Consciousness represents the picture of the divine that created human beings. It involves the mind simply in realistic and moral ways. Individuals of conscience strive often to be sensible and consistent in knowing and applying moral values. However, loss of consciousness is related to “bad” thought, when one lacks or unreasonably reinvents the moral values. The idea of “awareness” was first developed in Greek philosophy in the first century and was referred to in the name of “having a knowledge of one another” or “knowing someone.” Compared to other doctrines, Christianity, Hebrew, and Islam educate the current society about the role of consciousness and what it means to have conscience. They clearly demonstrate the significance of conscience as well as its effects, applicability, and emerging consequences for disregard compared to the classical teachings of Greek and Romans that offer general teachings to the public in relation to life in its entirety.
A key teaching of the doctrines is the role of conscience in distinguishing between what is right and wrong. Unlike other creatures, human beings are able to reflect upon their actions due to consciousness. The conscience permits individuals to contemplate over their actions and make moral decisions. This characteristic can be observed in the Hebrew scripture, particularly the story of Noah. In narrating the story of Noah and the great flood, the scripture reveals that human beings opted for the desires of the flesh. Rather than choosing to praise the Lord and follow his commandments, they chose the path of sinning. The Jewish bible denotes, “The LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how every plan he devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time” (SCW 28). Every individual had chosen the path of evil and wickedness. On the other hand, Noah and his family chose what they felt was righteous. Rather than admiring the desires of flesh, they remain holy before LORD. The scripture states, “But Noah found favor in the Lord. This is the line of Noah: Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age; Noah walked with God” (SCW 28). Unlike the people who were ego-driven and made choices without critically thinking, Noah was spiritually directed to make choices, thus, utilizing his consciousness. Because of his right choices, God blessed him and his family.
Similar to the Hebrew teachings, the Islam doctrine teaches contemporary society of the role of conscience in differentiating the wrong from right act. In the letter written by Maimonides to Yemen in their request for guidance in regards to the two persecutions the Jewish were facing from an Islamic ruler and a Jewish reformer. He chooses to remind the people that the Islamic religion is the true divine that God had chosen to them through Moses. He quotes from the bible that, “Yet it was to your fathers that the Lord was drawn in His love for them, so that He chose you, their lineal descendants, from among all peoples- as is now the case” (SCW 127). He further explains that the Islamic community is hated because of the fact that they had been chosen by God. He states, “This is why all the kings of the Earth persecute us, out of their hatred and injustice. All have wanted to impede the Lord, but in vain” (SCW 127). Maimonides vividly explains why people are against the Muslim religion and would wish to eliminate them. Like Christianity, they believe in God and Moses who had rescued them from Pharaoh. Through his letter, it is evident that he chooses right and righteousness over wrong and as a result, may be considered having conscience.
The scriptures also consider conscience to be a distinct part of the human soul. Hebrews refers to conscience as “leb” which means “heart” as described in the Old Testament. Being part of the soul, the Hebrew does not provide any distinction between the inner body and the conscience. This understanding is illustrated in Book of Exodus in which Moses and approaches Pharaoh to release the Israelites from the Egyptian slavery. Amidst the fact that the LORD instructs Moses multiple times to approach Pharaoh that it was God who ordered for the release of the Israelites, he refused. After a series of marvels including turning the Nile water into blood and even threatening to kill Egyptian first born children, Pharaoh’s heart still could not soften. Thus, the scripture states: “Moses and Aaron had performed all these marvels before Pharaoh, but the Lord had stiffened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not let the Israelites go from his land” (SCW 33). “Stiffened heart” is further mentioned in the Hebrew scripture when the Israelites finally leave Egypt. After they left, Pharaoh sent his army to follow and kill all of them. It is stated, “The LORD stiffened the heart of Pharaoh King of Egypt, and he gave chase to the Israelites” (SCW 35). By referring to “stiffened heart,” the scripture means that Pharaoh has steeled his conscience to let the will of God reign, thus, signifying the association of conscience with soul. This interpretation means that the conscience is the inner part of the human self.
Through the Christian teachings, conscience is considered the servant of a person’s values. When one has a weak value system, then they are prone to weak conscience. On the other hand, fully constructed value systems enables an individual to differentiate wrong from right choices. This ideology is illustrated in the Christianity narratives which shows how lack of value systems result in loss of conscience. Josephus narrates the experience of a woman named Mary from the Bethezob village. When she went to Jerusalem, the guardsmen took away everything she had carried including food and her belongings. It is written, “Everything she possessed that she had brought with her had been snatched away, including whatever food she had managed to save,…” (SCW 81). She was left with nothing, and had to suffer like the other Jews she found there. With famine everywhere, she went hungry, and in the end decided to kill her own son for food. The scripture states, “… and these rebels are a worse scourge than the other two. So come, dear child. Be my food, be a curse upon the rebels, and a warning to the whole world” (SCW 81). Her justification was that even if the child survived, he would still die of hunger or could be killed by the rebels, and as such, she opted to kill and cook the baby. Mary had chosen to suppress her conscience in order to commit a wrong act by justifying it with possible danger the child would face if he remained alive.
Furthermore, the Christian scripture explains that when one chooses to mature in faith, the result is strong conscience and, thus, high value systems. This can involve engagement in prayers and frequent seeking of God’s intervention. There are various collections of Jesus sayings that have been highlighted in the scripture to strengthen those who believe in Christ. One of the quotes states, “If those leading you say ‘The kingdom [of God] is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will guide you. If they say ‘The kingdom is below the ground,’ then the fish of the sea will lead you… When you know yourself you will know that you are the children of the living Father” (SCW 91). This saying means that whoever believes in God and heaven, finds a good thing, and is able to be guided in the right way. Further, it is noted in the scripture that when the disciples asked Jesus if they would be able to see him, Jesus answered them, “when you are naked and not ashamed” (SCW 91). Since the disciples were never righteous, they were unable to see Jesus. However, Christ informs them that if they decide to mature in faith, then they would see the kingdom of God, a state of consciousness just like in the case of Noah.
The Islamic script also holds the belief that one can develop strong conscience when they are mature in faith. This can be explained in the context of the massacre at the Banu Qarayza. The scripture narrates that Muhammad had gone to Banu one morning to approach the Jews. Accompanied by Ali, Muhammad went to declare war on the Jewish community who did not believe in Allah. After fighting for 25 days, the Jews called for Abu Lubaba with whom they could have discussed their terms of surrender. At this point, Abu Lubaba convinced the Jews of his faith to the Allah. He later reported, “I knew I had taken a single step that I had been disloyal to Allah and His Messenger” (SCW 119). He repented for being unfaithful to Allah, and had recognized his sins. Furthermore, readers are informed that he had spent all his time in the mosque, seeking for God’s forgiveness. At the mosque, he stated, “I will not leave this place until Allah forgives me for what I have done!” (SCW 119). Abu Lubaba repented his disloyalty to Allah and encouraged the Jews to turn themselves to the Muslims. This surrender is a sign of maturity in faith, and as a result, increased conscience.
Compared to the three doctrines, Greek and Roman teaching are also significant to the contemporary society, but they do not offer close teachings that relate to consciousness. In the Greek scriptures, readers are informed about the Great Zeus and his descendants. The teachings promote morality and need for humanity. For instance, in Book I, Apollo punishes Agamemnon for refusing to release his slave, Briseis. When Chryses came, he carried a great ransom to the Achaeans for the exchange for his daughter. However, Agamemnon responds, “Never let me catch you, old man, loitering about our ships / or trying to approach me again! If I do catch you, your scepter and priestly bands / will do you no good” (SCW 44). He further claims, “I will not release your daughter” (SCW 44) to mean that he was willing to slave her for life. Using abusive words against Chryses amidst his humble request was a sign of disrespect to the old man. Because of his refusal to release his slave upon request as the traditions of Achaeans required, Agamemnon was punished by the gods. This is a teaching is focused more on the need to uphold societal values rather than having consciousness.
Similar notion could be drawn from the Roman teachings in which human beings are enlightened about life and natural phenomenon. The teachings are aimed at nurturing individuals to understand the role of nature and how to value life. This includes appreciation for every occurrence regardless of its consequences, and the belief of a Supreme Being that controls everything on Earth. This is evident in Epictetus’ scriptures, Enchiridion I, V, and XIV where he urges people to embrace the stoic virtues such as acceptance of death, happiness, and self-control. One of the teachings involves the need to worry less of the things people cannot have control over: “if you worry about sickness, death, and poverty you will always be miserable. Stop worrying about what you cannot control” (SCW 71). Another teaching in the scripture advocates for the need to have self-control in which Epictetus states, “Keep silence, for the most part, and when you must speak, use few words…” (SCW 71). These teachings are focused on development of content among humans and control of oneself while interacting with others.
Furthermore, classical teachings are focused on the existence of supreme beings and their control over human life. For instance, in the case of the Greek reading, Chryses requests Apollo (god) to punish Agamemnon and for insulting him, and as a result, the whole Achaean community had suffered. The author states, “First he shot their mules and dogs, then quickly turned upon the soldiers themselves” (SCW 45). The god continued to attack the Greeks for 9 days, and at last “Achilles called the men to assembly” (SCW 45). This is an indication of the wrath of gods among those who are disobedient to him. Similarly, the Roman teaching Epictetus also encourages humanity to accept life and death as these are things that humans have no control over. He states, “You are a fool to wish your wife, children, and friends to live forever, because that is wanting to control what you cannot control…or wanting to possess powers that belong to another” (SCW 71). Further, he states, “Remember always that you are an actor in a drama, in the role chosen for you by the Author (God)” (SCW 71). These teachings, therefore, reveal the power of the supreme being, and their interventions in the human life. Few of the writings advocate for righteousness, as they call for general harmony.