Robert was walking home from school and spotted a $20 bill on the ground. He picked up the money, but he didn’t pocket it. Instead he walked into the closest store and told the salesperson that someone had dropped it.
At 10 years old, Robert has a strong sense of right and wrong. What he has learned about morality matters. But not only what he has learned.
“Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone,” writes Yale psychologist Paul Bloom in a New York Times article, “The Moral Life of Babies” (May 3, 2010).
“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.”
In one of Bloom’s experiments, children about one year of age watched a puppet show. They watched three puppets. The one in the middle held a ball.
This puppet tossed it to the puppet on the right who tossed it right back — a “good” puppet. Then the puppet in the center passed the ball to the puppet on the left who ran away with the ball — a “bad puppet.”
The two puppets were then placed in front of the children. Each puppet had a pile of treats. The child was asked to take away a treat from one of the puppets.
Most children punished the “bad” puppet. One little boy even smacked the bad puppet in the head.
[These studies] reveal how powerful our moral sense is.
Different cultures have different moral codes.
In one study of 15 culturally diverse populations, people’s likelihood of behaving kindly to strangers and punishing unfairness were strongest in large communities with a market economy. Such a system of morality promotes commerce among strangers.
But now we know that these ethical codes are built on an inborn foundation of basic morality.
When Robert turned in that $20 bill, he was acting on a sense of right and wrong that not only was learned. It had been there from the start.
Please click HERE to read more about the experiments performed with very young children, demonstrating the sense of morality.
And from The Urantia Book, you might like to read this section, called "Morals, Virtue and Personality"
And we also have a topical study on Morality HERE