Eugenics: Rose By Any Name

Culmination of PseudoScience
and Enlightenment Philosophy

To understand the worldview of Western culture, especially American cultural “norms”, we must attempt to understand the world through their understanding; i.e., through their worldview. However, we must have a set starting point to ensure that we do not become disoriented; there is no better starting point than the Scriptures.

Since we will end at eugenics I chose verses directly addressing the development of each individual (Ps 139:13-16). Each living person is a direct creation of God according to His will. There are no accidents, no chance union of elements, no random events beyond God’s control.  It was the goal of Enlightenment philosophers, developers of what came to be “science”, to discover natural processes apart to remove the stigma of religion from knowledge.

Charles Lyell, based on the work of James Hutton who was the father of Uniformitarianism, sought to explain geologic formations apart from the Bible, specifically he sought to discredit the Genesis Flood account. The philosophy of Uniformitarianism influenced Charles Darwin who developed his view of natural selection and evolution on uniformitarian principles that did not require God. Francis Galton, cousin to Mr. Darwin, formulated the field of eugenics (Greek for “good genes”). Mr. Galton did not work in a vacuum but in a Western culture of burgeoning knowledge in many fields supported by industrialization that brought to reality many of the scientific discoveries. The world was rapidly changing with the advent of electricity, modern medicine (germ theory), rapid transportation systems and so forth. In addition, with the split of natural philosophy into science and philosophy, empirical inquiries were being applied to experimental frontiers that were not empirical such as the mind (psyche). In addition, there were also upheavals in governmental philosophies such as socialism and communism.

It appeared that there was no limit to the application of scientific inquiry. When Mr. Darwin’s work was revived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Social Darwinism (application of “survival of the fittest” to societies) the changes in Western social fabric began to tear. The resulting Great War (World War I) to end all wars would prove the dominance of the strongest governmental system and people. This would provide a guiding light to all mankind to follow the upward path to higher social evolution. Except: the war did not end as expected. American involvement did allow the Allies to win a “sort of victory” but also laid the seeds for an even greater war. Economic forces unleashed during the ensuing 1920s would culminate in devastating economic collapses, first in Germany and eventual throughout the world but especially in America due to central mismanagement. The average American was awash in the proclamations of the power of “science” to every aspect of life and eugenics was born.

Eugenics Advertised as the Means
For Everyone to have better children

Dr. Galton did not develop eugenics as an evil “mad scientist” in private. He brought the new study of statistics to bear on his cousin’s work to guide people in making better choices about their future. As the above graphic demonstrates eugenics was combined with contemporary religion to teach people how to improve society through producing better children. This was promoted as “science” based on statistical analysis and promoted both through religious channels and to society at large. A little known fact to today’s readers is that Mr. Darwin’s book was basically a primer on how to improve the human race and not simply about evolution, which had little empirical support with the lack of transitional fossils {even today}.

The worldview was heavily influenced by the apparent power of science in uncovering “all” the mysteries of the physical world without the reliance on Scripture or any religion. Dr. Galton had “proved” scientifically via statistics that prayer did not prolong life (Weikart, Richard. Father of Eugenics. Christianity Today. Discovery Institute. May 1, 2002.). America had spent blood and wealth in a European war with an unsettled end that threatened to erupt anew. President Wilson was attempting to involve America in the League of Nations that would keep America involved in European affairs; i.e., future wars, though Congress resisted him. Isolationism was a “home first” policy, especially in light of severe economic troubles in Europe. Except for some “fundamental” Christians pushing biblical inerrancy and salvation through Christ alone, science seemed to have all the answers to all problems. At the top of the heap was eugenics, how to insure a better future.

Herein is the issue, Christ never turned anyone away who sought the Gospel (Mt 11:27-30; Jo 3:16-19). Neither did He change the Gospel to please people. There was one Gospel for everyone and everyone who came could understand the Gospel of salvation. This was foolishness to modern man who had found his redemption in modern science that explained the world without God and a religion that taught a about a God who did not really exist, for those who needed such a device. Eugenics brought these divergent streams together {see opening graphic}. Eugenics gave modern man the tools to generate a better society according to evolutionary natural selection and “weed” out undesirable people.

Eugenics quickly became the tool to end America’s race issue left unsettled by the Civil War. The fact that one of the first modern films produced, Birth of a Nation, illustrated unresolved racial issues, and was advocated by President Wilson, resulted in the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan/Woman’s Ku Klux Klan (KKK/WKKK). The difference? Eugenics offered only long-term solutions while the KKK/WKKK offered support for such beliefs and immediate solutions for some factions. However, not all eugenic promises needed to wait on future generations. Margaret Sanger offered more immediate solutions based on abortion clinics near undesirable communities, a practice that continues today. America, supposedly built on Christian principles, found a means to purge itself of undesirable people “legally” and taught others to do the same such as the new NAZI regime in Germany. World War II and its aftermath discredited eugenics as it was openly practiced against racial/ethnic groups. Western culture’s worldview underwent a profound change in labels but no so much in practice.

Lessons of the Past
Ignored Today

By the 1970s abortions had been legalized though it was advertised as a “woman’s right” rather than a purification process. Science once again offered solutions in the form of birth control pills to eliminate those nasty little problems of unrestrained sexual activity, especially outside of marriage. The pills also promised to eliminate undesirable elements when freely distributed in certain neighborhoods {schools}. Advances in infertility and DNA modeling brought “choice” to the forefront of modern parenting. The promise of picking your future child’s hair color, eye color, and eliminating any harmful genetic conditions smacks of eugenics while flying under the new label of reprogenetics. But if one can “pick” certain characteristics is not this discrimination by race, ethnicity and even mental ability? Is not this just a repackaging of eugenics in a more palatable form to conform to our worldview? Probably the most gullible of all worldviews is the current one {of every generation} that says, “We are different!” In fact, there is nothing different under the sun, it is always the same (Ec 1:8-11). Man repeats what has already failed because man consistently rejects God and His salvation Gospel. If God had not come for you, none would be saved (Ro 3:10-18).

Author: LeeS

Retired naval nurse, Dad, Husband, Christian who seeks to share the Bible with those who want more than the superficial milk given out in the majority of today's churches. God has taught me through hard experiences as well as through book learning (Master's of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry).