Friday, June 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Modern materialism has weaned the industrial world off spiritual food, like the thrifty farmer who trained his donkey to eat less by reducing its rations each day. 'Just when I got I had him trained to live on nothing,' the farmer complained, 'the donkey had to die!' Like the donkey, the modern world has died when its spiritual rations were cut to nothing." - David Goldman (a.k.a "Spengler"), 2008

Weekly Wrap-Up

Is Antibiotic Resistance Evidence for Darwinian Evolution? Nah. A short video explains.

David Bolinsky Animates A Cell: There's a reason it's called "Darwin's Black Box." Scroll to the 6:30 mark.

Stephen Meyer on the Fundamental Problem of “Origin of Life” Research: Pssst, it has something to do with information theory!

39 Frequently Raised But Weak Arguments Against Intelligent Design: Uncommon Descent is up to the challenge.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

In light of my recent post about the Founding Fathers, I thought I'd share this quote from Thomas Jefferson (which comes from a letter he wrote to John Adams, April 11, 1823)...

"I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition.

The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripedal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms."

**UPDATE, JUL. 16, 2009**

For more on the link between T.J. and Intelligent Design, click on these 2 articles…

Jefferson’s Support for Intelligent Design (Stephen C. Meyer, Boston Globe, Jul. 15, 2009)

New Scientist and Jerry Coyne's Responses to ID Advocate Thomas Jefferson: Cases of Necromancy and Alzheimer's
(David Klinghoffer, Evolution News and Views, Jul. 16, 2009)

Reason Throughout History

In my original version of the The Mustard Seed, there was an Afterward - a final section of the book which helped flesh out the future of Brian, Heather, and Troy.

Ultimately, I decided that the book worked better without the Afterward, so I discarded it.

However, it contained a section that I'd like to preserve for posterity. In it, Brian and Troy discuss the ceaseless violence and corruption in humanity.

Brian [the narrator] says...

“The root of the problem is, in my opinion, a lack of thinking. If you look back at history, there has been a lot of mindless destruction – led by ruthless men eager to be immortalized by unborn scribes, and carried out by hapless followers, motivated by the simple desire to ‘belong’ and ‘be a part of something larger than themselves.’

“But reason – once it’s unleashed onto the world – is an extremely formidable force. Looking back at history, reason shined at different places in different times – such as Ancient Greece, or Renaissance Italy – only to eventually flicker out. Then, thankfully, reason took root in a virgin continent – and indeed an entire nation was founded on the idea of reason. We live in that nation: The United States of America.

“The Founding Fathers believed in rational principles – freedom, individual rights, democracy, justice – and built a government on those principles. Furthermore, they never saw reason as an enemy of faith. They saw reason and faith as important pillars of their republic. For instance, it was George Washington, our first President, who said, ‘Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other, and it is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being.” Decades later, Washington’s republic was preserved by another moral giant – Abraham Lincoln – who orchestrated and won the Civil War with the philosophy – in his own words – that ‘reason, cold, calculating reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense.’

“Now, please note that the Founding Fathers – and Lincoln – did not create a ‘perfect union.’ Instead, they aspired to create – in the words of the Constitution – a ‘more perfect union.’ They left the task of perfecting it to future generations – and indeed, every generation of Americans has faced challenges to our way of life, and every single time, they have met that challenge – and extended the reach of freedom. I have a feeling we will be challenged again.”

“Is our generation up to the challenge?” Troy asked.

“I think so,” I replied deliberately. “I hope so. But I don’t know for sure. As Ronald Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.' If we choose to win, we will win; if we choose not to choose – and leave our destiny in the hands of others - we may very well lose. I think it’s that simple."

“The future belongs to those who want it most,” declared Troy.

“Hmm,” I replied. “I like that.”

Weekly-Wrap Up

Sorry, no Weekly Wrap-Up this week. I didn't have a lot of time for online research! But stay tuned...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

From Rorty to Obama to Beyond

This is the second of a 2-part series on Darwin’s impact on philosophy and politics.

In the first part, I investigated how Darwin’s materialist vision shaped Nietzsche’s moral philosophy, and then how both Darwin and Nietzsche crystallized the thinking of Adolph Hitler, which eventually led to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

Needless to say, this version of events is not popular with materialists, but I would wager that a fair examination of the evidence (see my essay here) leaves no room for debate: there is a direct, logical road from Darwin’s evolutionary theory (which – as Richard Dawkins states – made it possible for the first time “to be an intellectually-fulfilled atheist”) to the gas chamber.

This essay continues with that theme…150 years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and 65 years after D-Day, materialism continues to be the foundation of modern philosophy, and that philosophy, in turn, continues to have a major impact on our politics.

Needless to say, however, the shape of materialism has changed. There are no Nietzsches on the intellectual scene today. And there are no Hitlers. And there is good reason for that: the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust required a shift in materialist thinking.

Once the concentration camps were opened, the materialists became legitimately scared by the implications of their philosophy…those implications had proven dehumanizing and devastating for all…so what was their solution?...Simple...Deny the value of philosophy, period!…Not the value of materialism, per se, but the value of philosophy… the quest for truth was meaningless...the quest for a morality based on truth was pointless…yes, science would go on…and materialism would go on…but philosophy would not.

The philosophy which negates philosophy is called relativism.

According to Wikipedia:

Relativism is the idea that some elements or aspects of experience or culture are relative to, i.e., dependent on, other elements or aspects.

Common statements that might be considered relativistic include

* "That's true for you but not for me" * "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" * "You can't judge other cultures by the standards of your own"

Relativism suggests that our own cognitive bias prevents us from observing something objectively with our own senses, and notational bias will apply to whatever we can allegedly measure without using our senses. In addition, we have a culture bias—shared with other trusted observers—which we cannot eliminate.

Wikipedia lists several relativist philosophers (Thomas Kuhn, Bernack Crick, etc.), but the most famous philosopher is Richard Rorty…indeed, when I was in college, I took an “Intro to Philosophy” course, and Rorty was one of the philosophers we studied…back then, I found Rorty to be vague and meaningless…and I still do…but even so, he encapsulates the idea of relativity better than anyone…

From Wikipedia:

In his “famous and controversial work” Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), “Rorty attempts to dissolve so-called philosophical problems instead of solving them… Rorty opts out of the traditional objective/subjective dialogue in favor of a communal version of truth. For him, "true" is simply an honorific knowers bestow on claims, asserting them as what "we" want to say about a particular matter.

In his book, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity...

Rorty takes a deflationary attitude to truth, believing there is nothing of interest to be said about truth in general, including the contention that it is generally subjective… "truth" (as it is used conventionally) is considered to be unintelligible and meaningless…

As for moral relativism, for Rorty, this accusation can only be considered a criticism if one believes in a metaphysically salient and salutary moral, which Rorty firmly does not…

Rorty then discusses his liberal utopia. He gives no argument for liberalism, and believes that there have been and will be many ironists who are not liberal, but he does propose that we as members of a democratic society are becoming more and more liberal…

In his utopia, people would never discuss restrictive metaphysical generalities such as "good", "moral", or "human nature", but would be allowed to communicate freely with each other on entirely subjective terms.

Today, Rorty-style relativism is the ideology of the Left…and indeed, it is the guiding principle of President Obama’s Administration…Peter Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution made this connection in a May 2009 article in The Weekly Standard. I’ve posted most of the article below…

As candidate and as president, Barack Obama has presented himself as a postpartisan pragmatist. He has generally refrained from speaking in explicitly ideological terms, and earned a reputation as a silver-tongued orator. Yet on important issues he has seemed anything but pragmatic, adopting rigidly left-liberal or progressive views, suppressing salient consequences, and putting forward misleading or incomplete arguments disrespectful of the case on the other side. In fact, Obama is a pragmatist, but of a kind that is anything but postpartisan.

To be sure, distinguished scholarly authority has vouched for the postpartisanship of Obama's pragmatism. In January 2008, writing in the New Republic, Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein--a friend and former colleague of Obama's at the University of Chicago Law School, an informal adviser to Obama's presidential campaign, and now head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs--argued that Obama was a "visionary minimalist" who, though "willing to think big and to endorse significant departures from the status quo," would "prefer to do so after accommodating, learning from, and bringing on board a variety of different perspectives." Returning to the topic in the New Republic in September 2008, Sunstein emphasized that Obama "prefers solutions that can be accepted by people with a wide variety of theoretical inclinations"; his "skepticism about conventional ideological categories is principled, not strategic"; and his "form of pragmatism is heavily empirical; he wants to know what will work."

Sunstein's idealizing portrait, however, overlooks the influential refinements of pragmatism wrought at our universities over the last two decades.

As befits his successful journey through the academy--Columbia B.A., Harvard Law School J.D., senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School--Obama practices a pragmatism that reflects the 1990s revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century school of thought launched by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. In its original philosophical, or anti-philosophical, sense--as in its ordinary, everyday sense--pragmatism stands for flexibility in solving problems as opposed to insistence on solutions that conform to religious or metaphysical dogma or rigid moral and political agendas. At its most extreme, philosophical pragmatism denies the very existence of objective truth, arguing that opinions we declare true are merely those that have proved useful to one interest or another.

In the 1980s and 1990s, philosophy professor Richard Rorty--in scholarly papers, learned books, academic lectures, and generally accessible writings--infused pragmatism with a decidedly partisan meaning. Or perhaps, as Rorty suggested, he brought out the original pragmatism's latent partisanship. His synthesis proved popular in philosophy departments, among political theorists, and in law schools. While Obama may never have read a word Rorty wrote, the new pragmatism permeated the atmosphere of the university world Obama inhabited. It proclaimed that philosophical questions were subordinate to political questions, and that the proper political question in America is how to promote progressive ends.

In Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America, originally delivered as the William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University in 1997 and published the following year as a short book by Harvard University Press, Rorty stated his synthesis most succinctly. Proceeding from the dogma that "nobody knows what it would be like to try to be objective when attempting to decide what one's country really is, what its history really means," Rorty declared that there is no point in asking whether any particular account "got America right." Nevertheless, Rorty seemed to think he got right the nature of right and left in America. The right, he proclaims, is the party of the status quo, defined by the quest to preserve inherited privilege. In contrast, the left, or the left that takes its cue from Walt Whitman and John Dewey--"prophets," proclaims Rorty, of a "civic religion"--is the party of hope; it seeks to bring the reality of America into harmony with democracy's progressive promise.

Although scorning traditional philosophy as obviously refuted and flatly rejecting biblical faith as childish nonsense, Rorty celebrates democracy's progressive promise not as an alternative to religion but as an alternative faith. Agreeing with Dewey that "democracy is neither a form of government nor a social expediency, but a metaphysic of the relation of man and his experience in nature," Rorty teaches that the proper aim of American politics is nothing less than to embody in social and political life "a new conception of what it is to be human." This new conception rejects all claims to "knowledge of God's will, Moral Law, the laws of History or the Facts of Science." Instead, Rorty concludes, the pragmatist will make "shared utopian dreams" his guide to politics.

To realize its utopian dreams, the new pragmatism makes use of a fundamental deception. Purporting to focus on practical consequences, it equates what works with what works to increase government's responsibility to promote social justice in America. Although it reduces morality to interest and dismisses the distinction between true and false as a delusive vestige of an obsolete metaphysics, it treats the progressive interpretation of America as, in effect, good and true. Under the guise of inclusiveness, it denigrates and excludes rival moral and political opinions.

So too it seems for Obama's pragmatism: It appears to be another name for achieving progressive ends; flexibility is confined to the means. This helps explain the sometimes glaring gap between Obama's glistening postpartisan promises and his aggressively partisan policies. Judging by his conduct--as pragmatism officially instructs--Obama appears to have concluded that the best way to maintain public support for progressive programs is to divert attention from the full range of their consequences and, where possible, to refrain from making progressive principles too explicit…

A truly postpartisan pragmatist--or a pragmatist in the ordinary, everyday sense--would pay attention to the long-term economic consequences of massive government costs and expansion. He would also show interest in the full range of moral consequences of his policies, in particular the practical impact on citizens' incentives for responsibly managing their lives of a great enlargement of government responsibilities for managing their lives for them. But a pragmatist for whom it is second nature to measure all policy by how well it promotes a progressive agenda might well ignore or deflect consideration of these awkward consequences…

As president…Obama has skillfully exploited the American hunger for a politics of compromise and accommodation to ram through Congress an extremely partisan transformation of American government.

The problem is not partisanship, but a deceptive form of pragmatism, where pretending to be nonpartisan is a pragmatic strategy for imposing far-reaching progressive policies on an unwary public. This pragmatism is unpragmatic because it suppresses inconvenient consequences, and disrespectful of citizens because it obscures its governing principles and ultimate intentions.

It is also a threat to our freedom, which depends on a lively understanding of our constitutional principles and an informed and robust debate about the full range of consequences--social and economic, moral and strategic--of our political choices.

Indeed, in November 2008, the left-wing website Below the Belt, observed…

Richard Rorty’s 1998 work, Achieving Our Country, reads like the masterplan of Barack Obama’s successful presidential election campaign. In the book, Rorty calls for a reconfiguration of the American Left. He argues that, since the 1960s, progressives in the United States have been engaged in a cynical and detached ‘politics of spectatorship’…

Rorty’s critiques of the Left’s ‘politics of spectatorship,’ and its sole focus on ‘cultural politics’ were adopted very successfully by Barack Obama’s campaign…

Overall, the Obama campaign seemed to follow – word-for-word – Rorty’s advice for the American Left: (1) restore hope in America and inspire people to exercise agency; (2) focus on economic issues and avoid polarizing ‘cultural’ debates.

What should we make of all this?

First of all, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that Obama is a deep thinker…while he is an excellent politician (in the sense of getting himself elected and staying popular with the voters) and it would be reasonable to assume from his academic credentials (Columbia, Harvard Law, etc), that he has above-average brainpower, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he’s a “deep thinker,” per se. We have no evidence that Obama is a man who takes ideas seriously – whether they be political, philosophical, or moral. By default – not by choice – Obama can be described as a Rorty-style “relativist” and “pragmatist.”

There are 2 major problems with relativism…The first is that it’s false. Splitting the difference between truth and error only leads to error…if one person says “2+2=4” and another person says, “2+2=6,” while it might be pragmatic to say “2+2=5,” it would NOT be CORRECT.

Second, as Rorty demonstrates (and other experts have observed), relativism (while seemingly centrist and moderate) is actually an ideology of the left. If there is Truth, then it is Truth, regardless of where we mortals place it on the political spectrum. Conservatives are confident that Truth is on their side – and eager to demonstrate it through facts, arguments, logic, and experience. The Left does not have that confidence. They win arguments not by seeking Truth, but by blurring it; by denying its existence; by calling the search for Truth “partisan” and "divisive,” by calling opposition to their agenda – the surrender of the individual to the state – a “false choice.”

What does this have to do with Darwin and Nietzsche?...well, as I’ve pointed out before, materialism – as an intellectual exercise – is dead, and indeed, today’s materialists essentially concede that point by shifting their arguments from “materialism is true” to “human beings don’t have the ability to decipher truth” (see my post here).

During the past century, the moral confidence of Nietzsche has become the weak insecurity of Rorty; the messianic boldness of Hitler has become the small-ball pragmatism of Obama. What links all of these men through 100 years of history is an epistemological commitment to Darwinism – and the quest – ever shifting – to derive a moral vision from the swamp of Darwininian materialism. And of course, it will fail. Like it must.

Consider the ability of pragmatism to deal with arguably the most important political issue of our time – stopping the descent into government spending, debt, and control.

Take a look at these 3 charts…

Before I continue, let me just state for the record that I don’t think that Rorty-style relativism got us into this mess…politicians have lied and stolen from the voters since the beginning of time…indeed, the following 3 quotes illustrate that democracy has always been vulnerable to the corruption of greed (the greed of both politicians and the voters themselves).

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." - Ben Franklin

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been about 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage." - Alexander Fraser Tytler

"Democracy is a form of government that cannot long survive, for as soon as the people learn that they have a voice in the fiscal policies of the government, they will move to vote for themselves all the money in the treasury, and bankrupt the nation." - Karl Marx

With that in mind, the key question is: how will Rorty-style thinking affect America in 2009 and beyond? Should we be confident that “moral relativism” and “pragmatism” will get us out of this, or make it worse?

Needless to say, I am pessimistic…Using Rorty’s philosophy, the political elite sees themselves as referees…when it comes to spending the taxpayers’ money, the question isn’t whether (for example) spending billions of dollars to subsidize rich farmers is right or wrong…the question is: what’s the right amount of money to make the farmers happy without making the taxpayers unhappy?…when it comes to cultural matters, the question isn’t whether racial quotas are right or wrong, or whether a “backdoor draft is moral or immoral…the critical issue is “what can we get away with in order to stay in power?”...and what, pray tell, are the consequences of that philosophy? Debt and tyranny.

If Hitler was reductionism on steroids, then this is “reductionism light”…instead of the hard tyranny of gas chamber, we have the soft tyranny of high taxes, racial quotas, recycling laws, and the persecution of religion in the public square…Ironically, by facilitating and encouraging a dependence on government (see Charles Murray’s speech), we are seeing the coming of Nietzsche’s “Last Man.”

In his recent speech, “Live Free or Die,” Mark Steyn stated…

To rekindle the spark of liberty once it dies is very difficult. The inertia, the ennui, the fatalism is more pathetic than the demographic decline and fiscal profligacy of the social democratic state, because it's subtler and less tangible. But once in a while it swims into very sharp focus. Here is the writer Oscar van den Boogaard from an interview with the Belgian paper De Standaard. Mr. van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay 'humanist' (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. 'I am not a warrior, but who is?' he shrugged. 'I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.'"

However, as Steyn’s speech proves, even the “Last Man” is not truly the “Last Man.” Instead, he is the last civilized man; the one who is finally pushed aside by the forces of barbarism – all of those forces which are untainted by feelings of inadequacy, relativism, guilt, etc. Who are these barbarians? Someone like this guy…

So even if we avoid a repeat of “reductionism on steroids," we may find ourselves in a state of tyranny or anarchy (or both). Such might be our fate. Unless we choose a different fate.

In conclusion, there is a strange, perverse logic from Darwin to Nietzsche to Hitler and then from Rorty to Obama…whether it’s the “hard reductionism” of the old era or the “soft reductionism” of today, it's reasonable to say that reductionism is incompatible with a healthy, successful democracy…that fact alone should make us question the truth of materialism…and lastly, it should make the quest for a materialist alternative an urgent priority.


Note: Sources for the economic graphs can be found here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From Darwin to Nietzsche to Hitler

This is the first of a 2-part series on Darwin’s impact on philosophy and politics.

In today's piece, I investigate how Darwin influenced the existentialist philosopher Frederic Nietzsche, and how Darwin and Nietzsche together influenced the German dictator Adolph Hitler, whose crimes against humanity include World War II and the Holocaust.

Some experts prefer to link Darwin and Hitler directly - and that connection can certainly be made. However, I also want to discuss the role of Nietzsche – because it was Nietzsche (not Darwin) who built evolutionary theory into a moral philosophy – a philosophy that not only shaped Hitler, but also crystallized the thinking of many Europeans in the early 20th century.

Darwin’s evolutionary theory had an uncomparable impact on European culture. After Darwin, the fact of evolution could no longer be denied, and the popular imagination, long prepared for such a theory, extended it to ever new fields.” – The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the German Ideology

One of those fields was philosophy. Frederic Nietzsche, arguably the most famous and controversial philosopher of the past 150 years, used Darwinism as the foundation of his moral system.

“'The total nature of the world,’ Nietzsche wrote in Die frohliche Wissenschaft, ‘is. . . to all eternity chaos,’ and this thought, basic to his philosophy, arose directly from his interpretation of Darwin.” - From Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy

“The scientist Charles Darwin had awakened the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche from his dogmatic slumber by the realization that, throughout organic history, no species is immutable (including humans). Pervasive change replaced eternal fixity.

"Going beyond Darwin, the great German thinker offered an interpretation of dynamic nature that considered both the philosophical implications and theological consequences of taking the factual theory of biological evolution seriously.

"Nietzsche was not previously oblivious to either geological time or the paleontological record. He accepted the most controversial ramification of Darwin’s theory: humankind had evolved from remote apelike ancestors, in a completely naturalistic way, through a process of chance and necessity (fortuitous random variations appearing in, and inevitable natural selection acting on, individuals within a changing environment).

"Even the mental faculties of human beings, including love and reason, were acquired during the course of evolutionary ascent from earlier primate forms.

"For Nietzsche, evolution is the correct explanation for organic history but it results in a disastrous picture of reality, since evolution (as he saw it) has far-reaching truths for both scientific cosmology and philosophical anthropology: God is no longer necessary to account for either the existence of this universe or the emergence of our human species from prehistoric animals. In fact, this philosopher held that Darwinian evolution led to a collapse of all traditional values, because both objective meaning and spiritual purpose had vanished from interpretations of reality (and consequently, there can be no fixed or certain morality).” -Darwin, Nietzche, and Evolution

Nietzsche believed that the “collapse of all values” caused by Darwinism was ominous for mankind…

In his book, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, Nietzsche anguished over the consequences he foresaw:

"If the doctrines of sovereign Becoming, of the liquidity of all...species, of the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal -- doctrines which I consider true but deadly -- are foisted on people for another generation with the frenzied instruction which is now customary, then it should take no one by surprise if people destroy themselves in egotistical trifles and misery, ossifying themselves in their self-absorption, initially falling apart and ceasing to be a people.

Then, in place of this condition, perhaps systems of individual egotism, alliances for the systematic larcenous exploitation of those non-members of the alliance and similar creations of utilitarian nastiness will step forward onto the future scene."

Nietzsche tried to stave off this condition by creating a new philosophic system.

"Nietzsche knew that the previous philosophical systems from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and Hegel were inadequate to deal with the crisis of evolution. As a result, a totally new philosophy of the world was now required." -Darwin, Nietzche, and Evolution

“In the early 1880s, when he wrote Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche arrived at a conception of human life and possibility – and with it, of value and meaning – that he believed could overcome the Schopenhauerian pessimism and nihilism that he saw as outcomes of the collapse of traditional modes of religious and philosophical interpretation. He prophesied a period of nihilism in the aftermath of their decline and fall; but this prospect deeply distressed him. He was convinced of the untenability of the 'God hypothesis,' and indeed of all the religious and metaphysical interpretations of the world and ourselves; and yet he was well aware that the very possibility of the affirmation of life was at stake, and required more than the mere abandonment of all such “lies” and “fictions”. He took the basic challenge of philosophy now to be to reinterpret life and the world along more tenable lines that would also overcome nihilism.” - Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy

Nietzche’s “basic challenge” is quite similar to Brian’s challenge in The Mustard Seed.

In Chapter 2 of The Mustard Seed, Brian describes his fear of having to choose between truth and happiness…he wishes to have both, but – given what he's been told about the world - it seems like a contradiction… thus, Brian would be sympathetic to Nietzsche’s dilemma…so would Heather Manning, for that matter…indeed, Heather – like Nietzche – wants to “reinterpret life” to “overcome nihilism.” Thus, she created of “Spiritual Rationalism.”

But Nietzche – unlike Heather Manning – was a prisoner of his Darwinian outlook.

"God is dead means that the idea of God can no longer provide values. With the sole source of values no longer capable of providing those values, there is a real danger of nihilism….

Nietzsche posited the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself in his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Zarathustra presents the Übermensch as the creator of new values. In this way, it appears as a solution to the problem of the death of God and nihilism. Because the Übermensch acts to create new values within the moral vacuum of nihilism, there is nothing that this creative act would not justify. Alternatively, in the absence of this creation, there are no grounds upon which to criticize or justify any action, including the particular values created and the means by which they are promulgated.

Whereas Nietzsche diagnosed the Christian value system as a reaction against life and hence destructive in a sense, the new values which the Übermensch will be responsible for will be life-affirming and creative…

Zarathustra first announces the Übermensch as a goal humanity can set for itself. All human life would be given meaning by how it advanced a new generation of human beings. The aspiration of a woman would be to give birth to an Übermensch, for example; her relationships with men would be judged by this standard.

Some commentators associate the Übermensch with a program of eugenics. This is most pronounced when considered in the aspect of a goal that humanity sets for itself. -Wikipedia

In many ways, the Ubermensch sounds innocuous enough – even admirable – but a closer reading of Nietzsche's text – reveals a more disturbing aspect to his creation.

“The essential characteristic of a good and healthy aristocracy” argues Nietzsche, is that it “accepts with a good conscience the sacrifice of untold human beings who, for its sake, must be reduced and lowered to incomplete human beings, to slaves, to instruments.” The “fundamental faith” of the aristocracy, then, is that “society” exists for them, for their sake, so that all the lesser types who serve them in society exist “only as the foundation and scaffolding on which a choice type of being is able to raise itself to its higher task and to a higher state of being…”

A higher state of being, the übermensch, who cares nothing for those upon whom he steps to go up the evolutionary slope -- that is Nietzsche’s goal…

Nietzsche thought we were slipping back down the evolutionary slope to the “last man…and the only thing that could drive upwards, was a great conflict. Writing before World War I…he believed the “‘European problem’” could be solved by “the cultivation of a new caste that will rule Europe.”

To revive Europe, a great danger must present itself, thought Nietzsche, one that calls forth once again the desire to fight and conquer:

“I mean such an increase in the menace of Russia [for example] that Europe would have to resolve to become menacing, too, namely, to acquire one will by means of a new caste that would rule Europe, a long, terrible will of its own that would be able to cast its goals millennia hence -- so that the long-drawn-out comedy of its many splinter states as well as its dynastic and democratic splinter wills would come to an end. The time for petty politics is over: the very next century will bring the fight for the dominion of the earth -- the compulsion to large-scale politics.”

One cannot help but hear the marching boots of the Third Reich - Darwin, Nietzsche, and Hitler: Evolution of the Ubermensch

Even though Hitler was the most evil man in history, we shouldn’t dismiss his evil as something that was “innate” or “irrational” – and therefore, impervious to our understanding. The fact is: Hitler was a man who took ideas seriously. Throughout his life, Hitler was informed and motivated by several powerful ideas…thus, it is incumbent upon us to examine those ideas with a critical pair of eyes.

However, before we begin, let’s note a simple fact: Hitler was NOT a life-long racist…there is no record of Hitler revealing any kind of racism until he moved to Vienna - a place where he immersed himself in a swamp of “scientific” and “genocidal” anti-Semitism.

"Hitler said he first became an anti-Semite in Vienna, which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled the pogroms in RussiaVienna at that time was a hotbed of traditional religious prejudice and 19th century racism. Hitler may have been influenced by the writings of the ideologist and anti-Semite Lanz von Liebenfels and polemics from politicians such as Karl Lueger, founder of the Christian Social Party and Mayor of Vienna, the composer Richard Wagner, and Georg Ritter von Schönerer, leader of the pan-Germanic Away from Rome! movement." – Wikipedia

This “new” brand of anti-Semitism was vastly different from traditional Christian anti-Semitism which criticized Jews for not accepting Jesus, and at least gave Jews the possibility of acceptance through conversion…What made this new brand of anti-Semetism different? And what motivated it?

These pro-German and anti-Semitic works – which greatly influenced Hitler and the National Socialist movement – relied on 2 philosophers: Darwin and Nietzche…from Darwin came the ideas that 1) God doesn’t exist, and 2) relentless competition between species (known as “survival of the fittest”) is the means of progress…from Nietzche came 2 additional ideas which were consistent with Darwin’s…3) morality is a sham used by the weak to bring down the strong, and 4) the only true, legitimate, leaders in society are those with “the will to power” and are “beyond good and evil.”

For most scholars, the link between Hitler and Nietzsche is accepted (although mostly ignored). What is NOT accepted (and therefore, much more controversial) is the link between Hitler and Darwin. Not only is it controversial, it is also very relevant. After all, Darwin (unlike Nietzche) is universally taught in high schools, and Darwinism proclaims itself as the sole arbitrator of truth – not just biological truth, but all Truth. This makes the link between Hitler and Darwin especially powerful and uncomfortable.

The Darwin-Hitler connection is no recent discovery. In her classic 1951 work The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt wrote: “Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human being.”

The standard biographies of Hitler almost all point to the influence of Darwinism on their subject. In Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Alan Bullock writes: “The basis of Hitler’s political beliefs was a crude Darwinism.” What Hitler found objectionable about Christianity was its rejection of Darwin’s theory: “Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.”

John Toland’s Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography says this of Hitler’s Second Book published in 1928: “An essential of Hitler’s conclusions in this book was the conviction drawn from Darwin that might makes right.”

In his biography, Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw explains that “crude social-Darwinism” gave Hitler “his entire political ‘world-view...’

The key elements in the ideology that produced Auschwitz are moral relativism aligned with a rejection of the sacredness of human life, a belief that violent competition in nature creates greater and lesser races, that the greater will inevitably exterminate the lesser, and finally that the lesser race most in need of extermination is the Jews. All but the last of these ideas may be found in Darwin’s writing…

Like Hitler, Charles Darwin saw natural processes as setting moral standards. It’s all in The Descent of Man...In [that] book, he compared the evolution of people to the breeding of animals and drew a chilling conclusion regarding what he saw as the undesirable consequences of allowing the unfit to breed:

“The weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed…”

Most disturbing of all, in The Descent of Man, Darwin prophesied: “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...”

You only have to read Mein Kampf to see the indebtedness…Hitler gives a Darwinian-style analysis of how the struggle for existence mandates a defense of the Aryan race.

[Hitler] invokes the “principles of Nature’s rule,” “her whole work of higher breeding,” in which “struggle is always a means for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development.” He warns against racial decline from the mixing of blood — his own spin on Darwinism — arguing that the preservation of a “creative race” is “bound up with the rigid law of necessity and the right of victory of the best and stronger in this world.” He calls for “a more noble evolution.”

Other Nazi propaganda followed his lead. In a 1937 German propaganda film, Victims of the Past, the audience is shown a retarded person as the narrator intones, “In the last few decades, mankind has sinned terribly against the law of natural selection. We haven’t just maintained life unworthy of life, we have even allowed it to multiply.” - David Klinghoffer, Don't Doubt It

The key chapter in Mein Kampf is Chapter XI, “Nation and Race,” where Hitler discusses the imperative to defend the Aryan race from the Jewish menace.

His argument is couched from the start in transparently Darwinian terms. He writes:

"In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right of opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. And struggle is always a mean for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of higher development."

He praises “the iron logic of Nature” with its “right to victory of the best and stronger in this world.”

But what if the strong (Aryans) choose not to dominate and exterminate the weak (Jews)? This would be against Nature, whose “whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, might be ruined with one blow.” And so on and on.

As Discovery Institute fellow Dr. Richard Weikart explains in his outstanding book From Darwin to Hitler, Hitler absorbed his twisted Darwinian worldview from the poisonous popular Viennese press, which was full of the stuff. He calculated that an appeal to the Germans to make war on the Jews would be most likely to succeed if framed in scientific-sounding terms.

Hitler could have couched his argument here any way he wanted. He chose the language of Darwinism. Mein Kampf was hugely popular and influential, selling six million copies by 1940. In The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945, Lucy Dawidowicz seeks to explain what motivated the German people either to do their evil work in the racial struggle or to stand by and passively accept the results of the racial war. Her answer: 'They were mesmerized by [Hitler's] voice, and they responded to his message.'" - David Klinghoffer, Opening Up Mein Kampf

The bottom line: The road from Darwin to Nietzche to Hitler was a straight, logical line…Darwin’s ideas about the “truth” of nature led to Nietzsche’s idea about the “truth” of morality led to Hitler’s idea about the “truth” of Aryan superiority and the justice of genocide…was all of this inevitable?...of course not…but it was very likely to happen…there is a strange, perverse logic from Darwin to Nietzche to Hitler can’t be opossed on materialists ground…which makes the truth of materialism itself suspect…and the quest for an alternative to materialism urgent.

However, I need to add one point: Clearly, while Darwin is just as popular today as he was 100 years ago, Hitler and Nietzsche have become very UNpopular – and not just among the general population, but among the Darwinists themselves…how have the Darwinists managed to separate themselves so successfully from their dark past?...what are their new philosophic ideas that animate our culture?...and what are the long-term implications of those new ideas?...I’ll examine those questions in my next article, “From Rorty to Obama to Beyond.”

But in the meantime, take a look at how Darwinism inspired Communism – that other materialist scourge of the 20th Century…


On his desk Lenin had a statue displayed in a “prominent position for all to see...its vivid presence dominated the room.” What kind of statue?

It was a “bronze statue of an ape gazing at an oversized human skull.” This symbolized the evolutionary core of Lenin’s atheism.


Following Lenin, Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist for thirty years. From Landmarks in the Life of Stalin we read:

“At a very early age, while still a pupil in the ecclesiastical school, Comrade Stalin developed a critical mind and revolutionary sentiments. He began to read Darwin and became an atheist.”

G. Gludjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin’s relates: “I began to speak of God. Joseph heard me out, and after a moment’s silence said: ‘You know, they are fooling us, there is no God....’”

Gludjidze reported: “I was astonished at these words. I had never heard anything like it before. How can you say such things, Soso?” he asked Stalin, who replied:

“I will lend you a book to read: it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense.”

“What book is that?” his friend inquired.

Darwin. You must read it,’ Joseph impressed on me.”


Being a Marxist and an atheist and a firm believer in evolutionism himself, Mao mandated that the reading material used in this early day “Great Leap Forward” in literacy would be the writings of Charles Darwin and other materials supportive of the evolution paradigm.

In a collection of his 1958 speeches published by the Red Guard entitled "Long Live Mao Zedong Thought", Mao praised 26 men he considered to have demonstrated a fearless intellectual spirit in advancing human knowledge. The only three westerners he saw fit to name were Marx, Lenin and Darwin.


Indeed, Karl Marx - the father of Communism - was a passionate Darwinist.

When Darwin’s book came out in 1859, Marx read it and exulted: "Darwin’s book is VERY important and serves me as a basis for the class struggle in history....Darwin suits my purpose."

Later, when Marx finished writing his three volume tome, Das Kapital, he dedicated his work to Darwin.

Despite what his supporters say, Marx was a hate-filled man who, from his college days throughout his life, was bent on inflicting as much grief and woe on the world as he possibly could. Check some of his own words and draw your own conclusion:

“I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.” (From a poem).

Another poem: “The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed. See this sword? The Prince of Darkness [Satan] sold it to me.”

From a drama Marx wrote and called “Oulanem” (an inversion and anagram for Emmanuel, a Biblical name for Jesus), is loaded with devilish stuff, including these lines:

“You will sink down and I shall follow laughing, whispering in your ears, ‘Descend, come with me friend.”

The Drama ends:

“If there is something which devours, I’ll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins - the world which bulks between me and the abyss, I will smash it to pieces with my enduring curses. I’ll throw my arms around its harsh reality. Embracing me, the world will dumbly pass away.”

Only eighteen years old when he penned those sweet uplifting thoughts, Marx found the destructive instrument he was looking for in Socialism and its most radical expression, Communism.

As the author of this compilation points out…

“[Not] all evolutionists are potential mass murderers, of course. However, it does strongly suggest that a passionate belief that man is just another evolved animal is a conviction that is fully capable of creating a mind-set which cheapens life and excuses whatever behavior and policies individuals may pursue, no matter how hurtful and even deadly that behavior and those policies may be to millions of other people.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, “From Rorty to Obama to Beyond.”