>Earlier than you think! According to a recent report published in the NY Times entitled, The Moral Life of Babies, Paul Bloom suggests that babies have a concept of justice and fairness, even morality built-in. That’s to say that they have a very rudimentary sense between right and wrong even in the first year of life. Bloom still suggests that parents must help socialize and build in moral development into their parenting, but that the slate is not as blank as one might think.
Although Bloom presents some interesting findings, his conclusions are based on the wrong presuppositions. He follows the popular psychological (and philosophical) notion of a tabula rasa, that is, that our minds, consciences, yea, even our very souls are blank slates upon which empirical evidence and experience writes and codes our social and moral fiber. I wonder if Bloom has kids!
I’ve seen in my son from the first month of his air-breathing life the propensity to be about self. Be it in a desperate cry because he wants food or a diaper change, or the frustrating scream because he wants to be held. I see a moral life at work, alright, but one that is already predisposed to bending the moral plane so that it all flows back to meet his needs.
The error is not in discounting the moral life of babies. Rather, the error lies in thinking that said morality is neutral and unbiased.
Romans 3 stands true: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
And it makes us love the Gospel even more, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
It takes a crucified Savior to resurrect a moral life. Bloom’s research has just reminded us that this moral life makes us culpable.