David Barton is a guy who makes a living lying about history…and now apparently he wants to add lying about science to his résumé. Here he argues that abortion and homosexuality are wrong because they are aberrations of nature.
The stupid burns white hot in that one.
It’s the naturalistic fallacy. You can’t derive what humans ought to do from what other animals do (and worse, what you imagine in your ignorance that other animals do). Other animals don’t worship the Bible or pray; therefore, it is wrong for humans to do so. At least, that’s the reasonable conclusion for Barton’s logic. We’ll also have to shed hats and shoes, stop cooking our food, and Barton will have to stop doing his clown act on TV…all human behaviors that are not shared with other animals.
It is simply not true that other animals don’t abort their young. Look at the Bruce effect; rodents will spontaneously terminate their pregnancies if exposed to a strange male. Lots of animals will spontaneously abort under stress, and it makes evolutionary sense: evolution, unlike fundamentalist Christians, favors the preservation of maternal life. It is wiser for a female to conserve her resources and bear offspring when she can afford the cost.
You want real horror stories? Look up maternal infanticide. It’s a continuation of that same evolutionary logic: if infants cost resources, and if the choice has to be made between preserving the life of the infant vs. the life of the mother (and usually, death of the mother leads to death of the infant anyway), animals will sacrifice the young first. It’s been seen in rodents, penguins, pigs, foxes, tamarins, you name it. It’s often even accompanied by cannibalism. If Barton wants to draw moral lessons for humanity from the animal kingdom, there you go.
Homosexuality is also common (here’s a list). Barton is making the common fundie Christian error, thinking sex is for reproduction and only for reproduction. As anyone with any sense knows, though, in humans and many other animals, sex is primarily for social bonding. Almost every single sexual activity in which you participate, even if it is with a member of the complementary sex in permanent relationship, is for fun and because it strengthens the relationship.
When you look at it that way, what’s surprising is how little homosexuality is going on — why are businessmen settling for a handshake and a golf game when they could really seal the deal? But then of course there are other factors, like maintaining some exclusivity of special relationships and the importance of distancing as well as intimacy in different classes of social behaviors. But you simply cannot make the blanket argument that homosexuality is unsupportable by evolution.
Also, because it’s the explanation I favor, not everything in evolution is finely tuned for optimal reproductive efficiency. I think homosexuality is common because evolution favors sexual behaviors first, and adding restrictions to limit sexual behavior to reproductive behavior a distant second.
Unfortunately, lying for favors and obstinately clinging to ignorance are typically human behaviors, too, so I can’t slam Barton with the argument that he’s an aberration.