Highest common denominator

Elton Wong

The letter to the editor written by the Rev. Dave Bovenmyer brings up a subject that is on the minds of many people.

I think that the main point of the letter was summed up in the question “shouldn’t we approach spiritual truth in the same way that we approach the physical world?”

This idea seems logical until you realize that spiritual truth is fundamentally different from scientific truth. There is no debate at all among scientists that the gravitational constant of acceleration near the earth’s surface can be approximated accurately by 9.8m/s^2, or that oxygen is transported through the human body mostly by hemiglobin. The questions of gravity and oxygen transport have been answered over time through experimentation and observation.

Spiritual questions have been debated for thousands of years, and there is nothing resembling consensus among people at large. This could be for two reasons:

1. We have yet to perform the proper experiments or make the proper observations.

2. There isn’t enough solid scientific evidence for or against the claims of most religions.

The answer is more likely the latter. No one can perform an experiment to prove absolutely that God exists, or that the Bible (or any other text) is the literal word of a Deity.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” As for observational science, human experience in general varies so much from person to person that truth claims based on it have little if any empirical value. Each person’s experience is the very definition of subjectivity. Spiritual claims aren’t exclusively scientific and neither is religious belief. If it was, it wouldn’t be called faith or belief, but rather knowledge.

Religious relativism does not hold that all religious claims are true, but only for the person holding them. Religious relativism acknowledges that solid scientific answers for spiritual questions are hard to come by.

Elton Wong