Another week with Pinker, and now I understand more why people dislike him. Although I picked up on his voraciousness last week when it came to religion. This week, while reading Blank Slate, it seemed I discovered that much of his writing when approaching his opponents, he deploys an attacking style rather than dismantling their arguments. This is picked up by many but most notably from behavior scientist Henry D. Schlinger. Schlinger writing in the conclusion of his review says,
If the above is any indication, the scholarship in the Blank Slate is less than exemplary and probably represents a case where personal ambition has clouded objectivity. In the examples I’ve described, Pinker engaged in less than adequate scholarship, misrepresentation or misunderstanding of, and unnecessary personal attacks on, those with whom he disagrees. Such strategies might sell books, but in the long run they do not serve objective science.
I hold heartily agree with Schlinger in the fact that Pinker chooses to use language that would “trigger” both sides of the argument in order to cause more chatter about his work. As far as said work, Pinker aims to expose what he calls the extreme view and highlight why the moderate view is seen as extreme. He tries to accomplish this by exposing the three-headed monster of empiricism (the blank slate), romanticism (the noble savage) and dualism (the ghost in the machine). Pinker wants everyone not only to acknowledge but accept the fact that most of who we are is rooted in the physical nature passed on to us, not from external forces or culture. The big question for me is, how does our faith fit into the nature vs nurture debate? This, in turn, led me to think about the word metamorphosis.
On the way to becoming a butterfly, a caterpillar passes through four stages of growth and development. It begins as an egg; it progresses to the larva or caterpillar stage; it proceeds to the pupa or transformational phase, and, finally, it becomes a butterfly.
The transformation process is called metamorphosis, which is defined as “a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.” The key to understanding metamorphosis is realizing that the caterpillar does not turn into something it was not. The transformed creature is not disguised as a butterfly; its butterfly potential was always inside it. The stages of its life cycle are distinct, each serving a different purpose. However, all four phases are connected, and all play a role in the creature’s preordained transformational process.
Metamorphosis is a profound process. The English word is derived from the Greek word metamorphóō, which is defined as follows: “(from 3326/metá, ‘change after being with’ and 3445/morphóō, ‘changing form in keeping with inner reality’)—properly, transformed after being with; transfigured.”
The same word used in Scripture to describe inner transformation is also used widely to describe transformations in nature and other applications. Although human transformation can be compared to that of the caterpillar’s in terms of the life cycles that are key to growth, substantial differences must also be recognized. Unlike the physical change the caterpillar undergoes in becoming a butterfly, there is no automatic change in the physical form associated with personal transformation in humans. Instead, transformation is an inner work that begins with the new birth, is matured by inner healing, and leads to outward manifestations such as behavioral changes and changes in dress and style, for example. In summary, I see how God can use “what we are born with” and “the environment around us” to shape us into whom he was called (designed) us to be. In short, it is not nature vs nurture it is both working together.
 Schlinger, Henry. “Not So Fast, Mr. Pinker: A Behaviorist Looks at The Blank Slate. A Review Of Steven Pinker’S The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature.” Behavior and Social Issues 12, no. 1 (2002): 75-79.
 Pinker, Steven. “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.” The Skeptical Inquirer 27, no. 2 (2003): 37-41.
 Allan Lane, “It is All In The Mind,” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/sep/21/featuresreviews.guardianreview
 “Metamorphosis,” Google.com, accessed February 27, 2020, https://www.google.com/?client=safari&channel=iphone_bm#channel=iphone_bm&q=metamorphosis+definition.
 G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, and G. Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 4, s.v. “metamorphóō,” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995).