Mr. Thompson admonished above:
Erik -- The subject is "Primary evidence about Hitler." Please stay on it.
Nobody doubts that Hitler existed, I guess – but how about his Führer Prinzip
(JariL)? What is the primary evidence of his ”deism”?
The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.
Or is it a "theism"?
Is the Führer Prinzip the ”supernatural revelation” that made Otto Ohlendorf – the ”intelligent man” apostrophed by Mr. Thompson above – feel Hitler’s influence in the following manner:
DR. ASCHENAUER: Is, in your opinion, the man who receives these orders obliged to examine them when they are given to him?
DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: This is not possible, legally or actually. According to the general legal interpretation in Germany, not even a judge had the possibility of examining the legality of a law or an order, as little as an administrative official could examine the administrative edict of a supreme authority. But even actually it would have been presumptuous because in the position in which every one of the defendants found themselves, we did not have the possibility of actually judging the situation. It also corresponds to the moral concept which I have learned as a European tradition, that no subordinate can take it upon himself to examine the authority of the supreme commander and chief of state. He only faces his God and history.
Q. Didn't Article 47 of the Military Penal Code give you an occasion to interpret this execution order differently?
A. It is impossible for me to imagine that an article which was created to prevent excesses by individual officers or men leaves open the possibility to consider the supreme order of the supreme commander a crime. Apart from this, again according to continental concept, the chief of state cannot commit a crime.
Q. Could you not have refused to support the execution of this order?
A. For that I would have had to have the feeling of the illegality and the possibility of appealing to a higher authority, but I had neither of them.
Q. Could you not have, after a certain period of time, tried to evade this order by sickness?
A. As long as I thought in political terms, I no longer considered myself as an individual person who only could think and act responsibly for himself.
Q.[…]Did you ever have any responsibility of your own about these missions, including the executions, which went higher in responsibility than that of the Supreme Army Commander, as the executor of supreme command and which would have excluded the responsibility of the army commander in chief over life and death?
A. No. This activity was carried out under the responsibility of the Supreme Commander. He alone had the executive power of command, and therefore he disposed over life and death. This responsibility was never limited.
Q. Then do I understand you correctly if you say that your responsibility refers to the manner and type of the execution of the order?
A. Yes, that is right.
DR. ASCHENAUER: I have no further questions.
”No further questions”?
Does Ohlendorf ’s explanation of the limits of his responsibility reflect the illusions of the authoritarian personality?
Or the hoary and hackneyed principle of submission obligatory towards the Führer Prinzip of any Supreme Being? Demanded by its ”theism”?Theism
can be defended with as much intelligence as was offered by Ohlendorff in his trial. He actually uses its logic when he ”defended” himself above.
Modern theism -- un-theological, ”logical” or philosophical, theism (he seeks no confirmation in the Bible, it seems)-- has a defender in Prof. Swinburne.
Prof. Swinburne defends the following suppositions of theism in one of his books:
http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/pu ... 8/toc.html
God is supposed to be a personal being, omnipresent, perfectly free and creator of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, a source of moral obligation, and eternal.
Here is an evaluation of his non-theological formulation of theism:
Professor Swinburne formulates theism as a theory to explain facts. This sharply contrasts with the view that theology deals with revealed truths. This fact alone deserves respect and interest. Theism can now be examined as a theory. It wouldn't make sense to evaluate revealed truth.
Ohlendorff didn’t defend his ”limited” responsibility by quoting Hitler’s Mein Kampf , or his anti-Semitic speeches. The postulation of an hearsay(?) ”Supreme Command”, giving his actions meaning and legitimity, was enough.
The advantages and disadvantages of theism:
The advantage of theism is that it gives our existence a meaning. The disadvantage is that it tends to give everything a meaning, including things that don't have a meaning (accidents, coincidences, rainbows, solar eclipses, Siamese twins, Down syndrome, cancer, death). Theism has not been able to separate meaningful and meaningless events. Furthermore: explaining the world and giving everything a meaning are quite different activities. However in theology they seem intimately linked.
Here below is a difference between Swinburne’s God and Ohlendorf’s Hitler described – the latter seems to have created a ”self-sustaining matter” (compare Hilberg’s description above) when he created the Holocaust – but it differentiates Swinburne’s theism from deism, at least:
A remarkable 'explanation' of something not in need of explanation is Swinburne's claim that God is sustaining matter and the laws of nature from moment to moment. Is this matter-sustaining activity really the most simple hypothesis to explain matter? Why did God fail to create self-sustaining matter? The claim is in conflict with the basics of the natural sciences and with his Swinburne's statement that the universe is a machine. It would be a bad Watchmaker who needs to adjust his watch from moment to moment. If there is something in need of sustaining on this planet it is health, peace, justice.
Hitler had no such sustaining needs, since he was bad. He is consequently not to be ”falsified” by ”the atrocities of the Second World War”:
If theism is a testable theory about reality, and that is the point of view Professor Swinburne adopted in his book, what would falsify theism? If the atrocities of the Second World War are not enough, what on earth would induce Professor Swinburne to abandon his God-theory?
But that was a review of Prof. Swinburne’s book : ”Is there a God?”http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/kortho24.htm
He has a shorter paper available on line:
Richard G. Swinburne, The Justification of Theism
The following are extacts (see link below):
[…]Some phenomenon E, which we can all observe, is considered. It is claimed that E is puzzling, strange, not to be expected in the ordinary course of things; but that E is to be expected if there is a God; for God has the power to bring about E and He might well choose to do so. Hence the occurrence of E is reason for supposing that there is a God. E may be a large phenomenon, such as the existence of the Universe, or something a lot smaller, such as our own individual religious experiences.
The pattern of argument is one much used in science, history, and all other fields of human inquiry.[…]
Read: E=Holocaust, God=Hitler’s Führer Prinzip, for argument's sake!
Let us call arguments of this kind arguments to a good explanation. Scientists use this pattern of argument to argue to the existence of unobservable entities as causes of the phenomena which they observe.
To be good arguments (that is, to provide evidence for their hypothesis), arguments of this kind must satisfy three criteria.
First, the phenomena which they cite as evidence must not be very likely to occur in the normal course of things.[…]
Compare Prof. Browning’s assessment of the Holocaust in my posting above!
Secondly, the phenomena must be much more to be expected if the hypothesis is true.
Thirdly, the hypothesis must be simple. That is, it must postulate the existence and operation of few entities, few kinds of entities, with few easily describable properties behaving in mathematically simple kinds of way. We could always postulate many new entities with complicated properties to explain anything which we find. But our hypothesis will only be supported by the evidence if it postulates few entities, which lead us to expect the diverse phenomena which form the evidence.
Scientists always postulate as few new entities (for example, subatomic particles) as are needed to lead us to expect to find the phenomena which we observe; and they postulate that those entities do not behave erratically (behave one way one day, and a different way the next day) but that they behave in accordance with as simple and smooth a mathematical law as is compatible with what is observed. There is an old Latin saying, simplex sigillum veri, "The simple is the sign of the true." To be rendered probable by evidence, hypotheses must be simple.
My first phenomenon which provides evidence for the existence of God is the existence of the universe for so long as it has existed (whether a finite time or, if it has no beginning, an infinite time). This is something evidently inexplicable by science.
The universal phenomenon of anti-Semitism has existed as long as history can account, it is inexplicable by science, but provides evidence for the power of ”theism” of any order. Hitler wasn’t the first.
But what science by its very nature cannot explain is why there are any states of affairs at all.
My next phenomenon is the operation of the most general laws of nature, that is, the orderliness of nature in conforming to very general laws.
But what science by its very nature cannot explain is why there are the most general laws of nature that there are; for, ex hypothesi, no wider law can explain their operation.
No ”wider law” of science can explain the history of anti-Semitism that Benjamin Disraeli describes here ( and his ”inexorable law of nature” can’t explain it, either!) :http://www.gwb.com.au/2000/myers/100300.htm
…but a ”theism” can!
[…]because of what a scientific explanation is, these things will ever be beyond its capacity to explain. For scientific explanations by their very nature terminate with some ultimate natural law and ultimate arrangement of physical things, and the questions which I am raising are why there are natural laws and physical things at all.
However, there is another kind of explanation of phenomena which we use all the time and which we see as a proper way of explaining phenomena. This is what I call personal explanation.
[…]this is a different way of explaining things from the scientific. Scientific explanation involves laws of nature and previous states of affairs. Personal explanation involves persons and purposes. If we cannot give a scientific explanation of the existence and orderliness of the Universe, perhaps we can give a personal explanation
Since there cannot be a scientific explanation of the existence of the Universe, either there is a personal explanation or there is no explanation at all. The hypothesis that there is a God is the hypothesis of the existence of the simplest kind of person which there could be. A person is a being with power to bring about effects, knowledge of how to do so, and freedom to make choices of which effects to bring about. God is by definition an omnipotent (that is, infinitely powerful), omniscient (that is, all-knowing), and perfectly free person; He is a person of infinite power, knowledge, and freedom; a person to whose power, knowledge, and freedom there are no limits except those of logic. The hypothesis that there exists a being with infinite degrees of the qualities essential to a being of that kind is the postulation of a very simple being. The hypothesis that there is such a God is a much simpler hypothesis than the hypothesis that there is a god who has such and such a limited power. It is simpler in just the same way that the hypothesis that some particle has zero mass or infinite velocity, is simpler than the hypothesis that it has of 0.32147 of some unit of mass or a velocity of 221,000 km/sec. A finite limitation cries out for an explanation of why there is just that particular limit, in a way that limitlessness does not.
That there should exist anything at all, let alone a universe as complex and as orderly as ours, is exceedingly strange. But if there is a God, it is not vastly unlikely that he should create such a universe.[…]
So the hypothesis that there is a God makes the existence of the Universe much more to be expected than it would otherwise be, and it is a very simple hypothesis. Hence the arguments from the existence of the Universe and its conformity to simple natural laws are good arguments to an explanation of the phenomena, and provide substantial evidence for the existence of God.
Theism is able to explain the most general phenomena of science and more particular historical facts, but it is also able to explain our own individual religious experiences. To so many men it has seemed at different moments of their lives that they were aware of God and His guidance. It is a basic principle of knowledge, which I have called the principle of credulity, that we ought to believe that things are as they seem to be, until we have evidence that we are mistaken.
[…]It is basic to human knowledge of the world that we believe things are as they seem to be in the absence of positive evidence to the contrary. Someone who seems to have an experience of God should believe that he does, unless evidence can be produced that he is mistaken. And it is another basic principle of knowledge that those who do not have an experience of a certain type ought to believe many others when they say that they do- again, in the absence of evidence of mass delusion.
Ohlendorf would have vidimated the credulity.
Swinburne meets some objections:
The most famous argument against theism is the argument from evil-does not the occurrence of pain and wickedness show that there is not a good God in control of the Universe?
This makes no hay against a Hitler ”theism”, obviously. The theist could reason like Proudhon:
[…]Pierre Proudhon wrote in his book Philosophy of Misery “Come Satan, slandered by the small and by kings. God is stupidity and cowardice; God is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and poverty; God is Evil. … I swear, God, with my hand starched out towards the heavens, that you are nothing more than the executioner of my reason, the scepter of my conscience… God is essentially anticivilized, antiliberal, and antihuman.”http://www.plim.org/demonleaders.htm
J. L. Mackie reasons against theism like Faurisson does against Hilberg’s ”reading-of-minds” -- or would do against JariL’s ”Führer Prinzip”, probably:
The key power involved in Swinburne's use of 'personal explanation' is that of fulfilling intentions directly, without any physical or causal mediation, without materials or instruments. There is nothing in our background knowledge that makes it comprehensible, let alone likely, that anything should have such a power. All our knowledge of intention-fulfillment is of embodied intentions being fulfilled indirectly by way of bodily changes and movements which are causally related to the intended result, and where the ability thus to fulfill intentions itself has a causal history, either of evolutionary development or of learning or of both. Only by ignoring such key features do we get an analogue of the supposed divine action.
Mackie is right to draw our attention to the fact that humans normally execute their purposes indirectly.[…]
If that were not so, humans would never through their purposes make any difference to the world; events and actions would never be explicable by the purposes humans were seeking to achieve-which is absurd.
Certainly the purposes of humans are focused not on their brain states, but on the effects of their brain states-that is, they execute their purposes indirectly. But nothing of importance turns on this.
[…]Contrary to Mackie, there is plenty "in our background knowledge which makes it comprehensible," indeed "likely that anything should have such a power."
[…]and so, the answer to Mackie's questions
Has God somehow brought it about that material structures do now generate consciousness? But then is this not almost as hard to understand as that material structures should do this of themselves?
are "Yes" and "No" respectively.
The ”Führer Prinzip” works via mind-reading, the consonance of ”brain states” (indoctrination?), shared and synchronized ”matter of spirit”:
In the final analysis, the destruction of the Jews was not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.
[Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985, 3 vols.), p. 55]
Compare Ohlendorf ’s description of the Führer’s responsibility above with the following ”theodicy” of theism:
A perfectly free, omnipotent and omniscient being can only do what is best to do (or do one among many equally best actions). In so far as an agent believes that some action is the best action (that is, what there is most reason to do), he will do it-unless he is subject to irrational inclinations, or desires, which make it hard for him to do what he believes best. God, being perfectly free, is subject to no such inclinations. Further, being omniscient, God will know what is best (that is, what there is most reason to do); He will not have false value-beliefs. Hence, unlike us humans, he will always act for the best. So His freedom is a freedom to choose among the very many equal best actions open to Him. Now we humans are often ignorant and morally insensitive, and in consequence our judgments about which actions are for the best must be tentative. But we can see that it is a good thing that God should make a universe containing men, and (once we have thought about it-as I argued in The Existence of God) we can see that it is good that God should allow men to suffer to a limited extent for a short finite period for the sake of the greater goods which that makes possible -that is, the opportunity for free choice between good and evil, and the opportunity to show patience, courage and compassion. But there are surely certain evils, for example, undeserved suffering of infinite intensity or duration, which God would not be justified in bringing about for the sake of some greater good. Hence the hypothesis of God's existence has the consequence that there will not be such evils. This is not an additional "particularity" which we attribute to God, but follows from His essential nature.
The paper is found in extenso here:http://www.origins.org/articles/swinbur ... heism.html
A skeptic’s comment on an earlier book by Swinburne:
[…]First note how modest Swinburne's claim is. He does not claim that he has proven God's existence as being more probable than his non-existence. He simply claims that the existence of the universe increases the probability of God's existence.
The existence of the Holocaust increases the probability of an existent ”Führer Prinzip”. Ohlendorf couldn’t explain his responsibility in any other way, at least.