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.

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There is a programme in Britain which educates people in difficult situations (prostitutes, severe druggies etc.) regarding their choices in abortions, vasectomies and adoption. It also provides monetary income for those that wish to have reversible vasectomies. It is met with fierce opposition and ridiculed as evil.

Humanity is most certainly confused.

I'm a tech optimist myself. Nature didn't send us to the moon or cure polio. Technology did.

Nature causes plagues, diseases, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos, hurricanes, drought, harsh winters, and many other major non-discriminatory killers. Nature has killed and will always kill substantially more humans than all the technology ever invented has ever done.

"non-discriminatory killers"

 

my favourite kind :)

@T A A: So presumably you will not go to the doctor if your appendix starts aching? :)

That's simply a dumb comment. I'm past that age anyway. Appendix removal is a small and quick surgery and cheap surgery. However, in a eugenics context, if it were found that there is a genetic marker that indicated a genetic predisposition to that type of problem, then we'd be in the game. Previous to surgical removal of appendix, people died of it. This certainly conferred less reproductive success.

 

The modern "sensitivity" of medical life maintenance has indeed created a more sick citizenry since more diseased people live and more people reproduce, creating absolute growth in the medical industry. I know you 'sensitivities' hate to read this kind of thought but it's why I favour a breeding filter, to eliminate breeding by people who are born with defects, which includes me. I have had back/bronchial problems all my life and am more than happy not to breed.

 

We have the means to CHOOSE which areas of health and medicine we want to favour. As it stands, we've been choosing the path of more people (through longevity and increased birth success), I vote for a change of politics, lets focus our health and medical technologies which increase only quality not quantity of life. Let's kick religion out of medicine.

This I absolutely agree with. If self-selection out of the genepool is a strong motivator, then you are amoral to the bone. I however, don't share that life choice. I can defend breeding to myself, and that shifts a few priorities in life which I think seperate us.  

"lets focus our health and medical technologies which increase only quality not quantity of life. Let's kick religion out of medicine."

That's why I want to be an active, working, healthy 80 year old, which one day just doesn't wake up from natural causes. That should be the main focus of medicine today, not a few to 125. I prefer quality over quantity for myself (even the occational overindulgence in quality).

Agreed. There is a definite social obsession going on for 2000 years or so with reducing suffering, as if it was some evil concept that needed getting rid of. Sentiments such as suffering can only be defined relatively speaking. Suffering levels are different depending on previous experience. A needle prick can be considered suffering to someone not familiar with them, but once you're used to it, needle pricks are nearly painless. Nonetheless, the other day, in order to draw blood for a routine test, the nurse went too deep (my veins are shifty) and she hit a nerve which caused my thumb to suddenly go completely numb. She withdrew! They had to call in 2 additional nurses to prick me a total of 6 times before they were able to succeed. We giggled and chatted about ornithology during the whole affair. There is a law here which states that no nurse may prick you more than three times. I encouraged them to continue on as I was not stressed about it.

 

My stance on non-birthing is only minimally related to suffering, but mostly to planetary costs.

The social obsession for avoiding suffering has been going on since the dawn of life. It is one of the most fundamental things to all organisms, and absolutely requisite as a behavioural tool in natural selection. We can choose to suffer when it is beneficial if we understand that it avoids future suffering (as per your blood test).

And yet, there is much suffering to be had which is not a choice. I am who I am because of my own suffering. Because, I have chosen to become a better person despite it (and because of the disposition with which I was born), I am a happy and productive person. Would I put someone through it to achieve the same result? Nope, nor would I expect the same outcome. You cannot measure the value or inherent harm in suffering. That said, I am not, through my words, advocating preventing harm to others. I am a firm believer in sensible parenting, civil rights, and generally being nice to others.

 

In any case, none of this subject is easy.

I think though, there is a great difference between types of suffering. I have not suffered any great physical problems, but I have suffered abuse by others and abuse by myself. I believe this kind of suffering is far more important in defining my character

Needless suffering is the point.

6-9 months after Ramadan there is an explosion of birth defects among muslim women, which could be avoided if the mothers weren't fasting during the very early time of their pregnancy. That's needless suffering for stupid reasons. Mothers refusing their children vaccines cause needless suffering. I can go on by needless suffering caused due to lack of education for a while.

If we develop a genetic in-utero cure for Parkinson, Alzheimers, MS, CP, and these types of diseases, why withhold it?

And if we find a genetic cure for fatal childhood diseases, why let children die in hopes of finding a cure while they suffer needlessly?

"Even with advancements in medical technology and science, many diseases still have fatal outcomes, and are yet to be fully studied. Some of these diseases affect infants and young children. Diseases like Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Glioblastoma multiforme, Cystic fibrosis or Alexander disease have no cure, and are all classified as fatal diseases."

Our view of what is suffering and how much we ought to combat suffering has completely changed in the past couple of thousand years. But if you disagree with that premise... the whole point of the bible and the 10 commandments, the golden rule, theoretically, is "institutionalised" reduction of suffering, whereas before, you had disorganised and personal reduction of suffering. Once something is institutionalised, it is changed, for as the French proverb goes: Le malheur des uns fait le bonheur des autres (the unhappiness of one causes the happiness of another). Anti-suffering has become a central player in our social structure, and I think that is an error. It is a relative and an emotional condition and varies for everyone through space and time. Trying to standardise it is futile.

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