Expelled: Exposing the Darwinian Paradox

Michael Craven | Center for Christ & Culture | Sunday, May 11, 2008

Expelled: Exposing the Darwinian Paradox

Many of you have probably seen or at least heard of Ben Stein’s documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  The film tackles allegations of suppressed academic freedom within American universities and attempts to demonstrate that any scientist who dares to question the Darwinian explanation of life on earth is sure to end his or her academic career.

The film doesn’t really argue for intelligent design, as its critics claim, it merely points out that scientific discoveries since the release of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 reveal a growing number of “holes” in the theory. Nonetheless, the Darwinian presupposition remains so firmly entrenched within academia that it is the only accepted starting point in science and so the film exposes how universities have institutionalized its opposition to any alternative theories and true scientific inquiry. 


The critics never address the central thesis of the film; they never offer any factual rebuttals, instead they ridicule the premise and any persons who point out that Darwinism is akin to religious dogma whose basis in actual science is diminishing.

The thing which most offended critics and reviewers of Stein’s film was his attempt to link Darwinism to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s. In an MSNBC.com review, Arthur Caplan calls the connection Stein draws between Darwin’s theory and the Holocaust “despicable.” Another critic writes, “Claiming that the Holocaust was motivated by ‘social Darwinism’ erases a long, sordid history of European anti-Semitism…. It was this anti-Semitism, inspired by the religious idea that the Jews killed Christ, that informed Hitler's willing executioners…”  

Michael Giardinello, writing in the Stony Brook Independent writes, “The film points the finger at evolution as the cause for the holocaust….  There is also not a single mention of Darwin, or his theory, in Hitler's Mein Kampf.”

It is here, in the area of moral philosophy, that the Darwinian paradox is revealed. A paradox is a statement or proposition that contradicts itself. When it comes to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, this contradiction manifests in the area of morality and ethics. On the one hand, modern Darwinians posit that the universe is the result of impersonal, amoral, natural forces while on the other denying this undermines objective moral standards.

Darwin himself rejected the idea of any objective moral basis. He wrote in his autobiography that one “can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones.” Challenging the intrinsic value of human beings because they are made in the image of God, Darwin wrote “man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work, worthy of the interposition of a deity. More humble and, I believe, true to consider him created from animals.” Darwin argued the difference between man and animal was quantitative, not qualitative thus blurring the distinction between man and beast.

Nineteenth century Darwinian scientists such as influential ethnologist Friedrich Hellwald insisted that ‘The right of the stronger is a natural law.” Ernst Haeckel (famed for his concocted drawings depicting the human embryonic stages) was the first German scholar to argue that disabled infants should be killed at birth. Haeckel and other Darwinians criticized the Judeo-Christian conceptions of humanity as “anthropocentric” and counter to evolutionary progress.

Cal State professor of history, Richard Weikart points outs in his exhaustive study on evolutionary ethics, “Many leading Darwinists in the late nineteenth century … claimed that in order to foster evolutionary progress, the less-valuable elements of humanity … had to be eliminated.” This sentiment was particularly popular among German academics. Weikart goes on to point out that these Darwinians were not content to wait on “natural selection” because “they feared that Judeo-Christian and humanitarian ethics … would produce biological degeneration, since the weak and sick would be allowed to reproduce.”

Fomented by decades of Darwinian social and ethical theories, the idea of genocide as a means of purifying the races and furthering the evolutionary development of mankind became less and less objectionable, especially among the German elite. Darwin believed this was inevitable if not necessary and T. H. Huxley, the foremost Darwinian biologist in late-nineteenth century Britain, nicknamed “Darwin’s bulldog,” argued, “only from death on a genocidal scale could the few progress.” The German scholar, Hellwald wrote that evolutionary progress would occur as “fitter” humans “stride across the corpses of the vanquished; that is natural law.”

Acknowledging this influence, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (p. 420-421) that his philosophy

by no means believes in the equality of races, but recognizes … their higher or lower value, and through this knowledge feels obliged … to promote the victory of the better, the stronger, and to demand the submission of the worse and weaker. It embraces thereby in principle the aristocratic law of nature (a term coined by Ernst Haeckel) and believes in the validity of this law down to the last individual being. It recognizes not only the different value of races, but also the different value of individuals. . . . But by no means can it approve of the right of an ethical idea existing, if this idea is a danger for the racial life of the bearer of a higher ethic.

And yet Darwinists refuse to acknowledge the connection to Hitler’s “Final Solution?”  

Richard Kirk writing for the California Republic states it well when he writes, “If atheistic, materialistic, Darwinistic explanations permeate society, aren’t actions like those at Hadamar and Dachau made more philosophically plausible? Indeed, aren’t such actions what one should expect in a world where ‘will to power’ and the ‘struggle for existence’ are seen as ‘real’ scientific explanations and ‘intelligence’ is dismissed as a quaint epiphenomenon?”

Darwinism did not cause the Holocaust but without it, the Nazi’s would not have had the necessary scientific basis that convinced them that their program to eradicate the Jew, the disabled, and the intellectually weak was morally good. The Nazi’s were not moral anomalies, they were not ignorant or primitive; they were arguably the most sophisticated society on earth. They simply understood and embraced the moral realities of Darwinism. If it were true then everything they understood about morality and ethics must necessarily change. Under the Darwinian worldview, the highest moral good became the progress of the human race and anything which hindered this progress was immoral.

The Nazi’s understood what modern Darwinists do not; if you reject the Creator you cannot hope to live within the safety of the Creator’s rules. It is either God’s loving law or the law of the jungle.

© 2008 by S. Michael Craven

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S. Michael Craven is the founder and President of the Center for Christ & Culture. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to recapture and demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources and other works by S. Michael Craven visit: www.battlefortruth.org

Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.

Expelled: Exposing the Darwinian Paradox