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.
Your question doesn't quite fit Arcus - knowing of the possibility AFTER conception is a completely different kettle of fish to finding out BEFORE conception.
I have no problem with individuals making choices about whether to have children based on prior knowledge of risk or certainty. That's a personal issue. What I do have a problem with is positively pursuing a program of eugenics (as opposed to medical research) as a means of engineering certain characteristics within children.
We are already almost into the realms of choice of gender, etc. There's a very fine line between "designer" children and the use of genetic engineering to produce other characteristics. Some would obviously be beneficial, others not. Who decides? Who controls? That is where my fears lie. I simply don't trust corporations or governments to manage it responsibly.
When my son was ill, we made contact with a family in Florida, whose daughter, slightly younger than my son, also had leukaemia. I learned a few weeks ago that she only has a short time left. That family had really tough times, and they are going to get tougher soon. But I know for sure that they don't regret her ever being born. They all love each other like crazy, and their loss will be enormous, but thsy had the delight of seeing her grow up, fall in love and even marry. They wouldn't swap that for anything, and would never regret bringing her into the world.
You are, of course, completely correct. It was after (otherwise I'm making no sense).
As for eugenics as a cosmetic item, I am wholly onboard with your view of being unacceptable. My only support for eugenics as a "sorting device" would be within the first 12-14 months of pregnacy for clearly detrimental genetic factors causing vastly premature (<1/4 avg lifetime) or infertility combined with a lifetime of social support.
It's always difficult to think of such things afterwards, when one has gotten to know the person at hand which may have never existed due to eugenics. Personally, I'm not quite sure if having been born is the preferable choice over a vastly shortened lifespan.
Essentially, if you were planning child no 2 (or 3 etc, whatever the case may be), and the doctor said 80% probability of not seeing 20, would you still go through with it concidering the highly probable suffering both you and your child would go through? Or, would you prefer to know at all ante factum?
(Sincerest apologies for asking very difficult questions, but it's a conundrum I sometimes concider and you have supreme knowledge about in comparison to me.)
this is a very strong argument against this kind of eugenic tampering with human life. The sad reality is 1) leave something as tricky as walking that tight rope between healthy lives, and genetic super beings in human hands, inevitably disaster will happen. Yes, we all are very aware of how awful humans are to each other over basically everything. This kind of genetic tweaking could only be done if the nature of humankind were far more ethical, and compassionate.
2) what value does a human life have? Does that value diminish if the person is chronically sick, or dying? Of course not! I would agree. But it's one of those crazy little things that is impossible to wrap one's mind around. I know what you're saying, that Floridian daughter, meant the world to those caring, and probably wonderful parents, and I'm sure she liked her own life as much as anyone. That family can't imagine her NOT being born, because she meant the world to them!
But where do you draw the line here? You can't mourn for the God knows how many human beings who simply will never be born, because people only have so many children in one life. It was Richard Dawkins who explained this concept of bililons of potential great thinkers, athletes etc. will never be born, because of the way life simply is. (there's a more scientific answer he gave that explains this concept much better, but I can't remember.)
but, do we just focus on curing diseases, as they spring up? Some would argue, prevention is far easier to implement, or could be. It's such a complex problem, I think, that I can't come to a firm conclusion, right now.
The only reason technology has been used to modify crops is to increase profits. In the long run, crop modification has also decimated the natural REGIONAL diversity (as opposed to health diversity) and subjects humans to greater catastrophes from massive monoculture failures and impacts on nature.
REGIONAL diversity is healthy. Sickness "diversity" within a local society is a misnomer.
I am completely uninterested in transhumanism. Millions of years of experimentation has created a proven human recipe, messing with that to create human subspecies is nothing more than a fabulation of the mind for me. I have no desire to live longer, whatsoever. In fact, human life should not extend past menopause. That is my ultimate desire in life:
Interesting subject. I could not phrase my thoughts on it at the moment, but here is a video.
I agree with the majority of his points, but not all. It is interesting that given our present 'decoupledness' from reality, rational, non-demagogue reasoning seems alien.
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.No one gets pregnant for the sake of the child, of course it's selfish.
Eugenics is really made up of two parts: Removing detrimental genes and promoting beneficial ones. The first part should be fairly uncontroversial, the second part a bit contentious.
I'm personally OK with increasing innate intelligence (presuming there is an innate and a learned part). I will certainly not reprocreate with someone I consider unintelligent (though they might be good for practice). Height, eye/skin/hair color, etc., shouldn't be part of the discussion. Eugenics should not be a tool for human cosmetics.