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Revelation: Conscience

January 09, 2024
By Dr. Laws Rushing II

God has revealed himself externally through creation with the amazing characteristics of design, purpose, and beauty found in the universe. The telos of the universe from its initial conditions to the current state are balanced on a razor’s edge of unimaginable precision and impossible likelihood if due to mere chance or necessity.

God has not only revealed himself through these means but also internal to man himself. This is what C.S. Lewis called “inside information.” When we peer within our minds- we find a conscience, an awareness of moral considerations within human behavior. The question posed then becomes is this moral “oughtness” objectively true or merely illusory.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)“ (Romans 2:15,16). There is an inner “law written in their hearts.” It is innate and active in every person. The conscience is an instrument calibrated through experience, education, influence, and the Holy Spirit. Our consciences can be maladapted and damaged through spiritual trauma and recurrent sin (I Timothy 4:2).

The inner life of the conscience reveals that we are created with free will. Other entities in the universe are motivated by instinct or physical law. People have the liberty to adjudicate choices based on virtue and consequence rather than only bodily impulses. This is another trademark of man’s spiritual nature that does not consist of just physical or material constituents.

A committed and consistent materialist has no place for genuine free will in an atheistic framework. People become the product of biology and chemical reactions with no real choice. Renowned atheist Sam Harris states, “Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we have exert no conscious control” (Harris 2012).

Harris’ assertion argues with everything within our experience. His bold claims are mostly supported by a scant reference to the controversial Libet experiments from the 80’s. It’s not empirical information or common sense but an atheistic worldview which drives his dehumanizing conclusion. There is simply no room for freedom. Yet, the brilliant Harris can’t seem to see the painful irony of freewill being fundamental to rationality itself in which his entire argument and book are predicated on not to mention psychology, social science, morality, justice, and love, just to name a few!

Our consciences are structured on the foundation of free will or human agency and on another fact, objective moral truths. Not only does free will dissolve in the atheistic worldview but also morality itself. This has been admitted by such philosophers as Sartre, Nietzsche, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. If there is no transcendent value in the universe then our morality is vastly reduced to just individual preferences. Dawkins observed, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” This view of life is untenable and unlivable and once again argues with the conscience that God has instilled in every human being.

God has revealed Himself as Creator through external evidence in the universe and internally through the conscience of an individual. Conscience is predicated on free will and objective moral truths. These ubiquitous foundational truths are what make us truly human and have the capacity to begin to know Him.