Sacrificing Science

By now, you've no doubt heard about the latest attempt to use biology to justify homosexuality. It started as an attempt to prove the existence of human pheromones: chemicals, that is, associated with sexual attraction in animals. Swedish scientists exposed men and women to possible male and female pheromones, respectively. When women were exposed to male pheromones, their "hypothalamuses lit up." Likewise, male hypothalamuses reacted when exposed to female pheromones. Now, to put it in lay terms, this is the "smell test." Males sniffed women and were attracted, and vice versa. But gay men were exposed to both types of odors, and they were aroused by men, not females. At this point, what the research suggests is that human pheromones may indeed exist. But what caused the preferences -- nature or nurture -- is not known. You wouldn't know that, however, from media accounts. It sounds like homosexuality is "hardwired": the product of nature, not nurture. Time magazine and the New York Times both quoted Dean Hamer of NIH, who wrote a book on the "gay gene," saying that the study "clearly substantiates" the existence of that "hardwiring." It's true that Time magazine explicitly states that the study "doesn't show that . . . sexual preference is biologically hardwired." But it immediately undermines that assertion by relegating those who don't believe in such hardwiring as belonging to the "religious right." Someone else who couldn't wait to herald the study as a breakthrough is Steven Pinker of Harvard. Pinker is the author of The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Like Time, Pinker begins in a major New York Times op-ed by noting that the differences in brain response don't "prove that homosexuality is innate," but he ends by invoking those scary religious types. Along the way, he acknowledges the obvious: "Any genetic tendency to avoid heterosexual opportunities should have been selected out long ago." Of course -- any gene that led men to prefer men as sexual partners would have led to the extinction of its carriers. In Darwinist terms, homosexuality is "evolutionarily maladaptive." Given this tension between evolutionary biology and the requirements of political correctness, Pinker is forced to speculate about what, if anything, could reconcile the two. So he repeats the word perhaps over and over, and then he skates around the question of Darwinism and morality -- a minefield, by the way, for Darwinists -- and then, of all things, suggests a possible evolutionary cause for "homophobia." If you're confused, you're not the only one. Pinker's floundering is what happens when you are trying to please two equally jealous gods. Ironically, such a conundrum isn't necessary. Neuroscientists have long known that the connection between the brain and human behavior is a two-way street. The patterns observed in the in hypothalamuses of gay men are just as likely to be an effect of their sexuality as a cause of it. Now, both the Times and Time noted this -- and yet they couldn't resist running with the "gay gene" angle. Likewise, they know that a genetic predisposition, if one exists, to behave a certain way isn't a moral license. But when it comes to "gay rights," none of this seems to matter. Instead, they commit the same offense they accuse Christians of committing: sacrificing science on the altar of ideology.


Chuck Colson


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