We possess abstract moral notions of equality and freedom for all; we see racism and sexism as evil; we reject slavery and genocide; we try to love our enemies. Of course, our actions typically fall short, often far short, of our moral principles, but these principles do shape, in a substantial way, the world that we live in. It makes sense then to marvel at the extent of our moral insight and to reject the notion that it can be explained in the language of natural selection. If this higher morality or higher altruism were found in babies, the case for divine creation would get just a bit stronger.
But it is not present in babies. In fact, our initial moral sense appears to be biased toward our own kind. There’s plenty of research showing that babies have within-group preferences: 3-month-olds prefer the faces of the race that is most familiar to them to those of other races; 11-month-olds prefer individuals who share their own taste in food and expect these individuals to be nicer than those with different tastes; 12-month-olds prefer to learn from someone who speaks their own language over someone who speaks a foreign language. And studies with young children have found that once they are segregated into different groups — even under the most arbitrary of schemes, like wearing different colored T-shirts — they eagerly favor their own groups in their attitudes and their actions.
This for me is the crux of the article. And the Author ignores it. The within-group preferences are the basis of morality. Our school colors are good, yours are bad.
Adult morality is basically the ability to choose ones group and abide by the moral standards it sets up. Particularly the standards for role modeling. As we are seeing daily: If your group is sport you expect your sport heroes to be good role models and woe be to the used to be hero that falls short in the role model behavior. They might redeem their hero status by their talent, but it will always have the asterisk hesh is a great athlete* *but hesh is an asshole.
In politics and religion the role model issues are even more important.
I learned the importance of role modeling early, as one of my favorite musicians was an asshole, and people in my group would judge his music by his behavior. The implicit message was that my society expected every member to be an exemplary role model, and achievements would be judged as much by the role modeling as by the achievement itself. This drastically changes the importance of moral behavior, at least in my society which is self selected to be intelligent, rational, well educated, and achievement oriented. And damn few of us get our moral behavior from God.