I received a lengthy response to my May 4, 2009 Blog article, “Penguins, Dog Vomit, and Human Sexuality.” Instead of the usual name-calling, foul language, unprintable comments, and just plain vileness, the emailer’s response was measured and thoughtful. I suspect that many people would be convinced by some of his argumentation because they are not in the habit of thinking arguments through. To be fair, I am including the content of his entire email. My comments follow in bold after each of his response sections:
Emailer: First of all, your depiction of the moral implications of the book Biological Exuberance was false. The implications of homosexuality in the animal kingdom are not that homosexuality is moral. You are correct in your assertion that that line of reasoning is false. However, the real knowledge that we are able to glean from these findings is that homosexuality is instinctual. This is important because since some animals exhibit homosexual behavior, and that animals are incapable of rational thought, therefore homosexual behavior is not the result of a conscious choice. Rather, homosexual creatures of any species are sexually drawn to members of the same gender by a deeper, instinctual drive, much in the same way that you and I are drawn to women. Obviously, this development has great implications to your Christian compatriots that run camps and programs to ‘turn gays straight.’ If there is no decision toward homosexuality, then there is no possibility to change their minds. The line of reasoning that you put forth is a straw man.
Gary: If you reread my article you will note that my comments regarding the book Biological Exuberance is how homosexual advocates use the claim that “The world is, indeed, teeming with homosexual, bisexual and transgendered creatures of every stripe and feather” to justify homosexuality on biological and moral grounds. My first operating premise is that animals and humans are different. Evolutionists cannot make this claim. We are all animals. As I pointed out in the article, once a person claims that homosexuality is thought to be instinctual or genetic, the behavior seems to get a moral pass. But we don’t do this with other behaviors and conditions that are said to have genetic causes or evolutionary beginnings (e.g., rape and aggression). Even when certain conditions or diseases are said to have genetic causes, this does not stop scientists from finding ways to combat them (e.g., obesity and cancer). I doubt that we would codify into law those who have an instinctual desire to rape women if it could be proved that the action is not rational or the result of a conscious choice but “a deeper, instinctual drive.” Moral distinctions on such behaviors need a standard, and the animal world is not the moral pou sto for such a standard. The question remains whether something that is said to be instinctual is morally justified just because it happens. Even in animals, such behavior may be out of character for that species, that is, attraction at a same-sex level. Because such behavior occurs does not mean that it is either normative or acceptable.
Emailer: Second—and I realize that this is not central to your argument—the animal behaviors you listed from the Bible are valid behaviors that enhance the fitness of those animals. I suspect that, given your language in the article, you do not believe in evolution. Therefore, if you wish, we can say that your God made it that way because it helps the animals survive. First, the vomiting dog. If an animal needs to run quickly, it is detrimental to have a stomach full of food weighing it down. Because of this, it is beneficial to the running dog to quickly vomit and lighten itself. This is widely seen in birds, some of which are unable to fly with the weight of a full stomach. It is also seen in humans, just imagine how you would feel if you had to run a mile right after thanksgiving dinner! Of course, this vomiting behavior is wasteful of the food that the dog worked so hard to hunt down and kill. Therefore, it is advantageous for the dog to, after the danger has passed, return to the vomit and eat what can be salvaged. Second, the dirty cow. As you may or may not know, horse flies are painful nuisances to almost all animals. You only have to be bitten by one once to know why an animal would want to avoid them. Dust and mud make it harder for the flies to bite the cows, since the fly’s mouth parts would get clogged with dirt. Furthermore, soil offers some protection against the heat of the sun (and harmful UV rays). Because of this, many animals intentionally sully themselves to avoid flies and overheating. Not only do cows do this, but pigs wallow in mud and elephants take ‘dust baths.’
Gary: Once again, since you point out that I do not believe that humans evolved from animals, I make certain moral distinctions between humans and animals. Something that benefits an animal for survival, for example, a mother eagle starving one of its chicks, cannibalizing it, and feeding it to the surviving stronger chick, has no human moral equivalency in law (abortion may be the exception). Your description of a survival mechanism in animals is not vomiting but regurgitation. Birds are the masters of regurgitation. I doubt that after vomiting up my Thanksgiving dinner, for whatever purpose, that I would go back and attempt to eat it again. I suspect that if this type of behavior were common in your children that you would seek out professional help for them. I’ve owned a number of dogs. They’ll eat their own vomit and the feces of other animals when there is no threat to survival. Dogs will eat their own vomit when the condition is caused by some sickness. These traits may be legitimate for animals, but as God points out, we humans are not animals. It’s interesting that the Bible instructs us to avoid certain types of animal behavior (Ps. 32:9; Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22 ) and to imitate others (Pr. 6:6). Humans, instead of rolling in mud, make clothes and invent nets, screen doors, and bug killers. Instead of consuming food to regurgitate it at the dinner table, we develop methods of transportation, preservation, and storage. Humans and animals are different.
Emailer: Third, I feel that your equation of homosexuality with aggression, disruptive behavior, compulsive gambling, racism, and rape is a false one. There is a fundamental difference in these behaviors that makes it ethical to practice homosexuality and unethical to do the other things you mentioned. Homosexuality is not harmful to others, while the other behaviors are. Say what you will about such intangible things as ‘America’s moral fiber’ and ‘the will of God,’ the truth is that the private practice of homosexuality does not harm you, or anyone else, in any meaningful way.
Gary: Poking your eye with a stick is not harmful to others. Neither is suicide or lopping off an ear. If one of your children was involved in self-mutilation, would you conclude that since her behavior is not harmful to others that her behavior cannot be evaluated either morally or rationally? If she argued that she was doing it “privately” change your opinion of it? Armin Meiwes (b. 1962) trawled the internet looking for people who shared his ideas of consensual and private cannibalism. “He spoke to more than two hundred of them on chatlines, and several came to visit after he posted the ad: ‘gay male seeks hunks 18–30 to slaughter.’ Some allowed him to hoist them up on the hook and mark up the choicest cuts on their bodies with a pen.” Again, all was done privately and consensually. It wasn’t too long before Meiwes found someone who was willing to participate fully. His name was Bernd-Jurgen Brandes. Both men were homosexuals. After Brandes had willingly “consumed twenty sleeping tablets and a half bottle of schnapps to dull the expected pain, Meiwes removed his new friend’s penis and testicles with a kitchen knife.” He fired them up in a pan, opened a bottle of wine, and “the two men then ate as much of the sautéed flesh as they could manage, washing it down with the wine.” Still not dead, “Brandes gave Meiwes permission to hang him up and finish him off. Meiwes did so, stabbing him several times. He then cut the fresh corpse into meal-size portions and stacked them—neatly wrapped and labeled—in his freezer.” Note the following: “Meiwes was only too willing to admit the killing and eating. Both had been at the victim’s request, he told the authorities, and he had the video evidence to prove it.”
Let’s apply your above argument to cannibalism: “Say what you will about such intangible things as ‘America’s moral fiber’ and ‘the will of God,’ the truth is that the private practice of cannibalism does not harm you, or anyone else, in any meaningful way.” Take the “will of God” out of the occasion, cannibalism becomes just another lifestyle choice. Homosexuals are not arguing only for the private practice of homosexuality; they are arguing for dramatic changes that will affect education, business, law, and politics. Notice what happened to Carrie Prejean in the Miss USA pageant when she expressed her opinion on one aspect of the homosexual agenda.
Emailer: I agree with you and Rose Sayer in the assertion that nature is something that we must all overcome in order to realize our potential as humans. However, I would like you to consider an alternate application of this principle. There was a psychological study done in which heterosexual men that reported themselves as uncomfortable with homosexuality were shown videos of homosexual behavior of varying degrees (holding hands, kissing, all the way up to sex). As they watched, these men were hooked up to a monitoring device that showed which parts of the brain were being activated. As it happens, homophobia is centered in a part of the brain called the amygdala. This is located way down near the brain stem, which is the part of the brain that we share with almost all other animals. The amygdala is a major part of the limbic system, which controls emotions and urges. It is associated with many of the more primal feelings, including hunger, the so-called ‘fight or flight’ response, and sexual urges. Therefore, your distaste for homosexuality—much like homosexuality itself—is not borne out of a reasoned decision, but rather a deeply seated subconscious urge. Just as we may have the urge to attack those that make us angry and eat ice cream until we vomit, we heterosexuals also have a natural discomfort with homosexuality. Furthermore, just as it our responsibility as civilized humans to overcome our base desires for murder and gluttony, it is also our duty to overcome our discomfort toward gays.
Gary: My “distaste” for homosexual behavior is borne out of reason and, yes, “the will of God.” Men and women are built to engage sexually. The equipment of both sexes fits quite well. They were created for each other. There is empirical feedback in that such sexual encounters result in children. (Of course, there are exceptions. In these cases, many childless couples will go to extraordinary measures to conceive. Homosexual “couples” must depend on heterosexual sex to adopt.) One man sticking his penis in the rectum of another man does not come off as rational behavior and comparable to heterosexual behavior. Comparing an aversion to anal coitus to being angry with someone who makes us angry or eating ice cream until we vomit is irrational. When a man gives birth to a child through his anus, email me again, and I’ll change my views on the rational question. You are begging the question with this one: “Furthermore, just as it our responsibility as civilized humans to overcome our base desires for murder and gluttony, it is also our duty to overcome our discomfort toward gays.” You are assuming what you have not proved either empirically, rationally, or morally. Citing a “psychological study” is not proof especially when moral certitude is claimed. Science can only report results; it cannot make moral determinations. Sometimes it’s proper to be angry. Even the Bible states that it is morally permissible to be “angry” as long as it does not fester to the point of sin (Eph. 4:26). I could cite a list of things that deserve our anger and action. There might a very good reason why an aversion to homosexuality is “located way down near the brain stem.” It’s purposefully instinctual , and it takes a great deal of reconditioning by the media, homosexual groups, educators, psychologists, and politicians to bury it even deeper.
Emailer: This also raises an interesting point. You would most likely submit that you are distasteful of homosexuality because it’s God’s will. However, these findings would suggest that it is the other way around. Perhaps you sought out and found a God that validated your homophobia? Just something to think about.
Gary: Maybe homosexuals are looking for a god to justify their homosexual behavior or to deny Him altogether to justify any and all behavior. The atheist Aldous Huxley acknowledged that he had reasons for “not wanting the world to have a meaning.” He contended that the “philosophy of meaningless” was liberating. He confessed that the morality of theism interfered “with our sexual freedom.”In another place, he wrote: “The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves.”Just something to think about.
1 The information for the Meiwes–Brandes consensual and private cannibalism story is taken from Nathan Constantine, A History of Cannibalism: From Ancient Cultures to Survival Stories and Modern Psychopaths (Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc., 2006), 188–191.
2 Aldous Huxley, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspectives on the News, vol. 3 (June 1966), 19.
3 Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937), 269–273.
Article posted May 11, 2009