There is no better lens through which to view the inner workings of the human species than a human baby. Relatively untainted by their environment, infants allow us scientists to concentrate on the contribution of Nature over Nurture. Most recently, the study of babies has yielded an interesting and important truth: all babies are endowed with an inner sense of morality.
This claim of inherent knowledge may seem blasphemous to some, but many different societies in human history have believed in the Universality of Morality. For example, in ancient Greece, Socrates was known to be constantly searching for the origins of the “Eternal Law of the Gods,” believing that all knowledge (morality included) was a divine gift. During the Renaissance this idea would become unpopular, with morality believed to only be determined by training and education. Jean Jacques-Rousseau called the human baby a “perfect idiot,” and the persisting theory until most recently has been that babies are blank slates into which we input our own values.
However, the researchers at Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center would disagree with the perfect idiot hypothesis. Through several controlled experiments, they showed that babies have certain pre-programmed moral codes that persist despite very low consciousness. In short, the Morality of Babies show us that:
– Babies have a sense of equal division of basic resources
– Babies have a sense of justice – punishing bad, rewarding good
– Babies have a sense of cooperation – helping is good, harming/hindering is bad
The conservative columnist Dinesh D’souza uses these findings as evidence of the theories of Socrates: That we are touched by God before birth, inheriting a sense of right and wrong that is as ingrained in our DNA as the ability to see with our eyes or breathe with our lungs. The science indicates that we are born with a universal morality–whether you are liberal, conservative, black, white, American or Chinese. It is truly universal.
I do not think that this finding is news to conservatives. In fact, I don’t think that this should be news to anybody. We all know deep in our bones the difference from right and wrong. Being in tune with this decision-making algorithm permeates every part of our life. Almost every decision we make is viewed through this inherent lens.
Just as our inner morality is universal, it’s effect on voting is also universal. In a recent study (Skitka et al, 2014), whether we are liberal or conservative, morality is shown to be the impetus that drives citizens toward activism and political involvement. Whether it is the simple matter of voting, picketing, or any other permutation of the political process, political involvement based on morality is also relatively equally spread. Our conflict arises because this same morality is interpreted in different formats. For example, for each conservative involved in the policymaking against illegal immigration, there is a liberal against the death penalty. My point is that we all are moral creatures; we just differ in our interpretation of that morality.
If you take your ideas of conservatism from talk radio, you may think that fellow conservatives tend to believe that we are morally superior for our beliefs. I disagree. As Thomas Jefferson said:
“All men are created equal.”
This statement is one of the many beautiful intersections of science and spirituality. We are all created from the same protoplasmic goo to become more similar to each other than any other species on this earth. If we are to think that we are superior to one another, it is self-defeating. Although one person may be more intelligent, stronger, better-looking, or pious, we are merely different interpretations of the same species.
Although I do believe that we are all equals, I am realistic enough to know that equality does not mean similarity. For example, I define myself as a conservative, distinctively different from a liberal. Even more importantly, I am not from this Earth. As you may know, I am from a different dimension here to protect humanity from existential threats; my research into each political philosophy has concluded that conservatism is humanity’s best option. Not the conservatism that is propagated in the media by extremists and idiots, but the conservatism of the silent majority of human beings, regardless of nationality. The survival of our species is a distinctly conservative value, as this value requires one critical component that studies also show that the Political Left tends not to possess:
To be fair, I think that we as conservatives view too many things in absolutes. Take gay marriage for example: even within our own political party there are different interpretations of what is right and wrong. However, I am disinterested in these petty social concerns. As a scientist and a dimensionaut, there are some places I know that humanity should not go.
To name a few:
– Artificial consciousness
– Interspecies mingling
– Human Cloning
These may seem far-fetched, but there are very real examples from your history where experimentation has been conducted in these fields. In general, the idea of scientific experimentation is a good one. However, if we are not clear about what we want from science, it will run amok. Just as morality teaches us that all actions are not good actions, in science we must understand that all progress is not good progress.
Conservatives understand this. I am not so sure that the Left does.
Although that specific conclusion is debatable, the evidence from these morality studies seems to be definitive. I hope that the evidence holds up, as it fills me with hope for your humanity’s progress in the future. Looking through the lens of universal morality, the endless debate and vitriole from both ends of the political spectrum seems so petty. No matter how crazy another human being may be, he/she started out as a baby that knew the difference of right from wrong. Rather than focusing on hot button issues that are debatable, if we shift our focus to issues that are absolute in their benefit for all of humanity, I think we could advance our country and our species. As a united front, America could carry this world into a New Modern Age. How do we do that? It’s complicated. Stay tuned, I have some ideas.
(But I’d love to hear your ideas, too!)