Similarly, we are told - and are expected to believe - that Darwinism had nothing to do with the Holocaust. When I was a dhimmi for Darwin, I have said that myself at times, and thus escaped the charge of impolite extremism.
And I now retract and will say what I know to be true, based on four and a half decades of reading and studying:
Darwin was instrumental in discrediting the traditional way of looking at human beings. This is a fact that everyone admits and many celebrate. How often have you heard that Darwin's great achievement was to knock humanity off its pedestal and show that we are merely evolved animals, accidentally evolved at that? And that had everything to do with the Holocaust.
Traditional Christian anti-Semites have caused massive grief for Jews over the centuries. No honest observer of history could deny that. But traditional cosmologies also argued that Jews had a role to play at the end of the world (according to the Christian version of the script, their role was to prove the Christians right by converting to Christianity, but I haven't read the Jewish version - and would hardly be astounded to learn that it was different ... ).
Anyway, remember Andrew Marvell's famous lines, to his coy mistress about why we can't all just wait around for the world to end?:
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
But the Jews had to attend the Apocalypse if there was any chance they would convert, didn't they?
The idea of making Jews extinct in the sense that the dinosaurs are extinct - as the Nazis tried to do - was derived culturally from Darwin, not from the Church. Also derived from Darwin and his supporters - rather than the Church - was the view of Jews as simply a gene pool rather than a race/religion/culture/Jesus's family/God's chosen people/essential part of history/essential part of our neighbourhood/people we know. The stew of traditional issues sometimes overflows into violence, but not into a eugenics program.
That is why the Nazis, who were very much influenced by these new Darwin-inspired ideas, killed Jewish-born Christian converts like Edith Stein, as well as all other Jews. Whether Jews were Orthodox, Reform, or atheists made no difference to them - because they treated humans as if they were animals, NOT because the Nazis were egalitarians in any meaningful sense.
The ancient religious quarrel around the central question for Christians, "Who do you say that I am?" is irrelevant in a world where humans are only evolved animals. Animals, after all, can't follow the "wrong" religion. They can only be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which is what happened to about six million European Jews in the early 1940s ...
None of this is said to excuse the Church from centuries of wrongs inflicted on Jews. But all that is amply documented, admitted, and recently apologized for. Not much else can be done with the past, after all.
But we must be clear about what sorts of wrongs the older cosmology could contemplate, versus the ones that the newer one could contemplate.
Extermination camps made much more sense when Darwinism became the creation story of the modern West. If we are all just animals, there is no longer a divine plan to flout - and therefore no final check on hatred that even a fanatic must consider.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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