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    Re: Primacy of Conscience D...
    Posted by John Briggs on June 3, 2003, 11:39 am

Dear Brian: Thanks for outlining your position vis a vis Dr Pell's comments on Conscience. I would like to comment on his statement of the Primacy of Truth.

It is accepted that all humankind has a conscience, that biologically homo sapiens comes equipped with a conscience – it is hard-wired in the brain. All human kind is called on to exercise their conscience. Every culture on earth reflects that conscience and has developed "Rules" or generalisations and examples about moral behaviour. If we examine the ancient myths of aboriginal culture, we will see stories that exemplify right conduct, analogous to our own culture's stories such as the Good samaritan. A pagan such as Aesop developed his fables to guide young people, and all of these stories have common elements, so much so that such codes as the Decalogue have pretty well universal applicability, and these principles are at the base of all legitimate law systems and rules for right conduct.

Now, when we come to the Truth, here we have huge disagreements that we attempt to deal with in our ecumenical movements. There is no way we can reach agreement on "The Truth" Christians proclaim that jesus is the way, the Truth and the Light, and we Christians live our lives by His light. This is the Truth expounded by Dr Pell, and I would maintain that that is a particular cultural expression of The Truth. Therefore, it is axiomatic that the truth is not universal, wheas the rules of Conscience are, whether one is a Muslim, atheist or Jew or Christian. Therefore, it seems to me that Conscience must come first, for it is Conscience that unites all humanity, whereas the Truth is cultural.

Sure, we might believe that we have the Truth, but so do the Muslims and the Jews and the Buddhists. In looking for that which unites us we must call on Conscience, not Truth as the basis – for "Truth" only brings division and conflict. Our Truth is our faith, which we hope to share with all humanity: the story of Jesus gives Truth Concreteness, Reality, and links God the Loving Creator through his son Jesus -- we can share our understanding but at the same must respect the "Truth" of our fellow non-believers. We must not be trapped into the fallacy that we are superior in matters of Conscience to any other human being from whatever culture. That is what gets up the noses of so many people when Christians act as if they have a higher morality than other cultures who in all the essential are ruled as much by the Ten Commandments as us Judeo Christians. So that leads me to contend that humanity gets to Heaven by obeying their Conscience, which is the Law of Love, not the "Truth", whatever that may be.

John Briggs

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[Edited by Coadministrator to remove typos and increase paragraph spacing]


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