Think About IT: Darwin, Eugenics, Compassion

Without a doubt, you are familiar with Hitler’s attempt to produce a better race by elimination of those with “inheritable undesirable traits”, which is known as negative eugenics whereas encouraging reproduction by persons with “inheritable desirable traits” is referred to as positive eugenics.

Well, Darwinist were promoting and practicing the same thing in the United States in the 1930s.  The following reminds us of how dangerous applied Darwinism is and that the United States is not immune from the degrading animalism of Darwinism if we continue by public policy denying the sacredness of every human life.

Eventually “…government-sponsored sterilizations took place in thirty states, and 46 percent of the operations were performed on those classified as ‘feebleminded.’” ((John G. West, Darwin day In America: how our politics and culture have been dehumanized in the name of science (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2007), 141.)) John West notes, “Many states began to employ sterilization as an important tool to eradicate poverty and reduce welfare spending.  In Virginia, state authorities raided welfare families in rural mountain communities and took the women to be sterilized at a state facility.” ((West, Darwin day, 140.))  Others were labeled forcibly sterilized, for ignoble reasons, such as stealing the inheritance of Ann Hewitt, prejudice toward the Kallikak family, and Carrie and Doris Buck as well as others. ((West, Darwin day, 142-143.))

Sir Francis Galton claimed that humans could control the untamed force of evolution by “encouraging the reproduction of the fittest specimens of humanity…and preventing that of the unfit” ((Christine Rosen, Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement (Oxford: University Press, 2004), 5.)) which was called positive eugenics.  Galton said, “What nature does blindly, slowly, ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly.” ((Rosen, Preaching Eugenics, 5.)) Galton declared, that eugenics “must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion…[it has] strong claims to become an orthodox religious tenet of the future.” ((Rosen, Preaching Eugenics, 5.))

As for Darwin’s view concerning how the sympathy of civilized society had mitigated the wonder of natural selection, he opined, “We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination….There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands who from weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to smallpox.  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 anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” ((Charles Darwin, Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, (originally published 1871: reprint with introduction published New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004), 111.))

Darwin says, “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts…” ((Darwin, Descent, 111))  He further states, “Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.” ((Darwin, Descent, 111.))  Hard reason says that this sympathy is deleterious, because he said regarding natural selection, “And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.” ((Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, (Originally published by John Murray, London, in 1859:  reprint with introduction by Michael T. Ghiselin, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2006), 307))  Consequently, we can’t stop it even though reason and the path to perfection demands it, and it thwarts the noble work of “natural selection” which produces, “the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals…” ((Darwin, Origin of Species, 307.))

He talks about the surgeon knowing that he is “acting for the good”, but in light of the perfect being reached through natural selection, is it fair to ask, what good, good for whom, temporary or ultimate good….He says that to “intentionally…neglect the weak and helpless” can be only with “contingent benefit” and even that brings “overwhelming present evil.” ((Darwin, Descent, 111.)) What evil?  His conclusion, “We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely, that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.” ((Darwin, Descent, 111-112.))   Note that he says the weak surviving produces “bad effects”, whereas Christianity would say the opposite.  However, he is heartened that these “hereditarily inferiors” are less likely to marry as the fit, thereby giving the secularist some hope, and hopefully they will refrain all the more, but that is just Darwin’s wishful musings.

Darwin expresses his dismay and discouragement because, in comparison to how very scrupulous a man is about the pedigree of his livestock, when it comes to his own marriage, “…he rarely, or never, takes any such care.  He is impelled by nearly the same motives as the lower animals, when they are left to their own free choice…” ((Darwin, Descent, 556.))  Of course, marriage in Jewish and Christian traditions is an exalted spiritual covenant between the two and God.  With regard to how the “inferiors” should approach marriage, he says, “Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian, and will never be even partially realized until the laws of inheritance are thoroughly known.  Everyone does good service who aids toward this end.  When the principles of breeding and inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.” ((Darwin, Descent, 556.))

Not only is physical or mental deficiency reason to not marry, but he also said, “All ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children, for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage.  On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, while the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society.” ((Darwin, Descent, 556557.))  In absolute contradistinction, the Bible and many other religions assign no evil to poverty.  Oh well, the Darwinian Decalogue says, Thou shalt not marry if you are physically or mentally weak and/or unable to provide…enough Darwin dollars.  The connection between Darwin and Eugenics and science is undeniable.  But there is more.

Eugenicists were serious about their hereditary hypothesis. Edwin Black explains, “Eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-supported 1911 ‘Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeder’s Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population.’  Point No. 8 was euthanasia [negative eugenics, control birth positive…].  The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in the United States was a ‘lethal chamber’ or public, locally operated gas chambers.  In 1918, Popenoe, the Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, ‘Applied Eugenics,’ which argued, ‘From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution . . . Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated.’  ‘Applied Eugenics’ also devoted a chapter to ‘Lethal Selection,’ which operated ‘through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency.’” ((; Eugenics and the Nazis, San Francisco Chronicle November 9, 2003 by Edwin Black))  Yes this was happing in the United States under the auspices of a science-based solution to societal ills.

Black goes on to say, “In 1934, as Germany’s sterilizations were accelerating beyond 5,000 per month, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe, upon returning from Germany, ebulliently bragged to a colleague, ‘You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program.  Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.’  That same year, 10 years after Virginia passed its sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia’s Western State Hospital, observed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, ‘The Germans are beating us at our own game.”’ ((; Eugenics and the Nazis, San Francisco Chronicle November 9, 2003 by Edwin Black))

Benno Müller-Hill author, Murderous Science, Institute of Genetics, Cologne University, Germany said of Black’s book, “Edwin Black has again written a unique and important book.  Until now eugenics in the US and in Germany have not been analyzed together.  One assumed they had little in common.  This was not so.  Their joint past was bloddy and their future is disquieting.” ((