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Manual of Articles Sections 15 - 29
|According to the diversity-repressing theory for the benefit of sex, sex
protects the genetic quality of the species. The diversity-repressing theory envisions
that asexual species accumulate harmful mutationsover time and gradually become
less functional, as though asexual lizards gradually lost the ability to run fast
or digest some food. Sex supposedly counteracts this danger by allowing family
lines that have picked up harmful mutations to recombine, producing offspring
free of bad mutations. According to this theory, some offspring will possess both
families' mutations and will die even more quickly, but other offspring will have
none of the mutations, and will prosper on behalf of the species. According to
this theory, without sex each and every family line inexorably accumulates mutations,
leading eventually to species extinction.
Ending the Debate
On the other hand, the environment does change from year to year, and individuals who don't do well one year may shine when conditions change, and vice versa. Butterflies whose enzymes work at cold temperatures thrive in dark, damp years, while butterflies whose enzymes function best at hot temperatures do better in sunny drought years. All butterflies are perfectly good butterflies, even if the abilities of some don't match the opportunities currently supplied by the environment.
I don't see any grounds for dignifying the diversity-repressing view for the benefit of sex as a viable alternative to the diversity-affirming view. To be agreeable, one might say both theories are valid. But this compromise isn't true. Conceding, even slightly, that one function of sex is to prune diversity puts forth a view that hasn't earned its place scientifically. Accepting a diversity-repressing view of sex simply to be polite admits through the back door a philosophical stance that may later be used to justify discrimination.
I accept as a working premise that a species' biological rainbow is good-good
because diversity allows a species to survive and prosper in continually changing
conditions. I further accept that the purpose of sex is to maintain the rainbow's
diversity, resynthesizing that diversity each generation in order to continually
rebalance the genetic portfolio of the species. I reject the alternative theory
that sex exists to prune the gene pool of bad diversity.
How then should we assess
the rainbows in our own species? We should be grateful that we do reproduce sexually,
although we probably take this gift for granted. I feel too that we should conserve
and embrace our rainbows. Affirming diversity is hard, very hard. We must come
to accept ourselves and love our neighbors, regardless of color in the rainbow.
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