TV special links Darwinism with Hitler, other atrocities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A new documentary by a prominent Christian ministry links Darwinian evolution with the Holocaust, Columbine and other horrific events, arguing that the removal of God from scientific thought has had devastating consequences.

"Darwin's Deadly Legacy" will air Aug. 26-27 nationwide on television during Coral Ridge Ministries' "Coral Ridge Hour," and thereafter will be available on DVD. Coral Ridge Ministries President D. James Kennedy is the host.

"Basically what Darwin did, he caused a huge sea change in how human beings were to be viewed," Jerry Newcombe, co-producer of the program, told Baptist Press. "No longer was man a little lower than the angels, but instead now man was a little higher than the apes. Ideas have consequences."

The supposed link between Darwinian evolution and the Holocaust has drawn criticism from the Anti-Defamation League. But Newcombe says the link is legitimate.

"Essentially, Hitler was trying to speed up evolution and clean up the gene pool as he saw it -- create this master race," Newcombe said, adding that Hitler mentioned evolution frequently in "Mein Kampf," although the German word for "evolution" is translated as "development" into English.

In a Coral Ridge news release, historian Richard Weikart, author of "From Darwin to Hitler," said Hitler "clearly was drawing on Darwinian ideas."

“Among German historians, there’s really not much debate about whether or not Hitler was a social Darwinist,” Weikart, who is featured on the program, said.

And, according to Coral Ridge, British evolutionist Arthur Keith wrote in the 1940s: “The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist. He has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

But the broadcast, which interviews 14 scientists, historians and social commentators, doesn't focus solely on the Darwin-Hitler link. Instead, it looks at how Darwinian evolution has changed the way society thinks about mankind and how the theory has helped lead to many atrocities. It also takes a look at how those in academic and science fields who criticize Darwinian evolution often are ostracized.

"Darwinism is this Holy Grail in the public schools and no one is allowed to question it," Newcombe said. "And if you do ... such a person will be kicked out."

Eric Harris, one of the killers at the 1999 Columbine school massacre, was infatuated with Darwinian evolution, Newcombe said.

"If you treat human beings as accidental twigs, no wonder somebody unstable and psychotic like Eric Harris, the Columbine killer, went around on that last day of his life ... with his T-shirt emblazoned, 'natural selection,'" he said. Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould once referred to humanity as an "accidental twig," Newcombe said.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the program "an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust."

"Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people," Foxman said in a statement. "Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis."

Newcombe, though, said the program does not trivialize the Holocaust but instead shows it "in all of its horrors."

"The special makes that point but looks at some of the root causes that haven't been talked about very much," he said.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a columnist and radio host, dubbed ADL's statement a "hysterical attack" on Coral Ridge. Lapin said Judaism cannot "possibly support the strange notion of random, Godless evolution."

"Judaism is utterly incompatible with the atheistic view of humanity’s arrival on the planet," Lapin wrote in a column.

The Anti-Defamation League also quoted Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, as saying he was "absolutely appalled" by the program, in which he is interviewed.

"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 said, according to ADL. Collins believes God guided evolution (a theory called theistic evolution).

"We interviewed a number of scientists for the science section [of the program]," Newcombe said. "We didn't interview Dr. Collins ... about Hitler. In hindsight, we would not have put Dr. Collins in the program. But he understood it was Coral Ridge Ministries. He understood we were doing a special about Darwinism.... We're sorry we had this misunderstanding and we wish him well."

In addition to Weikart, others interviewed in the program include intelligent design proponent Phillip Johnson, biologists Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells, and authors Ian Taylor, Lee Strobel and Ann Coulter. Coulter's latest book, "Godless," includes a lengthy critique of evolution.

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