Monday, June 03, 2013

Why are people gay?

This morning I read a US News article that suggests scientists may have finally unlocked the puzzle of why people are gay. The article, and the scientists, fall far short of the claim. It is more about what they would like to unlock than what anyone may have unlocked.

The words of William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara, reveal the desire of scientists to find a genetic or hereditary cause for homosexuality, "We've found a story that looks really good." Yes, a "story that looks good," in other words one that they hope will prove what they already believe. I thought scientists were supposed to believe what they've already proved!

Folks have been telling us for years now that homosexuality exists because people are "born that way." But if you catch them in their gleeful moments thinking they have found something new -- if you know what you're reading, you'll find the tacit admission that they don't really know that homosexuality is genetic or hereditary.

In an early sentence, the writer begins, "The hereditary link of homosexuality has long been established..." Yes, yes, "the hereditary link," yes, "already established," yes. And we're supposed to buy this because...? If this has long been established, why does the writer opine, "Long thought to have some sort of hereditary link..." and "Though scientists have long suspected some sort of genetic link..."

The simple fact is that scientifically we do not know what causes homosexuality. The politically correct answer most of our society has chosen to believe is that folks are born homosexual. Actually, folks are born male and female and then choose what and how and how often and with whom to have sex (or not).

Be not deceived, God is not mocked.


Unknown said...

Hello Robert,

It seems to me that you are confusing orientation (same sex attraction) with behavior (same sex behavior). This paper is investigating same-sex attraction. The well-established link they describe is a series of studies that show same-sex attraction runs in families. Their study attempts to show _how_ this is the case, and they make specific empirical predictions that would disprove their theory. Their "story" here just means their theory of epigenetic markers.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Hi, Will,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I don't disagree with your assessment that my post seems to confuse orientation (same sex attraction) with behavior (same sex behavior). In fact, I think the debate on this topic in general confuses all of this, sometimes deliberately and sometimes accidentally. I will try to flesh out my thoughts a little further with hope of clarity.

I do understand that the paper referenced is investigating same-sex attraction in the sense that homosexuality is defined as sexual desire or sexual behavior directed toward a person or persons of one's own sex. (Although I believe this word and the word "heterosexuality" are best reserved for sexual behavior and not attractions. Persons may have several sorts of sexual attractions they never act on, and shouldn't be defined by that.)

I appreciate the thoughts on the subject your comments stimulate. I still believe the article supports the conclusion I have written. The fact that scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis have a theory and are doing a study to find out why people are gay indicates that scientifically we do not know what causes homosexuality (same sex attraction or behaviour).

The attractions we have and why we have them -- whether for same sex, opposite sex, multiple partners, specific body parts, animals or whatever other attractions might be possible to have -- do not address whether or not we should act on them.

Unknown said...

Good morning, Robert!

Can you help me understand what your conclusion was?

I thought it was that these scientists are reasoning in circles; but I tried to show that this isn't true: having noticed that same-sex attraction runs in families, they propose a how, along with testable hypotheses for it.

What did I miss?

R. L. Vaughn said...

Good afternoon, Will. I'll be happy to try to help you understand what my conclusion was, though I might not be as successful as I desire. First, you perhaps give too much credit to a blog post as if were a carefully reasoned document. It is more my thinking out loud about an online article that I read. (Though it is just me "thinking out loud," I nevertheless think my point is valid.) It is not about whether these particular scientists are reasoning in circles. I understand that they are suggesting how same-sex attraction might be inherited, and that what they are suggesting must be tested.

Whether same-sex attractions run in families does not prove that it is hereditary or genetic. Teachers, for example, run in families but most of us would guess that is more environmental than genetic, more nurture than nature. Many people nevertheless believe it is already proven that homosexuality is hereditary or genetic. Many articles are written that way, and many reports suggest it is the established truth. Another online report about this same hypothesis starts with: "A team of international researchers has completed a study..." even though it is only a model that has not been tested. That homosexuality is strictly genetic I believe was pretty much disproven by identical twin studies. That is one of the reasons for this group's new and different proposal/hypothesis.

Perhaps I have rambled too much to be clear about what my point is. It is:

Science has not proven a hereditary or genetic cause for homosexuality/same sex attraction, though many folks reading articles like this one believe that they have.

Does this help?

Unknown said...

Well, I suppose I almost never believe popular reports of scientific articles; at least, I view them with skepticism, so I tracked down the original scientific article (It's here:

Thanks for taking time to explain in more detail. If I annoy you with my comments, let me know, and I'll stop. But I hope it's more like iron sharpening iron.

R. L. Vaughn said...

No, I think we learn more from those who challenge us than from those who just "amen" us. I happened to track down that Jstor article today as well. I printed it out to read later, but it is quite technical (as one might expect).

Popular articles are always problematic. I think one thing problematic about the scientific studies is that a lot of them are all over the place (in different places) on this issue. Ultimately, I go back to the Bible (at least my understanding of it).

Unknown said...

Robert, I'll leave this discussion with a link to a blog post I read recently, which I found intriguing. I'd love to hear your reaction to it, perhaps as a separate blog post of your own.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Hi, Will. Thanks for the link. I have read it (and the connected Episcopal resolution) and will post some commentary on it in the morning, Lord willing. I'd be interested to read your reaction to my reaction.

Steven Wedgeworth describes the author Peter Enns as "One of the more high-profile cases" of evangelicals falling in line with evolution. He wrote, "Initially Dr. Enns claimed to be calling for conversation and open dialogue, particularly in the subject of hermeneutics, but upon his release from Westminster Theological Seminary, he has felt free to come out into the open. For Dr. Enns, now at least, there is no good reason, Biblical or otherwise, to believe that Adam was a singular historical person."

You also might find interesting John Collins' review of Enns' book
The Evolution of Adam.