Geneticist Francis Collins Responds to NARTH’s Dean Byrd

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2007

On April 4, the NARTH website published an article titled, “‘Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired,’ Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head Of The Human Genome Project” by A. Dean Byrd, who is NARTH’s incoming president. In this article, Dr. Byrd pulls several quotes from Dr. Collins’s book, The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief , suggesting that Dr. Collins shares Byrd’s view that homosexuality is overwhelmingly environmental in origin and behavioral in expression.

David Roberts of Ex-Gay Watch contacted Dr. Collins to ask whether he agrees with Byrd’s descriptions of his views. Collins responded this way:

It troubles me greatly to learn that anything I have written would cause anguish for you or others who are seeking answers to the basis of homosexuality. The words quoted by NARTH all come from the Appendix to my book “The Language of God” (pp. 260-263), but have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the meaning to refer back to the original text.

The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.

Your note indicated that your real interest is in the truth. And this is about all that we really know. No one has yet identified an actual gene that contributes to the hereditary component (the reports about a gene on the X chromosome from the 1990s have not held up), but it is likely that such genes will be found in the next few years.

David Roberts concludes:

NARTH is obsessed with theories on the cause of homosexuality. It enables them to treat it like a disease, not simply part of the human condition. And of course, a disease needs a cure, right? In a way, this article is NARTH in miniature; a lot of odd, recycled theories packaged with an facade of professional authority and provided to other organizations as a pseudo-scientific alternative to the truth.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

quo

June 1st, 2007

Critising NARTH for being obsessed with theories about the origin of homosexuality seems rather beside the point; surely this is true of most people interested in homosexual issues, both pro- and anti- gay?

Furthermore, I find it odd that David Roberts should be complaining that NARTH’s theories are old – is he assuming that an old theory cannot be correct? If so, the born-gay theory must be incorrect as well, since in its modern form it goes back to the late nineteenth century, I believe.

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