The Rev. Giles Fraser takes on humanist Richard Dawkins, a proponent of eugenics in certain situations. Dawkins has written: “If you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?” Fraser contends that no human is inherently better than another, and that religious believers of the world have a better track record than humanists of valuing the vulnerable among us. He writes in The Guardian:
Last week, Professor Dawkins was at it again, this time on Twitter. Responding to a woman who said that she would face a real ethical dilemma if she became pregnant with a baby with Down’s syndrome, his advice was thus: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” In the heat of huge public outrage, Dawkins issued one of those non-apology apologies. But the damage was done.
To be absolutely clear: Down’s syndrome is not hereditary. So it cannot be bred out. So the belief that it is immoral to keep a Down’s syndrome child is not strictly a eugenic position. But the moral revulsion that we have at eugenics has little to do with genetics and everything to do with the way it treats the most vulnerable. For the problem with eugenics, like Dawkins’s belief that it is immoral to keep a baby with Down’s syndrome, is that it contains an implicit idea of what a better sort of human being might look like. It may seem obvious to Professor Dawkins that a tall athletic child with straight As at school is to be preferred to, let’s say, a child who has slanted eyes and a flat nasal bridge and is academically less adept, but it is not obvious to me. Morally, the category of the human ought to be entirely indivisible: all being of equal worth, irrespective of wealth, colour, class, ability. Some people are better at sport or sums, but nobody is better at being human, neither are there better sorts of human beings.
Read Fraser’s column here.