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Dumbest Reason to Reject Study on LGBT Identity

Wingnut radio host Janet Mefferd interviewed Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family and they tried mightily to poke holes in the new study showing that epigenetic influences in the womb are a primary cause of homosexuality. Did they do that by analyzing the data or questioning the reasoning of the conclusions? Nope. It’s wrong because it contradicts the Bible and was done by evolutionary biologists.

Mefferd: It’s strange, you have scientists here headed up by an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and right away I saw ‘evolutionary biologist.’ Is there more of a propensity do you find for people who subscribe to evolution and have an evolutionary bias to buy into this?

Stanton: They do come with that bias but basically the evolutionary sociobiology as they call it is a very interesting field of study, basically as I read it and I read it all the time because that’s the norm or the orthodoxy, it’s basically trying to utilize evolutionary theory for explaining what God did: there’s a male nature, there’s a female nature, we’re affected by these things. So they talk about our evolutionary development for why men tend to be more sexually adventurous and why women tend to be more sexually conservative, well you know it takes as much faith to believe that these things evolved as it does to say, that’s the way God wired us…

Stanton: To understand it, at the end of the day there is no real separation between good science and our Christian faith. It was Christians and a Christian worldview that created scientific investigation; it has its roots in that. At the end of the day, God is right, he is true, he is lord, and he set things in orbit, not just inter-planetary, but within our human makeup. When we follow those things, good things happen; when we rebel against them, bad things tend to happen…

Stanton: Up to now most of the scholars have been politically motivated, they have a very deep, personal interest. But here’s the thing and all your listeners need to know this, there is no evidence whatsoever that has come up in the last twenty years—and not for a lack of trying—but no evidence that has come up in the last twenty years that shows any evidence that homosexuality is solely and purely genetically driven, like we are not born that way. Quite literally, this is a provocative statement, but quite literally there is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is that homosexuality is just who we are, we’re just born that away because of our genetic makeup and you’re not going to hear that from the mainstream media.

You see, scientists are biased but Christian bigots are not. Because God says so.

Comments

  1. gworroll says

    It was Christians and a Christian worldview that created scientific investigation

    These people fail history forever.

  2. bybelknap says

    All biologists are evolutionary biologists. Biology doesn’t make any sense without evolution.

  3. dingojack says

    “… there is no evidence whatsoever that has come up in the last twenty years… that shows any evidence that homosexuality is solely and purely genetically driven, like we are not born that way“.

    Why do I suspect that this guy never even read the paper?

    Or perhaps he just doesn’t know what ‘epigenetic’ means. Oh, and since this paper finds that uterine environment is a major factor in shaping sexual orientation, then yes, this paper (amongst others) point out evidence that you are ‘born that way’

    Double plus fail (with a half-pike)

    Dingo

  4. says

    Just for fun, I decided to look up Glenn Stanton’s official CV:

    Education

    B.A. Humanities Interdisciplinary, emphasis in Philosophy, Communication Arts and Religion from the University of West Florida, 1991.

    M.A. Humanities Interdisciplinary w/ Honors, emphasis in Philosophy, History and Religion, University of West Florida, 1992.

    Master’s Thesis: “The Intellectual Impetus of the Religious Right: An Expository Analysis.”

    http://glenntstanton.com/bio/

    Obviously, he’s well-qualified to judge the validity of a biology research study.

  5. gardengnome says

    I did the same as Rob @ 4 – didn’t get to the end. I assume that they believe homosexuality is acquired in some manner after birth? Idiots!

    Incidentally, if you mentally insert the word/s “my” or “our” before every mention of (their) god it makes more sense…

  6. Ben P says

    I did the same as Rob @ 4 – didn’t get to the end. I assume that they believe homosexuality is acquired in some manner after birth? Idiots!

    I don’t think they would say it’s “acquired” at all. They would say that people make a conscious decision to engage in homosexual conduct. For bonus points some might throw in some freudian claptrap about hating your mother.

  7. Amazing Sandwich says

    the new study showing that epigenetic influences in the womb are a primary cause of homosexuality

    As was pointed out to you in the prior post, the study does nothing of the sort. It is a mathematical model whose predictions have yet to be tested. Please stop talking about this paper like it is definitive when it is anything of the sort. In fact, please stop taking any single study as the last word on something. It’s sloppy and misleading and I know you know better.

  8. anandine says

    It is true that if you come with the bias of knowing stuff about biology, you will end up thinking as these scientists do.

  9. Abdul Alhazred says

    It appears they are misrepresenting the Bible as well as rejecting science.

    The Bible prohibits certain sexual acts.

    The Bible says nothing whatever of the cause of homosexuality.
    That is a question entirely outside of the cognitive universe of Judea circa 3000 BC.

  10. Poggio says

    Stanton: To understand it, at the end of the day there is no real separation between good science and our Christian faith. It was Christians and a Christian worldview that created scientific investigation; it has its roots in that.

    These kinds of statements from semi-educated Christians just make me sad. I mean, here is a guy who likely only studied the typical Christian core: western philosophy and European history, but who has no background in classical antiquity or modern history. His education is incomplete to make statements like this. the fact is that science is a human endeavour, and has roots in every nation on earth, not just christian philosophers. But, If one were to weigh the contribution of professed christians in the history of science to core scientific philosophies, (a pointless exercise, imho, but one in which these so-called Christian cultural ‘champions’ like to engage) they would pale to Greek, Roman, Indian and Arabic contributions, all decidely non-christian. But this fact alone does not make me sad regarding his statement and similar ones I often come across; I could grant the man the benefit of future understanding if he undertook to fully investigate the matter. What makes me sad is that Mr. Stanton and others like him will likely never undertake to study the matter further, and to change his view once he has widened his experience. Instead, he has chosen to politicize his views, thereby betraying the very epistemological philosophies which he probably holds so dear. Willful ignorance is the true danger of the religious mind.

  11. Michael Heath says

    gardengnome writes:

    I assume that they believe homosexuality is acquired in some manner after birth? Idiots!

    Uh, the overly simplistic dichotomy of nature vs. nurture was killed long ago. It wouldn’t be shocking to find that post-birth physiological developmental factors have a role to play in sexual identification. Developmental issues which drive our physiology don’t end at birth, we instead continue to develop who we’ll eventually become.

  12. cptdoom says

    … there is no evidence whatsoever that has come up in the last twenty years—and not for a lack of trying—but no evidence that has come up in the last twenty years that shows any evidence that homosexuality is solely and purely genetically driven, like we are not born that way.

    You know, the children affected by thalidomide actually had the genes to form arms and legs, but the drug interferred with the development of those limbs, so they were either shrunken or non-existent. Is Stanton arguing those children weren’t born with those birth defects?

  13. freemage says

    It appears they are misrepresenting the Bible as well as rejecting science.

    The Bible prohibits certain sexual acts.

    The Bible says nothing whatever of the cause of homosexuality.
    That is a question entirely outside of the cognitive universe of Judea circa 3000 BC.

    Not true. Romans 1 very clearly talks about homosexuality in both men and women. Specifically, it says that homosexual desire is a curse that God levies upon nations and peoples who have already rejected God. It even laments the fact that apparently these people enjoy the ‘curse’.

    Of course, this just feeds into their circular reasoning that if you’re Godly, you won’t be gay, so if you’re gay, it’s because you’re not Godly enough. Same reasoning as faith healers.

  14. eric says

    Complete nonsequitur. A biologist who accepts evolution has no a priori reason to think homosexuality is genetic or a choice (or a mix, or developmental, or some fifth possibility). It really has nothing to do with it. This is like assuming someone who accepts newtonian mechanics believes every moving object was shot out of a cannon.
    .
    It has turned out that mainstream biological research is likely to support the conclusion that being gay is not a choice. It certainly looks like the research is going that way to this layman. But an acceptance that evolution occurs would not have required this result. Had the empirical evidence turned out differently, there would’ve been no problem for biologists to accept that we are evolved and homosexuality is a choice.
    .
    Fundies like this appear to have a real hard time with the concept of multiple, separate and different critiques. They want to lump all their opposition together. We hate evolution. We hate ‘being gay is not a choice.’ Ergo, all evolutionists must support the idea that being gay is not a choice. I’m guessing they’d lump both groups in with marxists and liberals for the same reason (we hate evolution. We hate communism. Ergo all evolutionists are marxists…)

  15. greg1466 says

    It was Christians and a Christian worldview that created scientific investigation; it has its roots in that.

    Wow. Who knew that Christianity predated, uh, Christianity.

  16. bradleybetts says

    “…no evidence that has come up in the last twenty years that shows any evidence that homosexuality is solely and purely genetically driven, like we are not born that way. ”

    IT DOES NOT MATTER. Even if it turns out being gay is a totally voluntary lifestyle choice, you no more have the right to persecute them for that choice than you do to persecute vegetarians for not eating meat. It does not affect you in any way so get the fuck over it.

    These people make me so angry…

  17. gardengnome says

    MH @ 14
    Uh, the overly simplistic dichotomy of nature vs. nurture was killed long ago. It wouldn’t be shocking to find that post-birth physiological developmental factors have a role to play in sexual identification. Developmental issues which drive our physiology don’t end at birth, we instead continue to develop who we’ll eventually become.

    Uh(!), what?

  18. hunter says

    “…no evidence that has come up in the last twenty years that shows any evidence that homosexuality is solely and purely genetically driven, like we are not born that way. ”

    As far as I know, and it’s something I follow, no one has made the claim that homosexuality is “solely and purely genetically driven” — it’s only anti-gay “Christians” who claim someone is. And not having a purely genetic basis does not rule out being “born that way.”

    Awesome: a straw man and a non sequitur, in one sentence.,

  19. Michael Heath says

    gardengnome,

    I suggest Sean B. Carroll’s book on evolutionary development as a great introduction. The title is Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo . There may be a more recent book out there given this is six years old, but it’s wonderfully written and very informative.

  20. baal says

    “Had the empirical evidence turned out differently, there would’ve been no problem for biologists to accept”

    eric’s exactly right. Biologists (scientists generally) take the stand that the evidence will define what we accept as true or not. It looks like biology has an impact. Does biology have total control? No – the thalidomide example is a good one. Notice that I’m being intentionally vague. Genes are important, expression patterns are important, epigenetic controls are important, response to environment is important, randomly fallen into structures are important (for example, part of our immune system are generated by deleting or shuffling parts of our DNA, which part gets snipped out is a semi-random process, i.e. part of our immune identity is based on luck), and I’m probably forgetting other control or pattern persisting or adjusting factors.

    The other comments I had have been stated. The fundies seem to always include the idea of a gender binary early and it’s beyond doubt that LGBT and a host of other letters exist. The sooner they catch up with empirical reality, the happier everyone will be.

  21. iangould says

    “It was Christians and a Christian worldview that created scientific investigation;”

    And it was a Christian, Charles Darwin, who developed the theory of evolution.

    That he subsequently became an agnostic, doesn’t alter that fact.

  22. Ben P says

    IT DOES NOT MATTER. Even if it turns out being gay is a totally voluntary lifestyle choice, you no more have the right to persecute them for that choice than you do to persecute vegetarians for not eating meat. It does not affect you in any way so get the fuck over it.

    These people make me so angry…

    You gloss over a very important distinction.

    Suppose I own a restaurant.

    Someone comes into the restaurant and asks I have a vegetarian selection.

    As businessman who’s interested in keeping a customer I might well say “sorry, we don’t really specialize in that, but we can do a dinner salad, or I can possibly have the kitchen prepare a grilled vegetable plate.”

    However, I have every right in the world to say “sorry, no, I believe vegetarians are silly and I don’t serve vegetarian dishes in my restaurant.”

    Now, Suppose an African American walks into my restaurant. I absolutely cannot do the same thing because it is illegal under the civil rights act.

    Now, suppose a gay couple walks into my restaurant? Can I legally tell them “sorry, we won’t serve you here?”

    Well, in about 15-20 states and some cities, no I can’t, because it’s illegal as well under state law or local code.

    Are you going to require all restaurants to cater to the “vegetarian lifestyle?” Assuming not, why? There’s a line here that has to be drawn and there needs to be a rational basis for drawing that line. Characteristics that are immutable make for a good start.

  23. vmanis1 says

    Not serving vegetarian dishes is in no way similar to not serving vegetarians (except perhaps at Cafe Lecter). Confusing these two is a major cause of misunderstanding nondiscrimination law.

  24. bradleybetts says

    @Ben P

    Not having a specifically vegetarian dish is completely different to refusing to serve someone because they are vegetarian. And maybe you do have that right legally, I’m not sure, but morally you absolutely do no have any right. Personally, As it happens, I do think vegetarianism is silly. But you know what, it does me no harm whatsoever so I would have to be a complete and utter arsehole to refuse to serve someone a meal with no meat on just because I happen to like meat.

    However, you’re right, it wasn’t a great analogy from a legal standpoint, but I was more talking about basic human decency. Refusing to serve someone because they partake in a lifestyle which you do not makes you an arsehole. If anything, vegetarians are more bother than homosexuals. Accomodating a vegetarian lifestyle requires special meals etc. Accomodating a homosexual lifestyle requires no effort on your part whatsoever.

    To simplify, my main point is this: people focus far too much on whether or not it is a choice. And I think that’s a mistake because the wingnuts are obviously going to go nuts trying to prove it isn’t. We spend ages saying “It’s not their fault, it’s not a choice and it’s mean to hate on someone for something they can’t help”, which apart from the fact it sounds like there is something wrong but you’re going to let it go because they can’t help it, it also means that if it ever does turn out that it is in fact a choice then the wingnuts think they get to crow with triumph and declare that it is now OK to persecute them. Spending a load of time and effort trying to prove it isn’t merely legitimises their position. I’m not saying don’t do the science; it’s interesting, it’s something we don’t know and therefore it’s worth finding out. But the outcome of those studies should have no effect on the social side of the argument because it still doesn’t do anyone else any harm and they still have every right to live that way, regardless of whether it’s a choice or not.

  25. fastlane says

    The ‘being homo is choice’ argument also fails when one notes the religious affiliation is also a choice (even by their own arguments i.e. free will), so if the religious bigots want to go down that path, they might not like where it leads…..

  26. 'smee says

    A far as I can tell (and from reading and such) sexuality exists on a spectrum…

    There really are very few wholly gay or wholly straight individuals. Indeed, sexuality is multi-dimensional and is (as Michael notes above) influenced by actions and events throughout the life of the person… Epigenetics does not cease at birth.

    Most people may fallin a normative population of being mostly heterosexual, with the emphasis, significantly, on mostly not hetero

  27. says

    @14:

    “Developmental issues which drive our physiology don’t end at birth, we instead continue to develop who we’ll eventually become.”

    Not to repudiate what you said, which was very well stated, but we actually continue to develop until the day we die. Living things are a constantly unfolding developmental program, and it is misleading to think of a “final” form that we or any other species is supposed to adopt. Our prejudice is to assume that the reproductive stage is the “definitive” form, but it’s just one part of a never-ending cycle.

  28. says

    IT DOES NOT MATTER. Even if it turns out being gay is a totally voluntary lifestyle choice, you no more have the right to persecute them for that choice than you do to persecute vegetarians for not eating meat. It does not affect you in any way so get the fuck over it.

    I mostly agree with this, but I think there’s an important caveat.

    Let’s imagine for the sake of argument that all of the ludicrous things that the religious right believes about gayness were actually true. Let’s assume that being gay were a mere lifestyle choice, and that being homo was as easy as choosing what color socks to wear. Let’s also assume that the “gay lifestyle” was extremely tempting, like an addictive drug, and that gays were constantly trying to recruit you and your children, and that once recruited, you adopted a life of decadence and quit caring about your family, and became an anti-social hedonist. And thereby the whole thing spreads and there is a general societal breakdown.

    If all that shit were true, then even a staunch liberal such as myself could see a good reason to ban, or at least strongly discourage, homosexuality. If the fate of civilization really were at stake, then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But of course it’s nonsense. None of that crap is even close to being true. Which is to say, one of the main reasons why we can confidently say that homosexuality does not threaten other people is that it’s not a choice. You cannot really “recruit” people to be gay. Hence, even if being a homo were a cause of abject anti-socialism (and of course it’s not), it’s not going to spread just because we tolerate it. To be a threat to our society, showing that gayness is a choice is not sufficient, but it’s at least necessary. This is why anti-gay bigots refuse to give up on the idea, despite the fact that casual observation alone shows how ridiculous it is.

    All of which to say is that reality matters. We make decisions based on what we think is best for the world (well, some of us do), and we need to understand how the world works to competently do so. And so when it comes to whether we should tolerate “deviant” sexuality, it really does matter whether and to what degree people can control their sexual identity. If it isn’t a “choice”, it becomes much harder to condone discrimination.

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