This week, 60 Minutes will have a segment called The Baby Lab that will revisit the idea of Baby Morality.
Back in 2010, Dr. Paul Bloom wrote an article for the New York Times in which he discussed part of his work at the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University. He and his wife, along with researchers around the world had been looking into the “moral life of babies”
Why would anyone even entertain the thought of babies as moral beings? From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long argued that we begin life as amoral animals. One important task of society, particularly of parents, is to turn babies into civilized beings — social creatures who can experience empathy, guilt and shame; who can override selfish impulses in the name of higher principles; and who will respond with outrage to unfairness and injustice.
A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.
With what Dr. Bloom writes about and what 60 Minutes will be showing is that children already have a basic understanding of right and wrong when they are born. Now I am sure there is much debate on what this means, but as a Christian I see it that basic morality does not have to be taught as it is part of our genetic makeup. If we are instilled with knowing right from wrong, doesn’t that imply that the Bible is correct to some degree?
What are your thoughts?
Through comments and discussions, I am being introduced to the new / gnu atheist and some of the stances or philosophies that they follow. Not being from that camp, it has been a bit slow to listen to their point of view and be able to see the logic in their philosophies. I say their as a generalization as I do not intend to offend any of the gnu’ers by implying that they think or believe a certain way or that I did not go far enough. If I am wrong, please be patient and help me see the error in my understanding.
After reading up a bit on the argument for autonomy in thinking and in forming a moral base, it is implied that religion denies people the ability to full develop a moral view apart from the moral view that is imposed on them by the religious group that they are influenced by. It is a common problem, that people are influenced by their peer group and the values of the group are not always the values of the individual. The individual can choose to disagree with the group and act in their own autonomy, but they risk being mocked/attacked for being different and even removed from the group depending on the groups dynamics and the degree of difference.
From the view point of the gnu atheist, the individual is their own master and if a person chooses to accept the moral view of another as their own, they end up denying themselves the opportunity to fully develop their own moral center as they were influenced by another. I can see the logic that as a child is raised in a household or around an environment where a religion has the ability to shape the moral views and perspectives, that the child will be more inclined to accept those values as their own, which as the gnu atheist will point out stunts the individual from exploring themselves in order to develop their own morality.
So a person, who is under the influence of a type of totalitarian type environment will never fully be able to fully develop their own moral identity and instead be forced to accept the views of others as to what I right and wrong. The individual was able to achieve autonomy in the development because they made the choice to accept the view of the masses, but the moral view never reached a state of maturity because it was forced to conform to a limited view that was imposed on it. Similar to the binding of a woman’s feet. If they are not allowed to grow, they are stunted and deformed.
Now the individual still has the ability to develop their moral stance, but this can happen only by questioning or casting off the restraints and exploring. By casting off the restraints of religion, a person can fully develop into humanism by accepting the morality that is best for humanity. The person can explore and experience life in order to fully develop their own truths, which lessons the oppression that is imposed on humanity as a whole.
I think I got that right.
I have to admit it is a valid philosophy. I understand the need to explore and decide on what is right and wrong. A child, no matter of its environment, will explore and test the boundaries to see what is and is not acceptable. A religion can shape that in one direction, but at the same time a lack of religion will still have a view of morality in which that child will be allowed to function. That is basic child development. How ever you choose to raise up a child is basically the course their life will take.