Nature vs. Nurture

 PHOTO: Black and White twins – Kian and Remee Hodgson

It is clear that our DNA plays crucial roles in making us who we are physically, but to what degree “are” we our genes?

The age old debate of nature versus nurture swirls around in my head often as I hear so many people refer to newborns being adopted as a “blank slate.” Newborns – adopted or not – are certainly not “blank slates” (Tabula Rasa). Many behavioral geneticists have performed studies on adoptees and twins, and have learned that human development does not derive solely from environmental forces – wealth, social privilege and education cannot be assigned to a genetic code.

To what extent are we governed by external factors (nature), and how much is genetic? I think the answer lies in how we individually want to interpret it.  We can hear explanations for dwarfism, Parkinsons, and breast cancer, and try to ascertain that the reason we now have this condition is because of our genetics. However the reality is that our genes can only tell us if we have that mutation. Cancer, among other conditions, may in fact have more to do with our environment (nurture). However, people hear what they want to hear, think what they want to think, and assign blame to whom they’d like to assign the blame to.

I thought that finding my roots, and learning more about my genes and my background would give me answers, but it’s actually left me with a lot more questions. I, along with countless others, would like to pinpoint reasons behind seemingly innate talents, distinct mannerisms, IQ, susceptibility to mental health issues, or alcoholism etc., down to either nature or nurture, however I’m learning that though genes play a large role in our creation, much of who we are is also quite random.

That randomness is hard to accept.

5 thoughts on “Nature vs. Nurture

  1. Great picture, by the way. Isn’t “that randomness hard to accept” because we, as humans, yearn for certainty? Perhaps because we equate certainty with a degree of control? But, looking at life another way, control is an illusion, we are not running the show, and change/uncertainty is really a marker for Life, isn’t it? What I mean to say is, where there is Life there is change/where there is change there is Life. Something to consider?

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Diana. I appreciate your perspective, and I would love to have a discussion with you about the free will aspect of human design! Great point. I, too love the photo of the twins. They are now adorable 8 year old girls.

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  4. I think both nature and nurture plays a role in the people we turn out to be. And we are reborn into the life of Jesus, we become a spiritual person as well!
    Blessings from Jenn’s
    Mia

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  5. Yes, I agree with Mia. I think nature and nurture are both secondary to choices we make in life, and in particular our choices when it comes to God.

    I think the Old Testament Joseph is a good example. He was born into a pretty bad family–some of his brothers were murderers, one was involved in an incestuous relationship with his dad’s wife and another with his daughter-in-law. There was strife and jealousy between Joseph’s mom and his dad’s other wives. There was favoritism and hatred. It was really a dysfunctional family. Then he was sold into slavery by his own brothers…

    bad heredity, bad nurture, and bad circumstances…

    But he chose to live for the Lord and do the right things. His way was tough but ended in honor.

    I think your post raises an interesting question. And one reason we don’t know the answer is because we see people with everything stacked against them who turn out okay and others who have the best nature and nurture but turn out badly. I really do think choice is the final indicator.

    What do you think?

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