Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Kate M. LoewenthalEmail author
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_128-6

How has conscience been seen in religious traditions? How has it been understood by psychologists? What do we know about the psychological processes involved in the links between religion and conscience?

Religious Views of Conscience

The divine “still, small voice” (I Kings 19, 12) has often been used to depict conscience, the spiritual inner voice offering and urging the morally and spiritually correct path for the individual. Conscience in traditional Western religion is a given part of human constitution but one that may be drowned by bad habits, temptations, poor upbringing, bad examples, and lack of moral education and direction. Conscience is sometimes depicted as the “good inclination,” arguing with the “evil inclination,” both striving for the attention and obedience of their owner (Shneur Zalman of Liadi 1973/1796). Current writings on religious education are often informed and made complex by current psychological understandings of the nature of conscience, of moral growth,...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRoyal Holloway, University of LondonEghamUK