INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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Anthony Galli (tonygalli@hotmail.com) has a degree in psychology, with experience in mental health and education. He currently works for a non-profit corporation. His personal website can be accessed at: http://tonygalli.tripod.com

That Old Time Religion

Anthony Galli

This will be my final response in the thread of essays relating to “Christianity – The Great Lie,” ending on the ever contentious Middle East debate.

I would respond in this way. The Jungian system is a paradigm that involves hermeneutics. The truth of its claims can only be revealed through following the injunctions appropriate to the paradigm. It does not claim to have the complete answer, only that it is useful in understanding a positive psychological process Jung called Individuation. The Jungian paradigm is valid within its terms of reference and can easily take its place within the integral worldview. Tony should take the time to read Wilber on Integral Methodological Pluralism and integrative epistemology.

I have read Wilber's position on Integral Methodological Pluralism, and I have also studied Jung. I am not so cold as to dismiss the value of hermeneutics, or the many ways we touch. I consider myself more an English/History kind of guy anyways, so it's right up my alley.

What I was getting at is if integral theorists claim to have the hard science, some would say “narrow science,” on their side then they must be prepared to deal with the arguments of scientists opposed to their paradigm.

The biologist E.O. Wilson, for example, had his own theory that, to him and many of his supporters in the scientific community, outlined a sufficient model of integrating the different spheres of knowledge. I personally like Wilber's and others better, but again, the integral community must meet scientists head-on in terms of both data and worldview if they want to accurately include this dimension in their work.

What I said was that it was 'broadly compatible'. Perhaps Tony should look up his dictionary and read the definition of the word compatible, “able to exist together harmoniously”. The Christian idea is of an eternal and separate God who creates the Kosmos, either through the Big Bang or through Creation. This is based on a misunderstanding of the Big Bang theory which says that the Kosmos is self-created; an idea 'broadly compatible' with the Eastern idea of a self-created Kosmos. If Tony is going to make a useful critical comment here he needs to both represent my position accurately and both Christian, Eastern and scientific cosmology accurately.

That modern science proves Eastern metaphysics alone, in its specifics, is the conflation. The essay seemed to imply that view. If not, then I simply misread it. That science is broadly compatible with Eastern metaphysics, which it is, does not mean that Eastern metaphysics is therefore truer than Western metaphysics.

The big-bang theory, as far as I know, does not mention the conditions of the universe prior to its creation. Because scientists can only study that which is directly amenable to their methods, they have no where else to conjecture for the origin of the physical universe but the physical universe itself. Thus, a self-created universe is a logical necessity. The universe had to start somehow, so this is taken as a foundation.

A Christian could argue that it was God who set the conditions that lead to the big-bang in the first place. The problem then is where this separate God could possibly be in the scheme of things. Not all Christian theologians are idiots; some who are quite well-versed in science have come up with explanations.

This is just plain nonsense. Science developed in several civilizational complexes. How Western-centric is it to ignore Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and pagan Greek science? The ability to develop science is based on the ability to develop to the rational stage. The scientific revolution in the West only happened after reason was freed from control by the Church and secularized. Up until that point scientific discoveries were suppressed by the Church, with the offices of the Inquisition keeping a close watch on innovation. Leonardo Da Vinci made significant discoveries in anatomy but his work never saw the light of day until some centuries later. Why? Because some idiot told the Pope Da Vinci was a necromancer.

I do not deny that science developed elsewhere. It should be obvious that it was not only Christians that developed science. I did not mention this because it is not relevant to my point, which is that if Christianity is completely anti-science, then science would never have gotten off the ground in Christian countries. That is not the case. In fact, some Christians contributed enormously to science as we know it today. This includes monks, whose living conditions and literacy were the ground upon which the western university system was founded. It is true, though, that the development was slow, and the perhaps it took too long to get to the renaissance because too many of the brightest minds of medieval Europe were concerned with such pressing issues as how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

Now, if Christianity is not even the foundation of Western civilization, as Harris argued in his essay, then would it even be “Western-centric” of me to point out that the development of science happened in conjunction with Christianity?

As a point of comparison, I would like to bring up a recent book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason written by another Harris, Sam Harris, that has similar arguments. It states in a chapter “The Problem with Islam” that the rise of science in Islamic countries had absolutely nothing to with religion because someone had to do the job, that is, people of faith were the only ones available. This begs the question - Why did people have to do this job? It did not have to be done the way it was done, especially if scientific research preceded the discoveries and subsequent technological applications. If one answers that it was the environmental conditions and pressures which lead to these discoveries, we are back to square one, because religion was so involved in the social environment at this point. I would argue that the same holds for Christianity.

Tony really needs to get a grasp of his facts. There were three Jewish tribes in Medina, the Bani Nadir, Bani Qaynuqah and Bani Qurayzah. It may be the Muslim version of history that says the Jews betrayed Mohammed for political reasons, but the Jewish version says something different. It says that Mohammed was a false prophet and that the rabbis of Medina rejected his claim to prophetic authority. They even said he was an illiterate who had never studied the Torah; and that he had concocted the Koran from a grab bag of stories he had heard. This clearly is a religious disagreement. You see, it all hinges on whether or not you believe Mohammed was a genuine prophet. If he was a fraud then one can easily understand why he was rejected by his own tribe and finally by the Jewish tribes of Medina.

I am using the principle of “Occam's Razor” in my understanding of history. Given the life-style of people in the region, tribal alliances would certainly have been a bigger priority than abstruse religious issues. It is dubious how culturally connected Medina's Jews were to the Jews of the Levant. These particular Jews were probably much more like their Pagan counter-parts. Many of them were illiterate, and it is not certain if they even comprehended the Hebrew language or followed Mosaic Law themselves.

Madagascar? And the Jews were expected to take this seriously? There is no doubt that the Jews were indigenous to Palestine, why should they go anywhere else and why should it be Muslims who determine where they can and can't settle? The fact remains that the state of Israel was created by an act of the UN and that provides the legal foundation. Unless of course, Tony wants to put forward an argument that there should be no international law and no UN. There is no easy answer to who can lay claim to a given land, especially a land that has changed hands so many times. At what point do you say a conquest was illegal? 50 years ago? 500 years ago? The reality for Israel is that at midnight on the day of the UN vote Arab armies invaded Israel and tried to wipe it out. Various Arab and Muslim forces have tried ever since to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas has still not reversed it's [sic] policy of destroying Israel. Under such a continual threat what exactly should Israel do?

Muslims and Christians, constituting a majority of the population, should have had the authority to found the state. Harris clearly missed my point. I used the example of Madagascar, not to proclaim that it was a viable option for Jews, but to debate his opinion that Muslims have fought Israel because they don't want Jews to have any state at all. Of course, some Zionists considered creating a Jewish colony in Africa or South America long before the trauma of World War II forced Jewish refugees to flee in much more concentrated numbers to the Palestinian territory, so perhaps some Jews would have taken the Madagascar offer seriously, but that is entirely besides the point. The argument I reject is that the main reason Palestinians have fought is because of their inherent anti-Semitism. As for international law, I fully support what is written in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III).

Israel was created out of the ashes of the British Mandate of Palestine; territory captured during World War I. Its creation involved self-serving motivations from all sides. The US, perhaps, had a sense of guilt in not doing more to prevent or alleviate the Holocaust, and there is acrimonious debate over how much Israel actually serves US interests in the Middle East. The British created Transjordan out of the Hashemite Kingdom to compensate the Arabs for giving Syria to the French, and were probably trying to prevent the France from getting their hands on Palestine. The Zionists obviously had been dreaming of a Jewish state for a long time.

A major problem was the assurances of the Balfour Declaration, which violated promises to the Palestinians. Before Israel's official creation in 1948, tension has been building for over a decade. There was an Arab revolt against increased immigration and land grabs, including a demand for representative elections, and the Irgun, a terrorist organization that targeted both Arabs and British authorities, defeated the opposition. They actually started attacking Arabs prior to the 1936 uprising.

Clearly, the Arab League and its member states have not done much for Palestinians either, and some states have even sided with Israel in subsequent wars, but it is a highly questionable assertion that the modern state of Israel was created fairly. It was decided that 55% of Palestine would be become an exclusively Jewish state, despite the fact the Jews constituted 30% of the population and owned less than 7% of the land. And yes, any state would defend itself from attack and has the right to do so. (Though let's be real. 90,000 well-trained soldiers defeated 30,000 poorly trained soldiers with inferior equipment, after which Israel captured more land than was set forth by the original UN partition plan.)

As for what Israel should do now, there are activists who push for many solutions, but I will not get into that here. What we need to keep in mind is that the recent election of Hamas does not mark the beginning of these problems.

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