©123rf.com/OlesiaBilkeiEugenics-is-back

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In the 1880s, Charles Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, gave the world a new word and a new quest, namely ‘eugenics’, meaning ‘well-born’ (from Greek εὖ eu, ‘well’ and γένος genos, ‘offspring’).1 This is the concept of improving the human race by encouraging those individuals deemed ‘fit’ to reproduce, while discouraging/preventing those deemed ‘unfit’ from doing so. Darwin heartily approved and wrote: “ … if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members will tend to supplant the better members of society”.2

This ‘better babies’ concept was seen as a great idea by the politicians of the day, who passed laws for the enforced sterilization and segregation of those they deemed to be unfit. Thus, in the early 20th century, eugenics flourished in the UK, in most European countries, and also in the USA, where over 60,000 citizens were forcibly sterilized.3 That is, until after WW2, when it was established how Hitler’s master race ideology had used the idea. The Nazis forcibly sterilized some 400,000 mentally and physically handicapped persons, then progressed to the ‘mercy killing’ of almost another 300,000 citizens, and finally proceeded to the genocide of millions of Jews and other non-Aryan ‘unsuitables’.

Consequently, after WW2, the term ‘eugenics’ was avoided; however, the concept is still alive and well. In April 2016, the British weekly magazine The Spectator published an article titled: “The return of eugenics: Researchers don’t like the word—but they’re running ahead with the idea, and Britain is at the forefront.”4 In it, author Fraser Nelson points out that in Britain today, using IVF technology, “£12,000 buys you the chance to choose which embryo to implant. And £400 buys sperm-sorting, the better to conceive a boy (or a girl).” And, “Developments in IVF mean that, today, several embryos can be fertilised and screened for disease, with the winner implanted in the uterus.”

Consent to use human embryos

©123rf.com/Alexander Korzhsterilization

In January 2016, a new biomedical research centre called the Francis Crick Institute was opened in London to begin a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9.5,6

A group there, led by Dr Kathy Niakan, “was granted consent by the United Kingdom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to undertake gene editing using human embryos.”7 The program is allowed to target specific sections of DNA, delete them, and insert new genetic sequences, in a biological cut-and-paste that rewrites the genetic code.

This is not in itself an ethical problem, as it can be used legitimately without violating biblical morality, e.g. where a mutated gene is restored to its previous healthy condition. This, like the repair of a cleft palate, is a temporary alleviation of the effects of the Curse—as occurred in Christ’s healing ministry. However, “Dr Niakan’s team are working with donated embryos left over from IVF treatment, which cannot be used after 14 days and are prohibited from ever being implanted in a woman.”7,8

Problems

Proponents glibly claim: “There are no deaths, no sterilizations, no abortions: just a scientifically guided conception.”4 Incorrect! When a male sex cell successfully unites with a female sex cell, a new single-celled living organism is generated. This immediately starts to multiply and develop until finally a baby is born. It is thus alive from conception, and there is no rational, scientific or biblical reason to conclude other than that it is always a person—a genetically unique unborn person. And therefore it is not to be washed down the drain after 14 days of life in a petri dish any more than a 14-week-old infant or a 90-year-old invalid.

In God’s eyes, the unborn are already unique individuals, as attested by David in Psalm 139, where he writes of how God formed him in the womb, and says (v. 16): “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Also, societal problems of this gene alteration include that parents may also want taller, smarter, better ‘designer’ babies. But surely if the wealthy are able to specify super-babies in this way, it will only widen the ‘opportunity gap’ between the rich and the poor.

Critics further warn that this manipulation of the genetic code could have unintended consequences that won’t be apparent until after the babies involved are born. And further into the future, the effects of such manipulation on future generations are totally unknown.

Fraser Nelson sums up the current situation well: “So some 130 years after Britain gave the world the idea of perfecting humanity, we are once again at the cutting edge of this troubled science. For good or ill, eugenics is back.”4

References and notes

  1. Galton, F., Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development, Macmillan and Co., London, 1883, p. 17.2. Return to text.
  2. Darwin online, Descent of Man, and selection in relation to sex, 2nd Edn, p. 618, 1882. Return to text.
  3. Black, E., War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004. See also review, Sarfati, J., America’s evolutionists: Hitler’s inspiration? Creation 27(2):49, 2005; creation.com/weakReturn to text.
  4. Nelson, F., The return of eugenics, The Spectator; 2 April 2016. Return to text.
  5. Gallagher, J., Scientists get ‘gene-editing’ go-ahead, bbc.com/news; 1 February 2016. Return to text.
  6. Cheng, M., Britain approves controversial gene-editing technique. society.org; 1 February 2016. Return to text.
  7. Bangay, T., Gene editing:can the law keep up? ibanet.org 15 December 2016. Return to text.
  8. See also, Surrogate mothering and IVF: are they biblical? creation.com/ivf. Also relevant, given that a baby has been born with DNA from three people, is creation.com/three-parent-embryos. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

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Readers’ comments

Graham P.
Great article. We seem to be back in Canaan, offering our children to Baal in sacrifice. How can we escape God’s judgement, when they perished for doing the same thing?
Deirdre M.
Hi There. Please see statement made by NIH director in late Nov 2018 on the first gene edited babies (twins) in China where the CCR5 gene was disabled to confer protection against HIV infection. The embryos were implanted and twin babies were born. Many issues raised concerning how it was done, including why it was necessary to disable this particular gene when clearly this technology should be used to heal and not for experimental purposes. I agree that this technology is not technically unethical but don’t you think that it opens the door to this kind of experimentation at the expense of what God has created and how He in His sovereign wisdom chose to create and has a plan and purpose for?
Bill H.
Thank you for writing on this subject. We certainly need clarity.
On a side note, the statement, “But surely if the wealthy are able to specify super-babies in this way, it will only widen the ‘opportunity gap’ between the rich and the poor” is really a utilitarian argument and a fallacy at that. From an economic point of view, many of the ‘improvements’ first available only to the rich become commoditized and eventually improve everyone’s lives assuming you have truly free markets which are hard to come by these day.
Thank you.
Jeffery S.
Shades of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.
Gian Carlo B.
Hello CMI. I must say we live in very desperate times and are in desperate need of Our Savior, but I'd like to draw attention to a particular comment Grigg wrote in the same article:
Also, societal problems of this gene alteration include that parents may also want taller, smarter, better ‘designer’ babies. But surely if the wealthy are able to specify super-babies in this way, it will only widen the ‘opportunity gap’ between the rich and the poor.


My issue is I’m very skeptical in how things like intelligence have a hard causal genetic basis, but even if it did, I find that this comment loses sight, at least slightly, on how genetic entropy is
still in effect. I see genetic entropy like a miasma that has infected the human race and there is hardly any justified line drawing between the fit and unfit genetically speaking. My point is, Eugenics will inevitably be a failed project due to the genetic ‘miasma’.
Jonathan Sarfati
I think you are right in both the unclear genetic basis for intelligence and the effect of genetic entropy.

As far as the article is concerned, the quote included the conditional “… if the wealthy …” It was not saying that they could do what they intend, only what might follow from it. The same conditional wording is found in your own points, connected by “but even if it did”. See for example the section Conditional Statements and Implications from Logic and Creation.



Gary M.
Not sure but GMOs; more genetic play may included here. See Leviticus 19:19 et al.
Gian Carlo B.
A response to Dr Sarfati:
You’re right. I didn't mean to imply that Grigg didn’t have that in mind as well. I guess what I was trying to point out was that, although the eugenics they are promoting is already very concerning enough, we shouldn't be as concerned as some secular folks who are also concerned and think the wealthy will jump into the bandwagon, even if (there it is again, haha) they’ll justify on TV or interviews that we need to breed with the best of genes. The fact of the matter is they are deluding themselves, John Sanford made an excellent critique on this practice, he says this will actually provide a lethal backstabbing trap attack of genetic entropy because, basically, we pushed more than half the genome down the genetic miasma pond but we backed the ‘good genes’ down to a corner from which they can’t escape and thus amplify the mutations to such a lethal degree we've exceeded our biological cost and doomed the human race. Not implying you people don't know this, but it does reveal how deluded this eugenic project is. As I said, even if intelligence does have a genetic basis (which I seriously doubt but just for the sake of argumentation), autism and mental retardation also have some genetic component and is inevitably mutational. And because of Müller’s Ratchet, the ‘beneficial mutation of intelligence’ would just get axed with the mental genetic defects in a short spaced generation.
Dan M.
I guess we are just laboratory mice in their eyes to be experimented on.
If there is a problem due to genetic entropy (a bad mutation), and we are certain we can fix it to improve the life of the person effected, by all means. To not act would be cruel but leave well enough alone. In other words don’t tamper with what God intended because we are not omniscient and all knowing.
It is like me having a limited understanding of computer programming, trying to edit Microsoft Windows to do something other than it was intended. The probability is very high I would render it inoperative or unstable by doing more damage than good.
Think about it? We are just a few years into DNA research and we know far less than we think we do. we need to error on the side of caution with respect to something with such profound repercussions.
Human beings, our intellect is only exceeded by our pride and foolishness and that is a dangerous combo!
God forgive us our arrogance.
Jaroslav L.
At the beginning, it looks promising but I do not think it is so easy just to pick one gene and make it idle. Human body is so complex. It is not like changing fuse in a car. It may initiate a set of uncontrolled changes in DNA resulting in peculiar mutations.

Of course, nobody wants his baby to be somehow disabled and people will seek for solutions. But maybe we should not start to play this game.
Ian M.
God the Father, who is Father of all created spirits, including that of man, is very mindful of every spirit of man that He implants in the human cell at conception—at which the ‘soul’ of that human is born, no matter what stupid men say. God will judge every murderer and give them their just reward—but if they repent of their wickedness before they expire, and turn from it, unto Him who alone can show them mercy, then they will find forgiveness and grace and blessing.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Jonathan Sarfati
The word creationism doesn’t just describe our organization, but is a theological term for the view described above: that God creates a new soul or spirit at conception. Another view held by many is called traducianism, which means: in the process of generation, both material and non-material aspects are transmitted by the parents.
Kathy A.
I have been thinking a lot about eugenics recently. It seems that reducing population is a significant factor in sociological, environmental and medical literature (see Gates’ comments about his investment and promotion of vaccines, i.e. improving healthcare to reduce population). Consider also, gay people don’t reproduce often. Transgender even less often. Supporting euthanasia of depressed teens (happening in the Netherlands) and focusing on suicide as a topic to be sympathised with may not be the most effective way to dissuade our youth from doing something irreversible. Thank you for this article. I’m keen to hear other Christian parachurch organisations addressing the eugenics link between all these ideological issues.
Jonathan Sarfati
Indeed, overpopulation is a fallacy. Compare for example Creation, preservation and dominion: part 1—God, humanity and the created order and Margaret Sanger and the minority holocaust.

You seem to understand Bill Gates correctly: he argues (correctly) that vaccination will sharply reduce child mortality, so (he thinks) parents will no longer need to have lots of children just to have a chance of a few surviving, so will reduce population growth that he (incorrectly) thinks is a problem.

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