Darwin made Hitler do it: The secular version of ACE

I made the front page of Salon.com! I think this is a big deal.

Salon.com front page

I found out that Donald Howard, ACE’s founder, started a secularised version of the system. It’s being used in publicly-funded Texas charter schools, and I thought people should know.

Please check it out!

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on October 25, 2013, in Accelerated Christian Education, Atheism, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. It is a “big deal” Johnny. Well done! 🙂

  2. Congratulations, Jonny. It’s an excellent article.

  3. Great article, Jonny, kudos. Of course, Texas regular non-charter public schools have also been accused of teaching very conservative, very sectarian religious principles. As Mark Chancey found in his study of Texas public schools, several of them seem to teach a young earth and a Left-Behind-style understanding of the coming Rapture. [I can’t seem to embed the link here, but you can see Chancey’s report here: http://www.tfn.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_religious_freedom_bible_courses ]

  4. Well done. This is not just a feather in your cap but an important issue in need of much more exposure to show public funding of religious indoctrination within what goes by the name of ‘education’ is a growing concern and in dire need of official redress.

  5. All evolutionists are demon-possessed monsters who were made for eternally burning in the lake of fire. And I think this should be clear to every rational person.

  6. Was Hitler influenced by Darwin or not?

    • That’s a reasonable question, although of course it’s irrelevant to whether or not Darwin was right about the origin of species.

      The term ‘survival of the fittest’ is not Darwin’s; it comes from Herbert Spencer. There were some good comments relating to your question where my article got linked on Reddit and on the article itself, but I can’t find them now and don’t really have time to look. Hoepfully someone here will chime in.

      • On page 92 of the fifth edition of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, himself, said that “Survival of the Fittest” meant the same thing as Natural Selection. Only you’d have to read, you know, Charles Darwin in order to know that. It’s available online, as are almost all of Charles Darwin’s extant writings, reading him seems to be seen as optional for those who like to expound on what he didn’t say, only, it turns out, he did say it.

        I would agree with you if you said that evolution was a fact, I would say that Charles Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection was hardly a fact, though it’s a fact that as conceived by him, it couldn’t have worked because he believed in the inheritance of acquired, having, apparently left Mendel’s paper on genetic inheritance unread.

        Mr. Scaramanga is only correct in the most superficial way, that Darwin can’t be blamed for what Hitler and a long line of German scientists and social thinkers did with Natural Selection after his death. He did, however encourage that line of thinking, especially that coming through Ernst Haeckel and those he influenced. Haeckel could not have had more encouragement for his scientific racism and his extreme form of eugenics from Darwin, as he cited that in the most glowing of terms in his second major book, The Descent of Man. Only, as well, you’d have to read the book and follow up his citations of Haeckel, Galton, Greg and others to understand that. The influence on Hitler was indirect but it was very real. The Holocaust could not have happened the way it did without the belief in Natural Selection, inequality of races and individuals that it was based in.

      • Hi Anthony,

        Having seen some of your other comments on my Salon piece, I’m not sure you’re arguing in good faith, but I could be mistaken so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m also not sure what your point is.

        I didn’t go into whether or not Hitler actually admired Darwin in my piece because it’s not my expertise and it’s not relevant. I should note that the word “lies” was not in my submission to Salon, and all references to lies were added by editorial staff.

        Let’s assume that Darwin was a massive racist (for the sake of argument). That would still have no bearing on whether or not evolution (or more specifically evolution by natural selection) actually happened or happens.

        The ResponsiveEd quote supplied by Joshua Bass is an ad hominem intended to discredit evolution. That is pernicious, because it teaches children that this is a reasonable way to argue. Also, since you say you accept evolution (even if not by natural selection), I would have thought this would concern you.

        The fact is that supporting eugenics simply does not follow from the theory of evolution by natural selection. For one thing, it would require getting an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ in the most insupportable way. More importantly, eugenics programmes are nothing like natural selection. There is no ‘survival of the fittest’ if you stick everyone in a gas chamber.

        It seems to me that you, too, are trying to discredit Darwin in a similar way. My apologies if I am mistaken about this.

      • Anthony McCarthy, what utter bunk.

        If you had read the OoS (and I sincerely doubt you have with this remarkable lack of comprehension you put on display here), you would understand that the inclusion in the 5th edition (not in the previous 4, please note) of the Spencer phrase was a metaphorical device. Anyone who has read the Origin of Species knows perfectly well that fitness in biological terms simply means the ability to reach maturation and reproduce. This is the (main) mechanism for natural selection. The key term here is natural (you seemed to have missed this hint in your ‘scientific’ explorations of Darwin’s writings). Natural selection has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the principles of eugenics exercised by the Nazis, which to even the most obtuse reader must eventually appreciate is artificial selection based on promoting specific traits.

        To lay at Darwin’s feet the notion of justifying mass murder for achieving racial ‘purity’ is nothing short of a stupendous and egregious lie. Trying to paint this as anything other than a deliberate misrepresentation compounds the lying.

      • Jonnyscaramanga, I am arguing form the basis of what Charles Darwin said in books he published as having the reliability of science, as you could see if you would go to Project Gutenberg or the library and get The Descent of Man and looked for the fifth and, as I recall, sixth edition of On the Origin of Species. If you did that and saw what Darwin said about specific works of Francis Galton, Ernst Haeckel, and, articles by them and W.R. Greg, Heinrich Fick and others, you would see I am not arguing in bad faith, I am arguing from the best available evidence revealing what Charles Darwin thought, his own words presented as having the rigorous reliability of science. Furthermore I am presenting what his own sons, Leonard, Francis, George, and Horace Darwin asserted about their own father and his ideas. They knew him as no one who never met the man can honestly claim to, all of them were eugenicists, all of them asserted they were carrying on their father’s work by their eugenics. I have not found a single person who knew him who denied Charles Darwin’s inspiration of eugenics, certainly none who knew him as well as his own sons.

        Furthermore, there is no question that Francis Galton said that his inspiration in inventing eugenics was his reading of On the Origin of Species, and that he published Charles Darwin’s letter effusively endorsing his first major publication on eugenics, Hereditary Genius, an endorsement he repeated a number of years later all through The Descent of Man, as he endorsed Haeckel’s depraved “The History of Creation” also available online, from Project Gutenberg and elsewhere. Haeckel left no possible question but that Darwin and Origin of Species was the great inspiration of his materialist monism, he credited Darwin in that book with the “final triumph” of it. Darwin read that book, both in German from which he took his citations and in the English translation by Lankster, we have his written endorsement of both. I have, also, looked at Wilhelm Schallmayer’s independent attribution of his eugenics to Darwin and Origin of species.

        I haven’t found that those who supposedly defend Darwin from his own written record and the testimony of those who, unlike them, actually knew him have read him.

        I am not arguing in bad faith, I am arguing out of having looked at the evidence. I repeatedly noted that evolution is a fact, it happened, there is no serious question about that, your bringing it up in relation to my comments here and at Salon is dishonest.

      • Tilbed, you haven’t produced any citations from Charles Darwin of those others I named to refute what you said, having read all of those – taking the text of Darwin’s two major books on the topic as my guide – I doubt you could, though you are free to surprise me if you can. I will say that since reading The Descent of Man and those authors he cited, having to entirely revise my opinion, which had previously been as uniformed as that of most of those who idolize him, I have challenged many people to provide that primary source refutation of what I said and, as of yet, no one has been able to.

        The Darwin you believe in is a post-WWII construction. I have not found a single pre-war figure who pretended that Darwin and Natural Selection was not the inspiration of eugenics and Social Darwinism, not one, many of whom, like his sons, knew the man and worked with him.

        If you can provide that direct refutation from Darwin or his other relations who knew him, strong enough to overturn what Darwin presented as being reliable science, I would like to see it. I will, though, not accept the tertiary evidence from those who didn’t know him at all, who couldn’t have known him, that can’t overturn what he, himself said, especially what he presented as reliable science.

        I would advise you to look at what Darwin said about the British genocide of the native Tasmanian population, during his lifetime and the correspondence he had with G. A. Gaskell, and that is only one thing I could cite. When I wrote about it I provided the entire exchange with a citation of where you could find it to check out whether or not I was distorting it, which I wasn’t.


      • That’s too funny! Show me a credible source that shows Hitler ever even read Darwin!

        As I explained (and because you seemed to have missed it first time around), Darwin produced the mechanism of natural selection for changes to life over time and spoke plainly about fitness as critters able to reach maturation to reproduce. You wish to attribute to him Hitler’s lover affair with eugenics, which is artificial selection based on selected traits.

        Apples and oranges, Anthony McCarthy. That you claim to have reached not just one but two graduate schools – yet seem truly perplexed by this simple refutation of your thesis – may indicate that more graduate will be in your future as you seek a way around academic rigor… disarmed as your intellect may be by your seeming inability (determination NOT) to comprehend the written word.

        Chin up. I’m sure there are bible colleges and online universities that will think you a genius and start selling you those letters you seem to crave to place after your name.

      • Tilbed, the question isn’t whether or not Hitler read Origin of Species or The Descent of man but Darwin being the inspiration of his ideas. That can be indirect, through other writers. It is absolutely known that Hitler read Foundations of Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene by Fischer, Baur and Lenz, which explicitly based its eugenics, including the blueprint for the Nazi eugenics law of 1934, the first in Germany on Darwin’s Natural Selection. Leonard Darwin, Darwin’s own son, as late as April 1939, attributed German eugenics to the inspiration of his father, he cited Wilhelm Schallmayer, the father of organized German eugenics saying that it was his reading of Origin of Speices that led him, independently, to the same conclusions that Francis Galton had come to on reading the book. Galton was able to publish the letter that Charles Darwin wrote to him praising his first major eugenics text, Hereditary Genius, an endorsement that Darwin repeated over and over again in The Descent of Man. I would challenge you to read DoM and follow up on the citations of, especially, Haeckel made in it, including assertions that killing the “unfit” would improve the surviving population, Darwin’s complaints that the Victorian workhouses, vaccination, medical care of the “unfit” would lead to a catastrophic dysgenic condition in the human species. After you’ve shown that you have the first idea of what Darwin actually said, perhaps you can show me how that differs from the conclusions that a string of people from Galton, Huxley, Haeckel, Weissman, Fick, Gaskell, Pearson, Popenoe, Manzgazza, …. and eugenicists up to today have arrived at through Darwin’s natural selection. There was no other available inspiration for it to come from which can be held responsible for their, the most prominent figures in the history of eugenics, ideas to have come from. Their attribution of their eugenics to Charles Darwin or his theory of Natural Selection is all that is needed to prove the case.

        Go ahead and meet the challenge of dealing with the primary documentary evidence, what Charles Darwin and those eugenicists I’ve named have said on this matter. I will say that, having done what you obviously haven’t, read that primary evidence, it can’t be done.

      • You’re just going around the mulberry bush of your own making; again, Darwin’s contribution is about natural selection and fitness in a competitive and often hostile environment to achieve maturation and reproduction. Eugenics is about artificial selection. You are trying to apply the latter to the former and it’s bunk. Absolute bunk… and you know it! But you want to paint Darwin’s great idea in a negative light (regardless that it’s true) by associating it through intellectual dishonesty by trying to misrepresent the science to facilitate your duplicitous intention.

        If you don’t care about what’s true (and you demonstrably don’t in this case) , why should anyone pay any attention to you at all?

      • Tilbed, you have nothing to refute what I said, whereas I told you where you could find what Charles Darwin and other said which supports what I said. You have nothing because, 1. you haven’t read Darwin or those he cited or those who attributed their eugenics to him and his ideas, 2. you rely on a commonly held myth which is a complete distortion of what Charles Darwin actually said and about the almost uniform citation of Darwin and Natural Selection as the inspiration of the invention of eugenics. That is just as much a lie about reality as those who deny that evolution happened. Charles Darwin supported Galton’s invention of eugenics, he supported his son, George, when he wrote an article in the early 1870s proposing, among other things, that marriages be legally disolved for eugenics purposes. His endorsement of the extreme proposals of Ernst Haeckel are undeniable by those who have done what you so obviously haven’t, read The Descent of Man and followed up by reading the things Darwin cited as reliable science in that book.

        If you had any primary source material from Darwin or from those who knew him (he hosted Haeckel at Down a number of times as well as corresponded with him) especially his own sons who were eugenicists, you would produce it. I’m not surprised you haven’t, no one I’ve challenged to produce that conclusive evidence to refute what I show it says has been able to. Most, like you, don’t even try but try to bluff your way through the argument. If you had that material you wouldn’t have to bluff and cast aspersions.

        You are the one with a mulberry bush, I’ve got primary source material.

      • No, you’ve got cherry-picked quotations. No examination board of any reputable graduate program will pass such a student who uses this technique because it is inherently dishonest. You demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding about Darwin’s explanation to try to portray him and his outstanding work as a source for Hitler’s eugenics program. But the obvious falseness of the claim is apparent to anyone who understands the difference between ‘natural’ (meaning a purposeless, unguided mechanism) and ‘selective’ (meaning the intentional breeding for particular traits held to be desirable). Darwin’s theory of evolution is all about natural selection and the role of fitness to reproduce more successfully than less fit competitors. It has zero to do with selective breeding, although Darwin himself was fascinated with how traits could be artificially selected. This was before the time of genetics, so his curiosity is understandable. You are lying when you try to portray Darwin and his science as anything else and you know it.

        Stop it.

        The religious fallout is directly related to the same issue that befell Galileo: what to do when good science reveals to us a reality different from scripture.

        In the case of Darwin, the obvious problem is about descent through common ancestry rather than the scriptural account of divine POOF!ism. So the theistic supporters have spent over a hundred and fifty years trying to vilify Darwin… not because his science was poor (it was excellent) but because his explanation undermines religious creationism.

        That’s it. That’s the sum total of religion’s input into this ‘debate’. Zero knowledge.

        Since the synthesis with genetics, evolution as an explanation about how life changes over time to produce astounding complexity (local units following local rules) is arguably the very finest human achievement. Ever. The cost is for the religious who don’t respect reality as much as they wish to honour scripture. But once evolution is properly understood (something you have yet to achieve), creationism is all but dead.

        So the ploy for the past fifty tedious years is to vilify evolution by trying to equate Nazi eugenics with Darwin’s theory of evolution as its founding father. This is a straight up falsehood. (That such a falsehood breaks a commandment seems to hold little sway in the minds of so many of the pious.) That creationists (and now the Fine Fellows of the Discotute busy trying to wedge Intelligent Design – blessed be His name – into the science classroom through creationist propaganda) keep repeating the same mantra you do without incorporating the corrections offered thousands of times, which reveals your thesis to be the PRATT it is. To hell with real science that reveals an explanation that reliably and consistently produces therapies, technologies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time; let’s constantly lie, misrepresent, and tell falsehoods to try to link Darwin to Nazi eugenics. After all, if we say it often enough and with the appearance of conviction (and the appearance of academic rigor) utilizing our quotes mined from many tangential sources, we can continue to ignore the informed protests of those who bother to respond with accuracy and knowledge to our lying and misrepresentations. After all, perhaps this lie will stick, and Jesus/Allah/Yahweh will be pleased with us for our efforts.

      • Tildeb, you have nothing to counter what I said, I didn’t “cherrypick” quotations, I referred people to entire books and articles which support my contention, by Charles Darwin, Leonard Darwin, Francis Galton, Ernst Haeckel and others. You bring nothing except slogans and aspersions, I’m the one who brought citations of primary sources of the kind that are necessary to come up with any conclusion about this matter. You haven’t done that because you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

        I haven’t been talking about religion so I don’t know why you’d want to bring that red herring into this, well, I suspect it’s just another attempt to deflect attention from the fact that you’ve got nothing because you haven’t read the literature to see what it contains. As I told Jonny Scaramanga, and as he read in my comments at Salon, ONLY science should be taught in public school science classrooms and no form of creationism, including “teaching the controversy” belongs in public school classrooms. He knew that was my position before I commented here, or he would have if he had read my comments there. This has to do with the falsification of history to distort what Darwin said and its effect in the world.

        As Hitler was reading the Foundations of Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene while in prison, he was also writing his Mein Kampf, in which he obviously drew on the eugenics contained in it. The arguments by Fischer, Baur and Lenz, are all based on the theory of Natural Selection, specifically on what Darwin said. No one in the pre-war period who I have read commenting on that situation denied that fact. And, as I noted, Leonard Darwin was attributing German eugenics to his father’s inspiration five years into the Nazi eugenics laws, well after the forced sterilizations began, weeks before the mass killings of those deemed “unfit” began. That program was something Ernst Haeckel called for during Darwin’s lifetime, in publications that Darwin, himself, cited as reliable science. In fact, in The Descent of Man, he echoed such an idea from Haeckel’s The History of Creation, using the Spartan practice of infanticide as an example of the allegedly beneficial effects for a society that does that. Those are the facts as provided by Darwin, Haeckel and the line of Darwinists such as Galton, Pearson and others up to Popenoe, cited by Fisher, Baur and Lenz in the very book that Hitler is documented as reading at the time he wrote his book. Those are facts, not cherries. Not even bitter ones.

        Face it, you’ve bought a totally unnecessary lie about Charles Darwin that is disproved by his own writing and the testimony of those who knew him, including his own sons. Evolutionary science should have moved on from Darwin just as other sciences do, instead of turning him into the brand name of it. Those facts about Darwin will always be there for people interested in the facts to see. They will always be a political problem for science as long as they keep the Darwin brand. Most of the verification of evolution happened well after Darwin died, that is what they should base their promotion of science in, not on lies refuted by the record Darwin left.

      • Again, Anthony McCarthy, you evade the obvious in your pursuit of the oblique. Yes, evolutionary theory has changed since Darwin’s time. We now have a much better understanding about the natural mechanisms at work at the genetic level. But none of this in any way alters the fact that Darwin proposed natural selection as the mechanism of change to life over time and that fitness referred to maturation and reproduction. THIS is Darwin’s theory. He is the father for the idea of natural selection as the mechanism by which life changes over time.

        You are trying to link him and this theory to UNnatural selection of Hitler’s eugenics. This is fraud. Straight up, unequivocal fraud. Quote what what you want, read tangential writers who may not have been able to grasp this theory, those who misapplied its terms, who refused to understand what fitness meant in biological terms, all you want. It doesn’t change the FACT that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with the UNnatural selection of eugenics.

        Connecting the two – Darwin’s theory of evolution with Hitler – isn’t just academic fraud; it is outright lying. Why you can’t grasp the difference between proposing a natural mechanism for change over time and an unnatural mechanism for selection means there’s something wrong with your ability to comprehend the written word. You try to suggest that the 5th and 6th addition magically alter the term ‘fitness’ to mean what YOU want it to mean rather than what Darwin in the previous 4 editions meant the term to mean. Again, this is academic fraud you are committing.

        Stop it.

      • I couldn’t link Darwin to eugenics, he did that himself when he endorsed Galton’s Hereditary Genius and Galton did when he cited Origin of Species as his inspiration, as did Haeckl for his materialist monism. Look at chapter XX of Galton’s Memoir of My Life, where he deals with the origin of his eugenics. Read the letter Darwin sent him praising his first book about eugenics, Hereditary Genius, endorsing his conclusions. Look also at Ernst Haeckel’s The History of Creation where he repeatedly attributes his full blown monistic system to Darwin’s work. Then you can go and see that Darwin confirms their conclusions in The Descent of Man. You obviously haven’t read any of those things.

        I’ve told you where you can find the clear and obvious links, made by Charles Darwin, the inventors of eugenics in Britain and Germany, as well as in North America, from which the eugenicists who it is clear Hitler got his ideas from. You won’t read them, either out of laziness or a refusal to look at the only evidence that would convict or acquit Charles Darwin of the charge that he supplied the basis of eugenics, including the Nazi eugenics laws that were the first legal basis of the Holocaust. You can read Leonard Darwin, who has a credibility to make the conclusion about it that you don’t, having only be raised by Charles Darwin, making that attribution in 1939. There was no one who had his credibility in speaking for his father at that time. His brothers’ involvement with eugenics only confirms his conclusions. I found no one who knew Charles Darwin at all, never mind someone who knew him as well as his sons that made a case against that link before the war broke out. The post war invention of the non-eugenic Charles Darwin was made by people who never knew him and in contradiction to his own writing.

        You guys are promoting a lie just as much as the most dishonest of creationists do. And for ideological, not scientific purposes.

      • What you’re talking about is heritable traits and as I’ve already said, Darwin was always curious about this. He thought, for example, that heritability occurred by means of blood (a common misunderstanding), whereas Galton – Darwin’s half cousin (they shared a grandfather) – proved with his rabbit experiments that blood did not cause heritable improvements. As for Galton’s notions of producing castes of ‘superior’ humans, Darwin wrote to him saying, “for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think this is an eminently important difference.”

        All of this later stuff you try to use to attach to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to Hitler’s eugenics program is about the actual mechanisms of heritability, of which there were many competing hypotheses. These were not then and are not now related to Darwin’s seminal work on common descent by natural selection and are wholly misappropriated to attach to Hitler’s eugenics program. Again and again and again, I point out to you that you are talking about two very different ideas: natural selection, which is the Theory of Evolution by the mechanism of Natural Selection (Darwin), versus artificial selection (Galton et al). We know, as did Darwin, that through animal husbandry artificial selection can bring about heritable changes. There is no reason to think Darwin wasn’t interested in how this worked for cattle any more than for people but we do know that Darwin was not a promoter of eugenics. He says to Galton that, “Though I see so much difficulty, the object seems a grand one; and you have pointed out the sole feasible, yet I fear utopian, plan of procedure in improving the human race.” Again, this is about heritability in an unnatural selection, which has nothing to do with common descent by natural selection. That others attributed to Darwin their notions of improving the human race by selected breeding is entirely misleading of understanding the scope of Darwin’s seminal work about natural selection as the mechanism for changes to life over time.

      • Alright, I’m closing this comment thread. Both of you are repeating yourselves now.

      • Oh, I forgot to point out, You do understand that Charles Darwin wrote the 5th edition of The Origin of Species, don’t you? HE SAID THAT NATURAL SELECTION AND SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST MEANT THE SAME THING. Charles Darwin saying it MEANS THAT IS WHAT CHARLES DARWIN MEANT TO SAY.

        You are now trying to discredit the real, actual Charles Darwin who wrote that in order to save your phony, mythical, eugenics free, Social Darwinism free Charles Darwin action figure. Keep the lie, discredit the man as he really was. And you think that it’s only creationists who lie about Charles Darwin.

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