Richard Weikart

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Richard Weikart is a Christian creationist and history professor at California State University, Stanislaus. He is also a senior fellow for the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute and has devoted his career to elucidating the supposed immoral consequences of evolution.

For Weikart, the materialistic basis of evolutionary theory is responsible for the devaluation of human life in general and the "survival of the fittest" mindset only leads to a completely immoral society. Weikart focuses heavily on the history of Nazi Germany and Hitler, trying to portray them as "Darwinists" and moral relativists, while simultaneously promoting Christianity positively. For instance, Weikart argues that Darwinism promotes racism whereas ""Christian theology taught the universal brotherhood of all races, who descended from common ancestors -- Adam and Eve."[1] However, the claim of a historical Christian "brotherhood of races" is easily refuted historically and biblically. The curse of Ham in (Genesis 9:25-27) and the story of the Nephilim as a separately created race (that was later killed or imprisoned by the Israelites) have both promoted racism for centuries. Darwin also refuted the doctrine of "polygenism" (i.e., the belief that different races are separate species, heavily promoted by the "scientific racists") in Descent of Man.

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[edit] Education and creationist credentials

While most scholars are drawn to study a subject out of interest in the subject, Weikart began studying history for a religious agenda. He wrote: "I was drawn to the study of modern European intellectual history in part by the realization that much modern thought had debased humanity" and singles out "modern thinkers" who "specifically criticized the 'anthropocentric' view that humans are special, made in the image of God."[2] He goes on to claim: "By reducing humanity to their biological makeup, these Darwinian-inspired biological determinists contributed to the dehumanization process."[3] So, Weikart studied history because those pesky scientists "debased humanity" with their evidence of common ancestry.

Weikart earned his Ph.D in 1994 at the University of Iowa, a master's degree in history at the same school in 1989, but while he lists a bachelor's degree earned in 1980 from Texas Christian University, he doesn't mention what subject the degree is in.[4] Important to note, Weikart's lists every tiny event on his CV, like speaking to the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship in Turlock, but neglects to tell what his bachelor's degree is in. Strange? Perhaps, the degree is connected to the Christian nature of Texas Christian University?[5] Despite having graduated nearly 20 years ago, Weikart still has an embargo that prevents University Microfilms International (UMI), the non-profit in charge of protecting and distributing graduate work, from sharing his dissertation: Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein. If one searches for his dissertation at UMI's database they are told: "We're sorry, this publication is not available for sale at this time".[6] The dissertation was converted to a book sold by International Scholars Publications, a now-defunct religious publisher, but was not well-received. Historian Daniel Gasman wrote that "Weikart's book inaugurates research into an important area of intellectual history, but the theoretical framework offered does not keep pace with the demanding complexity of the subject."[7]

Weikart has attached his work to organizations that promote creationism and intelligent design. For example, he was on the editorial board of Origins & Design, an old Earth creationist publication[8] and went on to become a fellow at the Discovery Institute who paid him "crucial" money for his agenda.[9] He also starred as a "expert" in Darwin's Deadly Legacy, put together by a young Earth creationist ministry ran by D. James Kennedy. The Anti-Defamation League "blasted" the film: "Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis."[10]

[edit] Criticisms

Weikart's most infamous work is his book-length argumentum ad Hitlerum entitled From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004). The book has been universally panned by the academic community.[11] Regarding the thesis of Weikart's book, University of Chicago historian Robert Richards concluded that "Hitler was not a Darwinian" and "calls this all a desperate tactic to undermine evolution."[12] Scholars Graeme Gooday, John M. Lynch, Kenneth G. Wilson, and Constance K. Barsky wrote that "numerous reviews have accused Weikart of selectively viewing his rich primary material, ignoring political, social, psychological, and economic factors" that shaped the Nazi ideology and policies.[13] Since there is no clear and unique line from Darwinian naturalism to Nazi atrocities, useful causal relationships are difficult to infer; thus, as Robert J. Richards observes, 'it can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis'."[14] Historian Peter J. Bowler was likewise direct writing that Weikart's book reflects a "simple blame game in which (for example) Darwin and Haeckel are accused of paving the way for Nazism," and denounced his efforts to connect evolution "with distasteful social policies" using a "remarkably simple-minded approach".[15]

To understand why Weikart and his ilk continue to peddle the Darwin-Hitler connection, one should understand creationism as embedded in a larger religious ethical system. A scientific theory that contradicts the Bible can be seen as "godless" and thus immoral. In addition, the popular misconception that evolution necessarily implies social Darwinism makes this an easy rhetorical tactic. Even though these accusations are not true, creationism can be turned on its head by showing that it is not a moral system and has for centuries justified many evil acts such as genocide.[16]

His next book, Hitler's Ethic, was not much better. Historian Gerwin Strobl wrote that Hitler's Ethic's introduction "reads like a mixture of a television voiceover and the worst kind of undergraduate essay" and lacked any "emphasis on intellectual developments inside Germany," which ignores "that Hitler had set out to copy what he regarded as the Anglo-American example."[17]

[edit] Publications

  • The Myth of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Is His Theology Evangelical? (1997)
  • Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein (1999)
  • From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004)
  • Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (2009)

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler, 102
  2. The long rambling, disconnected essay that tries to link everyone from Marx to Darwin to Dawkins to Nietzsche is here: http://www.discovery.org/a/6301 It reads like an undergraduate-word salad of post-Enlightenment thought.
  3. http://www.discovery.org/a/6301
  4. Weikart's vita: http://www.csustan.edu/History/Faculty/Weikart/vita.htm
  5. It is connected to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (see: http://www.tcu.edu/96.asp)
  6. Search by author, "Richard Weikart" at http://disexpress.umi.com/dxweb then click order a copy
  7. Daniel Gasman, "Richard Weikart, Socialist Darwinism, San Francisco: International Scholar’’s Publications, 1999," Central European History, 34(4): 2001, 573-575.
  8. http://www.arn.org/infopage/weikart.htm
  9. "Many thanks also to the Center for Science and Culture (especially Jay Richards and Steve Meyer), which provided crucial funding and much encouragement..." Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler, page x
  10. http://archive.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/4877_52.htm
  11. Flam, Faye (October 27, 2011). "Severing the link between Darwin and Nazism". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2000-09-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20111229180635/http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/DARWIN+NAZISM/5609903/story.html. Retrieved 2013-02-14. 
  12. Graeme Gooday, John M. Lynch, Kenneth G. Wilson, and Constance K. Barsky "Does Science Education Need the History of Science". Isis. 2008, 99. Template:Citation error. http://lynch.faculty.asu.edu/pub/reprints/gooday2008.pdf. Retrieved 2013-10-17.  pp. 322–330.
  13. Gooday et al. Does Science Education Need the History of Science? Isis, vol. 99, no. 2, Jun. 2008
  14. Bowler, Peter (20 December 2009). "Do we need a non-Darwinian industry?". Notes and Records of the Royal Society. http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/63/4/393.short. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  15. Creationists for Genocide, Talk Reason
  16. Strobl, Gerwin ((2012) 42(1): 204-206). "Book Reviews: Hitler's Ethic". European History Quarterly. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7931459. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
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