On Friday July 22, 2011 Norwegian Anders Breivik went on a killing rampage in Oslo, Norway, killing 77 people and injuring many more. It was the worst terrorist attack in modern Norwegian history and one of the worst in modern European history (Rayner, et al., 2011). The bombing of Oslo government buildings resulted in 8 deaths, and the mass shooting at a Workers’ Youth League of the Labor Party on the island of Utøya resulted in killing 69 people, mostly teenagers, and injuring at least 96 other persons.
Breivik was born on February 13, 1979, the son of Wenche Behring, a nurse, and Jens David Breivik, a Civil Economist. He was an intelligent, sensitive physically strong young man who since adolescence spent much time weight training, and using anabolic steroids to improve his physic. In his early twenties he underwent cosmetic surgery to look more like what he judged to be Aryan. Breivik worked as a customer service representative working with people from all nations and reportedly had good relations with his customers except he seemed to be easily irritated by those of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin (Slack, 2011).
His Terrorist Killings
To explain his terrorist actions he produced a 1518 page 77,724 word document titled 2083 European Declaration of Independence. One reason he gave for his killing spree was because “Marriage is not a “conspiracy to oppress women”, it’s the reason why we’re here. …. According to strict, atheist Darwinism, the purpose of life is to reproduce” (p. 350)
Soon after the event the establishment media, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, claimed that the influence of fundamentalist Christianity and various right-wing groups explained Breivik’s ideology and actions (Sarfati, 2011). One typical headline read Norwegian Killer is Conservative Christian Fundamentalist (Anonymous, 2011). Although, as is true of many persons, he had both right-wing and left views, his detailed paper made his views very clear — and they had nothing to do with Christian fundamentalism.
The media almost totally ignored his virulent scientific fundamentalism and Social Darwinism, including his far-ranging proposal to revive Darwinian eugenics inspired by the writings of Princeton University evolutionary biologist Dr. Lee Silver. They also ignored his agnosticism, such as his “if there is a God” proviso when pondering his destiny after death (2011, p. 1345).
Breivik detailed in his document that he was an unapologetic champion of modern biology and the scientific evolutionary worldview. Breivik’s vision of “a perfect Europe” involved Social Darwinism, which he identified with “logic” and “rationalist thought,” opining that applying “national Darwinism” should be at the core of our society (p. 1386). He does not believe that science should be left in private hands, but instead that it required lavish and permanent government support. He argued that fully 20 percent of all government spending must be devoted to scientific research (pp. 1188, 1386) and that science funding is even more important than aid to the poor: “Welfare expenditure should not take precedent over the 20% fixed sum dedicated to science/technology, research and development” (p. 1195).
Breivik also stressed that science trumps religion: “As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings” (p. 1403). Breivik listed Darwin’s Origin of Species as one of the more “important” books that he has ever read (p. 1407). He lamented that
Social-Darwinism was the norm before the 1950. Back then, it was allowed to say what we feel. Now, however, we have to disguise our preferences to avoid the horrible consequences of being labeled as a genetical preferentialist (p. 1227).
Social Darwinism was never far below the surface in his extensive social policy discussions. It was even foundational to the solution of global ecology and overpopulation problems. He argued that “radical policies will have to be implemented” to reduce the human population by, he concluded, more than half, or down to 3.8 billion people (p. 1202). Furthermore, if “second and third world countries” are unable to curb their population growth, “nature will correct their suicidal tendencies” because they will be “unable to feed their populations” as Darwin stressed. Breivik believes that Western countries should not interfere even if mass starvation results: “If starvation threatens the countries who have failed to follow our [population control] guidelines we should not support them by … send[ing] any form of aid” (p. 1202). Indeed, “aid to 3rd world countries must stop immediately as it is the primary cause of overpopulation” (p. 1203).
The most blatant example of Breivik’s radical Social Darwinism is his endorsement of “reprogenetics,” a form of “positive” eugenics that enables humans to control their evolution to produce better humans through eugenics. Breivik even argued that the “never-ending collective pursuit for scientific evolution and perfection should become the benchmark and essence of our existence” (p. 1199, emphasis added).
Breivik’s avocation of the “commercialization and state/media encouragement of reprogenetics favoring the Nordic genotype” was similar to the Lebensborn program that the Nazis used in an attempt to breed superior Aryans. Specifically, he advocated the use of “large scale surrogacy facilities as a secondary reproduction option for countries to compensate for non-sustainable fertility rates. The donors of eggs and sperm will then exclusively carry the Nordic genotypes” (p. 1192). He explained that the Nazis had the proper social Darwinist goals, but unfortunately they destroyed the reputation of “eugenics” by combining it to … mass extermination. But seeking biological perfection is still a logical concept … We just have to make sure that we offer it as a voluntary option to everyone or at least start by legalizing it …. This must be a non-coercive form of biological improvement which will be predominantly motivated by … the desire to create the best … children (p. 1200).
Breivik laments that the Nazi abuses have made implementing eugenics more difficult today:
We all remember the horrors from WW2 where the Empire of Japan committed atrocities against the Chinese by large scale massacres and by using them as human test subjects … Nazi Germany and other countries did the same thing in a smaller degree … Unfortunately, the horrors of WW2 created a stigma associated with all future research and advances in … improving humans biologically by removing negative hereditary factors (pp. 1189-1190).
Noting the social stigma of eugenics, Berwick writes that, unfortunately, eugenics and reprogenetics are now “extremely politically incorrect to discuss” because of “the ‘negative eugenics programs’ of Nazi Germany,” namely
sterilization and … experimentation of human test subjects are factors used at that time … Many European countries used to forcefully sterilize Gypsies/Rom up to aprox 1972 to prevent them from breeding because they used to be considered “sub-human” etc. These programs are today referred to as “negative eugenics” due to these and other factors (p. 1190).
Breivik concluded that
we need to get over this taboo as soon as possible because it is estimated that the Nordic genotypes will be extinct completely within 200 years. This is mainly due to intermarriage between Nordics and non-Nordics. Multiculturalist doctrines have speeded this “indirect extermination process” up further in many Western European countries so the extinction might happen sooner (p. 1190).
He added that the most effective way to prevent this is “by introducing negative eugenics programs combined with ethnic segregation somewhat similar to some policies of the Third Reich” (p. 1190). He predicts that those who support reprogenetics will
seize power within 30-70 years. And when we do we should refrain from committing
the same mistakes of the past. Political correct individuals will say: “Who cares if blonde people with blue eyes are extinct? We are all going to be dark skinned in the future anyway.” Wrong. … we have no intention to allow … the indigenous peoples of Europe to be indirectly exterminated. The hypocritical thing is that the same individuals stating this are likely to support … the preservation of rare species in the animal kingdom (p. 1191).
Breivik’s obsesses about preserving the “Nordic” race, which he believes possess “rare characteristics that have been acquired through an evolutionary process which has taken more than 1 million years” to evolve this race (p. 1158). Breivik’s major concern is that modern liberal attitudes toward “race-mixing” are leading people of Nordic ancestry to act “unnaturally” and undo what a million years of evolution has produced. In this conclusion he echoes the ideas of leading early twentieth century Darwinian eugenists including Madison Grant, whom Breivik cited favorably in his manifesto (pp. 1152-1153).
In his book Passing of the Great Race (1918), Grant denounced the American “melting pot” ideal because its inevitable result was inter-racial marriage that he believed, as did the Nazis, resulted in degeneration of the “superior” race. Grant wrote “The result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting to the more ancient, generalized and lower type” (1918, p. 16). Grant was especially concerned about the degradation of the “Nordic races” because he believed that Nordics were naturally the “rulers, organizers and aristocrats.” He repeatedly cited the importance of evolution for his theory of his 1918 tome.
He Relies on Modern Darwinists
Breivik’s call for a eugenics revolution was not inspired by his own private ideas but, instead, they spring largely from leading mainstream Darwinists, past and present. His Social Darwinism was a clear part of the mix that caused his murderous rampage.
Although contemporary scientists now distance themselves from Madison Grant’s racism, he was once highly respected by the scientific community. His many honors include board member of the prestigious American Museum of Natural History in New York, and chairman of the New York Zoological Society. Grant’s book, The Passing of the Great Race, went through multiple editions, each with a laudatory preface by The American Museum of Natural History president (from 1908 to 1933) and Columbia University zoologist, Henry Fairfield Osborn.
Breivik drew not only on early Darwinian thinkers but his “reprogenetics” proposal comes from a modern respected evolutionary biologist, Lee Silver, a Princeton Professor and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It was Silver who coined the term “reprogenetics,” and his 1997 book, Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family, is prominently featured in Breivik’s manifesto.
Reprogenetics merges existing reproductive and genetic technologies, all of which Silver predicts will become less costly, more available, and increasingly powerful. Silver’s goal is for parents to be able to select the genetic characteristics of their offspring, which he predicts will trigger major social changes, including reducing genetic diseases and the breeding of superior humans.
Eugenics, the “science” of improving the gene pool, became infamous for the brutal policies that its supporters practiced in the 20th century. The major differences between reprogenetics and eugenics is that eugenics programs were compulsory, imposed by governments attempting to achieve some idealistic, utopian goal.
Unlike Breivik, Silver does not advocate using genetic means to preserve the “Nordic” race, but does argue that reprogenetics will achieve superior human beings by allowing humans to control their evolution. Although Silver is concerned that wholesale genetic engineering could lead to a chasm between those who can afford genetic enhancements and those who cannot, Silver attempts to dismiss what he perceives to be the major objections to his new eugenics. In his prologue, Silver explores
the ethical arguments that have been raised against the use of this technology. In most instances, I will attribute opposition to conscious or subconscious fears of treading in “God’s domain.” Indeed, I will argue that nearly all of the objections raised by bioethicists and others ring hollow (Silver, 1997, p. 13).
In his “The Designer Child” chapter Silver sounds very much like the eugenists of a century past, arguing that technology has now given us the power to direct our own evolution and we must seize that power, opining “While selfish genes do, indeed, control all other forms of life, master and slave have switched positions in human beings, who now have the power not only to control but to create new genes for themselves” (Silver, 1997, p. 277).
In his epilogue, Silver offers a utopian vision of the future directed by intelligence that would make some earlier eugenists envious. Writing a hypothetical history of reprogenetics from some future date, Silver details how humans have utilized genetic engineering to evolve themselves into God-like creatures, writing the “critical turning point in the evolution of life in the universe” was when scientists “made huge advances in further understanding the human mind, and they created more sophisticated reprogenetic technologies, which they then used to enhance … the next generation” (Silver, 1997 p. 293).
By this means, Silver concluded, each generation will achieve quantum leaps of evolution, a conclusion that resulted as our technological power continued to rise up to a point that there exists
a special group of mental beings. Although these beings can trace their ancestry back directly to homo sapiens, they are as different from humans as humans are from the primitive worms with tiny brains that first crawled along the earth’s surface (Silver, 1997, p. 293).
Professor Silver not only served as a major intellectual mentor to Breivik’s chilling demands for a new eugenics, but Breivik embraced wholesale both Silver’s reprogenetics program and his scientific utopianism, again documenting the fact that ideas clearly have consequences.
Breivik openly condemned Norway’s policy that contributed to inter-racial marriage, writing that the “Multicultural Inquisition may not threaten to kill you, but it does threaten to kill your career, and that goes a long way in achieving the same result” (2011, 526-527).
When advocating eugenics to justify his ideas, Breivik noted that the Swedish government “applied German race laws from 1937 onwards” and “any Swede who wanted to marry an Aryan German was forced to sign an affirmation stating that none of the German’s grandparents were Jewish” (2011, p. 638). Furthermore, in 1937 despite the evidence that Sweden “applied Nazi race laws, party members still get away with denouncing critics of their immigration policies as neo-Nazis, racists or Fascists” (2011, 638). He concluded that Sweden
promoted the idea of positive eugenics and forced sterilization programs against those with “weak genes.” This started in Sweden even before Nazi Germany, and it continued longer…. As Adolf Hitler stated in 1927: “We are Socialists, enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system (2011, p. 638).
Racism at the Core of His Ideology
Breivik’s major concern, as was Hitler’s, was the putative “rapid extinction of the Nordic genotypes” (p. 1188). An example he cited is the data that showed the prevalence of blue eyes among European-Americans living in the United States which “have become increasingly rare among American children” (p. 1188). Berwick’s concern about inter-marriage was due to its eugenic implications:
A century ago, 80 percent of people married within their ethnic group. Blue eyes were routinely passed down, especially among people of Western and Northern European ancestry. About half of Americans born at the turn of the 20th century had blue eyes … By mid-century that number had dropped to a third. Today only about one 1 of every 6 Americans has blue eyes (p. 1188).
The researchers assumed that blue eyes may be related to increased life expectancy, but it turned
out it has more to do with marriage patterns. A century ago, 80 percent of people married within their ethnic group … As intermarriage between ethnic groups became the norm, blue eyes began to disappear, replaced by brown (p. 1188).
The problem, Bleivik argued, was caused by the immigration of various “nonwhites into the United States, especially from Latin America and Asia, hastened the disappearance [of blue eyes]” (p. 1189). He added that in the past “eugenicists used the disappearance of blue eyes as a rallying cry to support immigration restrictions” (p. 1189).
Breivik concluded that saving humanity requires the application of eugenics and his murderous rampage would publicize his concerns as spelled out in his manifesto. In this latter goal he was successful. He also was successful in showing that Darwinian eugenics is still alive and well in the world.
Anders Behring Breivik was a young Norwegian who became enamored with social Darwinism and his modern disciples, such as Princeton University Evolutionist Lee Silver. He, as far as we know, on his own set off a powerful home made bomb in 2011 in Oslo Norway and a short time later murdered 69 young persons at a Youth league meeting. His goal was to bring attention to his belief that modern Darwinian eugenics could create a utopia and eliminate many of the major problems of the world. His 78 thousand word manifesto made clear in detail his motives and goals for his terrorists attack on his own people.
This event illustrates the fact that eugenic ideas are still alive and influential in some areas of society and are, likewise, still very destructive. It also illustrates that rejection of the Biblical doctrine of creation of all human beings may lead to social Darwinism, racism and eugenics. The ultimate means Breivik used to realize his ideas are extreme, and his mental state is uncertain. And this indicates that personal features also are important factors, in addition to the content of his ideological convictions.
Anonymous. 2011. Norwegian Killer is Conservative Christian Fundamentalist. Atheism Forum.
Grant, Madison. 1918. The Passing of the Great Race, Or, the Racial Basis of European History. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Osborn, Henry Fairfield. 1918. Introduction to Grant pp. vii-ix.
Rayner, Gordon, Duncan Gardham and John Bingham. 2011. “Hunt for Britons linked to Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik.” The Telegraph, London. September, 23.
Sarfati, Jonathan. 2011. “Norway Terrorist: More Media Mendacity.” August. HYPERLINK “http://creation.com/norway-terrorist-breivik-not-christian” http://creation.com/norway-terrorist-breivik-not-christian
Slack, Chris 2011. “Anders Breivik ‘was on Norwegian secret service watchlist after buying chemical haul from Polish retailer.” London: MailOnline. July, 26.
Silver, Lee M. 1997. Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World. New York: Avon Books.