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...