Is human nature essentially good or bad? Let’s ask babies.

Lesley over on Heretics Anonymous fears there are two Christian Churches divided by fundamental beliefs. Whilst Lesley highlights four beliefs, I want to focus on the following:

One Church views humans as ‘essentially fallen’ whilst the other as ‘essentially good’.

Lesley is entirely correct in this observation. I would posit this difference is a product of theology and that perhaps there is room in the one church for fundamentally different perspectives, but that is another matter.

I used to be in the ‘essentially fallen’ camp derived from a hyper-Calvinistic and somewhat pessimistic view of humanity, but now incorporating and taking on board Catholic teaching, view humans as ’essentially good’ as a by-product of being made in the image of God.

And it looks like some recent research supports this.

The best way to get under the bonnet of human hard-wiring is to conduct research on those of us with the minimum of cultural influences, and that of course is babies.

At this point I’d like to direct you to a blog post on this issue over on Mind Hacks, detailing a fascinating experiment which indicates babies not only infer motive, but have an in-built preference towards ‘good motives’.

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4 Responses to “Is human nature essentially good or bad? Let’s ask babies.”

  1. Lesley Says:

    Thanks Stuart for the Pingback and a very interesting link

  2. webmaster Says:

    Great to see you blogging again, I surprised myself by how much I missed your thoughts.

  3. Richard Barker Says:

    Appreciate the links Stuart – Ta muchly

  4. Simian Says:

    Or perhaps neither of the above… Perhaps we are just behaving in a way over which we have no more control than the weather, and notions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are purely subjective.. Our nature inclines us to want to find meaning in everything, and to judge. But isn’t it possible that there is no meaning. We just are.

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