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philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Did God give us our conscience or did we steal it?

Quote:
Did God give us our conscience, or did it come from the knowledge of good & evil? What is the 'work of the law' mentioned in Rom 2:15? Was God talking about all people when He said He would write His law upon our hearts or is that once you are born-again?

If anyone has an answer to this question it would be greatly appreciated. I am just after a thorough, biblical understanding of this before I respond to his email. It was a good question and one I have never had asked before.


On further thought this is 'an interesting question' and like yourself I have never heard it asked in quite this way. Your own question "Did God give us our conscience, or did it come from the knowledge of good & evil?" is also a good one.

I wonder if we can get an answer by thinking about Adam in his pre-fall state of innocence. Did Adam have no 'conscience' before he ate the fruit of that forbidden tree? If my own understanding of conscience is anywhere near right, I would say he did have a conscience prior to the first sin. Conscience does not only seem to pass sentence on acts already performed, but seems to compare prospective actions so that we (and Adam) are able to 'judge' future acts/thoughts and approve or disapprove them. What do you think to that? Isn't acting with a 'good conscience' just this? The action we take is taken with the permission of the conscience; yes?

If all that is true then conscience predates Adam's taking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/8/6 16:49Profile









 Re:

Quote:
That's OK. We are all learning here.




Ahh, isn't this refreshing.

I fully and totally agree whole-heartedly.

Rom 8:28 if FOR 29 !


Happy Day y'all.

 2005/8/7 13:44
ZekeO
Member



Joined: 2004/7/4
Posts: 1014
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

 Re:

Quote:

Isn't acting with a 'good conscience' just this? The action we take is taken with the permission of the conscience; yes?

I think you may be moving to Bubba's thinking. :-D

I have'nt read the whole thread, but is conscience a free moral agent? Thinking about Adam, if he did not have the Holy Spirit in him would that have been Gods warning system for him?

Now us in the New Covenant, we both have the Holy Spirit and a conscience which bears witness together?


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Zeke Oosthuis

 2005/8/7 13:59Profile
PTywama3
Member



Joined: 2005/3/1
Posts: 156
Tacoma, WA

 Re:

Quote:
I think you may be moving to Bubba's thinking.


Mebbe, but I really don't see that. Even so, everybody's though has to warrant some consideration.

Conscience - stealing conscience. First off, conscience isn't a limited concept. Watch a dog. If a well-trained dog is left unattended in a house for a day and night, it is going to have to do something it knows it is not supposed to do (i.e. soiling a floor). Now, most of the time the animal also doesn't want to participate in this act - either from a desire of cleanliness or something else. And when the owner returns home, the canine will also show remarkable remorse even though it was through no fault of its own that the animal perpetrated a "forbidden" act. If we are describing this as conscience, then there is no way that one bite of a friggin' fruit ever gave it to the human race, and it is also not entirely spiritual. If conscience consists of more - well, this conversation really isn't spiking that much.

Second off, I'm going to launch into a topic that I haven't really researched all that well (not denoting inattention to personal study) - but seems an inherent fallacy in many places. This would be the fall of man. Now, to have most people describe it, man gained something and so lost his place as "perfect" in the sight of God. It also permanently ruined him. Note that this knowledge of good and evil doesn't necessarily represent much.

In examination - when Adam ate of the fruit, the two were capable of perceiving themselves as naked. Well, they both knew they were naked beforehand. Man wasn't stupid, he knew he wasn't wearing clothes. He was probably also perfectly aware that there were certain acts and actions possible in a state of nakedness that weren't possible while not naked. So these two intimate people sewed aprons from fig leaves. Also please note that as far as I am aware, the bible never says childbirth was not possible before mans' fall - just that woman would be cursed with pain.

For a second point, as a general consensus, we accept conscience as a check against sin (as it were.) Well, if this really is the case, how would it have been instilled upon eating of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil? Adam and Eve were obviously capable of sinning, because they did so.

If knowledge gave them conscience, then disobeying this command of God was not a sin because there was no real record of good or bad in their mind. By inference I gather that they already knew what they were doing was something they shouldn't be. After eating of the fruit, they sewed aprons. But when Adam and Eve hid from God, it was because they had disobeyed his command. The assumption that the knowledge that disobeying his command was bad came from eating the fruit suggests that God perpetrated the act of causing man to sin and thusly condemning His own creation. This doesn't seem just, fair, or merciful as our God must be.

This "wisdom" or "knowledge" as the book of Genesis describes the concept in English doesn't seem to fit well in my thinking. It did not seem to make Adam or Eve wiser at all. It didn't seem to teach them anything, in fact. It made at the very least Adam "aware" that he was naked (at which point - if this be the case - he would have informed his wife - that particular discussion would have been the mother load of all "birds and bees" talks.) But it also did not seem to give them a complete understanding of right and wrong as we would assume. They had to know they were sinning in order to actually do so - else why would the crafty serpent be necessary to lure Eve into eating?

Yeah, I know this whole post is only about three points - but I think I attempted to approach it from at least two different angles. ...I'm pretty sure its relevant.


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David Reynolds

 2005/8/7 15:18Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I think you may be moving to Bubba's thinking.


Gee, you know how to hurt a guy! (Just joking Jake, if you should read this ;-) )

Quote:
Now us in the New Covenant, we both have the Holy Spirit and a conscience which bears witness together?

This will show I am a non-repentent non-bubba-ite in that I would want to add the scriptures to this couplet. Martin Luther was famously asked to compromise his position and said 'my conscience is subject to the word of God'. I think the whole question of how the conscience is 'informed' is an important aspect of this.

I put some thoughts together here along the lines of the link between 'knowledge' and 'conscience' but I think they were quickly overtaken by other facets of the discussion.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/8/7 17:17Profile









 Re Did God give us a conscience or did we steal it?

Quote:
If knowledge gave them conscience, then disobeying this command of God was not a sin because there was no real record of good or bad in their mind.

Did you read the earlier posts which looked at scripture for information about conscience, attempted to define it, discussed 'education' of conscience and answered the original questions?

 2005/8/7 17:22
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
Watch a dog.


There's a lot in your post which is good to think over. As regards this quote however I think we are 'anthropomorphising' to attribute conscience to a dog. (Although Chesterton jokingly once said that both dogs and cats had a conscience, but whereas the cat had a good conscience, the dog always had a bad one.) A dog is essentially a pack animal and will usually be conscious of the alpha male in its new pack (your family). It will usually submit to the alpha-males demands because that ensures its safety within the pack. This however, is not virtue but instinct. For the same reason your dog cannot 'steal' your sandwich although it may well take it when your eye is turned away.

I think it may be worth commenting that some things that we attribute to conscience may actually just be social conditioning. I mentioned on an earlier thread that what we call conscience may not always be conscience. Our dog has acquired the right to the first and last half inch of every banana consumed in this house! When I am away I feel really mean when I eat a whole banana; this is social conditioning, not conscience.

I would like to think some more about 'the knowledge of good and evil' and it impact upon Adam and Eve.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/8/7 17:27Profile
Mr_Nath
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Joined: 2005/2/13
Posts: 20


 Re:

Thanks so much for discussing this issue, you have all given me a lot of food for thought. I had to reply to him though as to not leave this lost person hanging on the end of an email...

This is what I replied with:

---BEGIN QUOTE---

Adam & Eve had no knowledge of evil - but they had one law - which was to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. By eating from that tree they transgressed the verbal law given to them (which meant they were without excuse of knowing what sin was) and they knew the consequence of that would be death (spirituality and physically). The question really is whether or not transgressing the verbal law of God and sinning invoked or awakened the conscience which was already in His creation or whether eating from that tree 'gave' them that conscience. Either way, you are a descendant of Adam and were born with the seed of sin in you and also a conscience.

I would think that the ability to not so much 'know' what is good and what is evil, but to have something that would 'bare witness' to what is good and evil, would be a good thing, and a gift from God, but something that would not be needed unless humanity enslaved themselves to sin by transgressing God's only commandment.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above..." - Jam 1:17

The Law of Moses (10 Commandments) is not your conscience, but is used to bring the knowledge of sin, and the conscience which is in everyone 'bares witness' to that.

As I explained in the previous email you do have a conscience, which ultimately came from God. When you have sinned, you have done it 'with knowledge' that it was wrong. God must serve justice for law breakers. To the extent of his Majesty, Glory, Holiness, Righteousness, Goodness is also the extent of His Justice, punishing all sin, from murderers down to liars.

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." - Rev 21:8

God will punish sin, the question is whether we will except the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins, by repentance and trust in Him, or whether we will go into eternity and have the pay the fine ourselves...eternity in hell.

---END QUOTE---

Just so you know, he emailed back and wants to know how to begin 'worshipping God'. Never had anyone put it that way before but I will be asking for a contact number to have a phone chat or whether it is possible to meet with him as he is a local.

Together In The Harvest,

Nath.

 2005/8/7 18:40Profile
PTywama3
Member



Joined: 2005/3/1
Posts: 156
Tacoma, WA

 Re: Re Did God give us a conscience or did we steal it?

Quote:
Did you read the earlier posts which looked at scripture for information about conscience, attempted to define it, discussed 'education' of conscience and answered the original questions?



Edited:
To answer quite simply - yes.
I don't think the gist of the comment was overly well caught here - this is not something I hold to be true and it was meant to shed light on what is being said (and almost somewhat tongue-in-cheek). Some times (and I'm often guilty of this,) though the information be right there, the course of our calculations don't change.

And to philologos: interesting point, although conceptually as developed here, "social conditioning" and interference from my "conscience" aren't totally separate. Personally, where I think the conscience begins to show its most merrit is where it involves others - and more precisely to adequately judge seriously complex actions before their occurance (and thusly to somewhat judge complex and unknown results.) In essence, its still a bit more complex than we wish to give it credit as I'm reading things now.

Edit: Mr_Nath - I think with the abundance of information, unfamiliar ideas and such, you have done a remarkable job in pulling together your reply. :-)


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David Reynolds

 2005/8/7 19:23Profile
Nasher
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Joined: 2003/7/28
Posts: 404
Watford, UK

 Re:

It seems from Hebrews 10:22 that before we were regenerated we had an "evil" conscience:

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

How though (and why) are our hearts "sprinkled" if we have new ones?


Regarding Adam and Eve, what did it mean that they had no knowledge of "good and evil"?

Could it mean that they knew what was good (i.e. God and His creation), but they didn't know what what evil?

Therefore could it read as "knowledge of good and evil"

I think they did have consciences that informed them that it would be "wrong" to go against God, but they (in particular Adam) decided to "ignore" their consciences.

I am sense any making? :-?


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Mark Nash

 2005/8/8 4:26Profile





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