Bible + Nazi Germany + Planned Parenthood = Biology

According to the Associated Press:

During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

They fired him shortly thereafter.

I would *love* to see a copy of that PowerPoint…

Helphinstine says that he was presenting information on bias in sources and that the “whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking.”

Except I’m not sure how any of his supplemental material is accurate. Hell, most rational Christians wouldn’t equate any of those things either.

Incidentally, outside of an emergency, what teacher would leave a classroom for nearly two weeks during the Evolution unit?

(thanks to Logos for the link)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Associated Press, biology, Kris Helphinstine, Bible, PowerPoint, evolution, Nazi Germany, Planned Parenthood, Christian[/tags]

  • Pingback: Prose Before Hos » They Tried To Teach My Baby Science

  • http://mayamasquerade.blogspot.com/ maya

    What? I can’t even imagine how those things *could* be linked. That’s simply scary.

  • http://atheisthussy.blogspot.com/ Intergalactic Hussy

    Except I’m not sure how any of his supplemental material is accurate. Hell, most rational Christians wouldn’t equate any of those things either.

    One would hope not… but then again is there a such thing as a “rational Christian”?

  • http://patrickimo.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    If you ever, EVER get hooked up with that Powerpoint, I will pay your ass to get a copy. My curiosity is now driving me out of my mind!

    Blatant speculation: it may be possible to link the Nazis, evolution, and Planned Parenthood via scientific application of the infamous “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Bacon may himself have been some mutant genetic leftover experiment of the Nazis, and perhaps his biological mother attempted to abort him with Morning After pills provided by Planned Parenthood. As far as evolution, the genetic experiment may have consisted of the splicing of Bacon’s genes with that of a chimpanzee. The most viable candidate would be Bubbles, the chimp owned by music artist Michael Jackson. Or, perhaps Jackson was the chimpanzee, and Bacon’s genes were spliced with his. This is all backed by evidence from both the holy bible and Nostradamus, of course…

  • Jen

    You often hear pro-lifers linking abortion and the Holocaust- I am sure a google search would turn up thousands of poorly spelled sites with fake abortion pictures. Most of it seems to rest on Margaret Sanger, because of a quote that, when not quoted in its entirety, appears to be about Sanger wanting black women to not have babies (really, its about her wanting to help the black women control their fertility). The logic, if you can call it that, rests on the fact that a woman who lived 100 years ago was racist- slightly less so than was normal for the time, but still racist, because, dude, it was 100 years ago- therefore the organization she started must retain everything she said, and study it and base their lives on it. Which is not rational in the slightest.

    The other half of the logic- Hitler exterminated fully grown humans, and Planned Parenthoods provide abortions, which is exactly the same as taking an ax to a maternity ward, ergo they are morally the same. Or something.

    The pro-life mindset is a dark and scary one

  • Rob

    Actually, there is a link between evolution and Nazi Germany, or more correctly, between Darwin and Hitler. Darwin did comment on the social implications of his theory of evolution, especially in regards to the fate of primitive, uncivilized races upon contact with the more civilized ones. This idea of the superior civilization or race wound its way from Darwin, to Spencer, to Nietzsche and eventually to Hitler.

    Anyone interested in learning more should check out “From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany,” by Richard Weikart.

  • QrazyQat

    The idea of a superior race didn’t start in the mid-1800s; it’s been around for many hundreds, or thousands, of years. It was fed, incidentally, by religions of many stripes (Martin Luther was a huge proponent of this, and his prejudices carried through the church in Germany and the general population and certainly had a greater effect than any non-German did). Darwin certainly shared some of the prejudices of his time (although if you read his work he is fairly enlightened for his time, perhaps not surprising since he was near and dear to people who had long been active in the abolition of slavery) but if you actually read the section you are trying to refer to you see that he talks about “civilised” versus “savage”, savage being a then-common description and not having quite the connotation it does now. Savage (meaning wild and coming from the French) peoples were viewed in several opposing lights, often simultaneously as brutish and yet noble (the “noble savage”) — both scarey, objectionable, and yet admirable.

  • QrazyQat

    BTW, Richard Weikart is yet another wacko from the wacko Discovery Institute, and his claims have been debunked in several places, for instance in a 2-part series on Panda’s Thumb:
    critique

  • QrazyQat

    The second part of the critique I mentioned.

  • http://mojoey.blogspot.com Mojoey

    A friend commented that the PowerPoint most likely dealt with the American Eugenics movement, which fueled Nazi Germany’s obsession with the subject, and which can in some ways be tied to Planned Parenthood and birth control.

  • Rob

    QQ ,
    Arguing about the origin and development of a line of thought is always a challenge given the range of interpretations available. I’ll definitely check out the critique at PT, even though they are hardly paragons of objectivity over there. What really bothers me is when obviously intelligent people such as yourself and many of the contributors over at PT continue to use ad hominem attacks. Calling Weikart a “wacko” doesn’t invalidate his arguments. Perhaps their critique will, though the history of ideas is not the same as chemistry or math.

    I’ll check it out.

  • MTran

    Calling Weikart a “wacko” doesn’t invalidate his arguments. .

    No, his written ideas have earned him the wacko label, not only from QrazyQat but from responsible, scholars. His academic critics may have used terms such as “discredited” or “serious distortions” rather than “wacko” but I think they’re not so dissimilar.

    What really bothers me is when obviously intelligent people, such as Prof. Weikart, go off the academic deep end and lend support to the dishonest politicking of the Disco boys. But we will always have ideologues and their promoters, so perhaps this should not be so surprising.

    Arguing about the origin and development of a line of thought is always a challenge given the range of interpretations available.

    Let’s keep this realistic. Anti-Semitism pre-existed Darwin by, oh a millenium or so. As did racism, ethnocentrism, and just about every form of xenophobia imaginable. So did breeding programs, especially for physically preferrable slaves but also for the ruling classes. Take a look at Augustus’ decrees regarding upper class marriages, his effort to strengthen the “purity” of the ruling classes in ancient Rome. Didn’t need Darwin, did he?

    I dunno, sometimes I think a greater challenge to true sharing of information comes from concern trolls, who can derail conversations faster than many loud-mouth fanatics.

  • Rob

    Ancient history aside, the point that the social implications of Darwin’s theory could have influenced Hitler and his followers is still a valid one. Not that evolution was THE driving force behind the Nazi eugenics program, but it may have, in Hitler’s twisted mind, lent scientific credibility to the effort.

    Sometimes I think condescension can put the skids to a good conversation, too.

  • Richard Wade

    Rob,
    In addition to the Nazis, both laissez faire capitalists and Marxists tried to use Darwin to justify their positions. My question to you is, so what? Are you making a statement about Darwinism by pointing out that decades later a sociopath found it expedient to pervert the theory for his own ends? I’m not clear what you are getting at.

  • MTran

    Ancient history aside, the point that the social implications of Darwin’s theory could have influenced Hitler and his followers is still a valid one.

    Well, I can certainly see why you would want to set historical, essentially timeless and constant, social-political realities aside: they undermine your position.

    Hitler was heavily influenced by his Christian religious background, vegetarianism, his interests in myth, and his artistic aspirations as well any number of other experiences and notions. So shall we worry about vegan art students going bonkers and doing the goose-step en masse?

    For a group that worries incessantly about the evils of “Darwinism” and eugenics, the right wing-nuts seem to support “survival of the fittest” “red in tooth and claw” capitalism in the economic market place. They also tend to denigrate social support programs as breeding an “unfit” population and work-force.

    This puzzles and amuses me since the Red States, where the far right holds the vote, are the states that receive a disproportionate share of federal assistance, taken from Blue States such as New York and California. And the Red States tend to be less economically productive compared to the Blue.

  • Rob

    Richard – My original point was only to show that, despite some people’s doubts, there could be a link between evolution and Nazism. The issue has been explored. I was not trying to establish a causal link. If I have any larger point, it is simply that ideas have consequences and that human beings will find a way to make use of them in sometimes horrific ways.

    Qrazy Qat – I checked out the critique at PT per your suggestion. Well done. I don’t think it completely nullifies Weikart, but it does limit the connections he tried to make. Thanks for the info.

    MT – Not at all. Just because Hitler didn’t need Darwin doesn’t mean he didn’t use his ideas in addition to all the other factors you mentioned. As for your venture into political commentary, I can only say: huh?

    Thank you all for an interesting discussion. Have a great day.

  • QrazyQat

    Ancient history aside, the point that the social implications of Darwin’s theory could have influenced Hitler and his followers is still a valid one. Not that evolution was THE driving force behind the Nazi eugenics program, but it may have, in Hitler’s twisted mind, lent scientific credibility to the effort.

    If I make a nice piece of pottery and you use it to club someone over the head, am I really to blame? Rob says yes; I say that’s nonsense. But if I raised Rob and constantly told him that someone (Jews, for instance, or gypsies, or gays) was sub-human, out to get him, and deserved death then yes, I would be responsible. Darwin sure didn’t do that, but both the Catholic and Protestant churches did. The founder of the Protestant movement, Luther, was particularly vocal about this, and his views carried on down through the centuries. Centuries and centuries of church-sponsored hate — hate that was not just encouraged, but encouraged with the threat of everlasting hell if you didn’t buy into it — created the system of hate that permeated Germany, and many other countries, leading to the Holocaust. So a twisted mind took something as support — Charles Manson took a Beatles song as a reason to kill; were they responsible for that too? Or was it the twisted mind, and whatever twisted it? In the case of Manson, that was not the Beatles, and in the case of Hitler, that was not Charles Darwin. It was the centuries-long teachings of the church.

  • MTran

    My original point was only to show that, despite some people’s doubts, there could be a link between evolution and Nazism.

    If that was your original point, you have not shown any such “link”.

    If I have any larger point, it is simply that ideas have consequences and that human beings will find a way to make use of them in sometimes horrific ways.

    Poorly founded ideas, such as the “point” you believe you are trying to make, have consequences too: They are rejected by those who have a rational grasp on the subject but may be adopted by those who are happy to be misled if the message suits their politics or preconceptions.

    Rob, to me, you’re sounding more like a self congratulatory wannabe-flame-baiter than anything else.

  • Richard Wade

    MTran,
    If that was Rob’s intention, and I’m not entirely sure it was, then it would seem he’s more than just a wannabe flame-baiter, judging by the flaming response.

    Maybe I’m being naive. Have you encountered him or the argument you think he’s implying before? Do you really think he’s saying if it wasn’t for Darwin we wouldn’t have had the Nazis?

  • Karen

    Maybe I’m being naive. Have you encountered him or the argument you think he’s implying before? Do you really think he’s saying if it wasn’t for Darwin we wouldn’t have had the Nazis?

    That linkage – between Darwin and Nazis/communism/eugenics/all the other evils of the 20th century – is an incredibly common right-wing, creationist, evangelical “talking point.” I see it crop up ALL the time lately, particularly from places like the Discovery Institute (I.D. proponents).

    It seems that the argument is being used as a way to discredit the acceptance of evolution, primarily. And unfortunately, it seems to hold sway with far too many people.

    I can’t speak for Rob’s motives, but from what I’ve seen of his interaction here, he seems very respectful and open-minded.

  • MTran

    Maybe I’m being naive. Have you encountered him or the argument you think he’s implying before?

    I don’t know Rob at all. But this very topic — relating Hitler, Nazis, and the Holocaust to Darwin — has a very long history of being deliberate flame bait on usenet, particularly on alt.atheism and talk.origins. For “long history” I’m just using my own experience since the late 80s.

    Having seen the same comments maybe a few thousand times too often on other forums may make me overly sensitive to these types of “insights.”

    Do you really think he’s saying if it wasn’t for Darwin we wouldn’t have had the Nazis?

    I think that is not an unreasonable inference, based on his continued argument/assertion, which fits the criteria for Godwin’s Law fairly well. But again, I may be biased by having too many prior experiences with such on-line arguments.

  • Richard Wade

    LOL!
    I just looked up Godwin’s Law. That is both hilarious and oh so sadly true.
    Thanks Karen and MTran for the wisdom of your experience.

  • QrazyQat

    Have you encountered him or the argument you think he’s implying before?

    It’s extremely common. Note too the tactics: first he brings up a false claim, and to buttress it he offers a book put out by a radical religious institute which literally has never put out a true bit of info about evolution ever. He makes — or at least very strongly implies — the nonsensical claim that the idea of a superior race (one of the oldest ideas in human history) staretd in the mid-1800s with Charles Darwin> Then, when this is pointed out, he disses the source of a valid critique with the claim that ” they are hardly paragons of objectivity over there” just before decrying their claimed use of ad hominems instead of valid argument (ie. claiming they do what actually he, Rob, is doing). Then he does a backtrack with a backup, so to speak, as he attempts to place his discredited claim yet again (“Darwin’s theory could have influenced Hitler and his followers…”) again without proof, and also implying that someone’s later use of that person’s ideas is something that should properly be laid at the feet of the person who came up with the idea, not the people using it. This is made worse because in fact this would be a tenous line by what even Rob admits were people with “twisted minds”, but he leaves alone the obvious question of what twisted those minds, the minds of most of a nation, in a direct fashion for many centuries. He does this because the answer to that, rather more apropos and certainly much more direct cause, is the church.

  • Richard Wade

    Wow. QrazyQat, remind me never to argue with you.

  • http://www.bendweekly.com/ppt/Eugenics-WEBPAGE_files/frame.htm Matt Smith

    If you all simply want to debate ID v. Evolution go ahead. If however you’d like to discuss why this guy was really fired take a look at the powerpoint on the Bend Weekly site. http://www.bendweekly.com/ppt/Eugenics-WEBPAGE_files/frame.htm Whether or not there is science to support Evolution or ID is irrelevant. The information presented is clearly propaganda and in no way relevant to a science class. Helphinstine clearly had an agenda and that agenda was NOT freshman biology.

    The argument that this material was to encourage critical thinking is pure crap, especially as it relates to science. What does a picture of dozens of bodies, piled in an open pit “grave”, at a Nazi concentration camp have to do with critical thinking in science. Taken in isolation or as presented in the deck this just isn’t about science. There isn’t a single attempt to discuss science or scientific study anywhere in the deck.

    The material would be a stretch as appropriate in a social studies, history, or political science class. But as it was presented in a freshman biology class it was WAY off base. That in itself justifies the termination of a part-time probationary teacher.

  • MTran

    The information presented is clearly propaganda and in no way relevant to a science class. Helphinstine clearly had an agenda and that agenda was NOT freshman biology.

    Ya got that right!

  • Tani

    A claim and an assumption were made on March 20, 2007 when Mr. Helphinstine of Sisters High School was fired. The school board fired the well-liked biology teacher because of an accusation made about his teaching of evolution.
    Mr. Helphinstine was “deviating from accepted curriculum by presenting materials supporting creationism to his biology class” and that is why he has been fired as of Monday night. Is this an accurate accounting of his actions? Aren’t we all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?
    Myself and a few other students were brought to tears when reading the article about his firing. We couldn’t believe that one malicious lie could end a young man’s career.
    “The test was 90-plus percent intelligent design material,” Rahm said.
    I don’t know what test Rahm’s daughter took, but the test the rest of us had taken was about vocabulary and their meanings. But that is just what devastates me most. If the school board was to go to the extreme of firing Mr. Helphinstine, shouldn’t they properly investigate, such as looking at the test material given?
    Plus, is it truly fair for there to be a requirement to teach one THEORY, but not acceptable to inform about another?

  • http://lynnsdaughterthinking.blogspot.com Lynn’s Daughter

    http://www.bendweekly.com/ppt/Eugenics-WEBPAGE_files/frame.htm

    Here’s the powerpoint, if you haven’t seen it already.

  • Richard Wade

    Tani,

    Plus, is it truly fair for there to be a requirement to teach one THEORY, but not acceptable to inform about another?

    It is fair to teach theories of science in a science class, and theories of religion in a religion class. The difference is that the science is backed up by physical evidence that can be verified by many people. Arguments over the interpretation of the evidence leads to gathering of more physical evidence, until one theory has so much evidence supporting it that it becomes unreasonable to dismiss it. In the case of evolution there are literally mountains of evidence.

    Religious based explanations about Earth and life offer no physical evidence of their own, use circular logic and absurd interpretations of someone else’s evidence and concentrate mainly on casting doubt on the competing theories rather than properly supporting their own. If you think it would be fair to teach such theories in a science class, then to be truly fair you would have to include the many hundreds of religious theories from many hundreds of religions, those both still extant and now dead. This would take about four years of full time study. You’d come out knowing a whole lot about mythology but you might not remember much about science.

    If you think that the school board acted hasitly or unfairly, then do an investigation of their investigation. Be scientific about it. From what I have read they had a 90 minute meeting with Mr. Helphinstine followed by a public hearing which he chose not to attend. There is physical evidence, including the test which you acknowledge you did not take, supplemental study materials with several Biblical references and the PowerPoint presentation trying to infer a causal link between evolutionary theory and Nazi Germany. Look at this evidence and look for other evidence, such as the notes taken during the private meeting. Those may be restricted by rules of confidentiality, but ask about them anyway. Remember that a person’s mouth going up and down is not evidence. It has to exist in physical space, like documents, digital materials, fossils, rocks…

    Whether or not you liked Mr. Helphinstine is beside the point and you must set that aside if you want to practice the critical thinking that he claims he was promoting. He either honored his agreement with the school board to teach the criteria for the science class or he violated it. The evidence will tell you.

  • http://patrickimo.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    In an earlier comment I got a little silly. Now I’m going to be quite serious.

    Plus, is it truly fair for there to be a requirement to teach one THEORY, but not acceptable to inform about another?

    A good question, to which I might, in the classroom, answer this:

    “Many people who are religious believe that the entire universe was created by god or some ‘intelligent designer’ who developed everything on a time span ranging anywhere from six days to several billion years. SEE YOUR CHURCH FOR DETAILS.”

    For discussion: would even saying THIS be going too far for a teacher in a science classroom?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X