Thursday, October 9, 2014

Homosexuality, Evolution & Deviation

The last post on this blog mentioned an evolutionary “magic wand” used to explain just about anything humans do. Survival of the fittest can illuminate everything about the human condition if one tries hard enough.

An example of moral consciousness was used. Survival of the fittest seems to explain human selfishness well enough, but what about the sense of guilt we feel when we fail to help another. How can Darwinism explain a strong desire to help others or the feeling of guilt if we fail to be charitable? The answer I was given was that since humans live in communities, we evolved an instinct to take care of others in our tribe which increases the chance of our own survival. Seems natural selection conveniently explains both selfishness and self-giving in one fell swoop.
In yet another discussion on another not-so-catholic-friendly forum, the topic of homosexuality came up in terms of evolution. The conversation was sparked by me comparing homosexuality to a “deviation”. This was not a moral dialog about good vs. evil or right vs. wrong, but about facts vs. design. I work with teams of engineers and technicians and whenever a product/system concern comes up we ask a question; “Is there a deviation?” We understand the design and its natural process variation; therefore we understand when an observed variation is normal or abnormal to the design. If abnormal, we call it a deviation or non-conformance or just “a problem”.
If we observe the design of the human body in terms of sexuality and then we note the facts about homosexual sex (without going into too much detail), we can say that it is abnormal to the design or a “deviation”. It would not matter if one believes we were designed by almighty God or by almighty evolution. Homosexual sex is deviant to the design, just like any number of sexual acts that won’t be listed here (see CCC paragraph 2357). The same goes for infertility or impotency. They too can be called deviations or non-conformities without any discussion about morality or the intrinsic value of the person involved.

As you might imagine this was met with disdain. Suddenly people became “spiritual” about human sexuality, saying that we cannot reduce ourselves to a mere physical design like some kind of biological machine. We are sexual beings, and who is anybody to say what is “normal” or “abnormal”. There are only opinions; facts are unrelated or can be explained away, unless of course, the facts support a certain agenda.

Leaving observable facts & observable design aside, how can evolution explain homosexuality in terms of a species surviving and reproducing? I was given a clear answer. Having a certain homosexual percentage in the population prevents overbreeding, and thus helps the species as a whole. So there you have it and it’s certainly difficult to argue with such a firm wave of the evolutionary magic wand, not to mention the magic wand of sexual relativism.
All clear now?



  1. I'm just going to comment and say "bravo" before anyone beats me to it and possibly says the opposite.

    One thing I've noticed is that we're simultaneously taught two things: 1) that there is only the body; 2) that if the body doesn't coincide with what the mind thinks the body should be, it's the body that needs to change...which necessarily means there is NOT only the body!

    On the one hand, we're taught that real problems are corporeal problems: help the poor, the sick, the very young and the very old because their bodies aren't in the prime of health and/or they lack the material wealth necessary for a good life, but try to help them with spiritual problems and you're "judgmental", you're "trying to force them to do what you want them to do", etc. And of course, they don't recognize any such thing as sexual deviation.

    On the other, when someone identifies as a "transsexual" we're not taught that it's their mind that's disordered, so that they need therapy, but that it's their body that's wrong, as if they had a somatic malady, and so they need to pump chemicals into themselves and cut up their bodies in order to be "who they are". But this necessarily means not only that there is not just the body, but that the body is effectively disposable.

    Thank God we in the Church know that neither is true--and yet both are peddled to us simultaneously and we're not even given the opportunity to think about the fact that they contradict each other.

    God bless!

  2. Excellent piece, as always.

    As an aside, you say, 'If abnormal, we call it a deviation or non-conformance or just “a problem'. In the UK, if one uses the word 'problem' in business discourse, one instantly makes oneself a pariah. One has to use the terms, 'challenge' or 'opportunity', instead. It's clear how Harry Potter was so popular with adults. :)

    One of the most common complaints or opinions (rather than arguments) I hear is that, 'Chimpanzees perform homosexual acts, so it's normal', because, 'Of course', it's been 'proven scientifically', that 'we all evolved from apes', 'so homosexuality should be legalised'...

    However, some recent research seems to show it's also natural for chimps to murder - so let's legalise murder, too! :)

    So, if these people are so clever, it baffles me why they can't distinguish ideology from induction. In other words, why can't many graduates, and even postgraduates, see they're using the Magic Wand? Is it just wilful bloody-mindedness or intransigence - or just what Lonergan referred to as a 'scotoma', a blindspot?

    But then, I suppose as Maths and Science are the subjects where the more one uses one's faculties like a rat - the capacity to follow algorithms and procedures meticulously, rather than think 'outside the box' - the better one is at it, and so 'naturally' credibility, rather than reasoning, seems to become the test of truth, eh?

    In short, why is it that the people who are most likely to use the phrase, 'it begs the question', don't? :)

    PS, I'm not knocking (real) science, my domain's information systems architecture, and computers beat rats, hands-down. :)

    1. "why can't many graduates, and even postgraduates, see they're using the Magic Wand?" I believe it was Hitler that said something to the effect of "give me the children and 10 years and I'll change the culture." Intelligence is a lot different than any moral or spiritual sense. See "vision check" tab above.

      Also, I was just reading this refection this morning! "We must humbly distrust our human nature because of our state of fall and extreme weakness..." Fr. Peter Thomas Dehau

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Your argument hardly clinches the notion that homosexuality is an "objective disorder"

    When humans design a system we can indeed anticipate some "natural process variation" and then label variations outside of that range as abnormal. Those abnormal variants arise because of our limited human abilities. If we were capable of designing perfect systems, then there would either be no abnormal variants, or we would allow abnormal variants because of "cost/benefit" considerations. In the latter case, we are essentially disinterested in the abnormal final product --- we can simply toss it out, as it were.

    Attempts to anthropomorphise God's design and creativity in these terms leads to a (possibly) loving but imperfect creator or to a perfect but indifferent creator. The imperfect God-designer is incapable of designing a system which has only "natural process variations" but no abnormal variants --- the gays! The indifferent creator might have avoided abnormal variants but did not bother to design thus.

    No! Either gays are "natural process variations" in God's design, or the creator is not the Christian God of Omnipotence and Love.

    1. You raise good points. From purely an engineering perspective consider this… In designing anything, we must first have a goal. What is the purpose? The design may not need to be “perfect” in order to achieve the desired goal. It’s not necessarily that the designer does not care about his design; it’s that the designer knows what is needed.

      Distilled down, what you are talking about is the “problem of evil”. We live in fallen world. Why is there any kind of disorder at all? Why do bad things (or disordered things) happen to good people? How can an all loving, all powerful and all knowing God allow this? Much has been written about it. My quick take is that it is precisely through navigating the labyrinth of pitfalls (or disorders) that the narrow way of the Gospel leads us to salvation.

  4. I do not believe that homosexuality maps to the problem of evil and more than heterosexuality. Furthermore, evil should not be identified with 'abnormal' outcomes in God's design. I would rather classify evil as a 'natural process variation'. Why? Because in the end, evil will not triumph, for "All will be well, and all will be well, and thou shalt see it for thyself that all manner of thing shall be well" (Juliana of Norwich). In other words, in God's design, all is good, and though the resurrection, God brings all to perfection. St Paul expresses something of this in Romans 8: 19-24 (NRSVCE):

    "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?"

    I believe that we should not think of God's design as a set of events and entities. Rather, God has designed a process---one continuous process from which events and entities emerge as "natural process variations". Everything in that process is under God's dominion, whose "purpose in Christ [will] be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-10).

    God bless.

    1. Careful with classifying evil as a “natural process variation”. This implies that it’s nothing to be concerned with. "All will be well", so just relax. Evil is the deprivation or lack of Good, much like darkness is a deprivation or lack of light. We have a moral obligation to oppose any deprivation of Good.

  5. Perhaps the problem lies with your original design metaphor which allowed for three design outcomes only: the intended artifact, natural process variations and abnormality.

    Perhaps this categorisation does not make sense when one talks about design from nothing to something. If you initially have "nothing" (neither darkness nor light --- whatever that may mean), then you cannot design light from nothing and expect there not to be also darkness. Darkness is not the intend outcome, but it is a predictable expected outcome. In this sense, it is not abnormal, but the natural concomitant of creating light out of nothing.

    Of course I agree that we should not be sanguine about darkness/evil just because we know that God will eventually triumph over it. Rather, our response to God's love will impel us to want to be God's agents in overcoming evil. It is not so much a case of coasting along indifferently, knowing that God will overcome evil. It is a case of knowing that God is with us when we battle against evil and that, in the end, God will triumph, our battle will not be in vain, all will be well.

    1. No allegory is perfect, but if one were to design a room to have a certain level of light, then a certain lack of light (or darkness) could be observed and even expected under certain circumstances, but still referred to as a deviation from normal.

      The post refers to facts vs. design. Facts in terms of design are observable and/or measurable. If we note the facts about sexual design and what it’s geared toward (mainly procreation), we can observe that many sexual acts are disordered to the design, including gay sex and including many things heterosexuals do.

      Sexual attraction cannot be observed or measured. We can only observe its presumed effects, so the allegory is not as smooth for this, but I think it still supports what it says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2357)

      “…homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    2. I'm just glad to read so many people still using the word 'problem'. Generally and for no good reason, it seems to have been replaced by another word which means something else altogether.