Eugenics, Race, and The Urantia Book
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Some people reject eugenics as a fundamental attack on “human rights,” specifically, procreation and related issues. Elevating the issue to this degree is an attack on government and the creation of a civilized society; governments necessarily curtail individual freedoms when they threaten the fundamental wellbeing of the group or other individuals. Procreation can hardly be considered something that is only a private matter.
If procreation were truly a private matter, justifiable concerns about overpopulation would never be a topic of conversation. Even without considering eugenics, the issue of overpopulation bears testament to the fact that personal procreation affects everyone. The Urantia Book offers a perspective on the subject of human rights and how this relates to eugenics and overpopulation.
Nature confers no rights on man, only life and a world in which to live it. Nature does not even confer the right to live, as might be deduced by considering what would likely happen if an unarmed man met a hungry tiger face to face in the primitive forest. Society's prime gift to man is security.
. . .
When rights are old beyond knowledge of origin, they are often called natural rights. But human rights are not really natural; they are entirely social. They are relative and ever changing, being no more than the rules of the game—recognized adjustments of relations governing the ever-changing phenomena of human competition.
What may be regarded as right in one age may not be so regarded in another. The survival of large numbers of defectives and degenerates is not because they have any natural right thus to encumber twentieth-century civilization, but simply because the society of the age, the mores, thus decrees.
Few human rights were recognized in the European Middle Ages; then every man belonged to someone else, and rights were only privileges or favors granted by state or church. And the revolt from this error was equally erroneous in that it led to the belief that all men are born equal.
The weak and the inferior have always contended for equal rights; they have always insisted that the state compel the strong and superior to supply their wants and otherwise make good those deficiencies which all too often are the natural result of their own indifference and indolence.
But this equality ideal is the child of civilization; it is not found in nature. Even culture itself demonstrates conclusively the inherent inequality of men by their very unequal capacity therefor. The sudden and nonevolutionary realization of supposed natural equality would quickly throw civilized man back to the crude usages of primitive ages. Society cannot offer equal rights to all, but it can promise to administer the varying rights of each with fairness and equity. It is the business and duty of society to provide the child of nature with a fair and peaceful opportunity to pursue self-maintenance, participate in self-perpetuation, while at the same time enjoying some measure of self-gratification, the sum of all three constituting human happiness.(1)
Here The Urantia Book distinguishes between the ethical obligation of those involved with civil government to provide a fair and peaceful opportunity to participate in self-perpetuation from the actuality thereof. It is the opportunity that needs to be ethically administered in a civil society. The foundation that supports this viewpoint is built upon teachings that are intended for service-minded individuals, people willing to temper the value of individual freedoms when such would undermine what is best for the family of humanity. What The Urantia Book has to say cannot be expected to appeal to those who prioritize self-interest over what is best for the group.
Nonetheless, neither The Urantia Book’s appeal to the best in humanity nor its assertions about humanity’s progressive destiny directly addresses valid concerns for how eugenics practices might be (mis)used. Designing a good hammer, no matter how much it may be intended for nails, can be used to hit a lot of other things as well and it is altogether reasonable to bring up such potential problems.
History is filled with examples of how well intentioned efforts have sometimes produced terrible results. History also reveals that none of these problems ever occurred with a culture that identified itself with the teachings of The Urantia Book. The suggestion that in the future The Urantia Book might add fuel to such misdirected individuals or groups is purely speculative, disregards what the book actually teaches, and reflects cynicism about the human potential for progress. Conceivably, this text might be misused in spite of what it teaches. But the much more likely outcome is that The Urantia Book will help put an end to coercive violence and wars motivated by racial bigotry. This is, after all, what it is designed to do, at least in part.
The Urantia Book is an extraordinary text because it comprehensively and in plain modern language addresses spirituality, cosmology, history, science, and philosophy AND ALSO uniquely exhibits an emerging quality of credibility with respect to its history. There simply is no other text like this one; nothing even comes close. Therefore, the presumption that the explicit teachings of The Urantia Book will be used for racially bigoted agendas carried out violently, coercively, or in some other objectionable manner is not only baseless but also radically cynical . . . except for one potential problem.
“Evil” is being strategic when it associates itself with the “good.” In a political context, the classic example of this truism is the role of the provocateur. Therefore, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that some misguided individuals would want to associate themselves with The Urantia Book in order to discredit it. Such is life. The authors of The Urantia Book did what they could to minimize the opportunity for and effects of this type of abuse.
The one place that the word eugenics is found in The Urantia Book reveals:
1) the authors use this word in a manner consistent with its original use and current dictionary definition,
2) they contextualize eugenics issues—along with ethics, sociology, philosophy, the fine arts, religion, and cosmology—as a noble pursuit that not only is socially valuable but also is directly related to the wellbeing of our souls, and
3) they admonish us that eugenics issues are not an excuse for “prejudice, hate, fears, resentments, revenge, and bigotries” or “oppression, war, and destruction.”
The authors of The Urantia Book indicate an obvious interest in making sure that this text cannot be easily manipulated to support “prejudice, hate, fears, resentments, revenge, and bigotries,” and “oppression, war, and destruction.” If people try to use it that way anyway, this is a reflection on them, not The Urantia Book or its adherents.
1) Urantia Book 70:9.1,2-7
Table of Contents
Part I: Framing the Conversation
1) Purpose and Parameters
2) Setting the Standard
4) Human Rights
Part II: Racial History, Eugenics, and Civilization
5) History and Destiny
6) The Value of Variety and Racial Vitality
7) Cultural Progress, Overpopulation, and Subnormal Human Beings
8) Modern Peoples and Slavery
Part III: Hindsight, Insight, and Foresight
9) Skull Shapes and Skeletal Types
10) Aryans and Whites
11) Differences Between the Colored Races
12) Racial Blending
13) Eugenics, Race, and Morality
Appendix 1: Urantia Book-based Taxonomy
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