God, Gays, Eugenics and Crappy History
Eugenics is a touchy subject. It’s been abused so much in the past, most notably by the Nazis, that even mentioning it in polite company is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows. Of course, religious fundamentalists have been quick to jump on the ‘eugenics is inherently evil’ bandwagon in order to demonize both ‘Darwinists’ and atheists, two words that many of them seem to be believe are synonyms. Anybody who accepts evolution, we are told, would like nothing more than to sterilize the degenerate and shovel the racially inferior into crematoria.
Now, take that steaming bucket of insanity and add homosexuality to the mix. You’re already morbidly curious, aren’t you?
I’d like to address this post, in which a Christian blogger uses bad history and a handful of non sequiturs to argue that gay people would be much worse off without religion. It is a reply to this article, in which the exact opposite is argued. Here we go:
Let’s for a moment imagine there was no religion, how would homosexuals fare??
With a brief history lesson, you need longer imagine. Let’s rewind to WWII.
The Germans are in the grip of Nazism and ideals of a racial superiority and are in conflict with the rest of the world.
The idea of racial superiority originated in Darwinian principles of evolution and survival of the fittest. These Darwinian principles gave birth to a new study called Eugenics.
Wait, stop right there. A couple of problems:
- Social Darwinism is distinct from both eugenics and the theory of evolution, which it is only very loosely based on. Although it may be possible to ‘improve’ our species by selective breeding and the like, nothing in evolution suggests that weeding out those typically labelled as ‘degenerate’ by totalitarian states will result in an overall improvement in the species. The criteria for what kinds as an ‘improvement’ in the first place is always supplied by ideology, not by science, and generally relies on the faulty assumption that preventing criminals (for example) from having children will somehow reduce the number of criminals. As far as we can tell, inclination towards crime is not a genetic trait, and as such it cannot be passed from one generation to the next.
- ‘Survival of the fittest’ (natural selection) is the exact opposite of eugenics, in which certain people are weeded out by humans as being ‘unfit’.
- What does racial superiority have to do with homosexuality?
- The USA conducted a huge eugenics program decades before the Nazi party even existed. It was mainly targetted at people with mental illnesses, although some states were given the power to sterilize anybody who they saw as ‘unfit’. Some Nazi leaders at the Nuremburg trials apparently claimed that the American eugenics programs inspired them to commit their own crimes against humanity, although we can’t be certain that they were telling the truth. All in all, the USA conducted eugenic sterilization for almost sixty years. Is the USA an atheist country?
- Germany under the Nazis was most definitely not an atheist state, nor was Nazism an atheist ideology. True, it didn’t put too heavy an emphasis on religion or God, but neither did it reject them.
That should be enough to refute the main points of the post, but the author goes on to claim that ‘the Eugenics Society’ (he doesn’t say which one) accepted evolution, and therefore must have been atheistic in nature because ‘Anyone who believes in God cannot accept Evolution. So, no, they did not believe in God.’ Er, right. Do I even need to reply to that one?
From the fact that the Nazis (who were not atheists) practiced eugenics, the post goes no to conclude that gay people would be ‘exterminated’ if not for religion. That obviously makes no sense, and it still wouldn’t make sense even if every proponent of eugenics in history had been an atheist because atheism isn’t eugenics. There is nothing about atheism which demands that its adherents support eugenics, nor is there anything about atheism which demands that its adherents think of homosexuals as being degenerate or unfit to reproduce (or live, for that matter). In fact, gay rights activists have frequently commented on the fact that their most reliable supporters can be found among atheist groups . Even a quick check of atheist blogs on WordPress will reveal that atheists tend to be far more supportive of gay rights than Christians.