomads, and never had their own country, but were always nothing but parasites.

    Do you think the Lutheran state church was anything like the New Testament church? Do you know that many Bishops, pastors, and theologians in Germany at that time and through much of the 19th century were liberals who denied the historicity of the bible and basic truths of Christianity, such as Christ’s sacrificial death for the sins of mankind and his resurrection from the dead?

    I am sure you would never link all atheists to Stalin, Lenin, and Mao would you. That wouldn’t be logical or fair.

    Hitler mentioned God a number of times. It was the god of German philosophy, not the God of the Bible.

    • coelsblog says:

      If you want to argue that Hitler’s religious ideas were outside mainstream Christianity then ok, I agree, and I agree that they did not derive from the teachings of Jesus. In my article I argue that Nazi racial ideology was religious and creationist — not that it was Christian (though it is the case that the vast majority of the 8 million Nazi party members would have considered themselves Christian, as would the 50,000 Germans who carried out the Holocaust; Germany was over 90% Christian at the time).

      And it isn’t the case that Hitler regarded humans as “animals”, indeed in Table Talk he is quoted saying: “The most marvellous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator” and “An uneducated man, on the other hand, runs the risk of going over to atheism (which is a return to the state of the animal)”.

      Further, the whole rationale for the holocaust was that Hitler believed that humans were “God’s handiwork” and “made to His own image” and that by preventing interbreeding with “lesser” races he was “fulfilling the Will of God” by not allowing “God’s handiwork to be debased” (see the article).

    • Joe Keysor says:

      That Hitler’s ideas were outside of main stream Christianity is an important point some miss. As to the extent that he was religious, you need some refereence to 19th century German thought and philosophy, which said “There is something up there” but in a vague sense (such as Hegels World Spirit). This “religion” denied divine revelation and relied on human reason, and was in fact an invention of human reason.

      As to Germany being 90% Christian, they were people who were baptized as infants, both Protestant and Catholic. The bible says “Believe and be baptized.” I and many other Christians believe infant baptism has no validity, a centuries-old belief having nothing to do with trying to escape from the Nazi-Christian accusation.

      Also, are you familiar with “Germanic Christianity,” which repudiated almost all of the Old Testament, claimed Jesus was an Aryan (with a human father, possibly a Roman soldier), and denied all of the essentials of mainstream Christianity? Thus, people could say “I am a Christian” yet mean something very different by it.

      Naziism was to a great extent a substitute religion, with a paradise to be reached after the forces of evil had been eliminated – but it was a substitute religion derived from human wisdom and philosophy. If this makes religion and religious people look bad, do the excesses of Stalin and Lenin make atheists look bad? Any idea, theism or atheism, can be taken to extremes. This is a human problem, not a theist or an atheist one.

      Germany was 90% Christian? Read about the Weimar Republic – it was full of secularism, Communism, Darwinism, Freudianism, the occult, and Germany had the largest Communist party in Europe. Who were those millions of German “Christians” that voted for Communist candidates to the Reichstag?

      Part of the problem here is you do not know what Christianiy is. It is considerably more than having been born in a certain part of the world and being baptized as an infant.

      As to Hitlers Table Talk, he has many comments there expressing his hatred and contempt for Christianiy. I don’t think its reasonable for you to take the parts you like and call them authentic, and ignore or explain away the rest. I know it is said that Bormann edited it, and he was violently anti-religiouis – odd, that Hitler would choose someone whose ideas were strongly different from his own to be his right hand man.

      As to your quote from Table Talk, I would like to see that book and that quote. I don’t have it handy. In Mein Kampf he plainly speaks of man’s emergence from the animal world. Richard Weikart’s book Hitler’s Ethic gives numerous examples of Hitler’s belief in the animal origins and nature of man, which can also be seen in the chapter of Mein Kampf called “Nation and Race” (vol. 1 chapt. 11)

      You have heard of course of theistic evolution. There is an evolutionary process, but some kind of “god” or spiritual force is behind it. In Mein Kampf vol. 1 chapt. 11 Hitler plainly describes the struggle for survival of animals which is essential to his concept of breeding a stronger and better human race.

      Anyway, you can say Hitler was religious – I can say Lenin and Stalin were vicious and brutal mass murdering atheists. That has nothing to do with the question of whether or not God exists.

    • coelsblog says:

      On calling Germany “90% Christian” I’m simply going by the 1939 census which reported how people regarded themselves. Note also the records of Auschwitz SS guards (refered to in the article), which again records self-labelling. I accept, though, the tendancy of many Christians to regard many other Christians as not “true” members of the faith; that’s why Christianity is split into many different churches and sects.

      On Table Talk, there is an online pdf cited in the bibligography above, which has my quotes in it. Note that this is the Genoud/Trevor-Roper version which Richard Carrier regards as mis-translated (see link to Carrier in the article). I don’t think it’s correct to say that Bormann was “anti-religious”, so much as anti-clerical or anti-Christian.

      As I’ve said, I readily accept that Hitler’s views (while religious and theistic) were not Christian and were highly critical of the mainstream Churches (as were Bormann, Rosenberg, etc). The main point of my article is that their views did not derive from atheism or Darwinism, and are highly antithetical to both of those.

      On Hitler ‘s beliefs in the “animal origins and nature of man”, can you give actual quotes (and no I wouldn’t trust Weikart an inch)? There is a link to an online Mein Kampf in the bibliography above.

      Also, it is not true that Hitler and Mein Kampf was about “his concept of breeding a stronger and better human race”, it is very explicitly about **preserving** a primordially created “highest image of God” Aryan race — see the above section on Mein Kampf.

      On Stalin and Lenin being “mass murdering atheists” (true) and your question whether they “make atheists look bad”. Well, they certainly make communists look bad, yes, since their actions were inspired by their communist ideology, an ideology that was totalitarian and would not accept any competing loyalties (hence the oppression of religion, simply because it was a competing loyalty).

      That derived from communist ideology, it did not derive from atheism; atheism is not in itself an ideology or a motivation, the word merely indicates an *absence* of one type of belief. And people are motivated by beliefs they do hold (such as communist ideology) not by beliefs that they don’t hold.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      “You have heard of course of theistic evolution. There is an evolutionary process, but some kind of “god” or spiritual force is behind it.”

      “Theistic evolution” or in empirical terms evolutionary creationism is not about a natural, evolutionary, process. But a creative agent caused creationist process, yes.

  16. WBenson says:

    Dear Coel – Here’s an additional reference that may be relevant:
    Although high Nazi officials (and hangers-on) did not put forward a specific policy with regard to Darwinian evolutionary theory, there is one specific case where an important Nazi theorist rejected evolutionary theory outright. Alfred Rosenberg was considered by many to be Nazism’s top racial theorist. Rosenberg, also known for his neo-paganism, was an influential Nazi Party member and given full reign to present his views. Perhaps because of his defense of Teutonic mythology, after the war he was an easy target for presenting Nazi spiritual beliefs as something distinct from conventional religion. We may thus ask, did Rosenberg’s paganistic twist bring Darwinism into Nazi racial policy. The answer is no!
    Rosenberg in his “The Myth of the 20th Century” says: “The liberal epoch wrought havoc on the domain of the church. This was precipitated by its many pseudoscientific ["Wissenschaft", set off in quotation marks in the original] beliefs such as the theory of evolution [Evolutionstheorien]. Religion as such seemed to have been overturned. These intellectual pygmies overlooked the fact that understanding and reason represent only one means of drawing up a world picture. Religion is fundamentally something else. Art is a third means of understanding.” [from the first paragraph of chapter 5 “Deutsche Volkskirche und Schule” of the 1934 German edition, pages unnumbered]. A few lines on Rosenberg calls the 19th century the “Darwinian era” and blames it for seducing the churches to materialism and promoting a “confusion of spirit.” If anything, Rosenberg was as anti-evolution as the Nazi Party in general.
    [P.S., I used an English edition of Rosenberg’s book, available at archive-org, to make the above, better I hope, translation].

  17. Ryan says:

    I think it’s safe to call this a conclusion without an argument. Your distortion of christianity is the root of it. To somehow link Christian Nazis with Christian doctrine, or even proposing that there is a unified Christian doctrine is absurd.

    While there is some anti semitism in chrysostom and Luther, it wasn’t adopted as doctrine by any church, especially not the catholic church.

    This notion that Nazism is a natural corollary of Christian belief has been debunked before i was born, and any recapitulation is nothing but a hope and a dream that atheism can be a foundation for a civilized society. It can not, mostly because it anathematizes perfection.

    Furthermore, just because the Nazis misunderstood Darwinism does not mean it’s parasitic were underived from it.

    • coelsblog says:

      This notion that Nazism is a natural corollary of Christian belief …

      But you’re attacking something that I’m not saying. My article argues that Nazi racial ideology was religious and creationist, but that does not mean that it was “Christian” or a “natural corollary of Christian belief”; I don’t say either of those things (though it is the case that the vast majority of those who considered themselves Nazis would also have considered themselves Christian).

      On your last point, all the actual evidence shows that Nazi racial ideology was creationist and opposed to Darwinism.

  18. Joe Keysor says:

    “My article argues that Nazi racial ideology was religious and creationist, but that does not mean that it was “Christian” or a “natural corollary of Christian belief”; I don’t say either of those things (though it is the case that the vast majority of those who considered themselves Nazis would also have considered themselves Christian).“

    The last part of your statement directly links Christianity to Naziism.

    The vast majority of Nazis did not believe Jesus Christ (the Jew) was God come to earth in human form, that he died on the crosss as a sacrifice for the sins of t he world, that those who believed on him could receive his spirit and go to be with God in paradise. They did not believe the Jewish bible was the inspired word of God. To say they considered themselves Christian in any meaningful sense is incorrect.

    Concerning your responset o my response, I said that 90% of Germans were not Christian and you answered “On calling Germany “90% Christian” I’m simply going by the 1939 census which reported how people regarded themselves.“

    1. That was a poll in a Nazi dictatorship. People who wrote „none“ or „atheist“ were liable to interrogation, as Communists were cruelly persecuted.
    2. You did not respond to my obvious historical fact that millions of people voted fort he communists in the parliamentary elections and Germany had the largest Communist party in Europe. Who were those millions of CChristians who voted for communists? I am sure everyone called themselves a Christian in the 1939 census. By the way, not responding to obvious facts but ignoring is not the mark of an objective mind seeking truth and understanding.
    3. The bible does not define a Christian as someone who was baptised as an infant, or calls themselves Christian on a census. There are a number of marks of belief and practice which the bible teaches apply to Christians, none oft hem have anything to do with Naziism.
    4. I show point out that none oft he main features of Naziism are found in the bible, and you say you accept that Naziism was not mainstream Christianiy, then continue to try and link it to Christianity by saying most Germans were Christians, most Nazis were Christians. Is this honest? Is this fair?
    Then you refer to SS guards who called themselves Christian. The bible sasy directly in several places that murderers will not go to heaven. Jesus did not say „Blessed are evil murderers who claim to be Christians.“

    You say „They are not real Christians“ is just a tendency Christians have. But those on your side say Stalin, Mao, and Lenin were not real atheists – while their atheism was direct, explicit, public, and overt. The Nazis on the other hand never at any time expressed any belief in the essentials of the Christian faith. Yes or no – do you think the Nazis believed that Jesus Christ was God come to earth in human form, that he died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, that those who believe in him will go to heaven and those who reject him will go to hell?

    About Table Talk, the Nazi take on evolution was not as simple as you think. They did not like the idea oft he master race descending from the monkeys, nor did they like a common origin for all races. So, part of evolution they did not accept. But they did like survival of the fittest , and they did like the idea of people engaged in a pitiless struggle for survival in which outdated ethics derived from traditional religion were irrelevant. They would pick and choose whatever was useful and ignore the rest. Some religious ideas were useful, they used those and ignored the rest. Ditto for Darwin. Also, Hitler was not a logical or consistent thinker. He thought, as do many Darwinists today, that there was an animal origin of man, but man has now somehow attained a higher status. Hitler’s „thought“ is vague and confusing on these points, he did not think them through logically.

    About Bormann’s views, in John Conway’s book The Nazi Persecution of the Churches a document written by Bormann is cited at length. He explains that he believes in a God, but it is not the naive God oft he Christians. It is a God of the cosmos that works according to natural law and is discoverable by reason alone. This „god“ has created life as a struggle in which the strong survive and the weak perish. The Nazis were a strange mixture of secular and philosophical ideas sometimes expressed in religious language.

    „As I’ve said, I readily accept that Hitler’s views (while religious and theistic) were not Christian and were highly critical of the mainstream Churches (as were Bormann, Rosenberg, etc). The main point of my article is that their views did not derive from atheism or Darwinism, and are highly antithetical to both of those.“
    Yet you continually try to link Naziism to Christians. Hitler’s views did derive from rejecting the bible and relying on secular human wisdom. There is a long tradition of ideas fundamental to National Socialsis, they go back to Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and others who relied on human reason and rejected Christianity. Turning away from Christianity was the first step toward the Holocaust.
    Some of his views were antithetical to Darwinism, but some were not. Life as struggle in which survival was the main issue was quintessentially Darwinian and Hitler and the Nazis loved it.

    You don’t trust Weikart, I do and have read two of his excellent books. I don’t trust Carrier at all. In vol I chapt. 11 of Mein Kampf (Nation and Race) Hitler talks at length and in depth about how selective breeding and improvement is accomplished by survival of the fittest. This is purely Darwinian. Hitler liked that part oft he theory and ran with it, while ignoring other parts. He was not a consistent thinker.

    „Also, it is not true that Hitler and Mein Kampf was about “his concept of breeding a stronger and better human race”, it is very explicitly about **preserving** a primordially created “highest image of God” Aryan race — see the above section on Mein Kampf. „

    No, it is about preserving, and improving. That was the whole point of Himmler’s breeding program.
    Again, on Lenin and Stalin – you use Hitler to make theists and religious people look bad, but do not want anyone to use the Communists to make atheists look bad. The Communists were explicitly atheist, but Hitler was not explicitly Christian.

    „That derived from communist ideology, it did not derive from atheism; atheism is not in itself an ideology or a motivation, the word merely indicates an *absence* of one type of belief. And people are motivated by beliefs they do hold (such as communist ideology) not by beliefs that they don’t hold.“

    Yes, atheism is the absence of belief in God, but where do you go from there? Some people do not stop at that point. They then go on from their rejection of God to try to find the meaning and purpose of life.

    If someone says „There is no God. Religion is false. The bible is false. There is no heaven or hell. We need to make heaven in this life, which can be done by eliminating private property and capitalism and exterminating those who stand in the way of the happiness of mankind.“ This comes directly out of atheism, and cannot be detached from it.

    A vague sort of philosophical theist is a cruel mass murderer ´- THEISM IS BAD! An atheist is a cruel mass murderer – uh, er, well, umm, you see, their motivation was derived from the, uh, you know…“

    • coelsblog says:

      The last part of your statement directly links Christianity to Naziism.

      I accept that Nazi ideology was not Christian nor derived from Christianity. The only link I’m pointing out is that the vast majority of the 8 million Nazi-party members and of the 50,000 directly involved in the holocaust and indeed the vast majority of the SS guards at Auschwitz considered themselves to be Christian.

      In saying that, note that there is a big difference between saying something was believed by Christians, and saying that the belief was Christian. Note also the wording “considered themselves to be Christian”. I am aware that many Christians will have views on what constitutes “true” Christianity (which is, as I said, why you’re split into many different churches and sects).

      Further, in saying the above I am not trying to argue “theism is bad”. I am primarily trying to rebut any claim that the Nazis were atheists. Secondarily, I might point to this to argue that widespread Christianity in a nation is not a protector against atrocities, as some Christians might claim (the record shows that both religious and non-religious peoples can behave appallingly).

      Thus the holocaust was not caused by Christianity, though it is pertinent that it is much easier to demonize and mistreat a minority where there is a religious difference. It would have been much harder for the Nazi to make scapegoats of the Jews had they shared the same religion as the majority; when a minority refuses to accept the god of the majority, it is much easier for the majority to think less well of them.

      The vast majority of Nazis did not believe Jesus Christ (the Jew) was God come to earth in human form …

      Can you provide quotes or other evidence for assertions of this sort? My reading suggests that Nazi ideologues did indeed regard Jesus as divine, though they claimed he was Aryan and not Jewish. And I’ve seen nothing that suggests that the 8-million rank-and-file Nazis did not regard Jesus as divine.

      That [1939 census] was a poll in a Nazi dictatorship. People who wrote “none” or “atheist” were liable to interrogation, as Communists were cruelly persecuted.

      I wasn’t aware of that, but it’s an interesting snippet if true. If at the height of Nazi tyranny the Nazis persecuted anyone stating they were “atheist” then it shows they were theistic and gives the lie to common assertions such as Ratzinger’s statement that the Nazi regime was “atheist extremism”.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      “Yes, atheism is the absence of belief in God, but where do you go from there? Some people do not stop at that point. They then go on from their rejection of God to try to find the meaning and purpose of life.”

      This is OT but FWIW:

      This is no different than the observation that morals don’t derive from religion. Say, by noting that all humans react similarly morally in any case as observed in experiments.

      [It is only when there is deliberation that ideology or its absence modifies that a bit. And, it must be noted, not in the benevolent fashion for many or most religious, such as in the rejection of homosexuality, female emancipation/abortion, atheism, et cetera.]

      Likewise we observe that humans form their purpose in life in either case. In fact, humanist organizations actively strive to enable it for all people.

      To claim that religion appropriates and necessitates such things are against facts. And in a wider sense immoral (since it denies all humans morals) and purposeless (since it goes against facts). (O.o)

      Btw, this was hilarious:

      “I wasn’t aware of that, but it’s an interesting snippet if true. If at the height of Nazi tyranny the Nazis persecuted anyone stating they were “atheist” then it shows they were theistic and gives the lie to common assertions such as Ratzinger’s statement that the Nazi regime was “atheist extremism”.” [coelsblog]

      Pwnd!

    • coelsblog says:

      But those on your side say Stalin, Mao, and Lenin were not real atheists …

      Do they? I thought the usual response was to say that, yes, they were atheists, but that their motivations came from communism (atheism, being an absence of a belief, is not in its own right a motivation).

      Yes, atheism is the absence of belief in God, but where do you go from there? [...] They then go on from their rejection of God to try to find the meaning and purpose of life.

      They may well do, but if they do whatever they come up with is not part of or derived from “atheism”, which merely denotes the absence of belief in god/s.

      If someone says “There is no God. Religion is false. The bible is false. There is no heaven or hell. We need to make heaven in this life, which can be done by eliminating private property and capitalism and exterminating those who stand in the way of the happiness of mankind.” This comes directly out of atheism, and cannot be detached from it.

      Sorry, I disagree. The first four sentences reasonably follow from atheism. But the wording from “We need to …” onwards does not follow from what precedes it and has no logical connection at all to atheism.

    • coelsblog says:

      … the Nazi take on evolution was not as simple as you think. They did not like the idea oft he master race descending from the monkeys, nor did they like a common origin for all races. So, part of evolution they did not accept. But they did like survival of the fittest …

      You are right, they did accept natural selection, operating within species boundaries. So do many of today’s creationists (they call it “microevolution”, which they accept, while denying “macroevolution”).

      Note that accepting natural selection in itself does not provide a motivation for anything. Their motivation, as clearly stated in Mein Kampf, was the creationist belief in the separate creation of the human races, and the desirability of preserving the races is in their primordial purity, since that was how God had made and desired them. That motivated them to prevent interbreeding which would contaminate and destroy what they saw as the “superior” race.

      Hitler … thought, as do many Darwinists today, that there was an animal origin of man, but man has now somehow attained a higher status.

      Can you provide any quotes that back up that assertion? The evidence from Mein Kampf (see the extensive quotes in the article) says the opposite, that Hitler saw man (or rather the Aryan race) as primoridally created as “God’s handiwork” and the “highest image of God”. If you have a quote that says that Hitler saw man as having originated from lower animals then please present it.

      Note also that Houston Stewart Chamberlain explicity rejected this idea. See the quotes in the article. Here are a couple:

      A characteristic symptom of our modern intellectual disease is the increasing tendency to relegate things to ever remoter and remoter origins. Thus, for instance, man was said to be descended from the ape; the anatomical impossibility of this is established to-day by a thousand reasons …”

      “the nonsensical dogmas of the theorisers on natural selection and descent may once and for all be rejected.”

      He also says that we are “fooled by delusions” of “a bestial past that is no past”

    • Gary Hill says:

      “Hitler talks at length and in depth about how selective breeding and improvement is accomplished by survival of the fittest. This is purely Darwinian”.

      No, it certainly isn’t Darwinian. This is a common mistake made often by people who either have no training in the biological sciences.

      Survival of the fittest means that an organism possess some physical attribute(s) that places it in an advantageous position relative to other members of the species within a specific environment. They are more likely to survive and so the responsible gene variants become naturally more common within the gene pool. However, if that environment changes those attribute(s) and the corresponding gene variants may become less useful or even a hindrance and so can decline within the gene pool. Selective breeding is the exact opposite. When this occurs certain gene variants are deliberately selected for some reason, regardless of the environmental contingencies.
      Selective breeding does not occur in Darwinian natural selection. It requires a deliberate (unnatural) intervention in natural biological processes. It is not Darwinian.

      Hitler may well have been dreaming of creating a master race, but there is no way he was going to achieve it using Darwinian mechanisms of selection.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      Also, excessive selective breeding makes the allele pool shallower, resulting in lowered fitness over time against a changing environment.

      But the above is again a bit mistaken. What corresponds to natural selection is differential reproduction, not “survival of the fittest” as such. Which means positive fitness of beneficial alleles and negative fitness of harmful alleles (and the evolutionary mechanism of near neutral drift of the rest), and what you describe follows.

  19. Joe Keysor says:

    Hello Coelsblog,

    Thanks for your time on this. I would like to make some introductory comments (I). Then, having gone over your article again I would like to respond to some points from that (II). Then I would like to look at your response to some of my comments (III).

    Part I. Introduction
    This will be fairly long. I am writing this to you personally. How much of it you want to post is up to you, it’s your blog. I am on vacation and may not get back to this for a while – and we can’t go on about this forever can we?

    These are complex issues and I have written an entire book of hundreds of pages on these subjects. It is called Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible . There I answer points at length and in detail such as I cannot do here. Briefly, I am a conservative Christian who believes in the literal truth of the bible. My book was written in answer to points of view such as yours. I consider that biblical Christianity, as taught by Christ and the apostles, and as practiced by many sincere but ordinary Christians over the centuries, has nothing to do with Hitler and his crimes.

    Neither do I blame Hitler on atheism. I don’t believe he was an atheist, but the „god“ he referred to was not the God of the bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was the „god“ of German philosophy worked out over the 19th century by a number of people who rejected materialism, but rejected traditional religion as well. It was, I believe, much closer to Hegel’s World Spirit or to a sort of panheistic „god“ of the cosmos approachable via human reason.

    Neither do I blame Hitler on Darwin, there were many factors, but I do think that social Darwinism, the attempt to devise an ethic based on Darwin’s theory and apply it to people was an important factor in Hitler’s thought, and a common feature of 19th-century German secularism.

    This is a brief introduction, much more can be said. But, I’ll look at some points in your article, not having time or the inclination to write a book length response on my vacation.

    II. Your article
    Concerning Gobineau, I am glad you recognize the importance of his thought. That racially pure groups conquered and dominated, but fell into decay through impurity of blood, was essential to Nazi thought. This did not come from Darwin – neither did it come from the bible.

    About H.S. Chamberlain, many of his ideas were foundational to Naziism, but as to his being a Christian, he wrote an entire chapter in his book on Christ, and not once in the entire chapter did he mention Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, the cleansing of sin by his blood, the resurrection of the dead and salvation from God’s anger by faith in Christ.

    He believed in Aryan Christianity, an invention of the 19th century, predicated on the belief that the bible was not the divinely inspired word of God, but a human book full of errors and mythology. He has a few comments in that chapter that sound orthodox. For example, he refers to Christ as divine, but speaks of Buddha in the same way.

    On Darwinism, he did not like some aspects o fit, especially the MATERIALIST MONISM advocated by Ernst Haeckel, the leading German Darwinist oft hat day, but he did like, and the Nazis liked, the idea of life as struggle, in which the weeding out oft he unfit led to evolutionary advance. He and the Nazis were not scientific. They picked what they liked out of Darwin and ignored the rest – not that I am claiming their main motivation was Darwinian.

    You say Mein Kampf doesn’t mention Darwin once – but it does refer tot he concept of advancement through struggle and weeding out the unfit. Hitler considered this aspect of evolution to be an obvious fact of life, not a theory of an English scientist. Also, as I pointed out, neither does Hitler once mention in that book any of the essential teachings of Christ’s deity, death, the day of judgment, heaven and hell, and so on.

    You mention I think this quote from vol. I chapt. 11 (Nation and Race).
    “If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

    This is a clear case of evolutionary advance through struggle and the elimination of the weak. This is blatant and overt and direct Darwinism, with regard to one part of the theory, if not the whole. You agree to this yourself when you say „In summary, while Nazi racial doctrine and Mein Kampf share one feature with Darwinism, namely competition and selection…“

    You go on to say „the Nazi doctrine is not derived from Darwinism and is fundamentally incompatible with it. Whereas Darwinism says that all humans have a common origin, that species and races are malleable, evolving over time, and that one could (as with all animals, and if one so wished) artificially control breeding to enhance and select desired characteristics, Nazi doctrine says that human races are distinct and primordial, created separately by the Will of God, who desires that they remain separate, that the moral imperative is to preserve the races in their current state by preventing any racial intermixing, which would be both harmful and sinful.“

    As I said, the Nazis were not scientists or logical thinkers. They picked up parts of different philosophies and systems that they liked, ingored the rest, and skipped obvious contradictions.
    You say Christians also opposed Darwiinism, but people can oppose the same things for different reasons, and make drastically different responses.

    Notice that you say „in a list of books they banned from Third Reich libraries, the Nazis listed Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism. Yes, they rejected Monism, which Haeckel grafted onto his version of Darwinism, and they rejected PRIMITIVE Darwinism, not their own advanced and modified variety.
    You say „The same list of banned books also prohibits ‚All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk.‘ “

    Christianity was routinely attacked and ridiculed in the Nazi press and by Nazi writers. That was one of many timest he Nazis said something to make the gullible Christiains happy, then did the opposite.
    You refer to Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies. Luther was a man of the 16th century who advocated very late in life traditional anti-Semitism. He did not believe in a master race or Aryan supremacy, and sepcifically advocated in his tract that the Jews be expelled from Germany (they were also expelled from England, Spain and France). The anti-Semitism of Kant, Fichte, Lagarde, Langbehn, and Wagner was radically different, and close if not identical to Hitler’s. When Hitler spoke of Jewish materialism, this was a Kantian theme, not a Lutheran one. Chamberlain specifically condemned religious anti-Semitism, and advocated philosophical and racial anti-Semitism of a sort unknown to Luther.
    You state ‘One statement in the minutes from Wannsee is often taken as a “smoking gun” that proves Darwinism’s underpinning of the holocaust. That statement is Heydrich’s comment that:
    “Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes. The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival …” This does indeed refer to Darwinian natural selection, saying that those Jews who survive hard labour will be the hardiest. But note that, here, Darwinian natural selection is acting against the interests of the Nazis (who wanted to exterminate all the Jews). And, most of all, that passage does not in any way provide any motivation for exterminating Jews, nor in any way point to Darwin to justify the extermination of the Jews.‘

    The strong survive, the weak are weeded out. This was integral to Nazi thought, and in complete harmony with an important part of Darwin‘s theory. Natural selection weeds out the weakest. The strongest survivors need to be dealt with by other means.

    About Table Talk, I opened your source and searched „the most marvellous proof“ and „from where do we get“ (parts of your quote and found nothing. I did find some of other parts of your quotes though. I also searched „science“ in your source and found many references to it. Here are a few.
    (opposing too much reliance on the church) „When I think of our people’s future, I must look further than immediate advantages, even if these advantages were to last three hundred, five hundred years or more. I’m convinced that any pact with the Church can offer only a provisional benefit, for sooner or later the scientific spirit will disclose the harmful character of such a compromise. Thus the State will have based its existence on a foundation that one day will collapse.“

    „Being weighed down by a superstitious past, men are afraid of things that can’t, or can’t yet, be explained—that is to say, of the unknown. If anyone has needs of a metaphysical nature,
    I can’t satisfy them with the Party’s programme. Time will go by until the moment when science can answer all the questions. So it’s not opportune to hurl ourselves now into a struggle
    with the Churches. The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.“

    „Antagonism of dogma and science— … Let Christianity die slowly—… If anyone has needs of a metaphysical nature, I can’t satisfy them with the Party’s programme. Time will go by until the moment when science can answer all the questions…“

    „The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it. The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions.“

    „Gradually the myths crumble. Christianity, of course, has reached the peak of absurdity in this respect. And that’s why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline … A movement like ours mustn’t let itself be drawn into metaphysical digressions. It must stick to the spirit of exact science.“

    „It’s not the Party’s function to be a counterfeit for religion….Science cannot lie, for it’s always striving, according to the momentary state of knowledge, to deduce what is true. When it makes a mistake, it does so in good faith. It’s Christianity that’s the liar. It’s in perpetual conflict with itself.“

    I don’t think it is reasonable or fair of you to take quotes from this source that support your viewpoint, and explain away those that don’t. I pointed out Hitler would not have chosen someone for a righthand man who thought too differently on key issues and you didn’t answer I don’t think.
    Here is a quote from Table Talk plainly showing Hitler‘s belief in evolution (at least as a child).

    „The present system of teaching in schools permits the following absurdity: at 10 a.m. the pupils attend a lesson in the catechism, at which the creation of the world is presented to them
    in accordance with the teachings of the Bible; and at n (MISTAKE IN TEXT) a.m.
    they attend a lesson in natural science, at which they are taught the theory of evolution. Yet the two doctrines are in complete contradiction. As a child, I suffered from this contradiction, and ran my head against a wall. Often I complained to one or another of my teachers against what I had been taught an hour before—and I remember that I drove them to despair.“

    What about your quote showing the opposite? Hitler was not a logical thinker and his mind was not clear, especially toward the end. He might have meant (?) evolution is basically true, yet in some way people rose above the animals and developed higher consciousness, we don’t know how.

    You refer to Steigmann-Galls’s book which claimed that the majority of Nazis considered themselves to be Christian. Steigmann-Gall called people Christians if they had been baptized, went to Communion, and made some Christian comments. The bible’s teaching, and Christs’s teaching, is very different. To be a Christian involves at the very least a serious attempt to follow Christ. The bible plainly teaches that liars, evildoers, murderers will not go to heaven, no matter if they were baptized as babies or go to church. Steigmann-Gall quite plainly does not know what Christianity is. Himmler, Bormann, and Heydrich were openly contemptuous of Christianity, and they were three of Hitler’s most esteemed aides.

    Hitler’s claim tob e a Christian in his speech of 1922 that you refer to shows no understanding of Christianity and no basic doctrines. Jesus did not die on the cross to fight the Jewish poison, and Hitler had no interest in the fact that Christ rose from the dead, nor did he have the slightest interest in following any of Christ’s teachings.

    You refer to the Concordat giving the Catholics power over education. The Concordat was frequently broken, and the Vatican officially protested violations through diplomatic channels. Hitler ended all religious education in the Reich outside of government schools, and viciously persecuted Catholics in Poland and Austria.

    About Christians being persecuted, it is a fact that most Christians went along – and there were plenty od Darwinists in Germany. Did any of them speak out? A few Christians did denounce Naziism publicly and were arrested, some died in captivity. This was a small number, but there were some. Can you name one Darwinist who spoke out publicly against Naziism after 1933 on the basis of his Darwinian ethics? No.

    You say „I accept that Nazi ideology was not Christian nor derived from Christianity. The only link I’m pointing out is that the vast majority of the 8 million Nazi-party members and of the 50,000 directly involved in the holocaust and indeed the vast majority of the SS guards at Auschwitz considered themselves to be Christian.“

    You can’t deny that the basic tenets of Naziism have nothing to do with Christ and the apostles, but then you turn around and still try and link Christianity to Naziism! Did the vast majority you speak of believe that Jesus was born of a virgin Jewish woman, that he was the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies, that they should believe in him as God who died for them and rose again or they would be sent to hell? You know just as well as I do that they did not believe those things.

    You say „In saying that, note that there is a big difference between saying something was believed by Christians, and saying that the belief was Christian. Note also the wording “considered themselves to be Christian”. I am aware that many Christians will have views on what constitutes “true” Christianity (which is, as I said, why you’re split into many different churches and sects).“

    So Christians can believe things totally contrary to Chrtistianity? They can ignore all essential beliefs, and adopt a philosophy not even remotely related to Christ? Jesus did not say „Blessed are cruel and evil murderers who claim tob e Christians.“ The bible directly teaches such people will go to hell.
    You say „Further, in saying the above I am not trying to argue “theism is bad”. I am primarily trying to rebut any claim that the Nazis were atheists. Secondarily, I might point to this to argue that widespread Christianity in a nation is not a protector against atrocities, as some Christians might claim (the record shows that both religious and non-religious peoples can behave appallingly).“

    I agree the Nazis weren’t atheists – and I agree that vague cultural Christianity is no protection. Jesus said, „If the salt has lost ist savor it is good for nothing,“ and much Christianity so-called is indeed good for nothing.

    You also say „Thus the holocaust was not caused by Christianity, though it is pertinent that it is much easier to demonize and mistreat a minority where there is a religious difference. It would have been much harder for the Nazi to make scapegoats of the Jews had they shared the same religion as the majority; when a minority refuses to accept the god of the majority, it is much easier for the majority to think less well of them.“

    If the Jews had shared the same religion they would have disappeared. The Nazi objections to Jews were based on ideas unheard of in the bible and for 1800 years thereafter.

    III. More of your comments
    In response to my comment „The vast majority of Nazis did not believe Jesus Christ (the Jew) was God come to earth in human form „ you asked „Can you provide quotes or other evidence for assertions of this sort? My reading suggests that Nazi ideologues did indeed regard Jesus as divine, though they claimed he was Aryan and not Jewish. And I’ve seen nothing that suggests that the 8-million rank-and-file Nazis did not regard Jesus as divine.“

    Eichmann expressly rejected belief in the bible (see the book „Eichmann Interrogated“). The SS magazine Schwarze Korps attacked Christianity, and Bormann was known for his hostility, as was Heydrich. Also, claiming Jesus was Aryan does not mean he was born to a virgin with Go das his father, it means he had an Aryan human father and was in fact only a man. John Conway’s book The Nazi Persecution of the Churches has plenty of documentary evidence from primary sources of Nazi hostility. Can you show me any evidence of a Nazi who said Jesus was God come to earth in human form, born of a virgin, and his teachings in the bible are the true way to heaven, so we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us?

    I wrote ‚That [1939 census] was a poll in a Nazi dictatorship. People who wrote “none” or “atheist” were liable to interrogation, as Communists were cruelly persecuted‘ and you answered ‚I wasn’t aware of that, but it’s an interesting snippet if true. If at the height of Nazi tyranny the Nazis persecuted anyone stating they were “atheist” then it shows they were theistic and gives the lie to common assertions such as Ratzinger’s statement that the Nazi regime was “atheist extremism.” ‘

    Have you read many books about day-to-day life in the Third Reich? If when asked about religion someone had said „none“ this would have raised questions about a Communist background. „Christian“ as a safe thing to say. Remember, I pointed out the obvious historical fact that in Reichstag elections millions of people voted fort he Communist party. What kind of Christianity is that? No doubt everyone who voted Communist and was even a Communist party member would have said „Christian“ when asked in a government poll. As to what Ratzinger said, I have no interest in his opinions.

    I thought saying that Lenin etc. were not real atheists as they were not objective and rational was a common response. There may be different responses.

    I think you missed my point „Yes, atheism is the absence of belief in God, but where do you go from there? [...] They then go on from their rejection of God to try to find the meaning and purpose of life. “
    If someone says „There is no God, there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, religion is false, we need only human reason,“ it doesn’t stop there. People go on from that point to try and understand life and come up with ideas of what it is and what it should be. They can go in many different directions from an atheist starting point, and the conclusions they reach may not be inherent in atheism, but they are the result of rejecting God and trying to find other alternatives.

    You made more points, forgive me for not responding, I need to go. If I do not respond further it is because I am travelling, I may get back later, but these things can go on and on and on with no end. Thanks for considering my views.

    • coelsblog says:

      Hi Joe, a lot to respond to! Let me start by noting that we’re actually agreed on the main issues — neither of us is arguing that Nazi doctrine was Christian or atheistic or Darwinian. Also, I am not arguing that Hitler or Bormann or Rosenberg were Christians, they had instead departed from mainstream Christianity for a new religious ideology based around their racial theory.

      I would, however, argue that most rank-and-file Nazis were Christian, in the sense that they would have had conventional Christian upbringings, would have regarded themselves as Christian, and would not have rejected those beliefs. That is the only “link” I am making, not that the Nazi ideology was Christian or derived from Christianity, only that the majority of those who went along with Naziism would have been Christian.

      Did the vast majority you speak of believe that Jesus was born of a virgin Jewish woman, that he was the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies, that they should believe in him as God who died for them and rose again or they would be sent to hell? You know just as well as I do that they did not believe those things.

      No, I do not know that. For the reasons just stated, I suspect that the vast majority of the 8 million Nazi party members would have agreed with those sentiments.

      “So Christians can believe things totally contrary to Chrtistianity? [...] Jesus did not say „Blessed are cruel and evil murderers who claim to be Christians.“ The bible directly teaches such people will go to hell.

      If you look at the history of Europe throughout the Middle Ages there was a huge amount of warfare and atrocities and murders. Yet nearly everyone was Christian. The evidence says that Christians can and do behave just as badly as anyone else. I’m not saying they’re any worse than anyone else, but nor are they any better as a whole.

      For example, the Nazi racial theory with regard to Jews was likely similar to the racial theory about Blacks common in the American South during the slavery era. Yet, they were overwhelmingly Christian.

      Are you effectively saying that because they were mass murderers then they can’t have been believers in the Abrahamic God? OK, question for you, as someone who takes a literally true slant on the Bible. The Book of Joshua tells us that Joshua and the Isrealites engaged in a campaign of genocide, exterminating tribe after tribe, men women and children, in order to take their land. Did they believe in the Abrahamic God? Their justification was that they had their God’s blessings for their actions. But that’s what the Nazis said — Mein Kampf is a long argument that by oppressing the Jews Hitler is doing his God’s will.

      Also, claiming Jesus was Aryan does not mean he was born to a virgin with God as his father, it means he had an Aryan human father and was in fact only a man.

      Why does it necessarily mean that? God could have made him into anything, Aryan or not Aryan, presumably, regardless of whether he had a father.

    • coelsblog says:

      In this reply I’ll address your comments about natural selection. Yes, Hitler did believe in the operation of natural selection (that is clear from several passages in Mein Kampf). BUT, he only ever considers natural selection operating WITHIN the boundaries of a species. That is commonly accepted by many creationists today, they call it “microevolution”, whereas they deny “macroevolution”, that natural selection can lead to the evolution of whole new species. For example, I’ve added to the article a quote by the prominent creationist Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute saying “nobody doubts that variation and selection can produce minor changes within existing species (“microevolution”)”.

      So, the fact that Hitler accepted natural selection *within* *a* *species* does not make him a Darwinian; indeed the idea of selection *within* a species has been known about for many thousands of years, it’s called “farming”.

      Second, natural selection is not an ideology, it is simply an aspect of nature, a statement that in itself carries the same moral implications as “water flows downhill”, namely none. Thus accepting natural selection is not in any way a motivation. Instead, the motivation Hitler had was one of preserving racial purity, which he regarded as God’s will, deriving from God’ desire to preserve species as he had created them.

      “Can you name one Darwinist who spoke out publicly against Naziism after 1933 on the basis of his Darwinian ethics? No.”

      As just above, there is no such things as “Darwinian ethics”, any more than there is a “Newtonian Gravity ethics”. Both Darwinism and Newtonian gravity are explanations of how nature is, they are not ideological packages that carry ethical implications.

      “Yes, they rejected Monism, which Haeckel grafted onto his version of Darwinism, and they rejected PRIMITIVE Darwinism, not their own advanced and modified variety.”

      I’m told by a native German speaker that that phrase carries the meaning of “rejecting Darwinism, which is primitive”, not of rejecting only a primitive version of Darwinism. If you have any quotes that say that the Nazis considered that they had “their own advanced and modified” version of Darwinism then please present them. The evidence I have (see the article) is that both Chamberlain and Rosenberg explicitly rejected and insulted Darwinism.

      Here is a quote from Table Talk plainly showing Hitler‘s belief in evolution (at least as a child).

      That quote shows only that Hitler was taught evolution at school, not that he believed in it. The evidence is that he rejected (1) the idea of new species evolving, (2) the common descent of all species, (3) the evolution of humans out of lower animals. All three of those are totally crucial and fundamental to evolution/Darwinism. Yet there are quotes showing that Hitler rejected all three (as did Rosenberg and Chamberlain). If you have quotes showing that any leading Nazis advocated those 3 central pillars of Darwinism then please present them.

      He [Hitler] might have meant (?) evolution is basically true, yet in some way people rose above the animals and developed higher consciousness, we don’t know how.

      Speculating that he might have meant that is somewhat idle given that there are no quotes that can fairly be interpreted that way (at least that I’m aware of), and large numbers of quotes (many cited in my article) that say the opposite, that Hitler was a creationist (backed up by quotes rejecting human descent from animals by other prominent Nazis such as Chamberlain).

    • coelsblog says:

      And so to Table Talk:

      About Table Talk, I opened your source and searched „the most marvellous proof“ and „from where do we get“ (parts of your quote and found nothing.

      Some of the quotes aren’t from the Genoud/Trevor-Roper edition. For example, Carrier states that the “most marvellous proof” quote is not in that edition, though it is in the German from which that edition derives (see the Carrier article cited in the bibliography).

      ” I don’t think it is reasonable or fair of you to take quotes from this source that support your viewpoint, and explain away those that don’t.”

      Most of those quotes that you gave showed Hitler to be criticizing Christianity. However, I fully accept that Hitler was highly critical of Christianity and was not a mainstream Christian. He thought that the Churches had been corrupted early on by Jewish influence (principally Paul). So, those quotes are entirely in line with my overall stance here.

      Note, though, that (at least according to Carrier) the Trevor-Roper edition is highly suspect. Its provenance is Hitler -> Heim/Picker (stenographers) -> Bormann (editor) -> Genoud (translation to French) -> Trevor-Roper (translation to English). All of the last three of those seem to have had agendas and can’t really be trusted (and for all three the bias would be in making Hitler seem more anti-Christian). So, I don’t think one should set much store by those quotes without going back to the Picker version. However, as far as I’m aware, there is no readily available English translation of it.

      But, as I said, I happily accept that Hitler was highly critical of Christianity and the churches (Mein Kampf contains a lot of such criticism, and there both the text and the translation are reliable, the English translation being comissioned by Hitler).

      I pointed out Hitler would not have chosen someone for a righthand man who thought too differently on key issues and you didn’t answer I don’t think.

      I agree, I don’t think that Bormann and Hitler were far apart on religion.

    • coelsblog says:

      A few points not dealt with above:

      Hitler … viciously persecuted Catholics in Poland and Austria.

      Poland, yes, he persecuted Poland (and it was indeed mostly Catholic, though that was rather incidental to Poland being persecuted). As for Austria, really? In what way were Austrian Catholics “viciously persecuted”? I accept that Hitler wanted to replace the Protestant and Catholic churches (which he saw as corrupted) by his Nazified Deutchse Christen church, but I don’t think it’s true that Austrian Catholics were particularly persecuted.

      “If someone says „There is no God, there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, religion is false, we need only human reason,“ it doesn’t stop there. People go on from that point to try and understand life and come up with ideas of what it is and what it should be.”

      Yes, I agree. But there is nothing about that starting point that logically leads to communist totalitarianism. I’ve read atheist internet forums for a couple of decades, and almost never encounter people advocating or discussing communism. It has almost nothing to do with whether there is a god.

      I thought saying that Lenin etc. were not real atheists as they were not objective and rational was a common response. There may be different responses.

      Most atheists would not define “atheism” such that one needed to be objective and rational in order to be an atheist, “real” or not. All humans (including atheists) have subjective and irrational aspects to their nature. So, Stalin, Mao etc, were atheists, though their communist motivations do not reflect in any way on atheists who are not communists (which is nearly all of them in the West today).

      You seem to be wanting to say that any Christian who behaves badly must therefore not be a Christian, which is somewhat self-serving. You’re also saying, for example, that Christians who don’t hold to the virginity of Mary are not Christians, whereas large numbers of Christians who take a less literal attitude to the Bible would not agree.

      There does not seem to be a generally agreed definition of who is a Christian, and which beliefs are essential and which are not. That’s why it seems to me unproductive to argue whether Hitler was a (non-mainstream) “Christian” or not. It’s like arguing whether Mormons are Christian; you won’t get Mormons and (other) Christians to agree on that. I can see that such questions are important to Christians, but defining “Christianity” is less interesting to non-Christians.

    • Joe Keysor says:

      Interesting comments, Coelsblog. As I said I am traveling on vacation and am now making a short stop at an internet cafe. I plan sometime in the next week or so to put your several short answers together and respond to them. If I didn’t, you might think I was at a loss for words.

      The bible says thieves, liars, murderers, sexually immoral people, practicers of hatred, wrath, will not go to heaven. “No murderer has eternal life” as it says in I John. No matter if they were baptized (as infants or adults), go to church, say they accept certain doctrines, call themselves Christians. The bible itself teaches that those who claimed to be serving Christ but were blatantly defiant of God’s laws will not go to heaven.

      My own belief and my understanding of plain biblical teachings is that there will be many politicians who used god-words for their own advantage, and many church leaders who adapted themselves to the surrounding society instead of standnig for biblical teachings, and many ordinary people who had the name of Christian but did and practiced evil who will be rejected by God and sent to hell on the day of judgment.

      Now there is a lot of disagreement. Who is a Christian, what is a Christian, no Christians are perfect but what is the boundary past which human error goes too far? All of these things will be revealed.and answered in the end.

      This is not a direct response to your points, just some comments. Here is a question for you to consider, though. There have been many Christians in America, England, Switzerland, Canada, many countries – what was so different about Germany? There were many factors of German history, philosophy, culture, and society that combined to produce a new philosophy totally contrary to all of the basic teachings of Christianity.

      If you want to explore the roots of Nazi anti-Semitism, don’t forget Fichte, Lagarde, Langbehn, Richard Wagner, Kant, and also the rejection of traditional religion which told people there would be no heaven, no hell, no day of judgment, no divine laws to follow, that Christian morality was outdated and unscientific, that life was essentially survival of the fittest.

      Hegel’s concept of the state is also very close to modern totalitarianism and has often been linked to it, unlike the Christian and biblical ideas of the state which teaches that the state must operate within strictly defined limits and is itself obligated to a higher law. These and other ideas did not bring heaven to earth, but they did act as breaks and restraints. Naziism could not have emerged before the modern era.

      .

    • coelsblog says:

      Hi Joe, hope your travels are going well. A reply to your main point:

      You can’t define “Christian” according to who will get to heaven, since none of us know. You can’t define “Christian” according to which set of doctrines they hold to, since you’d never get agreement on the set. You can’t define “Christian” according to whether they kill people, unless you exclude all Christians who are not pacifists (vast numbers of Christians have participated in killings and wars, including those against the Nazis). And you can’t define “Christian” according to whether they follow Christian ideals, since all Christians admit that they are sinners who fall short.

      You ask why Germany was different. Well, in one sense it wasn’t. There had been pogroms, expulsions and killings of Jews in Christian Europe for hundreds of years before the Nazis (including England, Spain, Poland, etc). One of the more disturbing aspects of WWII is the willingness of occupied nations (especially in Eastern Europe) to cooperate with the Jewish deportations. Even worse is the evidence that in some countries such as Catholic Poland the local communities took the opportunity to launch their own pogroms against Jews “under cover” of the Nazi atrocities.

      Yet Jews were very well integrated in Europe in many of these cases. Certainly there was nothing from “science” that marked out Jews as different. There was only one common distinguishing feature, and that was their refusal to accept the majority-population’s god. And that seems to have been sufficient for the majority to regard them as “not us” and thus as less welcome in society.

      You point to a number of philosophers and ideologues in Germany leading up to the Nazi era. OK, but rank-and-file populations usually care little for such stuff and take many decades to assimilate it. The vast majority of adults in the Third Reich era would have been brought up being taught mainstream Christianity in the home, in the schools and in the churches. Regardless of a few philosophers, the vast bulk of the population would have been mainstream Christian. Large religious changes simply don’t happen very fast in populations (for example as soon as Russia became non-communist again polls recorded them as about 75% Christian, which suggests that the population’s actual beliefs had not been changed very much by 70 years of repression of Christianity and official teaching of anti-Christian ideas).

      So, it seems to me that, if the population of Germany was willing to go along with the removal of Jews from society, then it was largely for the reasons that Christian populations had repeatedly persecuted Jews through the Middle Ages throughout Europe. And if there is a reason why this happened in Germany and Eastern Europe in WWII, whereas attitudes were different in, e.g., England, France, Norway, it was perhaps that the latter countries were more secular and less Christian, and thus the “difference” of being Jewish didn’t matter so much, and thus they were more accepted.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      Some odds and ends:

      “On Darwinism, he did not like some aspects o fit, especially the MATERIALIST MONISM advocated by Ernst Haeckel, the leading German Darwinist oft hat day, but he did like, and the Nazis liked, the idea of life as struggle, in which the weeding out oft he unfit led to evolutionary advance.”

      This is many times a deliberate conflation of the branch of philosophy which is labeled “Darwinism” and could be meshed with Haeckel’s philosophy of monism with the biological science.

      Every description I access on Haeckel’s monism describes it as deliberately pantheist as an alternative to pure materialism.

      “You say Mein Kampf doesn’t mention Darwin once – but it does refer tot he concept of advancement through struggle and weeding out the unfit. Hitler considered this aspect of evolution to be an obvious fact of life, not a theory of an English scientist.”

      “This is a clear case of evolutionary advance through struggle and the elimination of the weak. This is blatant and overt and direct Darwinism, with regard to one part of the theory, if not the whole.”

      “The strong survive, the weak are weeded out. This was integral to Nazi thought, and in complete harmony with an important part of Darwin‘s theory. Natural selection weeds out the weakest. The strongest survivors need to be dealt with by other means.”

      ::: “This is a clear case of evolutionary advance through struggle and the elimination of the weak.”

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      As the article noted, the idea of nature “red in tooth and claw” was not original to Darwin. It is technically, in fact, a poem of Tennyson I believe.

      More importantly it is not a description of evolutionary mechanism but an observation on the outcome of it as a natural process.

      Evolution is not merely variation and selection, and selection is not “survival of the fittest” but more generally differential reproduction – of genes.

      There positive selection promotes genes which results in more descendants and negative selection demotes genes that result in less. The vast majority of genes are too close to the main bulk of the distribution and drifts under near neutrality.

      So the description of struggle and “strong” individuals are not a clear case correlate with selection. Strong individuals can be cheated of fatherhood or killed by accidents, weak individuals can survive and father descendants. It is but over time _genes_ struggle and in some cases are eliminated.

      But since there is no agent purpose to a natural process that protects individuals willy nilly, what we observe for individuals are obeisance to the contingency of nature, a struggle for existence. That is not a correlate to selection as such, but an unavoidable outcome of living under natural processes.

      We also observe that death is necessary for life, but that is the _hereditary_ part of evolution as defined as “a natural process that takes living populations to living populations through hereditary descent with modification”. I am quite certain that parenthood and hence societal belonging is seen as a good thing by most people.

      Darwin himself used “elimination” twice ([checked by search on Darwin Online], once in a reflection on how rich men (say, a rich church) squanders their wealth, once as a characterization of gradual change over generations.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

      Oops, I forgot that I meant to say something on this:

      “You say Mein Kampf doesn’t mention Darwin once – but it does refer tot he concept of advancement through struggle and weeding out the unfit. Hitler considered this aspect of evolution to be an obvious fact of life, not a theory of an English scientist.”

      It should be noted in this context of attempting to speak of natural selection or more generally evolution that the process of evolution was an observed fact at that time.

      And since we are around the subject of creationism, that we are not describing common “theory” but scientific theory, a super-fact comprising many facts and mechanisms producing them.

      The observation of the progress of the fossil record had been around long before Darwin, and had prompted many theories of evolution. It was Darwin, and Wallace independently of him, that offered up the correct main mechanism of selection to explain change and speciation.

      This observation was never dependent on the specific scientific theory, even if the acceptance of it was eased by the discovery of the responsible mechanisms.

      Observation of natural selection started in earnest with the discovery of penicillin 1928 and the development of antibiotic resistance. Ironically this was observed immediately after WWII, 1946, when penicillin became widely available.

  20. Pingback: Nazi (Christian) Theism

  21. Torbjorn Larsson, OM says:

    Well researched, well written, highly valuable. Perhaps the best praise is that I learned *a lot* and it clarified several mistakes of mine. (For example, confusing creationist micro-evolution for the superior Aryan with artificial selection which if taken to extremes would eventually starve the allele pool.)

  22. Joe Keysor says:

    Hello Coelsblog,
    In one of your messages you inquired about my trip. London is great, I also visited Berlin.

    You said I gave you a lot to respond to, but your initial article was very long, and I could have written fifty pages in response. I do have as I said a whole book on the subject. There are a few extra copies of an earlier version to which a few changes were made. If you like, I will mail it to you – it covers all of these subjects in depth. But, I am sure you wouldn’t like the book, it is written from the basis of belief in the bible and explores these questions from a Christian vantage point.

    I mentioned the fact that millions of Germans voted for the Communist candidates to the Reichstag, marched in Communist parades, called for the abolition of capitalism, and considered religion the opiate of the people, a trick used by the establishment to keep the people docile. They were out and out Marxists. Unless I missed something, you did not respond. Here is a clear and simple easily verifiable fact that contradicts your thesis – are you willing to deal with it?

    These conversations can be endless, so I will make these comments and not write more – not that I am trying to have the last word. I’ll keep on your mailing list for a while and be glad to read whatever you might post. If you ask something specifically about Christianity I suppose I should respond.

    You said to someone that the purpose was not to link Hitler to Christianity, but that is definitely the purpose of the No Beliefs website and also the Steigmann-Gall book, which sources you quote often. Also, you say if I remember rightly that Hitler was not mainstream Christianity, meaning he was still in some way part of Christianity. And, you continually refer to the 98% of people who claimed to be Christians, and also don’t want to accept that top Nazi leaders denied basic doctrines (you asked for evidence for my claim there).

    When asked in a government poll about religion, “Protestant” or “Catholic” was a wise thing to say. The Nazis pursued the Communist party ruthlessly (have you read about this?) and anyone even suspected of being a Communist was liable to be beaten, tortured, and sent to a concentration camp. Saying “no religion” or “atheist” might lead to closer observation.

    In the book “Hunting Eichmann,” by Neil Bascomb (I think that’s his name), it tells how a Protestant minister tried to evangelize Eichmann after his death sentence had been passed. Eichmann had no interest in that bible stuff, and was not concerned about repenting of his sins, believing in Jesus, and being saved. There are also detailed biographies of Heinrich Himmler. You will find that he had in interest in Hinduism (he liked the caste system), and German paganism. He was not interested in Christianity which was, after all, a Jewish religion. Bormann and Heydrich were openly hostile to Christianity. They changed Christmas to Yulefest so as to leave Christ out of it – just like secularists today.

    Goebbels in his diaries (authentic, and accepted as legitimate) referred directly to Hitler’s hostility to Christianity. This is an important source S-G and Jim Walker (of the nobeliefs site) both ignore. This is because they are not interested in facts, but only want to attack Christianity. Anyone who reads the four gospels and sees anything of Hitler there is, in my view, incapable of rational thought on this subject. Jim Walker’s attitude toward Christianity is, in my view, one of hatred, ignorance, and fear.

    You were not aware of Nazi persecutions of Catholics in Austria, and I suppose in Germany either. Shirer talks about the murders of Catholic political activists in the Roehm purge. John Conway’s book “The Nazi Persecution of the Churches” describes the problems of the Catholics in Austria in detail, and gives information about monasteries and seminaries arbitrarily closed by the Nazis. His book is not a whitewash either. He presents the well known fact that many “Christians” went along with Hitler, and he discusses in depth Germanic Christians who tried to combine National Socialism with Christianity. When S-G says Conway didn’t cover this it shows he either did not read the book, or was lying.

    Catholics in Germany were also persecuted, fired, Catholic schools were all closed over time, the promises made in the Concordat with the Vatican were one more set of lies by Hitler. The Vatican protested numerous times against these violations, but it accomplished nothing. They did not excommunicate Hitler as this would have led to even fiercer persecutions and great damage to the church in Germany – not to mention the loss of many Catholics who, if they were forced to choose between the Pope and Hitler, would have gone with Hitler (if only to save their own necks). I am sure you have not read about the Hitler Youth member who tore a crucifix off the wall and threw it out a window into the street, saying “Lie there, you dirty Jew.” The Nazis were not ignorant of the fact that Jesus was a Jew.

    About the Old Testament massacres, most people do not have any problem with the fiery destruction rained down on German cities in WW II in which hundreds of thousands of people were indiscriminately slaughtered, including of course infants. Most consider this justified and necessary to win the war – and does man have more power than God? Do we have the right to do this and not God? God is the creator of life, and he has as much right to take a life, or any number of lives, as you do to turn off a light switch in your own home. If because of their sins and to establish the Jews in their homeland, God decided the Canaanites had to go, he had that right, and the biblical Israelites were instruments of God’s anger.

    This disturbs some on your side, but they have no concern at all for the much greater numbers of people massacred by atheists in our own modern era. Why is it that a comparatively small number of people massacred more than 3,000 years ago bothers you more than those massacred by secularists such as Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao? I suspect some people don’t really care about human life at all, they just want an excuse to attack religion.

    Finally, on this point, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a onetime incident, once in the history of the world. So was the flood, which God sent to destroy the world because of its wickedness. These have never been emulated by Christians, who recognize we do not have that calling. The same for the massacres of the Canaanites – a onetime event in world history that no Jews or Christians have ever tried to repeat. We understand we are not Moses, we are not in that situation, and God has not called us for that.

    I found many passages in Table Talk relating to science, showing Hitler to have had profoundly secular views. You ignored that point – unless I missed something you posted somewhere. People on your side have a consistent tendency to ignore contrary evidence. This is not detached objectivity. Also, the passage I quoted did not merely show that Hitler studied Darwinism in school, it shows that he argued in favour of it. Possibly (?) as a boy Hitler came to believe in Darwinism, but later scrapped parts of the theory he didn’t like (a common origin for all races for example) but kept the part he did like (life as struggle for survival in which the perishing of the weak was normal and healthy). Hitler was not a consistent thinker or a scientist, he picked up whatever agreed with him and ignored the rest.

    By the way, there are you know theistic Darwinists. They say “Darwinism is a fact, we have the evidence and know how it works, it’s science – but God is behind it. He started it, and he is guiding it to some end.” So, the fact that Hitler made some theistic noises by no means detaches him completely from Darwinism.

    Also, someone said in a post on your blog that Table Talk was the only evidence Christians use to show Hitler was not a Christian. This is completely false. People like to use some good quotes from that source, but there is much more to it than that, and in my book I do not at all rely on this source, though I do refer to it a few times. Other evidence: first, Hitler never at any time referred to any of the foundational teachings of Christianity, such as the virgin birth, the Trinity, Christ as God in human form, his sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of the world and his resurrection from the dead, his final return as God to judge the world, the need to repent of sins and be saved, or the bible as the word of God.

    If you say those are not essential and one can be a Christian without them, then I can say that natural selection is not essential to Darwinism and one can be a Darwinist if they believe in the literal truth of the first chapters of Genesis. A big part of the debate here is caused by the fact that many of you people do not have any idea of what Christianity is. It is true of course, Christians themselves may differ, but the bible plainly teaches that thieves, liars, murderers, and evildoers will not go to heaven – no matter if they were baptized, go to church one occasion, or say something about Christ. “No murderer has eternal life” as it says in I John.

    By the way, the supposed Catholic Hitler never went to mass, never went to confession, never said a word about the Virgin Mary the whole time he was chancellor.

    About Hitler’s theism, I agree he was not an atheist, but his theism was of a very odd sort. Conway’s book “The Nazi Persecution of the Churches” has a detailed and long quote from Marin Bormann, explaining that the Nazis believed in God, but it was not the naive God of the Christians. It was a “god” that worked through natural law and was understandable by reason and science, without revelation. I encourage you to look at this book, find the lengthy quote by Bormann, and post it on your blog.

    Hitler’s ideas emerged out a very distinct tradition of secular German philosophy that emerged in the 19th century. By the way, I wonder if you know that Hegel is often linked to modern totalitarianism, due to his belief that the state was the agent of the world spirit, and that people found their true freedom in obedience to the state. He has been consistently linked to both left (Communist) and right (Nazi) totalitarianism.

    A few more points. Someone on your blog said that Churchill and FDR were Christians. Read a detailed biography of either of those men and find one place where they said “Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins,” or any other vital element of Christian doctrine.

    About Naziism being a counterfeit religion, Hitler offered a new Chosen People (the Germans); a new promised land (Germany); a new concept of sin (racial impurity); a new means of salvation (eliminating sources of impurity in the German Volk); a new saviour (himself); a new system of ethics (life as pitiless struggle and might makes right). There is definitely a religious element – a counterfeit one, as Hitler understood people need something to believe in. The point has been made that the secularism and rejection of Christianity in modern Germany left the German people lost, confused, looking for certainty, for a cause to fight for, and Hitler met this need. Hitler and Stalin both knew how to manipulate religion to serve their own ends.

    Two more points. I have read Weikart’s book “From Darwin to Hitler” and I think some people on your side don’t understand it. He plainly says that Darwinism did not CAUSE Naziism. He agrees there are many differences between Darwin and Hitler, many differences between Darwinism proper and Naziism, that many Darwinists are far from Hitler and sincerely reject him. He also recognizes that there were many factors behind the emergence of Hitler. This is plainly spelled out in the opening of the book, and you should not confuse his book with much simpler attacks by people who have not really studied the subject.

    He does say, and he documents this thoroughly with many citations from primary sources, that Darwinism was popular in 19th century Germany, and believed in by an influential segment of the population. He then shows how these people did not merely stop with Darwinism as an explanation for the origin and development of life on earth. They went on from there, and tried to build an ethical and philosophical system, applying the truths of Darwinism to people and to human society. For example, they reasoned that traditional ethics based on Christianity were false and out of date; that life was governed by the rule of struggle – the strong survive and the weak die, and survival is the main ethic.

    They reasoned that sick and weak people should be allowed to die, as that was natural, and too much medical care interfered with natural selection. They reasoned that some people were higher on the evolutionary scale than others, and hence superior to them. They argued that if Germany seized territory from weaker nations, this was justified by the natural law of survival of the fittest. Darwin’s leading proponent in Germany before WWI was Ernst Haeckel, a racist militarist imperialist who thought people with blue eyes were superior (no, I am not talking about anti-Semitism here, his views about the Jews are debated, but not relevant to my main point).

    This is called “social Darwinism,” an attempt to apply a Darwinian ethic to human beings. You may dislike this, you can say it is not true Darwinism, that it is not science, but Weikart proves that there were people who had these views. He presents basic and well documented facts, which I am sure some people on your side will refuse to consider because they feel that Darwin must be protected at any cost.

    Finally, imagine there are two atheists. Both of them agree there is no God; science is the only sure path to knowledge; there is no heaven, no judgment, no hell, pure atheists in every way. But, they don’t stop there. They then go on to try and decide how they should live in the world. One just wants to be a nice guy, enjoy life, have a good job and a family, he is a good neighbour and a good citizen.

    Another says, “There is too much injustice, oppression, poverty, and exploitation in the world. This is caused by greed, selfishness, and private property. The solution is to eliminate private property, capitalism, and religion and set up a state of the workers. Of course, this has to be set up by force, and people who oppose it are enemies the happiness of mankind and it is justifiable to deal with them harshly.”

    You may say that is not real atheism, but it comes from atheism and atheism is its starting point. Stalin, Lenin, and Mao were atheists, and the fact that they used various psychological means to win people’s devotion and strengthen their own power, or had certain economic or political policies, does not mean they were not real atheists. To put it another way, atheists have been some of the most vicious, brutal, cruel people in the history of the human race.

    I appreciate your considering an opposing point of view, which is helpful for all of us.
    This does not cover all points but this is long enough.
    Joe K.

    • coelsblog says:

      Hi Joe,

      “I mentioned the fact that millions of Germans voted for the Communist candidates to the Reichstag, [...] Unless I missed something, you did not respond. Here is a clear and simple easily verifiable fact that contradicts your thesis – are you willing to deal with it?

      I don’t know much about that party’s history. According to wiki they (the KPD) got 10 to 15% of the vote, which is significant, but still a small minority, so I don’t see that it contradicts anything I’ve said. It is also likely that some voting for the KPD were Christians, attracted by the socialist/communist economic policies. (There is nothing incompatible between Christianity and a socialist economy.)

      “When asked in a government poll about religion, “Protestant” or “Catholic” was a wise thing to say. The Nazis pursued the Communist party ruthlessly [...] Saying “no religion” or “atheist” might lead to closer observation.”

      OK, I can accept that for this reason atheism might have been under-reported in the 1939 census, however this only supports my major point that the Nazis opposed atheism.

      Goebbels in his diaries (authentic, and accepted as legitimate) referred directly to Hitler’s hostility to Christianity.

      I’m happy to accept that many of the leading Nazis (e.g. Hitler, Bormann and Rosenberg) were highly critical of Christianity and wanted to replace the Christian churches with their own Nazified religion (which they called “positive Christianity”, contrasting with that they saw as the “negative Christianity” of what they saw as the Jewish-influenced Churches). As I’ve previously argued, though, I think it likely that the majority of rank-and-file Nazis considered themselves pretty much mainstream Christians, as they’d have been brought up to be.

      Catholics in Germany were also persecuted, fired, Catholic schools were all closed over time, …

      Really?, can you give cites (preferably primary ones) to support the idea that all Catholic schools were closed? I’m aware that Catholics (and anyone else) who politically opposed the Nazis were persecuted, but it seems that Catholics who didn’t oppose the Nazis were largely left alone.

      About the Old Testament massacres, most people do not have any problem with the fiery destruction rained down on German cities in WW II in which hundreds of thousands of people were indiscriminately slaughtered, including of course infants. Most consider this justified and necessary to win the war

      OK, but that supports my point. The majority of the Allies would have considered themselves Christian and were willing to kill in large numbers because they considered it necessary. So you can’t say that anyone who kills people cannot be a Christian. (And the Nazi’s had their own “God’s Will” justification for their acts.)

      Why is it that a comparatively small number of people massacred more than 3,000 years ago bothers you more than those massacred by secularists such as Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao?

      But the point is that we all agree that the massacres by Pol Pot etc were wrong. I’m happy to state quite unequivocally that they were flat-out wrong. What “bothers” us about the massacres in your Bible is that many religious people are not willing to say they were flat-out wrong, you instead say it was OK because God willed it. That has the implication that you’d support any other vile act if you thought that God willed it, in the same way that Mohammed Atta thought that 9/11 was God’s will. So, it’s not that we care particularly about 3000-yr-old murders, it’s that we care about establishing what is and isn’t wrong today.

      I found many passages in Table Talk relating to science, showing Hitler to have had profoundly secular views. You ignored that point – unless I missed something you posted somewhere.

      Yes, he does talk about science. But he also talks about religion and God (his conception of God). So Table Talk does not show him as secular.

      Conway’s book … quote from Marin Bormann, explaining that the Nazis believed in God, but it was not the naive God of the Christians.

      I accept that Bormann was anti-Christian, but he was also the most extreme of the Nazis in that regard. Bormann could thus not really talk for “the Nazis” in general, and in particular what he believed is not a reliable guide to what the rank-and-file believed.

      This is called “social Darwinism,” … Weikart proves that there were people who had these views.

      Yes, there were people with such views in Germany, there was a strong eugenics movement around the late-19th/early-20th century, and it was also strong (for example) in America and widely supported by people who considered themselves to be Christians. If we were talking about the Nazi killings of disabled people, then it could indeed be justly traced back to this movement. The extermination of the Jews, however, seems to have been different and is justified quite differently in Mein Kampf, and is not really an implementation of “Social Darwinism”.

      Another [atheist] says, “There is too much injustice, oppression, poverty, and exploitation in the world. This is caused by greed, selfishness, and private property. The solution is to eliminate private property, capitalism, and religion and set up a state of the workers. Of course, this has to be set up by force, and people who oppose it are enemies the happiness of mankind and it is justifiable to deal with them harshly.” You may say that is not real atheism, but it comes from atheism

      No, it doesn’t come from “atheism” it comes from saying “there is too much injustice … etc etc etc”. The first atheist in your example doesn’t say that. Thus it isn’t a product of being an atheist, it’s a product of adopting communism (and note that there is nothing that stops a Christian adopting communism; nor, history tells us, is there any lack of totalitarian Christian regimes; almost all the Middle Ages for example).

      To put it another way, atheists have been some of the most vicious, brutal, cruel people in the history of the human race.

      True, but only in the sense that Christians have also been some of the most vicious, brutal, cruel people in the history of the human race. I don’t think that any such grouping has much of a claim to be better than anyone else.

    • Korey Peters says:

      It should also be noted that the early church advocated a sort of communism where everyone was encouraged to sell their possessions and give the proceeds to the group. If anyone has the right to speak against communism, it is not the Christians.

    • Joe Keysor says:

      The early church’s “communism” was purely voluntary, for people who believed in Jesus. It had nothing to do with eliminating private property, dictatorship of the proletariat, exterminating millions for the futurre happiness of mankind or any of the features of modern Communism which has always and everywhere been blatantly and even viciously anti-church and anti-Christian. And, it is not “likely” that Christians voted for a party directly controlled by and obedient to Stalin, who was known to be trying to wipe out the churches. True, a lot of gullible secularists and atheists imagined that the Soviet Union was the future hope of mankind.

    • coelsblog says:

      modern Communism which has always and everywhere been blatantly and even viciously anti-church and anti-Christian.

      While you are right that many instances of communism have been anti-church, not all of them have. A good example is liberation theology, a mixture of communism and Catholic Christianity that originated in Latin America, and was described as communist by the Pope.

    • Joe Keysor says:

      In every single instance where Communism has come to power that I know of it has always seen the church as a rival and sought either to eliminate it, or, when that proved impossible, to subordinate it to the state.

      As to “liberation” “theology,” the belief that Jesus can show us how to get to heaven but Karl Marx shows us how to eliminate injustice on earth, it is one more case of many of people adopting their Christianity to meet a political agenda (whether that be communism, American patriotism, Naziism, or whatever). How the liberation “theologists” would fare if they ever came to power is anyone’s guess. Would they be silenced or forced into total obedience by political operators who only used them as a means to get power, or would they use power themselves in a way that showed power to be their main objective with no real concern for heaven and hell in the next life?

  23. Joe Keysor says:

    short PS
    Sorry about the lack of separation between paragraphs in the long post above, the blog refused to accept them (though they were in the orignial file) and would not allow me to make changes. Joe K.

  24. Pingback: Response to Coel Hellier’s blog “Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism” | Hitler and Christianity

  25. Joe says:

    It is worth noting that the very first treaty created by the nazis was the treaty with the Catholic Church regarding the education system. Christopher Hitchens mentions this. If Hitler was an atheist why not indoctrinate children with atheism? Why did he hand over this job to the Vatican?

  26. Pingback: Back, after the break « Marc Gawley

  27. Pingback: Have Coffee Will Write » Blog Archive » RELIGION AS A USEFUL TOOL…

  28. Weldon says:

    Your are ignoring the fact that both Goebbles and Speer said that, privately, Hitler planned on eliminating the Church after he had won the war.

    And the fact that he killed millions of Christians.

    I laid all this out for Richard Carrier but he deleted my comments. Let me know if you are interested, but I suspect you already know about Goebbels and Speer’s comments.

    • coelsblog says:

      Yes, Hitler probably did intend overthrowing the Churches, and replacing them with his own Nazified “German Christian” movement, with its theology based on a mixture of Christianity and Nazi racial ideology. If he’d won the war everything would have come under Nazi control (that’s the way of totalitarians), and that would have included the churches. So what, what are you trying to conclude from that? It doesn’t change the fact that Nazi ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to atheism and Darwinism.

      And yes, Hitler’s troops may well have killed millions of Christians. So what? Christians killed each other in the millions in WW1; what is so remarkable about them doing the same in WW2? Christians have a long record of wars against other Christians, for example in medieval Europe nation states (nearly 100% Christian) were frequently at war, and there were hundreds of years of Protestant v Catholic wars.

  29. Pingback: Christopher Hitchens, Remembered » Bookle+

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s