Are we free to be who we want to be, or are we instead the products of our backgrounds and environments?
Each of our lives is shaped by multiple forces — the friends we choose, the parents we didn’t choose, and the socioeconomic class background that we had little or no control over. So can we say we are mainly the product of our background? It’s a question to us from an anonymous young man, a college student.
“Hello, Pastor John! I’m majoring in psychology right now. One of my professors is a ‘radical behaviorist,’ and I have recently taken a course in learning and behavior. In this course, my instructor teaches that, according to B.F. Skinner’s ideas, man is basically a product of his environment and his reinforcements. In other words, Skinner argued that we are mechanical and do not have free will because we only act according to our reinforcements. Is there objective information that refutes Skinner’s ideas from a biblical perspective? And is there evidence outside of the Bible that suggests we do have free will?”