One of the darker responses to Darwin’s theory was the eugenics movement. The term was coined by a cousin of Darwin’s, Francis Galton, and it means “born well.” Galton founded the Eugenics Education Society of London in 1907. Looking back now, it amazes us that such views gained the traction they did and especially in the more “progressive” segments of the Western world. But, after all, it was “science” so it had to be true, right?
During World War I, a fellow named Robert Yerkes was charged with the task of analyzing the intelligence of American soldiers. Cunningham notes: “After the war President Coolidge accepted his findings and passed the 1924 Immigration Act restricting immigration to people of favored races and nationalities. In terms of negative eugenics, Indiana was the first American state to pass a law permitting compulsory sterilization for the “unfit” in 1907.”
“Just as eugenics lost its popularity after the Wall Street crash, it again lost its appeal after the Second World War and the discovery of the Holocaust—six million casualties of an effort to purge the biologically weak (Jews) so as to allow the naturally stronger (Aryans) to excel. According to National Socialism, the system had interfered with the natural order in the first place, thus letting Jews flourish, while at the same time letting the homosexual and the disabled live. The Nazis, upon taking power in 1933, promulgated a law allowing for forced sterilization, a law based on the work of the American eugenicist, Harry Laughlin, whose ‘Model Eugenical Sterilization Law’ has already appealed for the mass sterilization of the socially inadequate classes, including those of feeble mind. Eugenics was not the purview of the extremist but rather formed part of the cultural backbone of Western, enlightened society. It is maybe worth noting that no Roman Catholic country ever passed a law permitting any form of eugenics, positive or negative. It is fair to say, then, that social Darwinism died with Hitler. Yet it did bear offspring—sociobiology and evolutionary psychology—offspring that may have only half the genes of its parents but still, as children bear some similarity.”
Materialists often make an appeal to “reason” as if it were some ethereal “thing” or law that like gravity is universal and objective (which, as an aside, shows their platonic commitments and reliance). And yet, the scientists, the elite, the progressives, and the educated at that time felt that such a way of thinking (Eugenics) was “reasonable” or “rational.”
The materialist must wonder: Given this past, what other ideas or beliefs do I presently hold, ones in which we all agree are “rational” and “reasonable,” that could be just as dangerous and untrue as eugenics? He may need to look beyond his own narrative to those outside his strict materialism/rationalism to answer this question.