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On God, Darwin, Viagra, and the Female Orgasm

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So WMD aren’t the only thing we thought we’d nailed down but which subsequently went missing. Add to that list the female orgasm -- specifically, the evolutionary reason for the female orgasm. Today’s New York Times reports on a new book called "The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution," by Dr. Elisabeth A. Lloyd. Her thesis is that the female orgasm is not necessary for reproduction, and thus is not an evolutionary adaptation. It is, rather, vestigial (like the male nipple), or just "for fun."

Apparently, Dr. Lloyd doesn’t see the link between the "fun" of an orgasm and the desire for more of the biological activity that would put a woman in the proper position -- to say nothing of the proper state of mind -- to reproduce. But maybe the problem is not with the female orgasm but with Dr. Lloyd.

As a student of Greek mythology, I know that when a detail in a myth doesn’t make sense, the problem is not with the myth, but with me. I just need to work harder to make sense of it. Maybe Lloyd’s problem isn’t that she can’t find the evolutionary purpose for the orgasm, but that she’s not paying enough attention to the evolutionary purpose of sexual pleasure.

The Times’ look at the Big O comes on the same day as a report that over the next decade the federal government, through Medicare, will spend around $2 billion on erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra and Cialis. The figures were made public by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, who's sponsoring a bill to prohibit Medicare from covering the drugs. Most of which, presumably, also have no evolutionary purpose, and are pretty much just for "fun." Indeed, I wonder what Darwin would have to say about four hour erections.

When it came to coming, the debate thus far has been vaginal vs clitoral. Now we have to duke it out over evolution vs happenstance. Of course, the ongoing battle in Kansas could settle the whole thing.

Wouldn’t it be delicious if the female orgasm were the thing that tips the scales in favor of the Intelligent Design crowd? It would make for a great closing argument: "The female orgasm is so complex and strange, it could only have come from God. The reason there is no evolutionary purpose to it is because there is no evolution! God is in the details... and the bedroom. Who needs Darwin when you have the Bible -- and the Jack Rabbit. Case closed. Amen."