Do Gay Animals Make Homosexuality “Natural”? November 17, 2006Posted by Michael in Philosophy, Religion, Science.
By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience staff writer
Updated: 3:46 p.m. ET Nov 16, 2006
From male killer whales that ride the dorsal fin of another male to female bonobos that rub their genitals together, the animal kingdom tolerates all kinds of lifestyles.
A first-ever museum display, “Against Nature?,” which opened last month at the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum in Norway, presents 51 species of animals exhibiting homosexuality.
“Homosexuality has been observed in more than 1,500 species, and the phenomenon has been well described for 500 of them,” said Petter Bockman, project coordinator of the exhibition.
The agenda here, of course, is to debunk the notion that homosexuality is “unnatural.”
The argument that a homosexual way of living cannot be accepted because it is against the “laws of nature” can now be rejected scientifically, said Geir Soli, project leader for the exhibition. “A main target for this project was to get museums involved in current debate; to show that museums are more than just a gallery for the past.”
The logical fallacy behind this is the assumption that anything occurring in nature amongst a minority of a species is “natural,” which makes about as much sense as the assertion that anything occuring amongst a minority of humans (e.g., murder, rape, mayhem) is “humane.” Animals engage in senseless killings, i.e., killings that are apparently just murderous and not intended to obtain food. Does that make it “natural” for humans to do likewise? Is it even “natural” for animals to do it?
More fundamentally, the argument simply begs the question as to what we mean by “nature.” It is an elusive concept, not an intuitively obvious or scientifically ascertainable environment. For example, Christianity teaches that the entire planet is fallen and corrupt, not just humankind. The Bible presents the violence of the food chain as a consequence of sin, not “nature” as God intended it. According to scripture, flesh-eating did not occur in Eden, and will not occur at the end of time when “the lion will lay down with the lamb.” In short, the nature that we see is not necessarily understood as nature as it ought to be.
The occurrence of gay animals in nature does nothing to advance the arguments regarding how we should consider homosexuality as a moral or public policy issue. The exhibit in Norway is, in my view, more politics than science.