Howard Dean: Biotheologian

Does God make people gay? At first glance, this is a question that appears theological. However, Howard Dean, democratic presidential candidate and a physician, looks to biology for his answer. Campaigning in Iowa, when asked about his views of homosexuality, candidate Dean said, “The overwhelming evidence is that there is a very significant, substantial genetic component to” homosexuality, Dean said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people.”

Now let’s see what chapter and verse of Holy Writ did Dr. Dean consult to arrive at that conclusion. Genesis? No, that’s where Adam and Eve were created. No gay people there. Leviticus? No, don‘t want to go there. The New Testament? Nothing promising there either. So what’s the basis for Dr. Dean’s theological views?

Here is the argument: if homosexual identity is determined by one’s genes, God must have planned it that way and actually approves it. I’ll evaluate such thinking momentarily but let me pause to note that this premise adds another title to Dr. Dean’s long resume’: biotheologian.

According to Michael Cavanaugh, author of Biotheology, “in a sentence, biotheology synthesizes biology and theology by deriving the study of God from the study of life…biotheology rejects supernatural explanations.” In harmony with this description, biotheologian Dean gleans God’s thoughts on the subject of homosexuality via his interpretation of biology and genetics.

In the enlightened world of biotheology, who needs Scripture or church tradition? Science will tell us what God thinks. The faithful in the Howard Dean church of biotheology will be unburdened from Scripture study to learn of God’s principles. Just read the latest issue of Science for one’s daily devotional study.

Such a means of attaining divine wisdom may lead biotheology believers to confusing outcomes. For instance, a study by Michael Bailey and colleagues on twins recently proposed that sociosexuality was highly related to genetic factors. What is sociosexuality you ask? Basically, the term refers to willingness to engage in casual sex. So a large measure of the reason certain people hop in the sack indiscriminately could be related to genetics? Paraphrasing biotheologian Dean, we could say, “From a religious point of view, if God had thought casual sex is a sin, he would not have created people who engage in casual sex.” Interesting way to gain converts. Better start a building program for that church.

Back to the subject of homosexuality. I suppose in the domain of biotheology, if science does not support a premise, then neither does God. On our topic, one scientific organization, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reveals these words of knowledge from their Fact Sheet on Sexual Orientation:

“Some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime…to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology (cause) for homosexuality.”

Apparently then God does not make people gay.

So what happens to Dean’s biotheology now? Contradicting Dr. Dean, there isn’t “overwhelming evidence,” that there is a “very significant, substantial genetic component to homosexuality.” Certain people develop same sex feelings through life and then some of those people identify as gay and some of them do not. Thus saith the APA.

Who was Howard Dean preaching to out there in Iowa? Evangelicals? No, I think he probably just made them mad. A learned man such as Howard Dean must understand that evangelical voters see through biotheology. However, he also knows that those who have faith in the existence of the gay gene make up an energetic part of his base. Slipping some to Wesley Clark in the polls, Dr. Dean needed to preach to the choir. You must have faith to say things such as pronounced by the doctor. And I’ll bet he was reaching out for an amen from the true believers.