Genes vs. Free-agency
Nature vs. Nurture
Thoughts from various authors
in a Church & Science e-mail list
There may be a great deal of our behavior that is programmed by DNA, but we have the power to override the programming. If we didn't, we could not survive in conditions unanticipated by our genes, and we'd be creatures of instinct rather than of thought.
DNA might have given Bach his creative abilities, but it couldn't write his preludes and fugues for him. I think that it's in unexpected and unexpectable acts of creativity that we demonstrate most clearly our agency.
My height, appearance, abilities, sexuality, personality, and even religiosity may be strongly or entirely determined by my genes. What I do with them is not determined by my genes. I can decide I don't like my personality and make changes in it. I can decide to ignore my abilities and let them atrophy. I can force my appetites into a narrow range, or I can deny them altogether. I can direct my religiosity at the god of my choosing, through the devotions of my choosing.
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