Over at the Onion, in an example of how grim humor is the one mode of talking about things about which you would otherwise be silenced, there is an article with the provocative title “Man Thanks God He’s Not Sexually Attracted to Children.” The ficitonal subject of the article gives us this gist:
“Christ, what if I’d been born like that?” continued Farlow, thankful that—through what was essentially the flip of a coin in his DNA—he managed to grow up with healthy sexual tendencies. “Who knows? One weird gene from my mom or dad and my brain could have been wired in a completely different way and I’d be some sick individual who gets turned on by children.”
Following his initial feeling of relief, Farlow reportedly spent the next several moments shuddering at the possibility of going through every single day of his life fighting abnormal sexual urges that, if left unchecked, would result in years in prison and the loss of every shred of respect from his family, friends, and community.
Indeed. But for the flip of a switch, the toss of a coin, a random event over which we would have no control, you or I, dear reader, might have been not the very nice people I am sure we all are, but monsters who have to fight horrible urges all the time. We would be obliged to live lives that could not be but full of suffering for ourselves, or cause immense suffering for others (or, more likely, both).
And yet on my view of the world, my naturalistic, nihilistic view, it is hardly a surprise that there should be people such as pedophiles. There’s no guiding hand behind the world, only blind variation and selective retention of the variants. Evolution, in a word. And the most important thing about evolution is that it does not care about you or anything else. Even with outcomes that seem to be pretty clearly adaptations (like sexual desire), the process throws up variants that involve suffering for those who have them. (Consider, if you will, a single mutation of the β-globin gene. Get it in one allele, and you have superior malarial resistance — an adapatiation which allows the mutation to spread in certain populations. Get it twice, and you will have very nasty and painful sickle cell disease. To bad for you!)
Of course, the existence of the pedophile would seem to be a problem for people who have different views of the world. Those of you who think that life has “meaning,” tell me please, what is the “meaning” of a life of the pedophile? Those of you who think “everything happens for a reason,” what is the reason for the pedophile’s being born? And what facts — what publically observable facts distinguish between my view that there is no meaning and no reason (other than bad dumb luck) for the existence of the pedophile?
Oh, and by the way, theists, if someone can thank God that they’re not sexually attracted to children, then why shouldn’t someone who is sexually attracted to children curse God?