I have some pretty strong feelings about eugenics (it's a good and necessary practice), but I find it very, VERY difficult to talk about it with anyone since I'm instantly labeled a Nazi for supporting it. I'm hoping the folks on Think Atheist will be more inclined to intellectual discussion than name-calling and dismissal.
The start off, some disclaimers: genocide is wrong; taking human rights away from people of a race/religion/hairstyle you don't like is wrong; concentration camps are wrong; violence in wrong.
There. Now to the actual discussion.
When I talk about eugenics, I'm talking about the practice of systematically removing debilitating genetic traits and defects from a population by means of regulating the reproduction of its citizens. Do you have Schizophrenia? Did you know that this ailment is genetic and very easy to pass on to you children? Please, do not punish an innocent child with this problem. Are you genetically healthy, intelligent, and talented? Do you have special immunities that make you less likely to get sick? By all means, spread these traits to future generations, either by having children yourself or donating to a sperm or egg bank. Do you want children but should not carry your genetic problems onto them? Adopt. Adoption will always be available no matter what the society (just because someone has good genetic material does NOT mean they would make a good parent). Do you say that adoption is not the same? Then I suppose you care more about satisfying your selfish desires than the well being of a child.
Eugenics is, at its base, very simple - think about the future first.
I'm leaving this post now for what I'm hoping will be thoughtful and anti-inflammatory discussion.
And who would this litigation be aimed at? The child's parents?
We live in a "rights" obsessed society, right to bear arms, right to have sex even when the other doesn't, right to control all other species, right to control what we say to each other, right to breed, right to mentally abuse children with religious ideas, right to be wealthier than the neighbour, right to be an asshole.
To borrow the aliens analogy used earlier... If aliens were somehow to get a glance at today's society, they would see lawyers as the ultimate human evolution, cuz we are legislating the right to all human experience, and lawyers are mighty happy for this.
But break down your paradigm (induced by a religious society) and wonder... why should breeding a "right"? When you stop taking such selfishness for granted, you'll see the other thought makes more sense.
Interesting development here in New Zealand. The right-of-centre government here is pushing a law that will enable "the authorities" to remove children from parents who are strongly suspected of being a danger to the children. No conviction necessary.
Isn't "The Right" supposed to stand for LESS government?
I say let natural selection remain natural. We're too stupid to go fiddling with things that took millenniums to set up.
"I say let natural selection remain natural."
Where is natural selection perfect?
Why shouldn't humankind correct undesirable genetic traits if it can?
Nobody ever said it's perfect. It's just better at it's job than we are. We can royally fuck some stuff up without even realizing it until it's too late. Natural Selection has built in error correcting and adapting systems.
" It's just better at it's job than we are"
Define "better". GE has not YET produced cataclysmic results. Given that, humans are better than nature at selecting desirable traits. Like preservatives; though many would not consider them "natural", you can't argue that they're "better" at making food last.
"built in error correcting"
Synthetic selection has the same error-correcting features. It's just that, like GE, the results would be more quickly apparent if cataclysmic errors are made.
Unfortunately that is not the scientific critical mind thinking. Monsanto (as with the rest of the transgenic brethren) has prevented third party testing and third party assessment. So when you say there hasn't "yet" been a cataclysm is no consolation, there has been NO approved third party science. That is an unscientific way of advancing science, that is oligarchy money speaking and not science.
Humans can not be "better at evolution than naturally occurring evolution, since the very essence of evolution is to not only reproduce the mutation but also to see it continue to successfully reproduce without taking out other organisms.
Nature's error correcting is that if something does not meet the preceding paragraph's criteria, tested not for a ridiculous short decade or less, but over millennia, then it does not have an outcome. Unless you're a fly or a micro-organism, evolution is a multi-multi-millennial process, what we do is not controlled or testable, it is tinkering, treating the entire planet's life forms as an experiment for nothing other than money.
As for your use of "better" that is not moralistic judgement, not a scientific outlook. There is no such thing as "better", there is only 'conducive to long term sustainability of an ecosystem" or "not". Humans have been demonstrating our "not" capacity. We have yet to produce a single technology or invention that fits in with a sustainable ecosystem, we use and destroy, because "our victory over nature is more 'important" than any other endeavour.
@Arcus - This is such a ridiculous statement that it falls on its own unreasonableness. Natural selection works in many ways, death being one of those, but sexual selection is perhaps even more important. As we still aren't reproducing by mitosis, we are still subject to the forces of natural selection.
This is why a healthy-looking young woman past puberty will always be more physically attractive to men, on average, than even a very healthy 40 year old. When it comes to the desire to mate, the reptilian brain is still largely in control.
@H3xx and everyone;
Natural Selection is no longer affecting the human population and hasn't been since the advent of modern medicine, Natural Selection has been bypassed.
Natural Selection works by death. By the death of the portion of the breeding population who carry a particular genetic trait. That portion of the population not being successful enough to produce enough offspring to become a dominant trait in the species.
One of the main flaws in Natural Selection is that it doesn't/can't deselect traits that don't manifest until after the effective breeding period of a species lifespan. Cancers are one example, declining eyesight in longer lived persons is another.
So if the human species wants to continue evolving it will have to do that on it's own by genetic manipulation. Or the more draconian method of identifying traits desirable/undesirable before breeding age and removing those with undesirable traits from the breed population.
Personally I would rather see the genetic manipulation method applied for this purpose because of the potential of developing new traits on purpose, and of course it's much less cruel.
I think Cancer would be a good first choice for the human species to evolve passed. Remember that Natural Selection did NOT deselect the Cancer trait out of the human species. However both genetic traits and environment conditions play a role in most of our miladies.
"Natural Selection is no longer affecting the human population"
This is such a ridiculous statement that it falls on its own unreasonableness. Natural selection works in many ways, death being one of those, but sexual selection is perhaps even more important. As we still aren't reproducing by mitosis, we are still subject to the forces of natural selection.
What humans have done quite successfully is to remove a lot of the randomness. It doesn't matter if you are the epitome of genetic perfection for the environment you live in if you get struck by lightning or get scratched by a poisonous plant. Natural selection may be a non-random process, but it is heavily impacted by random events.
As for cancers, most aren't genetic, and will therefore not respond to genetic engineering.
"Natural Selection is no longer affecting the human population and hasn't been since the advent of modern medicine, Natural Selection has been bypassed."
Arcus; sexual selection means nothing unless those possessing the less-desirable genetic traits DIE or are otherwise rendered totally unable to reproduce. This no longer happens. If anything social policies favour individuals that would never have bred even a couple hundred years ago.