Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nature vs. Nurture


Nature                 vs.
           A while back, I remember a conversation that I had with a purported atheist.  He introduced me to the Nurture-Nature debate.  I discovered that this is an argument that is used as an excuse for immoral behavior.  Of course, without God morals become simply an opinion.  The idea is to stand behind the side of "nature" and say "I was born this way, therefore it's okay."  The truth is that even from a Biblical paradigm we were born with sin.  Believers can agree with those that make this argument in this respect.  He informed me that there is an opposite behavior called "nurture."  Nurture is considered unnatural and undesirable from his point of view.  It is from a parent or anyone that tries to change "natural" behavior.  While believers can agree that it is against our nature, specifically our sinful nature, to follow prescribed laws that come by revelation (the Bible), yet we hold firm to the belief that obedience to Christ and his precepts are both desirable and healthful.   

     Please understand that these words are being used in ways that stretch their real meaning.  As I said, when he said "nature" he was unknowingly referring to sinful nature.  We could take the word "nature" and use it in a way that would mean "the established or regular course of things" and the word would mean something positive for those of us that adhere to divine revelation.

     This is an interesting study and what I related above isn't reflective of all the ideas behind this debate.  The Marxist and Communist believed that it was the environment that determined men's beliefs and that was the basis behind concentration camps.  They thought if you just put man in an environment where there was no beauty and no good that man would throw away his belief in God.  Those that didn't fit this experiment were destroyed. The Fascists took a different approach and thought that everything was determined by ones' genes.  The best would survive in the end and they thought they would help it along.  This was a type of theistic evolution where they thought they were doing their god's work, but through the Darwinian survival of the fittest.  Counter wise, Biblical Christianity has a long history and of the strong and fittest protecting and helping the weak. 

    I find it funny that honey bees are now being thrown into the Nurture-Nature debate with recent studies that are said to support the nurture side.  As a beekeeper, I like telling people how the bees give a diet to the queen bees that makes the difference whether they develop into queens or worker bees.  Researchers have found that the diet actually changes the genetic structure of the queen bees in the short term.  Of course, the queens lay eggs that produce bees with the same genetic code bees always have had, but the special diet makes gene changes within the queen.

     There is no question that our genes play a role with how strong or large we may be and how quick we might think.  There is no question that our environment has an influence on all these things.  Studies suggest that almost 80% of health problems like cancer are influence by our diet and environment.  Some of these things are in our control and others aren't.  We aren't in Eden anymore. The role of genes and the influence of our environment does no negate the fact that man has a free will.  I believe that the influence of our genes and environment are huge in many ways.  The thing to be concerned with is what we do with what we have been given (see Matthew 25:14-30).  When it comes to the moral issues of our day we can be swept by the current, or we can swim against it. 


Here's a message about genes by A. Wilder Smith

The Bible, Matthew 25:14-30

Early definitions of nature and nurture:,nature,nurture

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