“Gay” Animals

“Properly speaking, homosexuality does not exist among animals…. For reasons of survival, the reproductive instinct among animals is always directed towards an individual of the opposite sex. Therefore, an animal can never be homosexual as such. Nevertheless, the interaction of other instincts (particularly dominance) can result in behavior that appears to be homosexual.” ~ Dr. Antonio Pardo, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Navarre, Spain

I have been challenged with this same statement above many times, but have never posted on the topic. So here it is to be entered officially in my growing library of responses to those opposed to the traditional, historical, classical definition of marriage.

Before I get to a continuing conversation, I wanted to talk about an example I heard of a long time ago, and it has to do with the “famous” gay penguins, Roy and Silo. So popular was this pair of “gay” penguins that children’s books were produced to explain that homosexuality should be acceptable, based on this male pair of penguins. As we will see, using arguments like these often backfires on the person who thinks behaviors rooted in nature should be applauded in the Homosapien world.

Conservapedia notes that in July of 2009, the alleged homosexual penguin pair in a California zoo crumbled under the weight of nature. Peter LaBarbera reported:

San Francisco’s Fox affiliate KTVU reports: “The San Francisco Zoo’s popular same-sex penguin couple has broken up.

“Male Magellan penguins Harry and Pepper have been together since 2003. The pair nested together and even incubated an egg laid by another penguin in 2008, but their relationship hit the rocks earlier this year when a female penguin, Linda, befriended Harry after her long-time companion died.

“Zookeepers say Harry and Linda are happy and were able to successfully nest this year,” reported KTVU.

But not everyone is celebrating Harry and Linda’s newfound love. Some believe there can be no such a thing as an “ex-gay” penguin. Upon news of Harry’s decision to fly the same-sex-coop, outspoken pro-homosexual activist and anti-ex-gay crusader Wayne Besen cried fowl:

“Attempts to change sexual orientation are patently offensive, discriminatory by definition, theologically shaky, uniformly unsuccessful and medically unsound!” exclaimed a visibly angry Besen. “There is no ‘ex-gay’ sexual orientation. Harry is simply in denial. He’s living what I call the ‘big lie.’”

When will we see a book on penguin sexual behavior showing that reparative therapy works, and there can be ex-gays? And that one can choose by volition over his or her nature, when is this kids book coming? The Telegraph expounds upon this behavior in penguins more as more is known:

The homosexual behaviour of male king penguins has already been noted in zoos.

Now in a new study, scientists have found the evidence of male pairs in the wild. The research found that more than a quarter of the colony in Antarctica were in same sex partners, mostly two males.

In the past, it was claimed that penguins could not discern between the sexes because they looked alike. Male pairs in zoos in the US and Germany have hatched and reared ‘adopted’ chicks.

However the new study by the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France found that the penguins are only pairing up with other males because they are “lonely”.

There are not enough females in the colony and the males have high levels of testosterone, which drives them to engage in mating displays – even if it is with other males.

During the mating season king penguins “flirt” with potential partners by closing their eyes, stretching their heads skyward and moving them in a half-circle to “take peeks” at one another.

The male pairs engaged in the displays for short periods of time but did not bond in the same way as a heterosexual pair would, by learning each other’s calls or caring for eggs.

Professor F. Stephen Dobson, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Ethology, said the number of same sex pairs was actually lower than expected. When the colony was studied over time he found all the ‘gay’ penguins chose a heterosexual partner. A female pair also ‘split up’ to raise an egg with male partner. (Emphasis added)

This “loneliness,” really high testosterone levels, is a great description the N.Y. Times gives to the Roy/Silo conundrum:

The two male chinstrap penguins had found each other in the big city. They had remained faithful. They had even raised a child. But then, not too long ago, they lost their home. Silo’s eye began to wander, and last spring he forsook his partner of six years at the Central Park Zoo and took up with a female from California named Scrappy. Of late, Roy has been seen alone, in a corner, staring at a wall.

This tale of betrayal, sexual identity and penguin lust set in Manhattan has reverberated around the world. It has “rocked the gay scene,” as the popular blogger Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, wrote in The Sunday Times of London this week.

No one was more disappointed than Rob Gramzay, the senior penguin keeper at the zoo, who said simply in an interview yesterday, “They seemed to be a good pair together.”…. (emphasis added)

“Heartbreaking!” I am sure Andrew Sullivan was beside himself… weeping and gnashing of teeth was worldwide I am sure. Okay, a “pop-culture” example removed, lets move to my discussion via Facebook. Again, to be clear, since Dr. Antonio Pardo makes it known that there isn’t an animal that’s exclusively “gay,” and we have a popular example of this in Silo “switching teams,” I see two things:

1) this can at the most be an argument for bisexuality, and

2) the mutability of homosexuality.

More on #2: if people argued and used this example to export homosexual behavior from the animal kingdom to the “animal” Homo sapiens… then for THAT to be a valid argument, one must now admit that the example has changed to show — from nature — that homosexuality is mutable.

Here I wanted to slow down some thinking of a gentleman who typically goes into long prose that have nothing to do with the topic discussed. As you can see, it took me a while to get J.R. to keep to one topic. I will include his attempt to get off topic. Many are use to this tactic and it keeps them from having to deal with any one-example specifically. Here is the statement by J.R. that got me interested in conversation with him:

  • “Mammals of many species express homosexual behavior.”

Actual Conversation

So I started out:

...ME

I would love to dialogue with you about one of your evidential claims supporting homosexuality.

“Mammals of many species express homosexual behavior.”

Would you like to discuss this all too often point used/made in this discussion with me?

[….]

just let me know “yes” or “no.” I will kick off the conversation by making a couple distinctions to what the foundational views of many here are and the view that evidential claim you inserted into the conversation comes from, followed by a question. I will not attack you and will most earnestly try and respond to you with respect and sincerity.

I also understand it is a beautiful day out (at least in SoCal right now), so I or you may not be able to respond immediately to a conversational point. Work, family, etc., can take away from time like this. I will post my “legal” statement in order to set up the parameters for what is missing from these discussions behind the keyboard:

“By-the-by, for those reading this I will explain what is missing in this type of discussion due to the media used. Genuflecting, care, concern, one being upset (does not entail being “mad”), etc… are all not viewable because we are missing each other’s tone, facial expressions, and the like. I afford the other person I am dialoguing with the best of intentions and read his/her comments as if we were out having a talk over a beer at a bar or meeting a friend at Starbucks. (I say this because there seems to be a phenomenon of etiquette thrown out when talking through email or Face Book, lots more public cussing and gratuitous responses.) You will see that often times I USE CAPS — which in www lingo for YELLING. I am not using it this way, I use it to merely emphasize and often times say as much: *not said in yelling tone, but merely to emphasize*. So in all my discussions I afford the best of thought to the other person as I expect he or she would to me… even if dealing with tough subjects as the above. I have had more practice at this than most, and with half-hour pizza, one hour photo and email vs. ‘snail mail,’ know that important discussions take time to meditate on, inculcate, and to process. So be prepared for a good thought provoking discussion if you so choose one with me.”

In fact, I am going to enjoy a Dogfish 60-Minute right now with the neighbors ~ Much thought and I look forward to conversation.

...J.R.

Please whatever I write take it with a totally nuetral tone. I actually don’t have a persistant perspective on any of this as I’ve just recently started researching this. As a matter of fact I live in NC and voted for the amendment to our constitution to support marriage as between one man and one woman. That’s when i really started doing some research.

...ME

So no response is your response? In other words, are you asking to have an answer for such a statement? If you believe that such a statement made by you is totally neutral (either the statement or the motive behind it), why say it? I am confused, maybe you can explain better to me what the purpose of your posting was then.

One of my favorite quotes came to mind:

  • “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.” ~ Robert Frost
...J.R.

I guess I just don’t quite understand what you’re asking. I made a statement about homosexuality in animals. Its not my opinion, its a studied phenomena. I was just making a statement. Do you understand what it means to have a discourse and alter your views from that discussion? or is this just a platform for you to voice your ideas and have a closed ear to others? I dont mean to come across as harsh but I don’t see a two sided conversation going on here. Here’s one of the links I based the state ment on. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0722_040722_gayanimal.html Oh and just so you know, i took the political questionaire from politicaltest.net and Im a severe conservative. That just doesnt make me close minded like some of them are.

...ME

Okay, I can see you are beating around the bush. So I will start the conversation.

Would you agree many here have a differing view of man’s nature via Intelligent Design, in other words, God created man as something separate, different in His nature than that of the animal Kingdom? This is a simple yes or no response, FYI.

...J.R.(a)

Yes – is my answer although your question two different questions, yes to the second. Yes to the first as well

[….]

As I was typing my next question to keep the conversation on track, J.R. posted this next part. To which I also responded to. So my two responses should be seen as in order of what was written by J.R.:

...J.R.(b)

Yes – is my answer although your question two different questions, yes to the second. Yes to the first as well

Here are my two responses, respectively:

...ME

(a) Great, would you also agree that people that wish to connect animal homosexual acts to humans have a more philosophical naturalist views point that guides this connection. In other words, a “goo to you” view of human history to put it simply. This type of thinking guides such enterprises like, ohhh, evolutionary psychology. So again, the simple question is typically those making such statements are evolutionist, they would not include God in its summation of mankind?

(b) J.R., we are talking about one subject. Dialoging about IT. If you and I were out having drinks, I would have the same conversation with you as I am here. this is not rocket science, or catch J.R. in a snafu 101… it is a conversation to get you to think deeper about the ultimate issues, from YOUR examples.

...J.R.

Sean, I have spent several hours since yesterday reading through your papers and website. I value differing opinions and perspectives ( I have an aggressive atheist on my friends list that really hurts me some of the things that get posted. But i feel I need to see all aspects of any argument. I’ll be the first to say I get confused and I don’t understand a lot of the scientific jargon I read. I just try to see all sides of it.As the Bereans, I value looking for truth. 1 Peter 3:15. So I’m sorry if I have come across as anything but gentleness and respect. I would only ask the same. I have just been a little concerned by your responses that I’m being talked at, not talked with.

...ME

J.R., I am asking a simple question. Do you think the foundational view that homosexuality in the animal kingdom — as being related to mankind in any way — is a viewpoint held by philosophical naturalists? Its a simple question really.

At this point, I went and grabbed from his Facebook profile a favorite quote of his by Eleanore Roosevelt to stir up his focus:

...ME

We are talking BIG ideas here,

  • “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people” ~ Elanor Roosevelt
...J.R.

I do not know it that is or not a view held by philosophical naturalists.

Now J.R. is starting to catch himself, and I applaud him actively trying to stay focused.

...J.R.

Okay you didnt answer my question above. What is your answer?

...ME

You can work it out, for instance, National Geographic, as an organization, believes man evolved from an odorless/colorless gas which formed into solid matter, rain fell on rocks… eventually leading to us. They would posit that mankind ultimately came from the animal kingdom — and would connect importance to homosexuality in the animal kingdom as viewing man’s sexuality. Yeah?

Its simple:

  • a theist believes mankind was created separate from the animal kingdom, and philosophical naturalist believes mankind has its roots through evolution alone.

So again:

  • Do you think the foundational view that homosexuality in the animal kingdom — as being related to mankind in any way — is a viewpoint held by philosophical naturalists (Neo-Darwinists/evolutionists)?

[….]

So Again:

  • Do you think the foundational view that homosexuality in the animal kingdom — as being related to mankind in any way — is a viewpoint held by philosophical naturalists?
...J.R.

I would agree with that statement yes.

Miracles do happen!

...ME

Great! Now, if the naturalist view is correct, what is the logical conclusion of this “fact” you mentioned that National Geographic would acknowledge? Since homosexuality exists in nature same-sex marriage should be allowed in mankind’s.

One should take note that most of these homosexual acts in nature are essentially rape. The alpha male holding his power over other animals in the group.

Rape is very prominent in the animal kingdom, as well as cannibalism:

  • “1,500 recorded species of animals preforming the ACT of cannibalism, that’s 3 times more than homosexual acts”

Take note as well that these animals are not exclusively “gay,” they do procreate after their own kind.

So Richard Dawkins, for instance, would say that rape being morally wrong is as arbitrary as mankind evolving 5 vs 4 fingers.

Justin Brierley: When you make a value judgement don’t you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say that the reason this is good is that it’s good. And you don’t have any way to stand on that statement.

Richard Dawkins: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past.

Justin Brierley: So therefore it’s just as random in a sense as any product of evolution.

Richard Dawkins: You could say that, it doesn’t in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.

Justin Brierley: Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we’ve evolved five fingers rather than six.

Richard Dawkins: You could say that, yeah.

(See more here)

Or Sam Harris saying,

  • “…there are many things about us for which we are naturally selected, which we repudiate in moral terms. For instance, there’s nothing more natural than rape. Human beings rape, chimpanzees rape, orangutans rape, rape clearly is part of an evolutionary strategy to get your genes into the next generation if you’re a male….”

In other words, if one were to argue that same-sex marriage should be allowed because gay acts are in nature, BUT THEN NOT use the same logic for rape, cannibalism, and the like, is being disingenuous. The Judeo-Christian ethic ~ rooted in God and man’s nature as separate from that of animals ~ is the only worldview that offers respect and humanity to the gay man and woman. Rape, violence, and “alpha male” mentality (power) are something found in the naturalist worldview. These are things that our worldview says we should avoid.

Which is why a lesbian author I love said this:

Even if one does not necessarily accept the institutional structure of “organized religion,” the “Judeo-Christian ethic and the personal standards it encourages do not impinge on the quality of life, but enhance it. They also give one a basic moral template that is not relative,” which is why the legal positivists of the Left are so threatened by the Natural Law aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic. ~ Tammy Bruce

Compare that to a view that all viewpoints are equal and one should use power to enforce his (which naturalism encapsulates):

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” ~ Mussolini

I have to break here and say I was hoping J.R. was going to “fact-check” my Sam Harris quote. While being a bit out of context, the full context makes the situation worse for J.R.’s vacuous case. I quoted Sam Harris as saying:

  • “…there are many things about us for which we are naturally selected, which we repudiate in moral terms. For instance, there’s nothing more natural than rape. Human beings rape, chimpanzees rape, orangutans rape, rape clearly is part of an evolutionary strategy to get your genes into the next generation if you’re a male….”

Here is the rest:

“You can’t move from that Darwinian fact about us to defend rape as a good practice. I mean no-one would be tempted to do that; we have transcended that part of our evolutionary history in repudiating it.”

How, then, can we “move from that Darwinian fact about us to defend ‘homosexuality’ as a good practice?” Have we not “transcended that part of our evolutionary history”? Or, do political points of view dictate what we have-and-haven’t “transcended”?

This led to my final comment, final in that J.R. has yet to continue the convo:

Dr. Antonio Pardo, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Navarre, Spain, wrote:

“Properly speaking, homosexuality does not exist among animals…. For reasons of survival, the reproductive instinct among animals is always directed towards an individual of the opposite sex. Therefore, an animal can never be homosexual as such. Nevertheless, the interaction of other instincts (particularly dominance) can result in behavior that appears to be homosexual. “

My hope in this post is to offer some responses to a challenge many do not know how to respond to. Also, this is posted as a model in keeping someone zeroed in on a topic at a time. Too often people will state one thing, hear an answer, and instead of dealing with the implications the instead move onto another subject. It is incumbent on us to learn how to keep the discussion on one topic/evidence at a time. It is hard, and I have to again applaud J.R., he did what some cannot do. Focus like a laser-beam… at least for a short while.