I’m digressing briefly from my Christmas series on the significance of Jesus’ birth in order to address something that’s recently come up on my blog, and now on other blogs I follow. It seems to be about just who’s to blame for Hitler.
Hitler is a bit of an enigma, and therefore easy for all sides to use him to attack their opponents. Anti-Christian atheists claim that Hitler’s atrocities can be somehow tied to his alleged Christian faith. But we could just as easily turn that argument on its head and say that Hitler was a product of the positivist Darwinian ideology of the early 20th century. The truth is probably all the above…and none of the above.
What I have tried to show is that it’s a fallacious argument to just say Hitler was a “Christian.” Hitler was a lot of things but he was no Christian by any stretch of biblical definition! He studied and practiced the art of manipulation and subterfuge from an early age and by the time he came into power in the 1930’s he was the master at propaganda and crowd control, shrewdly feigning Christian values and taking advantage of the current societal anger and national humiliation (from the Treaty of Versailles) to gain support in Christian Germany in particular, and Europe in general. But these were all deceptive lies.
The truth is, Hitler and the Nazis drew their ideology from various sources: Völkisch Nationalism, Christian Anti-Judaism, Social Sciences like Philology and Anthropology, Modern Racism in Social Darwinism and Genetics and Eugenics, and Modern Anti-Semitism. From these sources, they developed “a Nazi worldview that claimed to explain everything about the world and how it functions.” (from clip below)
Here’s a video clip from Yad Vashem (Holocaust Education Center) on the roots of Nazi ideology. It’s very good.
Where Christian and modern secular humanism beliefs in the 19th and early 20th Century both held that all humans were created equal, others exploited the emergence of the sciences and philosophy to show that the races were not equal. The Nazis took advantage of the latter. Here’s another quote from the end of the video clip:
“The Nazis’ innovation was not in their ideas. Which as we have seen they borrowed from earlier thinking. Their innovation lay in molding these ideas into a comprehensive worldview that was the basis for the policy making of a modern, scientifically, technologically, and educationally advanced country. And it was from this worldview that the Final Solution ultimately emerged.”
Hitler seemed to be more driven by extreme nationalism and racial purity than by religion or science. The cornerstone of his racist ideology was Aryan mythology.
The Aryan mythology was inspired in part by Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection. The Aryans were supposedly a genetically superior race of people from Northern Europe and Scandinavia. This ideology claimed that the Aryan “master race” was destined to control Europe, while keeping the lower races in servitude (controlling the middle and lower races). On the other hand, the Jews were considered an “anti-race” and should be exterminated like a virus in order to keep Europe pure from its vile contamination. You can watch a whole video clip on this here.
“While at Landsberg, Hitler dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (My Struggle; originally entitled Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice) to his deputy, Rudolf Hess. The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was an autobiography and exposition of his ideology. The book laid out Hitler’s plans for transforming German society into one based on race. Some passages imply genocide.” (Wikipedia)
My point is not to show that religion or science and philosophy are to blame for creating a Hitler, but that his Nazism was the brainchild of evil men who used these sources as a pretext to launch perhaps the most deceptive and destructive evil reign of terror in human history.
So, should we sing, “Imagine no religion and no Hitler…it’s easy to do.” Well, we might just as well add, “Imagine no science and no human beings, too” while we’re at it.
In other words, you cannot rightly cherry-pick quotes from people like Hitler in order to attack Christianity any more than I can point to his use of science-based modern Anti-Semitism to attack the sciences or Darwinism. The only common denominator is diabolically evil people. Period.
If anything the horrors of the 20th Century should’ve taught us with monsters like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or the scientific development of weapons that brought us to the brink of extinction, along with the continual violence and inhumanities to humankind we still see today, is that the problem is not with religion. It seems more likely that the haters are gonna hate regardless of what worldview or ideology they embrace. It’s also a naïve pipedream to think that simply getting rid of what we don’t like will bring about world peace. That fantasy notion sort of reminds me of when my wife didn’t want to encourage violence with our boys when they were young, so we didn’t buy them any toy guns. What did they do? They made guns out of sticks they found in the yard.
And now we will be returning to our regularly scheduled programming.