Jim White writes that according to a study coming out of Oxford University, everyone everywhere shares seven universal moral rules. It was the largest and most comprehensive survey of morals ever conducted and aimed to find out whether different societies had different versions of morality. It didn’t.
It found this is what we all share in common—across continents, religions and politics—and value as important:
Help your family.
Help your group.
Defer to superiors.
Divide resources fairly.
Respect the property of others.
They also found that inherent within this code was caring for frail relatives, passing on property to offspring, going to war if needed to protect the group, and respecting elders.
Intuitively, each of us appeals to some sense of right and wrong in our dealings with ourselves, with others, and with the world. There is a surprising consensus from civilization to civilization, culture to culture, as to what is right and what is wrong. When you study the moral teaching of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, it’s amazing how similar they are to each other morally.
As C.S. Lewis once noted (and now we have even more evidence to support his claims), selfishness is never admired, and loyalty is always praised. As Lewis reflected on his stint as an atheist before his commitment to the Christian faith: “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” This, among many other things, moved Lewis into the Christian camp.
Somehow, we seem to have an innate sense of right and wrong. As Darwin once replied when asked whether man was in any way unique from other life forms: “Man is the only animal that blushes.”
Which presents a pivotal question: Where does this sense of right and wrong come from independent of an outside source? The answer is that we are not creatures of chance, evolved from a pool of primordial slime, but rather we are dependent on a Creator who put within us a spark of the divine, a reflection of the transcendent—a soul. And it is precisely our soul that gives us inner conviction—a sense of right and wrong, true and false, good and bad—no matter how dulled our sinful choices might make it.
So, cheers to Oxford for a study whose conclusion gives us one more reason to believe that there just might be a God on the loose.