Tuesday, October 16, 2007


This is one of those “this has been bouncing around the old brain pan for awhile so here goes” entries. I guess this is my answer to the folks that claim that a genetic answer to at least some folks being gay doesn't make any sense. Actually it makes perfect sense to me. And I guess it's coming up right now because the Oregon legislature finally, finally, passed a law okaying civil unions and an anti discrimination measure this year. The signature gathering campaign to keep the laws from going into effect in 2008 and put them to a state wide vote came up short. Although I'm sure they'll keep trying. Goddess, don't these people have anything better to do with their time? At least time is on the side of the angels.

Even though I don’t use it, at least to earn a paycheck, I have a BS in Physical Anthropology. I tend to look at some things from a certain point of view. From a sort of why would this make sense as a good adaptation to help a species survive point of view.

It’s really too bad that we have such a hard time teaching evolution in this country because the misconceptions about Darwin’s theory are legion. Evolution doesn’t really work on individuals, it works on populations. My sisters carry the same genes I do. Even if I don’t have children, if my actions allow them to be more successful in raising their children, I’ve succeeded in passing my genes on to the next generation.

There is increasing evidence that our sexual behavior is part hardwired, part socialization. There seems to be a fairly steady percentage of folks attracted to same sex partnerships in most populations. At least that’s what I’ve read in the press over the past few years. So, why have these genes survived?

Things haven’t changed since our ancestors whacked two rocks together and discovered that a sharp rock or six could make up for a lack of fangs and claws. We still have to grow it, catch it, gather it, or make something to trade with somebody who has an extra basket of turnips to trade. Actually this could include making the basket or pot to put the turnips in.

At a time when extra hunters, farmers, craftsmen (and women), and eyesto keep track of the kids were a valuable resource, relatives who didn’t have kids but were willing to support their relatives’ children, could give your family group an adaptive advantage. Modern culture has more layers between the producers and consumers, but somebody still has to raise it, package it, move it and make things to trade for it.

But, our families are fragmented and that adaptive edge has been lost. Or has it. There are plenty of same sex couples willing to act as foster parents or adoptive parents when they get the chance. They’re still helping the family survive, it’s just a bigger family. And I honestly believe that we hurt ourselves when we try to shut out a part of our larger family for whatever reason.

Now that I think about it, insuring that teaching evolution remains controversial has its uses for the powers that be. If enough children learned to view what we do as a nation from an adaptive point of view, they’d begin to understand just how screwed up most of our business and political policies really are.

Many of the conservative faith groups and intelligent design folks talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk. If we are all the unique creation of some higher being (I lean towards the divine boot in the ass theory of creation myself) they sure don’t act like it. Oh, I forgot. For some folks, it’s their group that’s part of the divine creation. The rest of us are just one level above pond scum.


tenyearnap said...

"If enough children learned to view what we do as a nation from an adaptive point of view, they’d begin to understand just how screwed up most of our business and political policies really are."

YES! I am going to keep that in mind. I'm not surprised to find out that you studied anthropology :-) Cin

toonguykc said...

I didn't know you had a degree in anthropolgy -- but it makes perfect sense.  The phrase "intelligent design" always elicits a snort from me. Ugh.


mlraminiak said...

Lovely piece of analytical writing.  Brava!  Lisa  :-]