Check out my review of Ken Wilber's latest book Finding Radical Wholeness

Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Zakariyya IshaqZakariyya Ishaq is a writer who has just completed his first book on the subject of spiritual cosmology. An original new theory he feels can rival any: THE ELLIPSE: THE FALL AND RISE OF THE HUMAN SOUL: SECRETS OF THE COSMOS. In addition to being a writer he is a musician, computer professional, and community activist. He is a Graduate of Devry University in Digital Electronic Technology. Ishaq has been a mystical seeker of enlightenment for 30 years, a member of 3 Sufi Orders: and has studied formally and informally Buddhism, Vedanta Cosmology, Cabala, Taoism, Sufism, Integral Philosophy, and various other mystic esoteric and exoteric schools of thought.

The Science and Faith
of the Known and
the Un-known

And the focus of Evolution
in Integral Thought

Zakariyya Ishaq

Science is a religion based on knowledge and
Religion is a science based on faith.
By what logic do we, as modern Integral thinkers, create a neo-dogmatic atmosphere in Integral circles surrounding evolution?

The very meaning of faith in many religious doctrines and science itself is all about the unknown—the realm of belief without knowledge or experience. Today anytime science approaches such a topic it tends to indulge in euphemistic language—describing their faith or ignorance in vague adjectives such as Dark.

On a religious level many don't know that the first pillar of Islam, described in the Quran, has nothing to do with any belief in any God but is a reference to the believer's fundamental quandary—that is living with what is unseen and unknown. The word in the Arabic is Ghaibi which connotes the invisible or unseen. The believer is obligated first to believe in what they don't or can't see at the time and place they are developmentally present in. Faith here is about the mind going from the un-known to the known.

In science often they couch their faith in dogma almost as strong as any medieval believer from any of the Abrahamhic faiths. They feel they have the right to do this because of the presumed experience of knowing something preceding the present presumption of knowledge. . . . Science calls this—theory. . . . Religious people call this—faith. Indeed, we might ask those who now are so up in arms over the possibility of a neutrino traveling faster than the photon about their faith in their official dogma or of the transcendental veracity of science! Or ask them about the recent “discovery” or understanding that the universe is going much faster than the official dogma ever thought possible, flying apart at rates unknown or ever thought feasible; as well the missing mass of many traditional observable objects in the cosmos has brought to our scientific jargon the terms Dark Energy and Dark Matter—two euphemisms for our ignorance.

"Dark energy is our ignorance of what's going on in the universe right now," says Karl Gebhardt, a professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin and one of the principal investigators for the HETDEX project.[1]

Of course I won't mention that decades ago physicist were certain that Einstein's theory of the cosmological constant was nonsense, though today many are proclaiming it was the right theory all along!

All this relates fittingly to the many attacks on Ken Wilber's idea of science particularly relating to biological or organic evolution.

The question arises out of (for example the above questions in physics particularly and may be generally relative to the possibility that branches of science such as biological evolution are subject to the same vagaries as physics) the very veracity of not the scientific methodology per se, but the fact that science may not have all their facts as straight as they presume. Therefore by what logic do we, as modern Integral thinkers, create a neo-dogmatic atmosphere in Integral circles surrounding evolution? Granted perhaps evolutionary theory has not been upended as much as physics has lately, but who's to say that years from now science may come to conclusions that contradict current standard evolutionary theory. . . . Isn't much of this still about faith?

The case of the pilling up on Ken Wilber of many Integral thinkers on this topic because of his presumably inaccurate statements on evolution comes to mind. Though we all have the right and obligation to pile up on anything or anyone we deem scientifically or integrally inaccurate, since all this is a search for truth, it nevertheless appears that many integral thinkers have become, I hope this isn't too strong a term—fixated—on organic evolution, which has deeply infected the Integral commentators to such an extent as almost to become an orthodoxy of the Integral paradigm. . . . Indeed, it seems everytime I peruse a new commentary on Wilberian thought on this subject he is over and over pejoratively associated with the—creationist label—the mark of Cain for an Integral spiritual such as Wilber!

Of course on another level it may be that Wilber is experiencing or tasting—as the well known aphorism of karmic justice suggests: his own chickens coming home to roost . . . since Wilber has so often along with his close philosophical mate Andrew Cohen indulged the evolution conundrum and embroiled it so closely with spirituality that the gods may deem he may merit such scorn.

Regarding the Integral interest in evolution; I have always contended that modern Integral spirituality has been too overly willing to kiss the ring of the evolutionists and their grand theorem of physical biological alchemy, along with a hefty dose of idolatry towards science in general.

It appears this focus has gone in two directions, and not exclusively on the biological plain, in its overbearing influence on the integral thinkers of today and yesterday: there is the inclusion of it into many versions of what might be called secular spirituality, that being many types of Wilber critics who seem to take apart Wilber's limbs, that being metaphorically equated with the scientific extrapolations of his theories, and leave his body, perhaps we can equate to the spiritual in his doctrinal body of work, alone; as if Wilber is strictly a philosopher and not a qualified Integral mystic.

Of course this might be expected from the secular spirituals being more mundane than spiritually inclined. In any case it is irresistible to recall the fable of the elephant in the dark here, where the Wilberian critics while consuming a limb amongst Ken Wilber's body of work, and all contending at the same time to perceive an anti-Integral truth to his integral perception . . . may miss the essence of his contribution to the spiritual body as a whole and get lost in a negative view of his work. . . it may be scientific correctness at is most severe when we have an overdose of critique regarding the orthodoxy of views on biological evolutionary theory.

On the other hand, something that Wilber has contributed conceptually to himself often; is the spiritual evolutionist of today and their new age movement that includes Andre Cohen and his evolutionary enlightenment concepts. This is an attachment by the new age to evolution juxtaposed on their mystical concepts and borrowing the exotic “evolution” theory to append to its quasi Integral approach with little or no legitimate spiritual tradition to back it up save a few 18th and 19th century philosophers and mystics. This indulgence is entirely ethereal, since in this vein the spiritual evolutionists make no claim toward any relationship between organic evolution and spiritual evolution, only that developmental phenomena is evolutionary, in my opinion a specious claim.

How certain are we then in the integrity of the orthodox theories of organic evolution that we append to Integral Philosophy this neo-dogma towards its most eminent thinker, not to mention many others, in light of the modern vagaries of science we know of today? That to me is the burning question of this period, where the concentration of the Integral Spiritual philosophy may be in threat of becoming co-opted by the linear thinkers of the scientific tradition. This linear thinking has as many presumptions of truth as any clerical-based religion; it's just that it is much more versatile in its presumptions because of the dynamics of the nature of the scientific method. These presumptions, like in any clerical dogma, shifts over time from the basis of theoretical points of “knowledge” that can be likened to the clerics of Catholicism today conceding the possibility of an alien presence in the universe and that they would therefore be perfectly willing to baptize the aliens on contact!

Certainly science is welcome in the grand tent of Integral Philosophy along with every legitimate system of knowledge that approaches the known and un-known with an objective mind, but the scientific methodology is not the exclusive domain of the known and is as subject to the vagaries of the unknown as any method. That unknown, of course, includes error as well as—something the scientists loathe to admit—faith. For what can we describe a scientists believing in the veracity of Einstein's dogma regarding the speed of light, before it was tentatively upended recently, or the supposed speed the universal bodies were flying apart from each other before that theory was upended conclusively? What can we describe this frame of mind as? Faith or belief?

It is certainly true that Integral theory justifiably has a big investment in traditional science and is not at all a strictly spiritual endeavor in the minds of many; therefore inherent in its modern reflection is the traditional conflict between religion and science.

The question arises then: are the secular Integral thinkers merely playing out this inner contradiction or is their any substantial validity to their concentration of the evolutionist paradigm?



Comment Form is loading comments...