Archive for the ‘Evolution’ category

Gay Sheep Are People Too?

January 1, 2007


According to the Times Online, Scientists at Oregon State University are conducting experiments to genetically remove traits in sheep that may cause them to be born with homosexual tendencies.  It has raised fears of one day being able to reverse homosexual tendencies in humans prior to birth.  This research, of course, raises many ethical and Constitutional questions. 

The ethical questions are numerous, but the primary issues can be summarized into two categories.  The first, animal rights involving genetic research.  Testing on animals has always contained a controversial element, and animal rights activists have fought hard to protect them against harm.  Genetically altering animals to eliminate certain traits would fall under the same category of genetically enhancing animals to possess certain desirable traits.  This practice has been going on for years involving livestock used in the agricultural industry.  It has been labeled by animal rights activists as cruelty, particularly when the desirable trait that may improve marketability leads to a decrease in the quality of life for the animal.  The second ethical category involves the assumption that the supposed homosexuality trait is bad.

When researchers begin studying how to remove homosexual tendencies genetically, it must be assumed that the researchers’ premise contains the idea that homosexual behavior is undesirable.  Some would agree with this statement.  Others would argue that homosexual behavior is benign in its effects on society as a whole.  Should researchers be able to make this “undesirable” determination unchecked?  If the research yields results, should mothers be able to have the option of removing the gene from unborn babies?  One possible result of this practice could potentially breed homosexuals out of existence. 

Constitutional issues must also be considered.  For example, if homosexuality is genetic, it would be assumed that the condition must be treated much like race as far as civil rights are concerned.  Therefore marriage, and all the benefits associated with it, are certainly in play. Homosexuals would have a much stronger Constitutional case under the Bill of Rights.Whether you view the issue as an ethical or Constitutional one, the consequences of genetic research on animals with homosexual tendencies could be dramatic.

Can Governments Cause a Darwinian Backslide?

December 9, 2006


Darwin poses that evolution occurs due to natural selection over the course of time.  In other words, the stronger in the species survive and breed more than the weaker of the species.  The weaker species traits are eventually eliminated, leaving only those in the species that have the stronger traits.  Stephen has had a good series on this starting with this article on Outside The Box.  So what happens when the weaker of the species is protected by the stronger?  In other words, what happens when societal or governmental laws interfere and prevent the weaker of the species from being eliminated?  What could happen if the trait we are discussing is intellect?

The human species, without a doubt is the species that relies most on it’s intelligence for survival.  It is our most important trait.  From purely a scientific standpoint, if we as a species are to advance and develop a higher intellect, should our government really be protecting those that have a lesser intelligence level?  One could argue that certain people would no longer be around to reproduce had these governmental protection laws not been in place.  Therefore, natural selection would have taken these genes out of the pool and, over time, overall intelligence within the gene pool would increase.

 Seat-belt laws are a good example of this.  If someone chooses not to wear a seat-belt, shouldn’t they be allowed to do so?  If that person dies in a car accident, there would be one less stupid person around to reproduce, increasing the likely-hood that the next generation would be smarter than the first.  The same could be said for smoking, or speeding.  To clarify, I am NOT suggesting that those with weaker intellect be eliminated in unnatural ways.  Rather, I am suggesting that governments not stop them from making decisions that may lead to their demise. 

This brings me back to the original question.  Can there actually be an evolutionary slide backward due to governmental laws that keep us from doing stupid things, or would the protection of those with lower intelligence simply slow or stall evolution?  Certainly it could not continue to advance at a rate equal to that of when there were no laws protecting the intellectually inept.  I would think that if a species can progress, it can also regress.  In fact, the process of protecting stupid people may actually lead to a higher rate of stupid in the gene pool, leading to a decline in the species and eventual extinction. 

This is why I’m a creationist.  In a moral world, as opposed to a scientific world, the intelligent have an absolute obligation to protect those less fortunate.  As a creationist, I do not have to deal with questions of whether stupid people are actually hindering the advancement of our species.  I would suggest that all those in favor of laws regulating speeding, seat-belts, helmets, smoking, and drugs to get on the bandwagon of creationism.  If you don’t, you will face the moral dilemma of whether to actually help the next stupid person you encounter.