Do we possess a natural inclination to improve morally refine ourselves? Is there a drive to change ourselves, our environment and ultimately the world?
Evolutionarily speaking, prominent atheists such as Sam Harris have suggested the logical and mutually beneficial rationale for the ‘inherent’ desire within man to be good. “We are good”, to paraphrase Harris “because it works in our favour in the long run. Society will be safer because we need to trust one another.”
Theists would point to our God-given souls that pine to cleave to God and His goodness as the inner spark for moral redemption.
Both approaches seem to suggest that we, at least in principle, want to not only be good, but be better.
Is this true?
Given an opportunity to do an anonymous good deed, would we?
Do we look for opportunities to help, or pretend we are blind to the injustices and misfortunes of others?
Would a cash windfall motivate us to direct that windfall towards making an impact on our surroundings, or would we self-servingly use it as a means to take more for ourselves?
In a witty, insightful and somewhat confronting and depression piece, John Hodgman conducted an informal survey in which he asked people to choose a super power they would ask for if they could. It became evident that how we answer the question tells a lot about the kind of person we are.
“Does the choice of power tell you of the person you wish you could be, or reveal the person you’re afraid you’re already are?”
Sadly” no matter which power people choose, they never use it to fight crime.”
If we are indeed designed, by nature or by divinity, to strive for goodness, perhaps many of us are lemons…