Having put out a tweet that indicated that eugenics would work to improve humans much as it has improved cows, Richard Dawkins clarified his intention with another post yesterday: ‘For those determined to miss the point, I deplore the idea of a eugenic policy. I simply said deploring it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. Just as we breed cows to yield more milk, we could breed humans to run faster or jump higher. But heaven forbid that we should do it.’ The irony of his appeal to heaven (no doubt in his mind just a figure of speech) was too great not to retweet this thread:
‘I’m sure other people have said this Professor Dawkins but you have put a lot of energy into denying that there is a ‘heaven’ to forbid anything. You have told us that there is no evil or good, only pitiless indifference. I am not saying that you yourself have no morals that you seek to live by, but you have no binding basis for them. You may think you have an explanation of some sort for them, along the lines of their evolutionary utility, but that is not a binding basis that has any power against me if I choose to go against the grain, as I can with the kind of agency that (on your terms) evolution has given me. Eugenics, on that basis, is not inherently wrong. We may not like it, we may find it repulsive, but it is not morally wrong, because there is no moral law, only personal or at best corporate preference. And of course if eugenics were clearly to ‘improve’ evolution (which I know is disputed) then it would be very hard indeed to see how you could find anything to resist it given the centrality of evolution in your account of all life on earth. It is God’s law that is ‘holy, righteous, and good’ and that gives a true and binding basis for resisting evil.