Saturday, June 8, 2013

Richard Weikart vs Hector Avalos on Unbelievable talking Hitler and Darwin PART DEUX 2011 BEST

I am a little annoyed that I only just now found out about this ( audio | 1:20m ) debate. It’s a subject that interests me and Weikart is the only guy AFAIK who attempts to make a scholarly argument for the claim that Darwin played a significant role in influence Nazism.

4.5 stars. If something was left from the case Weikart made for Darwin's above average influence on Nazi Ideology it's certainly gone in this debate. BEST

This is an Unbelievable episode and I don’t know why I don’t listen to this show more. Well I do, the episodes that I have sat through were pretty disappointing but there are just sooooo many of them that feature other folks that I enjoy.

But I digress. Both Weikart and Avalos have debated this topic in the past, just after Expelled: No Intelligence in the Classroom came out in 2008. They debate on a US radio show in a shorter amount of time and in a more strict formal setting. I absolutely loved it, though Avalos came off as a bit cheap at times. Nonetheless, Avalos was pretty freaking devastating in demonstrating how vapid Weikart's claims are when put under scrutiny.

Now this debate was a bit weird for my normal Unbelievable listening experience in that the first part was set up as formal debate in the same way as the previous debate they had. They both pretty much said the same thing, Avalos more so than Weikart during their openings. They both accounted for some objections brought up by the other in their previous debate but I was a bit letdown that no nuanced move has arose in the three years since the last debate...though I wasn't surprised.

In general, Weikart points to the importance of the Nazi Eugenics beliefs which were most likely inspired by the racial German eugeneicists contemporary with Hitler when he was apparently most malleable for getting all his terrible ideas. Since the debate calls for Weikart to demonstrate that Darwin was more influential than Christianity, Weikart conceded that sure, semi-big Christian figures like Martin Luther or the then Pope did kind of support Hitler and receive support from Hitler (not in the case of Luther, though, haha) but, that's cause Hitler was a politician. In Hitler's private conversations and statements and expressed in the way the terrible Nazi reforms were taken out, they were clearly Darwinian...survival of the fittest, the weak die out, the strong survive.

Hector Avalos notes that it is almost certainly the case that Hitler's Nazi Ideology was fueled the most by Christian anti-semitism. As in the previous debate, Avalos lists all the terrible things Martin Luther mentions we should do with the Jews. He also points out that Hitler mentions Martin Luther as one of his heroes and never mentions Darwin or guys like Haeckel (I think on Haeckel, at least). And even notes that tactically, popularizing Nazism to the German masses wouldn't go too great if they printed out passages of The Origin of Species but it would if they printed out anti-semtetic theological tracts.

The only difference that I found interesting was in Weikart’s opening and rebuttal. Weikart did something that I found smart and a little more original. He shifted from only talking about the Jews in the Nazi policy to mentioning how Christian anti-Semitism doesn’t account for the rest of the racial hygiene policies implemented by the Nazis. Other ethnic groups were sterilized and murdered, as well, though it does seem that the Jews were the big target. He does mention this stuff in the previous debate but he really fleshes it out this time around.

Great audio quality, this is always the case with Unbelievesies.

Update 8-15-2015 Clean up, clarified, expounded and added some links. 

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