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Does the Bible support eugenics?

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Eugenics is a social movement that supports the supposed improvement of the human population via selective breeding and other means. It was originally developed by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, and based upon Darwin’s theory of evolution. The word eugenics literally means “good birth” and comes from a Greek word meaning “well-born, of good stock, of noble race.” The goal of eugenics is to make the world (or at least a country) a better place by guiding the course of human reproduction and “purifying” the gene pool.

Eugenicists advocate genetic screening, birth control, segregation, transhumanism, euthanasia, compulsory sterilization, forced pregnancies, and abortion. Eugenics was practiced openly in the early decades of the 20th century in many countries, including the United States. Several state laws were passed allowing for the forced sterilization of institutionalized people. Such a law in Virginia survived a court challenge, with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., writing in the decision, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind” (Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court, 274 U.S. 200, decided May 2, 1927). After WWII, eugenics by that name fell into disfavor when the extent of Nazi atrocities became known.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, was also a proponent of eugenics. Sanger railed against the “reckless breeding” of the “unfit.” In her book Woman and the New Race, she wrote, “The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it” (Chapter V, “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families,” 1920). She desired “to breed a race of human thoroughbreds” and would rather a society “produce a thousand thoroughbreds than a million runts” (Radio WFAB Syracuse, February 29, 1924, transcripted in “The Meaning of Radio Birth Control,” April 1924, p. 111).

The Bible does not specifically mention eugenics, but the idea behind eugenics—that man can better himself by ridding the world of “undesirable” people—is definitely not biblical. And the methods promoted by eugenicists, including abortion, euthanasia, and racial segregation, are wicked practices. God told mankind to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28; 9:1, 7). No exception to that command is given in Scripture, and there is certainly no racial modification to that command suggested anywhere in the Bible. For social engineers to usurp God’s authority over life and death in order to create a self-defined “master race” is evil. Biblically, there is only one race—the human race—with everyone having descended from Adam and Eve. Racial discrimination and ethnic superiority go against God’s very nature: “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34–35).

English theologian G. K. Chesterton wrote in his 1922 book Eugenics and Other Evils, “There is no reason in Eugenics, but there is plenty of motive. Its supporters are highly vague about its theory, but they will be painfully practical about its practice” (from Chapter VIII, “A Summary of a False Theory”). Since that practice involves abortion and euthanasia, eugenics is simply murder.

Eugenics is not commonly called by that name today, but the underlying philosophy is still evident in medical genetics. Today’s genetic screening and fetal gene manipulation are vestiges of eugenics. When a possible genetic defect is diagnosed in an unborn child, some couples choose to abort the baby. Unborn children with Down syndrome are one example: in the United States, an estimated 67 percent of the unborn diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted; in France, 77 percent; in Denmark, 98 percent; and in Iceland nearly 100 percent (“‘What kind of society do you want to live in?’: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing,”, accessed 6/22/20). It’s eugenics by a different name, as people continue to attempt to identify and eliminate genetic material they consider “unfit” or undesirable.

Eugenics is a meritless and immoral social engineering experiment. It is a slippery slope in which Chesterton’s scientific madmen abrogate the authority of God and seek to create their own utopia on Earth. Centuries ago, Job lamented the evil of his day: “When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up, kills the poor and needy, and in the night steals forth like a thief” (Job 24:14). This is the role of eugenicist: killing the poor and needy and those he deems “unworthy,” preventing a “poor quality of life” (in his estimation) by taking life, denying men’s liberty, and playing God.

One day as Jesus and His disciples were walking in Jerusalem, His disciples asked about a man born blind. They wanted to know “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, . . . but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (verse 3). Who are we to decide who does or does not display the works of God?

In direct contrast to eugenics, the Bible tells us to defend the weak and disadvantaged: “Uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. . . . Rescue the weak and the needy” (Psalm 82:4); “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak” (Psalm 41:1; see also Matthew 25:35–36; Acts 20:35). Killing the disadvantaged, culling those whom the more fortunate determine to be “unfit” for life, or weeding out the weak is ungodly to the core.

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This page last updated: April 18, 2023