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Commentary

Biology and the Bible

01:36 AM March 09, 2016

The controversy brought on by Manny Pacquiao’s remarks on gay relationships—“Same-sex couples are worse than animals, because when animals mate, their instinct is to be with the opposite sex”—highlights humankind’s ignorance of the single most important biological process: evolution.

Let us examine the biological basis of Pacquiao’s remarks. Homosexuality and hermaphroditism (both sex organs in the same body) are prevalent in both plants and animals, but same-sex union is not seen in animals (Pacquiao was referring to higher forms of animals). Why not in higher forms? Natural selection has deselected the genes (the DNA, if you will) that prod same sexes into mating. Evolution has already “decided” that mating between similar sexes will not yield offspring… thus far. Hence, the controlling gene has slowly been phased out in animals.

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How do we know that these genes were ever there? Because they are in humans! Why still in humans? Well, because we are a civilized lot! We value diversity in all its forms, including our sexuality. Sex in humans isn’t just for procreation. Our large brains understand that.

The basic goal of evolution is survival and, hence, propagation of the species. So far, there are no major environmental challenges that can favor anatomical and physiological changes in humans so that same-sex couples can bear children. All bets are off when you are dealing with a process that can take tens of millions of years to “mature.” Reasonable expectations in the future include multigenderness (several different sexes). Reproductive technology will be the main source of human (if we can be called that) offspring. Natural childbirth will be history. Sex is going to be for pure pleasure. It can be said that folks in same-sex unions are way ahead of their time.

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In his remarks, Pacquiao said his opposition to gay union is grounded on what the Bible says—i.e., “same-sex marriage is a sin against God.” I am not sure if this is a direct quote from the Bible. I only know that there are enough Bible interpretations to make your head spin! I also know that this “ancient literature” is a repository of barbarity, torture, torment, oppression, rape, misogyny, murder, adultery, slavery, polygamy, and pretty much all of the things of which civilization has decided to try to rid itself. Cherry-picking Bible verses is a time-honored way for proselytizers to skirt all the unpleasantness.

A worldview that essentially depended on a few ignorant men, who believed that the earth was flat, would inevitably lead to bizarre conclusions about human nature. Invoking the Bible as the final arbiter of truth has been at the center of more conflicts in human history than all others combined. It is a sad irony to think that most of the hatred and mayhem today come from the region of the scriptures. How did we end up in such a quagmire?

People think that we are living an absolute and static form of spirituality. We cannot grasp that the society we live in is a transitory part of a long continuum of human history, which includes our faith and beliefs. Our proclivity for the supernatural is built into our DNA, and so from the time the human species became dominant 200,000 years ago, we have been looking to the heavens for answers and comfort. Since written history 3,500 years ago, we came to know that gods were in the hundreds, with names like Hiracles, Zeus, Thor, Eros, etc. Now it’s Mohammed, Jesus, Shiva, Chu-Jung, etc. Hearing young people today, you might conclude that the (Bill) Gates of Heaven and St. Mark (Zuckerberg) are what you might find in a future “Bible.” Apple the “forbidden fruit”? Think again! Somebody might even elevate (Steve) Jobs into a deity, the way Constantine did for Jesus. (Sunday Liturgy with Jobs as God? Hmm.)

Biology and our limited exposure to it are no match to 2,000 years of incessant conditioning from sectarian societies of the day. Today, despite the unmistakable drop in the world’s religiosity, no other human invention has enjoyed as much following as religion. People are willing to kill and be killed on behalf of an imaginary deity. With thousands of beliefs, it is not hard to understand how religion kills. The seed of intolerance is planted as soon as a child is taught that he/she is right and the others are wrong. Hatred follows next, and, as we say, the rest is (bloody) history. From the Crusades and the Inquisition, to civil wars in Nigeria, Lebanon, Sudan, Kosovo, Ireland, Germany, etc., and now to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, not to mention Isis, Boko Haram, Taliban, al-Qaida, etc., the viciousness of religion is there for all to see.

Still, the peddlers of intolerance continue their relentless proselytizing. I often wonder whether we would been better off had God revealed himself/herself to the Swedes!

Holding to a medieval worldview is an exercise in futility in this age of Google and social media. Poor Pacquiao never knew what hit him. He got up at 9, but held on to the ropes of intolerance. Now his survey ratings have dropped.

Edwin de Leon ([email protected]) is a retired science teacher, senior high school principal, and secular humanist.

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TAGS: Bible, bigotry, evolution, hermaphroditism, homosexuality, Manny Pacquiao, Religion
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