In her brilliant essay 'Darwinism,' Marilynne Robinson describes her caveat to the supposed victory of science over religion: 'The modern fable is that science exposed religion as a delusion and more or less supplanted it. But science cannot serve in the place of religion because it cannot generate an ethics or a morality. It can give us no reason to prefer a child to a dog, or to choose honorable poverty over fraudulent wealth. It can give us no grounds for preferring what is excellent to what is sensationalistic.' Weikart's book is a historical examination of what can happen when science does attempt to generate ethics and morality. Drawn from original research in German archival sources, Weikart outlines the connections between Darwin's veiled ethical opinions and organized advocacy in early twentieth-century intellectual and scientific circles for eugenics and euthanasia, in the interest of 'improving humanity.' Theorists such as Ernst Haeckel, Ludwig Buchner, Alfred Ploetz, and Helene Stocker are clinically examined, revealing that Nazi policies of euthanasia and extermination were born into a milieu where respect for such ideas was already rooted. Weikart's book, too dispassionately and persuasively argued to be written off as anti- Darwinist screed, bids us beware of allowing materialist science to order our ethics. 312 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
"From Darwin to Hitler "elucidates the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality throughout history. This book is a provocative yet balanced work that addresses a wide range of topics, from the value of human life to sexual mortality, to racial extermination.