If I hear the nature/natural argument one more time

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic and the Delhi High Court’s judgement decriminalizing homosexuality provides the perfect backdrop. (This is a huge ruling for the LGBT community in India and hopefully a first step that will lead to them being treated on par with everyone else.)

But this post is not about that bit of news. It’s about the argument that you tend to hear from people who have objections to alternate sexuality. That argument is: It is against nature. Alternatively, people say, It is unnatural, it is not natural…blah, blah.

My question to them would be this: Where in nature would you find any of the following?

  • Blood transfusions (I am Draculya, I vant your blood.)
  • Organ transplants (Dr. Frankenstein I presume.)
  • Caesarean births
  • Vaccines
  • X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic tests

The stuff that I’ve listed is restricted only to the field of medicine. There are numerous examples of things that we do that are not found in nature or not “natural”. Let’s look at the meaning of natural for a second (via the Free Dictionary (first 3 entries)):

1. Present in or produced by nature: a natural pearl.
2. Of, relating to, or concerning nature: a natural environment.
3. Conforming to the usual or ordinary course of nature: a natural death.

So, for the “nature lovers”, here’s something I quoted (emphasis mine) in a post I wrote about a book called The Human Story.

The Japanese field workers who undertook the first studies of wild bonobos in the Congo Basin in the 1970s were astonished and bemused to find that sex seemed to be the sole preoccupation of these unusual apes. They were, quite literally, at it all the time, and in all possible combinations– males with females, females with females, even occasionally males with males.

Them wild bonobos must not be familiar with nature then or the “nature peoples” may not be familiar with these apes. And why just the apes? Here’s a recent Wired article about animal homosexuality (emphasis mine).

Sure, it’s widely recognized that the animal kingdom is full of male-on-male and female-on-female action, from fruit flies on up to bottlenose dolphins and, of course, Homo sapiens.

(A few particularly arresting examples: male dung flies are believed to mate with other males simply to occupy their time, thus denying them a chance to reproduce; small male Goodeid fishes camouflage themselves as female, and mate with females while males pursue them. And young fruit flies seem to do better at heterosexual mating once they’ve had some same-sex practice.)

Such explanations are sometimes useful, but only to a point. In the Laysan albatross, for example, where monogamy is common but females outnumber males, nearly one-third of all couples are female-female pairs. They’re better at rearing chicks than single females, and their coupling reduces the likelihood of single females luring married men from the nest.

But, enough of that already, we’re much more evolved than apes, the “nature peoples” might say.

And that is precisely why we should respect scientific evidence and tell the “natural peoples” to shove their arguments where the sun don’t shine. (And, yes, the irony of that last statement is not lost on me.)

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2 thoughts on “If I hear the nature/natural argument one more time

  1. I just discovered your blog and am really digging it. This post is very good. I also say to people: babies are born every day with physical or mental impairments because one microscopic chromosome is missing or twisted, etc. Why is is not rational, given the preponderance of that, that someone’s internal gender identity could be different than their physical body? No one would say a developmentally delayed or impaired baby was “not of God”–why do they say that in the case of homosexuality?

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