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.
As far as I understand it, he's an above average physicist, but an exceptional thinker.
I like science in general. It all holds my attention. I loved Carl Sagan best I would say. But, as this isn't really on topic...I'll return to the point that you, as one person cannot measure the effect one person has upon others. Just because someone doesn't personally enjoy the aura of Hawking doesn't mean he hasn't effected others.
Also, if this discussion is taking a turn toward determining human value of one sort or another, then it will be easy to then start looking at IQ, behavior, etc. and the idea of euthanizing problematic people becomes very easy. This is partly why the ethics bring us around to the decision that eugenics is not a wise or viable solution to anything.
What is the value in not doing so... ???
I'm 45, I see the cycles of life go by. I get very frustrated that nothing is ever new, we keep doing the same crummy behaviours as our predecessors. No battle (social, environmental) is ever won in the long term, nothing is ever truly gained. On daily news we keep hearing these "new" discoveries which have been around for 30 years. We keep trying to redefine the wheel. The youthful mind will never accept the achievements of the preceding generations. So from generation to generation, the personal wisdoms of life are lost. New generations want to define themselves, not be defined by the "old foggies".
Our present society's knowledge base is not "personal" but "institutional". If we were to have a major social collapse due to disease or catastrophe, most knowledge would vanish as it's not in the realm of one person's mind. Modern humans live outside ourselves, completely reliant on energy driven technology for our survival. I compare this to the little island in the bay across from where I grew up. This island was inhabited between the 1800s and 1960s. The people there didn't even notice when the great depression rolled through North America, because they were completely self-reliant and their knowledge of life was appropriate for their survival. They were happy, until television came along and everyone began to dream of being rich "like Americans".
In nature animals do not generally reach menopause. I consider life is for the youthful. I have zero interest in long life. Society's obsession with eternal life is pure gadgetry in my eyes.
The reason I'm for eugenics from the filtering standpoint is related to this 'natural' limitation. Humans can be quite happy without gadgets. Limits create value. Without limits, there is no value. It is a fundamental principal of value, rarity creates value.