Gender, Evolution, and the Loss of Faith

So I’ve been posting here on and off for awhile and shared my faith struggles, etc. Over the last few months I’ve come around to agnosticism (maybe even an agnostic seeker who wants to have a relationship with a/the god but who doubts that highly) and no longer consider myself a Christian.

But that has led to questions about evolution. I realize this may be simplistic but it’s genuine. How does evolutionary biology explain the rise of two complementary (do not read complementariansm) genders across the majority of species (I know there are exceptions to this)?

Additionally, what are your top ten books on evolutionary biology and answering questions like the one above?

Thank you so much! You guys are great!

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I think there are two questions of interest here for evolutionary biologists. The big big big one is the existence of sex at all. (Here I mean sexual reproduction, involving gametes and genetic recombination.) There are fascinating lengthy discussions of the advantages and disadvantages of sex (the Wikipedia article is pretty good). The Red Queen Hypothesis is one major influence on thinking about the evolution of sex and it’s worth reading about. But most of these important ideas deal with how sex works in a population, and not with the molecular nuts and bolts of the process itself. I don’t know what the current ideas are there, but I do know that the process is very ancient–even yeast have mating. So, sex has its origins in processes very deep in the history of eukaryotes.

The second set of questions involves the drivers and nature of sexual differences, which I think is what you mean by “complementary genders.” Topics involve sexual selection, sexual conflict, life history strategies (of the whole species), and concepts like runaway selection. All VERY interesting and under current investigation. While I think it’s safe to say that the origins of sex are obscure and unknown, the origins of sexual differences in particular species can be studied robustly. The evolutionary explanations are interesting, and often contested, but there is no overall mystery.

I haven’t read The Red Queen by Matt Ridley but it’s a popular semi-classic and worth reading. On the topic of sexual differences, a recent book that I can recommend is The Evolution of Beauty by Richard Prum. It’s not a great book; his ranting is annoying and his rambling is tiresome (did he not have an editor??) but the take-home message about sexual selection is interesting and it has a lot of explanatory power.

Good luck in your unbelief. I hope you have a good community.


Hi, Austin. Regardless of what sorts of identity labels you wish to take up or shed, keep asking good questions and struggling! There are Christians too [nearly all of us?] who live with doubt and even go through seasons of despair. Feelings are great when we have the good ones, but they certainly are not a reliable foundation for living the good life. Not that you aren’t aware of all that, of course, - I only bring it up because I know you’ve expressed appreciation for mysticism in past posts. I do hope you’ll continue to ask good questions and pursue truth with all of us.


Interesting question and your response raises more questions, I like your question why the existence of sex at all? I wonder though if the rise of the sexes suggest a creator or designer, someone guiding the evolutionary process? Or am I way off?

It was a question in a biological context, at the level of molecular genetics and cell biology–I hope that was clear. The question is not about “the sexes.” It’s not about gender.

It doesn’t suggest that to me. Anything and everything can suggest a creator. I don’t see how sexes do that any more than owls do. (I love owls. Gods, not so much.)

Thanks for your reply.

Perhaps this is just a simple why two component to make a new version? As in an egg and a sperm?

The answer being replicative failure. As in, if you just duplicate the same set of genes ad infinitum they will slowly degrade and loose cohesion. but if you combine two sets then there will be a change or “growth” i.e. change prevents decay. It also creates diversity within the population by which forces like “survival of the fittest” rely upon. If every creature is identical then a slight change in the environment or circumstance will have the same effect across the whole population and if that is negative then the whole population will suffer and decline, but if there is variety then some will thrive or even improve while others will decline and disappear. So gender gives the necessary means to keep diversity within a population

Whether gender is a product of chance or God? Is more a matter of faith than certainty. You can argue that the forces of nature will produce the optimum means of survival, or you could argue that it could take a designer to produce the “perfect” system. And you will probably not be able to prove it either way.

Forgive me, but how does gender (or sex) affect a belief in God?

I have been talking with someone on another forum who seemed to think that God could not create a world that involved death automatically (So death is the fault of humanity, or rather Adam) but sex and gender? Sorry I do not see a problem, so enlighten me please.


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Yes, that’s the biological question. (“Gender” is not a biological thing – look it up, I know it’s a semantic point and I won’t harp on it.) But sexual reproduction, and especially the elaborate molecular shuffling of recombination, clearly increases genetic diversity. The reason the question (“why sex?”) isn’t simple is this: the cost is gigantic. Hence ideas such as the Red Queen hypothesis.

No one said that it does.

I don’t understand your question.

I do not think it was aimed at you, but the originator of the OP. Perhaps I misunderstood.


:grin: I was going to say something about the distinction between gender and sex, since harping on pedantic semantics is my favorite thing, but thanks for taking care of that.

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Hello Austin,

Why ask a question of which the answer is already given in the Bible?

Biology is the study of living things, not how living things evolved. Male and female sexes did not come about due to evolution because evolution never happened. God created.

Is there a need to move away from the Bible that explains the beginning of, basics of, and the purpose of life, points out the path we should take, and much more?


Yes, when the bible does not tally with what we see around us. The bible is not a scientific book and does not claim to be. So why take is as such? There is no sense in asking the bible something that it does not have the authority (knowledge) to answer.



I believe that is part of the reason for the question. The bible does not present any guidance on the questions of evolutionary mechanics or even biology, for that matter. These things are quite outside the scope of the questions the authors were concerned with. I don’t think it indicates any kind of departure from the bible to ask questions it doesn’t have answers for, which is a great many things.


While the question is an appropriate one for reflection and discussion, it is noted that we have a long history of adapting our interpretation of the Bible to reflect new discoveries and new found knowledge. The most famous of which is with Galileo and heliocentricity but also earlier with more ancient views of cosmology, with germ theory of disease, with views of seas being the home of chaos monsters, etc. We also integrate archeological discoveries, document discoveries,and better understanding of the original meaning of words into improving translations.

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Hello again, Austin,

Would you mind if I ask why the need to move away from the Biblical Christian faith? Despite the tendency of some to see the Christian faith only as one of many beliefs, the term “Christian” came about to describe followers a Person uniquely described in St. John 3:16. This Person has the answers to all of our questions.

If this Person was found to appear insufficient, may I ask why?


This thread is absolutely not going to turn into scolding Austin for accepting evolution. That is not a helpful response to anyone going through what he described. Please refrain from those types of comments.


Hello Christy,

I have removed the statement.

May I share the title of a book I am reading? It is, “How Darwinism Corrodes Morality” by Jerry Bergmam.


Well, you just did. But I’m pretty sure no one is going to read it.


I can’t imagine picking it up but I confess to being curious about how they can possibly make such a case. I assume the morality which is to be corroded is of an authoritarian, rule-following kind. Morality in the form where rule following is ensured by the lure of divine carrots and or brimstone sticks. Morality as the rational exercise of quid pro quo calculations.

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Hello Christy,

I’m only able to advise. Take it or leave it. It’s up to you. But I am curious as to why my suggestion appears unwanted. I only know that I was given advise that I took lightly, didn’t heed, suffered, and wished my advisor had been more confrontational.