Monday, March 21, 2011
This question is a little bit complicated. The Nazi government did not aggressively promote atheism in the way that most Communist governments did and still do. The Nazi party preferred to persuade the churches to cooperate with the government when possible, rather than to outlaw the churches.
I also have a feeling that many Nazis harbored a soft spot for Christianity, since Nazi antisemitism was clearly rooted in Christian antisemitism.
On the other hand, the Nazis certainly promoted Darwinism. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote
"In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right or opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. And struggle is always a means for improving a species' health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development."
This is a cornerstone of Nazi philosophy and is merely a statement of the Darwinian concept of natural selection. Nazism and evolution are both based on the same fundamental belief.
At the same time, Nazism certainly discouraged the concept of a personal, Biblical God. The Waffen SS did not seem to possess an official chaplaincy of any sort, at least not in the earlier years when recruitment could be more selective.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no record of any Nazi official in Hitler's bunker praying even during the final days of the war.
If we therefore define atheism, as I do, as a belief in evolution and a disbelief in the Biblical God, I believe that we can describe Nazism as being a fundamentally atheistic movement.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 5:55 AM