In an earlier post, I explored what it means to be a human being: Human Being: Body or Soul?
Another post then goes a step further and describes the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual aspects of the human being: Four Pillars of the Human Person
In this post we’ll take another step forward and see how we measure these four aspects of the human being. Three are easy to hold to a ruler, and one of them is a real doozy.
Holding a Ruler to Everything
As the curious little creatures we are, we love to calculate and measure things. It helps us learn about the world, learn more about ourselves, and learn how we compare to others.
We measure the four pillars of the human being through the form of tests. Let’s look at some examples:
Emotional tests can be administered to all employees at a company. You also see them as a part of online dating sites. These tests generally ask you a series of multiple-choice questions about real-life situations and you respond with how it makes you feel. The creators of these tests have identified a number of personality types, which are often represented as part of a disc, plot, or circle. Based on your answers you are placed on the graph and you may be a certain percentage of one or more personality types.
In my experience, they’ve been eerily accurate at identifying my emotional tendencies, what motivates me, what personality traits I’m attracted to, and which ones I’m repulsed by.
Intellectual tests are administered all the time in school systems. It could be a world history test devised by a high school teacher, or a wider-casting test given out to all schools in a state or region. You’ll even see tests on a national scale, like the SATs or ACT in the US for college admittance.
There are also general tests outside of the school system to measure your Intelligence Quotient, or IQ.
Physical tests are administered in the health and sports world. You may go to a clinic or hospital where your vitals are measured such as your blood pressure, body mass index, or cholesterol levels.
From a sports perspective, athletes can be timed or graded by judges. The peak of physical excellence is seen in the Olympics, where the difference between gold and silver is sometimes down to the tenth or even hundredth of a second.
Right and Wrong Answers
The only wrong answer in emotional tests is when you aren’t being honest with yourself; they are asking you about you!
Intellectual tests are based on humanity’s collective understanding of how the physical world works (think math and science class) and of how human history played out (think history class).
Physical tests are based on the observations and/or opinions of an individual or group (such as your high school English teacher giving you that ambiguous 87 on your essay, or a panel of judges at the Olympics giving an average 9.71 score). It can also be based on math and science, such as measuring blood pressure or body weight.
Where Spirituality Fits In
So far, the tests have covered ways to measure our feelings, our mental wits and our physical state. But how do we measure the fourth aspect of the human being: spirituality?
Spirituality is the non-physical part of us, often referred to as the soul. It has a connection to the physical part of us through our morals, the code that classifies human behavior in particular circumstances as either good or evil.
Specifically, what is meant by behavior? In any given moment, you can be conducting yourself to any of the following:
- Thinking (thoughts)
- Saying (words)
- Doing (actions)
- Not Doing (inaction)
The last one, inaction, is sometimes the forgotten behavior. You can’t just be a blob and do nothing all the time. It is morally bad to allow evil to happen around us when we’re fully capable of working against it and potentially stopping it!
The interesting thing about behavior—which is you acting on your morals, which is rooted in what you believe, i.e., your spirituality—is that it calls upon the other aspects of who you are: your emotions, your physical body, and your intellect. These three aspects are the what and the how of your behavior and they seem to point back to the more important question of your behavior: why?
In other words your spirituality is: your beliefs, your soul; your interior castle; your very core. It answers why you behaved a certain way.
Sure, you use your intellect to discern facts and experiences, and your emotions to feel a certain way, but when you ask why a particular fact is what it is or when you ask why you feel or want to feel a certain way, the answer—after enough “why” questions—eventually goes beyond intellect or emotions. It also goes beyond the physical realm.
Eventually you will have to answer a “why” question with “because I believe…”. That’s your spirituality talking.
Measuring Morality: A “Spirituality Quotient”
None of us are capable of completely measuring somebody else’s morality in entirety. That’s not to say we can’t call out immoral actions of others. In that, we are condemning the action, not the person. That’s an important distinction to make! For example, a judge in a courtroom has to determine if a person’s actions (or inaction) make them guilty. It isn’t a judgment on that person’s heart.
I believe that God is the one true judge… the only one who can truly measure a “spirituality quotient.” Only he has witnessed every single thought, word, action, and inaction of mine. He knows these behaviors better than myself, as I’ve forgotten about a lot of events in my life.
I can’t just perceive a single, isolated action that someone else did at face value and make a judgment. That’s not fair nor is it an accurate indicator of that person’s morality. That’s why gossiping is so destructive and unproductive; it’s basically tunnel-vision judgment leading to a hot mess of fiction.
With his infinite wisdom, God can see everything that we are and so only he can truly determine—in the hour of our death—to which side our behaviors will tip the moral scale. To be fairly judged, it requires that complete wisdom.