Did you watch the “60 Minutes” broadcast on Sunday night, November 18, 2012?

In a story entitled “The Baby Lab,” correspondent Lesley Stahl stated“It’s a question people have asked for as long as there have been people: are human beings inherently good? Are we born with a sense of morality or do we arrive blank slates, waiting for the world to teach us right from wrong? Or could it be worse: do we start out nasty, selfish devils, who need our parents, teachers, and religions to whip us into shape?”

Psychologists developed a series of experiments to find out.  The results?  Babies have a natural sense of right and wrong and of fairness.  But they are also selfish and tend to favor those who are similar to themselves.  As kids grow, they learn to adapt to their surrounding culture and absorb its morals and ethics.  Psychologist Paul Bloom says “They’ve been educated, they’ve been inculturated, they have their heads stuffed full of the virtues that we might want to have their heads stuffed with.”

So, the studies seem to confirm “both/and” – both Nature and Nurture.”

These results really are not surprising.  God originally created us good, in His image (see Genesis 1), but this perfection was damaged at the Fall (See Genesis 3).  So the mixture of good and bad in human nature is no big insight.  Just look around you – or inside you.

Dr. Bloom talks about children being educated with virtues, but that is also true of vices.  How many parents tell their kids “do as I say, not as I do.”  Kids learn by example.  They also learn from authority figures – whether Nazi Hitler Youth or the Boy Scouts, Tim Tebow or Madonna.

I also found it interesting that Lesley Stahl kept calling babies “creatures.”  The earliest meaning of creature is a created being.  Whether or not she intended this definition, Dr. Bloom did not, for he stated “Both aspects of us, the good and the bad are the product I think of biological evolution.”

Given our dual nature, which should we choose?  The Bible is clear that we are accountable for our choice.  The Apostle Paul said ”The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts. . . . Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”  Romans 1:18-21, 24,32

One thought on “Nature or Nurture?

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