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New Book Explores Darwinian Racism, Then and Now

Jonathan Witt
Photo: Adolf Hitler, by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE , via Wikimedia Commons.

To hear some tell it, Adolf Hitler was a Christian creationist who rejected Darwinian evolution. Not so, says award-winning historian Richard Weikart in his new book out today from Discovery Institute Press. Its bracing title — Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism.

The work reveals how Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution shaped the views of Hitler and the Nazis, and how the Nazis championed Darwinism during the Third Reich. Guided by Darwin’s Descent of Man and by early Darwinists such as Ernst Haeckel, the Nazis viewed the “Nordic race” as superior to other races. Worse, they concluded that the Nordic Germans should advance human evolution by ridding the world of “inferior” individuals and races, and claiming more living space for themselves and their offspring. The results were forced euthanasia programs for “unfit” Germans, the Holocaust, and World War II. 

To Reach a Wider Audience

Weikart is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Science & Culture and emeritus professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. Two of his previous books, From Darwin to Hitler and Hitler’s Ethic, also trace Darwinism’s influence on Hitler. But they were expensively priced and targeted at academic libraries. Darwinian Racism is affordably priced and written for a general audience. It is set to reach a much wider readership. 

The book also breaks new ground. It expands the focus beyond Hitler and his influences to other leading pro-Darwin Nazis. And it shows, alarmingly, that the same Darwinian ideas that guided the Nazis circulate today among white nationalists. As Weikart carefully documents, they routinely invoke Darwinian theory to justify and advance their racist agenda. 

A common ploy is to dress Hitler up as an anti-evolution biblical creationist and then use him to tar Bible believers. Darwinian Racism neutralizes that ploy.

Some people couldn’t care less that Darwinism is in trouble scientifically, or undermines religious faith, but they will be troubled to learn that Darwinism has a long and well-documented history of fueling racism against non-whites and others. Having learned this, they may be ready, for the first time in their lives, to take a critical look at evolutionary dogma.

“Long Overdue,” “A Must-Read”

The University of Calgary’s Irving Hexham describes Weikart’s new book as “excellent,” “long overdue,” and “a must-read,” a work that “uncovers important roots of contemporary racism while documenting the growth of ‘scientific racism.’” Other scholars also gave the book advance praise. These include Regent University historian William Skiles, historian of science Michael Newton Keas, and Houston Baptist’s Nancy Pearcey.

The Center for Science & Culture was originally the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. Although we shortened the name, we remain committed to renewing Western culture. Darwinian Racism continues that legacy.

Special event note: Join us on Thursday, February 3, at 6 pm Pacific time (9 pm Eastern) for an intriguing interview between John West, author of Darwin Day in America and Managing Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, and Richard Weikart, author of Darwinian Racism. The webinar is free and you’ll have the opportunity to ask Weikart questions following the interview. Go here to register today!