Richard Mulcaster, four centuries ago, wrote the words, "Nature makes the boy toward, nurture sees him forward" (qtd. in Harris 4). And so the great war began.
But it wasn't all Mulcaster's fault. Shakespeare was said to have juxtaposed those words in his play The Tempest: "A devil, a born devil, on whose nature / Nurture can never stick". Three hundred years later, Charles Darwin's cousin Francis Galton coined the usage of the two together, and the "nature versus nurture" conflict has been mushrooming outward ever since.
One of the most controversial and heated debates of our modern society is the idea that our "natures" and how we are "nurtured" are in conflict with each other to determine what defines us as individuals. Many arguments have been made by highly accredited scientists from almost any angle you can imagine to demonstrate how the current research shows that one particular idea is more correct than an opposing theory.
R. Grant Steen, in his book DNA and Destiny, sums up this conflict:
Some individuals seem to see humans as automatons whose every action is controlled by genes, irrespective of what choices the environment presents. Others seem to see nature as constantly at war with nurture for control of the individual, giving the phrase "nature versus nurture" a new meaning entirely. Still others see humans as a tabula rasa, or blank slate, written upon by experience. (21)
On one side are the behavioral geneticists--scientists who study heredity, and the effects of varying DNA structures on traits that are passed down from generation to generation. This way of thinking has had evolutionist advocates, such as Mr. Darwin and his cousin, as well as countless molecular biologists as its supporters.
With unfailing confidence, the proponents of the nature over nurture theory will cite prolific sources and illustrious studies, like the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart (MSTRA), and tell you that deoxyribonucleic acid has an unspeakably large impact on every facet of your facets. They'll say that reputable studies have shown that conservative estimates place the heritibility of intelligence, or how much of one's intelligence is determined by genetics, at around 70%.
They'll tell you about all the coincidences contained within the MSTRA data--how two identical twins were reunited after one was raised a Nazi and the other a Jew, but both were remarkably wearing blue shirts with two breast pockets they day they met, both flushed the toilet before and after they used it, and both enjoyed sneezing suddenly in elevators to scare other passengers. They'll tell you about the Jims, both of whom married a woman named Linda, had toy poodles named Toy, had sons named Andrew Richard and Richard Andrew, and had remarried women named Betty.
They'll offer information about how homosexuality appears much more frequently in some families than in others. Only 2% of the population at large was labeled "homosexual" in a recent study, while 8% of...