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Choice and Biology

Thinking people are conscious about what they are doing, and choice is part of their navigation equipment. Some have reduced all that we do, all of our desires and intentions, to biology, to our genes. Plants have genes, and they are describing humans as the same as plants. Plants might interact with neighboring plants, but look around! We are not plant-like. We choose to walk around objects. And we humans have more of what psychologists call socialization, not easily reduced simply to biology. It is not common for us to see people reduced to the biological impulse of moving against others sexually in public, or to see hungry people grabbing food out of the hands of others. Socialization involves applying our will. It's learning that becomes biology as cells in our memory bank, but this doesn't negate that intentionality and choice is occurring.

The question arises whether we can change. Some have declared that we can't. But we can and do, because what we do is not necessarily pre-determined by our biology. Studying history, we see people changing in attitude. For example, within the last century many people in the United States have changed in attitude toward race. So too have many Europeans since the mid-1800s. How is that explained if we are determined by our biology alone?

Some of us try to maintain a reasoned picture of how we should behave. We choose to consider ourselves rather than just respond. We want our values and actions integrated, but we don't always succeed. Many of us have regrets. A priest, parent or companion might point to an error they think we have committed, and we bend to their expressed opinion or not. Either way, it's a matter of choice.


Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.