• Guest post: a request about homosexuality and genetics

    Here is a guest post from someone (a South American who wants to remain anonymous) who contacted me by email asking for help in dealing with the topic of homosexuality and genetics after he read my two posts on homosexuality and Christianity. It seems that there is a prominent Christian author pairing whose work seems to be a concerted effort to minimise the importance of genetic determinism in producing homosexuality. Over to the guest poster:

    About my goal, I believe it is time to settle some questions about homosexuality. This includes the book written by Neil and Briar Whitehead which contest the mainstream view that homosexuality is biological.

    About my background, well, there is nothing much to say. I’m a teenager, I’m from Brazil and I’ve been reading through philosophy of religion for a long time (my fav blogs include the ones at Skepticink, Debunking Christianity and the secular outpost, and my fav book is definitely the straight-out-of-the-oven Christianity Is Not Great), and I’m interested to know what I am and why we are here.

    This includes thinking about my own sexual desires: I have strong homosexual feelings. I don’t believe I have made a choice, although some other homosexuals affirm they’re like that by choice (I’ll get to this later). One day (a long – but not very long- time ago) I simply met a friend and we started talking, later, when I realized, I was in love. I did not stop at any point and said: wow, from now on, I’ll feel extreme affection for this guy. I wasn’t old enough to even think it that way!

    The discussion about homosexuality is usually centered on two main topics. The first one deals with the origins of homosexuality, or how it can be explained. Many people claim that it has a biological basis, be it either genetic, epigenetic or hormonal. Many studies point out to that, including ones made with twins, which are the most popular. However, as it turns out, these studies have received critiques. And a lot of critiques. The second one deals with moral assumptions about homosexuality, which include religion and other things.

    The goal here is to focus on the first topic, about the origins of homosexuality or perhaps of sexual orientation. Most homosexuals claim that, just like myself, they have not chosen to feel attracted for same-sex people. Perhaps it is not even possible to choose that kind of feeling, but this does not constitute the view of all homosexuals. The queerbychoice.com community represents a branch of homosexual people who do affirm to have chosen how they feel.

    However, I believe it is possible to affirm that some homosexuals feel no sense of choice. If that is true, than there is likely something that caused these people to develop homosexual desires.

    It is a widespread view throughout the internet that homosexuality is completely inborn, which means that the factors that determine whether an individual is homosexual or not happen before the individual is born.

    A related view that is commonly accepted is that it’s multifactorial, which means that homosexuality can be caused by many factors, perhaps including social ones.

    Although this view is shared by many scientists, they are, by reasons unknown, forgetting about the criticism it is receiving. Or perhaps they just don’t know about many of them.

    Neil Whitehead is a NARTH author, and a proud Christian writer. His goal, such as the goal of NARTH, is to change the sexual orientation of homosexual people, so that they can be straight. He has a Ph.D in biochemistry and statistics. Some might say that he is obviously biased, but that ad-hominem is known to be surprisingly ineffective.

    The book he wrote with his wife, “My Genes Made Me Do It”, was published in 1999, but got constantly updated, the most recent version being from 2010. Neil and his wife Briar use many studies (literally, many) to build his argument that homosexuality, such as heterosexuality, is almost all completely learned, and by learned I mean influenced by social environment. This book includes critical analysis about mainstream studies who have claimed to find a genetic link to homosexuality, as well as many other studies about the human mind and behavior.

    It is important to note that this book has received little or no criticism at all. However, for those who know about it and have read it, this lack of criticism is troubling, for the author does yes present a significant challenge to the mainstream point of view that homosexuality is biological. By not responding to this book, the geneticists and psychologists who hold this view leave many with the impression that they simply have no means to counter-argue. And look that there has been a long time since it was published!

    What I present then is a challenge. A challenge to the specialists and other people who are interested in the issue and believe science confirms homosexuality is biological to actually address the authors’ argument.

    There has been too much time of silence, and, although I know many homosexuals do not even care to argue, I want to know the truth. No activism bias, no religious bias, just people arguing about science and studies as it should be done. Time to settle who is wrong and who is right, and what current science points out to.

    Perhaps people will need a motivation to do this. Maybe knowing that the discussions over God and homosexuality have different impact on homosexual individuals will suffice. We have homosexual feelings (oh the big surprise). Can you only imagine looking at a person you desire to keep close to you, to hug and do other stuff, and then, on that same moment, thoughts like “it’s wrong” suddenly come from your mind?

    It is simply horrifying when, from the simple thought about hugging someone you like, reflections about eternal condemnation, about how this is unnatural and how this should be changed pop into your mind and take over. It is like having someone whispering to you that you’re an abnormal thing of nature every time you simply think about the comfort a hug from someone of your same-sex would bring at that cold evening.

    I (and certainly many others) have been through this some time ago, and it gets worse when the arguments coming from those opposing homosexuality seem to be true and make activists look like simply biased people.  It is time to settle these issues so I and others can know whether we’re wrong or not to claim the things we claim. And considering the work of Neil and Briar Whitehead is a crucial point in this journey.

    So if you are an expert on genetics, or know of a good critique of the work, let me know! [JP]

    Category: ScienceScience and religionSexuality


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce