Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gay animals 'come out' in Oslo exhibition

Gay animals 'come out' in Oslo exhibition, ABC, October 28, 2006. ...

Graphic: King penguins display at the "Against Nature?" exhibition, ABC.

Breaking what is taboo for some, the Oslo Natural History Museum is currently showing an exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Organisers say it is the first of its kind in the world. "As homosexual people are often confronted with the argument that their way of living is against the principles of nature, we thought that ... as a scientific institution, we could at least show that this is not true," exhibition organiser Geir Soeli tells AFP. Well, one of the key "principles of nature" is that "homosexual people" (and animals) exist only because of non-"homosexual people" (and animals)!

"You can think whatever you want about homosexuals but you cannot use that argument because it is very natural, it's very common in animal kingdom," Mr Soeli adds. Just because something is "natural" does not make it right. That is the "naturalistic fallacy," i.e. "when what `ought to be' is derived from what `is' ... which reduces the question of values to that of facts." On that basis one could argue that paedophilia, rape and murder is "natural" and therefore morally permissible. The naturalistic fallacy is especially fallacious from a Christian perspective in that the Bible teaches that nature itself ("the earth") has become "corrupt in God's sight" as a consequence of human sin:

Genesis 6:11-13. 11Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

From beetles to swans and creatures considered to have a more macho image, such as lions and sperm whales, homosexual behaviour has been detected in 1,500 species. ' As eminent Harvard Psychology Professor Emeritus Jerome Kagan points out, "Anyone with a modest knowledge of animal behavior and only minimal inferential skill can find examples of animal behavior to support almost any ethical message desired" including "If you are certain that men should dominate harems of beautiful women, point to elephant seals .... Nature has enough diversity to fit almost any ethical taste":

"A rash of books published over the last twenty years has claimed-directly or indirectly-that human selfishness is to be expected, given our evolutionary history. After pointing to examples of selfish behavior in a variety of animal species, the writers imply (as if describing the animal behaviors were sufficient) that because self-interested behavior is seen throughout nature perhaps humans need not feel so ashamed of their narcissism and greed. ... The flaws in this argument are obvious. Anyone with a modest knowledge of animal behavior and only minimal inferential skill can find examples of animal behavior to support almost any ethical message desired. Those who wish to sanctify the institution of marriage can point to the pair bonding of gibbons; those who think infidelity is more natural can point to chimpanzees. If you believe that people are naturally sociable, point to baboons; if you think they are solitary, point to orangutans. If you believe sex should replace fighting, point to bonobo chimpanzees. If you want mothers to care for infants, point to rhesus monkeys; if you prefer the father to be the primary caretaker, point to titi monkeys. If you believe that surrogate care is closer to nature, point to lionesses. If you are certain that men should dominate harems of beautiful women, point to elephant seals; if you believe women should be in positions of dominance, point to elephants. Nature has enough diversity to fit almost any ethical taste." (Kagan, J., "Three Seductive Ideas," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1998, p.188)

... The exhibition, entitled "Against Nature?", displays examples of this behaviour in pictures and models. In one image, two female adult bonobo chimpanzees are having sex, oblivious to a young male who is attempting to join in. These peaceful primates - with whom humans shares 99 per cent of their genetic make-up - use sex as a stress reliever, regardless of age and gender barriers. And maybe that is why "Bonobos ... are the most threatened of the Great Apes. From some 100,000 in 1980, they are now thought to number less than 10,000. They are only found in the forests of central Democratic Republic of Congo" (BBC); whereas of humans, "As of late 2006, the world population reached 6.7 billion" (Wikipedia. My emphasis)! In The Australian, after saying that "Bonobos are bisexuals, all of them" Soeli admits that "it is unclear why homosexuality survives since it seems a genetic dead-end"! So it just shows yet again how absurd is the worldview of those who hold up the Bonobo as an example for humans to emulate!

Be it a one-off, occasional or seasonal, homosexual and bisexual contact in the animal kingdom serves different purposes. Big horn sheep "need to have sex with their own fellows just to be accepted. And by being accepted they are making up very important social relations which later give them better access to females," says Mr Soeli. Among swans and flamingos there have been cases of two females living together using sexual contact with males purely to reproduce. "One of them might have a small affair with a male, have her eggs fertilised, and the two females bring up the young birds together just as a family," adds Mr Soeli. It has been reported that in certain bird species males double up, allowing them to control a larger territory than a heterosexual couple, which in turn serves to attract more females.

The point is the same simplistic argument that: 1) humans are animals; 2) some animals exhibit homosexual behaviour; 3) therefore it is morally permissible for humans to exhibit homosexual behaviour; could be (and have been) applied by some evolutionary psychologists to rape because "forced copulation" occurs in "Flies and ducks":

"Thornhill and Palmer employ three lines of evidence to support the direct-selection hypothesis. First, they maintain that rape occurs as an adaptive phenomenon in other species, and thus could have evolved by the same route in humans. In scorpion flies, Thornhill's own research organism, males have an abdominal clamp that apparently evolved to help them forcibly restrain females who resist their courtship. Several other species also seem to show forced copulation, although whether it increases the male's reproduction is not known. But surely it is absurd to assume that rape may be a reproductive strategy in humans because it is a reproductive strategy in flies or ducks. Flies and ducks do not create, and live in, a culture, as humans do; and human culture guarantees that there will be many meaningless parallels between the behavior of humans and of other species. Like dandelion seeds, we parachute, but we do so for recreational reasons, not for reproductive reasons. The simple-minded extrapolation from a handful of animal species is no proof that human rape is a direct adaptation." (Coyne, J.A., "The fairy tales of evolutionary psychology." Review of "A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion," by Randy Thornhill & Craig T. Palmer, MIT Press, 2000. The New Republic, March 4, 2000)

While the images displayed at the Natural History Museum wash over passing school children, the exhibition has sparked consternation in conservative Christians. A Lutheran priest said he hoped the organisers would "burn in hell," and a Pentecostal priest lashed out at the exhibition, saying taxpayers' money used for it would have been better spent helping the animals correct "their perversions and deviances". ...

If Christianity is true (which it is) then it is the Lutheran priest who was right, but not just for the organisers of this exhibition, because in what must be the ultimate "inconvenient truth," Jesus Himself (who was and is God in human form - Mat 1:23; Jn 1:1,14; 8:58-59; 10:32-33; 20:27-28; Acts 20:28; Php 2:5-6, Col 2:9; Rom 9:5; Tit 2:13; etc), taught that those who reject His atoning death for their sin will, as this priest put it, "burn in hell" (Mat 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; 25:41-46; Lk 16:23, etc), although Jesus also taught that there were degrees of judgment (Mat. 11:20-24). And those who put on such an animal exhibition to teach "passing school children" that a "homosexual ... way of living" for humans is morally normative, will be required to give an account to God for their particular actions (Mat 16:27; Rom 2:6; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:12, etc), as the Bible (both Old and New Testament) makes it quite clear that human homosexual practices are particularly detestable in God's sight (Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9).

Oslo gay animal show draws crowds, BBC, 19 October 2006 ... There has been some hostility to the exhibition. An American commentator said it was an example of "propaganda invading the scientific world". Petter Bockman, a zoologist who helped put the show together, admitted that "there is a political motive". ... The "political motive" being presumably to convert others (including children) to their Epicurean hedonistic (and anti-Christian) worldview?

It is interesting, by the way, that the persistence (indeed the very existence!) of homosexuality is a major problem for (if not a falsification of) Darwinism, because if Darwin's theory of natural selection were true, then if anything should have been "rigidly destroyed" by natural selection, it would have been homosexuality:

"If variations which are useful to their possessors in the struggle for life `do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive), that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed.' This is from The Origin of Species, pp. 80-81. Exactly the same words occur in all the editions. Since this passage expresses the essential idea of natural selection, no further evidence is needed to show that [this] proposition ... is a Darwinian one. But is it true? In particular, may we really feel sure that every attribute in the least degree injurious to its possessors would be rigidly destroyed by natural selection? On the contrary, the proposition is (saving Darwin's reverence) ridiculous. Any educated person can easily think of a hundred characteristics, commonly occurring in our species, which are not only ‘in the least degree’ injurious to their possessors, but seriously or even extremely injurious to them, which have not been ‘rigidly destroyed’, and concerning which there is not the smallest evidence that they are in the process of being destroyed. ... What becomes, then, of the terrifying giant named Natural Selection, which can never sleep, can never fail to detect an attribute which is, even in the least degree, injurious to its possessors in the struggle for life, and can never fail to punish such an attribute with rigid destruction? Why, just that, like so much else in Darwinism, it is an obvious fairytale .... " (Stove, D.C., "So You Think You Are a Darwinian?," The Royal Institute of Philosophy, Philosophy, Vol. 69, 1994, pp.267-277. Emphasis original)

It is therefore interesting (and instructive) to read the following example, at the end of an article about this exhibition, of the intellectual contortions that Darwinists have to perform to try to explain "Why this behaviour might be favoured by natural selection":

All creatures great and small, The Economist, October 26, 2006. ... Why this behaviour might be favoured by natural selection, though, is a difficult question to answer. In an attempt to do so, the exhibition picks on gay flamingos. Two males raising a chick after one of them had a one-night stand (of sorts) with a female are able to hold a larger territory than male-female partnerships. This suggests a chick with two dads could get more food and therefore have a better chance of survival. But explanations are harder when gay animals (such as some humans and, apparently, some killer whales) never try to mate with the opposite sex. Theoretically, there are several possible ways homosexuality could have evolved. One is that homosexuals assist in the upbringing of their relatives so much that they pass on more of their genes this way than by having children themselves. Another suggestion assumes the genes that confer homosexuality in males are different from those that confer it in females. For the theory to work, these genes would have to confer some extra reproductive advantage to their straight carriers. This way, genes that increase the chances of one sex surviving and reproducing might not be discarded through the generations even though they inhibit making babies when they occur in the opposite sex. But testing these theories is hard, so nobody knows if they are true. Taking lessons on sexuality from the birds and the bees itself requires first accepting something not taught ubiquitously outside Norway-that evolution occurs by natural selection.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).


Genesis 8:6-12. 6After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 7and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Three points:

1) I read the ABC and Economist articles, and I can find nothing in the exhibit that was an argument for accepting homosexuality. In fact, just as you quoted, Geir Soeli said, "You can think whatever you want about homosexuals but you cannot use that argument". What they did was show that those who argue homosexuality is wrong because it violates the natural order are mistaken, because it clearly does exist in nature. They are pointing out what is wrong with a particular argument that does exist. It's similar, though not identical, to what you are doing: pointing out what is wrong with an argument that does not exist.

2)The Lutheran priest is right regardless of the validity of Christianity. He was only stating his own preference. I think he would be the supreme authority on such matters. If he says that he hopes these people burn in hell, I will take his word that this is indeed what he hopes. Even if it were true that they will burn in hell, though, I still think it reflects poorly on anyone who hopes for this fate for them.

3)Perhaps you had difficulty with the idea that a gene could cause some individuals to be less likely to reproduce, but still be preserved because of the advantage that it confers in others. This doesn't mean that it is an intellectual contortion. You just didn't follow the argument very well. Perhaps you simply read The Selfish Gene with the same inattention with which you read these two articles.


Only because it is not my intention to hide behind an anonymous comment:

Sandy Watson
skepticalsandy@yahoo.com

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

1) That "homosexuality ... does exist in nature" does not mean that it does not "violate... the natural order." Read what I said again about the "naturalistic fallacy" and that the Bible says that nature itself has become corrupt.

From a Biblical perspective a (if not *the*) primary principle of "the natural order" is God's command for all life to "Be fruitful, and multiply" (Genesis 1:22,28; 8:17; 9:1,7). And no homosexual union ever did that!

In any event, whatever arguments than can be advanced that animals do X, therefore it is OK for humans to also do X (e.g. a female spider eats her mate after sex, therefore it is OK for a human female to do it too!); as I pointed out the Bible makes it quite clear that for *humans*, homosexuality is a sin.

2) Whether this priest "*hopes* these people burn in hell" is comparatively unimportant. What is important is what I said, that *if Christianity is true*, then Jesus is God and He taught that all those who reject His sacrifice of Himself for their sins will "burn in Hell" (i.e. will be rightly punished in eternity for their sins).

For those who go out of their way to attack Christianty (as those who are staging this exhibition appear to be doing); Jesus also taught that those who attack Him (i.e. His teachings and His followers) will receive a greater punishment.

Christians who point this out are just being consistent.

I personally don't *like* the Bible's teaching on Hell (and in my nearly 40 years a Christian I have never met a Christian who does), but the bottom line for me is that if Christ was God, and He became man to suffer and die the horrific death of crucifixion to pay a price sufficient for the sin of the world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2, etc), then Hell *must* be true, and the reality behind the metaphor "burn in Hell" will likely be *worse* than not.

3) I have no "difficulty with the idea that a gene could ... be preserved because of the advantage that it confers in others" (I actually completed a biology degree in 2004 and I received distinctions in all my evolution units).

My point about "intellectual contortions" was that "if Darwin's theory of natural selection were true, then *if anything* should have been "rigidly destroyed" by natural selection, it would have been homosexuality."

That Darwinists can save their theory from falsification by circular reasoning, i.e. assuming that there *must* be some "advantage" to homosexuality because in fact it has survived, is par for their course.

The alternative explanation that natural selection is too weak to "rigidly destroy" homosexuality (amongst other things) as Darwin in all editions of his Origin of Species said it should for "any variation in the *least* degree injurious" (my emphasis) is not even considered by devout Darwinists because that would falsify their religion.

Blaming the critic (e.g. "inattention" - admittedly one of the *mildest* things I have been accused of by a Darwinist!) is also par for the Darwinian course. The theory is sacrosanct, therefore if a critic finds fault with it, then the fault *must* be the critic's!

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Sandy

Sorry, after I posted the above response addressed to "Anonymous," I remembered too late that you had signed your name.

Stephen E. Jones

forgottenape said...

"Just because something is "natural" does not make it right. That is the "naturalistic fallacy," i.e. "when what `ought to be' is derived from what `is' ... which reduces the question of values to that of facts." On that basis one could argue that paedophilia, rape and murder is "natural" and therefore morally permissible. The naturalistic fallacy is especially fallacious from a Christian perspective in that the Bible teaches that nature itself ("the earth") has become "corrupt in God's sight" as a consequence of human "

the problem is that the word "right", as you use it implies morality... right and wrong... animals have no sense of right and wrong, right and wrong are social concepts. Even if absolute morality given from on high, is a correct view of the development of morality (which is laughably absurd and most certainly incorrect considering all the studies made in sociology and psychology), when it comes down to it the Christian belief attributes morality to humans only and more importantly to the presence of a soul which is again, a human only privilage. So therefore how can it be wrong for animals to do anything... other then what they do in fact do. God made them all, anal loving sodimites, female on female masterbater and so on... they do not have a soul, cannot have free will to deny or bend from god's will or plan... so god created gay animals... they arn't a mistake, a problem, a wrong... for how could they be, everything about them was created by god, and god only, everything, completely and utterly.... even the gay ones.

Stephen E. Jones said...

forgottenape

Thanks for your comment.

>the problem is that the word "right", as you use it implies morality... right and wrong... animals have no sense of right and wrong, right and wrong are social concepts.

Agreed. But you miss my point, which was the fallacy of deriving norms of human morality from animal behaviour, i.e.:

"The ... simplistic argument that: 1) humans are animals; 2) some animals exhibit homosexual behaviour; 3) therefore it is morally permissible for humans to exhibit homosexual behaviour ..."

>Even if absolute morality given from on high, is a correct view of the development of morality (which is laughably absurd and most certainly incorrect considering all the studies made in sociology and psychology),

That depends on whether "sociology and psychology" are competent to decide questions of "absolute morality."

And it is no surprise that "sociology and psychology," which like all modern sciences are founded on the philosophy of metaphysical naturalism (i.e. nature is all there is = there is no supernatural = there is no God):

"Metaphysical naturalism ... nature is all there is, and all things supernatural (which stipulatively includes spirits and souls, non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) do not exist."

would conflict with "Christian belief" (see below) about "absolute morality."

>when it comes down to it the Christian belief attributes morality to humans only and more importantly to the presence of a soul which is again, a human only privilage.

Agreed about "morality to humans only" but disagreed that only humans have a soul, according to "Christian belief." For example, in Genesis 2:7 (KJV):

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul"

the same two Hebrew words, _chay nephesh_, translated "living soul," are used of the animals in Gn 1:21, 24 (KJV), where they are translated, " living creature":

"And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."

>So therefore how can it be wrong for animals to do anything... other then what they do in fact do. God made them all, anal loving sodimites, female on female masterbater and so on... they do not have a soul, cannot have free will to deny or bend from god's will or plan... so god created gay animals... they arn't a mistake, a problem, a wrong... for how could they be, everything about them was created by god, and god only, everything, completely and utterly.... even the gay ones.

See above on you missing my point.

Stephen