“Can Darwinists Condemn Hitler and Remain Consistent with Their Darwinism?”

Richard Weikart:

I have spoken with intelligent Darwinists who admit point-blank that they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler, so I am not just making this up. Many evolutionists believe that since evolution explains the origin of morality — as Darwin himself argued — then there is no objective morality. The famous evolutionary biologist and founder of sociobiology, E. O. Wilson, and the prominent philosopher of science Michael Ruse co-authored an article on evolutionary ethics in which they asserted, “Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to co-operate.”

Read the full article here.

14 replies
  1. godlessons
    godlessons says:

    I find it rather interesting that theists claim God as the moral ground by fiat without any evidence. They can’t explain how it would happen, how God could be moral without it being arbitrary, or how he could be moral without finding that morality outside himself. It’s just a silly argument that says, I don’t know how this could be any other way, so therefore God. It’s called an argument from ignorance.

  2. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    I find it rather interesting that theists claim God as the moral ground by fiat without any evidence.

    And I find it interesting that atheists like you live in a different universe where the moral argument doesn’t exist and/or arguments aren’t a form of evidence.

    They can’t explain how it would happen, how God could be moral without it being arbitrary, or how he could be moral without finding that morality outside himself.

    Whatever you do, don’t let the work of moral philosophers for the past couple of millennia get in the way of a good lie. Definitely don’t look up divine command theory.

    It’s just a silly argument that says, I don’t know how this could be any other way, so therefore God.

    Also, be sure to completely misrepresent the moral argument after denying its existence, so as to easily set that strawman on fire.

    It’s called an argument from ignorance.

    Actually it’s called a transcendental argument, which is a kind of argument that reasons from what we know of human experience to what must be true in order for that experience to obtain. Better luck next time.

    Btw, should we take your silence on the argument forwarded in the OP as an implicit admission of defeat?

  3. godlessons
    godlessons says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, considering your snarky reply, and guess that you’re a Calvinist. I say that because I have noticed that Calvinists tend to jump straight to snark and avoid courtesy instead of having an honest conversation more than any other group. Maybe you could explain the reason for that to me.

    As to divine command theory, what is good is what God commands, but God could command, and has commanded that people kill innocent children, so that would also be good, right? That shows no objective standard whatsoever, but simply an arbitrary one. It also doesn’t get to the reason why we should obey, even if there were some mechanism that could be demonstrated by which God communicates his commands. That means you don’t overcome the “is – ought” problem either.

    I know that you’ll eventually try to run to the “It’s God’s nature to be good” spot, but if that’s the case, there should be a reason for the inhibition of God’s nature to be evil. For instance, it is my nature to not fly. The reason I don’t fly is because I don’t have wings or any other natural means of accomplishing that task. It is my nature to breath. The reason I can’t not breathe is because if I don’t, I cut off the oxygen to my blood, and my organs start dying. If there is a reason, that means goodness is not controlled by God, but some force that acts upon him, or something God lacks (not omnipotent), and it removes God from the equation. It also means that the Euthyphro dilemma holds here.

    So, with all these issues, plus plenty I haven’t even brought up, it would seem that even with all your snarky remarks that you have yet to overcome the problems.

  4. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    I say that because I have noticed that Calvinists tend to jump straight to snark and avoid courtesy

    Why should I be courteous to a troll?

    instead of having an honest conversation

    You set the intellectual tone for this discussion; not me.

    As to divine command theory, what is good is what God commands, but God could command, and has commanded that people kill innocent children, so that would also be good, right?

    God has never commanded that people kill innocent children. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the Christian doctrine of original sin. You should probably gain a basic understanding of the position you’re so convinced is false.

    It also doesn’t get to the reason why we should obey

    We should obey because it is good to obey. Seems like you’re so blinded by your own worldview’s inability to derive an “ought” that you’ve forgotten how worldviews in which goodness is properly basic have “oughts” built right in.

    I know that you’ll eventually try to run to the “It’s God’s nature to be good” spot, but if that’s the case, there should be a reason for the inhibition of God’s nature to be evil.

    Are you appealing to the principle of sufficient reason here? I’m not inclined to grant that there must be a reason for non-contingent truths.

    If there is a reason, that means goodness is not controlled by God, but some force that acts upon him, or something God lacks

    Only if God is contingent. But since, by definition, he is not contingent, if there is a reason for his being good it is simply his own nature. You should bone up on some of the basic philosophy around aseity and divine simplicity and truthmaker theory. Right now you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.

  5. TattooedSnakeLady
    TattooedSnakeLady says:

    “Can Christians Condemn Hitler and Remain Consistent with Their Christianity?”
    I reference the following question with a mere 2 quotes of many, made by Adolf Hitler himself:

    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
    -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

    “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”
    -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

  6. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    So Hitler used quasi-Christian reasoning as a cynical public pretext for his Darwinian ideology. You’d need to show how Christianity actually supports that ideology in order to show that Christians are inconsistent in condemning him. Simply quoting his own words to that effect proves nothing except that you’ll take the word of one of the most evil men in history at face value as long as what he’s saying jives with your own prejudices.

    But what does this have to do with whether Darwinists can consistently condemn him?

  7. TattooedSnakeLady
    TattooedSnakeLady says:

    “So Hitler used quasi-Christian reasoning as a cynical public pretext for his Darwinian ideology. You’d need to show how Christianity actually supports that ideology in order to show that Christians are inconsistent in condemning him. Simply quoting his own words to that effect proves nothing except that you’ll take the word of one of the most evil men in history at face value as long as what he’s saying jives with your own prejudices.

    But what does this have to do with whether Darwinists can consistently condemn him?”

    Bnonn – I am confused… What exactly is your point by posting Richard Weikart’s article?

    I am unsure as to why you are defending the idea that somehow Adolf Hitler had “Darwinian” ideology (whatever that is). And you are somehow attempting to blame Darwin for this? Do we condemn Einstein for Nagasaki and Heroshima? How can you be so unaware of your hypocracy? I shall point it out for you clearly. 1) You apparently support the thought that “Darwinians” (again whatever that is) cannot criticize Hitler consistently because Hitler support “Darwinism”. Yet, you do not hold “Christians” to the same standard, that they cannot criticize Hitler consistently because Hitler supported “Christianity”. This is about Christians supporting Christian idiology, just like Hitler supported Christian idiology. The point I am making is a logical point. If it is evidence you require, I can bring you some. Fact of the matter is, if you are blaming “Darwinists” for Hitler’s activities, you must also blame “Christians”. I hope this is clear enough for you to grasp.

    So the fact that I am taking Hitler’s word over your word insults you? Well I am of mind that what Hitler has to say about himself is much more accurate than what you have to say about him. Namely because he never called himself a “Darwinist” — In fact what is a “Darwinist” anyway, can you define that for me? I am super confused you see, because Darwin is not the be all, end all to evolutionary theory. There is a reason it’s called “The Theory of Evolution” and not “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution”. Evolution has hundreds of scientists, laws, and contributors.

  8. godlessons
    godlessons says:

    I’ll take the fact that you have ignored my question about you being a Calvinist as an admission that you are, and that you don’t feel it necessary to explain why Calvinists aren’t interested in honest debate. I will also take it to mean that all you want is to troll your own post, so I will reply with as much snark as I wish to use, as it seems that is how “good Christians” are supposed to act, and I wouldn’t want you to be dealt with any less disrespect than you find appropriate.

    By the way, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a troll. Look up the definition.

    As for me being a troll, I would imagine that I would have to be arguing with you simply to get you upset. I am arguing with you for a reason, namely to keep people from thinking that the garbage that you support is the only, or even the best explanation for reality. If people believe in the things you accept, it makes them mere chattle to be used for any messed up bigotry that becomes most popular with the majority of Christians. Nobody should ever be used to commit atrocities, and Christianity is the reason people were able to be used to commit the atrocities of WWII, which makes it rather interesting how you would make the OP about Hitler when it doesn’t seem like he actually killed anyone, whether or not he was a Christian. It was those “good Christians” who followed him that killed all those Jews.

    Perhaps you’re not familiar with the Christian doctrine of original sin.

    I’m completely familiar with it, but since it’s an absolute fact that humans were never two individuals, it is bankrupt. If there were never two individual humans, there is no original sin. Further, I don’t accept that a woman eating an apple is worth the death penalty. Maybe you think it’s appropriate to kill people because someone ate a fruit, but I find it atrocious to think that someone should be worthy of death for such a petty crime.

    We should obey because it is good to obey.

    What is good? Why is there an imperative for us to obey “good”, and how do we know what is “good” and what isn’t? It seems like you have a lot of ‘splainin to do Lucy.

    Seems like you’re so blinded by your own worldview’s inability to derive an “ought” that you’ve forgotten how worldviews in which goodness is properly basic have “oughts” built right in.

    I have no trouble deriving an ought. There is only one reason for an “ought”. The only possible reason for an “ought” is that I believe I ought to do something based on my personal mores. There is no possible other reason, and you can’t come up with one, and the fact that you say, “It’s built right in” shows how little you understand about ethics.

    Only if God is contingent. But since, by definition, he is not contingent, if there is a reason for his being good it is simply his own nature.

    Cool, so we can just define things and say, “That’s how it is because I say so”, which means I can do the same. I say that the invisible pink unicorn is the reason you touch yourself inappropriately so often. Does that make it true?

    Anyway, I’ve had many discussions on this blog in the past, and you are the least intelligent and the most arrogant person I’ve dealt with yet. If I thought for a second that you had even half the intellectual capacity as the other people I have talked to here, I wouldn’t be acting like you are, and I would consider responding to you again. You’re not worth my time, and I will wait until I come across another of Stuart’s posts to have another discussion here.

  9. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    Bnonn – I am confused… What exactly is your point by posting Richard Weikart’s article?

    I thought it was obvious. I am pointing out an inconsistency in the naturalistic worldview. Atheists want to condemn Hitler. But their worldview fails to furnish the moral qualifications to make that condemnation possible. Indeed, their worldview seems to indicate that Hitler’s ideology was, at least in principle, in line with natural selection.

    I am unsure as to why you are defending the idea that somehow Adolf Hitler had “Darwinian” ideology (whatever that is).

    I’m not defending that idea. Richard Weikart defends it in his books. I’m just linking to an article Richard wrote because he makes some interesting points about the moral bankruptcy of naturalism.

    And you are somehow attempting to blame Darwin for this?

    Can you point out where I attempted to blame Darwin?

    You apparently support the thought that “Darwinians” (again whatever that is) cannot criticize Hitler consistently because Hitler support “Darwinism”.

    Wow, your reading comprehension skills are terrible.

    Actually my point is that if Darwinianism is true (ie evolution by natural selection), then there are no moral grounds on which to condemn Hitler. Furthermore, it looks like a good case can be made that Hitler directly drew from Darwinism in coming up with his eugenic policies. He took Darwinism to its logical conclusion (or one of its logical conclusions).

    Yet, you do not hold “Christians” to the same standard, that they cannot criticize Hitler consistently because Hitler supported “Christianity”.

    Needless to say, even if your characterization did reflect my argument, that would just make me a hypocrite. It wouldn’t make me wrong about Darwinian inconsistency in relation to Hitler.

    I hope this is clear enough for you to grasp.

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    So the fact that I am taking Hitler’s word over your word insults you?

    Your inability to understand simple sentences continues to amaze. I never mentioned taking my word for anything. I mentioned not taking Hitler’s word at face value. That just seems like basic common sense given that this is the fellow who managed to hoodwink an entire nation into supporting the industrialization of genocide.

    Let me repeat what I said: You need to show how Christianity actually supports Hitler’s ideology in order to show that Christians are inconsistent in condemning him. Simply pointing out that Hitler himself claimed that Christianity supported his ideology brings nothing new to the table. Why should we believe him when he’s obviously lying?

    Well I am of mind that what Hitler has to say about himself is much more accurate than what you have to say about him.

    Keep your eye on the ball. We’re not discussing what Hitler has to say about himself. We’re discussing what Hitler has to say about Christianity.

    I am super confused you see

    I do indeed.

    Darwin is not the be all, end all to evolutionary theory. There is a reason it’s called “The Theory of Evolution” and not “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution”. Evolution has hundreds of scientists, laws, and contributors.

    Surely not just hundreds. Thousands at least. But Darwinism is simply a convenient label to describe the view that man evolved from lower lifeforms, and that this process was not guided by any intelligent or principled process.

  10. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    I’ll take the fact that you have ignored my question about you being a Calvinist as an admission that you are

    30 seconds on Google could have told you that. Since it’s irrelevant ad hominem, I ignored it.

    and that you don’t feel it necessary to explain why Calvinists aren’t interested in honest debate.

    Do you feel it necessary to explain why you beat your wife?

    I will also take it to mean that all you want is to troll your own post

    Actually I’m the anti-troll brigade. I don’t feel any obligation to be nice to random troublemakers who come here to get off their talking points and make snide comments about their opponents, rather than have a constructive discussion. Your first comment here was simply one falsehood after another. Either you are knowingly lying, or you’re simply incompetent. Either way, what do you reckon the chances are of getting a good debate going with someone like that?

    Mind you, while counter-trolling is fun and all, I don’t do it for my benefit. I do it to point out the behavior of people like you, and demonstrate how utterly vapid your position is when you apply any intellectual rigor to it. So as soon as I feel that purpose isn’t being achieved, you can rest assured your comments will stop being approved.

    By the way, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a troll.

    Indeed. Why, in the last thread a fellow called Lee had a very amicable discussion with me, despite being completely opposed to just about everything I believe.

    I am arguing with you for a reason, namely to keep people from thinking that the garbage that you support is the only, or even the best explanation for reality.

    Right. Definitely no trolling going on here.

    If people believe in the things you accept, it makes them mere chattle to be used for any messed up bigotry that becomes most popular with the majority of Christians.

    No way! Are you saying I’m part of a major brainwashing organization and I didn’t even realize it? Wow, we’d better blow the lid off this right away!

    Nobody should ever be used to commit atrocities, and Christianity is the reason people were able to be used to commit the atrocities of WWII

    That’s a good observation, although not exactly original. Stalin beat you to it. He realized Hitler hadn’t been thorough enough. You can’t just get rid of one religion. You gotta wipe them all out. So you’re an anti-Christian and an anti-Semite? After all, Christianity is basically Judaism’s fault, innit.

    which makes it rather interesting how you would make the OP about Hitler when it doesn’t seem like he actually killed anyone

    So now you’re a Holocaust denier too?

    It was those “good Christians” who followed him that killed all those Jews.

    Right. As opposed to the “bad Christians” who were put to death for sheltering Jews I guess.

    I’m completely familiar with it, but since it’s an absolute fact that humans were never two individuals, it is bankrupt.

    So you’re not really up with the play on internal critiques huh? Ah well, better luck next time. You see, when you complain about God ordering the deaths of “innocent” people, you’re presupposing the truth of Christianity for the sake of argument. You’re saying, “Look, God ordered this obviously wrong thing, but by fiat it’s good, so God’s commands are demonstrably arbitrary.”

    Of course, if in fact God did not order what you said he ordered, then your whole point falls apart. And since original sin says there is no one innocent, in fact God definitely did not order the deaths of anyone innocent.

    You can’t presuppose the falsehood of one doctrine while presupposing the truth of another, and then say there’s an inconsistency or contradiction in Christianity.

    Further, I don’t accept that a woman eating an apple is worth the death penalty.

    Your consistent inability to characterize Christianity accurately—let alone fairly—belies your protestations about trolling.

    1. It wasn’t an apple.

    2. She wasn’t punished for eating it per se; she was punished because she disobeyed God’s command.

    3. God explicitly told her that if she ate it, she would die. So in one sense that’s not even a punishment. It’s just a natural consequence of her stupidity.

    4. It’s hard to overemphasize how utterly irrelevant your opinion is on an appropriate punishment for violating God’s command. In what sense are you remotely qualified to comment?

    I find it atrocious to think that someone should be worthy of death for such a petty crime.

    I’m sure where you’re standing, your emotional outrage seems like a good substitute for an argument. But it’s really not.

    What is good? Why is there an imperative for us to obey “good”, and how do we know what is “good” and what isn’t?

    Good is God. There is an imperative to obey because that is part of what goodness means. We know what is good and what is not because God reveals it to us, either via our conscience (since he created us with a capacity for moral reasoning), or via Scripture.

    This really isn’t very hard. You’re behaving like you’ve got me cornered. As if somehow explaining what “good” means is difficult. But we all know what “good” means. It is a properly basic intuition, just as it is a properly basic fact of reality. It doesn’t require further explanation.

    I have no trouble deriving an ought. There is only one reason for an “ought”. The only possible reason for an “ought” is that I believe I ought to do something based on my personal mores.

    That’s not a reason. It just pushes the problem back a step. Why ought you do something just because you believe you ought to do it? What does it even mean to believe you ought to do something, under your view, given that “ought” implies obligation. To whom are you obligated, and why?

    Of course, since Hitler thought he ought to exterminate the Jewish vermin, I guess he was justified under your view—which is exactly what I have suggested in the OP. So at least we agree on something.

    There is no possible other reason, and you can’t come up with one, and the fact that you say, “It’s built right in” shows how little you understand about ethics.

    That’s a nice rhetorical flourish, but smug self-certainty isn’t really a substitute for a basic familiarity with the philosophy of moral ontology.

    Cool, so we can just define things and say, “That’s how it is because I say so”, which means I can do the same. I say that the invisible pink unicorn is the reason you touch yourself inappropriately so often. Does that make it true?

    Are you saying you believe in the invisible pink unicorn? If you really do, I suppose we should discuss that. But if not, it’s hard to see what kind of point you’re trying to make.

    Needless to say, I don’t just define things by fiat. I just don’t accept your ad hoc requirement that properly basic aspects of reality require further explanation.

  11. TattooedSnakeLady
    TattooedSnakeLady says:

    I was not here to troll either. I was actually interested in discussion with someone new. However, it has been made abundantly clear to me that new people are not welcome. Bnonn, I did not insult you, but apparently that didn’t stop you from feeling the need to insult me. I may not be as smart as you, but that doesn’t mean you can be rude and make fun of me. Bnonn, you are condescending and rude. Have fun with this anti-troll brigade gig you have going on. If you keep chasing people away, soon you won’t have anyone to talk to. Good luck with all that. I don’t know who owns this site, but it doesn’t really matter; In fact go ahead and remove my ability to even post here. I won’t be coming back.

  12. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    I find it strange that you’d rather get petulant about my debate style than interact with my arguments. To be honest, you need to grow a thicker skin and think more carefully before you post, because you just came across as someone trying to throw out some pet argument, who then couldn’t take the heat when pressure was applied.

    Sorry if I misread you.

  13. Warped
    Warped says:

    so exactly why does god command certain things and not others? Because they’re good, and god is good? but if god is who determines what is good as with the divine command, then how is the said answer an answer at all?

  14. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    Hi Warped, divine command theory doesn’t say that God determines what is good. It starts from the point of God being essentially good—ie, goodness is what God is. To say that God is good is identical to saying that God is God. In other words, goodness is indistinguishable from God. God is morally perfect not because he says he is, but because his character is identical with moral perfection.

    The problem with the classic arbitrariness objection to DCT is that it presupposes one of two things about God which are false: (1) that goodness is an abstract universal that exists apart from him, so he is subject to it; (2) that goodness does not exist at all until he says it does. [1] is obviously false under Christianity for reasons I don’t think need explaining. But [2] is also false, because goodness is not something God declares into existence by fiat; rather, God can declare certain things good because goodness exists, and it is him.

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