Saturday, July 10, 2010

When you learn about sex you learn about everything!


This whole brouhaha about sex education in the schools shows that a lot of Filipinos have a narrow idea of what sex is. Sex for most is limited to the reproductive organs and the sexual act. And this gives the Church, parents and teachers on who should be the right people to tell children about sex.

May I suggest Charles Darwin? Unfortunately he is dead and buried in Westminster Abbey. But his book (which I believe is more radical than his own "Origin of Species") "The Descent of Man" lies down our modern ideas on how we should look at sex. Sex is crucial to understanding evolution.

First of all Darwin observed that the sexes are different. The males have structural differences from the female and in some cases these are so obvious. Look at the horns in some mammals. In some cases, only males have them and in most cases, the males have larger horns. These are what we call secondary sexual characteristics. Any child who grew up in a farm notices these (after all children are naturally inquisitive). Children learn the gender of their parents by their parents secondary sexual characteristics.

The fact that children observe sexual characteristics early in their lives suggests strongly that humans are subject to sexual selection. So if the Church and Armand Luistro is afraid who teaches sex first to children, then it would be the proverbial "birds and bees"that do so. Parents should be wise enough to tell their children in the best sense about the structural and anatomical differences that define their sexes. Parents should be able to tell their children on the functions of these anatomical structures which they already have an inkling of.

Sex is so entwined with how our species evolved that Darwin himself hypothesized that human intellect is a product of sexual selection and is the concept of morality. In this scheme of things, the family unit is the main way by which sexual information is transmitted to the younger generation (and this includes morality and intellectual advancement). The family therefore has been selected as a unit that confers fitness and survival to children. And sexual selection resulted in the fixing of gender roles (which naturally complements children's observation of secondary sexual characteristics).

And this leads to Darwin speculating the origins of religion and belief in God or gods. Darwin however hesitated to suggest that this belief is innate but he recognizes that this is almost universal. Today we would hypothesize that religious belief provides another opportunity to gain evolutionary fitness. While Darwin was willing to accept the universal evolutionary basis of morality (as he observed that in the animal kingdom, we see the foundations of that in social behaviours), he wasn't willing to accept belief in God since that cannot be tested even inductively.

But Alfred Russel Wallace was more daring and even willing to test that.

Now can the Church and the rest of conservative Pinoy society accept that belief in God is due to sex?

The Church which has a coherent theology of sex in John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" should not go into fits when the scientific basis of sex is taught.

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