Do YOU believe that goodness/kindness/morality is an inherent and innate

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  1. gmwilliams profile image84
    gmwilliamsposted 10 years ago

    Do YOU believe that goodness/kindness/morality is an inherent and innate

    behavior regardless of whether one is religious or non-religious?

  2. Tusitala Tom profile image68
    Tusitala Tomposted 10 years ago

    This is a tricky one.  Some old school psychologists would say that we're born in a neutral state as far as our morality/goodness/kindness is concerned and that we learn to be good or bad by association with those adult figures who are closest to us.   And I'm certainly not denying that our largely subconscious modelling of ourselves after our parents, brothers and sisters and those around us when we're children doesn't affect the way we look at the world.   It has a tremendous impact.   But is it the deciding factor?

    We know that there are families where one child grows up to be an outright villain whilst his brother or sister grows up to be almost saintly despite their upbringing being almost identical. 

    I tend to believe in the concept of Reincarnation - of multiple lives - and that when we evolve into and are born into planet earth in our earlier lives, we learn some terrible lessons on how and how not to behave.   These lessons, or the essence of them, are carried forward and as we take on subsequent lives we gradually change into wiser, more loving, caring humans.   We grow up, so to speak.  We don't run after the baubles and beads of materialism so much.

    I am not saying Reincarnation is true.  But take a good look around you.  Do you note the subtle differences between people?  Do some seem 'more advanced in wisdom' despite their ages.   Do some people seem primitive - even look primitive compared with others?

    Is morality innate?   It is more innate in some than in others.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Great answer, A+.

  3. LensMan999 profile image60
    LensMan999posted 10 years ago

    Though these qualities can be considered to be inherent and innate, they can be developed in a person who gets a good training from childhood onwards. It's not necessary that a person from a good family should be good. The surroundings and circumstances with which a person deals have a lot to do with his personal development.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Good analysis of the question at hand.

  4. conev profile image59
    conevposted 10 years ago

    Neither of these characteristics are inherent or innate.  The Bible, God's Word, says that all men are born sinners, thus making sin our inherent or innate character.  (Rom. 5:12, Rom. 3:23) Those characteristics can be learned.

    1. d.william profile image76
      d.williamposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Not 2 B argumentative, or disrespectful, but what U quote R man's words. God has never spoken, written, or otherwise given us any instruction booklet.  Man provided that in his name - but in their own interpretations of what they believe to be true.

    2. conev profile image59
      conevposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      I'm sorry you feel that way.  Of course, you have the right to believe what you want and to express it.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

    3. ChristinS profile image39
      ChristinSposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      I agree d.william. I can't believe people honestly believe a new infant is a "born sinner" nonsense, infants are pure and then shaped by the influences they grow up around. Their purity is what attracts people to them.

  5. taburkett profile image60
    taburkettposted 10 years ago

    YES - everyone is born with exactly the correct measure of goodness.  Infants do not display opposite actions - they learn those opposite actions from the primary adults within their environment.  Goodness, Kindness, and Morality are basic instincts just like fight or flight.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you kind sir for stopping by and adding to this immense philosophical discussion!

  6. d.william profile image76
    d.williamposted 10 years ago

    We are all born with a sense of what is right and what is wrong.  No one is born a sinner or evil. (that is of course assuming that we are talking about what we consider a 'normally"  developed fetus).
    Those things we consider evil,  and others, that are opposite of goodness/kindness/morality are products of events that happen to the 'normal' child during the formative years.
    The age of reasoning sets in around 7 y.o. (or younger - these days it seems children develop faster than they used to) and children know the difference and the consequences of their actions and they will act according to what they have seen or heard from their parents and others around them.  It is not long before they realize what they can get away with or not. 
    The old saying "you can catch more flies with honey, than vinegar" is a concept that they also learn.  Whether their sweetness is pretend or legitimate only the child (and the adult they become) know for sure.   Which then leads to the concept: "beware of Greeks bearing gifts". (referencing the Trojan horse event of course). 
    We will never know exactly what emotions are inherent at birth.  There are always exceptions to that of course.  People born with a personality disorder such as autism, mental retardation, psycho, or sociopath personalities are exceptions to the "norm".

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Excellent response!

  7. ChristinS profile image39
    ChristinSposted 10 years ago

    I don't believe morality comes from religion.  Morality comes from learning right from wrong. I was raised in a deeply religious family, where some of the most religious people in it were very spiteful people. Others I know who have never been religious at all are some of the most upstanding, genuinely caring people - those whose actions show that they are compassionate humans.  I have also seen deeply religious people who are the same.  After a rash of terrible storms last month, it was a church group that came by and helped us to clear trees and stuff before they could fall into our house.  Side by side we agnostics and religious folks worked as good neighbors to one another - all coming from different backgrounds, upbringings and beliefs.  All of us acting as very moral and compassionate people - imagine that smile

    I think kindness, leadership, compassion, love etc are taught through example and I think we have a deeper innate drive to be loving people.  We are social creatures by nature.  Most people with social skills are not axe murderers usually wink , so I would say that we are more inclined to goodness - but we also are what we learn.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      What a lovely and beautiful answer.  You are indeed a deep, philosophical thinker.

  8. ThompsonPen profile image65
    ThompsonPenposted 10 years ago

    yes and no. I believe certain people are born with certain tendencies, but I also believe a person can program themselves to be however they want to be. If you find that you are too aggressive, it can be programmed out. For example, when I was very young, like between 4 and 7, I lost my temper with my friends all the time. Severely lost my temper, raised my hand to show them what's what - then one day I saw myself and realized that wasn't who I wanted to be. I worked on my temper and letting things go - at age 7. I have a friend who didn't drift away as many childhood friends do, and she remembers what I was like and comments on how drastically I changed.
    Though, separately, I once read in a book entitled Holistic Anatomy (the author escapes me) about how the fetus will develop personality traits while in the womb based on what goes on outside the womb. They said that if the mother is under a lot of stress, then the fetus will learn it's an aggressive world outside, and thus they need to be aggressive too. Likewise, if the mother is starving, then it teaches the fetus that food is scarce, and that their body must hold onto what it can. the child is more likely to grow up with weight problems, or to just naturally be built for added weight.
    Behavior is programmed on many levels - at the fetal level, within the self, and socially. When one is to the point to begin to grasp these concepts, I certainly believe personality traits can be reprogrammed.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      ++++, totally agree.

  9. connorj profile image70
    connorjposted 10 years ago

    As an old school psychologist, I would say that we are born in a somewhat neutral state as far as our morality/goodness/kindness is concerned and that we learn to be "good" or "bad" by association with individuals and groups around us, our degree of association with effectively "good" parenting and how our morality is either developed or not developed through Kohlberg's stages. I always refer back to this brilliant  psychologist who researched and came up with a most under-rated theory. The man was Dr. Lawrence Kohlberg. It is a shame that he met with a series of most unfortunate events. He would have contributed so much more. His theory is titled Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development and it is indeed important for all to consider...

  10. profile image0
    Ben Blackwellposted 10 years ago

    I believe that through maieutics, goodness can come out of everybody.  They must understand morality and the difference between good and evil, and they must understand why they should care.

  11. profile image0
    sheilamyersposted 10 years ago

    I don't believe people are born either good or bad. They become one or the other in one of two ways. They can be taught by following the example of the people who have the most influence in their life or they do good or bad things depending on what makes them feel good about themselves. Religious people can do horrendous things (ex: the Spanish Inquisition) and non-religious people can be tremendously good (can't think of a good example).

  12. profile image0
    Sri Tposted 10 years ago

    I believe the initial lean is towards innocence or goodness in humans. Just like a puppy, it can be born innocent but latter can become a vicious attack dog. So too, humans can pick up evil or undesirable traits from unfulfilled desires, anger, abuse, injustice, negative emotions and bad influences.

  13. profile image0
    Gavrocheposted 10 years ago

    I don't think that morality, goodness, or kindness are innate traits. I believe that while we do have an innate capacity for these behaviors, we have a propensity to choose otherwise. Even when growing up as little kids, the first behaviors we learn are usually selfish, motivated by greed, or out of jealousy. We have to be taught to act kindly, to share, to seek after what is right. These concepts don't just "come to us" naturally.

    But then again, there isn't really a good way of answering this when comparing people who have faith in God and people who don't. This is mostly due to the lack of common ground in defining what is "moral", what is "good", and what is "kind". Non-religious people usually aren't looking to God as the standard of what defines right and wrong, just as people seeking after God don't tend to just "go with what feels right" or "benefits the most people" or "makes people happy".

    Someone who doesn't believe in God can be a good person. He/she might be generous, patient, kind, charitable, and gracious. But then again, there isn't any consistent basis for this. Another person who doesn't believe in God might well be a total creep and feel no compulsion to live otherwise. Taking a universal standard of morals out of the picture (ie: God) makes morality one person's opinion against another's. There isn't a definite "right" or "wrong", just relativism.
    A nonbeliever's moral standard might occasionally line up with God's, but there isn't anything to anchor it there or provide a reason for why "good" is "good", etc.

    On the other hand, those who follow God and hold him up as the standard of what is moral, just, good, etc., and what is not have a concrete basis for saying so. There's no room for a clash of personal opinion. Something either is good, or it isn't. But even people who love God don't always honor God with their words and actions. We're human too. But we know that such sin is wrong. That much isn't arguable. We believe that morality isn't up to man to decide because it comes from using God as the standard, not human opinion (which has, as I stated earlier, has a natural propensity to be self-serving).

    Problems crop up when trying to bridge this "gap" in the definition of morals because there is no common, concrete standard of morals between those who believe in God and those who don't.


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