Marc D. Hauser, a Harvard biologist, ... propose[s] that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution. In a new book, “Moral Minds” (HarperCollins 2006), he argues that the grammar generates instant moral judgments which, in part because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations, are inaccessible to the conscious mind.If this idea bothers you, is it because you want to be proud of your own morality or because it undermines religion? But maybe your need to feel proud of your morality and your sense that God is involved in the process of making you moral are just more things that evolution wired into your brain.
People are generally unaware of this process because the mind is adept at coming up with plausible rationalizations for why it arrived at a decision generated subconsciously....
Both atheists and people belonging to a wide range of faiths make the same moral judgments, Dr. Hauser writes, implying “that the system that unconsciously generates moral judgments is immune to religious doctrine.” Dr. Hauser argues that the moral grammar operates in much the same way as the universal grammar proposed by the linguist Noam Chomsky as the innate neural machinery for language. The universal grammar is a system of rules for generating syntax and vocabulary but does not specify any particular language. That is supplied by the culture in which a child grows up.
IN THE COMMENTS: This passage from the writings of St. Paul is found relevant and discussed;
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
Romans 2:14-15 (New International Version)