Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hitler's Religion

I and a friend who I would describe as a somewhat pallid deist (almost an atheist) have been enjoying a sporadic dialogue by e-mail over the last couple of years.

He recently said something that one often hears in such discussions that I think needs to be explored.

In response to his point that the history of Christianity was littered with the "insanity" of the "murders of millions upon millions" of people, I said that:

"I don't wish to minimize the abuses and horrors that stain the history of the Church but "millions and millions" is a gross exaggeration of the historical record. I think you'd be hard put to document that number. It's not an exaggeration, however, to note that that number accurately reflects the fruit of state atheism in the twentieth century, so one might well ask when the 'insanity' of atheism is ever going to end."

My friend replied with this:

"Fifty to sixty million people died during WWII started by Hitler. Hitler was not an atheist; in fact he was a Christian who believed himself to be some kind of a Messiah on a mission to kill all the Jews."

Now, in fact this is true, if at all, only in the most tenuous sense. Hitler was in fact a deist. His God was the laws of the universe. He used Christian churches, but he despised Christianity and believed that it was incompatible with National Socialism.

You can read about his religious views in his own words here. The link is to excerpts from Hitler's Table Talk, informal discussions written down for posterity for the most part by Martin Bormann between July 1941 and June 1942. Here are a few of Hitler's thoughts Bormann recorded:

Man has discovered in nature the wonderful notion of that almighty being whose law he worships.

Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this almighty, which we call 'God' (that is to say, the dominion of natural laws throughout the whole universe).

The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of human failure.

So it's not opportune to hurl ourselves now into a struggle with the churches. The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it. The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions. Gradually the myths crumble. All that's left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic. When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.

[T]he only way of getting rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.

And so on. There's much more at the link. These are not the words of a Christian nor of a theist. They are the words of a man who set nature as his god and who was so situated that he was able to carry out the logic of his beliefs. They resulted in the holocaust.


Cindy Sheehan

Gary Randall of Faith and Freedom Network and Foundation hits all the right notes in his commentary on Cindy Sheehan's departure from the anti-war movement. Thanks to Byron for passing it along to "his few conservative friends." I suspect that means that I'm the only one who received it.

Anyway, here's the first half of Randall's piece:

The woman who became the "face" of dissent toward the Iraq war and President Bush is quitting - and going home.

In an essay entitled, "Good Riddance Attention Whore" that she posted on Daily Kos, a popular secularist blog, she said she was broken and disillusioned and was going "to take whatever I have left and go home."

I, of course, have never been a fan of hers. I have not agreed with what she has said nor most of her methods. Her photo opts with Castro and Chavez were offensive to me personally. But, as I read her hurt and confusion, I looked through the politics that have broken her and saw a human being who, I feel, desperately needs something and someone to believe in.

I have noticed that most major news outlets are not quoting the part of her essay that says, "When I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the Left started labeling me with the same slurs the Right used ... It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on."

I do not know this woman, nor do I suggest I have all the answers, but I do know this one thing. Every human being has a need to believe in someone and something.

In her case, she believed in Howard Dean,, and the other components of the extreme Left in this country. While she was grieving the loss of her son, she was quickly pushed to the front to advance the extreme Left-wing agenda. When she wasn't valuable, they threw her "under the bus," as they say. That can happen in both parties.

Read the rest at the link. Her letter is here. One of the things she says is that her opponents frequently claimed that she was just being used by the secular anti-war left. It turns out, evidently, that her opponents were right and that she's come to think the same thing.

One can't help but feel sorry for this woman who, although I profoundly disagree with her about the war and much else, always struck me as a basically good person who tried so hard and sacrificed so much in her belief that she is right and that she could make a positive difference. Now she is worn out and exhausted and her former allies are saying "good riddance" to her. Nice people, those lefties.

God bless her.


Conservative Primers

For the political philosophers among our readers, and those just interested in the history of political thought, probably the best way to gain an understanding of conservative thought is to read Russell Kirk's early fifties classic The Conservative Mind.

Perhaps the second best way is to read the excellent essay by Mark Henrie at The New Pantagruel on Understanding Traditionalist Conservatism. It's an historical overview of the origins of modern conservative thought and it's an enchanting, if somewhat lengthy, read. Even though it's long it's still a lot shorter than Kirk's wonderful book.

The third best way, of course, would be to frequent National Review Online. The folks at NRO bring the principles elucidated by Kirk and Henrie to bear on the issues facing America and the world today. It's very good stuff.