Nature vs. Nurture: a Biblical Perspective

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Nature vs. Nurture:

A Biblical Perspective

Ouida Lynne Heath

Psychology 101, Module 5

Professor Roberts
December 17, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture:

A Biblical Perspective

The Nature versus Nurture debate has been ongoing for centuries. People have tried to gain power through knowledge in determining what causes the human “mind to tick.” For centuries leaders and scientists have performed unethical and immoral studies to determine why two people with similar genetic composition can come from similar backgrounds and turn out so differently. I have witnessed a person raised in a poor home by parents with drug addictions become a thriving contributable member of society. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed a person raised in a Christian home with a Father as a minister who ended up in prison. As we learn about the psychological and biological composition of human beings and the affecting environment, I am compelled to ask the following questions: 1. What is the history of Nature vs. Nurture?

2. What are the most essential characteristics of this issue? 3. What does the Bible say about Nature vs. Nurture?
This review of the literature on Nature vs. Nurture focuses on these three questions.

What is the history of Nature vs. Nurture?

As I mentioned in my opening, government leaders and scientists have been conducting experiments through the centuries trying to determine why people turn out the way they do. We learned in school how Hitler conducted experiments on the Jews throughout the war in an attempt to create the ultimate “super race”. Frederick the Eleventh, King of Germany tried to conduct an experiment on children by taking babies from their mothers and placing them with foster mothers. He directed the foster mothers to suckle the children, bathe and wash them, but not to speak to the children. King Frederick intended to determine if a child’s surroundings determined the language they would eventually speak. He felt that they may speak Hebrew, Greek, or Latin because he thought they were the first ancient languages. Unfortunately, he did not receive results from his experiment because all the children died. The babies could not thrive without affection. (Kimble, 1993)

In another incident, a descendent of Genghis Kahn, the Mogul emperor Akbar, wanted to know how a child determined their natural religion. He raised children in isolation and waited to discover if they would be Hindu or Christian. He only discovered deaf mutes. (Kimble, 1993)

Although the experiments and studies have become more humane over the years, the debate remains the same: Is a person born the way they are, or does the way they are raised shape their future? A European psychologist says it best: “Because of the basic gene/environment interaction in the development of behavior, there can neither be a ‘genetic determinism’ nor an ‘environmental determinism,’ and therefore, the attempt to divide behavior into an ‘innate’ and ‘acquired’ component is automatically condemned to failure. No living organism responds to all aspects of its environment.” (Voland, 2000).

What are the most essential characteristics of this issue?

Humans are individually made with common behavioral tendencies. Our “brain architecture predisposes us to the senses of the world, develop language, and feel hunger through identical mechanisms.” (Myers, 2008). We also have certain social behaviors that define our human nature. The debate comes into play when the question is asked, “How much are human differences shaped by our genes, and how much is affected by external influences in our environment?” Behavior geneticists have studied human behavior for years trying to determine whether genetics or environment shape a human’s individuality, emotional stability and life choices. Through the studies of identical...
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