“Humans are born with a hard-wired morality, a sense of good and evil is bred in the bone.” This is the conclusion of Paul Bloom, author of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. The research conducted for his book, research accomplished by babies viewing “good” and “bad” puppets, revealed that infants that are just a few months old have an inborn preference for the puppet that commits kind acts versus the puppet that demonstrates bad behavior.
When given a choice between the two, 80% of the infants turned towards the “good” and away from the “bad” and the conclusion that was drawn is that we are naturally moral beings with a rudimentary sense of justice. While the research does concede that our environment can develop or destroy that inborn sense of right and wrong, it seems hopeful to me that there is evidence that everyone is delivered into this world with at least a trace of the image of God intact.
However, before we begin preaching Bloom’s study as evidence of God’s grand design for humanity, we should humbly examine the entirety of his research. Bloom also discovered that babies are born with an “inherent bias” and begin life as “little bigots, eagerly dividing the world into ‘us versus them’ and strongly favoring their own group over everyone else.” On top of that bit of troubling news Bloom’s research found that when it comes to being kind to strangers we start out life as indifferent or worse. Which should give us pause when we boldly proclaim that lives have been knit together by God and are delivered into this world according to the Divine’s intended design.
That being said, with research in hand, it does seem that we have a clear picture of the work that is cut out for us as we seek to shape the lives that are delivered to us. Within each life there seems to be an ability to discern what is just and right and fair and within each life a propensity for what serves its own survival and selfish desires. Like the cartoons from childhood there does indeed seem to be an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other and we are in a powerful place of equipping students to listen to one voice over the other.
North Park University is one of the environments that can develop or destroy the inborn sense of right or wrong, a community that has the ability to call a generation to live lives that are not ruled by inborn bias. And so may we use our influence today to model lives that are not ruled by selfish desires, lives that look out for the survival of others over ourselves, lives that commit to more than rudimentary justice and lives that keep more than a trace of the Image of God intact.