Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Ardent advocates of eugenics"

SEE THE ARTICLE by Hilary White at LifeSite:

Anti-Religion Extremist Dawkins Advocates Eugenics
Says Nazi regime’s genocidal project “may not be bad”

“I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler’s death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them,” Dawkins wrote Sunday.
Mr. Dawkins forgets that even child prodigies are forced to take music lessons too. But I'm going to take a shotgun approach to eugenics and see how many holes I can poke into the argument, via these rhetorical questions:
  • Suppose you do breed athletes, and they win all of the gold medals at the Olympics. That would be as fun to watch as the Saint Louis Cardinals playing against a Little League baseball team. The Cards would either win big and the Little Leaguers would go home crying; or the Cards would be nice and lose on purpose. A game like that would be interesting to watch maybe once every couple of decades.
  • Suppose you do breed a number of high jumpers, and the market for high jumping just isn't what you expected it to be. For example, maybe the Olympics are canceled because genetic engineering makes the games boring. What do you do with all of the unneeded high jumpers? And if you suggest euthanasia as a solution, then what if society needs fewer college professors: should they be euthanized too?
  • Genetically-modified athletes would only be interesting if they compete against each other, so like in many sports you would have a large number of classes. Boxers always fight within a specific weight class, otherwise the bigger boxer would almost certainly win, making it a dull competition. Ultimately, the only fair competition would then be between those athletes who have exactly the same kind of genetic modification. The winner in this kind of closely-matched competition would be the one with the best motivation, training, and virtue: which are all attributes of the spirit, or soul, and not the body.
  • People love an underdog. The player with inferior physical attributes who wins through guts and determination is admired far more than the big guy. But if you then claim that you will breed super-athletes just to provide extra motivation for us normals, then please don't do us any favors: this is like the computer hackers who claim to be doing a favor by breaking and entering into computer systems and thereby pointing out flaws in security.
  • Children look up to star athletes as heroes, and attempt to emulate them; with genetically-modified players, most children would never be able to use them as role-models.
  • So will you breed people specifically for high-jumping only? What about their other attributes? Will they have good personalities, will they be sociable, will they be able to feed themselves, or hold down any other job besides high-jumping? Will your high jumpers have to be kept in cages, or under sedation when not competing? Will someone have to change their diapers?
  • Don't forget that breeding high-jumpers will require hundreds, or maybe thousands of individuals in your breeding program, and the vast majority of those will not be suitable for competition; what will you do with them?
  • We've been breeding animals probably for as long as there have been people. Experience shows that pure-bred animals are more susceptible, not less, to genetic diseases. A potential cat owner would be wise to choose a tabby instead of a pure breed to avoid problems. Optimizing a breed for a specific trait always uses inbreeding, which experience shows leads to undesirable genetic traits. Eugenics programs usually claim to want to both reduce genetic disease, while also improve specific attributes: these may be conflicting requirements.
  • Since most dogs could easily kill their owners, they have to be bred for good temperament, which may make them less optimal for their task. But humans are far more deadly than dogs: will your human breeds have good temperaments, or will that be less than optimal for you? Would you trade good temperament for high-jumping ability? If your jumpers are violent, how will you control them, or will you claim that they are exceptional and therefore immune from the law? Will the law exist only to keep us sheep from getting in the way of the supermen?
  • Who is going to raise and educate these genetically-modified children? Families or institutions? Will their education be general, or be mainly limited to their specific genetic programming? How will you then deal with large numbers of those ignorant, narrow-minded genetically-modified people?
  • What do you think is the greatest good? Can you say, and how does eugenics and forced breeding help attain this? And if you say that life has no meaning, they why are you proposing such a major program of eugenics? Are you only interested in power?
  • People have been breeding themselves all throughout time. Every society has rules of breeding which are more or less similar to each other, which ought to give you pause. Large numbers of generations of experience should mean something, especially to an evolutionist like Dawkins. In virtually all societies, breeding is endorsed strictly within the context of marriage, which typically has to have the agreement of the families, both mates, and the authorities who preserve the society's ancient wisdom. Each mate judges the other on attractiveness and chemistry (we don't know what it is, but we know when we have it), the families and friends judge the true personality, health, and individual virtue of each mate, and the religious authority applies other potentially crucial objective criteria to a match. Considering that we have so many human minds and institutional memory working cooperatively in such mate selection, I would think that this kind of breeding would be far more optimal for producing good humans than merely breeding for specific traits. There is certainly far more knowledge, carefully nuanced, in this kind of breeding system than what we are able to quantify scientifically.
  • How are you proposing to do this kind of breeding? How much force are you prepared to use to enforce your breeding rules? How much force are you willing to use against those who strongly oppose your system? Will the benefits of creating new races of supermen outweigh the negatives of a using so much force?
  • What will happen to us normals? Will we have second- or third-rate status, or be declared non-persons? Will you be embarrassed when a normal exceeds a genetically engineered superman, and will you attempt to suppress or denigrate the knowledge of this loss for your side? Will government and industry be dominated by specially-bred supermen? By law?
  • Who is going to pay for such breeding? Obviously it will be very expensive. Who will get to reap the direct benefits of this breeding?
  • Proposals such as these come from the same folks who advocate free love. Eugenics and free love together means universal forced contraception, sterilization, abortion, and infanticide, since free love usually leads to poor and unstable mating choices.
  • Dawkins claims that humans have no souls, but he does not know about the Catholic view of the soul that derives from Aristotle, with the soul being the form, or design, of the body. This view is far richer than the mere "ghost in the machine" view that he must be thinking of.
  • Do you think that you can create a Utopia with genetic breeding, and that suffering will go away? Or will this system, in fact, increase suffering due to ignorance of the psyche?
  • The eugenic kind of breeding would be increasingly centralized, and any mistakes made will be very, very big mistakes, which could afflict an entire generation. Keeping breeding decisions local, as under the current system, will limit breeding mistakes to only small segments of the population.
  • Who will decide what traits should be bred? Will they be racist, nationalist, or biased in any way? Consider the possibility that China may dominate the world this century, and that they consider Europeans to be genetically inferior.
  • What exactly is a disease? For example, is ADHD actually a disease, or is it mainly an attribute of boys that tends to annoy female schoolteachers? Just how broad will you define "disease": will it get so big that you are forced to breed only a very small number of "good" genes, causing the equivalent of inbreeding? Or, will you specifically breed a gene that is known to cause disease, just because it also produces a desirable attribute? And sometimes there are fuzzy areas, like sickle-cell anemia which helps prevent malaria.
  • Describe a "better" human being. I bet that it isn't the same as my definition. And if you claim that we all have a right to define "better" for ourselves, then how can you justify a forced genetic breeding system?
  • Fictional depictions of this kind of genetic engineering are usually overwhelmingly negative. Try to take into account the wisdom of the artistic imagination.

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