Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Pearcey’s Homophobic Delusions

The Worldnutdaily has another of those “exclusive” commentaries, this time from young earth creationist Nancy Pearcey. As usual, “exclusive” means a column so mind-numbingly idiotic that no other “news” outlet would even consider publishing it (you don’t expect a site that gives both Pat Boone and Chuck Norris a weekly column to have actual intellectual standards, do you?).

Pearcey’s thesis is that homosexuals don’t “respect” the human body — whatever the hell that might mean. She uses a lot of words with vague or ill-fitting meanings in this context, a rhetorical strategy that works well with those who have already decided that there’s just something wrong with those damn gays. And along the way she mangles both intellectual history and the realities of gender.

for example, she makes this bizarre assertion:

Liberal ethics is based on a fragmented view of the human being that pits biology against choice. Its roots go back to the French philosopher Rene Descartes, who proposed that the body is a machine controlled by a completely separate thing called the mind. The ghost in the machine.

As philosopher Daniel Dennett explains, “Since Descartes in the 17th century we have had a vision of the self as a sort of immaterial ghost that owns and controls a body the way you own and control your car.” In other words, the body is no longer regarded as an integral part of the human person but as sub-personal, functioning strictly on the level of biology and chemistry – almost like a possession that can be used to serve the self’s desires.

Is she lying? Or is she really this stupid? Judge for yourself. The simplistic dualism she describes is little more than an historical oddity among the educated, long ago rejected by the scientifically literate. Indeed, it still exists primarily because it continues to be accepted by the badly educated. The primary belief in this deux ex machina remains mostly among the religious, who regard the “soul” or “spirit” as that non-physical “self” that controls the physical body. Dennett certainly does not believe in any such thing, which makes citing him on it quite disingenuous.

Several states have already passed laws mandating that schools and workplaces accommodate transgenders, and supporters are pushing hard for the same laws at the national level. In 2007, California passed a law requiring schools to permit transgender students to use the restroom or locker room of their preferred gender, regardless of their anatomical sex. The new law redefines sex as socially constructed gender: “Gender means sex and includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

Note the assumption that your sex is “assigned” to you, as though it were purely arbitrary instead of an anatomical fact. The law is being used to impose a secular liberal worldview that dismisses physical anatomy as insignificant, inconsequential and completely irrelevant to gender identity.

Like all theo-cons, Pearcey has a vastly oversimplified view of gender. She ignores the fact that anatomy — particularly if it is defined solely as the possession of genitalia — is, for many people, quite unclear. There are those who are born with ambiguous genitalia, those who are born with both male and female genitalia and those whose genitalia is at odds with other prominent aspects of their chromosomal makeup.

For most people, gender identity is perfectly straightforward; for some people, it is quite unclear. Pearcey, like all of her ilk, wants to pretend that the latter group of people either does not exist or is merely being rebellious or “sinful.” Such are the limits of her cartoonishly simplistic worldview. But what would one expect from someone who believes that the earth is only a few thousand years old and that people lived with dinosaurs?

As I show in “Saving Leonardo,” this represents a devastatingly disrespectful view of the physical body. It alienates people from their own bodies, treating anatomy as having no intrinsic dignity. No dignity is accorded to the unique capabilities inherent in being male or female.

This is simply bizarre. She keeps using that word “dignity.” I do not think it means what she thinks it means. At the very least, it should be applied to people, not to the physical shape of bodies alone. The human body is far more complicated than the shape of the body itself, not because of some “soul” that controls it but because there are a myriad of other bio-chemical and neurological inputs into our identity.