Monday, March 8, 2010

Mormons and Animals: Denying our Deepest Instincts

A Mormon reader name Seth yesterday reminded me of one of the things I hate the most about religion: That it denies our animal nature. WE ARE ANIMALS, with very strong instincts, and our instincts dictate most of our behavior. Yet religious people, who believe God created us separately from animals, deny this, and this denial is the root of the monstrous guilt meme that is still infecting most of humanity.

Seth, who responded to this blog, was writing about homosexuality. He's apparently a Mormon, and claimed that even though homosexuality has a genetic origin, gays still have the choice of whether to act on their desires or not. In other words, if a man isn't attracted to women, he can choose to be celibate (to live without love and companionship). Seth wrote, "The very idea that mere genetics takes away a person's freedom of choice in life is one of the sickest and most dehumanizing ideas I've ever heard."

Seth is wrong, dead wrong, cruelly wrong.
Genetics does take away our freedom of choice. By Seth's measure, we have the choice to kill kittens and puppies, or gophers and rats. But in reality most of us couldn't kill a puppie in cold blood, yet we'd have no trouble killing rats, gophers, and other "vermin." But what's the difference? They're all animals, they all suffer, dogs dig up your yard, cats defecate under your bed. Why do we single out the gophers and rats, but spare the dogs and cats?

Because of our genes. Dogs and cats have evolved to look like human babies, cute and adorable, and we fall for it. We are not free to make just any choice we want. We are guided by our genes.

Why do human teens rebel? Why do men fight? Why is the mother-in-law joke universal across all societies around the world? Why are women more jealous, men more promiscuous? Why are we racist? Because we're genetically programmed. We're humans. We're just like all animals, doing what our genes tell us to do.

The true dehumanization comes when we deny our own humanity, our genetic, animal heritage. When we try to rationalize love, or pretend we don't feel jealousy, or that we aren't put off by physical disabilities and birth defects, then we're denying nature itself. As humans, our job is to face our animal nature, and rise above it.

It is sometimes said that "Man is the rational animal," but the reality is that "Man is the rationalizing animal." (Not original, but I don't know the source.) In other words, we'd like to think we figure things out and do the most logical thing, but in reality, we mostly do what we want, and then figure out ways to justify it. We're animals, with a logical façade.

We become less than human when religion tells us to feel guilty for our natural, healthy animal sexual desires. There is not, and has never been, anything wrong with a good, lusty reaction to a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex if that's what your genetics dictate), yet religion has turned this into something ugly.

We become less than human when we deny that we're uncomfortable around those with disabilities or birth defects. To be truly human, we have to rise above our animal nature, and show true human compassion, to see past our discomfort to see the true human inside. But religion would have us feel guilty for our animal nature, and feel sinful for our evolutionary heritage.

We become less than human when we pretend we don't feel these natural instincts, and like Seth, pretend that we're above all of that.

And in the case of love, the most powerful of all human instincts, we become less than human when we deny it to anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The role of the Mormon Church in the debate about homosexuality has been, and continues to be, immoral and sickening. The Mormon Church has denied love and happiness to its own children, and is vigorously exporting its sick philosophy, trying to force it on the rest of us. History will record this as just another of a long series of shameful deeds in the sordid history of the Mormon Church. It's dehumanizing.


  1. Seth: Regarding your last comment on yesterday's blog, where you wrote, "I do not claim genetics is irrelevant. But are you claiming we have no say in the matter at all, and it's all in the hands of the DNA lottery? I don't think that's your position."

    I hope this blog makes my position more clear. As you said, my position is not that we have no choice, in fact, my thesis is that to be truly human, we must first acknowledge our animal instincts. Only then can we hope to make real choices.

    I suspect that we both agree on this. But I also stand by my claim that religion denies our true humanity. The very foundation of all Christianity rests on the concept that we have complete free will. Without free will, the entire thesis of Adam and Eve's fall, redemption, God's sacrifice of His son, and so on, falls completely flat.

    And because of these beliefs, various religions, the Mormon church being among the worst, persecute homosexuals for following their instincts, the same way you and I do. It's wrong.

  2. I imagine we are closer to an agreement as well.

    We both think that genetics plays a role. We both believe that there is something beyond just genetics at work however in the human will.

    I imagine our main disagreement is going to be over percentages, or something like that.

    I would point out one thing however -

    A key theme of Christianity is that there are forces at work in life before which human beings are powerless. That no matter how much you struggle or exert your will power, you cannot escape the "fallen" situation you find yourself in. This is the whole rationale for the Atonement of Jesus Christ - to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

    So it's not exactly correct to say that Christianity puts everything on the human will. Some of the more extreme grace Evangelical churches, are almost fanatical about emphasizing human helplessness and the need to lay everything on Christ. Christianity has historically been almost painfully aware of the human animal, actually.

    This is by no means a simple formula.

  3. It's so simple! In nature, homo and bisexuality occur, and as primates, we are no different. It's nature's way of population control. Maybe less defects would happen if we gave into this. The big three Semitic-based religions are all about breeding and populating the masses,pretty much to bring more people under their control.

    The senseless abuses and killings under control-freak religions is out of control and insane. It's been going on since the Crusades and just won't end. Gaia has over 6 billion people on her fighting for her resources, and not every person on this planet is going to live, think, or love the same way, no matter how much they are threatened by those in power to do so. Gays are hurting no one, so stop hurting them. If anything, applaud them and praise them for not adding more babies to the world's population. Gaia will survive, as she has for over 4.5 billion years, but as a species, humans might not do so well if we try to kill each other out over such stupidity. If we do indeed have free will, then let us use it, and quit trying to control our bodies, hearts, and minds.

  4. I suggest that the next time the urge hits you, you defecate wherever you happen to be.

    At Wal Mart, at the company picnic, wherever you happen to be.

    After all, it's only natural. Stop denying your instincts.

  5. Seth - good illustration ... of why you are mistaken. We find excrement offensive because of our genetics. Excrement carries disease and parasites, and over the millions of years our genes were evolving, we evolved a deep dislike of sh*it. It looks bad, smells bad, and tastes bad, because we're genetically programmed to dislike it. Because of that, we find it socially offensive, and have developed cultural memes that match our instincts. It's bad manners to defecate in public because it's bad for the survival of our species.

    Contrast that with other things that we have no aversion to, like eating, holding hands, talking, and so forth. These are all good for the species, so we're genetically programmed to like them, and we've developed cultural memes that reflect those instincts too.

  6. But now the waters are getting muddy, because you have also just provided hints at good reasons why our society also regulates sex and other behaviors.

  7. not to get off the point,but i lived in a rooming house in Seattle,and one of my roommates was gay.only because of his religious beliefs he denied d acting on it.i watched for six months as he struggled with the war between his genetics,and his really tore him up,he eventually had a breakdown,and nearly killed himself.i had to move on and lost touch,but i had my eyes opened to the damage that can be done to some one when they feel forced to deny who they are.

  8. There was probably more going on there than just not-having-sex. Nor do I think he killed himself just over not-having-sex.

    Because plenty of people in society don't get to have sex - for various reasons - and yet they don't kill themselves.

  9. Seth - denial, denial, denial. At every turn, you're asserting that religion doesn't cause pain and unhappiness to gays and lesbians. You say, "There was probably more going on there than just not-having-sex," but you're refuting a claim that nobody made.

    Plenty of heterosexuals don't have sex and don't kill themselves. But whether you are hetero, bi, or gay, being denied love and intimacy is painful. If you have a person who is depressed to begin with, and who happens to be gay, and add to that the Mormon Church (or various other religions) guilt trip that they put on people for something they were born with, it can add severely to their depression. And it can and does push some over the edge into self-destructive behavior and suicide.

    Surely you're not trying to argue that "you have a choice" (your original assertion) is the same as "you'll be happy if you can't have love and intimacy."

  10. No, the comment seemed to be implying that he killed himself over being celibate. I felt clarification on that specific point was in order.

  11. If you'll notice Craig, I've been pretty careful about NOT wholeheartedly endorsing the official LDS Church stance on gays.

  12. Greetings Craig,
    I enjoyed the post.
    Just wanted to let you know I submitted it to The Humanist Symposium.
    For the march 14th edition.
    Hope you don't mind, but I thought others should read it.


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