Atheism Culture Darwinism Human evolution Racism Science, worldview issues/foundations and society

Unwelcome history: the roots and fruit of the Eugenics movement — “Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution”

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(NOTICE: Dr Larry Moran, the response to your assertions is here.)

I see where UD’s News has let us know that the Eugenics Society’s papers will shortly be digitised and made available to the public.

It is therefore appropriate to highlight again the Logo for the 2nd International Congress on Eugenics, with Alexander Graham Bell as honorary president and Major Leonard Darwin (son of Sir Charles) as major speaker, so we can see how leading people all across the world from North Carolina, California and Canada to Britain,  India, Japan and — sadly tellingly — Germany, were thinking about “the self-direction of human evolution”:

Logo for the 2nd International Congress on Eugenics, 1921: "Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution." Note the "roots" of eugenics that this "applied science" drew together into "an harmonious entity" that are listed by the promoters, especially biological, anthropological, medical and psychological (HT: NWE)

It is worth noting — from Wiki testifying against interest as usual — that Major Darwin’s theme was “the “elimination of the unfit”, the discouragement of large families in the “ill-endowed”, and the encouragement of large families in the “well-endowed”.”

And, it is also worth noting how the New World Encyclopedia article on Eugenics aptly comments:

The scope and coercion involved in the German eugenics programs along with a strong use of the rhetoric of eugenics and so-called “racial science” throughout the regime created an indelible cultural association between eugenics and the Third Reich in the postwar years . . . . In reaction to Nazi abuses, eugenics became almost universally reviled in many of the nations where it had once been popular (however, some eugenics programs, including sterilization, continued quietly for decades). Many pre-war eugenicists engaged in what they later labeled “crypto-eugenics,” purposefully taking their eugenic beliefs “underground” and becoming respected anthropologists, biologists, and geneticists in the postwar world (including Robert Yerkes in the U.S. and Otmar von Verschuer in Germany) . . . .

High school and college textbooks from the 1920s through the 1940s often had chapters touting the scientific progress to be had from applying eugenic principles to the population. Many early scientific journals devoted to heredity in general were run by eugenicists and featured eugenics articles alongside studies of heredity in nonhuman organisms. After eugenics fell out of scientific favor, most references to eugenics were removed from textbooks and subsequent editions of relevant journals . . . .

Notable members of the American Eugenics Society (1922–94) during the second half of the twentieth century included Joseph Fletcher, originator of Situational ethics; Dr. Clarence Gamble of the Procter & Gamble fortune; and Garrett Hardin, a population control advocate and author of The Tragedy of the Commons. Despite the changed postwar attitude towards eugenics in the U.S. and some European countries, a few nations, notably, Canada and Sweden, maintained large-scale eugenics programs, including forced sterilization of mentally handicapped individuals, as well as other practices, until the 1970s. In the United States, sterilizations capped off in the 1960s, though the eugenics movement had largely lost most popular and political support by the end of the 1930s . . .

So, we see here yet another warning-light on the dashboard, on the moral hazards that confront modern science, especially when we can see how origins science in particular has fallen under thralldom to Lewontinian a priori materialism:

. . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated . . . [[“Billions and billions of demons,” NYRB, Jan 1997.]

Some lessons from history are too painful to face easily, but such are exactly the lessons that we dare not forget on pain of repeating some of its most horrible chapters. END

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F/N: One of the commonly encountered distractive rebuttal attempts to highlighting eugenics and social darwinism, is the attempt to imply or declare Hitler to have been a Christian acting in accordance with the tenets and/or exemplars of his faith, which I have responded to here, giving EvilBible as a specific case in point. Suffice to say, that while indeed antisemitism has regrettably been among the sins of Christendom, such is actually direct disobedience to the Christian scriptures, and it is demonstrable from fairly extensive documentation — e.g. cf these recently released Nuremberg prosecution documents —  that Hitler was Anti-Christian and was hostile to the Christian Faith and its serious adherents, not genuinely Christian. Those who are disinclined to read before opining, should reflect on the Nazi Party Poster below (LIFE — fair use) that blasphemously echoes the Gospel accounts of the descent of the Spirit as a Dove at Jesus’ baptism, and inadvertently reveals Hitler to have been an idolatrous political false messiah (i.e. AN antichrist) — one of all too many across the bloody and chaotic pages of history: