Local paper publishes letter from Rev, associating Hitler and Darwin!

76


Discussion by: Julieana
Hi Everyone,

I’m no huge fan of newspapers at the best of times, but surely it’s the job of a local paper to report local news?

Every week on the letters page, the Maidenhead Advertiser prints an entry from a (usually) Christian representative (a priest or vicar), often giving quite wise advice about patience or love, with some ‘And that’s why we should all believe in God’ nonesense crowbarred in unnecessarily.  The section is always marked up as being more than just a letter, suggesting that the paper endorses it. 

This week’s entry is unbelievable!  Here’s the transcript.  Let me know your thoughts on how to reply to the paper, and do you ever get this sort of thing in your local paper? 

TOPIC

What is a human being?  This question is not an empty academic one to get philosphers excited. It is a fundamental question, and the answers we give to it can have wide-ranging consequences.  If you think human beings are merely the product of a blind evolutionary process, then we are not essentially different from the rest of the animal kingdom and morality is a self-produced construct to help us regulate society.

Whereas if you think that we, human beings, are created by God, ‘in the image of God’ as the pinnacle of God’s creation (as Christians and the other Abrahamic religions claim) then morality has its origins not in us but in God.  And God will hold every human being accountable to how we have treated Him and each other in His world.

Last week, I watched on BBC i-player the first episode of the ‘Dark Charisma of Adolph Hitler’ and I was reminded it was Hitler’s acceptance of Darwinian principles and the conviction the German people were a genetically superior form of humanity that led ultimately to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Rev Will Stileman
St Mary’s Church,
Maidenhead

76 COMMENTS

  1. Hitler had a breeding program. He intended to use artificial selection to achieve his desired super race.
    Animal breeding predates Darwin by thousands of years.
    Hitler wanted to breed the strongest,fastest,etc. To each other.
    Horse breeders have been doing that for a long time.
    Nash33

  2. Liars for Jesus will pervert any information to their cause.

    Last week, I watched on BBC i-player the first episode of the ‘Dark Charisma of Adolph Hitler’ and I was reminded it was Hitler’s acceptance of Darwinian principles and the conviction the German people were a genetically superior form of humanity that led ultimately to the horror of the Holocaust.

     

    Like most theists he got it backwards because he is incompetent at reading documents, or just makes it up to suit his argument!
    Social Darwinism is the political perversion of Darwinian evolution by Hitler and others like him.

    Social Darwinism is a philosophy based on flawed readings of the biology text On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, which came into existence in towards the end of the 19th century.

    Social Darwinists took the biological ideas of Charles Darwin (and often mixed them with Lamarck) and attempted to apply them to the social sciences. They were especially interested in applying the idea of “the survival of the fittest” in a social context, as this would excuse their existing ideas
    of racism, colonialism, and unfettered capitalism.  – http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/S

    Anyway for those misrepresenting history this link is useful! – http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes

    A picture is worth a thousand words!

    The Deutsche Christen (German Christians) were a German Protestantism movement aligned towards antisemetic principles of Nazism. The DC were sympathetic to Hitler’s goal of uniting the individual Protestant churches into a
    single Reich church.

    The DC was first formed in 1931 and the flag was flown during marches and demonstrations. – http://nobeliefs.com/images/De

     Deutsche Christen Pin http://nobeliefs.com/images/De

    German Christian Movement
    Badge (Deutsch-Christliche Mitgliedsabzeichen) – http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes

    Hitler Youth Day
    Badge 1933 – http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes

  3. I take it that the Hitler documentary fell short of showing pictures of the Nazi’s famous “Gott Mit Uns” (“God With Us”) belt buckle. I live near Maidenhead and occassionally read the Advertiser, and I doubt that they would have the balls to print it.

    The reverend needs to learn the difference between a proven scientific fact that explains how we got here, and the highly debatable opinion on where we should go next with that information. As an analogy, just because you discover the amazing properties of water doesn’t mean that you should use those properties to justify drowning as many people as possible. Don’t blame the water or our understanding of it. Blame the murderer.

  4. Kindly respond to the newspaper with your support in how we are good without God. Or even ask the newspaper if you could publish a Humanist column. If you are not a good writer, perhaps you could find someone to fill this need. Small newspapers like this are usually funded through advertisements, unless it is funded by taxes from the community. Find out the source of funding.

  5. Still, apart from the horrible syntax, he got awfully close in this part:

     “If you think human beings are merely the product of a blind evolutionary process, then we are not essentially different from the rest of the animal kingdom and morality is a self-produced construct to help us regulate society.”

  6. Hi Dead Cell.  Thanks for the Link, which I read right through, and it clarified a lot of things I’ve read before.  It is a very thorough explanation of what both Nazis & Deutsche Christens were all about.  I recommend that others take the time to read this so they can see the whole picture.

  7. I could hardly stomach the first 10 mins or so of that programme myself before I stopped watching and decided to tweet beeb on how unrepresentative it was of their usual high standard of programme (e.g that recent outstanding cell biology one!).  Dark Charisma was such transparently propaganda-like in format and so lacking in insight of consequence or human nature that I almost sympathise with this kooky rev, already overburdened with confirmation bias, for getting precisely the wrong handle on Hitler and Atheism.  It was as if the makers wanted to call it The Black Magic of Hitler but decided on Dark Charisma instead to sound more credible.  But plainly, it was aimed at the profitable ‘woo, moo and baa’ crowd mindset.

  8. Oh dear. This man is an ignoramus. I wish I hadn’t read his letter because I already have high blood pressure and I could feel my hackles rise and my heart race. There really is no point where one can begin a discussion with idiots like this. He knows nothing of evolution, and he knows nothing of Hitler – except a snippet or two he picks up from a second rate TV documentary, yet he feels qualified to give the people of Maidenhead a sermon on both subjects. My instinct is not to let him get away with the trash he has written – perhaps I could suggest that you print off the responses here and post them to him and to his Bishop (John Pritchard). I am surprised – Anglican priests are usually chosen on the basis of high intellect.

  9. The ignorance is astounding but common enough, sadly.

    I would write a letter which you can do here http://www.maidenhead-advertis….

    But to answer your question, yes there is (or has been) this sort of thing in my local paper the Dorking Advertiser. Frankly local newspapers are so desperate for something to fill a few inches, they’ll take anything. And a regular “columnist” is perfect.

    Though I don’t like it, I’m not worried by this sort of drivel – no one really reads local papers anymore and I doubt the Reverend is convincing anyone who isn’t already convinced.

  10. As someone who has worked in marketing (yeah – what Bill Hicks said!) I can tell you that most local newspapers do not have long to live.  The demographics of their audience is old and ageing fast – and because older people tend to die more often (!) their audience is shrinking.  Older people are also the ones most likely to attend religious services. Yes, there’s a big overlap.

    Newspapers know this and tailor their content to the audience.

    My first question is: Why bother?

    If you really have to write remember that local newspapers are often really strapped for resources (people and time).  Make sure your response is diplomatic, succinct and to the point so they don’t have to edit it.

    Religious leaders (who also understand marketing demographics) have the time to write this kind of thing, so they write to local papers far more often than most of us.  The newspapers are grateful for the regular feed of free copy, despite its typically questionable content and low quality.

    In addition, newspapers have been notorious for their editorial bias for as long as they have existed – and local papers get away with more bias than nationals.  Be prepared for lots of disappointment (rejected letters, or no response).  In addition, they often have relationships with local politicians which are too close for the comfort of the average citizen.

    My second question is: Why bother?

    If you really want to protest against a God column in your local paper, club together with some like-minded people to write regularly on the same issues.  It may take a couple of months for the message to sink in – but so long as there are  a few people covering the same sorts of subjects and they consistently write in at least once a week two things may happen:

     - The Editor will realise they are missing out on some readers, and modify the papers stance to see if they can gain enough to affect circulation, postbag, advertising volume, or revenues.

     - The Editor will see an opportunity to put counter-positions on the same page and generate some controversy, as a stepping stone to driving circulation (etc.).

    This is a lot of hard work just to get to the point where you can basically argue the toss with a bunch of people who think they’re in God’s Waiting Room – hanging on grimly to their invisible ‘free entry tickets’.

    My third question is: Why bother?

    Many local papers are dependent on local authorities paying fees for the publication of statutory notices (a new road is proposed between X and Y, so-and-so has requested permission to build at A , parking fees at B will change from 1st Jan 2024, etc.) – without which they would simply fold as businesses.  Governments are reluctant to change the law on the publication of statutory notices – even though doing so would cut costs and even though the Net’s push technology would greatly improve distribution effectiveness – because they don’t want to upset older voters.

    This is part of the problem of the unhealthy relationship between politics and the press.  You want to shore up this model by making it relevant to younger people?

    My fourth que … well, you get the picture.

    Idea:

    How about starting an on-line local paper?  You will need to build a network of contributors, and you’ll need to fund a server and, probably, a connection to mobile networks (though this can be an ambition to begin with).  Any old second hand PC and broadband connection will do as a starter – and will cost a sight less than a printing press and hiring a bunch of kids to throw papers through front doorways.

    Someone once told me that all politics is local.  Do local politicians have something to contribute?  Probably they will not want to get involved until you have got some audience, but contacting them is all part of the networking you will need to do – and do a lot.  Don’t be too cynical, some of your local politicians will not be in the cabal – particularly those who are independent and those belonging to parties that are, locally, minority parties.

    Local pressure groups are always looking for new ways to get their message out – and often struggle against the local press-politics cabal.  Part of the problem will be that these people are often so motivated that they have their own Net sites.  Somehow you will need to develop antennae that pick up new local groups before they get organised.

    On-line publication is cheap, but it’s not free.  My own recent experience of working on two political campaigns, one a local issue, has convinced me that many local businesses near me are crying out for local advertising outlets.  A friend was able to fund a monthly newsletter purely from the fact that local businesses wanted to be involved in supporting local people.

    Then there is the issue of gaining viewers / readers.  Where to advertise, how to network, who to speak to, where to go …

    I have had this idea for a while and thought it would be a great project for a gap year student, unemployed recent graduate, or someone newly retired – it will take considerable effort in the early days.

    Sadly my student days are behind me and I’m not due to retire for at least another twenty years.  I am also planning to move house, so my ‘local’ area may be about to change.

    If you decide to give it a try, please ask again.

    Peace.

  11. Perhaps you could point out as a reply that all countries have people who identify with their nation and believe they are ‘special’. It has little to do with genes, more to do with the ‘self’ concept (ego) that will identify with any cause or ‘ism’ that helps maintain this structure. Nationalism is often equal to religion in its fundamental nature of ‘specialness’. Hitler used the German people at a time when they were ripe for a reaction against the strictures imposed on them from the last war. He re-kindled their national pride and successfully used it to further ‘his’ cause. Religious and nationalistic beliefs have caused numerous conflicts and they use science in any way that suits them. 

  12. as Jay G points out, it’s unworthy of response but other than finding this amusing for a number of reasons, not least becuase it’s a dreadfully tired old assertion being written as though the author has had some amazing original insight rather than copied a mantra as he’s clearly done.

    i like that these things get printed. i believe in free speech at all levels. not just becuase it’s fair but because people like this are free to show their true nature to the world. we could argue about which books were on hitlers naughty list (OOS), which on his nice (bible), we could argue about hitlers beliefs, we could point out that millions died, not by hitlers hand, but by the good christian folk of germany and their allies, who knew better than to stand up to authority, who went to church on sundays, sang gods priases then went back to work on monday murdering the human beings they knew were not really human, they were jews or gypsies or homosexual or disabled or people who stood in the way of their massacre so there was no need to listen to that prick of conscience, at worst they might need ask forgiveness (and get it) behind closed doors.

    but instead, much better i feel to let these bigots publish and damn themselves. if they dip their toe in and find no resistance from us, maybe more will come out? maybe they’ll feel empowered to go further and point out that non-believers are not really human and maybe we should all have a think about what god would like to do to us if we were all rounded up.

    sure there are more belivers in evolution today than in 1939, and fewer hitlers, indeed no one in a position of political power, openly atheist, suggesting what “should be done” with any other group but lets not let facts get in the way of opinion.

    let’s sit back and accept, it’s the role of the self-appointed moral guardians to point out what’s wrong with the world and who is good and who is bad, just as was done so eagerly in the past, and leave the response to the mighty gods of irony

  13. So close, I’d say he’s bang-on. Where I disagree is the implication that this (reality) is a bad thing.  He could have written it as a simple statement of fact “We are the product of a blind evolutionary process, are no different from the rest of the animal kingdom and have constructed a morality in order to help us regulate society”. Which is true, and sounds like the huge achievement that it actually is!

  14. This is funny considering many protestant clergy men in Germany, pedalled to their masses that Hitler was divenly inspired. Imagine that, the greatest mass murderer in history , divinely inspired.

  15. He may have watched a different programme.  In Episode 2 at 38min 27 secs, Hitler in the Reichstag says; “As Fuhrer of the German people and Chancellor of the Reich, I can only thank the Lord for blessing us in such a wonderful way… I pray to Him to let us and all others find the right path…”  Sentiments not out place in the Rev Will Stileman’s church.

  16. Typical clergyman’s sleight of hand.  Guilt by association with Hitler. He makes no serious criticism of Darwin’s ideas, which are now widely accepted and have been vastly improved upon. Instead he implies that silly argument “that it couldn’t have happened by chance, –  therefore Jesus”.

    Of course he didn’t mention that Hitler was a Christian too!  Funnily enough Darwin was contemplating becoming a clergyman, before he went on the Beagle. It was the perceived cruelty of nature that turned Darwin away from Christianity!

  17. Im not really suprised. My ex minister would say horrible things about Professor Darwin. Such as that Darwin invented evoultion as an excuse to cheat on his wife, and sleep with many women. I asked him his views on Dr Dawkins the other day. He basically said the same thing, saying that Dr Dawkins must cheat on his wife. So instead of saying why evolution is wrong he made Ad Hominum attacks. When he does make attacks on evolution he made bad ones. He gave me a small book on how evolution is wrong filled with biologists, and other doctors who were LONG dead from 50 to 100 years ago. Other doctors included in the pamplet were people like Henry Morris, who has no credentials to talk about evoultion. Other doctors were not even doctors, One man was a electronics experts. But the biologists in the book were from 50 to 100 years ago. I also find it absurd to qoute mine, or take out of context people like Stephen Jay Ghould saying that we dont have such and such fossil to prove evolution. According to the theist we should have millions of fossils to prove human evolution. By that logic should we have millions of fossils to prove that the dinosours existed? I guess they didnt exist since we dont have millions of dinosour fossils.

  18. Im sorry the electronics expert was a doctor, when I said they were not doctors. I was talking about one perticular man, or women who wasnt cited as a doctor yet was only a curator at a famous Museum. Forgive me for my bad grammer, and spelling.

  19. I also saw this program and was surprised to hear the reference to Darwin.  My understanding is that Hitler made many references to God and glory from above in his speeches and was in fact praised and prayed for publicly by the Pope during the war.  He was certainly supported by the German church of the time.

  20. Instead of focusing on the coincidental
    or opportunistic conclusions Hitler may have held, it is far more
    insightful to look at his approach; how he justified his actions.
    How did Hitler know which races were superior and inferior? The
    methodology used to determine some absolute racial superiority can
    only be rooted in the a priori; the non-evidential. Nature could not
    and did not provide him with what he wanted so he contrived it. By
    going above and beyond experience, Hitler’s approach is faith-based
    and super-naturalist.

  21.  

    jason2004vic
       By going above and beyond experience, Hitler’s approach is faith-based and super-naturalist.

    Not really surprising when you remember that Hitler was baptised and brought up as a Roman Catholic.

    He was never excommunicated, so remained a RC all his life, despite his billing by his propagandists as “The New Luther”!

    http://fxeuzet.free.fr/blog/19

  22. Bribri, you could hardly be any more wrong.  Hitler clearly stated the opposite to what you say.  He believed that the different races were created in separate acts of creation. 
    The Nazi theory of race was explicitly creationist, and religious. The perfect (Aryan)  race was created by God – but was being diluted by mixing with inferior races (who were created separately). Just search for ‘Nazism and Race’ on, for example, wikipedia. 
    Darwin stated that all humans had evolved from a common ancestor. How much more different can you get?
     

  23. Rev Stileman,

    Learn to differentiate Social Darwinism, applying extreme Darwininan princples to your morals, and an actual FACT of life without morals, which is the way of the natural world, natural selection.

  24. I watched that programme myself and the narrator actually did use the phrase ‘Hitler’s Darwinian principles’ in the usual negative context. Which I baulked at and have already penned a complaint to the BBC. I just knew that some unthinking theist would use that as a pretext to link Hitler and Darwin and… here we all are!

  25. If you think human beings are merely the product of a blind evolutionary process, then we are not essentially different from the rest of the animal kingdom and morality is a self-produced construct to help us regulate society.  He’s Right!
    I was reminded it was Hitler’s acceptance of Darwinian principles and the conviction the German people were a genetically superior form of humanity that led ultimately to the horrors of the Holocaust.  He’s wrong!

  26. Social Darwinism is undesirable because of the brutality it breeds. Nazism is a form of Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism sets such limits on individual thought no one could long endure it. To miss the fact that real darwinism is by no means so obvious is to presume it is less important than the question of warlike behaviour, and ideals as simplistic as the Nazi’s were, centred on this one physical aspect of evolution. One of the poster soldiers, I observe, was jewish. But in the end, it simply won’t do to judge a man by the stupidity of his detractors. Darwin was a brave thinker, as well as a rational one; the nazi’s simply plagiarised his work for their own foul racial and religious ends. And thus to a divided and punished Germany.

  27. If you think human beings are merely the product of a blind evolutionary process, then we are not essentially different from the rest of the animal kingdom and morality is a self-produced construct to help us regulate society.

    This sounds like quite a good way to view morality – work out how best to regulate society. What’s wrong with that?

    Whereas if you think that we, human beings, are created by God, ‘in the image of God’ as the pinnacle of God’s creation (as Christians and the other Abrahamic religions claim) then morality has its origins not in us but in God.  And God will hold every human being accountable to how we have treated Him and each other in His world.

    This sounds like a very bad way to view morality. It leaves the door open for any mad man – and let’s face it, there have been plenty of them – to claim that he is speaking for God and we must all do as he says. Never at any point in history has God himself appeared and spoken to the whole world. It is always some guy coming down from a mountain or out of a desert alone who claims to have received his instructions in private.

    But all of this misses the point that if humans had not evolved with an innate sense of morality, why would we care about God’s moral instructions? They wouldn’t mean anything to us! You wouldn’t care about the consequences of your behaviour and you wouldn’t comprehend why God cared. The very fact that the reverend is pleading to our sense of morality is a recognition that it it is already in us! 

    In any case, evolution’s a fact.

  28. The article contains some fairly glib relativism. The rev says:

    “If you think human beings are merely the product of a blind evolutionary process, then A”

    “Whereas if you think that we, human beings, are created by God … then B”

    As though this is simply a matter of preference.

    The problem is that which one is true (or whether neither is true) is an externally discoverable fact. And whatever that fact is, it’s the same for all of us.

    After centuries of painstaking investigation, a lot of what we know best about the universe tells us that the first one is almost certainly true, and the second one is almost certainly not.

    So, choosing to “think” that humans are created by God doesn’t change anything about the nature of morality, and just serves to mark you out as ignorant.

  29. Well, I wrote a reply to the Maidenhead Advertiser in response to the above letter, and, to their credit, they printed it in this week’s paper, in full! Please see the transcript of it below:

    What is a human being? The product of natural selection – this is an
    absolute scientific fact.

    So, aware of this, I was shocked by last week’s Topic by Rev
    Stileman, asking myself why something so outrageous had been printed in my local
    paper.

    Rev Stileman seems to be ‘blind’ also – blind to truth, evidence, and
    historical fact. Unlike him, I’m not tied to ancient religious writings –
    therefore I believe there is no ‘god’ (in whose image I was created) let alone
    one who will judge me after I die.

    When we’re dead, we’re dead – just the same as any other animal or
    organism on this planet. We aren’t the ‘pinnacle’ of creation, we are evolved
    primates who have the capacity to reason, and have developed innate altruism.
    These evolved through natural selection, enabling survival for our tribal
    ancestors.

    This is a basic scientific premise you can find in any primary school
    classroom today.

    Even if you fail to accept any of this, I have to address Rev
    Stileman’s closing paragraph. According to him, and I quote: ‘It was Hitler’s
    acceptance of Darwinian principles and the conviction the German people were a
    genetically superior form of humanity that led ultimately to the horrors of the
    Holocaust’.

    Perhaps firstly it is potent to address the actual facts about
    Hitler’s own religious beliefs:

    Hitler was a staunch Christian (having been baptised Catholic) and was an
    altar boy. He declared in Mein Kampf that becoming a ‘church Abbott’ was to him
    ‘the highest and most desirable ideal’.

    Hitler worked closely with the church – his birthday celebrations in
    1939 were initiated by Pope Pius XII (becoming an annual tradition) and he
    declared ‘we have undertaken the fight against the Atheistic Movement… we have
    stamped it out’.

    Even disregarding all this, Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ appears to
    have no reference to mass genocide as
    an evolutionary tool. Over the centuries, millions however have been slaughtered
    in the name of religion.

    Rev Stileman’s lazy use of this fallacious ad-homonym argument does
    absolutely nothing to enhance the credibility of his unstable religious high
    ground.

    By Steve Cann

  30. I was reminded it was Hitler’s acceptance of Darwinian principles and the conviction the German people were a genetically superior form of humanity that led ultimately to the horrors of the Holocaust.

    This reminded me of Hitler’s acceptance of Newtonian principles and the conviction that the Luftwaffe could drop a lot of bombs using gravity that led to the horrors of the blitzkrieg.

  31.  

    This reminded me of Hitler’s acceptance of Newtonian principles and the
    conviction that the Luftwaffe could drop a lot of bombs using gravity
    that led to the horrors of the blitzkrieg.

    It could have been worse! 
    If Hitler’s acceptance of Einsteinian principles, had not been retarded by his Deutsche-Christian bigotry against “Jewish Science”, the bombing could have been much worse: – as in Japan!

  32. The hilarious thing is that if the Rev watched the second episode of ‘the Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler’ he would have seen footage of Hitler telling a Nazi rally they were doing Gods work. I wonder if he would have written in about that?

  33. A few more thoughts on this issue…

    Even if evolution by natural selection was neither a known theory nor a fact, Hitler could still have done what he did. And if God exists and is the source of creation and morality, as the Rev believes, Hitlter did what he did under God.

    And if the Rev knew his history, he’d know that for all the havoc he caused, Hitler and the Nazis LOST the war, and the Western world has since thrived under liberal - and increasingly less religious - democracies. Which is strong evidence that the “fittest”, with respect to the survival of humans, does not apply to those who demonstrate the most vile, intolerant and aggressive behaviour. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Sadam Hussein, Ghadfi, Amin, totalitarian communist Europe, South African apartheid, South American juntas; all ultimately defeated.

  34.  Bribri, Private Eye (a satirical magazine for any who might not know) has a running joke making fun of the glib application of the word “community”. Car drivers, internet users, travelling salesmen, just about everybody..

    Was there a worldwide “scientific community” in the 1930s? Scientists in various places, for their own safety had to take account of the religious and political stance of the country they lived in. Even today, would you advise a scientist in a strict Islamic country to speak up loudly for evolution? Or, for that matter, a scientist in Kentucky!

  35. If Hitler had being killed in the years leading up to the war then its obvious to me there would not have being a war. Such was his gravitas and divisiveness. Re:Darwin as an inspiration to Hitler : Darwin was just reporting the facts, Hitler was a psychopath , a one in a million , the complete package.

  36. I was reminded it was Hitler’s acceptance of Darwinian principles and the conviction the German people were a genetically superior form of humanity that led ultimately to the horrors of the Holocaust.  

    Sorry that’s flat out wrong. Hitler believed that the Aryan race and “inferior” races were created by God in separate acts of creation. Darwin stated that all humans evolved from a common ancestor.  They are miles apart! 

  37.  I have to disagree with you on this. Not everyone has the time or inclination to read up on evolutionary theory and I’ve encountered plenty of people, generally considered to be thoughtful and intelligent, who demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the subject. It is by no means uncommon, in my experience, to hear such folk equating evolution with improvement or superiority (as they perceive it) and then it’s just a short step to “Social Darwinism”.

    It may be that this Stileman character was deliberately distorting the facts to suit his agenda but it’s also possible that he has genuinely missed the thrust of the scientific theory.

    I feel that it’s always worth pointing out the mistakes, politely and clearly, in these circumstances because you may manage to disabuse the author of his folly or, at least, get through to some of the other readers of the piece.

  38. When viewing the opinions and practices of the religious world, which, let’s face it, is the over whelming majority, I tend to apply the core message of the Christian faith, but with a modern twist.

    After roughly 6 thousand years of mankind’s self-elevation out of the animal kingdom due to the drawn conclusions of speculative thought about the human soul and character being reflected within the nature of god, a gradual elevation that reached it’s pinnacle with the concept of man/god as perfection, along came the prophet Charles Darwin, may peace be upon him (sorry, couldn’t help myself), that brought mankind back down to earth and back into the animal kingdom and provided an explanation for the nature of our existence.

    So, with the teachings of the new prophet still in it’s infancy and very much a tiny minority the only thing to do is to follow on the proud millennia old tradition of taking a previous religious message and making it your own and say “Forgive them brother/sister, for they know not what they are!”

  39.  using swastikas for evidence of nazi-ism pre-war is a bit fraught.

    - I have a copy of rudyard kipling with one on the front
    - I’ve seen them on buildings in italy (italy used different symbology for naziism)
    - I’ve seen thm on building in Iceland
    - my local town hall has them (UK)

    pre-war the S was quite widely used.

  40.  
    James77
    When viewing the opinions and practices of the religious world, which, let’s
    face it, is the over whelming majority, I tend to apply the core message of the Christian faith, but with a modern twist.

     

    That is one of the problems of wearing Xtian blinkers as an alternative to objective study.
    Most of the worlds religions, past and present have NOTHING to do with Xtianity! – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L

    After roughly 6 thousand years of mankind’s self-elevation out of the animal kingdom due to the drawn conclusions of speculative thought about the human soul and character being reflected within the nature of god, a gradual elevation that reached it’s pinnacle with the concept of man/god as perfection,

     

    This I am afraid is pure delusion.  While recent humans have exceptional brain development, “perfection” does not exist in nature.  It is a human imagined perception. Speculative thought, does not produce material conclusions – evidence and reasoning are required for that.  There is no evidence of souls or gods.  In fact there is not even a clear agreement among theists on definitions of these!
    That is why ignorant people accepted the politically perverted “Social Darwinism” from the likes of Hitler.

    along came the prophet Charles Darwin, may peace be upon him (sorry, couldn’t help myself), that brought mankind back down to earth and back into the animal kingdom and provided an
    explanation for the nature of our existence.

    ..and indeed this theory has been confirmed in tens of thousands of independent university studies all over the world so that his core ideas now provide the central basis of genetics and biology. – which debunk many whimsical notions from the past.

    So, with the teachings of the new prophet still in it’s infancy and very much a tiny minority

    Err!  You really need to do some basic homework on modern science.  The university biology departments of the world are absolutely clear on the verification of Darwinian evolution – and have been for over a hundred years.

    the only thing to do is to follow on the proud millennia old tradition of taking a previous religious message and making it your own

    Many communities of sheepish followers close their minds and take a pride in their ignorance by doing just that!

    Of course a very large number of educated Xtians accept the fact of evolution , even if some shuffle in a bit of god-did-it.  It is only the uneducated ignorant who dispute its basic principles. [Theistic evolution is the accepted official position of the Roman Catholic Church,[1] along with many non-fundamentalist Protestant churches and some liberal Muslim groups.]
    - http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/T

    and say “Forgive them brother/sister, for they know not what they are!”

    It is a sad fact of life that there is considerable ignorance of science in many backwaters of the world, where the people do not understand the evolutionary tree of life. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F…   – Indeed they do not know what they are because of local educational failures!!

  41.  

    nick keighley
     using swastikas for evidence of nazi-ism pre-war is a bit fraught.

    The swastika certainly pre-dates Hitler’s acceptance of it, but there is no doubt, when it comes 1930s Germany  or NAZI organisations. The links I gave http://richarddawkins.net/disc… show the badges of such organisations and their association with NAZI Xtianity.

    Hitler probably first encountered it during his Roman Catholic upbringing.

  42. “That is one of the problems of wearing Xtian blinkers as an alternative to objective study. 
    Most of the worlds religions, past and present have NOTHING to do with Xtianity”
    All religions are connected, they’re all part of the same continuum. The mechanics of evolution affect everything, with the external factors of the environment morphing one thing into another. 

    “This I am afraid is pure delusion.  While recent humans have exceptional brain development, “perfection” does not exist in nature.  It is a human imagined perception. Speculative thought, does not produce material conclusions – evidence and reasoning are required for that.  There is no evidence of souls or gods.  In fact there is not even a clear agreement among theists on definitions of these! 
    That is why ignorant people accepted the politically perverted “Social Darwinism” from the likes of Hitler.”

    I was speaking from an anthropological point of view on the evolution of religion were souls and gods are merely creations to explain the internal and external world of the speculator. The elevation of the human character has been expressed in the interpretations of god throughout history, from the discovery of agriculture when the transcendental beings of the early civilisations first started to take human form as opposed to animal, all the way through to the last evolution of the monotheistic god, a god of absolute perfection, so much so that his human creations can only be perfect, to the point were they lives are essentially just a test to uphold the created perfection to gain entry into the afterlife of paradise.

    No delusions of perfection here! 

    “..and indeed this theory has been confirmed in tens of thousands of independent university studies all over the world so that his core ideas now provide the central basis of genetics and biology. – which debunk many whimsical notions from the past”

    “Err!  You really need to do some basic homework on modern science.  The university biology departments of the world are absolutely clear on the verification of Darwinian evolution – and have been for over a hundred years”

    The world is full of billions of people. Tens of thousands of academic papers is still a tiny minority and a biological department at a university doesn’t represent the ideology of the university’s location. The world of academia is only acceptable if it doesn’t contradict the ideological beliefs of a culture, and the evolution of man from ape contradicts all of the religious scriptures from antiquity.

    The adaptation of the Christian quote was just a light hearted way of saying that the bad side of human nature, just like the good, is an expression of our primate drives. I was going to make it lighter and even more modern by adapting it to “Forgive them Bubbles, for they know not what they are”, which I think I should of done because I don’t think you’ve understood the angle of the original post.

  43. I would say this entire letter was contrived to compare Hitler to Darwin and suggest that ideas which contradict the ‘Abrahamic’ idea of the universe are intrinsically evil.

    It is a tragedy that genuine human suffering at the hands of a persecutor be dragged up, all in the name of another persecuting agenda.

    I would request the letter to be re-written in order to make a valid point/better highlight the point being made, or else be retracted.

  44. Morality is not a self-produced construct, it is actually innate to a greater or lesser extent in virtually all of us (except perhaps pyschopaths/sociopaths -eg Hitler). It is a biological system that has evolved to make social animals work more efficiently as a team. The great misunderstanding of many religious (and athiests for that matter) is to think morality must be a human construct. Yes, the line is a bit fuzzy, but basic morality originates from empathy.

  45. James77 – The elevation of the human character has been expressed in the interpretations of god throughout history, from the discovery of agriculture when the transcendental beings of the early civilisations first started to take human form as opposed to animal,

    There have certainly been many religions an shamanistic beliefs in human history, with trance induced individuals and others using various ploys to unite their followers and add weight to their claims of knowledge. Human egos like to be told they are “superior” – even if they are not – and have no idea what “superior” would mean!

    all the way through to the last evolution of the monotheistic god,

    Monotheistic gods, are the memetic feature  of certain widespread minority cultures but the story of their “evolution” is just bronze-age tribal history, with a bit of mythology and psychology thrown in.

    a god of absolute perfection,

    First you have no evidence of the existence of a god, and as I pointed out, “perfection” is matching outcomes to human objectives, thus making your argument circular – having chosen your undefined objectives, your story (without a shred of evidence) claims the still undefined objectives have been met.

    so much so that his human creations can only be perfect,

    Anyone with any understanding of biology knows that the organs of the anatomy of humans and other animals are very far from perfect in their functions.  Some organs are so poor that if a manufacturer sent you one, you would ask for a refund.  Many have species failed totally and gone extinct.

    to the point were they lives are essentially just a test to uphold the created perfection to gain entry into the afterlife of paradise.

    Afterlives are fairy stories and perfection is a myth.  There is no evidence that humans or any other creatures exist beyond the individual’s death – apart from the genes of some living on in their offspring.

    No delusions of perfection here!

    You have a mental image – but no evidence.  I think that is the definition of illusion/delusion.

    The world is full of billions of people. Tens of thousands of academic papers is still a tiny minority and a biological department at a university doesn’t represent the ideology of the university’s location.

    Facts are not decided by ideologies or popular opinion.  They are decided by objective investigations and reasoning based on confirmation by repeated  independent testing confirming the observations and results.
    It is sheeplike cultural followings of unevidenced beliefs, which allowed the likes of Hitler to put together his united military machine.
    Many religious and ideological wars had similar tribal followings, causing much suffering to their populations and their neighbours.
    If you want to build a bridge, you employ engineers – You don’t hold a referendum of opinions in a football crowd.

    The world of academia is only acceptable if it doesn’t contradict the ideological beliefs of a culture,

    Facts and scientific laws, confirmed by scientific methodology exist, regardless of whether the ignorant choose to accept them or not.  Ignoramuses disputing Newton’s Laws, will still fall off a high building, regardless of if they believe in gravity or not. 
    Those disputing evolution will still be killed by evolved antibiotic resistant bacteria, if they ignore scientific medical advice.

    and the evolution of man from ape contradicts all of the religious scriptures from antiquity.

    It certainly does.  So does the formation of accretion disks from gas in nebulae, and the formation of stars and planets from accretion disks. 
    Those Bronze-age scribes, really were ignorant! – but then they did not have the benefit of modern scientific equipment, so were guessing as best they could.  That’s probably why many thought the Earth was flat!

  46. Julieana,

    You could remind him that Darwinism is about survival of the fittest. Hitler did not survive nor did any progeny. Here evolution, albeit blindly, removed his combination of genes from the pool.

    That is what evolution does. No more, no less. To suggest it does more is not Darwinism but Hitlerism or Stilemanism. Ask him to choose.

  47. Last week, I read a book and through it I was reminded that it was the acceptance of the book’s principles that led ultimately to the horrors of, amongst many others, the Crusades and the Inquisition and the despicable cruelty of the Faithful towards the Heathens, Apostates, Believers of a different creed (or none). The book is called the holy bible.

  48. Oh, the irony- it HURTS! Hitler was a racist (of a type) and thought one race superior to another. Will Stileman obviously has a real bad case of speciesism. With this bit- “…human beings, are created by God, ‘in the image of God’ as the pinnacle of God’s creation…” ole’ Willy exposes himself as a member of the immensely arrogant crowd who thinks the entire universe (and MORE if there are multi universes!) was created for Human Beings (but only on one planet among gazillions). Astounding arrogance and a completely contemptuous view of all other forms of life besides homo-sapiens!

  49. Hi Everyone,

    Thanks so much for all the suggestions, links, and thoughts so far.  I submitted this discussion then went off for a week in Lanzarote, so was delighted to see all your responses when I got back! I’m going to link this discussion to the Maidenhead Advertiser on Twitter and also their website.  I’ll let you know if I get any response.  I also liked the idea of printing these replies and sending them to the Rev.  As someone suggested, perhaps he’s just ignorant of the facts, and it doesn’t help when a respected broadcaster like the BBC makes connections between Hitler and Darwin.  Education and patience is the key!

    Warmest wishes, Jules

  50. This fallacy called “reductio ad Hitlerum” of comparing any belief system with Nazism (whether true or not) or condemn something because he did a Nazi: “Hitler was a vegetarian, ergo, all vegetarians are in favor of exterminating people”. It’s stupid and indecent. As says Jay G, does not deserve an answer.

  51. i live in maidenhead so i felt it my duty to respond.  here is what i wrote:

    Dear Advertiser

    In response to Rev Will
    Stileman’s letter on social Darwinism. His appeal to emotions
    regarding Hitler’s pseudo-science will not change the scientific
    facts of evolution.

    He should be reminded
    that Hitler was a catholic and Christianity also motivated the Nazis.
    (as seen in the attached Hitler Youth Badge.) The catholic church was
    in league with fascism in WW2 and made many deals with European
    dictators including Hitler.

    perhaps Rev Stileman
    should ‘let those without sin cast the first stone’

     

  52.  

    The catholic church was in league with fascism in WW2 and made many deals with European dictators including Hitler.

    Ah!  You mean like the arrangement with Mussolini to set up a Vatican State!

  53. From here in Germany this sounds very funny! First of all this reverend Stileman got some things terribly wrong about Darwins theory (maybe just like Asshole Hitler – so not acceptance but misunderstanding)like all the rich Christians of our days misunderstand the message that was connected to this hippie guy in Nazareth, if this village had ever existed!). And maybe he isn’t aware that the Nazis did all kind of strange things with items taken from all cultures they knew. Even the Hackenkreuz as a main symbol was stolen like the SS – runes and nearly everything. 

    I don’t think it’s funny if nearly the whole nation gets out of control! It’s even worse if they all stop reflecting on their actions. This happened a lot of times from the crusades via the McCarthy eara to 9/11 But this risk lies in nearly all ideologies. Everything including science can be corrupted by bad ideas Just look at Josef Mengele ( Nazi pseudo doctor)claiming to be a scientist and torturing people only to find out where the blue eyes com from. Maybe – talking about evolution – this guy should think for just one thing: the concept of god is very difficult and abstract. I’m sure our very ancestors had found ways to live together in groups without even being aware of something other than the concept of divine that could be taken for everything. As development goes from the simple to the complex there were surely concepts of morality long before concepts of gods!

    Greetings

    Joe

  54. From here in Germany this sounds very funny! First of all this reverend Stileman got some things terribly wrong about Darwins theory (maybe just like Asshole Hitler – so not acceptance but misunderstanding)like all the rich Christians of our days misunderstand the message that was connected to this hippie guy in Nazareth, if this village had ever existed!). And maybe he isn’t aware that the Nazis did all kind of strange things with items taken from all cultures they knew. Even the Hackenkreuz as a main symbol was stolen like the SS – runes and nearly everything. 

    I don’t think it’s funny if nearly the whole nation gets out of control! It’s even worse if they all stop reflecting on their actions. This happened a lot of times from the crusades via the McCarthy eara to 9/11 But this risk lies in nearly all ideologies. Everything including science can be corrupted by bad ideas Just look at Josef Mengele ( Nazi pseudo doctor)claiming to be a scientist and torturing people only to find out where the blue eyes com from. Maybe – talking about evolution – this guy should think for just one thing: the concept of god is very difficult and abstract. I’m sure our very ancestors had found ways to live together in groups without even being aware of something other than the concept of divine that could be taken for everything. As development goes from the simple to the complex there were surely concepts of morality long before concepts of gods!

    Greetings

    Joe

  55. I’m by no means of scientist, but the idea that the Nazis were more ’Darwinian’ than the rest of us seems questionable to me. Are not our moral instincts the result of evolutionary processes, and in that sense ‘Darwinian’?

    Besides, the notion that without god morality is merely “a self-produced construct” is just playing with words. You can define morality as “a self-produced construct” if you want, ­but it certainly doesn’t have to be defined that way.  I would define morality as doing good and not evil, which in practice means evaluating actions in terms of predictable consequences.­­

  56. Darwin was at the strict belief that behavior like Hitlers, Is specifically contrary to the theory of natural selection. Particularly because it is not the domain of humans to decide what traits are more beneficial and that evolution is a passive mathematical force. Not a force to be implemented.  

  57. If he’s CofE is he not barking up the wrong doctrinal tree? As I understand it, the new and recent Archbishops of Canterbury agree that evolution is a scientific fact. May be worth pointing that out to him and suggest that he go and join some crackpot baptist sect in Kentucky where his chip-on-the-shoulder pulpit sound bites will be a better fit.

    In addition, you could ask the local rag why doesn’t it have some input from the well-balance, sentient morality that thrives in the atheist community where people make their judgements on love, peace and lifestyle after some deep cerebral consideration rather than taking it from mediaeval papal edits of some bronze-age fantasists.

    Come to think of it, I can’t ever remember the BBC’s ‘Thought for the day’ coming from an atheist; it’s always a priest or a rabbi or the like. Or did I just miss it?

  58. “If you think human beings are merely the product of a blind evolutionary process, then we are not essentially different from the rest of the animal kingdom.”
    This is where the article should have stopped although I would have deleted ‘essentially’. The link between Darwin and Hitler holds as much water as that of James Clerk Maxwell and skin cancer.

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