Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What is our conscience?

What is conscience? Wikipedia defines it as "an ability or a faculty that distinguishes whether one's actions are right or wrong. It leads to feelings of remorse when one does things that go against his/her moral values, and to feelings of rectitude or integrity when one's actions conform to our moral values." Most everyone has probably seen a cartoon that illustrates a character's conscience as an angel on his shoulder, usually with a devil on the other shoulder representing the rationalization that takes place when we try to avoid what our conscience tells us. But although the conscience is easily definable and just about everyone knows what it is, no one seems to be able to explain where it comes from. Some scientists have tried to explain it as a product of evolution, some say it is imprinted by the parents during childhood, and then there other some who say it is the voice of the morality of the universe, or the voice of God.

Personally, from my own experience, I believe that our conscience IS the voice of God. It is His way of communicating us and trying to guide us along the right path. As it says in the Bible: ""Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" If the Spirit of God dwells within us all, how else would that Spirit guide us except through our conscience?

One consequence of having a conscience is that when we do something our conscience tells us is wrong, we feel guilt afterwards. And unfortunately, a lot of people rather than facing this and attempting to right their wrongs, will engage in behaviors that attempt to silence those feelings of guilt and remorse. Activities like excessive drinking and drug abuse, are classic examples of things that people do to try and rid themselves of their underlying feelings of guilt. But once someone starts to engage in this lifestyle, they feel even more guilt for doing so, which often leads to more drinking or drug abuse, locking them into a vicious cycle. It says in the Bible "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." Does this mean that we are destroyed by the guilt that comes from defiling the temple of God (ourselves)?

In closing, I would like to say that I am not attempting to convert anyone to any religion, or change anyone’s beliefs. I wrote this in the hopes that the reader would give some thought to what their conscience is, how it speaks to them, and how they respond to it. It is my belief that we could all live in a much better world if we simply allowed ourselves to be guided by our conscience.

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