Did God make Adam and Steve and Gladys and Eve?

A couple of weeks ago, one of our readers emailed me with a ‘curly topic‘ that they thought I might be interested in tackling. Curly topic? Sounded like a challenge – of course I was interested! (As a matter of fact, if there’s any topic out there – curly, straight or otherwise – related to religion, sex, or politics, that you’d like to see me try and take on, please drop me a line.)

Anyway, this curler comes in the form of a hypothetical:

“If it turns out to be true that homosexuality is influenced by genetics, will that gene eventually breed itself out? Seeing as how people with it are more likely than the average to go through their lives without becoming parents…”

The easy answer is a categorical no, it won’t. Gay and lesbian people might be less likely to have biological children, true, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t/don’t. A report by the Urban Institute, a non-partisan social and economic research group in the United States found that:

– More than one in three lesbians have given birth and one in six gay men have fathered or adopted a child.
– More than half of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians want to have a child.

So if homosexuality is passed down genetically figures such as these would suggest an ensured genetic continuance.

If that’s not enough for you, there are also suggestions that the genes involved with male homosexuality should more accurately be called genes for “sexual attraction for men”, which could predispose men towards homosexuality, but could encourage “hyper-heterosexuality” in women which could lead them to have more sex with men and thus potentially have more offspring.

The same research (which looked at close to 5000 people, including gay people and their relatives) revealed that women with these genetic characteristics may be more fertile: “mothers of gay men produced an average of 2.7 babies compared with 2.3 born to mothers of straight men. And maternal aunts of gay men had 2.0 babies compared with 1.5 born to the maternal aunts of straight men.”

You also have to consider sociological and psychological factors. If society continues to put negative pressure and discrimination on homosexual people, then some men and women with this tendency will sadly continue to live in embarrassment, shame, fear or denial. This could likely lead them to hide behind a marriage in which more than like they would have children.

An interesting yet related tangent is that another study found that the more some people associated homosexuality with genetic factors, the more likely they were to support equal rights for same-sex partners particularly in terms of domestic marriages. It appears these people (even the religious) are more comfortable with a deterministic world rather than a free will based one.

As a final note, as far as I can determine, all research in this area to date is non-conclusive. Also, this post has just been a hypothetical examination and whether homosexuality has genetic elements or not, the more pressing issue is pushing for equality for homosexual people. Here’s a place you can get some ideas how.

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6 thoughts on “Did God make Adam and Steve and Gladys and Eve?”

  1. The short answer is that not all phenotypes are adaptive, and if that phenotype is not harmful or has a positive effect in another situation that the gene may get into, for example, as you said, when the gene ends up in a female body and not a male, then the phenotype won’t have any survival value, or even a negative value such as in the case of homosexuality.

    Phenotypes are often emergent, meaning they come about through an interplay of more than one gene locus. So some phenotypes are useful, like camouflage, but others just exist, like having an extra long finger.

    The length of the index finger shows a significant correlation to the amount of testosterone a foetus is exposed to, and hence the ‘masculinity’ of the child. So the index finger has little to do with survival value, but the cause of its length, the testosterone, does have an impact.

  2. Very interesting topic.

    But is this a typo or a valid theory?
    “… could encourage “hyper-heterosexuality” in women which could lead them to have more sex with me and thus potentially have more offspring…”

    Good luck mate!

  3. Classic! Definitely a typo! Oh, how I wish it weren’t… Cheers Francie, I’ll go correct that now.

    Phauna, I stopped studying science after year 10 and didn’t get a lot out of it before that (I blame the teachers) so to be honest I can’t really follow what you’re on about here.

    Any chance you could translate that into something I might understand? For example, in the first paragraph I don’t understand what phenotype, adaptive, positive effect, another situation, survival value and negative value mean in the context of what you’re trying to say.

  4. Sorry, it’s not often I get to flex.

    A genotype is all the genetic information of an organism, whereas a phenotype is the information that gets expressed. There is always a lot of unused genetic information in your DNA, although it may get used in your offspring or in a different environment. When people talk about survival traits, usually they are talking about the outward influence of some genetic information, the phenotype, not realising that there is a lot of genetic information lying around and not being used.

    Adaptive is just the survival value of a particular phenotype. Will it help the animal survive better? Will that trait help or hurt the number of offspring the animal has? Lots of traits are negative as well as positive, and some traits may be useful in a different environment, such as when there is a lack of food, and may be useless in a ‘normal’ environmental situation. A positive effect means a trait increases the likelihood of survival to childbirth age, ability to conceive or attractiveness to mates to facilitate childbirth, ability to rear the children etc. Anything to do with increased reproduction of the gene.

    Another situation or environment is an important aspect of evolution. Most adaptions come about through environmental drive. The genes find themselves in a new geographic location, or the genes find themselves in a different type of body, such as a male rather than a female.

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