I have found that the more fallacious an argument is, the more easily it can be applied to all possible sides of an issue.
Case in point, the old “it’s [not] natural” argument. This rhetorical gem has been used with great effect as long ago as Aristotle, who went to great lengths to define “the nature” of things and saw the ultimate architect, Nature, as flawless. Doing things as they naturally ought to be done was a religion for the ancients.
Vestiges of this archaic ideology persist, and it’s not uncommon for simple folks to rely on the notion that something is okay because it is “natural.” This is no more prevalent than in matters of homosexuality, an area where our views are largely stuck in the ancient world. It’s strange, really, because both sides of the argument rely on the argument of “nature” in making their public arguments, and yet neither side has a leg in nature to stand on.
Those opposed to homosexuality say it is unnatural, despite nearly every species of animal on Earth engaging in homosexual behaviors at roughly the same rate as human beings. The claim that homosexuality is unnatural is ludicrous and absurd.
Which leads us to the argument that homosexuality is natural, and therefore acceptable. Cannibalism is natural, pedophilia is natural, infanticide is natural, the physical mutilation of your competition is natural… nature isn’t the best guide when it comes to morality. Just because something is natural does not make it acceptable behavior, and the mere presence of an urge is not justification for acting upon it.
What’s more, homosexual marriage is decidedly unnatural… as is heterosexual marriage. If one were so concerned with what nature dictates, one would not support gay marriage or straight marriage, because no animals in the world get married. The closest to monogamy that appears in nature is with angler fish or flatworms, where the two sexes fuse together. Outside of examples like that, there is infidelity among some couples in every single species (even species that are renowned for their faithfulness).
For those interested, very few primates are monogamous (even the gay ones).
Nature simply has no true bearing on how we as human beings ought to decide to artificially construct our lives and societies. Nature should not be ignored, as it is something that every culture must contend with, but there is no use in glorifying the idea that nature is a moral guide. Homosexuality is morally acceptable, not because it is natural, but because it is harmless (or as harmless as any matter regarding love can be).
Morality should not be based on arbitrary laws revealed to prophets by gods anymore than it should be based on the natural order of other life forms. You may base your philosophy on the animals, but do not be surprised when you accomplish as little as they have. There is so much more to existence than the beasts will ever comprehend, and it’s all there because we put it there.
Science, medicine, technology, art… the animals have none of these things. Some of the best things in the world are unnatural. For once, human beings should refrain from damning ourselves with how evil, corrupt and selfish we are and come to terms with the fact that we have done a lot to make the world a more interesting place. In a way, nature is lucky to have us to spruce things up.
If aliens come to visit, they’re not going to be upset if they can’t find a panda or tiger. I doubt they’ll care one iota for any life forms on this planet besides us. Say what you want about all the trees, flowers and furry little critters, we’re the only thing on this planet worth travelling the stars to see.