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Center for Action and Contemplation

Truth Is One: Science and Spirituality Can Coexist

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Perennial Tradition

Truth Is One
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Science is no longer, nor should it ever have been, our enemy; instead quantum physics, biology, and other academic disciplines are revealing that science is our new and excellent partner, much better than philosophy ever was. Truth is One. If something is spiritually true, it will also be true in the physical world, and all disciplines and all religions will somehow be looking at this “one truth” from different angles, goals, assumptions, and vocabulary. If we are really convinced that we have the Big Truth, then we should also be able to trust that others will see it from their different angles—or it is not the Big Truth.

No one wants to be our enemy unless they assume that we ourselves have chosen to live in our own small tent and cannot or do not want to talk to them on their terms. Christians have too often assumed ill will and been far too eager to create enemies instead of realizing that others often enjoyed very similar “good news” inside of different packaging.

As my colleague and fellow Living School teacher Cynthia Bourgeault says, “We begin to discover that our Buddhist and Jewish and Islamic and Hindu friends are not competitors. Religion is not a survival of the fittest. There is a deep understanding that we all swim together or we sink together. Each religious tradition reveals a color of the heart of God that is precious.” [1]

Big Truth is written in reality itself before it was ever written in books. If you say yes to Reality, to “what is,” you will recognize the same truth when it shows itself in anyone’s sacred scriptures. If you do not respond to the “good, the true, and the beautiful” (the three qualities of being) in daily reality, I doubt if you will ever see it in the best Bible translation in the world. If it is the truth, it is true all the time and everywhere, and sincere lovers of truth will take it from wherever it comes. If it is true, it is common domain, and “there for the mind to see in the things that God has made” (Romans 1:20). Or, as Aquinas was fond of saying, quoting Ambrose (another Doctor of the Church), “If it’s true, it is always from the one Holy Spirit.” [2] The important question is not, “Who said it?” but, “Is it true?”

Gateway to Silence:
All truth is one.

[1] Cynthia Bourgeault, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy, disc 1 (CAC: 2015), CD, MP3 download.
[2] Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, q. 1, a. 8. Also Summa Theologia I-II, q. 109, a. 1, ad 1. The statement “Omne verum, a quocumque dicatur, a Spiritu Sancto est” is recorded in Patres Latini, 17, 245; today, the unknown author is called Ambrosiaster.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 135-136.

Image credit: Tree with visible roots in Kiental, between Herrsching and Andechs, Germany,
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