Posted On 2009-12-19 In Something to think about

Science and Conscience

Jorge H. Day. Let us imagine a primitive man thousands of years ago, facing the unheard of fact of a night sky filled with stars and a day with a countless variety of species. Perhaps the first thing which caught his attention was the rhythmic succession of night following each day. Or, he began to understand that there were cycles in nature with warm days and fruits alternating with the desolation of winter. He must have quickly received intuition, that is, the irrational awareness that behind that infinite variety there was order.

Behind that order which he would later call natural law, he caught a glimpse of the first traits of a Creator to which he would begin to give names according to his primitive condition.

Many centuries later, the man, following Francis Bacon’s slogan of “torture nature to rip away its secrets,” advanced from such a dazzling mode that devaluated that first intuitive understanding.


Father Joseph Kentenich preached a great deal on this topic. He identified the intuitive understanding of our ancestors with conscience and he extended its meaning. The word comes from the Latin conscientia which implies awareness shared with another. To share is what God has wanted to do by giving this awareness to man, placing His image in the depth of man’s being. Father Kentenich would say, “Conscience is a living image of the eternal law, of the eternal order of the world in the heart of man.” In this way, God dwells in the heart and from there He speaks to him with a soft murmur. Pray Psalm 95:8 “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Harden not your hearts.”.

Conscience differs from science which is acquired knowledge thanks to that other great gift from God which is intelligence, reason. Thanks to science, man has conquered innumerable illnesses and has tamed many more. He has alleviated his tasks by dominating energy and has invented tools from the humble plow to the most sophisticated cybernetics. What would be of us without science?

But the age-old warning from the Book of Genesis on the fruit from the tree of Good and Evil remains in place. Science demonstrates its successes with a shrill voice which silences the tame whisperings of conscience. There is no incompatibility between science and conscience, on the contrary, they are complementary. It is like night and day, systole and diastole, inspire and expire. Complementation means that one cannot exist without the other.

The risks for lack of equilibrium

Father Kentenich warned regarding the risks for lack of equilibrium between the two: Mental illness, mental illness, mental illness! he would say!

Any doctor or psychologist knows about the increase in the frequency of mental disorders and, likewise, any person today is a witness to the sufferings caused by divorce, separation, violence, addictions, abandonment.

Father Kentenich’s observation coinciding with that of many other thinkers, or rather, the lack of equilibrium between conscience and science seems to correctly explain so many bad things which is like saying lack of equilibrium between the interior life and the exterior life. This bacillus has penetrated every crack offered to it by modern life. We will have to follow the steps of the bacteriologist: discover its hiding places in order to combat it. To recover the equilibrium is an unpostponable goal for each person, for each family and for all society.

Translation: Carlos Cantú, Schoenstatt Family Federation, La Feria, Texas USA 121709

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