Darwin Day 2015 Questions: Is Homosexuality Nature’s Population Control?

Mar 6, 2015

Richard Dawkins answers your questions about evolution in honor of Darwin Day 2015.

“I’ve always believed that homosexuality was nature’s population control so that we don’t overpopulate. Thoughts?”

Edited by Stephanie Renee Guttormson

Copyright 2015 Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

10 comments on “Darwin Day 2015 Questions: Is Homosexuality Nature’s Population Control?

  • I have come across this statement/question. The answer that homosexuals don’t pass on their genes, at least until before ivf, is solid. My answer was less scientific but logical: if homosexuality is natures way of stopping overpopulation, it’s clearly not working ;). Too few are gay to prevent the human race from filling every nook and cranny of this sphere.



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  • Improved video, but now it looks similar to Clint Eastwood and the chair. Nice tulips.

    A shame all the comments got lost (not the first time, either, on this site). >(



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  • This makes sense in theory because gays are known for taking care of children that straight people discarded. But the truth is most of the gay men I know have biological children. Myself and my husband have 1 each from previous marriages. Also there are the closeted gay men and women that have lots of children. I happen to know of several with at least 3 children each. I’m certain that in the past most gay people did marry the opposite sex and have family’s just for survival sake.
    I guess what I’m saying is that if it was indeed natures way of population control, it didn’t work. Nature always seems to get its way so I’m sure there must be a back up plan.



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  • Homosexuals tend to be the younger sons of the family and probably contribute to the reproductive success of their sisters. Sisters of gays tend to breed well and earlier. Its also possible and a related matter that their predispositions reduce the extent of socially destructive sexual competition. They are, again, more likely to be still around to be a support for their sisters.
    Females normally, when fertile, seek the company of unrelated males but when pregnant show an inclination towards those they are related to who, if they are gay, may still be around.



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  • I don’t think it is population control, but I do think it is a natural evolutionary change in our growth as a species.

    Humans have been preaching that procreation requires a male and female to reproduce and that reproduction is all that matters. Hence they resist abortion, even in the case of rape, insist or “accident”. And from a biological standpoint that is true. But, we as humans, raise our children for the first 16-18 years of their lives.

    There is no denying that the raising of children is done in a “whole” family. Well, heterosexuals have been at it for thousands of years and have been failing at this stage of procreation for much of it. The failure is in keeping families “whole”. So we, as a species have evolved to increase the number of “whole” families available to raise our children. I think this goes along with what Heath said. He and his partner both had heterosexual relationships and produced children. Those relationships failed, the reason is irrelevant. But now you have two “broken” families, but they have come together to make a “whole” family. Sure, they could have married other women, but, if being with a man is what makes them happy, then you now have a happy, whole, homosexual, family instead of two broken heterosexual ones.

    On another note why homosexuality has no bearing on population control. It no longer matters. Homosexual couples can have children just the same as heterosexual ones. They just have to do it through more scientific means, i.e in vitro fertilization or surrogate mothers. As long as there are eggs and sperm there will always be a way to procreate.



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  • It all comes down to the individual definitions of normality, the difficulty of empathy with difference, the sheer impossibility of thinking beyond one’s self, and what we think we are, relative to others.
    In truth there really is “now’t as queer as folk, especially thee !”



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  • Maybe he didn’t explain it well enough but I think Dr. Dawkins is missing something. Selection doesn’t just happen at the individual gene level. It happens at the individual organism level and at the collective gene pool level. It’s an advantage for a particular gene when the social organization favors close relatives. There’s selection among tribes. A gene that promotes homosexual bonds (not exclusively homosexuality but a certain level of tendency toward homosexual behavior; bisexuality) would lead to more powerful interpersonal bonding which could be a selective advantage for a given group and thus for the individual members of that group.



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