If we want to base our lives on truth, many of us think mainly of truth in the spiritual sense; but the truth of God is all encompassing. Cosmic truth includes also the truths of science, which get most of the attention in present-day civilization. But science and religion, as understood through their vocal public representatives, often seem to clash. In order to achieve a livable integration of science and religion, we need one more ingredient in our truth recipe: the truths of philosophy. Here is one introduction.
- There are universal truths, but adventuresome philosophical thinking navigates between extremes of dogmatism and skepticism. Thus genuine philosophy avoids the formulation of a static philosophical system by recognizing the following factors: the mystery of personality, divine and human; evolution and evolving science; the presence of insights arising within differing approaches to philosophy and the wisdom traditions of diverse cultures; the significance of personal experience in concept formation; spiritual truth as a living reality in personal experience; and wisdom’s need to apply universal truths in particular situations.
- Reality includes material, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions. These dimensions can interact for because, first, each dimension stretches across a spectrum. Matter includes the spectrum from rocks to neurons; mind spans the spectrum between physical perception and spiritual experience; and spirit spans the spectrum between the divine spirit presence that can indwell the human mind and the God who is personality and more. Second, integration of these levels is possible because of the inherent potentials of mind over matter, and spirit over mind.
- The mind has at least the following basic capacities for insightful intuition into these dimensions: The capacity to understand material facts in terms of cause and effect; the capacity to distinguish right from wrong and to recognize our duty; and the capacity for spiritual experience.
- Our capacities of mind enable us to attain insight and cope intuitively in our venturing in each of these realms of reality. These capacities can be doubted, but they are self-evident and basic. They can neither be proven or disproven, since any attempted proof or disproof assumes too much or (dis)proves too little.
- On the basis of clarified intuition, we can reason logically and synthesize insights and lines of reasoning into a wisdom synthesis. We sharpen our capacities for intuition by drawing on reason and our evolving wisdom synthesis.
- Philosophy works by interpreting the meanings of facts, ideas, and values.
- Meaning is something real that is discovered in insight and also something that we interpret as part of a social, cultural, and historical conversation.
- Divine revelation of truth, beauty, and goodness illuminates our comprehension of meanings, even though revelation needs reason and wisdom to help us discern it and interpretation to enable us to apply it.
- Philosophy can harmonize science and religion, since whatever science truly discovers can be interpreted by philosophy as consistent with divine purpose.
- Philosophy attains wisdom by integrating scientific realism with spiritual idealism.
(For a fuller discussion, see Living in Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, by Jeffrey Wattles, forthcoming at Cascade Books.)