Fake News, Climate Change, and Testosterone

Remember when some clever analysts of evangelicals attributed their blindness about Donald Trump’s immorality to presuppositionalism and a biblical w-w that grants power to the mind in determining truth? Well, Andrew Sullivan comes through with a healthy reminder that residents and citizens of the United States may have bigger worries than Jerry Falwell, Jr., Liberty University, David Barton, and Shane Claiborne:

The deeper question for me is why anyone would try to insist that biology is largely irrelevant in, of all arenas, sports. I can see trying to minimize biological sex differences in many, many areas where the distinction is trivial — but something as obviously physically rooted as athletics? It’s almost perverse. An ACLU blog post defending the participation of trans girls in school sports states that there is “ample evidence that girls can compete and win against boys,” but somehow avoids the conclusion that there should therefore be all-sexes leagues or contests, where men, women, and intersex people can all compete together. Or you can have an article in Deadspinwhich ridicules any idea of a testosterone advantage for trans women:

The thing about all this talk equating hormone replacement therapy to doping, and the threat to “biological females,” and the “unfair advantages” of “male puberty,” is that it’s based entirely on social perceptions of gender. “There’s absolutely no scientific evidence at all that supports their position,” said Rachel McKinnon.

McKinnon is a philosophy professor. The idea that there is “absolutely no scientific evidence” that male puberty dramatically increases the physical strength of boys compared with girls is, well, unhinged. It’s the left’s version of climate change denial.

And for what? Why are the differences between men and women on average so offensive? Why is it problematic that men are physically stronger on average than women? Why should strength have some kind of normative value? I honestly cannot understand.

I suspect it’s related to postmodernism’s attempt to turn everything in the world into something humans have created and can therefore control. “Nature” is outside that rubric and so must be interrogated and deconstructed until it has been whittled away to nothing. Even science is a social construction, the argument goes, and so any advantage conferred by testosterone must be entirely a function of patriarchy. “Gender” absorbs “sex” altogether. But even if you end patriarchy, you are never going to end sex difference.

Then there’s the well-intentioned pursuit of equality. All inequalities, we are told, are socially created and need to be eradicated for full human freedom to flourish. Accepting natural differences seems like a backdoor to bigotry. And, yes, discrimination is often rooted in a crude idea of “nature.” That’s why making such distinctions requires nuance and exactitude.

There is a distinction between equality and sameness, just as there is a crucial distinction between inequality and difference. If the social-justice ideologues attempted to make all sports coed, there would be a universal outcry. Outside a few pockets of wokeness, it would seem absurd. And yet we are stuck in a discourse that presents this unreality as if it has some kind of science behind it. It doesn’t. We should be able to accept our inequalities as part of human diversity, and celebrate them, while treating each other as political and moral equals. The deeper laws of nature establishing this core human equality are enshrined in America’s Declaration of Independence. They do not mean we are all substantively the same, or will all end up in the same place. We are just morally and politically equal.

Who, after all, would want to live in a world like this — where we are all interchangeable, where nature is irrelevant, where men are the same as women, and where acknowledging the variations of humanity is relegated to the precincts of bigotry? How much drearier than the actual, diverse, fascinating natural world we live in.

Surely this is a point upon which Sohrab Ahmari and David French would agree and by uniting with Andrew Sullivan make liberalism great again.

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Speaking of Labels

We do have an industry that supplies us with human identity — it’s called the medical profession. And it might be of help when it comes to people want to decide whether to let a sexual proclivity determine their personal identity. Here’s one blogger who rejects straight as an identity:

1. Publicly declaring that I am “straight” counts as ‘too much information.’

I’ve been asking myself what is the real point of coming out as “straight”? Is that really the kind of thing other people are really interested in? Don’t we all have a vast range of sexual impulses and attractions? Does my deeply personal effort to respond chastely to my sexual attractions really qualify as something I should share with others? To what end? Lots of questions about this—if we’re all human and all doing our best to cope with our own call to chastity, why does it matter whether anyone else knows that my particular discernment has to do with my attractions to the other sex? Rather, it would seem more conducive to personal holiness to strive to align my responses to sexual attraction by seeing a confessor or spiritual director. The parish or the general public? Not so much.

Meanwhile, Carl Trueman observes the latest example of sexual politics that desperately needs to buy a vowel:

Wesleyan University has taken the ever-expanding list of initials used to refer to sexual identities to new heights of absurdity or sensitivity, depending on one’s perspective. We are now apparently up to fifteen letters: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM.

It is easy to laugh at such gibberish on the grounds that it is as absurd as it is self-regarding. Yet that would be a mistake. First, there is the long-established inability of such groups to laugh at themselves. Indeed, the new libertinism often makes the old Puritanism look comparatively self-effacing and gently playful. . . . Second, there are surely grounds for congratulating folks at Wesleyan on their consistent honesty in the cause of sexual liberation. Liberation, that is, of sex from any intrinsic moral significance. As Luther said to Erasmus in very different circumstances: You and you alone have placed your finger on the hinge on which everything turns.

The good thing about medicine is that a doctor’s determination of sex confirms what nature, Nature’s God, or the God of the universe (you can choose your god, not your sex) does. People come into the world either male or female, not straight, homo, confused, transgender, or even as believer or unbeliever. Sexual preferences are mere accidents of history.

Even better, the most basic human identity is still linked to the genitalia that God made:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)