To the Editor:
Regarding recent religion letters, consider the four kinds of “truth.”
Rhetorical truth: It was once thought true that women are not competent to vote, but that was changed by persuasive rhetoric.
Mystical truths: Arise from sacred texts, spiritual revelation, prophecy, personal enlightenment, etc. Such “truths” have given the world nine major religions and thousands of minor beliefs. Common to all: “My faith is truth; yours is false.” The World Christian Encyclopedia counts 33,830 Christian denominations worldwide. WCE predicts 55,000 Christian denominations by 2025. Church of my youth split, and one offshoot split again. So much for ecumenism. If mystical truth were absolute truth, then there would only be one religion in the world (yours, of course).
Logical truths: Statements tested and validated by methods of reason, logical inference and formal proof (mathematics). Conclusions based on logic depend on the truth or falsity of the axioms and postulates on which they are based. If one postulates that his sacred scripture is inerrant and divinely inspired and a verse states, “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day,” one might logically (falsely) conclude that the sun orbits the earth.
Empirical (scientific) truths: Conclusions based on verifiable, repeatable experiments that represent the current best explanation of the evidence. Scientific truth never claims to be the absolute truth. No one has the last word. The strength of science is that it is self-correcting over time with obvious benefits to humankind.