Skip to comments.Eugenic Darwinism
Posted on 06/13/2007 11:59:38 AM PDT by LUMary
Eugenic Darwinism by: Wendy Cook, June 04, 2007
Charles Darwin is partly to blame for eugenics, according to Discovery Institute senior fellow John West. Merriam-Websters defines eugenics as a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.
Darwin said that because of our sense of compassion we couldnt simply follow the dictates of reason and get rid of the unfit, but he certainly provided the logical basis for why we should do so and later the eugenicists quoted this passage and they werent quoting it out of context, because in The Descent of Man Darwin really did argue that our progress as humans is dependent on a struggle for survival and that we were really impeding human progress by trying to undercut that struggle for survival, Dr. West explained to an audience at the Family Research Council recently.
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health, Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment.
There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox, Darwin wrote. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind.
No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
Darwin was not alone in his conception of a supreme or perfected human:
Harvard Biologist Edward East felt nature eliminates the unfit but we are very capable of getting rid of fools.
Charles Davenport, head of the Biological Research lab in Cold Spring Harbor and the Eugenics Record Office, thought man was nothing less then an animal: Man is an animal and the laws of improvement of corn and of racehorses hold to true for him also.
Alexander Graham Bell thought that The laws of heredity which apply to animals also apply to man, therefore the breeder of animals is fitted to guide public opinion on questions relating to human heredity.
Dressed up in quasi-religious terms, eugenicists promised to create a utopia through the magic of human breeding, said Dr. West. One eugenicist was even quoted saying, The Garden of Eden is not in the past, its in the future.
Connecticut enacted the first marriage law in 1896 and by 1914 more than half of the states also imposed them, Dr. West noted. These laws were a way of regulating who can marry, to make sure inferior people were not breeding, he claimed.
One target of the eugenicists was American Immigration law. They thought America was being overrun with biological defectives primarily from Eastern and Southern Europethey werent [as] biologically helpful as Nordic stock, said Dr. West.
Immigration quotas were set so that only a certain number of people were allowed to come to the U.S. from certain countries. These laws were extremely harmful during the 1920s when the Nazis were moving into countries such as Poland and starting concentration camps.
Poles, then, could not come to America because the quota on Polish immigrants was reached, while Norwegians, for example, still had plenty of open spots under U. S. restrictions. Nonetheless, beyond marriage laws and immigration rules, eugenicists were concerned with the defectives already in America.
Indiana enacted the first forced sterilization law in 1907 and, by the 1930s, 30 states had similar statutes on their books. Some of these states still have the law in place today, but not enforced.
Eugenicists promoted this policy as the answer to the looming welfare crisis. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, felt very strongly that sterilization was the answer to all sorts of problems.
In 1923 over 9 billions of dollars were spent on state and federal charities for the care and maintenance and perpetuation of these undesirables, year by year their numbers are mounting and year by year their costs are increasing, she said at Vassar in 1926. The American public is taxed, heavily taxed to maintain an increasing race of morons, which threatens the very foundations of our civilization.
Our eyes should be opened to the terrific cost to the community of this dead weight of human waste.
The revolution of the Nazi Germany experience is what really killed off forced sterilization more than anything else, said Dr. West. Some of their extermination and sterilization laws were modeled after American laws; only they did things much more rigorously, sterilizing hundreds of thousands of people just within a few years before they started killing them.
During Dr. Wests presentation he showed some of the German propaganda used to promote eugenics to its citizens, one of which had a bunch of flags on it (the American flag was located top center) to show this is what the world is doing. According to Dr. West, eugenics may not be explicitly happening but you can find the idea of it still implicit in other ideas hidden by new verbiage.
If you were a eugenicist post-World War II you had a problem, because eugenics was a bad word, said Dr. West. But if you believed in it, you didnt just go away.
He believes eugenics has sort of morphed into other areas today such as, freedom of choice on abortion. This is evident from writings of pro-eugenicists who thought renaming it freedom of choice in parenting was a way to keep the idea alive but avoid the controversy, Dr. West argues.
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eu·gen·ics (y-jnks) KEY
(used with a sing. verb)
The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.
Doesn’t appear to be “natural” evolution to me.
I meant to ping you to my response above.
Pretty much know what angle this one is coming from, don't we?
Animal husbandry existed before recorded history. Selective breeding of animals to maximize desirable traits is older than writing — and the idea of doing the same with humans did not begin with Darwin.
I see your point, but Darwin's theory is hardly sufficient to logically support naturalism. If we accept that life came from inorganic material, then where did the inorganic material come from? The basic problem with naturalism remains completely unsolved. Darwinism is at best a shell game for the naturalist.
All the while the second law of thermo dynamics insists that the entire universe will use up all available energy in less then an eternity. Implying that matter must not have always existed.
Naturalists are free to reach any conclusions they want, but they sure don't seem to be basing it on logic.
That opinion was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, and is a dark blemish on his mostly admirable record. Learned Hand -- nomen est omen? -- was an influential and revered jurist and scholar, but never served on the US Supreme Court.
Evidently, the Discovery Institute opposes forced sterilization of hereditary incompetents. In a welfare state like ours, what does that mean for the future?
Not much. Impaired folks who are capable of making such decisions for themselves usually chose sterilization or persistent forms of birth control. Those who aren't capable of deciding have parents or guardians to make the decision. he eugenecist's nightmare of retards rutting in the streets has never happened and will never happen.
If there is no god, it is still the height or hubris to see "survival of the fittest" and take upon yourself the judgment of who is fit. If you believe that natural selection is a self-correcting mechanism, why interfere? Things will shake out as they should. As they have to. For people who believe in evolution, as I do, the only sane solution is to leave it the hell alone.
Eugenics has always been rife with assumptions -- about the "lower races" with their vices and weaknesses, and built around how we can make more of us and fewer of them. Eugenics is not a problem with evolution. It's a problem with people who think they can game the system.
Of course there is a connection between Darwin, Darwinism and eugenics. Here is an offhand list of great Darwinians who were eugenists:
Leonard Darwin, Eugenic Society, president
Charles Galton Darwin, Eugenics Society, president
Julian Huxley, Eugenics Society, president
Francis Galton, Eugenics Society, founder
R.A. Fisher, Eugenics Education Society, etc.
Karl Pearson, Galton Professor of Eugenics etc.
R. Lewontin, American Eugenics Society, president
J.H. Kellogg, American Eugenics Society
H.H. Newman (of scopes trial fame)
H.F. Osborn, American Eugenics Society
Ernst Rudin, infamous
H. Davenport and Harry Laughlin, infamous
And many, many others.
Of course there is a connection between Darwin, Darwinism and eugenics...
So now we have reduced the charge against Darwin, from him being “responsible” for eugenics to the much lesser “there is a connection”.
I can live with that.
It’s not a matter of it being unnatural, it’s a matter of it probably being doomed to failure. Evolution to a higher form involves some aspects of a species being accentuated and some aspects fading away. But there’s no way for us to know which aspects of humanity belong in each list, so any attempt to steer our own evolution is more likely to lead to our eventual demise than our ascendance to a higher level. In the end that might be natural, it might be our evolutionary destiny to screw ourselves into oblivion with a misplaced ego, and if eugencists ever take over it probably will be. The smart person who wants to help his species evolve does nothing directly towards that goal because we just don’t know enough to know what direction to steer in.
Amazing how life evolved to believe in God.. Those that don’t must be less evolved..
“If you believe that natural selection is a self-correcting mechanism, why interfere? Things will shake out as they should. As they have to. For people who believe in evolution, as I do, the only sane solution is to leave it the hell alone.”
The problem with this is that you are making a moral judgement - that “interfering” with natural selection is “wrong”. Why is it wrong?
Even if it could be demonstrated that Darwin was against eugenics, if there is no God, then so what if he was against it? Without God there are no moral absolutes - only personal preferences created by our own whims.
As to the original question, what does Darwin teach that would prohibit the practice of eugenics on human beings?
Is it simply because he says “natural” selection? Does that phrase eradicate the very idea of science utilizing this “natural” process themselves?
My point is that Darwinian theory lends itself to eugenics while violence and atrocities committed in the name of Jesus have no basis of support from anything He taught (or of any New Testament writers for that matter).
“Bad people take perfectly good ideas and screw them up, thats how you know theyre bad people. They do it with Darwin, they do it with the Constitution, they do it with the Bible, they do it with Wealth of Nations, they do it with mediocre Beatles songs, they just do it. Its not possible to take Darwins teachings as a WHOLE to get an excuse to commit atrocities either. Thats why the people that commit atrocities using Darwinism, or Jesus, as an excuse.”
I agree that people can take anything and turn it to their own uses. My point is that some ideas lend themselves to logical, moral consequences. You said that atrocities, like eugenics, could no more be blamed on Darwin than atrocities committed by Christians could be blamed on Jesus. I disagree with that statement.
Darwin’s ideas - taken as a whole - do lead one inexorably to naturalistic evolution. That is, the idea that human beings are just animals by another name. Successful organisms exist because of the idea of “survival of the fittest” or, put another way - only the strongest survive. Human beings are no “better” or “greater” than any other life organism. All that exists is by mindless, directionless, random chance. There is no need for an “Intelligent Designer”, there is no purpose, other than existence, for existence. We, as human beings, have no meaning, we are “flukes of nature”, there are no moral absolutes because there is no God to determine what moral standards are. Aren’t these the logical outcomes of Darwin’s beliefs? What does he teach that would contradict such beliefs? What does he teach that would prohibit the study and implementation of eugenics on human beings?
However, with Jesus - what does He teach that could remotely justify slaughtering Jews or “heretics”?
I never actually said Darwin couldn’t be any more accountable than Jesus, but I do agree with the sentiment.
No Darwin’s ideas, taken as a whole, do not inexorably lead to naturalistic evolution. There’s nothing “just” about humans or animals in Darwin’s ideas. Darwin’s ideas are that the world we have now, humans and animals included, is the “so far” result (not the end result because the theory is that it’s still continuing) of a truly amazing process, and humans are greater than the other animals because we developed a level of self awareness and situational curiousity not replicated by any other species. It doesn’t exist by random chance, it exists by a process of constant improvement as species make themselves more fit for their environment. It makes no direct statements on any designer, because like all scientific inquiry it’s unconcerned with prime motivators and entirely interested in mechanics. Much like how electrical engineers are unconcerned with who or what decided electrons should exist and and be able to move charge from one atom to another but instead study how this happens; Darwin and evolutionary scientists don’t care who or what caused a system of speciation to exist that would allow each generation of a species to be more fit than the previous, they only care about how. According to Darwin human’s aren’t flukes of nature, we are the current pinacle of nature, the most generally able species on the planet.
So no those aren’t the logical outcomes of Darwin’s beliefs. And by his teaching that it’s a natural force that’s far too complicated to be truly controled by man he prohibits the implementation of eugenics.
Doesn't though, this heirarchy of competency between the species, imply a heirarchy of competency within the species also...
“And by his teaching that its a natural force thats far too complicated to be truly controled by man he prohibits the implementation of eugenics.”
Where does Darwin say this statement you made? Again, whether or not Darwin promoted eugenics himself is irrelevant. Eugenics can be a logical argument from the ideas he set in motion.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that naturalistic evolutionists are all in favor of eugenics, I was just listing their commonly held belief that all that exists came about by a mindless natural process that had no guidance other than mechanical forces that just happen to exit (for no apparant reason).
When you say that the world we have now is the result of “a truly amazing process” you’re just using flowery language to say the same thing naturalistic evolutionists say. You said yourself that the process makes “no direct statments regarding any designer”, in fact, that scientific inquiry is “unconcerned” with “prime motivators” but only with mechanics.
Don’t you see how Darwin’s ideas are just a short step to naturalistic evolution - not only does the process make no statement about a designer, the process is the designer - there is no God. The idea of God is pointless. You said that humans are “greater than the other animals because we developed a level of self awareness and situational curiosity not replicated by any other species.” Why does this make us greater? And, haven’t you just admitted that we are just a higher level of animal?
I’m not arguing that I am in favor of that, I’m just trying to get you to see how Darwin’s ideas can lead logically to a place Darwin may not have wanted to go, or you, or me, but to others, who are not restricted by any moral compunctions (because if there is no “designer” - no god, moral absolutes do not exist), may proceed to eugenics form these ideas quite nicely.
Sure, but the question is how do you tell before evolution has progressed what was better? That’s the whole process of natural selection, that natural forces determine one variation within a species is better than another, but it’s generally not visible until after the selection has occured. Which is the failing of eugenics, they say “these kind of people (generally people like them, there’s a lot of ego eugenics) are better” but they don’t actually know, they can’t actually prove it, and wouldn’t be able to prove it without being in charge and forcing their value judgement for a couple of centuries.
I'm not going to continue arguing for arguments' sake, because, quite frankly, and again, you just don't seem to get it. This is one of the reasons why I don't debate at length on these issue anymore. People can't seem to follow their own reasoning, and defend it meaningfully. They waffle in and out of their own principles.
It's an exercise in futility and it's really quite frustrating.
And yes it IS relevant. Because it's demonstrated over and over in history that long before Darwin was even a glimmer in his parents eye people have practiced various forms of eugenics. If you're going to hang it on Darwin you have to show how his theory of evolution was different than the Spartans obsession with physical prowess and all of the other forms of eugenics that have existed for the entire length of recorded human history. Eugenics is NOT a logical progression from evolution, it commits a logical fallacy in deciding to attempt to steer a natural process we don't actually understand.
The problem you’re having is that you're trying to assign morality to a scientific theory. Scientific theories aren't about morality, their about understanding what happens. There's no morality in the theory of gravity, there's no morality in the thermodynamic laws, they're just attempts to describe how things work. And there never has been, nor ever will be, room for crediting God in scientific theories. God is, scientifically speaking, a fuzzy concept without definable aspects or actions, scientific theories are about definable things with definable aspects doing definable things.
Your definition of naturalistic evolution is simply NOT how the reasonable people that believe in evolution think. It's just not there. Darwin himself objected to the people who tried to use his theory that way. It makes no more sense than how Medieval Europe treated the Jews based largely on the money lenders incident in the Gnostic Gospels, it's a gross misinterpretation based on a need by one group to define themselves as better than another.
The chain you're showing isn't logical. Its a build up of logical fallacies, one that many wrong headed people have used, but their logic sucks. They take what Darwin said add some demagogy fallacious definitions and cognitive bias (among other things) and arrive at a conclusion that anybody that's taken an introductory course in philosophical logic would scoff at. By saying their beliefs follow logically from anything you're giving these scumsuckers and racists (which is really what eugenicists are) and undeserved legitimacy.