Friday, October 5, 2012

Religion and science make case for monogamy

Couples only: Animals pair up with a mate and enter Noah's Ark two-by-two, to ensure survival in the face of disaster.

John Witte Jr, director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory, wrote about monogamy for the Washington Post blog “Guest Voices.” Below is an excerpt:

“Creationists and evolutionists don’t agree on much, but they both believe that monogamy is the most ‘natural’ form of reproduction for the human species. This seems counterintuitive. Yes, the Bible recounts the story of creation, but it also describes the rampant polygamy of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon and other titans of the faith. Yes, nesting birds, voles, and a few other animals are monogamous, but most mammals reproduce with one dominant male controlling a large harem of females. Polygamy seems ‘natural,’ monogamy ‘supernatural.’

“Yet, for the past millennium, Christians and post-Christian liberals alike – Aquinas, Calvin, Locke, Hume, and Jefferson -- all agreed that God created humans to reproduce by becoming ‘two in one flesh,’ not three or four. And modern evolutionary scientists, from Claude Lèvi-Strauss to Bernard Chapais, have concluded the same: that pair-bonding is part of the ‘deep structure’ of human reproduction that humans have evolved as their best strategy for survival and success. …

“The Western tradition reminds us that the biblical polygamists did not fare well. Think of the endless family discord of Abraham with Sarah and Hagar, or Jacob with Rachel and Leah. Think of King David who murdered Uriah the Hittite to add the shapely Bathsheba to his already ample harem. Or King Solomon with his thousand wives, whose children ended up raping, abducting, and killing each other. Anthropologists point to similar problems in modern polygamous households. They show further that young girls are often tricked or coerced into marrying older wealthy men and that women and children of modern polygamy are often poorly educated, impoverished, and chronically dependent on welfare.”

Read the whole article on the Washington Post site.

Related:
The eternal tensions of religion and science
Marriage: A powerful heart drug in short supply
The science of love and attraction

Image: iStockphoto.com.

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