So contemplate for a moment the non-existence of god. Contemplate a materialist worldview, “above us only sky.” Everything you perceive with your senses – that’s all there is.
What has been gelling for me lately during silent non-verbal moments of contemplation is: Tom + Vera = Me. That’s all there is.
It’s not that putting the nail in the coffin of the Mystery answers the nature/nurture question for me so much as it renders it moot. How much does our environment shape our personality? Well, what is a “personality”? Contemplate for a moment the possibility that there’s no such thing. There’s just a bunch of stuff people do.
If “this” (squeezes bit of skin between fingers) is all there is, then I know now precisely “who I am.”
And incidentally, behind the scenes during all of this drama and contemplation have silently stood two people: John & Barbara. And it occurs to me how none of this has the slightest bit to do with them. It seems unfortunate that we do not have separate words for “the woman who gave birth to you” and “the guy who fertilized her ovum” vs. “the female primarily involved in raising you” & “the male primary involved in raising you.” They are just mother and father, at best modified as “biological” mother & father and “adoptive” mother & father. But they are so entirely different.