No, the title of this post is not “clickbait”.  And the fact that when you saw it, the first thought to enter your mind was probably “well, no kidding!” makes you unique in the animal kingdom.  No other animal knows that sex makes babies. That is the position of Holly Dunsworth and Anne Buchanan in a paper entitled “Sex Makes Babies” found here at AEON.

The main point of the paper is summarized in this quote

“Animals have sex for a smorgasbord of immediate reasons, including pleasure, yet no species knowingly has sex for procreation except us. So it’s not just our Kama Sutra-ness but it’s also our reproductive consciousness that sets humans apart. Sex isn’t something that just happens to human beings. It’s the fact that we know what can happen when we do it that might be one of the turning points in making humans unique inhabitants of the planet. Because of reproductive consciousness, humans know that they are related to one another: grandparents, parents, siblings and children. And this knowledge – sex equals babies, and babies equals kinship – marks one of the turning points of the history of life.”

So how does this affect humans?  Another quote from the article:

“Reproductive consciousness transforms human beings and families into human lineages, inextricably intertwined with other bloodlines, passing along and exchanging genes just like any other animal, but also transmitting immaterial and material culture across and down through the generations, which in turn affects the fates of the genes going forward as well. Understanding that sex makes babies has allowed us to create social norms and expectations about when and with whom we reproduce that biologically driven behavior alone could never have done. But our understanding that sex makes babies has done much more than shape human destiny. It has changed the entire planet through our manipulation of other species to our own ends.”

While the authors do not address religion, I can’t help but wonder how this “reproductive consciousness” formed our religious views on sex, procreation, and morality as a whole.

The fact that sex feels good makes us want to do it, just like animals.  But for animals, that is the only reason they do it.  Religion has used this to imply that having sex without the possibility of conception makes us no better than an animal.  Thus the prohibitions against birth control which until the past 20 years was regularly taught by the Prophets (1), seem to have its roots in the fact that sex is to make babies, and any other reason is bad.  It is only a recent development in the LDS church that sex is more than just for making babies, so much so that the latest church handbook says  “Married couples should also understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a way of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.”

So, what do you make of this theory about humans being the only animal with “Reproductive consciousness”. Do you agree with the authors?  If so, does this reinforce the divine nature of humans as co-creators with God, in giving bodies to spirit children?


(1) The Church cannot approve nor condone the measures (birth control) which so greatly limit the family (Teaching of Spencer W. Kimball, 328-29)

When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring, the use of contraceptives is to be condemned. (David o McKay, Conference Report 10/43:30)