A week or so ago, discussion at Fr. Jake's produced the following question and response (among others). First, the question from Peter:
The issue ... is whether homosexuality is biologically or genetically determined or not. That's not a question to do with one's moral attitude towards those who have a homosexual orientation or who behave homosexually (not always the same people) but simply a question of scientific fact. . . . A large part of the TEC argument in their presentation to the 2005 AAC was that since homosexuality is a natural biological variation in humanity, it was a justice issue that a normal variation in humanity shouldn't be condemned. If however, the science shows this not to be the case, then what we have is in fact a deep-seated human behaviour, perhaps with genetic or biological predisposers but ultimately an environmentally produced phenomena, similar to other forms of human emotional response. This would then put it on the same category as things like kindness, anger, paedophilia, liking soft cheese, all human behaviours for which we recognise complicated patterns of formation. Without the clear scientific evidence of biological/genetic causation the justice argument falls apartOne response came from a scientist, IT:
...As a professional geneticist (although not one who studies homosexuality; my gig is cancer research), and a professor who teaches the subject, may I point out YET AGAIN that someone does not understand genetics.Jake reposted part of the question and response here as well as some resources on the "Nature and/or Nurture" debate. The discussion that followed was enlightening in many respects. However, it did not quite pin down what science has to do with the moral issues that raise these questions in the first place, although one person (Scott) commented:
Almost no complex traits can be traced to a single gene. Okay? NONE. Not even blue eyes/brown eyes, although they are pretty close. Certainly nothing as complex as behavior.
Even in fruitflies.
Nothing complex is solely nature or nurture, but both. You may have the genes to be 7 feet tall but if you aren 't eating a good diet you won't get there.
There are plenty of studies showing that human sexuality exists on a continuum, not a binary. It's extremely complex.
However, there are also plenty of studies showing a very strong genetic component to homosexuality; it may not be the single gene absolute concordance that the conservatives want (see preceding) but it is vastly, vastly higher than chance.
Go read Pubmed if you want the citations...The VAST majority of medical and psychiatric opinion is clear on the subject...
The temptation presented to the Christian tradition by the scientific study of the genetics of human sexuality is either to use that study to "prove" that variations away from thorough heterosexuality are sinful, or that they are not. Such direct application of scientific analysis (in either direction) wholly ignores the theological richness of the questions of "relatedness" (love) and "separation" (sin).I think most would agree that the scientific answers to the question of the nature and origins of human sexual orientation cannot resolve the moral issues. Yet people on both sides seem to think the science is relevant, even though at some point those who condemn homosexual behavior say they do not care how "good" or "natural" or biologically determined it may be because God has (supposedly) given the last word on the subject in the Bible.