Conscience- Religious Studies Revision Notes

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· Conscience is a moral sense of right and wrong viewed as acting as a guide to one’s behavior.

· Conscience is generally seen as a moral faculty, sense of feeling, which compels individuals to believe that particular activities are morally right or wrong.

People however have different consciences. For example:





“I should go to war”                                                “I shouldn’t go to war”

· However even though our consciences are different we still consider our conscience a reliable guide. But some people don’t agree, and don’t follow their conscience.

Such as:

Mark Twain “I have noticed my conscience for many years, and I know it is more trouble and bother to me than anything else I started with.”


There are lots of different theories about what conscience actually is. There are 2 main types/view, which are:





                        Secular Views                                       Religious Views







Religious Views

Biblical Teachings

·     Early Christian teachings state that, God gave us our conscience.

·     Romans (2:1415a) states that:

“When Gentiles, who do not posses the law do intrinsically what the law requires of them, these Gentiles even though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts.”

·     Paul in the Romans also stated that conscience was an awareness of good and bad, but that it can sometimes be weak and therefore mistaken.

·     Saint Jerome thought that conscience maybe enabled us to distinguish good from evil.

“…The spark of conscience…with which we discern that we sin.”

He believed that it was intrinsically important for our moral well being and for our relationship with God to be able to discern the leading of the moral away from the immoral (sin).



·     He saw conscience as the voice of God speaking to us from within.

·      It is the law of God in our hearts that we use to understand right from wrong actions.

·     He believed this behavior helps us to become closer to God, as we listen to the voice that guides our moral reasoning.

·     He believed conscience is the most important element of moral decision-making. Even more important than moral teachings of the church. Which is a rejection of biblical teachings for the conscience.

·     This meant that the conscience cannot be questioned, as it’s the voice of God within us. But this is hard to accept when it goes against the church.

·     There is only one virtue; all other virtues are aspects of this one. All of these virtues are bounded together by the Divine Law.







Thomas Aquinas

·     Aquinas saw the conscience as the natural ability of people to understand the difference between right and wrong


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