Conscience: On Trial (Rev)

Ambiguity & Stillness. LJ Frank, Artist

by LJ Frank

Conscience is on trial, a verdict on the horizon…. appeals will be made.

Volumes on conscience line the physical and digital makeshift shelves of libraries. I have written about conscience on previous occasions, each time with a different approach and for reason.

The etymology of the word conscience and the related word consciousness create a dilemma. Conscience is a thought process that involves knowledge based on experience and an inherent ingredient within each of us. Looking at the surface of a living organism doesn’t give us the entire picture of the whole organism. What exists beneath the surface or skin is astonishing. And that which lies below compels our curiosity to view a more comprehensive picture of what is occurring.

Conscience is complicated. But where exactly within us does it originate and how is it stimulated?  Do the cells of conscience (and consciousness) circulate in the brain, heart, and body and as a result – are our stresses a reflection and expression of conscience and associated consciousness?

As a relevant side note, scientific thought, and experiment (see William Miller, MD. BIOVERSE, along with an associate) have a reached a crucial crossroads. Their research shows that “every cell is a conscious agent.”  There are and will be those that question whether an organism can be conscious without a nervous system. The latest research on cells indicates they can be (e.g., The Sentient Cell: The Cellular Foundations of Consciousness, Oxford University Press,). The human cell is complex. This study suggests that the human cell is sentient and retains several attributes of conscience…but not all.  

Where does that leave us with conscience?

Let’s dig deeper. Humans arrived from stardust. Was consciousness and conscience buried in the molecules of that dust?

Philosophically, conscience in the neutral retains a moral sense of what is right and wrong.  Humans have confronted both good and evil (with the help of our cells) from our earliest development.

Good and evil appear relative to the context of behavior and outcomes of actions. Good is the feeling that one has that our conscience is intact. But what of evil? Is evil a lack of conscience? Are there damaged cells combined with a conscience subversion in learning experiences, from war, killing, and greed in all of its manifestations, e.g., the narcissism of power and the violence of poverty, physically and emotionally? Is evil like a fungus that is easily spread? The fungus infects politics, law, religion, medicine, and so forth, and our personal interactions we have with each other.

What is to be said on behalf of conscience when the fungus causes humans to vie for crumbs falling on the dirt floor from the table of the rich, who in turn enjoy universal health care, a healthy diet, with wealth that is advertised as a good and a winner who enjoys celebratory status? Where has the humbleness of Man gone?

Some theories suggest that conscience contains the “God” gene…that is a Supreme Being implanted a conscience gene in humans…but what of the unfathomable number of planets in the trillion plus galaxies of the observable universe…that is does consciousness and conscience exist throughout the universe? No dice were thrown…the “freedom” was inherent in the molecules of gases and dust, like being born and left on your own with the ingredients of consciousness and conscience to help navigated the waters.

In a world bent on self-destructive behavior I recall the thoughts of the 18th century American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, who questioned what “God” had on his mind when creating human beings and a place we call Earth. (See Freedom of the Will).  Do we understand the freedom of our will for the good of humankind?

An inner moral sense is found in ancient texts from Greece, Egypt, Assyria-Babylonia, China, Japan, Australia, India, Russia, throughout Africa and in fact most cultures of the primitive world. (e.g., James B. Prichard’s Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Mircea Eliade’s From Primitives to Zen…the list is lengthy). It is as if the inner sense of right and wrong was a seed in the primitive mind even when literally and figuratively, consuming other humans to obtain self-empowerment. Struggle is a kind word as numberless primitives opted out of that “communion like ritual” – the earliest of humans in their rituals displayed an evolving moral sense of what was/is right and wrong within a given context.

Self and other awareness evolved from cells in the human body. The inner moral sense appears to have been cultivated so to speak in the human genetic garden to achieve awareness amid the brutal acts of Man. There are good Samaritan cells, so to speak. Why? Did they evolve like that and was there an exterior catalyst that set it all in motion?

The ancient, primordial prayer of “Om” may have been present at the initial Big Bang but why? 

Throughout history humans found bits and pieces of the inner self upon which to meditate and reflect on that which was seeded from the earliest humans wandering across the harsh landscape. Yet, there was “something there” that acted as a trigger within human genetics to assuage the human wish for a self, greater than one’s own.

A person fights against drowning in the overwhelming waves of selfishness that may include an indifference and fear of others…and there currently exists a purposeful chaos designed to sow discord and alienate people from each other. Dividing and conquering is a poisoning of our conscience, of our cells naturally bequeathed to us. 

It’s positive to remember that consciousness and conscience are within each of us…beyond indoctrination.

The human conscience is a force for good. It is on trial. It is juxtaposed towards a situation where an apocalypse of human origin is realizable. And, if conscience is linked to a Supreme Being …is that Supreme Being we call God, in some fashion, also engaged in that trial?

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard noted in his work, Fear and Trembling, that one makes a leap of faith in the face of the absurd.