When I spoke with historian Richard Weikart last week in reporting today’s column, the Discovery Institute fellow said something that I thought captured the aversion many creationist feel toward evolution. Here’s his full quote, which I condensed in the column :
“ If everything is a product of chance – purposeless – which is widespread in biology textbooks – it’s a random – purposeless process - if you have a non- teleological random process then I don’t think you have any ground to criticize Hitler. “
I asked Swarthmore College biologist Scott Gilbert to address this, since he holds degrees in both science and religion. He came up with a very insightful reply that also helps debunk the idea that Hitler’s genocide was based on Darwin's evolution:
"Saying that Hitler succeeded because either he was a Darwinian or that Darwinism had no answer for Hitler is blaming science for the failure of twentieth century Christianity. Science can, at its best, tell one what "is." It cannot tell one what "should be." Science cannot determine right or wrong. That's one of religion's roles. Evolutionary biology can tell you that global warming will lead certain species to extinction, will probably bring tropical diseases into temperate areas, and cause the polar ice caps to melt. It cannot say that this is "bad" or "good." That is something religion can do. World War II was not brought on by science. Indeed, the main cause of World War II was World War I and the peace treaty signed after it that caused Germany's economy to crumble. And the fighting of these two world wars was not considered "bad" by the state religions of their times. Quite the opposite. The motto of both the British and Russian armies was "God is on our side." The Germans said (in both wars), "Got Mit Uns." Indeed, "Got Mit Uns" was the motto emblazoned on the belt buckles of the Wehrmacht soldiers. Religion fostered the fighting, not science. When Hitler was rising to power, biology and Darwinism were not major players. The German Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church were enormously powerful forces. They did what they needed to do to keep their power during the Third Reich, and they did not block Hitler. To say that Darwinism fostered Hitler is to take the blame off of economic politics and religion, which is where it belongs.