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Conscience individual and collective


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We all think about moral issues all the time. What we think is good and what we think is bad.

We have a conscience. We have a knowledge feedback loop with ourselves. Is this an open system or a closed system and if it's open, what is it open to? If it's closed, what is it closed to?

Now I can't speak to anyone else or their conscience except as a presumption - the presumption that they have one as much as they have a mind. We could go on at length in the manner of Descartes and on down the line to the existential and materialist philosophers as to whether anyone has a mind/or free will. I simply presume it on the basis of my own knowledge feedback loop. When I say "I know" I'm not saying "I know" in any Gettier "True, Justified, Belief" "know" because that would take reams of unnecessary paper. Not only that Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem (as I apply this to knowledge in general) is true in all realms (you'll always be able to "know" things you can't prove from any set of axions(or scriptures)).

So you get born into a culture with a baked-in morality. You get born into a family with a baked-in morality. You are born (infant studies prove) with a sense of right and wrong.

There's history which you have nothing to do with which created the climate into which you and your conscience has been birthed.

Now you exist, and you have a feedback loop with the world and your conscience. You come to understand things like the permanence of objects which don't cease to exist when you stop seeing them. (Later we somehow can't ratchet that up to the conscience's constant awareness when it comes to God).

You interact with the world and your various groups with intersecting circles of implicit or explicit moral ideas and you assent with these or deny these and deal with the consequences to yourself as a result (this could be you simply misjudged reality and got it wrong, or you got censured by the group(s) you're associated with).

I prefer "rewards" over "consequences", but "rewards" indicates I've been informed by some external authority (which I presume exists as in God, or which I see) who will give me "as a reward" the thing I've decided I want in return for a given action or actions.

"Consequences" sound more threat-ish, and yet these are similar. Consequences come as a result of me as an individual doing or saying something and the thing happening like one domino fell intro another. There can, of course be unintended consequences, but that's something else.

So the external world allows me all manner of illusions which I may choose to hold as "true" in my head which may be "false". It's only when the connections between some false idea and a painful consequence (physical or psychological) occurs and I see the one event (me holding a false idea or acting falsely) as directly connected with the pain event that I stop believing the false thing or acting falsely. (I still might, if I feel the cost/benefit ratio is such that I'll deal w/the pain/consequence).

Ideally our sense of morality is tied in with certain egalitarian ideas (we're no better than anyone else, as we're all creations, as a sentient creation something has a certain right to maintain itself and try to exist and thrive, but w/in limits...yada, yada) and most importantly that a Creator exists who is the penultimate judge of all things.

You know where this is going....

Then you have to have the Creator telling us good/bad right/wrong. We need examples and life stories. So we have the Bible.

Bringing it up to the 1st century, and the Christian Congregation we have many accounts which we can read to tell us that nothing was perfect then. (would we expect that today? why?)

Of course we do have arguments as to what organization IS the most Christian on the planet.

This would have to be argued scripturally.

Why talk about organization?

Because organizations necessarily involve themselves w/the individual conscience at some level.

We can argue(and do and should) as to what degree. Guess what? They did in the 1st century. We can "get in trouble" and not actually "be in trouble" w/Jehovah by this arguing, but there has to be balance and there should be (and was in the 1st century...unless Demas and others who split were "faithful" and just went on to live their lives...maybe so, maybe not).

We have to expect that there's going to be a "middle ground" which makes everyone less than comfortable in the Christian Congregation. But, if we refuse to be a part of organization, how can we expect to prosper? We never see Jehovah NOT use organization or recommend scripturally that someone should go it alone.

So where ever you might be you're going to have to choose.

Don't want other people influencing you by telling you things you'd rather not hear, telling you maybe you have it all wrong or that there's a place to argue and a time, but in the middle of the hall during a meeting just might not be met w/the best response?

Could be like one brother said "He doesn't take counsel."

Will your conscience work right if it doesn't get recalibrated by scripture AND by others who admit to the same scriptures?

***BTW This is me thinking out loud for ME, not anyone else***

    Hello guest!

(Link for me to look at or anyone else)

    Hello guest!

Interesting paper.

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I liked your KH building experience. We've all had that experience when we would have made different decisions if we were in charge, and then we are glad we weren't. But I can't seem to fit your musing on conscience into what I thought was the most common use of the term "conscience" in the Bible. Of course, it might be right anyway, depending on what you mean by consequences. For example: Let's say that you would love the experience of eating roast beef a couple times a week, but depe

This final sentence should have ended with a question mark but did not.  I’m stumbled.

I know where you’re coming from, but I agree with Anna. I think it is not good to describe the brotherhood this way. I think it because the scriptures lay no emphasis at all on this “deficiency,” if it is one. Instead, they goes out of their way to show favor to such ones. They pay no attention to the head. They only pay attention to the heart.  “Wisdom cries aloud from the street,” the Bible says. “Hogwash,” comes the answer from the learned ones. “It cries aloud from the quadrangles. Only

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If you want to hear my opinion. :) 

There are two types of conscience. First is Natural conscience (in biblical terminology) given by God. It is obtained by birth and inherited by genetics that began with Adam  and Eve. After birth, a child or in another situation an adult, comes under the influence of family, environment, society and their own choices.

Second is Artificial conscience. For example, JW members have two types of conscience. The first one, natural, from God. The second type of conscience is called in the WTJWorg publication; "Bible-trained conscience." It is an artificially created conscience based on religious-ideological interpretations and doctrines. It has some positive aspects, but not always. For example, not greeting a former member of the Organization creates a certain conflict in the JW member. There is a conflict between two types of conscience: between the Natural Conscience given by God and the Artificially Created Conscience trained in the Organization.

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A person's conscience has to be that person's individual conscience.  And as @Srecko Sostar has said the other option is the Artificial conscience. But in reality the Artificial conscience is not a conscience, it is a person's life being controlled by other people. 

16 hours ago, xero said:

I prefer "rewards" over "consequences", but "rewards" indicates I've been informed by some external authority who will give me "as a reward" the thing I've decided I want in return for a given action or actions.

This is how the JW Org works for men. Rewards of Ministerial Servant or Elder for obeying the orders from the GB downward.

16 hours ago, xero said:

"Consequences" sound more threat-ish, and yet these are similar.

The JW Org also uses this and it is a threat to all those baptised into the Org. Small consequence = Reproved. Big consequence = D/fed..

16 hours ago, xero said:

Bringing it up to the 1st century, and the Christian Congregation we have many accounts which we can read to tell us that nothing was perfect then. (would we expect that today? why?)

You do realise of course that Christianity was NEW back then. Completely new. There had never been anything like it before. We are now 2000 years into Christianity. 

16 hours ago, xero said:

Why talk about organization?

Because organizations necessarily involve themselves w/the individual conscience at some level.

But the JW Org takes over people's consciences.  The GB makes rules, the congregants obey those rules.  JW congregants just become a number, just like 'boots on the ground'.  Reports put in to count numbers. Memorial attendance, to count numbers. 

16 hours ago, xero said:

But, if we refuse to be a part of organization, how can we expect to prosper? We never see Jehovah NOT use organization or recommend scripturally that someone should go it alone.

As for : if we refuse to be a part of organization, how can we expect to prosper?    That depends what you mean by prosper.  BUT A person can be part of organisation, with out of being part of AN Organisation.  I notice you did not say  We never see Jehovah NOT use AN organization. 

Quote - Could be like one brother said "He doesn't take counsel."     

This is an Elders way of saying that a person 'does not do as WE tell him'. They would say it about me when i didn't wear a jacket and tie to meetings. :).

Quote  -  Will your conscience work right if it doesn't get recalibrated by scripture AND by others who admit to the same scriptures?

Will your conscience work right if you just follow orders coming down from Leaders that are NOT inspired of God's Holy Spirit. And others that are seeking rewards from men as mentioned earlier in the comment. 

  

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2 hours ago, Srecko Sostar said:

"Bible-trained conscience." It is an artificially created conscience based on religious-ideological interpretations and doctrines.

Sorry to say Srecko, You, John and JWI are wrong with this opinion. The Watchtower DOES NOT, nor will it EVER, brainwash people.

God's given ability for humans to know from good and bad was entwined in our DNA since the crimes of the first pair. So, the Watchtower "provides" the necessary tools for each one of us to succeed in their Christian life. 

The problem here, ex-witnesses "demand" the Watchtower should be accountable for our own personal actions. I posed a question to John about JTR, why should the Watchtower be deemed responsible for his personal behavior, when he understood the laws of God. In essence, BIBLE TRAINED conscience. It would appear, that didn't work for JTR, now did it. 

So, no! Conscience is something that is a mechanism to determine and decide from good or evil. It's up to the individual, how they are going to train (Personal Development) themselves with bible help, on how they with to lead a Christian Life.

Think about it. If that artificial creation of conscience as you assume, then you wouldn't be arguing this point from a standpoint, as an ex-witness.

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2 hours ago, César Chávez said:

Sorry to say Srecko, You, John and JWI are wrong with this opinion. The Watchtower DOES NOT, nor will it EVER, brainwash people.

God's given ability for humans to know from good and bad was entwined in our DNA since the crimes of the first pair. So, the Watchtower "provides" the necessary tools for each one of us to succeed in their Christian life. 

The problem here, ex-witnesses "demand" the Watchtower should be accountable for our own personal actions. I posed a question to John about JTR, why should the Watchtower be deemed responsible for his personal behavior, when he understood the laws of God. In essence, BIBLE TRAINED conscience. It would appear, that didn't work for JTR, now did it. 

So, no! Conscience is something that is a mechanism to determine and decide from good or evil. It's up to the individual, how they are going to train (Personal Development) themselves with bible help, on how they with to lead a Christian Life.

Think about it. If that artificial creation of conscience as you assume, then you wouldn't be arguing this point from a standpoint, as an ex-witness.

I agree w/all of this.

I'm reading the pdf attached...Even though it's writing about evangelicals in general, the outline does discuss the problem that not only Ex-JW's are examples of in many cases (I don't know all), but the spirit that operates in the world right now - the deification of the individual conscience (low church (deification of conscience) vs high church(deification of organizations) are the terms he uses and discusses the "ditches" each represents)

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11 hours ago, xero said:

Will your conscience work right if it doesn't get recalibrated by scripture AND by others who admit to the same scriptures?

I appreciated your take on the questions you raised. I have heard ex-Witnesses claim that there is no such thing as a collective conscience or an organizational conscience, and that all of us are therefore completely on our own when we stand individually before the judgment seat. I agree with the Bible statement that we stand alone for judgment, but you have made an excellent point about how all of us will develop morality based on what has been passed down to us and what we get (or even choose to get) from our various environments. But we all have opportunities for further conforming our environment by choosing association with those who will prod us and encourage us in the direction of an ever clearer Bible-trained conscience.

No one can argue that there isn't already a collective conscience that waits for us to absorb it, much of it subconsciously I suspect. But if we accept that, then we should have no problem "artificially" maneuvering our environment to strengthen our conscience. And, of course, many of us have found the environment of the brotherhood of Witnesses to be perfectly suited to the needs of our conscience.

I also agree with Srecko, that to some extent we will probably accept some decisions made by a "collective" conscience that will be seem artificial to us.

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) . . .But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be . . .3 having no natural affection, . . .

Our conscience tells us that we can't turn our back on the physical and psychological needs of family members who might be disfellowshipped. This is a case, as Srecko says, where our own "natural affection" might say we must do one thing, but the collective environment of our congregation tells us to do something else. Perhaps it will not always be right for everyone to respond in exactly the same way the "collective" conscience tells us to. After all:

(James 4:17) 17 Therefore, if someone knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.

But without the additional training of conscience from the congregation, would we even have stopped to think about the application of Jesus' words about how he came to put a sword on the earth?

(Matthew 10:34-36) . . .Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

There will be some tension between the two extremes on this topic, but I think that's a good part of what a conscience is for.

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8 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Our conscience tells us that we can't turn our back on the physical and psychological needs of family members who might be disfellowshipped.

Unfortunately, you sway this argument in the wrong direction. Your philosophy has nothing to do with conscience, but rather morals and standards. You can train yourself to have good morals, how you apply those morals within your conscience is a development of an unforeseen nature. You train yourself to be a good Christian, that's a moral standard. As a good Christian, you decide to interpret scripture in your own selfish way, that's your conscience.

Once again, don't confuse the two to win a nonsensical point. You and that ex-witness, Srecko, have none. It would also be unconscionable to manipulate scripture toward your own understanding, just to contradict others, on the way you apply, scripture. That means, your personal conscience accepts adding to scripture that isn't there in context or intent.

That's means, we have to accept and take responsibility for our personal actions and behavior. Galatians 6:5

For we are each responsible for our own conduct. (NLT) or

*** Bible Citations ***
(Galatians 6:5) For each one will carry his own load.

Why is this a provision in scripture,

(2 Corinthians 5:9, 10) . . .. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.

 

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JWI - I'm trying to find a way to formulate, by way of illustration or otherwise (the shorter the explanation the better), the dividing line between conscience and scriptural responsibility and actively being told by authority that some non-obvious thing is true and that one must believe the non-obvious thing is true and teach someone else in the same manner that this non-obvious thing is true.

You can and do have people in every organization JW/and non JW orgs who cross over the line either deifying conscience or deifying organization. Both of these are wrong and both of these may be done by individuals who are individually or collectively being "faithful" as they see what it means to be faithful.

Granted that imperfection exists in all humans, one would assume this imperfection would find some manifestation in organizations used by Jehovah (some latitude is demanded by this fact scripturally and practically).

So just as we see that there is a difference between allowing something to pass (Jehovah allowing) and causing (Jehovah causing) something to pass there is a difference between Jehovah actively approving of a given idea/interpretation and his allowance of a given idea/interpretation being present among those organizations he is using.

I remember reading the account in the book of Acts about Paul being told by holy spirit how he was to give a witness to Caesar and showed him many things he would suffer, and the delta between the elders in Jerusalem and their particular local agenda and Jehovah's agenda when it came about that Paul was accused of teaching an apostasy from Moses. The elders in Jerusalem in all their wisdom decided to get Paul to take care of two men and their closure of their vows of naziriteship at the temple publicly to dispel this idea. (Never mind that Paul's understanding would still likely have been considered an apostasy "no, you don't get it", Paul might say "I'm not saying it's WRONG to do these things, it's just not required for salvation!"). So the brothers in Jerusalem had one agenda (were they being cowardly, or discreet?), but Jehovah had a different one, because Jehovah could see that this would lead to a riot, Roman soldiers getting involved and then Paul appealing on the basis of his Roman citizenship to Caesar, thus fulfilling the dictates of Jehovah's will.

So this scriptural account, and there are others which are less proximate in my mind which might be used could be used as an example of Jehovah's earthly organization imagining one thing to be the thing which is important, but Jehovah had something else in mind. (It could also be an inducement to be less dogmatic)

***Again I'm just thinking aloud and using this thread to keep track****

 

 

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31 minutes ago, César Chávez said:

That's means, we have to accept and take responsibility for our personal actions and behavior. Galatians 6:5

Exactly! And if we feel our conscience is weak, or has made us react too strongly or strictly, we can improve our conscience through association with a collective group (congregation/brotherhood) of serious persons who continually train their conscience with Bible principles.

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12 minutes ago, xero said:

and there are others which are less proximate in my mind which might be used could be used as an example of Jehovah's earthly organization imagining one thing to be the thing which is important, but Jehovah had something else in mind.

That example (Paul's ministry) was an excellent example, because we consider both Paul and some of the elders and apostles at Jerusalem to be analogous to a 'governing body' which Paul sometimes good direction from -- but we also consider Paul himself to be a part of that same body, which covers the potential problem of Paul making statements that were not immediately acceptable to the Jerusalem body.

Of course, one of the more obvious examples is the one that Paul spoke of directly as a matter of conscience: the eating of meats that had been sacrificed to idols. The Jerusalem body evidently said no, and Paul said that it was or had become a matter of conscience. (Also a possibility of timing at play here.) It seems probable that he still wouldn't eat meats in front of Jerusalem's body of elders to avoid stumbling their weak consciences.

That interpretation is likely controversial to some, and I might not have it right, but we do know that Paul said conscience was directly related to this issue.

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