Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No gods

World War II was a unit in almost every course I taught. Included would be its causes which meant time spent on the development of the USSR, Japanese militarism, Italian Fascism, and, especially, Hitler and the Nazis. Hitler's beliefs were central to Nazi behavior. From Lars Walker's review of Hitler’s Religion by Richard Weikart:
.... Atheists like to declare that Hitler was a Christian, and Christians like to retort he was an atheist, or an occultist.

Richard Weikart, author of Hitler’s Religion, says they’re all wrong. He provides pretty convincing documentation that Hitler was in fact a pantheist. ....

.... Christianity, he said, was a weak, corrupt religion. Jesus (whom he claimed to admire) was in truth an Aryan who fought against the greed of the Jews, and was martyred for it. The vile, Jewish, Apostle Paul then twisted Jesus’ simple teachings into a superstitious system that promoted degenerate Jewish ethics.

Hitler was not a systematic thinker, so his actual beliefs aren’t easy to pin down. But the preponderance of evidence in this exhaustively researched book argues that Hitler was most sympathetic to romantic Darwinism.... In this kind of pantheism, Nature is conceived of as a universal force that exercises some kind of will. Nature’s divine will can be deduced by observing her laws, under which the strong always destroy the weak, permitting the species to evolve. Humanity is the pinnacle of animal life, and the Aryan race the pinnacle of humanity. To allow inferior races to dilute Aryan strength is thus a mortal sin against Nature’s law and purpose. So the inferior races must be eliminated. It seems cruel, but it’s the most virtuous choice in the long run.

The argument that Hitler was an occultist, so popular among sensational Christian writers, does not hold up, in Weikart’s view. Although there were occultist and heathen elements in the Nazi Party, Hitler sneered at them. He didn’t want gods of any sort. Only Nature – the Universe itself – aroused his veneration. ....