Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Eugenics Deniers

A Quick Review of Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

(I truly wasn't going to post anything until next week, but I was inspired.)

Conspiracies of all sorts abound in our culture specifically on the internet. Two of the more insipid are the ones claiming the Holocaust never happened or there are no Jews alive in our modern world and the "Jews" we know today occupying the land of Israel are really of Turkish decent. The first scenario can be located in the putrid propaganda of racist, KKK, neo-Nazi anti-Zionists, where as the other is primarily the product of radical, anti-Dispensational replacement theologians.

However, in recent months another group of historical deniers has begun to publish on the internet: those who want to minimize or ignore entirely the role Darwinian evolution played in shaping early 20th century eugenics policies in the United States and eventually the master race goals of Nazi Germany before World War II. Charles Johnson, curator of Little Green Footballs, is the one eugenics denier I am most familiar with. I have been tracking and on occasion noting on my blog how he has become a full on Dawkin's stooge ridiculing creationist and ID supporters to the point of falsely accusing the Institute of Creation Research of being in league with Islamic "creationist" groups funded by terrorist organizations.

Probably the main source of his irrational response to the conflict evolution has with creation is Ben Stein's documentary from earlier this year, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I did not see the film when it was originally released, though I did post a bit on the reactions it was receiving from bitter atheists who hate any one attacking their faith. Now that it is has been released on DVD, and I have the free time vacationing as it were at the in-laws, I had the opportunity to sit down and watch it on a gigantic LCD 50 inch flat screen TV.

Thus I wanted to offer my thoughts.

The film is extremely well made and Stein brings a charm to the various interviews he has with the scientists expelled from their jobs for questioning Darwinian theory. The basic premise of the documentary is to expose the censorship and black listing happening to a number of qualified, multi-degreed scientists who had the courage to put down the Darwinian kool-aid and ask penetrating questions of the main tenets of Darwinian theory. As a result, a number of them, particularly the ones Stein interviews, have lost their teaching positions, grants for research, or experienced any number of black listing tactics to shut them up. Stein even interviews a reporter in New York who talks about how the black listing even extends to secular journalists willing to give ID a fair shake in their reporting.

In addition to critics of evolution, Stein even interviews Darwinianists like Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, and Daniel Dennet, to get their perspective on the expulsion of these scientists on account of them questioning Darwinian theory. Of course, they either deny such a thing is happening or believe the purge is necessary. The most ardent denier of any censorship happening is Eugenie Scott. One of the more amusing parts of the film is her boasting no such thing is happening, then the film switching to the fact it is. The documentary crescendos to an interview Stein had with Richard Dawkins in which the famed atheist attempts to argue that advanced alien lifeforms (who evolved themselves according to Darwinian means) could have seeded life on our planet so it too could evolve like them.

However, the most controversial feature of the film, and the reason for the title I gave this post, comes when Stein traces the history of Darwinian thought as it influenced eugenics policies in the U.S. and eventually Germany which led to Hitler's death camps. In spite of the anger this portion of the film has inflamed, I personally thought more could be shown in this section, because the film makers didn't even begin to touch on the history of the eugenics movement. Most notably, the influence U.S. scientists and politicians had on Germany and Hitler's use of their research.

Though the history of eugenics in the U.S. is briefly mentioned, the film skips over the first 20 years or so of eugenics being practiced in the U.S., and instead focuses upon Stein touring a German mental facility from the WWII era where the mentally ill were experimented upon and eventually killed all in the name of eugenics. One disturbing note is the young German gal giving Stein the tour. She believed she could not rightly judge what had happened in that place, even suggesting it was a right thing to do. Her responses to Stein's questions showed how generations throughout the world have succumbed to postmodern thought.

At any rate, it is this part of the movie which has brought it the most controversy and criticism even by friendly supporters of ID. But the hostile reaction to Darwinianism influencing Nazi eugenics policies is baffling, because critics are reacting negatively to historical fact. It is just an historical fact that the Nazis justified their eugenics policies by appealing to evolutionary theory. Anyone who would do any serious research would discover this reality. Yet, it is denied by Stein's critics to the point he has been ridiculed for even suggesting evolutionary theory played a significant role in the German Holocaust.

I personally believe this hostile reaction is because eugenics was an attempt by modern societies to take evolution out of the realm of just being a theory explaining the emergence of life on earth way in the past, and employed it in a practical manner in which humanity is controlling its evolutionary destiny. This troubles normal thinking folks, because the weak and helpless were the primary victims of these policies. What happened in Nazi Germany is the logical conclusion of Darwinianism, and people are so uncomfortable with that fact they make the absurd claim Stein is distorting the truth, or they argue there was no connection between Hitler's madness and evolution, or deny eugenics existed at all, or down play its influence in the U.S. during the early 20th century.

The film is certainly worth the rent and people uninitiated to the intellectual debate between atheistic naturalism expressed in the form of Darwinianism and those who believe in a creator will be startled such censorship is taking place in the scientific academy. Even more startling are the large host of individuals, like Charles Johnson, who would be the first to decry the leftist censorship of conservative ideas taking place in the university these days, yet justify and even applaud the censorship of Darwinian dissenters in the name of keeping "science" pure. Let's hope Stein's film will be a help in opening their eyes to the truth.
The first commenter asked about further resources on the history of eugenics.
There are a few books on the subject:
The War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race by Edwin Black
The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism by Stefan Kuhl.
The Unfit: The History of a Bad Idea by Elof Axel Carlson
G.K. Chesterton was a co-author of the book called, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State.
And the book mentioned on the Expelled documentary, From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart. A review of it can be read here.
All these books can be found at Amazon.
Answers in Genesis published a briefer, introductory work on the evolutionary foundation for eugenics called, Darwin's Plantation: Evolution's Racist Roots. It is currently being featured at their website. The introduction to the book can be read here. Of course, the eugenics deniers will complain the book is written by creationists, so it doesn't really count. I would just remind them of how illogical that objection is and exhort them to check their research before passing judgment.
Since many folks don't have immediate access to these books, there are some shorter technical articles on the subject available on the web:
There are many more articles at Creation on the Web located here.

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Blogger MSC said...

Is there any good scholarly historical research on the connection readily available? If so, can you point us in the right direction?

7:36 AM, December 06, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

There is. That is a good question I should have thought to note in the post. Give me a little bit, and when I have a free moment today, I will update the blog with some sources.

8:01 AM, December 06, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Alright, I updated the blog with the resources.

11:01 AM, December 06, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Fred. I'll give you the chance to point out that by the reference to 'radical, anti-dispensationalist replacement theologians', you are referring to a lunatic fringe, and not to the majority of those who deny that God has a national future for Israel in His plans. I know that's what you mean.

By the way, you forgot to mention the Anglo-Israelities in that sentence, they use the same nonsense to support their racism. Good post apart from that point, and I know you'll take the opportunity to agree.

I'm not one of those who thinks God has finished with National Israel, I agree with David Brown the commentator that God has plans for the Restoration of Israel to Messiah. I just like to make sure that people don't get shots from those who misunderstand them. Right now you're people.

4:40 AM, December 08, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I personally do have fringe groups in mind. Individuals like the cranks who protest out in front of our church on occasion and some of the more radical elements of the theonomists. I believe I once saw an article by James Jordan attempting to argue that the current people in the land of Israel are not Jews as described in the Bible, but some group called the Khazars or something like that, from Turkish decent.

That is who I primarily have in mind.

5:44 AM, December 08, 2008  

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