I guess the question is another iteration of the nature vs. nurture debate. And maybe the free will vs. predestination debate.
But I think it’s an interesting version of the question, and possibly a helpful one.
Recently, I described my (soon-to-be-finished) book proposal to a friend. The book is for Christians who teach. It’s built upon the philosophy that God, as Creator, is the source of all knowledge, that he created us to be learners, and that following the call to teach is a specific fulfillment of his purposes. My friend noted that my premise fit well within Reformed theology, seeing as one of the tenets of Reformed faith involves living out one’s vocation as an act of worship.
I was surprised at the connection between my deeply held beliefs and Reformed faith. Although I have attended a Reformed church for the past several years, the specific system of theology isn’t the reason why I go to my church, and I haven’t made a particular effort to study and/or adopt it. I quickly reasoned that the connection must stem from my counselor’s guidance over the past five years, since he comes from the Reformed tradition, too. My friend pointed out that while those conversations could have contributed to my approach to my book, there is also probably something within me that draws me to that type of philosophy.
I hadn’t thought about it that way. Days later, as I considered what my friend had said, I realized that I had written papers in college that espoused the same philosophy as my book’s premise. I wrote similar words well before I knew my counselor and before I had spent much time in my church. I was forming these ideas before I met people who could help me define them.
As a very different example: Over the past several months, as I have identified more and more with feminism (which means believing that all people are equal–no if, ands, or buts) and recognized my own strength as a woman, I have also realized how I have always been drawn to stories of strong women (fictional and nonfictional alike). From Katharine Hepburn (noted in the linked Wikipedia entry as “known for her fierce independence and spirited personality”) to Captain Janeway (from Star Trek: Voyager), these courageous stereotype-disregarding women fascinated me.
I’m not exactly sure what I’m trying to say here. But there’s something neat about realizing the ideas you find you admire are not as new to you as you thought they were.