Catholic Eugenics?

Not sure where to put this, but since it deals the eugenics, seems like a good place.

I just stumbled across a book call Preaching Eugenics. I haven’t read the book, but it appears to indicate that the Catholic church once “enthusiastically embraced” eugenics.

Anybody know anything about the supposed truth of this statement? Perhaps some off-kilter priest or bishop spoke of it, but certainly it was never an official teaching.

I haven’t read the book, but I am generally very skeptical of anyone claiming “The Church” promotes anything. It is usually an effort to link the beliefs of some individual Catholics as indication that “The Church” advocates same position.

This is what I found in a review, not sure how it can be taken as an “enthusiastic embrace”:
"Preaching Eugenics includes a chapter on the Catholic Church’s opposition to sterilization. American Catholic officials such as Msgr. John A. Ryan vociferously opposed eugenic sterilization, and Rome officially condemned the practice in the 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii. Interestingly, the Church’s position against sterilization relied upon more secular reasoning than did the practice’s many religious supporters. In Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI drew on natural-rights philosophy to link the right of bodily integrity with the limits of state power: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects, therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.” "

Interestingly enough, the United States accepted eugenics in that era – the Supreme Court ruling “Three generations of feeble-minded is enough.”

As I discussed in another thread, I think eugenics will be revived with renascent fervor. Will I be among the ardent masses who will embrace this approach to “human betterment”? I do not know. I fear I might relinquish whatever compassion I currently have in the future.

Why do you fear relinquishing your compassion? Only you have the ability to hold on to it or to throw it away.

The revival of eugenics became almost a given when trends of the 20th century such as birth control, abortion, euthanasia, IVF, and sex as recreation, began to treat human beings as products rather than persons.

And the review or whatever says Catholic “leaders” not “Catholic church”. Catholic leaders could mean bishops or it could mean (what it often means in secular works) cafeteria-Catholics that the media chooses to listen to rather than Catholics faithful to Church teaching.

From the linked review:
Christine Rosen argues that religious leaders pursued eugenics precisely when they moved away from traditional religious tenets.
(my emphasis)
So religious leaders who no longer accepted the tenets of their religion began to accept eugenics? This sounds like a non-surprising thesis to me.

Well, a previous thread has been closed. I will not protest this as I do believe it was for best intentions. I do consider that a warning (although I wasn’t offically punished) so I should proceed this prudence. Mixing IQ, race, genetics, heredity, and ambitious parents who want their children to succeed creates a rather ugly amalgam.

However, I do think my probity has been thoroughly eroded by participating in those discussions because I did not address any data; rather, one could only discern shrill vituperation. Yes, tdgesq was correct; I was operating under an agenda: I did not find the public policy implications of this of research and I want this research suppressed because I see no potential benefit to society, but rather grievous harm. Such thoughts permeated through the soporific realm with profanity directed towards Linda Gottfredson, an intelligence researcher (along with a nasty caricature of her yielding The Bell Curve as a weapon). Is saying that I had “nightmares” an example of Machiavellian mendacity that tdgesq insinuated against me? No! Hyperbole? Yes! I would describe them as “bad dreams” instead of “nightmares” and I have been losing sleep (about 5-6 hoursa night) because of this issue. I do not think “mendacity” is an apt word for my actions; instead “obscurantism” aptly describes my behavior on this message board and on the Internet Infidels Discussion Board.

Another example of my obscurantism and obfuscation regarding this topic is highlighted in this IIDB thread (

“I do not think we need more crimes against humanity. I hope Rushton and Jensen would stop promulgating their theories of race-based inferiority.”

“Look, if Gottfredson is correct, then eugenics is the only answer!!!

How are we going to improve intelligence unless we invoke drastic measures to change the allele frequency of a population? Genetic engineering would be the ideal way to accomplish this…

Oh well, if Gottfredson is correct, blacks aren’t lazy and whites aren’t racist; blacks are just inferior.

But the scientific racists aren’t correct; blacks are not inferior.”

“Well I believe lying is the best option… it most certainly is better than acknowledge one group of humans are inherently superior than another. That idea can lead to genocide”

“Well, if we acknowledge the fact that some humans are inherently superior, that usually leads to genocide and eugenics. We cannot allow another Holocaust.

I detest any attempt to say that one group is inherently superior than another. Human inequality is the greatest malady of the human species.”

I posted here that I might lose my compassion, and I do feel this is a reason for genuine concern. For example, Charles Murray predicted:

The topic of race and genes is like the topic of sex in Victorian England. The intellectual elites are horrified if anyone talks about it, but behind the scenes they are fascinated. I will say it more baldly than [Richard Herrnstein] and I did in the book: In their heart of hearts, intellectual elites, especially liberal ones, have two nasty secrets regarding IQ. First, they really believe that IQ is the be-all and end-all of human excellence and that someone with a low IQ is inferior. Second, they are already sure that the black -white IQ difference is predominantly genetic and that this is a calamity – such a calamity indeed that it must not be spoken about, even to oneself. To raise these issues holds a mirror up to the elites’ most desperately denied inner thoughts…

But when people say one thing and believe another, as intellectual elites have been doing about race, ** sooner or later the cognitive dissonance must be resolved. It usually happens with a bang. When the wall of denial gives way, not only will the received wisdom on race and IQ change, the change will happen very rapidly and probably go much too far. The fervor of the newly converted is going to be a problem. ** I fully expect, if I live another twenty years, to be in a situation where I am standing on the ramparts shouting: "Genetic differences weren’t a big deal when we wrote The Bell Curve and they still aren’t a big deal.’

I do, however, fear that I might be among the “newly converted” and metamorphize into a virulent racist or eugenicist. The latter is what happened to Richard Lynn. I do fear that my “wall of denial” is crumbling.

Instead of denial and * ad hominem * attacks on Richard Lynn, Linda Gottfredson, Arthur Jensen, J.P. Rushton, Richard Herrnstein, and Charles Murray how should I deal with this without turning into a monster such as Singer and Lynn?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding-Proverbs 3:5

You need to live for something other than your own interests. Do some charitable work, volunteer for those less fortunate. You will then see that even those weaker, less intelligent, and of less possessions than yourself also have human dignity.

It’s depressing to see how effective the taboo on eugenics is. People growing up in Western societies today - and not only catholics! - are taught from an early age that eugenics is evil, that people who support some form of eugenics are evil and that even bringing up the topic to rational discussion (as opposed to condemning it without argument) is evil or socially dangerous. But is this true?
Certainly the Zeitgeist was entirely different less than a hundred years ago - a fact which in itself suggests we should think twice about eugenics.

We know by now (yes we do - the evidence is massive and overwhelming - check any textbook on behavioral genetics) that many of the most undesirable human conditions - low intelligence, low empathy, criminality, unreliability, extreme impulsivity - have very strong genetic components.
In many cases genetic differences are the by far the most important reason for the differences we observe. This is also the main reasion various social intervention programs for these conditions continue to fail miserably after decades.

Interestingly, that doesn’t matter, apparently. Good guys will always self-righteously blame these things on “society” - we just haven’t found the right treatment or the right revolution yet. It’s just the evil guys - like me - who point out the facts. This is the atmosphere.

But do consider the facts carefully. They mean, I believe, that voluntary forms of eugenics - as promoted e.g. by Richard Lynn (who by the way is no “monster”!) - are entirely reasonable, nay morally good. The current environmentalist fantasy who appears so good on the surface is on the contrary in fact evil, because it will only perpetuate human suffering!

Finally, I don’t understand why “ribozyme” makes such a fuss about genetic population (race) differences in traits that matter. As you rightly point out, the evidence for genetic differences in cultural capacity is overwhelming and all researchers in the field know this (I know many of them). It’s just to risky to speak about publicly. How on earth could this imply that genocide is morally correct? It does imply that mass immigration from the third world is a bad idea for the intellectual and cultural (in a wide sense) level of a Western nation. It also implies that given equal treatment, we will still have big differences in distributions left. But that’s about it.
We should be able to accept facts of life without falling prey to racism.

Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (1930):

What is asserted in favor of the social and eugenic “indication” may and must be accepted, provided lawful and upright methods are employed within the proper limits…

there are some who over solicitous for the cause of eugenics, not only give salutary counsel for more certainly procuring the strength and health of the future child - which, indeed, is not contrary to right reason - but put eugenics before aims of a higher order, and by public authority wish to prevent from marrying all those whom, even though naturally fit for marriage, they consider, according to the norms and conjectures of their investigations, would, through hereditary transmission, bring forth defective offspring."(no. 66, 68)

If there is such a taboo on eugenics as you claim, it is only by the sheer grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, because it is obvious by this post that it is only a matter of time before we live in a world where human dignity is defined by the state and the usefulness of said human.

I wonder if since “low empathy” has such a strong “genetic component” what happened in your line of genetic material? Certainly you should hope that eugenic cleansing comes later rather than sooner, lest you be culled my friend.

One can not do something immoral and evil in order to cause a “good” result - the ends do not justify the means. But it seems in this society we should everything possible to make our own individual lives comfortable.

We must always remember that the most heinous acts imposed on mankind were done not by the weak and malformed, but by THE STRONG AND INTELLIGENT.

Riiiiiiiiiiiight. For example, one out of three Black males under the age of 25 is either in jail, awaiting trial, or has finished his sentence.

Now, there are two genetic components right there – Sex and Race.

What do you propose we do about it?

How do you know about Professor Lynn? Have you met him (personally not in an e-mail correspondence or something akin to that)?

I bet you read some of Richard Lynn’s work. Personally, I found the argument presented in this paper quite compelling: .

In addition, I am able to find a copy of *Eugenics: A Reassessment *from a library and I will read it next week. Unfortuately, I also wanted to read Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis as Lynn looks at this issue from a global and evolutionary perspective but I was not able to find a copy.

Since I do not believe in “human dignity” explicitly, I find the message of eugenics rather tempting and tantalizing. I wonder if Lynn’s could ultimately eliminate suffering and injustice. In contrast to Herrnstein, Murray, and Gottfredson (they do not explicitly advocate eugenics), Lynn offers hope to rectify these injustices. I suggest you read the Lynn article that I linked here. Later, I will juxtapose Lynn’s proposal of using embryo selection to increase intelligence:

In Eugenics, Lynn argues embryo selection as a form of standard reproductive therapy would raise the average intelligence of the population by 15 IQ points in a single generation (p. 300). If couples produce a hundred embryos, he argues, the range in potential IQ would be around 15 points above and below the parents’ IQ. Lynn argues this gain could be repeated each generation, eventually stabilizing the population’s IQ at a theoretical maximum of around 200 after as little as six or seven generations.

15 points (i.e. one standard deviation on today’s norms) in one generation is very difficult to reject. My primary fear is NOT the use of this technology, but the inequality of access to this technology. I do not want a society where the genetically elite will exploit the “naturals”. If everyone was genetically augmented, this would be rather difficult to accomplish. You should we should accept inequality of outcome based on inequality of inability. I cannot accept this, but we should do what we can to eliminate this. Equalizing ability is the best answer and I do not know a better means to this than eugenics.

In this Lynn article he argues that race differences in cognitive ability significantly affect the development of civilizations:

The third source of evidence on racial differences in intelligence lies in the degree to which the various races have made significant intellectual, scientific and technological discoveries and inventions. The argument is that these advances are likely to be made by a few outstanding and highly intelligent individuals. There will be more of these in a population where the average level of intelligence is high, and hence the intelligence levels of populations and whole races can be inferred from their intellectual achievements. …

The most extensive analysis of this kind was carried out by Baker ( 1974). He first set: up twenty one criteria by which the achievements of early civilizations could be judged. These were as follows:

[Long list found in the article]

Having set up these criteria, Baker proceeded to analyze the historical record of the races to ascertain which have originated civilizations. His conclusion was that the Caucasoid peoples developed all 21 components of civilization in four independent locations. These were the Sumerian in the valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Cretian, the Indus Valley, and the ancient Egyptian. The Mongoloids also developed a full civilization in the Sinic civilization in China. The Amerindians achieved about half of the 21 components in the Maya society of Guatemala, a little less in the Inca and Aztec societies, but these peoples never invented a written script, the wheel (except possibly in children’s toys), the principle of the arch in their architecture, metal working, or money for the exchange of goods. The Negroids and the Australian aborigines achieved virtually none of the criteria of civilization.

So what is the etiology of “Caucasoid” and “Mongoloid” cognitive hegemony?

The last three chapters are concerned with the books subtitle(An Evolutionary Analysis) and discuss how race differences in intelligence have evolved. Lynn begins by putting the problem in context by summarizing Jerisons (1973) classic study showing that during the course of evolution, species have evolved greater intelligence in order to survive in more cognitively demanding environments. The same principle, Lynn argues, explains the evolution of race differences in human intelligence. As early humans migrated out of Africa they encountered the cognitively demanding problem of having to survive cold winters where there were no plant foods and so they had to hunt big game. They also had to solve the problem of keeping warm. Solving these problems
required greater intelligence than was needed in tropical and semi-tropical equatorial Africa where plant foods are plentiful throughout the year.

He also notes one or two anomalies in the cold winter theory of intelligence, the most striking of which is that the Inuit have been exposed to the coldest winter temperatures, have a brain size equal to East Asians, and yet have an average IQ of only 91. To explain this anomaly he proposed that additional genetic processes are important—such as population size. The larger the network of co-operating and competing population groups (‘‘demes’’), the faster any mutations for advantageous
alleles can spread. This may help to explain why large landmass groups like East Asians and Europeans average higher IQs than isolated hunter-gatherer groups like the Inuit.

So I did my best to summarize Lynn’s views on human evolution. In an attempt to be laconic, it seems he believes that the development of civilization is an evolutionary product of adaptations to cold weather. In order for great civilizations to appear, the prerequisite, Lynn argues, is the development of intelligence. Lynn argues convincingly that the Wurm glaciation increased Caucasoid and Mongoloid intelligence, but in order to increase the prevalence of “intelligence alleles” in these populations, the weak individuals (i.e. who didn’t have enough “intelligence alleles”) had to die out before they were able to reproduce. Ironically, I actually think that Lynn shows the futility of Darwinian evolution; the adverse conditions of cold weather was only able to augment the Inuit’s IQ to 91!! It is quite clear that cognitive ability cannot be enhanced using Darwinian evolution without human intervention. In addition, the racial disparities (for example “Caucasoids” have an average IQ of 100 in contrast to Sub-Saharan Africans which has an average of 70 (Lynn argues this is caused by environmental and genetic factors) arose in a relatively long period of time (in the scale of tens of thousands of years).

Returning to embryo selection, one might ask how is this different from evolution? Like the inclement gelid weather of the ice age, embryo selection is cruel as it eliminates the weak! In notable contrast, embryo selection addresses the futilty of natural selection. I suggest you click on the link in my signature (it describes an in vitro selection experiment on a population of RNA molecules to improve their catalytic prowess). How is eugenics different from that? Lynn’s message is not a palatable one for Catholics (and for those who attempt to pursue a secular ethics system such as myself): We need to weed out the weak and relinquish any concept of human dignity in order for humanity to advance. Compassion inhibits human progress according to Lynn! I do not know how to approach this dilemma though.

Let me ask you a question: Are you Matt Nuenke or J.P. Rushton? If you are the former, I presume you have a deigning attitude over my belief in egalitarianism and my concern for unequal access. I doubt Professor Rushton would post here though.

To the mods, if I said anything offensive in these posts, feel free to edit. This topic (race and intelligence) disturbs me too and it might be beneficial that this knowledge remains esoteric.

Academic, I will say this: To pretend eugenics is compassionate and celebrates the virtues of helping the poor (as described in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25) is utterly disingenuous.

Instead, eugenics states that these people cannot be helped so we should abandon them and we should focus on the people of the future. This is one reason that eugenics disturbs me, although I do not believe in God. I am also disturbed by the notion the indigent and criminal are innately inferior. That is why I am concerned about losing my sense of compassion.

If you are Matt Nuenke, I have read some papers on your website, and I will say that we do not have a sense of compassion.

You should we should accept inequality of outcome based on inequality of inability.

I meant to say “said” instead of “should”.

Maybe eugenics can be used to fulfill social justice, but I do not think humanity has matured to the point where we can overcome our selfish proclivities. If we do, maybe we should embrace eugenics, but in my opinion, we are not at that point yet.

If the public does not trust a system of oversight
to protect human subjects or to preserve and promote important
social values, then research will not, and should not, go
forward. Recent events associated with somatic gene experiments
have raised public doubts about the cogency of scientists’
claims regarding the promise of such research and about the
ability of current oversight mechanisms to offer adequate safeguards for experimental subjects.

Thanks for your postings. I will focus on ethical aspects of eugenics, a topic which seems utterly confused at the moment.

First, let be a bit more specific. What seems desirable is that we develop good methods for early characterization of important traits in embryos. What you will get, of course, is probabilities for different outcomes, but that will be sufficient to improve the human condition a great deal, if combined with voluntary embryo selection. Something that also seems worth discussing, at least, from an ethical point of view is economical support directed towards highly intelligent/educated couples who wish to have more children. I believe we all agree that forced sterilization and other measures along those lines are impermissibile.

Now, a couple of points. First, this policy is ethically preferable because in the long run it will create a much more civilized and developed society with much less suffering and where a lot of economical resources (which now are spent to take care of problems with a genetical basis, indirect and direct) are free to be used on creative, good projects. Second, the policy is entirely compatible with a society that takes care of its poor and unfortunate. We already take care of e.g. severely handicapped people and respect them as fellow humans, although we would like to prevent these handicaps in coming generations. In fact, again, if fewer individuals are born with an unlucky genetic setup, more resources will be available to help them in all kinds of ways.

Finally, I am not one of the persons you mention. I am a researcher in a somewhat related field, but I have not investigated group differences nor do I plan to do so.

I do not find incentives to highly educated couples particularly potent in a eugenics program. It is far too slow to generate a meaningful boost in intelligence. (By “meaningful”, I mean to augment the average intelligence of the of a population in a few generations so that everyone has the ability to understand the mathematical details of string theory, which, of course, is beyond a mentally-retarded individual such as myself who is two standard deviations above the mean). Lynn’s proposal of embryo selection, however, offers profound gains in intelligence in a short period of time. I actually think that “mandatory” embryo selection is more ethical than “voluntary” or “free-market” embryo selection. Why? Because it would refute my objection that eugenics will exacerbate social inequality. If eugenics cannot be used to create an egalitarian society (i.e. the fulfillment of equality of outcome, not merely opportunity), we should not pursue eugenics.

In my view, I think the money would be best spent to assist those who are indigent. Those who are educated do not need the money.

Finding “intelligence genes” is a prerequiste for Lynn’s proposal, of course.

I disagree with eugenics being a compassionate ideology; once we accept the notion that some humans are inherently superior to others, we have a justification for exploiting those who are deemed inferior. Look at embryo selection (I find this the most promising approach to eugenics) and your proposal of “rewarding” highly intelligent couples. I do not find this compassionate as we are saying that some humans do not deserve the right to live or they are not as worthy to have children because are inherently inferior.

I do not find incentives to highly educated couples >particularly potent in a eugenics program. It is far too
slow to generate a meaningful boost in intelligence.

Well, one concern is that many highly intelligent women choose a professional life rather than several children, since they have to choose. Society could help out there, by economical support possibly, but also e.g. by providing well-functioning daycare for children etc. etc.

I actually think that “mandatory” embryo selection >is more ethical than “voluntary” or “free-market” >embryo selection. Why? Because it would refute >my objection that eugenics will exacerbate social >inequality. If eugenics cannot be used to create an >egalitarian society (i.e. the fulfillment of equality of >outcome, not merely opportunity), we should not >pursue eugenics.

I beg to differ. The kind of coercion implied in mandatory embryo selection outweighs the eugenic advantages by far. But then I also fail to understand why equality of outcome is so important. I’m personally much more interested in the overall level of a society (cultural, scientific, spiritual, technological, medical) than whether it’s super-egalitarian or not. I agree with you that gross inequalities should be avoided, but millimeter justice in every domain shouldn’t be a priority goal.

I disagree with eugenics being a compassionate >ideology; once we accept the notion that some >humans are inherently superior to others, we have >a justification for exploiting those who are deemed >inferior.

This is complete bugaboo - but of course you repeat what you have been told at school, I assume. First, and eugenics aside, it’s totally obvious from the literature that there are huge differences between people in important traits and abilities, and that these differences have a large if not dominant genetic component. Whether you “accept” it or not, that’s the way it is. This, however, is in no way whatsoever a justification for exploiting or abusing people. On the contrary, eugenicists and environmentalist agree on that we should try to create a society where human suffering is minimized. The difference is that eugenic ideas are based on reality, and so have a chance of working out, if they are implemented - which seems unlikely at the moment (but that may change of course).

I do not find this compassionate as we are saying >that some humans do not deserve the right to live >or they are not as worthy to have children because >are inherently inferior.

I repeat: eugenics is compassionate in that it is a resolute and reality-based attempt to reduce human suffering and improve the quality of civilization. Read Galton: you will see that his pioneering work on eugenics was guided by compassion and the noblest wishes for the future of humanity. Your thinking is muddled by some kind of misguided sentimentality. The key point is: We can be human and caring towards people with e.g. severe behavioral disturbances, while at the same time trying to ensure that these conditions do not arise again in coming generations. Then I absolutely think that some people should be strongly discouraged from having children (i.e. if they show evident signs of not being able to provide for them, materially and psychologically), but - as you point out - embryo selection might in fact be the ethical way forwards.

In Eugenics, Lynn argues embryo selection as a form of standard reproductive therapy would raise the average intelligence of the population by 15 IQ points in a single generation (p. 300). If couples produce a hundred embryos, he argues, the range in potential IQ would be around 15 points above and below the parents’ IQ. Lynn argues this gain could be repeated each generation, eventually stabilizing the population’s IQ at a theoretical maximum of around 200 after as little as six or seven generations.

(My emphasis)

What happens to the other 99 embryos?

The embryo is a human being. Is it to be killed?

If so, how is this different from abortion?

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