Message 1 of 2 (530745)
10-14-2009 6:03 PM
Are children born good or evil? Religious zealots on both sides of this question have wrought considerable damage. Caretakers believing that children are "created in God's image" have allowed children to misbehave for fear of suppressing their natural vivaciousness. Caretakers believing that children are "conceived in Original Sin" have assumed malevolent motives on their charges and thereby taken an unnecessarily offensive stance.
Since both views have their drawbacks, perhaps evolutionary psychology holds the answer to this question. Before reading further, I would like for you to take a sheet of paper and answer these four questions:
1. What is good for children and attractive to children?
2. What is good for children but unattractive to children?
3. What is harmful to children but attractive to children?
4. What is harmful to children and unattractive to children?
Most likely, you were able to list items for all four questions. The created-in-God's-image party cannot be right; otherwise, there would only be items in reply to questions 1 and 4. The conceived-in-Original-Sin party cannot be right; otherwise, there would only be items in reply to questions 2 and 3. John Locke, who held that a child was born as a blank slate, or tabula rasa, cannot be right; otherwise there would not be any items in reply to any of the questions.
So let us look at the items which we came up with.
For number 1, "What is good for children and attractive to children?" you probably listed friends and family, outdoor exercise, and the milk bottle.
For number 2, "What is good for children but unattractive to children?" you probably listed school, sour medicine, and penicillin shots.
For number 3, "What is harmful to children but attractive to children?" you probably listed excessive TV and video, junk food, and illegal drugs.
For number 4, "What is harmful to children and unattractive to children?" you probably listed wild animals, sharp objects, and high places.
Let us compare the items for questions 1 and 4, in which children are attracted in the right direction. You may find that most of those items are found in nature.
Now let's compare the items for questions 2 and 3, in which children are attracted in the wrong direction. You may find that most of the items are modern institutions or modern inventions.
What does this tell us, then? This tells us that children are born neither good nor evil, but are born for survival in our distant past.
Numerous questions about human behavior can be reduced to evolutionary psychology. Why do we bang our fists on the table when we are angry? Likely because that is how we caught our prey during our early days as land animals. Why do we stamp our feet when we are angry? Likely for the same reason. Why do we grit our teeth when we are angry? Likely because that is how we caught our prey during our days in the sea.
Evolutionary psychology can also explain gender differences. Why do men consider it disgraceful to ask for directions? Likely because they consider it an affront to their hunting skills. Why do men try to hide their emotions? Likely because they still consider themselves hunters and warriors.
Why are men quickly attracted to women whereas women tend to become attracted more slowly? Likely because a wrong choice for a prehistoric woman carried more serious consequences than a wrong choice for a prehistoric man. It is only a man's outer brains which understand such concepts as "alimony," "child support," and "skip traces," not his inner brain.
Tribal behavior manifests itself in modern times. Why do we playfully hit and punch each other? Likely as a rehearsal for a confrontation with a real enemy. Why does every community brag about its major industries, its major institutes of higher learning, or its famous citizens? Likely because the citizens regard themselves as fellow tribesmen.
Every once in a while, we hear a scientist say "All branches of science point to Evolution--geology, paleontology, chemistry, biology. . ." I realize psychology isn't an exact science, but I wish they would say "psychology," too.