Conscience: For some, The Great Argument against submitting one’s self to a “so-called” objective truth and goodness.
Conscience. For others, the God given organ in each human designed to show us the way toward truth, goodness and beauty.
If conscience is organ-like, can we weaken or even destroy the organ by ignoring it? Conversely, can we, over time, exercise the organ so that it is more highly attuned to truth and goodness … to God-likeness?
Switching Metaphors Are we equipped with an ethical tuning fork that resonates to truth and goodness, or is it the case where all we are sensing are the reverberations of environmental and social conditioning?
If it is the latter, can we then actually speak of having a “conscience”? Isn’t it more a case where we possess “consciousness”: a subjective awareness of what others/society believe to be “useful” ways of living?
So, we are utterly dependent on the subjective opinions of others to show us the way? Does anyone think Western Civilization would have ever developed, had this been how the Three Greeks (Plato-Socrates-Aristotle), Erasmus and Luther, and Washington-Jefferson and Co viewed conscience and the reality of an objective truth and goodness?
I think that if we believe that God has not created all humans with a conscience that is to guide us toward an ever-increasing awareness of an objective truth and goodness, what we are left with is the “ethical” standard of Captain Jack Sparrow:
The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do.
And if this is the case, all we have is Naked Power -- via majority-vote or a Despot -- deciding for us all how we should live. Not exactly a model conducive for supporting and defending human dignity, is it?
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011