The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

If Animals Do it, It Must be Right

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I saw the following on a Facebook post:

"Who the hell CHOOSES to make their lives more difficult by going against what a majority consider "the norm"? People are genetically disposed to being gay. Further, there is homosexuality among animals. Are they choosing to be gay? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

Here was my short answer:

"Who the hell CHOOSES to make their lives more difficult...?" Why do people smoke cigarettes with warnings that they'll get cancer and heart disease? Why do people take drugs? Drink to excess? Eat to excess? Sabotage careers and relationships? Commit crimes when in all likelihood they'll be punished?

Also, dogs eat their own excrement, some animals eat their young, and rape is a common practice among animals. Should we normalize such behavior for humans?

To add some meat to the bone, I've put together the following longer answer to the claim that since animals do something humans are perfectly suited to do the same things.

Homosexuals have been able to convince many Americans that homosexual behavior is normal by using some bad logic. Since most public schools do not teach students how to think, it’s no wonder they fall for fallacious arguments. Homosexuals have also been adept at using pop culture to their advantage, placing homosexual characters in non-stereotypical roles.

Then there is the normalization of homosexuality for children. For example, And Tango Makes Three [1] is an illustrated children’s book about two male penguins that raise a baby penguin. It’s based on a true story of two male penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo that “adopt” a fertilized egg and raise the chick as their own. Some concerned parents see the book as a homosexual propaganda piece and want it removed from the library’s regular shelves. A parent would have to consent before his or her child could check out the book. There’s no doubt that the book is being pushed as a homosexual primer to soften up young minds for the more scholarly propaganda that will come later.

In Biological Exuberance the author Bruce Bagemihl claims, “The world is, indeed, teeming with homosexual, bisexual and transgendered creatures of every stripe and feather…. From the Southeastern Blueberry Bee of the United States to more than 130 different bird species worldwide, the ‘birds and the bees,’ literally, are queer.” The world is teeming with all kinds of behavers. By what standard is a behavior moral?

Here’s the premise: Whatever animals do in nature is natural. What’s natural is normal. What’s normal is moral. So, if penguins engage in homosexual behavior, then that behavior must be natural, normal, and moral. How can we mere mortals impose our rules of sexual behavior on what’s natural in the animal kingdom?

Homosexuals extrapolate that what animals do naturally in nature applies to what higher “animals” can do naturally without any moral judgments attached. But the lower animal/higher animal model breaks down when other so-called natural behaviors in animals are considered. For example, the Bible states, “It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT’ [Prov. 26:11] and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire’” (2 Pet. 2:22). It’s unlikely that animals can be used as moral examples when compared with human behavior. Gregory Koukl makes the following points:

It’s not unusual, for example, to see male dogs mount each other in an erotic way. There are two problems with this view, however.

[T]he observation is flawed because it assumes that erotic behavior in other mammals is the same as homosexual desire in human beings. Male homosexuals engage in sodomy because of an attraction to a gender. They are male erotic, and sodomy is an expression of that desire.

Does the animal kingdom display this kind of same-gender eroticism? When a male dog mounts another male dog, is it because he’s attracted to the male gender of the other dog? I don’t think so. This same poor pooch will slavishly mount sofas or shrubs or anything else available, including the leg of your dinner guest. None of these things are the object of the canine’s sexual lust; they are merely the subject of it. The dog does not desire your unfortunate visitor. He simply desires to be stimulated.  It doesn’t prove they have homosexual desire in any way parallel with humans. [2]

Consider the case of Timothy Treadwell depicted in the movie Grizzly Man. He lived among bears for 13 years and thought of them as his “family.” In 2003, Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard, were mauled and mostly eaten by one of the Alaskan grizzlies he considered to be “All in the Family.” While he thought of the bears as his brothers and sisters, the bears thought of him as lunch.

Chimpanzees are said to share 97 percent of human DNA. Does this mean that humans can kill and eat other human beings? If chimpanzees can do it without moral and legal repercussions, then why not their closest relatives?

Then there’s the case of Armin Meiwes who killed and ate 43-year-old Bernd-Jurgen Brandes. [3] What did Mr. Meiwes do that was wrong given the premise that animal behavior is a normative model for human behavior? [4] If the bears that ate Treadwell were only doing what came naturally, then how can the cannibal nature of Meiwes be judged as abnormal given evolutionary assumptions?

A few years ago, I saw an advertisement for a television special on Turner Network Television— “The Trials of Life.” The full-page advertisement showed a composite picture of six animals, one of which was the bald eagle, with the following caption: “Discover how similar the face of nature is to yours. The way you love, the way you fight, the way you grow, all have their roots in the kingdom we all live in: the animal kingdom.” The implication here is obvious: Humans are only an evolutionary step away from other animals. In biblical terms, men and women are not animals. God did not create Adam out of another pre-existing animal.

While channel surfing, I came across the second installment of the six-part series of “The Trials of Life.” With two eaglets in the nest and not enough food to go around, mamma eagle allows the weakest eaglet to die. She then cannibalizes it and feeds it to the survivor. Was this natural or unnatural? Is this moral animal behavior that we should emulate? How do we know? Should we follow the example of the eagles or just the homosexual penguins?

We mustn’t forget other “natural” animal behaviors. Animals rape on a regular basis. Should we make the leap that sexual libertines want to make regarding penguins? If homosexual behavior in penguins is a template for human sexuality, then why can’t a similar case be made for rape among humans? As hard as it might be to believe, the connection has been made. Randy Thornhill, a biologist, and Craig T. Palmer, an anthropologist, attempt to demonstrate in their book A Natural History of Rape [5] (also see here) that evolutionary principles explain rape as a “genetically developed strategy sustained over generations of human life because it is a kind of sexual selection — a successful reproductive strategy.”

They go on to claim, however, that even though rape can be explained genetically in evolutionary terms, this does not make the behavior morally right. Of course, given Darwinian assumptions, there is no way to condemn rape on moral grounds. The same could be said for homosexual behavior, and everything else. If we are truly the products of evolution, then there can be no moral judgments about anything.

So then, if homosexuals want to use penguins, and animals in general, as their moral models, then they need to take all animal behavior into consideration when they build their moral worldview. If we should follow the animal world regarding homosexual penguins and thereby regard human homosexual behavior as normal, then we must be consistent and follow the animal world regarding rape, eating our young, and eating our neighbors and thereby decriminalize these behaviors as well.

Even fallen human nature is not an impeachable moral standard. As Katherine Hepburn's character in the 1951 film The African Queen tells Humphrey Bogart's character who accounts for his drunkenness as "human nature," she responds, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”

  1. Cristina Cardoze, “They’re in love. They’re gay. They’re penguins.... And they’re not alone” (June 6, 2006).[]
  2. Gregory Koukl, “Just Doing What Comes Naturally: Mother Nature’s Way.”[]
  3. German cannibal tells of fantasy,” BBC News (December 3, 2003).[]
  4. Theodore Dalrymple, “The Case for Cannibalism” (January 5, 2005). For a more detail telling of the story, see Nathan Constantine, “A German Revival,” A History of Cannibalism: From Ancient Cultures to Survival Stories and Modern Psychopaths (Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, 2006), 186–191.[]
  5. Randy Thornhill, and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000).[]
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