June 17, 2006


Fighting Antisemitism With Theology (EUGENE KORN, June 9, 2006, The Forward)

Recently some Jewish leaders issued criticisms of Pope Benedict XVI for his failure to focus on antisemitism and Jewish martyrs during his visit to Auschwitz. Yet these leaders appeared to miss the significance of what Benedict did say. While he was at the extermination camp, the pope made a number of stunning theological statements about Jews and Judaism that hold enormous positive value. [...]

He asserted in the name of the church that today's Jewish people remain living witnesses to God who spoke to their ancestors at Sinai. Further, he explained that the Final Solution was a Nazi attempt to banish God from the world that could only be achieved by first exterminating the Jewish people. This is a firm denial of the doctrine of Judaism as obsolescence and the Adversus Judeus church tradition. In doing so, Benedict indicated that he and the church understand the continuing religious and moral validity of Judaism and Jews.

Indeed, traditional Jews hold the very same convictions today about our faith and our people. Both faithful Jews and faithful Christians understand that there was no way for Nazi genocide to coexist with God's moral authority and "Thou shall not murder." It is therefore no surprise that researchers at Rutgers School of Law have discovered documents indicating that if Hitler had succeeded in destroying the Jewish people — God forbid — he would have proceeded to destroy the church. After the Shoah, both religions are allies in upholding morality and guiding humanity.

The problem isn't between religious Jews and Christians and it is the specter that seculars see rising of just such an alliance against them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2006 12:18 PM

Since theology created antisemitism, it is appropriate that theology clean up its own mess.

You're really into revisionist history, aren't you Orrin? The Pope's claim is nonsensical, only someone ignorant of history could accept it. Was the Catholic church's long history of antisemitism evidence that it was trying to eliminate religion from the world? Hitler and the Nazis inherited antisemitism from Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant. He was merely taking the implications of Christian theology on the jews to its logical extreme.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 17, 2006 12:36 PM


Nazism was just Applied Darwinism, logically treating Jews as a rival race that had to be exterminated. The Holocaust is completely consistent with Darwinism.

Anti-Semitism is un-Christian, though the rivalry among the Abrahamic religions was natural enough.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 12:40 PM

Darwinism is not a moral philosophy. Saying that the Holocaust is totally consistent with Darwinism is like saying that the Holocaust is consistent with physics, or auto-mechanics. Killing Jews violates no laws of physics, or no precepts of proper automobile maintenance. Neither does it support any physical laws or precepts of automobile maintenance. There is no overlap. Science makes no moral prescriptions, and should not.

Antisemitism is a longstanding Europoean cultural tradition that had its roots in Christianity. If it is un-Christian, then many Christians were and are un-Christian. Indeed, there is nothing about Darwinism that conflicts with Christianity, and social Darwinism, that moral theory concocted out of whole cloth out of the mistaken notion that darwinian explanations of species origins had any moral implications, was quite popular with the Christians of the day.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 17, 2006 1:21 PM

Robert - Theology didn't create anti-semitism, unless it created Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, the Philistines and Edomites, and other Jew-haters who preceded Jesus.

The reality is that anyone who hates God, hates his Chosen People. This has been true throughout history, and by and large among the Gentiles it has been Christians who were friends to the Jews. The Nazis were an anti-Christian party and they inherited their anti-Semitism from the secular left.

Posted by: pj at June 17, 2006 1:33 PM


To the contrary, all Darwinism consists of is the rationalists' attempt to liberate themselves from morality.

Of course Christians fail to meet the standards of Christianity--that's a truism. But Christian anti-Semitism was quite different than the exterminationism that Darwinism requires as a matter of doctrine.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 1:39 PM

Science makes no moral prescriptions, and should not.

Sorry, Robert, but that's the dumbest thing ever said on this blog, surpassing even the immortal "all great rock songs are misogynistic." Were it not willing to make moral prescriptions, science couldn't speak a word about how we ought to prefer the scientific method to its rivals.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 17, 2006 2:23 PM

The theology of the Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, the Philistines and Edomites, as well as the theologies of all early pagan religions,was a theology of a tribal war god that favored that people over other peoples and their gods. It worked both ways. The tribal god of the Israelites called for them to hate these other false gods and the people that worshipped them.

You guys can't whitewash 1500 years of Christian anti-semitism in Europe. You're scapegoating a scientific theory to cover up the fact that anti-semitism was an ingrained cultural tradition among Christians in Europe well before Darwin arrived on the scene with his theory.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 17, 2006 2:26 PM


Ideological differences matter. Race doesn't.

Christianity doesn't need to be white-washed. The failure of Jews to accept Christ was a legitimate reason to marginalize them. If you don't accept the ideas around wich a society is ordered you are liable to repression--ask an American witch, communist, Nazi, homosexual, pedophile, etc.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 3:58 PM

Were it not willing to make moral prescriptions, science couldn't speak a word about how we ought to prefer the scientific method to its rivals.

What? That isn't a moral prescription, it is a methodological one. Morals are solely concerned with how people should treat each other. It is based on values, not scientific propositions.

There is a very popular saying with regards to morals. 'Is' doesn't define 'ought'. Science is a means for determining 'is'. It has no business defining 'ought'.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 17, 2006 5:55 PM

Yes, but Darwinism isn't science, just an ideology meant to avoid God and the morality He imposes on us.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 5:59 PM

Noone accepts that anymore, not even the Catholic Church. It has apologized for its persecution of the Jews. Are you comparing Jews to pedophiles?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 17, 2006 6:02 PM

The Jewish Sanhedrin began the marginalization. They feared Christianity (and their own loss of power should the sect "catch-on."). Christians were pariah for a couple of centuries afterwards.

Not that I'm overlooking how we treated the Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages and beyond, but the two ideologies were at loggerheads fairly from the very start (Judaism having the upper hand).

Posted by: Bartman at June 17, 2006 6:15 PM

Yes, I'm saying that societies must repress those who won't assimilate to their values. jews assimilated eventually. That wasn't good enough for Darwinists though who had to exterminate a rival race by the force of the logic of their own ideology.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 6:16 PM

Science is a means for determining 'is'. It has no business defining 'ought'.

Jesus, Robert, grow up. Science has become as much of a mass movement and a moral crusade as the Christianity it displaced. If it weren't it would never have displaced it at all. (Not that there's anything wrong with that! --ed) But you cannot have it both ways. If science has nothing to say about how we ought to treat each other (just stated), and you yourself have no beliefs that can't be derived from science (strongly implied, in several years of commenting here and posting at the Duck), then what are you doing complaining bitterly about Christendom? (Something of a hobby of yours, if not an avocation.) Look: Christianity took over the running of the Roman empire, and eventually proved just as bloodthirsty as the Romans, even though it was founded in opposition to Rome. Similarly science has taken over the running of Christendom from Christianity, and has proved to be just as messianic as Christianity, even though it was founded (somewhat) in opposition to Christianity. (If you doubt the messianism, you haven't been paying attention to the global warming debate, to take just one example.) History's funny that way, get over it.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 17, 2006 6:20 PM


You're missing the point. Sciencism is for people who don't want to grow up.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 6:24 PM

you yourself have no beliefs that can't be derived from science (strongly implied, in several years of commenting here and posting at the Duck)

I have no beliefs that are inconsistent with science, not derived from science. There is a big difference. And I'm talking about morals, not a belief system. Beliefs are about speculations about unseen or unknown phenomena, moral reasoning is about practical issues within social relationships.

If you think science has taken over running Christendom from Christianity, you have a very sloppy worldview. How does science do this? Which scientists are running the show? This sounds like one of those Trilateral Commission conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 17, 2006 6:56 PM

Robert - You're just wrong in attributing anti-semitism to the Christian religion. As you acknowledge, it predated Christianity. Even at its worst in Christendom, the Spanish Inquisition, the Church became involved in order to mitigate the violence against Jews planned by the secular authorities of Spain, who had spent 800 years at war with Muslims, saw the Jews as Muslim allies, and was intent on eradicating them. It was, by and large, secularists who led the pogroms, and Christians who tried to stop them. And it was secularists -- the Nazis -- who ended up killing them.

Of course there have been many Christians who acted in unChristian ways. But Christian theology has always been respectful of the Jews. And you can't indict Christianity for people failing to be Christian.

Posted by: pj at June 17, 2006 7:02 PM

Indeed, science tried but lost here in the States. It did win in Europe, which is why it's dying such an ugly death.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 7:07 PM


Actually, that's the beauty of it. He can only indict people for being unChristian. That's the only standard of morality.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 7:08 PM

Don't guess at what the Nazis thought about this issue, take their word for it. Rosenberg, Goebbels,and Hitler himself were most clear about it. Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular were the real enemies, standing in the way of the drive to the East and the place in the sun.

The Nazis were caught by World War Two, having been drawn into general war ahead of schedule. Just as they had to go forward with obsolete weapons, so they had to put off their project to get los vom Rom.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 17, 2006 7:46 PM

Actually what Hitler hated most was the Communists, which is how he ended up in the self-destructive war.

Posted by: oj at June 17, 2006 7:49 PM

And his hatred, like pathological hatreds are, was borne of fear. Had he veered left after the Armistice (in reaction to the decadance of the ruling class), he could have easily become a vanguard German communist.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 18, 2006 1:30 AM

The 911 attack was applied Newtonism. After all, if you can go from the unfit won't survive to we must make sure the unfit won't survive (without analyzing what is meant by unfit), you can go from things fall down to we must make sure things fall down (without analyzing which things fall down).

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at June 18, 2006 3:54 AM

Newton's physics don't posit an existenbtial threat if things aren't forced over. Darwinism holds that every race other than your own is an existential threat to yours.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2006 9:06 AM

No, there's nothing in Darwinism that makes other races existential threats. Nature is filled with very similar species that co-exist (a subject on which you have made many posts recently). In fact, Darwinism strongly implies ever increasing diversity, the exact opposite of your claim.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 18, 2006 9:32 AM


Yes, there's no such thing as species in reality. Darwinism though requires a belief in such and in the struggle between them. I didn't say it made sense, just that it's the logic of the ideology.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2006 9:39 AM