Thursday, August 07, 2008

Eugenics and Other Evils....

A comment on a post which reminded me of G.K. Chesteron's fight against Eugenics:

I do believe, however, that evolution was the source for the creation of eugenics and “Modern” eugenics.

Evolution is a term defined by hypothetical goo so I hesitate to use the word but Darwinism or modern theories of evolution were the source of an amoral (i.e. immoral) eugenics movement. An understanding of principles used in eugenics had been understood since ancient times because they are based on the rather trivial observations:
Since ancient times, man has understood the principles of breeding and the lasting quality of inherited traits. The Old Testament describes Jacob’s clever breeding of his and Labans flocks, as spotted and streaked goats were mated to create spotted and streaked offspring. Centuries later, Jesus sermonized, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Good stock and preferred traits were routinely propagated in the fields and the flocks. Bad stock and unwanted traits were culled. Breeding, whether in grapes or sheep, was considered a skill subject to luck and God’s grace.
But during the five years between 1863 and 1868, three great men of biology would all promulgate a theory of evolution dependent upon identifiable hereditary “units” within the cells. These units could actually be seen under a microscope. Biology entered a new age when its visionaries proclaimed that good and bad traits were not bestowed by God as an inscrutable divinity, but transmitted from generation to generation according to the laws of science.
(War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race
by Edwin Black :12-13)

The problem is not that the theory of natural selection is incorrect, it's that given Darwin's theological arguments and a Darwinian philosophy of naturalism the theory is extended far beyond its limited (and often trivial) scope and applied in immoral ways. Naturalism is a totalizing philosophy which has to apply to all that is, was or ever will be. Given the total arrogance that such a view of total knowledge/scientia breeds it is little wonder that history shows that totalitarianism is often the fruit of a philosophy of naturalism. As G.K. Chesterton noted:
The thing that really is trying to tyrannise through government is Science. The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statutes, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen--that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics.
(Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized Society
by G.K. Chesterton
(With Additional Articles by his Eugenic and Birth Control Opponents, edited by Michael W. Perry)
In his book Edwin Black notes some of the historical victims of this arrogance with respect to science/"knowledge":
"Eventually, you knew your time would come," recalled Buck Smith about his Lynchberg experience. His name is not really Buck Smith. But he was too ashamed, nearly a half century later, to allow his real name to be used during an interview with a local Virginia reporter. ..... Buck...recounted the day he was sterilized at Lynchberg. He was fifteen years old. "The call came over the dormitory just like always, and I knew they were ready for me," he remembered. "There was no use fighting it. They gave me some pills that made me drowsy and then they wheeled me up to the operating room."
Poverty .... was scientifically held by many esteemed doctors and universities to be a genetic defect, transmitted from generation to generation. Buck Smith was hardly feebleminded, and he spoke with simple eloquence about his mentality. "I've worked for eleven years at the same job," he said, "and haven't missed more than three days of work. There's nothing wrong with me except my lack of education."
"I'll never understand why they sterilized me," Buck Smith disconsolately told the local reporter. "I'll never understand that. ....they took a lot of my life away from me. Having children is supposed to be a part of the human race."
The reporter noticed a small greeting card behind Buck Smith. The sterilized man had eventually married and formed a lasting bond with his stepchildren. The card was from those stepchildren and read: "Thinking of you, Daddy."
Through tears, Buck Smith acknowledged the card, "They call me Daddy."
Mary Donald was equally pained when she recalled her years of anguish following her sterilization....when she was only eleven. Several years later, she was "released" to her husband-to-be, and then enjoyed a good marriage for eighteen years. But "he loved kids," she remembered. "I lay in bed and cried because I couldn't give him a son," she recounted.... "... He said it didn't matter. But as years went by, he changed. We got divorced and he married someone else." With these words, Mary broke down and wept.
Like so many, Mary never understood what was happening.
.... Mary didn't learn she had been sterilized until five years after her operation.(War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race
by Edwin Black :5-6)

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