Do Ideas Have Consequences? Indeed They Do!

In 1948 an English professor at the University of Chicago penned a book whose main idea resonates well into the modern world and into today’s news headlines. The professor was Richard Weaver and his book was Ideas Have Consequences.

The main thesis of Weaver’s book is that philosophy undergirds all of society. What we believe about reality matters. What we say or think is real matters. Language, and how we use it is important.

In 1948 many intellectuals in Europe and America were left dumbfounded as to how such atrocities could have been committed by Germany in WWII. In the 1930’s, Germany was one of THE most literate nations in the world, so it wasn’t that Germans were ill informed or unintelligent. After all, Germany had produced such brilliant musical luminaries as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and hugely influential philosophers like Hegel, Kant, etc…

The problem, as Weaver saw it, wasn’t literacy or education per se, it was the KIND of philosophy that was informing the German view of reality.

Weaver believed that the root problem was the philosophy of nominalism. What is nominalism?

‘Nominalism’ as defined by Weaver, “denies that universals [i.e terms like, man, woman, tree, house, etc…] have a real existence.”[1]

But someone may say, “So what? What’s the problem?”

As Weaver put it, “The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind.”[2]

To put this simply – do we get to define things anyway we want? Are words and language to be used merely for our convenience? OR is there a source of truth higher than and independent of man?

In a recent article in Slate.com by Christin Scarlett Milloy, this question has taken a radical new turn. In the article titled, ‘Don’t Let the Doctor Do this to Your Newborn,’ Milloy argues that one of the most damaging things new parents can do is to assign a gender to your newborn. Yep – you read that right!

When a baby is born, for a doctor or a midwife to declare that it is a boy or girl is akin to abuse

Milloy states:

With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby’s life is instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished—both intentionally through bigotry, and unintentionally through ignorance.

Throughout the article, Milloy cites the emotional, psychological and mental trauma that many transgender people suffer from.

It is a fact that in the transgender community there is a high rate of suicide and depression. But, could it be that they are depressed because they are confused about who they are, or perhaps they’ve suffered some other sort of psychological or physical abuse earlier in their lives? The answer is yes and according to Milloy and it’s not what you think. Milloy says that the psychological abuse that transgender people have suffered earlier in their lives is this – “They’re not miserable because they’re transgender, they’re miserable as the result of being assigned the wrong gender at birth.”

Let’s be graphically clear about this! If a baby is born with all of the biological parts of a male (testicles & penis) or another baby born with all of the biological components of of a female (ovaries & vagina), then according to Milloy it is WRONG for anyone to say that they are a boy or girl. The terms, boy, girl, don’t actually correspond to reality, because reality is what we make it.

Let’s go back to Richard Weaver in 1948. He writes:

The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience. The denial of everything transcending experience means  inevitably – though ways are found to hedge on this – the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of ‘man is the measure of all things.’[3]

If man is the ‘measure’ of all things, then who gets to decide what is what? Society? Religion? The State? Is truth whatever I say it is, or does truth correspond to reality?

In Matthew 19:4 Jesus reminds his listeners, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female.”

The Bible makes it very clear that the Creator designed men and women to be different yet complimentary. But, we don’t even need the Bible to tell us that, we also have biology. We ARE different.

In his excellent new book, On the Meaning of Sex, professor J. Budzisewski highlights design in the broadest sense, as a way to think about sex, sexual identity, gender etc…

We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that in the broadest sense; not merely mechanical design (this part goes here, that part goes there), but what kind of being we are. Because design is not merely biological, but also emotional, intellectual, spiritual, the languages of natural law, natural designs, natural meanings, and natural purposes, are intertranslatable, and most of the time interchangeable. Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t.[4]

We don’t get to define our body parts and organs any way we desire. If we did and we violate their purpose then we would get very sick or even die.

In his book Budzisewski uses the human lung as an example of biological purposeful and functional design. We can call a lung an “eye” or a “heart” or a “kidney” if we desire, but merely “calling” it those things will not change how it functions. The purpose of a lung, for instance, is to oxygenate the blood. To properly do that, the lungs need oxygen. But if we violate our lungs by inhaling carbon-monoxide or other harmful gasses then we will suffer the consequences.

According to Budziewski,

We can ascertain the purposes of other features of our design in the same  way. The purpose of the eyes is to see, the purpose of the heart is to pump  blood, the purpose of the thumb is to oppose the fingers as to grasp…and so on. If we can ascertain the meanings and purposes of all those other powers, there is no reason to think that we cannot ascertain the meanings and purposes of sexual powers. Natural function and personal meaning are not alien to each other. They are connected.[5]

There is, after all, a connection between reason (logic) and reality. Reality is ordered, not chaotic. Philosophy professor, Peter Kreeft says that

“Logic and social change are not unrelated (Logic is not unrelated to anything). Our society no longer thinks about the fundamental metaphysical question of ‘what’ something is, the question of the nature of a thing. Instead, we think about how we feel about things, how we can use them, how they work, how we can change them….” [6]

How have we come to this place in our culture where we would even need to discuss such things? The short answer, is because ideas indeed have consequences. Where do we begin to rebuild? This is a difficult question to answer, but perhaps Budzisewski is right when he says, “It is too late to repair everything, but it is not too late to repair something and it is never too late to repent.”[7]

Perhaps we should begin by repenting.

 

[1] Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 4.

[4] J. Budzisewski, On the Meaning of Sex, (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2012), p. 21.

[5] Ibid., 22.

[6] Peter Kreeft, “Clashing Symbols: The Loss of Aristotelian Logic & the Social, Moral & Sexual Consequences,” November/December 2012, Touchstone, p.35-40

[7] Budzisewki, p. 21

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59 replies
  1. Stephen B says:

    Yup, I’m sure Hitler was one your side on this issue. “A fox remains always a fox, a goose remains always a goose”, he said. And of course he’d share your disdain for the transgender community, and other ‘degenerates’. And ideas such as this do indeed have consequences for the pilloried members of the transgender community.

    Reply
    • aspo says:

      Whoa now, you can’t *begin* an argument with Hitler-pointing, as that goes completely against Godwin’s Law. It also diminishes the hyperbolic effect that is the hallmark of said law. An unreasonable and uncalled-for Hitler comparison is worthless if you don’t slather it in finesse before you whip it out.

      Reply
  2. Ted Wright says:

    Stephen. I didn’t disparage anyone in the transgender community, nor did I say that they were “degenerates.” People who struggle with gender identity are made in the image of God and, therefore loved by God. What I’m referring to in my article is the philosophy of nominalism which allows people like the Nazi’s (or modern people) to define things any way they choose. Of course, I could have also thrown in the philosophy of Darwinism (& Social Darwinism) with it’s principles of “survival of the fittest” as another big influence on the Nazi’s, but that wasn’t my point.

    Whether it was Hitler or whoever – “nominalism” as a metaphysical view of reality has some serious bad consequences, because it affects language and how we view reality. Reality is ordered, not chaotic. What I am advocating here is a ‘commonsense realism’ which also coincides with epistemological realism. The opposite of metaphysical realism is nominalism. G.K. Chesterton had a brilliant refutation of nominalism by stating “If as the nominalists says, ‘all chairs are different,’ how can he call them all chairs?.”

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Hitler rejected that speciation took place and banned books on natural selection, so he would make an odd type of ‘Darwinist’. Survival of the fittest doesn’t mean survival of the fiercest or strongest, either. Neither did Hitler deny a higher truth than man. I don’t get his connection to nominalism.

      Reply
      • Ted Wright says:

        Stephen, there’s no doubt that Hitler was influenced directly or indirectly by Darwinistic thinking… Besides, this entire discussion about Hitler is just a red-herring. This is not about Hitler, it’s about philosophy. The connection with pre-WW2 Germany and nominalism is a connection that was made by Richard Weaver and I think he is correct. Whether Hitler was conscious of it or not, nominalist philosophy was also a factor in his thinking. It was in the milieu of European thought. In fact, most people are unaware of how philosophical ideas affect them and the way they think.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          “Stephen, there’s no doubt that Hitler was influenced directly or indirectly by Darwinistic thinking”

          I’ve just given you reason to doubt, Ted, but I agree with you it’s a red herring. I’ve also given reasons to question his connection to nominalism. He was undoubtedly influenced by the ideas of Martin Luthor, which you don’t mention.

          Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      ” “If as the nominalists says, ‘all chairs are different,’ how can he call them all chairs?.”

      All people are different but we still call them all people. See also snowflakes. I don’t get how this works as a refutation, let alone a brilliant one. A group of items in a set can all differ from each other in different ways such that each is utterly unique, and yet still share a single common attribute.

      Reply
  3. Ted Wright says:

    No Robert – Hitler was not a devout Christian. He had Christians put to death and saw the Church as an obstacle to his political power in Germany. Read “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy” by Eric Metaxas & Richard Wiekart’s book, “Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress”

    Reply
    • Jon says:

      If not devout, at least he was Catholic; “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” History is full of devout [Catholic] popes who had Christians put to death and saw other Churches as an obstacle to their political power. People don’t tend to use that argument claiming popes were not Christians.

      Why would anyone read Bonhoeffer to find the truth about Hitler? You can hardly find a more biased source. You would not recommend reading a Muslim book to learn the true Christianity, would you?

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        Not a great idea to cite Weikart either. His polemics on Hitler are not taken seriously by academics.

        “Weikart’s most infamous work is his book-length argumentum ad Hitlerum entitled From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004). The book has been universally panned by the academic community.

        Regarding the thesis of Weikart’s book, University of Chicago historian Robert Richards concluded that “Hitler was not a Darwinian” and “calls this all a desperate tactic to undermine evolution.”

        Scholars Graeme Gooday, John M. Lynch, Kenneth G. Wilson, and Constance K. Barsky wrote that “numerous reviews have accused Weikart of selectively viewing his rich primary material, ignoring political, social, psychological, and economic factors” that shaped the Nazi ideology and policies.

        Since there is no clear and unique line from Darwinian naturalism to Nazi atrocities, useful causal relationships are difficult to infer; thus, as Robert J. Richards observes, ‘it can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis’.”

        Historian Peter J. Bowler was likewise direct writing that Weikart’s book reflects a “simple blame game in which (for example) Darwin and Haeckel are accused of paving the way for Nazism,” and denounced his efforts to connect evolution “with distasteful social policies” using a “remarkably simple-minded approach”.

        To understand why Weikart and his ilk continue to peddle the Darwin-Hitler connection, one should understand creationism as embedded in a larger religious ethical system. A scientific theory that contradicts the Bible can be seen as “godless” and thus immoral. In addition, the popular misconception that evolution necessarily implies social Darwinism makes this an easy rhetorical tactic. Even though these accusations are not true, creationism can be turned on its head by showing that it is not a moral system and has for centuries justified many evil acts such as genocide.

        His next book, Hitler’s Ethic, was not much better. Historian Gerwin Strobl wrote that Hitler’s Ethic’s introduction “reads like a mixture of a television voiceover and the worst kind of undergraduate essay” and lacked any “emphasis on intellectual developments inside Germany,” which ignores “that Hitler had set out to copy what he regarded as the Anglo-American example.”

        Reply
  4. Stephen B says:

    If Hitler was a true Social Darwinist he would have faith that weaker races would naturally die off if not given support by the state. That he felt he had to have them killed suggests he didn’t believe in it at all.

    Further on Nominalism, I don’t know if I agree with transgender supporters in their idea that people can have a different gender to that suggested by their genitals, but that idea isn’t nominalism – they’re not denying that gender exists. In fact they’re certain it does, such that bringing someone up under the wrong gender is very damaging, which you presumably agree with. Their only disagreement with you is whether someone with a male gender can be born in a female body and vice versa. I don’t see that as a controversial view given we already know people can be born blind or with missing limbs or any other number of abnormalities.

    So I don’t get their connection to nominalism either.

    Reply
    • Ted Wright says:

      My article wasn’t mean to be a fully developed philosophy/theology of gender identity, but to point out the practical problems of nominalistic philosophy (i.e. we can now call ducks fish because we “feel” like it). I’m not saying that transgender advocates DENY that gender exists. My hangup is HOW they are defining gender… The most fundamental question is HOW should we “define” gender? If we define it with “nominal definition” then it certainly could begin in the mind (i.e. psychologically), but if we use a realist definition then it must correspond to reality (hence physical/biological reality – regardless of how one might “feel”) – We don’t get to re-defnine a lung and call it an “eye” because we “feel” like it… A lung was designed to oxygenate blood, not to see. Biological function is also an indicator of psychological makeup – the physical, biological, spiritual and psychological are intimately connected and the reason why so many transgender people are depressed is because they have been damaged psychologically not physically. They are psychologically “acting” in a way that doesn’t comport with their physical (biological) design.

      The answer is not gender-reassignment, but the loving TRUTH about who they actually are. I’ve even seen videos of transgender people who have deep regrets about their surgery.

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        It across like you are the one denying mental differences in gender, not the transgender proponents. To say it’s just about genitals is to reject other differences between genders.

        I know this doesn’t actually reflect your position, so I don’t see you actually disagree with them like you think you do. They are not the ones saying ‘there’s no real difference between the genders beyond physical’. In fact the reverse is true of them.

        Reply
        • Ted Wright says:

          I can see how you might think that based on what I’ve said, but I certainly don’t deny the mental and spiritual differences between genders. They are certainly huge. I just think that the mental and spiritual differences between men and women are intimately wedded to their physical and biological makeup – whereas transgender advocates see it purely as mental and psychological.

          Reply
        • Ted Wright says:

          Or to put it another way: think of “gender” (maleness or femaleness) like a computer (it’s just an analogy!) – A computer needs hardware and software to function properly – the way it was designed by the computer engineer. Humans are the same way – the hardware (the body) and the software (the mind) work together (or at least they should anyway)…

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            Sure, they should, and most of the time they do. But it’s pretty pointless telling a blind person that because he has eyes, and that most of the time eyes see, that he can’t actually be blind. That’s a kind of thinking that has consequences too!

            It seems that men and women are differently mentally as well as physically. Some people seem to deny it, but you and I seem to agree on that point. Most if the time, we don’t need to look into a person’s mind to know their gender – it goes hand in hand with obvious physical differences.

            But I see no reason to think they’d have to. Given other physchological and physical abnormalities we KNOW can occur from birth, it seems odd to deny the possibility that a man could be born ‘in a woman’s body’. Or to put it another way, a woman could be born with a man’s mental make-up, with all the mental aspects you and I think of as making a man different to a woman.

            And I don’t see anything in Hitler’s philosophy that is similar to what I just said – in fact quite the reverse.

      • Stephen B says:

        “We don’t get to re-defnine a lung and call it an “eye” because we “feel” like it”

        No, but we both accept that men and woman are different in ways that go beyond merely physical. If we’re talking about non-physical differences between the two sexes then we’re discussing mental differences. How a person feels is certainly relevant, and a good place to start – this is nothing like saying a lung is an ‘eye’ just because I ‘feel’ like it is. If you wanted to know whether someone was a Christian you might well start by asking what they believe. That’s not the same as someone defining a toe by what you ‘feel’ it to be.

        “They are psychologically “acting” in a way that doesn’t comport with their physical (biological) design.”

        Can I ask how much research you’ve done into transgender people? Your description above has it exactly backwards – the problems tend to come from being forced to act/dress etc in a way that comports WITH their physical make-up, when they don’t feel it matches their mental make-up. It feels to them the same way as if you or I were put in dresses and pressured into playing with dolls.

        Note that this is the exact OPPOSITE of your claim above – that they are depressed because they are ‘acting’ in a way that does NOT comport with their physical make-up. Their mental well being improves when they CAN act in a way that comports with their mental make-up, rather than the physical.

        Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        Who’s taking things off topic? Argument ad Hitlerum is a dangerous game to play. Many argue that Nazi comparisons should be saved for other groups attempting or committing genocide. If you go nuclear right from the off and compare a group to a Hitler, be aware you’re making an emotive argument, and be prepared to be called on it if you do so irresponsibly.

        I don’t necessarily agree with the Slate article referenced, but the comparison to Hitler is ‘off topic’ from the start – it’s not in any way warranted, for the reasons I already described, and makes sensible discussion pretty difficult. Chucking in attempts to tie Hitler to Darwinism along the way doesn’t help your argument either.

        I’ve stuck to the topic by showing a) Hitler’s nominalism is tenuous, b) the transgender proponents aren’t nominalistic at all.

        Reply
      • Jon says:

        The article is about “Ideas Have Consequences” and talks about atrocities could have been committed by Germany in WWII. Surely it is right on the mark to point out that the idea for these atrocities were penned by Martin Luther in “On the Jews and Their Lies”. This can be confirmed in Mein Kampf where Hitler praised Luther and advocated Luther’s dangerous ideas. Gil, calling this “off topic” is bizarre and insulting to all who suffered because these ideas.

        Reply
        • Frank Turek says:

          Hi Jon,

          I know that Hitler mentioned Luther as a “great reformer” in Mein Kampf. Where does Hitler praise him in Mein Kampf for his anti-semetic ideas? I see only the great reformer reference in there, but I could be missing something.

          Thanks.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            I don’t get your point, Frank. Does Jon claim that Hitler DID praise Luther for his anti-Semitic ideas? You spell Semitic with two e’s in your pits above, which may affect any searches you’re carrying out, by the way.

            At any rate, Luther’s influence on Hitler’s ideas on Jews is fairly uncontroversial isn’t it?

            Luther proposed seven measures of “sharp mercy” that German princes could take against Jews: (1) burn their schools and synagogues; (2) transfer Jews to community settlements; (3) confiscate all Jewish literature, which was blasphemous; (4) prohibit rabbis to teach, on pain of death; (5) deny Jews safe conduct, so as to prevent the spread of Judaism; (6) appropriate their wealth and use it to support converts and to prevent the Jews’ practice of usury; (7) assign Jews to manual labor as a form of penance.

            Doesn’t the above sound familiar when it comes to the Nazis and Jews?

            This is a much easier line to draw than from ‘Darwinism’, and much more accepted by historians.

            The line of “anti-Semitic descent” from Luther to Hitler is “easy to draw,” according to American historian Lucy Dawidowicz. In her “The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945”, she writes that both Luther and Hitler were obsessed by the “demonologized universe” inhabited by Jews, with Hitler asserting that the later Luther, the author of On the Jews and Their Lies was the ‘real Luther’.

            Professor Robert Michael, Professor Emeritus of European History at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, has argued that Luther scholars who try to tone down Luther’s views on the Jews ignore the murderous implications of his antisemitism. Michael argues that there is a “strong parallel” between Luther’s ideas and the anti-Semitism of most German Lutherans throughout the Holocaust. Like the Nazis, Luther mythologized the Jews as evil, he writes. They could be saved only if they converted to Christianity, but their hostility to the idea made it inconceivable (Robert Michael, “Luther, Luther Scholars, and the Jews,” Encounter 46:4 (Autumn 1985), pp. 339-56.).

            Luther’s sentiments were widely echoed in the Germany of the 1930s, particularly within the Nazi party. Hitler’s Education Minister, Bernhard Rust, was quoted by the Völkischer Beobachter as saying that: “Since Martin Luther closed his eyes, no such son of our people has appeared again. It has been decided that we shall be the first to witness his reappearance … I think the time is past when one may not say the names of Hitler and Luther in the same breath. They belong together; they are of the same old stamp [Schrot und Korn]” (Volkischer Beobachter, August 25, 1933 cited in Steigmann-Gall, Richard. The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1991-1945. Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 136-7.).

          • Jon says:

            Frank Turek, as Stephen B pointed out you attempted a strawman with:
            “Where does Hitler praise him in Mein Kampf for his anti-semetic ideas”.
            what I did not claim.

            What I actually wrote was:
            “This can be confirmed in Mein Kampf where Hitler praised Luther and advocated Luther’s dangerous ideas.”

            Hitler did not describe Luther just as ““great reformer” as you implied. If you read the chapter’s context Hitler wrote a lot more about him.

            Quote from pp 170-171 Mein Kampf by Hursht and Blackett published on March 21st, 1939:
            “Within long spans of human progress it may occasionally happen that the practical politician and political philosopher are one. The more intimate this union is, the greater will be the obstacles which the activity of the politician will have to encounter. Such a man does not labour for the purpose of satisfying demands that are obvious to every philistine, but he reaches out towards ends which can be understood only by the few. His life is torn asunder by hatred and love. The protest of his contemporaries, who do not understand the man, is in conflict with the recognition of posterity, for whom he also works.
            For the greater the work which a man does for the future, the less will he be appreciated by his contemporaries. His struggle will accordingly be all the more severe, and his success all the rarer. When, in the course of centuries, such a man appears who is blessed with success then, towards the end of his days, he may have a faint prevision of his future fame. But such great men are only the Marathon runners of history. The laurels of contemporary fame are only for the brow of the dying hero.
            The great protagonists are those who fight for their ideas and ideals despite the fact that they receive no recognition at the hands of their contemporaries. They are the men whose memories will be enshrined in the hearts of the future generations. It seems then as if each individual felt it his duty to make retroactive atonement for the wrong which great men have suffered at the hands of their contemporaries. Their lives and their work are then studied with touching and grateful admiration. Especially in dark days of distress, such men have the power of healing broken hearts and elevating the despairing spirit of a people.
            To this group belong not only the genuinely great statesmen but all the great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great we have such men as Martin Luther and Richard Wagner.”

            Both Hitler and Luther blamed “lying Jews”, advocated using violence against Jews and taking their stuff.

            But anyways I have no idea what the point of your comment is. Surely you are not saying that there is no anti-semitic idea connection between Hitler and his hero Luther.

      • Stephen B says:

        You could equally replace that meme with ‘Hitler was a Darwinist/Nominalist/Atheist’.

        Added irony: the concept of memes came from Richard Dawkins.

        Reply
        • Frank Turek says:

          Thanks for the repy Stephen and Jon. You will certainly find no defense from me of Luther’s anti-semitic ideas. The point of this post is that ideas do have consequences, which I think has been established by our discussion. Hitler certainly combined Darwinism and anti-semitism into a toxic brew. He would use and quote anyone to advance his agenda. What I hope we can agree on is that whatever Hitler believed, it was not the teaching of Jesus. Jesus never said, “Go kill all the Jews.” He was a Jew himself. And Hitler certainly didn’t obey Jesus’ greatest commandment to love God and your neighbor (Matt. 22:37).

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            “Hitler certainly combined Darwinism”

            Frank, rather than this being a ‘certainty’, I’ve already argued that Hitler had nothing to do with Darwinism. He denied speciation took place, banned books on evolution, and, rather than believing in ‘natural selection’, he attempted ARTIFICIAL selection on a mass scale. A believer in Darwin’s theories would believe that the ‘cream rises to the top’ naturally, without interference. Hitler obviously had no faith in that idea at all.

            “What I hope we can agree on is that whatever Hitler believed…”

            I would hope that we can agree that Hitler was no Darwinist.

          • Jon says:

            Frank, funny how creationist “Hitler certainly combined Darwinism” while he rejected “Darwinism” and banned Darwin’s books. You rarely see people using ideas they reject, but this is a common apologist argument. Hitler actually obeyed Jesus’ greatest commandment to love God and your neighbor (Matt. 22:37). Hitler loved his neighbours (=in-group), but not loved out-group people. Remember Old Testament had different [slavery] law for your neighbours (=in-group) and other nations (=out-group). It’s easy to love your neighbour when they are your extended family in a same village for generations.

            Jesus never said, “Go kill all the Jews”, but He advocated His Father’s laws that you need to follow God’s commandment even if that is to go and kill all out-group people (and their animals).

  5. Jon says:

    Ted, what are you thoughts about humans with 46 XX/XY Chimerism in light of that Jesus’ words, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female”?

    Reply
  6. Robert says:

    Hitler banned the teaching of evolution in the German public schools which taught biblical creationism instead and did so until 1960. By then the only other Christian nation teaching creationism was South Africa. So lets see the Christians respond to those facts. If they dare. Hitler also banned abortions so his ideology is very similar to modern consevartive Christianity.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      To be fair, Hitler was all in favour of Jewish people having abortions. What he WAS against was freedom choice with regards to abortions.

      Reply
    • Jim says:

      What piece of legislation did the Third Reich enact to ban abortions? You should be able to cite the name of the piece of legislation if what you claim is true.

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        Jim, a quick google shows that in 1943 you could get the death penalty for having aborting a healthy (ie not disabled) foetus. It remained entirely legal for Jewish women throughout the Third Reich’s rein.

        “You should be able to cite the name of the piece of legislation if what you claim is true.”

        It’s not that easy to track down specific names of legislation, but this is well-accepted historical fact. You can find references online, and they are very easy to find, but I can’t post links here without getting caught in moderation limbo.

        Reply
      • Jon says:

        Jim, Penal Code section 218 modified in 1933 and 1935, and in 1943 changes demanded the death penalty for abortion. Just Google that and you’ll find plenty of sources.

        Reply
  7. Ted Wright says:

    Stephen – looks like my article must have struck a nerve with you. As I’ve said in my previous comments, the main point wasn’t Hitler. I could have said the same things without regard to Hitler or the Germans. I’ve noticed that atheists and skeptics love to go off on tangents about Hitler when they can’t refute what’s been said.

    The main point of my article was the consequences of ideas, and Pre-WW2 Germany was only used as an example. Whether Hitler was conscious of the philosophy informing his world-view or not, it DID indeed have profound consequences on how he viewed reality. To cite Hitler as a Christian is just naive at best and willingly ignorant at worst. To get into a debate about Hitler’s Christianity is just another red-herring which clouds the real issues involved – the difference between metaphysical realism and nominalism in the debate about gender identity.

    The entire “transgender question” is just ONE of the many things which are informed by one’s philosophical worldview. The author of the blog I cited (whether she realizes it or not) would be perfectly comfortable with a nominalists view of reality and practically employs it.

    A nominalists way to define things is to define a term by “HOW it is USED” rather than “WHAT a thing IS.” There is a huge difference between the two. An essential definition, on the other hand, give us the ‘essence’ or ‘nature’ of what a thing is… An essential definition can be thought of in two ways (1) be the generic or common parts of a thing (what makes two things the same), and (2) the specific difference tells us how the thing defined differs from all other members of its genus.

    A metaphysical realists who employs an essentialists way of defining things can say that there really is a difference between men and women, whereas a nominalists doesn’t have that option. There really is NO essential difference between men and women according to the nominalist because language is.

    Everyone has philosophical and ideological baggage we are bringing to the table in this debate (atheist and Christian alike), but the question is which is most reasonable? If one is a Bible-believing Christian then, Scripture (in addition to sound reason) should inform you on this matter.

    Gender is both physical, spiritual & psychological. How it is or should be defined is both physical (biological), spiritual (the Bible), & psychological (psychology).

    My question for you is: How do you define gender? And why?

    Reply
    • Ted Wright says:

      For further clarification: I’ve given this quote earlier in the blog, but it’s worth repeating here:

      “We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that in the broadest sense; not merely mechanical design (this part goes here, that part goes there), but what KIND of being we are (essentially). Because design is not MERELY biological, but also emotional, intellectual, spiritual, the languages of natural law, natural designs, natural meanings, and natural purposes, are INTERTRANSLATABLE, and most of the time INTERCHANGABLE. Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t” – J. Buzisewski (The Meaning of Sex) [Emphasis mine]

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        “We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that in the broadest sense”

        Sure, but – and I’ll repeat myself here too – it’s demonstrably fallacious to base an argument on the notion that our bodies’ function comports with that design all the time. If it did, why am I wearing glasses? By JB’s logic I shouldn’t need them. You can say that I’m still using my eyes, but that would be pedantry and ignoring the point – for whatever reason, we get biological outliers. We get the extra long-lived, the super strong, the musical prodigies. We also get people born with missing limbs, or with pigmentation disorders. I could bring up mental disorders too, but people can claim these are developmental disorders, when they can’t make such an argument with obvious physical deformities.

        The logic of JB’s quote above seems to be an implication that transgenderism can’t be possible because it defies some kind of human design (no idea if he was specifically referring to trans, but that appears to be your rational for quoting him). Given that we already know humans don’t always come out perfect, this is not a tenable refutation.

        Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “I could have said the same things without regard to Hitler or the Germans.”

      Then my advice to you is that you do so. It doesn’t help your argument at all. Neither does referring to Richard Wiekart. If you’re starting your argument with reference to the Nazis right from the off, it suggests you don’t have much confidence in it. I didn’t go off on tangents about Hitler, I pointed out clearly why I thought your argument about him simply didn’t work. To say “atheists and skeptics love to go off on tangents” about Hitler is bizarre given how often apologists try to exploit the heinous acts of the holocaust to make some point or other.

      If you didn’t want people to discuss your assertions about Hitler and nominalism or Hitler and Darwinism, then your shouldn’t have brought it up – and remember it was you who brought up both.

      “To cite Hitler as a Christian is just naive at best and willingly ignorant at worst.”

      Did I cite him as a Christian, Ted? I don’t think I did. Robert may have done, but I’m not Robert.

      “To get into a debate about Hitler’s Christianity is just another red-herring”

      I agree. Which is why I avoided it. Perhaps you’re confusing my posts with someone else’s.

      “Stephen – looks like my article must have struck a nerve with you.”

      I guess that Slate article struck a nerve with you! I do you the credit of assuming a reasoned polite discussion can change your mind.

      “whereas a nominalists doesn’t have that option. There really is NO essential difference between men and women”

      That doesn’t apply to transgender people who insist they were, say, a man born in a woman’s body. In fact, their position is completely at odds with that Nominalist position. If there was no difference between the two, the concept of a man being born in a woman’s body would make no sense.

      There is a ‘blank slate’ idea that I guess some stereotypical hippie lefties ascribe to, that if you bring a child up without gender-specific toys then boys will show no particular interest in gun toys and girls won’t be drawn particularly to dollies – that children only play with ‘boys toys’ or ‘girls toys’ because we make them.

      But that’s not the transgender view at all – it’s actual the complete opposite. They say there ARE boys toys, there ARE girls toys, and girl clothes, and boy ways of thinking etc – the two are different. And that boys and girls WILL be drawn to different things because there ARE fundamental differences between the two.

      This is the opposite of what you’re claiming they think. The only difference between you and them is that they believe it’s possible for all those things associated with girls can end up in a boy’s body. And vice versa. Now, you can say you don’t think that’s possible – though you’ve not shown why it would be beyond making reference to the way nature normal works. You do this in the face of many other examples of nature NOT working (I gave examples of eyes that don’t see etc).

      And even if those transgender people, are wrong, that just makes them mistaken on this issue. It still doesn’t make them nominalists.

      Reply
      • Frank Turek says:

        Good point Stephen. In order to have this discussion at all– or in order for someone to say that he is caught in a woman’s body– we are all assuming a realist position. But just because people can’t live consistently as nominalists, that doesn’t mean they can’t advance nominalist ideas. Nominalist ideas can still influence the way people think and act even if they can’t be lived consistently (which, again, is the main point of Ted’s post).

        Reply
  8. Stephen B says:

    “But just because people can’t live consistently as nominalists”
    They’re not attempting to – and that’s because they’re not nominalists!

    “… that doesn’t mean they can’t advance nominalist ideas.”
    Perhaps, but I’ve already argued that these people aren’t advancing nominalist ideas. I’ve yet to see how they are.

    I understand that Ted (and I guess you) don’t agree with these people. And you also don’t agree with nominalists. But that doesn’t mean the two groups have anything else in common.

    Reply
  9. Frank Turek says:

    Robert,
    Hitler was obviously not a Christian. Hitler may have used religious language for political gain. But does anyone really think that Hitler was sincerely and consistently worshipping a Jew whose guiding principle was to love God and your neighbor as yourself?

    Hitler called Christianity one of the great “scourges” in history and wanted Germans to be the “only people immunized against this disease.” Hitler thought Christianity preached “meekness and flabbiness,” which wasn’t useful to the National Socialist ideology, which preached “ruthlessness and strength.”

    Traditional religion meant nothing to Hitler. No Jew could escape Auschwitz by pleading, ‘I no longer practice Judaism,’ ‘I am an atheist,’ or ‘I have converted to Christianity.’ That’s because Hitler believed that the Jews were inferior racial stock. His anti-Semitism was secular not religious.

    Stephen,
    Hitler may have said and done some contradictory things regarding Darwinism. But he definitely seemed to justify the Holocaust by citing evolution. He wrote in Mein Kampf:

    “If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such cases all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

    Notice that “nature” and “evolution” were Hitler’s guides. He wasn’t appealing to anything beyond nature, but to nature itself. He wanted to purify and preserve the Aryan culture and appealed to the Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest ethic to do so:

    “But such a preservation goes hand-in-hand with the inexorable law that it is the strongest and the best who must triumph and that they have the right to endure. He who would live must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where permanent struggle is the law of life, has not the right to exist.”

    After asserting that weaker, passive people have no right to exist, Hitler went on to express the superiority of the Aryan race. His words were the seeds of the Holocaust.

    Hitler’s words and actions couldn’t be more different than the words and actions of Christ. As Ravi Zacharias has observed, the Crusades and the Inquisition were the illogical outworking of Christianity. They went against everything Christ taught. And you don’t judge a religion or philosophy by its abuse, but by its truths. People can and will abuse true and good things. But that says more about us than it does about God or religion.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one”

      Frank, ‘Superior’ and ‘Inferior’ have no real meaning in Darwinism – there’s just more suited to any particular environment or climate, which can change quite quickly. There’s no ‘superior race’.

      “After asserting that weaker, passive people have no right to exist”

      There’s no ‘rights’ in natural selection. It’s purely an observation about what happens. You might as well extrapolate ‘rights’ from germ theory or the theory of gravity.

      “the inexorable law that it is the strongest and the best who must triumph”

      Natural selection shows that often the weakest triumph – leopards need a huge daily calorie intake to feed those muscles. They often starve to death.

      “He wasn’t appealing to anything beyond nature, but to nature itself.”

      He appealed to ‘My Lord’ over and over in his writings. Whether or not it was a Christian Lord, to say he appealed only to nature is simply false.

      “Hitler may have said and done some contradictory things regarding Darwinism”

      There’s no ‘may’ about it. He misunderstood science. You say he misunderstood Christianity too. Fine – why not leave it there, rather than still attempt to tie him to the former while you disassociate him from the latter? (NB: I’m not arguing he was a Christian).

      Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          “”On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”.

          Note, favoured, not superior. And of course, Darwin didn’t mean race in the sense of Aryan, Jew etc. The book mostly discussed species.

          Reply
          • Frank Turek says:

            Stephen, if you want to draw a distinction between “favoured” and “superior” fine. It seems to me to be a distinction without a difference, especially in light of Darwin’s racist writings in his 1871 followup “Descent of Man.” Nevertheless, you rightly make the larger point– there are no rights in Darwinism, which is exactly the problem. In the absence of an objective moral standard (God), then there is no way to condemn what Hitler actually did in any objective sense. If Hitler wants to advance the Aryan race to “an evolutionary higher stage of being,” there is nothing wrong with that on Darwinism or atheism.

            I’ll give you the last word because I have to go. Thanks for participating. Your points are always intelligent and well presented. Blessings, to you,

            Frank

          • Jon says:

            Frank’s comment is a train wreck of nonsense:
            – Darwin being “racist”. Even if it true what does it matter?
            – What is the point of there is “no rights” Darwinism or atheism or gravity?
            – What is Darwinism? Is it the worshiping Darwin?
            – Asserting that objective moral standard somehow comes from one living person; God.
            – Without objective morality you can’t condemn Hitler.
            Is amazing how much misinformation can be packed in on paragraph.

          • Stephen B says:

            “Without objective morality you can’t condemn Hitler.”

            My problem with this isn’t that it isn’t true, it’s that it’s nothing to do with what we were discussing. We weren’t talking about whether or not Hither can be condemned, we were talking about Hitler’s motivations. One thing discussed was whether Hitler could draw ‘rights’ from nature or the theory of natural selection. Frank allows at the end that there ARE no moral rights or wrongs in a scientific theory, thus basically accepting that it’s nonsense to suggest Hitler could draw any. But straight after admitting this – undercutting the argument he’d been advancing in his previous post – he changes the subject completely and makes statements about the ability of atheists to judge Hitler.

            “if you want to draw a distinction between “favoured” and “superior” fine. It seems to me to be a distinction without a difference”

            If a man says he’s going to kill one of us on the result of who can correctly call a coin toss, then the victor could be described as ‘favoured’, but no-one would say that the survivor was ‘superior’ on the basis of calling a random event. Before Darwin, an alternative, and probably main, explanation was that survivors were ‘favoured’ by God – this seems to suggest ‘superiority’ far more than ‘happened to be best adapted for the particular environment they lived in’.

    • Greg says:

      But Frank, couldn’t one read of Joshua’s exploits and attempt to replicate them thinking he was doing god’s work? Especially if those who teach the bible affirm them as, commanded by God. And how would we know that he isn’t? How do you know that the Crusade, Inquisitions and Holocaust were not the work of god? By what standard do you judge them evil? Add 9/11 to the list, why was that evil? They believed they were led by god. Joshua’s justification for his actions, if they really happened, was propagandistic just like Hitler’s, “the Canaanites were very bad people that had to be annihilated so their evil would not pollute the chosen people”. It seems to me the only response available to you is “we know Joshua heard from god because we have the right god”. Your defense of the Canaanite genocides (which I realize you haven’t offered here, but have elsewhere) on these grounds is surely a case of special pleading. Is it not?

      Reply
    • Jon says:

      Frank said: “Notice that “nature” and “evolution” were Hitler’s guides.”
      Please read the one paragraph in Mein Kampf (p. 223 English ed 1939) before your quote “If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should…”. It is clear that Hitler is talking about artificial selection not evolutionary natural selection. Whenever you fact check apologists guess what happens?

      Frank said: “Hitler was obviously not a Christian.”
      This is obviously a lie and no true Scotsman fallacy

      Frank said: “His anti-Semitism was secular not religious.”
      Religious hatred is not religious. LOL

      Frank said: “As Ravi Zacharias has observed..”
      This is interesting, a christian apologist quoting another christian apologist

      Ravi Zacharias said: “don’t judge a religion or philosophy by its abuse, but by its truths”
      Jesus said (Matthew 7 17,20):
      “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit… thus by their fruit you will recognize them”
      LOL Ravi

      Reply
      • Frank Turek says:

        Hi Jon,

        The more complete passage you quote from Matthew 7 is this: 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

        The point is that true prophets don’t merely say that they are believers (as you said Hitler did), but actually do what Jesus says (which Hitler obviously didn’t do). So if you want to say Hitler was a Christian because he supposedly claimed to be, Jesus is saying He was not. That’s Ravi’s point.

        I think the point about Hitler’s hatred of the Jews for their ethnicity stands. Again, could a Jew escape the ovens by converting to atheism or Christianity? No.

        BTW, what is your definition of “artificial selection?”

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          “So if you want to say Hitler was a Christian because he supposedly claimed to be”

          Then surely the same argument rules out Hitler being a ‘Darwinist’.

          Reply
        • Jon says:

          Again you ask “Again, could a Jew escape the ovens by converting to atheism or Christianity?”
          Had Erhard Milch become German field marshal if he had followed his father’s Jewish heritage? Or what happened to Christians who converted to Judaism during Hitler’s reign? Choosing the right religion was a matter of life and death. For some people choosing the right religion meant that they escaped the ovens. “Converting” to atheism certainly would not had help your case while Hitler was fighting Stalin.

          First your Ravi’s quote was about “judg[ing] a religion”
          Now you saying that Ravi’s point is that “Hitler was not a Christian”
          Slightly confusing…

          Let’s just use common meaning of the word “Christian”, go to Google and read the first result.
          I’m sure you are nothing like eyewitnesses of Jesus were (=James’ church before Paul), but you are a Christian. Like I pointed out, don’t fall into no true Scotsman fallacy again.

          Just Google “artificial selection” and read the first result if you don’t now what it means.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            Perhaps this would be a good point to note that man had been practicing artificial selection for millennia before Darwin. The concept of breeding desired traits into animals and crops was well understood before Darwin. And I shouldn’t need to point out that ‘wiping out a species or race prevents it continuing’ wasn’t something people needed Darwin for either.

            Hitler wanted to practice artificial selection by preventing inter-breeding with aryans and wiping out Jews. There’s no connection between that and natural selection.

            Note too that whenever people point to the different breeds of dogs (all from the same source of wolves) as an example of the possibilities of variation, creationists will very quickly dismiss this example because the dogs were artificially selected – bred by humans.

            Frank himself makes this very argument in I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist!
            “The comparison between natural selection and the artificial selection that breeders do is completely invalid. The biggest difference is that artificial selection is intelligently guided while natural selection is not. He then provides a table listing seven ‘crucial differences’.

            It seems a big contradiction for someone to take such care to emphasise the difference between the two, and then dismiss the distinction between Hitler’s eugenics and natural selection.

  10. Stephen B says:

    “Stephen, if you want to draw a distinction between “favoured” and “superior” fine. It seems to me to be a distinction without a difference”

    It’s a shame you see no distinction, because it’s a fairly essential one. That some animals died and some lived, and some species thrived while others struggled, was not a discovery by Darwin – it was obvious to us for some time. The point of natural selection was showing how the process would lead to changes in species over time. The point was NOT to show that some species or animals were ‘favoured’, as that was already known. It certainly wasn’t to show that some were superior. On the contrary, it showed that something as arbitrary as an ability to digest grass could be the reason one species thrived over others. Does this mean that those animals were ‘superior’? Only in a tautological sense – the weather could change, grass could wither, and suddenly the carnivores have a natural advantage. What’s ‘superior’ could become ‘inferior’ over night. This is decidedly NOT what Hitler meant by ‘superior’.

    “especially in light of Darwin’s racist writings in his 1871 followup”
    I don’t get the relevance of that at all – leaving aside that Darwin was an abolitionist, if it turned out that Einstein was a racist, would that make the theory of relativity racist by association? The theory stands on its own. Attacking Darwin’s views (mild with regards to race compared to many contemporary religious men) is pure ad hominem.

    “there are no rights in Darwinism”

    There are no rights to germ theory or the theory of relativity either. At any rate, it appears we can agree that Hitler could not draw ‘rights’ from Darwinism.

    “In the absence of an objective moral standard (God)”

    There’s nothing in natural selection that says a God can’t exist. I believe the majority of Christians do actually accept natural selection (if it’s less than 50%, it still hundreds of millions of people). So I don’t get the relevance of your comment there. Further, Hitler may not have been a Christian, but he certainly seemed to believe in a God. So you can’t draw a line from Darwinism to him believing he was free from a God-given moral standard.

    ” If Hitler wants to advance the Aryan race to “an evolutionary higher stage of being,” there is nothing wrong with that on Darwinism or atheism… I’ll give you the last word because I have to go”

    You say you’ll give me the last work, but you finish by completely changing the subject, Frank! We were discussing whether Hitler was influenced by Darwinism, not whether atheists can condemn Hitler! That’s a whole different rabbit hole you set up there, and one that I’ll leave for another time too!

    Reply
  11. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said: The point is that true prophets don’t merely say that they are believers (as you said Hitler did), but actually do what Jesus says (which Hitler obviously didn’t do). So if you want to say Hitler was a Christian because he supposedly claimed to be, Jesus is saying He was not.

    I think Dr. Turek is quite right about the meaning of the scripture.

    I do wonder though, Dr. Turek, where the cut off is. Paul tells us in Romans that all men have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of G-d. Therefore all men bear bad fruit. Do you then believe that no person can be a Christian — or to use your words, that Jesus says that no man is/was a Christian? Or is there some cutoff, say 15% bad fruit, or 2% or 70%?

    Thanks in advance for the answer!

    Luke

    Reply
  12. Mr. Giffin says:

    For those that keep trying to tie Hitler and the NAZI’s to Christianity or a belief in the Christian God, I would recommend reading “The NAZI Master Plan; The Persecution of Christian Churches” among the documents that have been released for the public in 2001, prepared for the Nuremburg Trials in 1945.

    In addition, t the documents above, it is also helpful to remember that Hitler thought “religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” That is a direct quote from him. However I realize he also said other things attempting to seem “Christian” when it benefitted him (most notably before 1939, and none after.

    In addition, as Vox Day points out; “Beginning with the First French Republic in 1792, there have been 28 countries that have been ruled by over 89 avowed atheists; of those, over half of which have committed wholesale slaughter of significant portions of their own populations.

    From 1917 to 2007 over 148 million people have been put to death by atheist rulers; that number is three times more than all of the human beings killed by war, civil war and crime in the entire 20th Century combined. It can be truly said that the record of collective atheism is 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianity’s worst and most infamous misdeed; The Spanish Inquisition. ” Ideas do indeed have consequences.

    Reply
  13. L.K. says:

    True hermaphrodites have an authentic case with gender identity questions. “Again, the assignment of sexual identity is based on external appearance and the reasonable functional expectations of the child’s anatomy.” People with pseudohermaphroditism also have some choices to make too. “Regardless of the choice, a Christian with this problem can rejoice in his/her identity in Christ that transcends male-ness and female-ness and that will last for eternity. ” https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/feedback-hermaphroditism/ .

    Reply
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