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Bad Ideas: A Case Study on Eugenics and Transgenderism

If ideas have consequences, bad ideas have bad consequences. But what if those bad ideas become massively popular? History has shown us, time and time again, that bad ideas, when popular, can create world-wide devastating effects. One such case, although swept under the rug of American history, is in part responsible for an attempted genocide, a world war, and the continued death of millions of Americans every year. The case in question is the idea of eugenics.

The idea is simple enough: through intentional human reproduction choices, the humans can genetically improve themselves by breeding out undesirable traits. There is nothing unscientific about the proposition. It is very possible. Since antiquity, pastoral cultures have engaged in selective breeding to bring out more favored characteristics in domesticated animals. In 1883, British natural scientist Francis Galton argued, why not humans as well? He proposed the idea that by selectively breeding higher classes of humans we could give “more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable.”

What a progressive thought. The notion that humanity could help itself along an upward evolutionary trajectory seemed very noble to the scientific minds of the day. Soon, the idea had taken root everywhere. Not only were biologists and social scientists on board, but even presidents and government agencies. In 1910 the United States opened the Eugenics Record Office where the traits of American families would be judged and logged. The massively wealthy Rockefeller family funded organizations such as the Race Betterment Foundation. After World War I there was concern that the American stock of “good breeders” was dwindling. Madison Grant, founder of the Bronx Zoo, published The Passing of the Great Race and congress met to discuss what to do with all the feebleminded immigrants entering the country from Eastern Europe.

Madison proudly noted the nation’s sharp turn from Christian ethics to eugenics:

“Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race… Before eugenics were understood much could be said from a Christian and humane viewpoint in favor of indiscriminate charity for the benefit of the individual. The societies for charity, altruism or extension of rights, should have in these days, however, in their management some small modicum of brains, otherwise they may continue to do, as they have sometimes done in the past, more injury to the race than black death or smallpox. As long as such charitable organizations confine themselves to the relief of suffering individuals, no matter how criminal or diseased they may be, no harm is done except to our own generation and if modern society recognizes a duty to the humblest malefactors or imbeciles that duty can be harmlessly performed in full, provided they be deprived of the capacity to procreate their defective strain.”

-Madison Grant The Passing of the Great Race

Soon, the United States was engulfed in sterilization projects. Harry Laughlin, the superintendent of the Eugenics Record Office, published Eugenical Sterilization in the United States in 1922 and through state laws succeeded in involuntarily sterilizing over 30,000 people. In Buck vs. Bell, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the sterilizations. “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” wrote Supreme Court Justice Oliver Holms in the majority decision.

Many Christians rightly opposed such measures. The ethics implied by eugenics, the sacrificing the weak for the stronger, the infringement on the rights of the individual, and the arbitrary favoritism of one over the other are all outright antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But, many “progressive” Christians sought to reconcile eugenics with Christian theology and even the Bible. What could be wrong with wanting to improve man’s genetic position in the world? Isn’t it noble to sacrifice the individual for the collective good? Why would anyone oppose such ideas? By World War II, the idea of eugenics was massively popular, codified into law, and taking shape in some of the worst ways imaginable.

As you probably guessed, the idea of eugenics greatly influenced Adolph Hitler:

“It will be the task of the People’s State to make the race the center of the life of the community. It must make sure that the purity of the racial strain will be preserved. It must proclaim the truth that the child is the most valuable possession a people can have. It must see to it that only those who are healthy shall beget children; that there is only one infamy, namely, for parents that are ill or show hereditary defects to bring children into the world and that in such cases it is a high honor to refrain from doing so. But, on the other hand, it must be considered as reprehensible conduct to refrain from giving healthy children to the nation. In this matter the State must assert itself as the trustee of a millennial future, in face of which the egotistic desires of the individual count for nothing and will have to give way before the ruling of the State. In order to fulfill this duty in a practical manner the State will have to avail itself of modern medical discoveries. It must proclaim as unfit for procreation all those who are inflicted with some visible hereditary disease or are the carriers of it; and practical measures must be adopted to have such people rendered sterile.”

-Adolf Hitler Mein Kamph

Mixed with socialism, pseudoscience, racism, and modern technology, the idea bred one of the greatest atrocities in modern history and a second world war. It is estimated Nazism was responsible for about 21,000,000 non-battle deaths. That’s not to mention military deaths.

But even before Hitler’s reign, the United States was cultivating its own eugenics based mass homicide organization. In 1921, Margaret Sanger along with KKK member Lothrop Stoddard who authored the book The Rising Tide of Color Against White-World Supremacy founded the American Birth Control League (now known as Planned Parenthood). Similar to Hitler, Sanger believed the state should control who is and who is not allowed to give birth, arguing that “permits for parenthood shall be issued upon application by city, county, or state authorities to married couples.” Like most eugenicists, Sanger wanted to use eugenics programs to promote “the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extinction, of defective stocks — those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.” If there is any question as to who the “human weeds” are referring to, Sager continues:

“The results of the intelligence tests, the menace of indiscriminate immigration, the fertility of the unfit, and the increasing burden upon the healthful and vigorous members of American society of the delinquent and dependent classes, together with the growing danger of the abnormal fecundity of the feeble-minded, all emphasize the necessity of clear-sightedness and courage in facing the problem, and throw new light on the possibilities of Birth Control as a practical and powerful weapon against national and racial decadence.”

-Margaret Sanger Real Facts About Birth Control

The “immigration,” “unfit,” “dependent classes,” “feeble-minded,” and “racial decaden[t]” are, you guessed it, racial minorities.

Although Nazism fell out of favor after World War II, Sanger’s version of eugenics continued to gain popularity and eventually became rooted in American culture and law. In 1973 the United States Supreme Court once again ruled unethically and decided that abortion was a right. In the 49 years Roe vs Wade was in effect, over 62,000,000 American children were aborted, dwarfing Nazism. Today, in the city where Margaret Sanger’s ideas first enjoyed so much popularity, a black child is more likely to be aborted than born.

So what did eugenics get wrong? It’s clearly true that it is at least possible to selectively breed out genes in humans. That portion is “scientific.” It’s the portion of eugenics that is pseudoscience, the skin color having a bearing on intelligence and even the concept of race itself, which are toxic. Sadly, Americans from all manner of political and academic spectrum still wholeheartedly embrace these ideas. In some circles, if you don’t believe in “race” you are to be shunned. Nearby eugenics are a great number of massively bad ideas like collectivism and government altruism. Even more deadly than abortion, Communism took the lives of more than 100 million people in the 20th century. Yet today we are witnessing a popular resurgence of Marxist ideas.

One thing is certain, this world will never cease creating and fostering bad ideas. Recently the Prime Minister of New Zealand gave an address where she argued that suppression of free speech by the government was the only way to solve the world’s problems. Instead of convincing people, letting the best and true ideas win in the free market of conversation (argument), she believes the government should suppress people she disagrees with and bar them from communicating ideas she doesn’t like. Who gets to decide who is able to speak? Who decides what is good enough “information” to communicate? What will happen to the people who decide to communicate ideas against the government’s will? If anyone had a proper grasp of history or how ideas work in government, she would have been deposed on the spot! The greatest fault with eugenics, along with all these “progressive” ideas, is their lack of objective ethics. Once a culture abandons the truth that there is an objective morality and that it emanates from the very character of God, it is doomed to repeat the massive faults of the past or create new and more destructive horrors. When Eve bites the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she is essentially establishing her own faux, humanistic morality in place of God’s perfect law. And, like Eve, when people, nations, or governments pit themselves against God, they do so to their own peril.

Psalm 2:1-3 reads, “Why are the nations restless and the peoples plotting in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let’s tear their shackles apart and throw their ropes away from us!” True, morality seems confining at times, but the reality is that it maximizes human liberty, fullness of life, and societal harmony.

Probably one of the worst contemporary ideas in American culture is the transgender movement. And, if history is any indicator, if the Bible is truly prophetic, Western societies will pay a heavy price for it. All the signs of a sick and abusive ideology are present: the permanent mutilation of a healthy body, the abuse/manipulation tactics (“If you don’t accept this, I will kill myself and it will be your fault.”), the projection onto children, the honoring of lies, the hedonism, the persecution and censorship of dissenters, the list goes on. Yet the popularity of the idea is massive.

Like eugenics, there is a hint of truth in there. Yes, there are some, very few, people who have a mental disorder called body dysphoria. And, my heart goes out to them. That is clearly a very difficult and unfortunate personal problem. But, the idea that you can merely will yourself into another “gender” and demand the entire world to cater to your whim is based on pseudoscience, coercion, and falsehood; it does not correspond to reality. It does not correspond to biology. And, it diverges sharply from Christian ethics.

Because transgenderism requires that others refer to its adherents by words that do not correspond to the obvious biological reality, Christians find themselves in a difficult position. Should they fulfill the requirements of the transgender movement and call people by pronouns that do not correspond to reality (technically this is called lying), or do they adhere to the age old imperative from the Decologue: “Thou shall not bear false witness”?

Whether the Christian bows to popular culture or remains with God will be a continual question. But, rest assured, when this season passes there will be a new and more wicked idea demanding future generations lay down their logic, their ethics, and their faith to pacify its strange demands. Whether Western culture bows down has already been decided. My only fear is that the ramifications of this idea, and ideas with it, will lead Western nations to new hells like Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood, and will lead individuals to the real one.

It’s not too late. So long as we are alive there is always time to change our minds; to turn back to God. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” -Romans 12:2. I do pray that for our nation. Bad ideas, even popular ones, will come and go, but God’s moral law remains immutable.

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.“I will announce the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have fathered You. Ask it of Me, and I will certainly give the nations as Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

Now then, you kings, use insight; let yourselves be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, that He not be angry and you perish on the way, for His wrath may be kindled quickly. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! -Psalm 2:4-12

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