Monday, September 04, 2006


Darwin's Deadly Legacy

Shameful behavior

D James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries, recently produced a program called "Darwin’s Deadly Legacy" that attempts to blame the Holocaust on acceptance of evolution.

"To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler," said Dr. Kennedy, the host of Darwin’s Deadly Legacy. “Hitler tried to speed up evolution, to help it along, and millions suffered and died in unspeakable ways because of it."

Kennedy’s behavior in creating and promoting this show has been, plain and simple, deceitful. It is literally a stain on Christianity in the US. The first reason is that Kennedy deceitfully included Francis Collins (director of the Human Genome Project) in his show, and in the initial press release Kennedy actually listed Collins as one of the featured experts in the show (see here). Kennedy had originally interviewed Collins about a book he was writing, and Kennedy spliced some of that footage into "Darwin’s Deadly Legacy."

When Collins found out about this he was outraged. From this press release from the Anti-Defamation League:

"After being contacted by the ADL about his name being used to promote Kennedy's project, Dr. Collins said he is "absolutely appalled by what Coral Ridge Ministries is doing. I had NO knowledge that Coral Ridge Ministries was planning a TV special on Darwin and Hitler, and I find the thesis of Dr. Kennedy's program utterly misguided and inflammatory," he told ADL."

Coral Ridge Ministries responded:

"The ADL and Dr. Collins are both wrong. A producer told Dr. Collins in person before the interview began that he was being interviewed for a program that would address the adverse social consequences of Darwin. In addition, he was asked specifically, during the interview, about the Darwin-Hitler connection and responded on tape that he did not agree with that view. Dr. Collins also signed a Talent Release, which gives Coral Ridge Ministries the right to use his interview "without limitation in all perpetuity.""

Because of Collins' outrage Coral Ridge Ministries removed him from the list of featured speakers in "Darwin's Deadly Legacy." That was certainly the right thing to do, but it's ridiculous that it was there in the first place. Based on their response I think Coral Ridge Ministries is probably legally right but I think they're certainly morally wrong (which I regard as a bad thing in a nominally Christian organization). Let's say that while interviewing Collins about his new book they briefly ask him about the "Darwin-Hitler connection." Collins responds that he does not "agree with that view." Kennedy then takes that part of the interview and makes it a featured part of a program that's completely unrelated to the original interview. Collins' Talent Release gives Kennedy the legal right to do that, but it's morally disgusting. He had to sneak Collins into "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" in an attempt to give that show a veneer of respectability.

It also appears that Michael Behe's contribution to "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" was spliced in, in an attempt to give that show star power. When asked about his relation to "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" Behe responsed:

I'm "associated" with it only in the sense that a clip of my appearance on a TV show of Dr. Kennedy's from years ago apparently is used in the film. I didn't know this program was in the works, have had no conversations with anyone from Coral Ridge about it, and had no input into it.

This does not bode well for the quality of Kennedy's scholarship. It makes it look like he had to effectively trick people into being part of his show (again while he may be in the green legally this behavior isn't acceptable coming from a Christian ministry).

To be fair some of Kennedy's featured speakers were willing, fully-informed participants. Ann Coulter ( a renowned expert on evolution) is one:

"Ann Coulter is stunned. How is it, she asks, that she could go through 12 years of public school, then college and law school, and still not know that it was Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution that fueled Hitler’s ovens."

And now, moving on to the "meat" (putrid, rotting, maggot-infested) of Kennedy's thesis. Ed Brayton at Dispatches From the Culture Wars has done a very thorough job documenting the times Hitler used religion (Christianity in particular to justify his actions). Brayton also quotes from a speech where Hitler denies human evolution:

And to top it off, he says that humans did not evolve from apes:

"From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump, as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today."

I highly recommend Brayton's posts:

Hitler the Creationist
Nazi Analogies and Historical Revisionism
Kennedy, Hitler, Weikart and the ADL
D. James Kennedy, Darwin and Hitler

It is absolutely, unequivocally true that Hitler used Christianity as one of his motivations. For example:

"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 only 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 in 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.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

Guess who wrote the following:

"What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.
First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.

Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.

Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.

Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more...

Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home...If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination...

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jews..."

The author was Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism.

Hatred and vilification of Jews has a very long history. To pretend that it developed (or even became more pronounced) following Darwin's work is just not a supportable position. Much of the historic (and even recent) condemnation of Jews is based on religion (Christianity in particular). In other words people have used Christianity for millennia as an excuse to persecute Jews. Using Kennedy's reasoning, and the earlier quotation from Martin Luther, Christianity should be referred to as "Luther's Deadly Legacy." Of course I don't think that's a supportable position. I think the point to be learned is that people will find something to use to justify their prejudices. The fact that people have used Christianity to justify their evil behavior does not make Christianity evil. Assuming that the Nazis used some sort of belief in evolution (which at best was but one of many reasons including some form of Christianity) cannot be used to argue that evolution is evil.

I want to close with a personal story.

In the winter of 1995 I had the chance to visit Auschwitz when I spent a few weeks in Poland. I walked under the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" gate at Auschwitz A, saw the rooms full of things like hair and shoes stolen from soon to be murdered men, women and children. I walked through the test oven and gas chamber (not far from the commandant's house) and saw the sites of the large chambers at Auschwitz B (Birkenau), which were destroyed toward the end of WWII in an attempt to hide their existence. I walked through the wooden barracks at Birkenau and felt how they did nothing to stop the brutal Polish winter.

I also spent a fair bit of time in the UK. I remember going to York for a trip and visiting an old castle called Clifford's Tower that was the site of a massacre of Jews in the 12th century. Red stains on the exterior of the castle (caused by the oxidation of iron-bearing minerals in the rocks used to build the castle) were called "Jew's Blood." As I said before demonization and murder of Jews is a time-honored tradition.

The fact that Kennedy attempts (clumsily, incompetently and deceitfully) to demean the tragedy of the Holocaust and the historic persecution and murder of Jews is disgusting and enraging. By portraying evolution as the reason for their murder, and by ignoring the incredibly well-document millennia-old (mis)use of religion, Kennedy shows himself to be a charlatan in the tradition of the 19th century snake oil salesman.

A fault-finder who things the law has nothing to do with morality, calling Calvinists who spend their hard earned money, some of whom are poor, every Sunday, to help the poor without requiring anything back from them, you, calling them "(nominally Christian)"? Does that include the kids of Coral Ridge, oh Judge of Law and Morality Who Forgets the Meaning of Both Words?

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

God bless you
Correction: "thinks" not "things".
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