Change in mankind brought about by transforming the heart

Published 9:05 am Friday, March 6, 2020

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Rev. Graham: I’m studying anthropology. The professor claims that behavior can be changed by altering genes. Does the Bible support this theory? — G.A.

Dear G.A.: Studies in anthropology, psychology, and sociology to discover the laws of human behavior are an important part of educational research. Too often, however, researchers ignore the fact of human sin and see a human being as proceeding from a combination of genes and chromosomes, and then shaped by his environment.

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Years ago at a meeting of the American Anthropological Association a new discipline was introduced called “sociobiology.” Described as “the study of the biological basis for social behavior in every species; its practitioners believe that some — and perhaps much — of human behavior is genetically determined,” implying that “a good deal more of mankind’s morality may be genetically based.”

But they fail[ed] to give a proper place to the inborn twist toward selfishness, viciousness, and indifference to God, making many of their conclusions only pseudoscientific. If we are shaped by our genes, and molded by our environment, then all we need to do is develop a way to alter genetic bases in humans or cure man’s environment in terms of bad housing, slums, poverty, unemployment, and racial discrimination.

It’s been said that many ministers attack the sin of society in an attempt to make society squirm. The truth is that we should do what we can to help those who live under terrible poverty and oppression. Ultimately, however, society is not going to be changed with coercion and force because when changed that way, man usually loses his freedom.

The change in mankind isn’t brought about by altering genes but rather transforming the heart. It can only be changed by a transformation of the human heart through Christ. God has said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).


(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)