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Universalis

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eugenics redux

Wesley Smith discusses the new Eugenics movement:

An article written in the Chronicle of Higher Education urges us to embrace the “eugenic impulse,” as “something that everyone capable of rational thought and possessed of a humanitarian, communitarian spirit would enjoin willingly.” Oh, it’s true, he says, the old version went astray. But why gain wisdom from that? All we need to do is tweak it. From his conclusion:
The eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, to live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence and a better adjustment to the conditions of society. It arises whenever the humanitarian desire for happiness and social betterment combines with an emphasis on heredity as the essence of human nature. It is the aim of control, the denial of fatalism, the rejection of chance. The dream of engineering ourselves, of reducing suffering now and forever.
It is Utopian. It lacks proper humility. Yes, we should strive to mitigate suffering and heal disease–but with the understanding that we are incapable of eliminating it. Otherwise, we fall into the Edenic ends, justifies the oppressive means mentality–as we did before...
The question is not one of whether there ought to be such an impulse, whether it should be called eugenics, or even whether biomedicine ought to focus so much on genetics. These things just are. And besides, the health benefits, the intellectual thrill, and the profits of genetic biomedicine are too great for us to do otherwise. Resistance would be ill-advised and futile.
Resistance is necessary to human liberty and essential to avoiding tyranny.
His very last point:
And above all, how do we know when we know enough to control our own evolution?
so why is Eugenics so dangerous? Because they are always talking about why they should do something to someone else.

YOU are imperfect, so we will abort you, or contracept you out of existence.

That is why the Philippines is being pushed to pass an RH bill that is so broad that it will punish any medical person who advises against contraception. That is why I am asked almost daily to pay for medicine for babies and sick people, who cannot afford simple generic antibiotics, but the government will plan to pay for free contraception for every one. That is why we will be pushing free contraception on everyone at a time when one third of women in the Philippines deliver without a trained birth attendent (and many can't afford the "free" ones because they demand a bribe).

It's like when we were in Africa: Every village had a "pill lady", but until we got a grant for well building, many villages had no wells, and women often had to walk a mile or two to fetch water from a polluted river during the dry season.

The problem with eugenics is the idea that the "best" person is the one with the most money, the highest IQ, and the strongest body.

I think of it as the "Durant rule", because one of my history books is the Durant series, that stresses that the great men and women are the ones most important in world history.

In contrast, if there is a God, then maybe he sees things differently. Everything happens for a reason, and every thing has a purpose. Yes, we are called to help the sick and increase the ability of people to live a life above destitution, but the eugenics impulse only uses this as an excuse to remake humanity in their own image, where supermen are in charge, and may be the rest of us are seen as useless eaters, not people of dignity.


Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who was jailed for hiding Jews during WWII, had done church volunteer work with the mentally retarded, to teach them religion. Once, a Nazi saw her in the park with the children, showing them God's nature, and asked why she wasted her time trying to teach imbicils about God. Her answer was that, in God's eyes, the soul of one of these children is just as valuable as the highest most powerful person.

The Jews have the idea that there are ten righteous men who keep God from destroying the world. (This refers to the story of Abraham, who bargained with God's messangers to try to save Sodom and Gomorrah: Would you destroy them if these villages had 50 good people? And the angels said okay. If we find 50 good people we won't destroy the villages....and then he bargains them down to 10 righteous men. alas, the angels only find five, so they warn them to flee and zap the villages).

The ones who keep the world from being destroyed-- or destroying itself--- may not be the Bill Gates or Obamas, but a village housewife in Zimbabwe that you never heard of, who cares for the children of her brother who died from HIV. Or it might be a nurse from Pampanga who gives up her dream to have a family so that her salary from working in Saudi will fund the school fees for her siblings. Or it might be the Native American who becomes a deacon because there is no priest in his town.

Sigh.





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