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Religious Conscience

Ideas of the conscience as a way of moral decision-making for A level Religious Studies

Vanessa Austin

on 20 September 2015

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Transcript of Religious Conscience

The Conscience as a way of
religious moral decision-making
Views of the conscience as a God-given gift, or a psychological construction.
Joseph Butler
Sigmund Freud
Conscience: God given or psychological?
St. Thomas Aquinas
We use our God given ability to reason to make moral decisions. 'Right reason'.

Synderesis rule: We are naturally inclined towards the good.

Through revelation, God tells us the right thing to do.

The conscience tells us what is the right and wrong thing to do, we know what is right and wrong naturally.
Agrees with Aquinas that the conscience comes from God.

Our conscience is the intuitive divine voice. It has absolute authority and encourages humans to choose to act out of altruism rather than selfishness.

To ignore your conscience is to ignore God; the ultimate sin.
Saw conscience as guilt.

The superego recognises disapproval of certain actions during childhood, which remains in adulthood.

A mature person replaces the child with a behaviour which reflects the beliefs of the person, not the expectations of society.
God given
God given
tool of
sense of
Sometimes evil happens because
people make a mistake.
Conscience develops over a humans lifetime. We are not born with a conscience.
Jean Piaget
0-2 Sensorimotor stage
2-7 Preoperational stage
7-11 Concrete operational
11-15 Formal operational
The conscience doesn't
fully function before
11 years of age
John Henry Newman
Our conscience is the 'voice of God', which is completely distinct from our will or desires.

Innate principle we were given before
we could reason.

Conscience is the 'law of the mind'; a clear indication of what is right.

The conscience should have ultimate
The Bible
Old Testament
There is no word for conscience, but it talks of the heart that internalises the divine law.

Some figures in the OT experience God calling them to live God's will.
'God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God' (Matt 5:8)

Jesus taught his followers to have a pure heart
New Testament
Paul talks about 'conscience'; humans
have the ability to know and choose
the good.
Right or wrong?
1. Lying to people to protect yourself
2. Stealing from a supermarket
3. Cheating on an exam
4. Sleeping with someone at a party
How do we know these things are right or wrong?
Do we feel pangs of guilt - or is it fear?
Full transcript