Answer: World War II
Question: What do you get when you combine Darwinian biology and the “virulent militarism” of World War I?
A reader of Darrow Miller and Friends recently pointed us to a powerful Discovery Institute documentary, “The Biology of the Second Reich.” It establishes a clear link between Darwinism and the two world wars.
It was the Second Reich, the German regime defeated in WWI, that first found in Darwinism the biological rationale to justify 16 million deaths in the Great War.
How could this happen? Think worldview. By the 20th century, the West had long since moved on from its premodern worldviews, in which authority was vested in the supernatural—for example, in God and the Scriptures. In this framework, morality and justice were based on God’s law.
WWI began in the dawn of the modern worldview, in which the supernatural was discarded. All that remained was the material universe. Authority was vested in science as the only true source of knowledge. And Darwin was the man of the hour. Morality was reduced to one law: survival of the fittest. As the video powerfully shows, this law became the basis for a new morality: Social Darwinism. It had its heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and gave rise to the eugenics movement, German nationalism, ethnic superiority/racism, and World Wars I and II.
In Germany, Darwin’s ideas “supplied a new generation of political leaders, social thinkers and scientists with what they regarded as biological justification for world domination.” Add “theologians” to that list. Gerhard Kittel succumbed to Darwinism and sought to bend theology to provide a religious justification for the Holocaust.
Darwinism lent credence to Hitler’s ideas
In fact, Darwin himself was assured by his German disciples: “The support which I receive from Germany is my chief ground for hoping that our views will ultimately prevail,” (Charles Darwin to Willhelm Preyer, 1868).
Several quotations—either from Darwin or some German scientist—demonstrate how Germans applied Darwin’s thinking to a sort of “manifest destiny.”
• “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.” Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
• “The war of annihilation … is a natural law, without which the organic world … could not continue to exist … .” German zoologist Gustave Jaeger, 1870
• “Just as in nature the struggle for existence is the moving principle of evolution and perfection … so also in world history the destruction of the weaker nations through the stronger is a postulate of progress.” German ethnologist Friedrich Hellwald, 1875
• “According to Darwin’s theory, wars have always been of the greatest importance for the general progress of the human species … the physically weaker, the less intelligent, the morally lower … must give place to the stronger.” German biologist Heinrich Ziegler, 1893
The 14-minute video concludes with some stunning words from Adolf Hitler himself. (Click the image below or go here to watch.)
Here’s one more quote from a German missionary in Africa before WW1: “The average German here looks upon and treats the natives as creatures being more or less on the same level as baboons.” That has a 2019 parallel: “The average pro-choice activist here looks upon and treats pre-born children more or less on the same level as tumors.”
Darwinism leads to genocide
The video briefly describes the Herero genocide of 1904-1908, in today’s Namibia, in which German forces executed Herero men and drove the women and children “into the desert where they would die of starvation or dehydration. … Human feelings of philanthropy could not override the law of Darwin, the struggle of the fittest.”
A hundred years later, tragically, those words still apply. Did not Virginia governor, Dr. Ralph Northam, say as much when he calmly described the fate of an unwanted newborn? “The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if this is what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother.” The newborn child, son of Adam or daughter of Eve, imago Dei image bearer, might live … or might die of starvation or dehydration. It all depends on the decision of the “fittest” in the room: the doctor and mother and family.
Our 21st-century sophistication shows little progress from the days of German commanders ordering the extermination of people deemed unworthy to live. Any time we abandon God and biblical morality, the “new,” replacement morality will always be terrible, dark and deadly. Always.
– Gary Brumbelow. Scott Allen contributed to this post.