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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Do You See The Glory? By John Piper

For fifteen minutes we were impressed and delighted by the bigness, beauty, and power of man-made light. . . . It gave us a sense of wonder. About ten minutes into the display, . . . I suddenly noticed a white light behind the trees to the southwest. What’s that? I thought. A second later I could tell it was the moon. It was very large and looked full. It was politely waiting its turn.

The moon was in no hurry to be noticed. It had been there before (Adam, Abraham, and Jesus looked on this same moon); and it would be there again when all the glitz was gone. It was quietly rising at its own pace, irresistibly and without human help. Yet hardly anyone was noticing.

So it is with the glory of God and the glitz of sin. We are more amazed at sin, and we ignore the glory of God. This is truly amazing.

The moon rises about 240,000 miles above the earth, which means it soars about 500,000 times higher than the highest fireworks. . . . The moon is 2160 miles in diameter (from San Francisco to Cleveland). . . . It has mountain ranges with peaks as high as Mount Everest. . . .

The power of the moon is unimaginable. Nothing on earth that man has ever made can compare. Every day the moon takes the oceans of the earth and lifts them quietly – millions upon millions upon millions of tons of water quietly and irresistibly lifted into the air. . . .

But who sees the moon? Who stands in awe of the moon? Who looks at the moon on Independence Night when there are man-made fireworks to watch? Who notices the really great things in life? No wonder we are oblivious to the glory of God when there are such clear parables of our blindness built into everyday experience. . . .

Read your emotional barometer. Do the amazements and delights of your life correspond to God’s reality? Or do they rise and fall on the passing waves of human glitz?

(A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life, pp. 235-36, John Piper)

Methodists Apologize For Support Of Eugenics

“The United Methodist General Conference formally apologizes for Methodist leaders and Methodist bodies who in the past supported eugenics as sound science and sound theology. We lament the ways eugenics was used to justify the sterilization of persons deemed less worthy. We lament that Methodist support of eugenics policies was used to keep persons of different races from marrying and forming legally recognized families. We are especially grieved that the politics of eugenics led to the extermination of millions of people by the Nazi government and continues today as ‘ethnic cleansing’ around the world.”

At a recent meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, the quadrennial international convention of the Methodist Church adopted a resolution deploring the legacy of Darwinian eugenics and its extreme expression in the crimes of Adolf Hitler. The belief that gene traits are good or bad is associated mostly with the eugenics policies of Adolf Hitler, which resulted in the Holocaust. In his book, From Darwin to Hitler, Richard Weikart explains the impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality in the twentieth century. Many leading German Darwinian biologists and social thinkers believed that Darwinism had overturned traditional Judeo-Christian ethics. The sacredness of human life was proven false. Many were moral relativists, yet – at the same time – they preached evolution as the highest arbiter of morality. Darwinism encouraged the rise of eugenics, euthanasia, abortion, and racial extermination as accepted scientific and social policy by the Nazis. Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles.

The study of eugenics was first promoted by Sir Francis Galton, in England. Galton took Darwin’s theories and applied them to the human population. According to Galton:

“If a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create! We might introduce prophets and high priests of civilization into the world, as surely as we can propagate idiots by mating cretins. Men and women of the present day are, to those we might hope to bring into existence, what the pariah dogs of the streets of an Eastern town are to our own highly-bred varieties.

Galton described Africans and Native Americans in derogatory terms making it clear which racial group he thought was superior. Natural selection is a competition between the strong and the weak, between the fit and the unfit. The eugenicists believed that this mechanism was thwarted in the human race by charity and by churches who fed the poor and the weak so that they survived and reproduced.

Church advocates of eugenics supported positive eugenics-essentially careful selection of mates. Sterilization, however, became an acceptable kind of eugenics along with marriage laws limiting marriage between whites and non-whites. Indiana passed the first forced sterilization law in 1907. Most used Harry Laughlin’s model law that provided for the sterilization of “feeble minded, insane, criminalistic, epileptic, diseased, blind, deaf, deformed, and dependent” including “orphans, ne’er do wells, tramps, homeless, and paupers.” Virginia passed a 1924 sterilization law based on the Laughlin model. Justifying involuntary sterilization, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes argued that “three generations of imbeciles is enough.”

Thirty-three US States passed laws authorizing sterilization. Sterilization of the allegedly mentally ill continued into the 1970s in several states. Around 60,000 Americans were involuntarily sterilized. In 1933, Hitler’s Nazi government used Laughlin’s Model Law as the basis for their sterilization law that led to the sterilization of some 350,000 people.

State sponsored Eugenics reached the extreme in the Nazi extermination camps. Eugenics policies in Germany were directed at people with similar health or social problems as were targeted by the U.S. sterilization laws. Hitler, however, expanded the policies to cover entire populations-Jews, Gypsies, Poles-all judged by the Nazi regime as “worthless lives”.

Modern eugenics is not so much the negative eugenics of state coercion, but is a form of eugenics made possible by biotechnology sciences, such as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. Parents, not the state, are the new eugenicists. Parents are now being confronted with choices about which children they should have based on an incomplete understanding of the science. The United Methodist General Conference reminds us to be cautious in trying to perfect humanity through the manipulation of so-called good and bad genes. The results can be horrifying.

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.” (The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin)

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