Thursday, February 20, 2014

Evidence of Natural Law?

An intriguing article from CNN: Are We Born with a Moral Code?

Some pertinent snippets:

Philosophers and psychologists have long believed that babies are born "blank slates," and that it is the role of parents and society to teach babies the difference between right and wrong; good and bad; mean and nice.

But a growing number of researchers now believe differently. They believe babies are in fact born with an innate sense of morality, and while parents and society can help develop a belief system in babies, they don't create one.


So what does this tell us? Paul Bloom, author of "Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil" and a professor of psychology at Yale, says these studies show that even before babies can speak or walk, they judge good and bad in the actions of others because they are born with a rudimentary sense of justice.  But Bloom, who is married to Wynn, says this sense of justice is "tragically limited." Although babies are born with an innate sense of morality, they are also born with flaws.
He writes: "We are by nature indifferent, even hostile to strangers; we are prone towards parochialism and bigotry. Some of our instinctive emotional responses, most notably disgust, spur us to do terrible things, including acts of genocide." And the role of parents and society is to overcome these limitations and further develop the innate moral beliefs that already exist in those baby minds.

 I personally could have saved them thousands of dollars and hours of time if they'd have listened to the Christian worldview.

#1. Everyone is born with a sense of the natural law.  We know there is a right and a wrong.  Kids pick up on injustice and unfairness at a very, very early age.  (Get two 18 month olds in a room.  Give one a piece of candy.  Don't give the other one a piece.  See what happens.  This study just took it back 15 months or so.)

#2.  Even our understanding of the natural law is limited.   "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  "I know the good I ought to do, but I do the very opposite of what I know to be good."  (That's St. Paul, by the way.)

Now, I know this is a news story.   I know such stories are usually used to stir controversy.  I also do not know the numbers involved in the story.  The methodology seems to be pretty sound, but I don't know any of the margins of error or probabilities.  This may well be like other psychological studies that have often taken place: the initial study shows incredible results, but the next one has quite the diminished result and the next one even less.  More will need to be done.

However, the conclusions shouldn't be a mystery to anyone with a Christian worldview.

Of course, the next question which must be answered if indeed this study can be replicated:

If we have an innate sense of the natural law, from whence did it come?

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