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Probe Ministries > Q & A: Probe Answers Our Email > Homosexuality Topics > "Can't Homosexuality Be Seen as Population Control?"


"Can't Homosexuality Be Seen as Population Control?" Print E-mail

From an evolutionary perspective, wouldn't homosexuality be seen as a population control? This would then make it useful, contradicting to your assumptions made in the obviously biased partial commentary.

 
 
Many evolutionary biologists have wrestled with the widespread presence of homosexuality in human populations. Essentially, their quandry is not that homosexuality is present in large numbers (2-3% at most in any population), but that it is found in virtually all cultures and societies at least to some degree. Evolutionarily, this implies that there is some evolutionary benefit and some genetic component, which usually means it contributes to survival and reproductive success in some way. But how can that be when homosexuals reproduce at a far lesser rate than heterosexuals? The original sociobiologist, E. O. Wilson, stated the problem this way: "The homosexual state itself results in inferior genetic fitness, because of course homosexual men marry much less frequently and have far fewer children than their unambiguously heterosexual counterparts." (Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Belknap/Harvard, 1975, p. 555.) Evolutionary explanations require an immediate genetic benefit for the individual expressing the trait or behavior. Things such as "population control," as you suggest, require a cooperative spirit (technically referred to as group selection) that is normally considered outside direct genetic influence and is therefore rejected by most evolutionary biologists.

Most evolutionary biologists have tried to deal with the problem by one of two suggestions. First, the genes involving homosexuality (if there are indeed any at all, but so far there is no evidence for any) could be advantageous somehow in the heterozygous state (individuals who have one copy of a gene leading to homosexuality but not both and therefore not truly expressing the trait), and therefore the gene or genes are kept in the population that way even though when both copies are expressed in the same individual (homozygosity) reproduction is prevented. Second, some have suggested that homosexuals may gain a genetic fitness by being primarily helpers in raising offspring of their brothers and sisters, therefore preserving their own genes through aiding the survival of their nieces and nephews who carry about 1/8 of their own genes (technically referred to as kin selection). Aiding the survival of eight or more such nieces and nephews preserves a full complement of your genes into the next generation which is how natural selection supposedly works. Both of these options may at first sound reasonable but, neither of these options has a shred of evidence in support of it.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries


About the Author

Dr. Ray BohlinRaymond G. Bohlin is Vice President of Vision Outreach at Probe Ministries. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S., zoology), North Texas State University (M.S., population genetics), and the University of Texas at Dallas (M.S., Ph.D., molecular biology). He is the co-author of the book The Natural Limits to Biological Change, served as general editor of Creation, Evolution and Modern Science, co-author of Basic Questions on Genetics, Stem Cell Research and Cloning (The BioBasics Series), and has published numerous journal articles. Dr. Bohlin was named a Research Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in 1997, 2000 and 2012.

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