Tuesday, 9 June 2009

An Inherent Right to Freedom?

?As much as physics is an inherently Arminianist science, so is biology inherently determinist. As a biologist, I believe everything is determined by my genetic code and my environment. This nicely dovetails with my belief in predestination, wherein I feel Calvin didn't go far enough but Augustine's ideas are right on (though sadly not completely accepted by the Roman Church). So it is with pleasure that I read another study affirming my perspective- the MAOA gene is found to be linked to aggression in males, and is more prevalent in more violent societies.

We often want to believe we are free to make our own decisions, especially in Western societies, especially in America. But to what extent is this true? We will trot out the arguments that one can not be held accountable for their actions if they did not freely make them- but if I go through every step of a decision, am I not as culpable, even if it can be found what actually motivated that decision? If I have a genetic disposition to alcoholism and grow up in a heavy car culture, it is more likely that I will drink and drive- and yet I am fully responsible when I do so.

And yet, excessive drinking, or drinking and driving, or adultery, or violence- all of these are sins. They are all missing the mark, all not hitting the target that God has for us. So this sin, this tendency, that we all have, in different ways, is written into our genetic code. And since many studies show the same actions in other primates, we can be fairly well assured that this tendency in our genetic code predates our existence as a species, predates the humans who are Homo sapiens - "wise men" - with the ability to discern good and evil. That which we did without the knowledge of good and evil (note the text never says the far more reasonable "knowledge of evil") was in no way evil, for we were amoral, not immoral, not knowing good and evil. Once we obtained that knowledge, once our brains reached that magical point of being able to differentiate, we became culpable.

Thus our actions and very sins are predetermined, and every year we learn new ways in which our genes have dictated our lives. Does this mean that the individual who discovers they have MAOA should just give up- that there's no hope, and they will always be violent? No! It means they are now aware that there is something inside them making them violent, and they must work on it. Or the society with the greater prevalence of MAOA now realizes they have a greater work to do in that society. This is just as when we all learn that we have a certain tendency, we now know the area to work on to pursue spiritual growth, and salvation sola morphe, striving to change to be more like Christ, as he called us to do, picking up our crosses to willingly suffer at the hands of violence without being violent ourselves.

And if they do the concerted effort to change, and resist their genetic tendency, that resistance will have been predetermined too.

But this is not enough. It is unfair to those with MAOA, or any such gene. (For we all likely have some sort of detrimental gene with a tendency towards sin, and more than one!) Jesus speaks quite forcibly against violence, even calling the possession of weapons a sign of wickedness. But that doesn't mean there is no place for war and violence in Christianity. On the contrary! For Paul says, "Our weapons are not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers." As Christians, we are called to continuously fight against the demons. This involves prayer, yes, but the Pauline passage makes it clear that this fight also involves righteousness and discipline, truth and readiness, listening to the Spirit with faith, and love.

What is needed is a transference of the enemy, of the other, for those afflicted with MAOA. In this way, their resonance of the curse becomes a blessing for the entire body, as Jesus did with his death on the cross. This was the same transference that the early Christians went through, in that violent time of first century Roman rule, when they called those who did not believe pagoni, meaning "the civilians". The term "Pagoni" was not an insult or attack, but rather an indication of who we, as Christians, are called to protect, not through force of arms, never through force of arms, but through force of prayer and love.

Thus those afflicted with MAOA now become those empowered by it, with Christ's redemption of even a gene for violence, as they come to the forefront of spiritual warfare, working against the powers of evil, and for the care of those they once might have attacked.

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This is the discussion of the World Science updates as they become available.
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