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Friday, November 18, 2005

Why is there sex?

When I taught biology, I could count on an answer to that question, whenever I asked it: "reproduction!"

I then pointed out that many organisms reproduce just fine, thank you, without any sexual activity, and that an awful lot of sexual activity, especially in humans, has little or nothing to do with reproduction.

So why is there sex? Well, I'll give the common biology text answer. (The real one, of course, is "I don't know," or "That's the way God made things," or some such expression of ignorance.) That answer is that sexual processes are a means of combining the genes of two parent organisms, thus allowing better combinations of their genes to appear in their offspring, and be selected for.

Sex is not found in all species of organisms. Where it is found, it often has profound consequences -- consider the fate of the male praying mantis, for example. Regardless, I'm glad it exists, because without it, I wouldn't be here.

Another, related question, that we also can't answer is how Jesus Christ originated. Did he have any genetic material from Mary? Was a Divine sperm created within her womb, by the Holy Spirit, that united with one of her eggs? We don't know.

I have also posted on "Why do living things have cells?"

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Grasshopper said...

Dr. LaBar,
I always enjoy reading your blog, but it seems that I rarely comment! So, I just wanted to say that I think this post is interesting especially in the present day when this term is used so lightly and frivolously!

Thanks for posting!