Monday, March 19, 2007

Genetics and Gays?

First, I don't recall where, but there seems to have been some articles indicating a weak correlation between homosexual behavior and genetics. This brings up a number of classical ethics issues, but some people seem to think that this is a new novelty that negates all of traditional Christian reasoning. So here are my observations:

The idea of a genetic link to behavior - and also intelligence - is nothing new. This field reached a zenith a few decades back under the name of "eugenics" and derives from Darwinism. If God didn't create man, then man certainly didn't evolve equally, and the practitioners sought to quantify this inequality. Even the Darwinists have backed away from this field for the reason that what ever scientific insights may have been obtained were more than negated by the abuses of the theory in the hands of idealogues of the atheist, agnostic or new-age sort. GBLT supporters, are you paying attention?

The novelty seems to be of the form: Mr. T has a genetically inherited tendency to homosexual behavior, therefore, this behavior was given to him by God, therefore, God must approve of homosexuality. Of course, if we substitute homosexual with homocidal, then the argument no longer seems as compelling. The fact is that a temptation to sin is inherited, but the choice is mine. Are God's judgments based on the temptations we received or the choices we made?

There is nothing new under the sun.


Bunc said...

Hi Loony,
Obviously biology was not your strong subject at school. First of all Eugenics is absolutely not "the idea of a genetic link to behaviour".

A simple Wikepedia search wouuld have given you a very good definition

"Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention.[1] The purported goals have variously been to create healthier, more intelligent people, save society's resources, and lessen human suffering."
Note the distinction - Eugenics is a Social Philosphy and nothing to do with any scientific theory about the link between behaviour and hereditable factors (genetics).

You dont exactly state this but you kind of imply that there is some doubt between the link between behaviour in animals ( including humans) and genetics. This is well established scientifically. What isnt well established is the link between a particular set of complex behaviours in higher order animals (including humans)and genetics. In other words with higher order animals the view tends to be that while genetic factors may give a pre-disposition or a tendancy to certain forms of behaviour the actual behaviour observed is also influenced by non genetic factors ( eg simplistically - as a human I can decide not to follow my instincts).
As far as Homosexuality is concerned I think the jury is still out. Some studies seem to show a degree of evidence for a genetic link but there also seems to be evidence that upbringing, belief, choice and other factors influence ar eat work.

Your analogy with murderers is in one sense a bit extreme but has some relevance. An individual may be born with a genetic inheritance that predisposes them to be more agggressive than others and to have say a lower threshold for violence. Thids doesnt mean all such individuals end up being murderers because upbringing, choice etc all come into play to moderate the genetic disposition.

Where your analogy breaks down of course is that Homosexuality is not a social evil in the way that murder is. (I suspect that you think it is).

As for God - sorry but you lost me there as I am an atheist and to me all that is just medieval mumbo jumbo.

Looney said...

Bunc, regarding " ...First of all Eugenics is absolutely not "the idea of a genetic link to behaviour". ..."

A quick google search with the keywords "eugenics" and "behavior" turns up 698,000 hits. Behavior and intelligence are the core of the subject.

Next, the roots and founders of Eugenics (e.g. Karl Pehrson) were the scientists of the earlier era. This "social philosophy" derives straight from what would have been labeled "science".

As for the link between behavior and inheritance, this was known to Moses.

But thanks for the remarks.

Windy said...

A quick google search with the keywords "eugenics" and "behavior" turns up 698,000 hits. Behavior and intelligence are the core of the subject.

"Christian" and "eugenics" turns up 847,000, so that must mean an even stronger connection, right? Sheesh...

Looney said...

Windy, that was excellent!

So let's look at what Google turned up:

Eugenics+behavior gives:

"Eugenics: A Reassessment (Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence)" on Amazon at a pricepoint that implies college textbook.

Eugenics+Christian gives:

"Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement".

To find evidence of Christian Eugenics, they quote a Union Seminary professor. Union Seminary is famous for Darwin quoting, spiritually inclined agnostics and atheists. The other examples were equally problematic.

So again, behavior and eugenics are associated by serious proponents of eugenics. Eugenics and Christianity are associated by junk scholarship done by people with an agenda.

Bunc said...

Hi Loony,
sorry you couldnt find an about button on my home page - were you looking for a profile?

Anyway I know we maybe dont agree but thanks for dropping by.
As to eugencis and behaviour I think Windy has given you a really good answer on this. Just for a bit of fun I Googled for Christian + Idiots and guess what? 1,320,000 hits. So I guess that proves that christianity is the cause of idiocy then eh? (Sorry I am not trying to be personal just trying to prove a point). An elementary science education teaches that correlation does not necessarily prove causation ( although I find myself persuaded by the christianity idiocy google correlation).
I bet you couuld find a good google correlation with atheist - i'll check by later and see what you have found!

Bunc said...

Hi loony, just a thought on reading my last posted comment- try atheist + spelling!

Looney said...

Bunc, we can always reduce this to scoffing, but that won't be particularly enlightening. As you can see from the searches, there is enough of this on the web already.