The words of Lord Byron (The Island):
Our means– our birth– our nation, and our name,
Our fortune– temper– even our outward frame,
Are far more potent o’er our yielding clay
Than aught we know beyond our little day.
Yet still there whispers the small voice within,
Heard through Gain’s silence, and o’er Glory’s din:
Whatever creed be taught, or land be trod,
Man’s conscience is the Oracle of God.
The conscience has been described as “the inner witness to the divine law that is common to all human beings” and as “the inner sense of right and wrong in moral choices, as well as to the satisfaction that follows action regarded as right and the dissatisfaction and remorse resulting from conduct that is considered wrong.”
Those who deny the existence of a creator seek natural explanations for all elements of humanity. Darwinists see the conscience as something the human species developed to further the process of evolution. Reciprocal altruism is good for the species’ survival, so humans developed an inner prodding towards helping others.
It seems that everyone has a theory about the conscience, how it developed, and its role in humanity. And all of humanity has struggled with what to do with this conscience when it begins to beat with guilt. The same conscience that urges us towards the right behaviors is the same conscience that condemns our failures. Guilt, or shame, call it what you will, has driven many a man or woman from a soul of peace and rest and into anxiety too deep to climb.
Consider the picture of the conscience below.
If the conscience is in fact a gift from God, what causes mankind to wince so much? How can the man be rescued from the painful glare of the Almighty’s Eye?