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The Rebel in All of Us

Despite our history, will we be rebels or followers of Christ?

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Introduction

Why are you the way you are? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why aren't you like somebody else? Is it your genes? In 2003 the Human Genome Project, the complete mapping of our genetic code, was completed. In addition to all sorts of genes that determine physical appearance—like eye color or hair color—and genes that determine susceptibility to diseases, scientists found what the press has dubbed a "happiness gene." Apparently, your relative happiness is set by one particular gene, and you're stuck in that range. We also now know that there's an IQ gene. We know that there are genes that affect our tendencies toward addictions, toward aggression or the lack thereof. Some even suggest that there is a genetic component to sexual orientation. This popular notion, that we are our genes, has had profound implications. Some philosophers ask if the notion of free will is a coherent, meaningful idea. Lawyers for certain violent offenders have mounted the genetic defense, arguing that since we aren't responsible for our genes, we can't be held responsible for the dispositions and actions that those genes produce. That defense has not been effective yet, but it's only a matter of time before it is. The biological basis of sexuality stands at the core of current arguments surrounding the mainstreaming of homosexuality and gay marriage. Is our identity determined by our genes?

Conversely, some people argue that we are the way we are not because of our genes but because of our upbringing and environment. Prior to Charles Darwin and his cousin, Francis Galton, who coined the phrase "nature versus nurture," this was the majority view. John Locke taught ...

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Michael Lawrence is pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, and author of "Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church" (Crossway).

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