- Genes vs Free Will
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: If I am correct, I
believe that G-d holds everyone responsible for their own actions in
life, especially when one makes bad decisions or deeds. Everyone
knows that genetics apparently plays a big role in ones behavior and
mannerisms. Sometimes, these behaviors and mannerism's can be
very self-destructive, harmful, wrong, and plain stupid. For
instance, many times someone will say she's just like her mother.
Example - "She never thinks before she acts, and gets furious
without controlling her emotions. Just like her mother."
Some instincts between relatives are almost scary in how close they
are to each other. If we all have the ability to act the
correct way, the way of the Torah, the way G-d intends us to do so,
why does genetics sometimes show to be such a detractor and counter
force. Why are negative qualities such as "conniving
dishonesty, selfishness, anger, etc.. passed on through genetics.
Why aren't people given a clean slate to build their own character
upon through experience. I know this happens, and experience and
upbringing is responsible for the vast majority of who and what we
are, but why are those negative genetic qualities still present.
Can one say that G-d doesn't start off everyone with a clean slate,
because in many cases it seems like bad genes run in the family, and
I'm not talking about physical deformities. Please explain.
Shalom, and God bless you.
Many times we confuse nature with nurture. A girl mimicking her
mother's traits is largely due to emulation, not genetics. We imitate
our role models. But I do not deny that if you separate a child from
her parent at birth, 20 years later you may find the child to display
similar traits. But trait similarities are exactly that - traits,
- To say that a child has a strong thievery gene
is an incorrect statement. All that can be passed from parent to child
are psychological trends, not values or the ability for free will.
Free will is not less or more present in one person over another. We
all have free will, despite our personality differences. Additionally,
free will is not subject to quantity. One either has free will, or one
is not human. There are no other possibilities. A person cannot have
partial free will, just as a person cannot have partial intelligence.
One's intelligence may not be as abstract as Einstein, but in both,
Einstein and us, the presence of intelligence - and free will - is
- A person must examine himself throughout his
life. He must detect where his own specific makeup requires a control
in temperament. Then he must work on himself to produce the most even
keeled personality which lends itself to the serenity essential for a
life lead by wisdom, without the pull of his emotions. A Rabbi once
taught that Maimonides' "golden mean" (where one stays
equidistant from both poles of any emotional spectrum) is for the
ultimate goal of rendering one's personality free from emotional
pulls, so he may lead his life based on wisdom. If however one's
emotions are powerful, he will be led by them, not intelligence. He
will harm himself with poor decisions, and the absence of involvement
in Torah. If however, one isn't too giddy, nor morbid, or he is not
too miserly, but not too much the spendthrift, but in all spectrums he
remains in the center, he has removed the pull of both extremes, and
he is most at ease. He will then find his mind able to immerse in a
life of wisdom without emotions pulling him towards his desires.