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A Glimpse of The Coming Eumemics?

Is it really the case that eugenics is dead and gone?

I want you to consider an article that I recently read detailing the views of an ‘expert’ in practical ethics. [update, here is a link to the original essay.  don’t know how long it will stay up.]

The second paragraph reads:

The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to “harm themselves and others”.

That should give you an idea of where we are going.  Let’s read more:

He said that science is increasingly discovering that genes have a significant influence on personality – with certain genetic markers in embryo suggesting future characteristics.

By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out.

In the end, he said that “rational design” would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.

“Surely trying to ensure that your children have the best, or a good enough, opportunity for a great life is responsible parenting?” wrote Prof Savulescu, the Uehiro Professor in practical ethics.

“So where genetic selection aims to bring out a trait that clearly benefits an individual and society, we should allow parents the choice.

“To do otherwise is to consign those who come after us to the ball and chain of our squeamishness and irrationality.

“Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children.

“They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others.”

“If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”

He said that we already routinely screen embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome and couples can test embryos for inherited bowel and breast cancer genes.

Rational design is just a natural extension of this, he said.

He said that unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.

“We’re routinely screening embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome, and there’s little public outcry,” he said.

“Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.”

Now, there are a million ways to take this.  On the one hand, I am sorely tempted to just take these comments and match them up with extremely similar comments made by Nazis, eugenicists, and progressives.  Really, the statements and the arguments are substantially the same.  The only difference that I see is the only difference the good doctor evidently cites:  “He said that unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.”

This is so similar to eugenicist Frederick Osborn’s call for a new eugenics program based on ‘voluntary unconscious selection’ that I discuss and document here that it is frankly stunning.  Stunning in just how brazen it is, that is.

But that is not my point for this article.  The one thing that caught my eye when reading this is how our expert is willing to go beyond physical traits in his ‘rational selection’ and into the realm of “personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence.”  You could argue, he says, “that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children.”

This seems to me to be a return to one of the central blunders made by the ‘scientists’ prior to the 1950s, in reducing all sorts of traits to ‘genes’ that today we would say defies the reduction.  For example, they had a tremendously hard time defining ‘feeble-mindedness’ in an objective, biological way.  Today, we might chalk apparent ‘feeble-mindedness’ to a simple lack of education, but for early evolutionists, surely there had to be a biological basis.   So, obviously, one should try to eliminate such folks from the gene pool.  Right?

But for past evolutionists, like most present ones, all real things must ultimately reduce to *stuff*, and as we see with this good doctor, he likewise feels that even behaviors must reduce somehow to our genes–as our knowledge advances, so will our ability to target behaviors on a genetic basis.  And obviously, one has a moral obligation to ‘select’ those children who will not have ‘bad’ behaviors.  Right?

What I latched onto was the alleged ‘disposition to violence’ that I suppose the reductionist must believe has a biological, ie, material basis.  And then I remembered all the accusations made by various atheists and skeptics that the big problem with religion is just how violent it is.  (Atheistic communists of the 20th century who murdered millions and millions of people are classified as ‘religious’ and offered as more proof of their assertion that religion is violent.)  Well, if a ‘disposition to violence’ has a biological basis, and religion is intrinsically a violent affair, and we have a ‘moral obligation to select ethically better children’, then surely the compassionate society, dispensing with “the ball and chain of our squeamishness” should conclude that it is high time that we begin eliminating religion from society at the level of the gene.

I call this ‘eumemics,’ drawn from rabid evolutionary atheist Richard Dawkins’ term ‘meme,’ which refers to an idea or thought that travels along in a society much as a gene travels around a species.  Surely the ‘meme’ has a material basis, right?  Everything is matter and stuff, right?  There is nothing transcendent or immaterial, right?  So, if we have an obligation to get rid of children with birth defects before they are born–that is, target them on a genetic basis–surely we have an obligation to get rid of children with memetic defects–that is, target their (‘defective’) ideology based on a genetic basis, too.  Right?

All we need to do is finally nail down that damned ‘God-gene‘ and we will be able to end one of the biggest threats to world peace, ever:  religion.  Right?

Atheists, I hope will lead the way in targeting their own off spring.

However, I think it goes without saying that society has a moral obligation to keep defective memes from spreading throughout society.  Maybe we can’t figure out which gene or genes really is the ‘God-gene,’ but I suppose we could reasonably approximate where it must be in a population by tracing the ‘God-meme.’  So, I guess the atheists are spared any hard decisions for themselves, assuming they are only reproducing with other atheists.  But surely all these billions of religionists throughout the world passing around the ‘God-meme’ indicates that they must have the ‘God-gene.’  Right?

And we have a moral obligation to select better children, right?

So, I have a modest proposal:  let us force all Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc, to be sterilized, and thus end their propagation of the ‘God-meme.’  (I don’t say ‘Muslims,’ because secularists do not have the courage to tell them what they really think of them… at least not to their face, and certainly not with a surgical knife in hand.  It’s the Christians you have to worry about acting violently, not the Muslims, see?  See?)

Oh, wait.  I slipped into the eugenics error, mandating it.  hmmmmm….

Let’s make it voluntary!  Yea, that’s the ticket!  Let’s put forward a basis of ‘voluntary, unconscious selection.’  Yea, we’ll just tell people that if they are Christian, their children will be more prone to violence, because religion is violent, and don’t we want to select ethically better children?  And they’ll make the right decision, all on their own, and sterilize themselves, and abort their children already on their way, or, barring that, smother their children already alive.  I don’t know, the options are endless…

Anyway, this seems like an argument from absurdity, but with the way this ‘expert’ is arguing and with all those secularists out there constantly talking about how violent Christians are (here’s an example), isn’t it the logical conclusion?  Wasn’t the eugenicist acting logically?  Isn’t eumemics just as logical?… as long as its ‘voluntary’?  Isn’t this doctor really calling for a voluntary eumemics program?

Seems so to me:

“That doesn’t necessarily imply that people should be coerced into making a choice, but we should encourage them.”



1 comment

    • Nicole on October 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I would like to point out one thing, the part where it talks about the unconscious decision. To make a voluntary decision to choose your children based on genetics, you have to be concscious of the fact that your children are indeed inferior. So, hod do you create the unconscious decision to limit how many children are born? Think. Enter public education, enter sex education. Think Planned Parent Hood. Oh, they figured out how to get an unconscious decision made alright. The more “intellectual and intelligent” a person becomes, the less likely they are to reproduce. But that has unintended consequences doesn’t it. The “unintelligent” keep reproducing, ha ha ha!

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