We are by-products of our environment. I think even the religious minded will agree; what differentiates us from other species of Great Ape: religion. Because as far as any of us can see, only humans require an explanation for everything, including the great unknown.
Human beings are rather like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, or the Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz.” All three already had what they wanted most, but still felt they lacked. This is true too, for humanity. We already had the same understanding that all or most sentient animals have. Christians call it “the Golden Rule,” but it’s been around forever, in every human civilization that’s ever been, and in the world of animals too. Even despite the need to compete for food, we see animals work together, forming families or communities, building connections and bonds. Elephants grieve their dead. Many species of whales stay their entire lives in their family pods alongside parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts. When an animal is sick, often another of its kind, a sibling or friend, stays beside it; even after it dies you might still find its loyal friend at its side, loathe to leave it behind.
Kindness to others, helping others, doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. This is one of the basic laws of nature. Not all animals have it, but many animals do. It doesn’t come from religion. It comes from the instinct of knowing what it takes to survive in groups and get along. Except religion wants the credit. Without religion we’d all be savages, or so it’s said, murdering each other, not caring for anything beyond meeting our own primal needs.
Other intelligent animals aren’t like this without religion, so why would we be?
But we are conditioned to believe our goodness can’t come from within ourselves. It must come from without, from above, from something greater than we. Because we believe that we, unlike every other living thing on this planet, were born broken and in need of repair. And if we don’t desire after or seek out the one way we can be repaired, we will be punished, forever, by the god who made us broken.
How close are we to other apes? Very close. Genetically two genes differentiate us from our closest cousins. And in fact human beings are more closely related to Chimpanzees (or Bonobos) than Gorillas are.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Chimpanzee (AKA humans)
The only apes that mate for life–Gibbon Apes and Gorillas. And yet we are more closely related to the Chimpanzee than we are to either of these.
Animals that mate for life:
Gibbon Apes (nearest relative to humans (that mate for life)
Red Tailed Hawks
Chimpanzees do not mate for life. Yet humans do. I believe this is a direct result of religion. It seems to me that the effort to stay loyal and loving to one partner all your life is a noble one, and in many cases it proves the key to a happy life . But is it natural? Why is it so hard for 50% or more human couples to make their marriages last? When did mating for life become the norm for human beings? Did our prehistoric ancestors stay loyal to their mates? If so, what encouraged this behavior? This way of life?
It is a myth that only humans engage in sex for pleasure, just as it is a myth that homosexuality is not “natural:”
Published on October 23, 2006 at 4:28 PM · 290 Comments
Homosexuality is quite common in the animal kingdom, especially among herding animals. Many animals solve conflicts by practicing same gender sex.
From the middle of October until next summer the Norwegian Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo will host the first exhibition that focuses on homosexuality in the animal kingdom.
“One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species,” explains Petter Boeckman, who is the academic advisor for the “Against Nature’s Order?” exhibition.
The most well-known homosexual animal is the dwarf chimpanzee (Bonobo), one of humanity’s closes relatives. The entire species is bisexual. Sex plays an conspicuous role in all their activities and takes the focus away from violence, which is the most typical method of solving conflicts among primates and many other animals.
“Sex among dwarf chimpanzees is in fact the business of the whole family, and the cute little ones often lend a helping hand when they engage in oral sex with each other.”
Lions are also homosexual. Male lions often band together with their brothers to lead the pride. To ensure loyalty, they strengthen the bonds by often having sex with each other.
Homosexuality is also quite common among dolphins and killer whales. The pairing of males and females is fleeting, while between males, a pair can stay together for years. Homosexual sex between different species is not unusual either. Meetings between different dolphin species can be quite violent, but the tension is often broken by a “sex orgy”.
Homosexuality is a social phenomenon and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life.
Among the apes it is the females that create the continuity within the group. The social network is maintained not only by sharing food and the child rearing, but also by having sex. Among many of the female apes the sex organs swell up. So they rub their abdomens against each other,” explains Petter Bockman and points out that animals have sex because they have the desire to, just like we humans.
Homosexual behaviour has been observed in 1,500 animal species.
“We’re talking about everything from mammals to crabs and worms. The actual number is of course much higher. Among some animals homosexual behaviour is rare, some having sex with the same gender only a part of their life, while other animals, such as the dwarf chimpanzee, homosexuality is practiced throughout their lives.”
Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that will pair with one partner for life, which is the case with geese and ducks. Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair’s nest. It has been observced that the homosexual couple are often better at raising the young than heterosexual couples.
When you see a colony of black-headed gulls, you can be sure that almost every tenth pair is lesbian. The females have no problems with being impregnated, although, according to Petter Boeckman they cannot be defined as bisexual.
“If a female has sex with a male one time, but thousands of times with another female, is she bisexual or homosexual? This is the same way to have children is not unknown among homosexual people.”
Indeed, there is a number of animals in which homosexual behaviour has never been observed, such as many insects, passerine birds and small mammals.
“To turn the approach on its head: No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.”
Petter Bockman regrets that there is too little research about homosexuality among animals.
“The theme has long been taboo. The problem is that researchers have not seen for themselves that the phenomenon exists or they have been confused when observing homosexual behaviour or that they are fearful of being ridiculed by their colleagues. Many therefore overlook the abundance of material that is found. Many researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realize that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher’s ethical principles.”
One example of overlooking behaviour noted by Petter Bockman is a description of mating among giraffes, when nine out of ten pairings occur between males.
“Every male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, while anal intercourse with orgasm between males was only “revolving around” dominance, competition or greetings.
Masturbation is common in the animal kingdom.
“Masturbation is the simplest method of self pleasure. We have a Darwinist mentality that all animals only have sex to procreate. But there are plenty of animals who will masturbate when they have nothing better to do. Masturbation has been observed among primates, deer, killer whales and penguins, and we’re talking about both males and females. They rub themselves against stones and roots. Orangutans are especially inventive. They make dildos of wood and bark,” says Petter Boeckman of the Norwegian Natural History Museum.
END OF ARTICLE
So back to the religion thing. Is homosexuality “unnatural? NO, it is not. And the only reason human beings are under the impression that it is– religion.
Whether various religions want to acknowledge this or not, human beings are animals and are a part of nature, part of the natural world. Religion has taken what is natural for humans and changed the rules, directed the rules, put fear of punishment or hope for reward as motivations to bring about this change, this desire in all of us to shun our natural animal selves and behave contrary to nature.
That’s all fine and well, but not every human is the same as every other human, and not all humans are born homosexual, whereas some humans are. And of the humans born gay, not all of them are capable of denying what and who they are, to live within the box created for all of humankind by organized religion.
So, for those people, do we have the right to punish them? To deny them equal rights as human beings? To judge them, label them “abominations?” Tell them that their god (if they believe in him), or creator, hates them? Yes, like any creator would create a thing he hates.
For this reason among many, I disagree that religious dogma and indoctrination has been healthy for humankind. I submit that this artificial way of living that denies what nature designed us to be, causes hatred, bigotry, sexism–all manner of intolerance for our fellow human beings. Do Bonobos shun or stone to death members of their tribes for being gay? No. Only humans do that. Only humans stand up behind pulpits and preach that homosexuals are unnatural and an abomination and evil and should be put behind fences or be killed by their own governments for being born as the natural world intended them to be! Only humans use religion and made up doctrine as justification to kill or punish or gleefully and indignantly spread the poison of hate.