Disclaimer: I should say I am not a psychologist or biologist, though I have a few college level courses in the prior which probably color my view. In addition, I am not sexually a homosexual and have no personal experience with that aspect of it, though it piques my intellectual interest. Also, I am European (this is apparently a synonym to many).
Question: Do you tend to support a psychological or a biological explanation to why some people are homosexuals? Do you have a "pure" or a "mixed" view of the two, and why?
My opinion: I tend to support the psychological explanation of sexuality due to it being more parsimonious. Being "born" a homosexual doesn't immediately ring clear as a biological explanation requires a number of a priori assumptions of future state of the social environment as one grows up. Two people of the same sex cannot biologically reproduce and thus face extinction. Becoming a homosexual through the psychosocial environment is to me a simpler explanation as this would imply it being either a learned behavior, which may account for homosexual couples having a higher probability of raising a homosexual child, or as a response to other environmental factors such as sexual competition.
I'll stop explaining here and rather see where the discussion goes off to.
(Two notes to add: I don't think homosexuality should be treated even if it is "treatable". It is no more a condition than preferring beer over vodka. Also, I tend to support a twin explanation of both inherited and environmental causes, though with the latter overwhelmingly more explanatory, i.e. 90%)
What consenting adults do in private is one thing. Bestiality and Pedophilia are abuses of powerless beings. Do you let murderers off the hook because they can't help themselves?
I was reading an anthropology paper a while back about certain tribes in which it was custom for boys which entered adulthood to perform fellatio on the elders of the tribe. This was considered as completely normal and without any social stigma attached, merely a rite of passage. There was no sign that the young boys had any adverse psychological damage from the experience since Western morality had not permeated their society.
(Now to find the bloody thing...)
Like I said, the pedophiles and the morality of our culture are essentially co-conspirators when it comes to damaging the abused child.
You're simply restating our culture's canned attitude. If you had grown up on some south sea island or in an African or Native American tribe (in their natural, pre-Westernized state), you'd have a different script to recite. Cultural relativity.
Those customs do prove the power of cultural pressure on sexual behavior, but since those customs are so exceptional, I think it's safe to say that it's the culture that's bending the baseline, biological behavior.
I believe it to be a mix or combination of both. I believe beings are born with subtle changes in their biology and can be activated by triggers. However, I do not believe all homosexuality is from the same cause. Some more psychological, maybe some more bio-chemical related. Regardless, my friend proposed a good theory that has stuck in my mind ever since. His postulate was what if Homosexuality is a limiting factor that develops as we reach a carrying compacity? Maybe some deep subconscious trigger is pulled during this time or maybe an activation of some DNA. I honestly have no idea, nor do I have proof of homosexuality being in lesser ratios in the previous centuries in our history. Just something to squander about.
If it were psychological there would be alot less sucides, I don't think i'd choose to be constantly discreminated and threatend....
I, like many atheists don't think it's very likely that things exist that are not physical. Because of this, it seems likely that human cognition comes from a physical phenomena.
This way of thought(naturalism) doesn't give any room for the idea that biological and psychological things are different than one another.
If non-physical things do not exist and human cognition does come from our physical makeup, then psychological states are the same thing as, or dependent on biology.
When were able to point to a specific biological activity in something and conclusively correlate it to behavior, we tend put that behavior in a different catagory than before, as if it is something that people are unable to control. When really, every behavior is in that catagory, we just don't see it that way until we understand it scientifically.
I have always asked, "If homosexuality is a choice, was the choice difficult for you?" Note, this a general response to those who feel, as a result of biblical instruction, it is a choice. They usually get a bit queasy by the mere suggestion. If it is biological and has the capacity to be passed on to potential offspring, most christians ask, "Then why are there so many gays now, shouldn't they have diminished since being gay they don't produce offspring?" I think the answer is that Christianity is the reason for this since, were you a homosexual male in say the 18th-19th century Europe (or most any other time for that matter) it is quite unlikely you would let anyone know of your desires, choosing instead to take a wife and have children so as to not be exposed and potentially killed. I can't say I have ever been sexually aroused by a male although Johnny Depp has come close. To me I can't see it as mere choice, though I'm not certain it's completely biological. I don't think of it as an off or on switch but more like a very extensive equalizer, you can adjust the knobs so as to make the sound just right for you (though it may not be perfect to others) but move a couple slides just a bit too much and immediately you get butt sex. I hope this explains my opinion.
"I think the answer is that Christianity is the reason for this since, were you a homosexual male in say the 18th-19th century Europe (or most any other time for that matter) it is quite unlikely you would let anyone know of your desires, choosing instead to take a wife and have children so as to not be exposed and potentially killed."
I would be careful drawing too many conclusions based on history, especially since the word "homosexual" did not enter the vocabulary until around 1900. It is also not unheard of that people got convicted for buggery, especially amongst the elites, and that homosexual acts were quite widespread.
The social dynamics were also quite different. Having a majority of males actually reaching maturity is a very modern concept, and in most places war, famine, disease, and other causes tended to make a large dearth of men in reproductive age, making most societies have a 40/60 male/female ratio or even more extreme in age groups below 25-30 (after which point women died in droves in childbirth).
I would also not call it a "choice" by the normal definition of the term, which would imply free will was involved. To switch the argument, how would you know if your heterosexuality was a result of you being biologically predisposed to it or through socially condoned brainwashing?
The terminology "Homosexual" wasn't really important in regards to historicity but that it is useful by today's understanding of the term, so I use the term and that as sexual intercourse between two males was never the less seen as a sin. Choice too was a term not in actuality of my choosing so much as that it is most commonly uttered by those of faith. The semantic aspects of words are often used by the faithful as well, such as "belief".
how would you know if your heterosexuality was a result of you being biologically predisposed to it or through socially condoned brainwashing?
It may seem a tad gratuitous to suggest but I don't necessarily need to "know" as long as a particularly miniscule appendage offers it''s opinion.
To be fair, and I don't think I am alone on this, I doubt most of us really contemplate what it is we find sexually desirable at least in the immediate. A heterosexual male sees a lovely woman for instance, there is an immediate chemical reaction outside of contemplation. He need not pause to question whether what he is seeing is sexually arousing but that it simply "is" arousing. Are the chemicals acting on him responding to a social norm? I don't positively know, but I would suggest not.
"A heterosexual male sees a lovely woman for instance, there is an immediate chemical reaction outside of contemplation."
I would state that that chemical reaction is the product of social conditioning. Rubenesque women were considered highly attractive into the mid 60ies and Twiggy was seen as repulsive when she first appeared. Today that has switched completely.
There are also differences between the male body images in the Greco/Christian world in which the ultimate male is the very fit David, versus the Sino/Buddhist world in which the somewhat obese Buddha is the example. (Interestingly, Body Dysmorphic Disorder is chiefly a Western phenomenon.)