It turns out, we were born to be good!
Scientific American recently interviewed Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory, regarding his new book, Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. I just preached a sermon about having a meaningful life. I always expect truth in science to mirror truth in scripture. In this case, it does. Jesus came to give us abundant life. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.
Have it make some difference that you have lived
135 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave an eloquent description of what such a life would be like. “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Remarkable tendencies toward kindness
Keltner says, “Born to be good” for me means that our mammalian and hominid evolution have crafted a species—us—with remarkable tendencies toward kindness, play, generosity, reverence and self-sacrifice, which are vital to the classic tasks of evolution—survival, gene replication and smooth functioning groups. These tendencies are felt in the wonderful realm of emotion—emotions such as compassion, gratitude, awe, embarrassment and mirth. These emotions were of interest to Darwin, and Darwin-inspired studies have revealed that our capacity for caring, for play, for reverence and modesty are built into our brains, bodies, genes and social practices.
Read the entire interview at Scientific American.
Watch for my sermon this Friday in my Friday Sermon Blast. Or check my blog page.