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Brad ReynoldsBrad Reynolds did graduate work at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) before leaving to study under Ken Wilber for a decade, and published two books reviewing Wilber's work: Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (Tarcher, 2004) and Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium (Paragon House, 2006). Visit:


Category Errors Galore!

or Being Blind to the Integral Vision

Brad Reynolds

"A [human] is the faculty of reporting, and the universe is the possibility of being reported." — Ralph Waldon Emerson, 1841

S cience—it can be said from an integral perspective—is God's Way for human beings to explain the mechanical procedures and structures in the relative, conditional universe. Or, maybe better, science is Ultimate Reality's tool for the intellectual understanding of our world. However, it dramatically leaves out another important mode of knowledge (and wisdom) available to human beings: the spiritual or mystical mode of knowing. The INTEGRAL View maintains that ALL the modes of knowing or knowledge acquisition are important in order to be fully human and to be adequately conversant with our full spectrum of possibilities.

Ken Wilber

I have written several essays (on this web site) critiquing scientism or scientific materialism in support of the Integral Theories of Ken Wilber. I have done this by focusing on critiquing what I have called the “high priesthood” of Integral World (notably Frank Visser and David Lane) since, for me, they embody the error of scientific reductionism and its expulsion of Spirit or the Divine Reality from the integral conversation (as they often mock its conclusions as “New Age homilies” or “proselytizing preaching,” etc.). But really, the conversation about spirituality in the modern age must become more sophisticated, and Ken Wilber, perhaps more than anyone, has given us the tools to do that. Visser and Lane, however, do not appreciate his groundbreaking integral theories, and even when they do, they still prefer to throw darts and sling arrows, and in doing so, miss the mark. But, as far as I can see, they simply do not understand the veracity of Spirit itself and the reality of God, the highlight and fundamental ground of Wilber's work.

Perhaps I should not be criticizing Lane's and Visser's views, for they seem to take it personally (which is understandable), but rather focus on the error of scientism itself, since that is my main point (and that of Wilber's). However, Visser, in particular, seems to have made it his mission to critique Wilber's understanding of science (particularly biological evolution) as a way to dismiss the Integral View that demands we include Spirit (or God or Buddha-Nature or Tao, etc.) in our overall understanding of evolution and our unfolding presence in this universe. Thus, I have been compelled to level my aim at Visser's consistent misunderstanding of Wilber's (and my) views, and if my critiques have been too personal for some readers, my apologies in advance. I simply think Wilber's integral philosophy, using the Three Eyes of Knowing, seeing all the levels and quadrants (interiors and exteriors) of the Kosmos, recognizing a spectrum of consciousness (from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal), knowing Nondual Godhead, etc., are worth defending for his integral theories defend Real God and Spirit (or Spirit-in-action).

Yet, when once again I see in his comments to my essay “Unenlightened Science,” Visser makes his stance against Wilber based on off-the-cuff comments such as those spoken in an interview, instead of focusing on the breadth of Wilber's writings over four decades, I must speak up (and write essays). This time he quotes Wilber from “The Cosmic Dimensions of Love,” so I take issue with such a limited presentation of Wilber's integral perspective:

Now, Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory holds that all these transformations upward were just the result of chance and randomness. But there is no way in hell that the universe went from atoms to Shakespeare out of random stabs. This is an extraordinarily driven process.

Visser then goes on to suggest: “Here Wilber clearly does not accept science within its own domain (and misrepresents it), but tries to offer a better explanation, in terms of a 'drive',” hence I become annoyed with the massive category errors Visser continues to promote and perpetuate to his readers on Integral World. It is like he is a constant propaganda machine distorting Wilber's true and overall view in order to reduce Wilber down into a frame of reference he can deal with on his own terms, namely, that of scientific reductionism and the elimination of Spirit or the Divine as being true or real. For Visser, the entire mode of evolution can be explained completely by scientific principles. Thus, he totally dismisses the fact that Spirit and God are real, not a theoretical addition used to explain evolution in the cosmos (or Kosmos). Yet, such a transcendental perspective like Wilber's (or the Perennial Philosophy's) is not adequately recognized if one fails to “open” or “see” with the Eye of Spirit or Enlightenment (via contemplation and meditation and higher states of consciousness). To deny God-Spirit is a reoccurring fallacy perpetuated by scientific materialists (and Visser-Lane).

Ken Wilber hardly ever (if ever) talks or writes about biological evolution from a scientific point of view, but rather he critiques its propensity toward scientific materialism, a truth Visser constantly overlooks (or he doesn't understand). Darwin is hardly ever mentioned in Wilber's writings except to critique scientism in favor of INCLUDING a spiritual perspective and context. Yet, Visser is always bemoaning: “You can't have it both ways,” whereas in fact, Frank, the whole point of the Integral View is we CAN have it both ways because BOTH science and spirituality are true (but partial). That is, if one concedes that science is not the end-all in how human beings can understand, see, and know the Kosmos (or the whole universe) in which we live. That is scientism. If someone wants to be a scientific materialist, fine, but that disqualifies them from being an authority on genuine Integral Theory that includes the Eye of Spirit from the start.

Consequently, I will sit here this afternoon and spontaneously go through some of Ken Wilber's books to emphasize and show what he is really concerned about, unlike Visser claims, since Wilber and Integral Theory are most deeply concerned about eliminating the category errors constantly being made by thinkers in the modern era, especially scientists (or science's philosophers). In addition, Wilber offers a way out of this dilemma of ego and mind: the Eye of Contemplation (grounded in self-transcendence).

Sure, if I want to read about and study biological evolution, I will read textbooks on biology and Ernst Mayr (and other biologists), even Richard Dawkins (The Ancestor's Tale is amazing, for example), but if I want to know about genuine spirituality I will read philosophers like Ken Wilber, not Dawkins (who's book, The God Delusion, as another example, is an amateurish deluded book on spirituality critiquing only mythic religion). Instead I prefer to read the numerous Sages from the history of humankind, from the Upanishads to Lao Tzu to Buddha to Socrates and Plato to Plotinus to Nagarjuna and Hui Neng to Shankara to Aurobindo and Vivekananda… and yes, to Adi Da Samraj, ad infinitum, to learn about Spirit (not just evolution). Indeed, I (and we) can have it both ways. Thus, I encourage all readers to do the same. The INTEGRAL View, I maintain, is trying to make room for them all, as these passages from Wilber should make clear.

Wilber is an enlightened philosopher, not a scientist—when will Visser finally accept that fact (and let it be)? (I suspect he never will for he's on a mission against Wilber.) Therefore, it is imperative that Ken Wilber's entire oeuvre be examined by readers, not the few select quotes Visser keeps using to make his erroneous interpretation of Wilber's views. Let's start by going back to the early 1980s where Wilber clearly outlined his intentions, which have essentially have not changed, in an essay entitled “Eye to Eye”:

All men and women possess an Eye of the Flesh, an Eye of Reason, and an Eye of Contemplation; that each eye has its own objects of knowledge (sensory, mental, and transcendental); that a higher eye cannot be reduced to nor explained in terms of a lower eye; that each eye is valid and useful in its own field, but commits a fallacy when it attempts, by itself, to fully grasp higher or lower realms.

Within that context, I will try to demonstrate [in all my writings] that while a transcendental or truly comprehensive paradigm will draw freely on the Eye of Flesh and the Eye of Mind [i.e., science], it must also draw significantly on the Eye of Contemplation. This means that a new and transcendental [or integral] paradigm—if such is ever to exist—would be in the extremely favorable position of being able to use and integrate ALL three eyes—gross, subtle, causal. I will also argue [throughout my career] that, by and large, empiric-analytic science belongs to the Eye of Flesh, philosophy and psychology to the Eye of Mind, and religion/meditation to the Eye of Contemplation. Thus a new and transcendental [or integral] paradigm would ideally and ultimately be a synthesis and integration of empiricism, rationalism, and transcendentalism….

But there is one major difficulty and one major hazard which is first to be overcome, and that is the tendency toward CATEGORY ERROR, which is the attempt of one eye to usurp the roles of the other two…. I do not mean to pick on science in this regard—religion and philosophy have been just as guilty. However, historically speaking, the most recent and most pervasive category error has concerned the role of empirical science [known as scientism]….

Outstanding among these is the “category error,” which occurs when one of the three realms is made to wholly substitute for another realm—or, we might say, when things (flesh) are confused with thoughts (mind) are confused with transcendental insights (contemplation). For once that occurs, then facts try to replace principles and principles try to replace God.[1]

This quote, in my opinion, exemplifies Ken Wilber's integral thesis throughout ALL of his works (and “phases”), from the spectrum of consciousness to the pre/trans fallacy to AQAL (“all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types,” etc.), not whether or not he is proficient at explaining biological evolution. My critique centers around the fact I have yet to see Visser acknowledge any validity to this overall thesis. Visser, unfortunately, takes his stand by complaining about the minor fact that Wilber, when turning his attention to Darwin's theories, will say something like this also from the same essay—but, again, notice Wilber's emphasis on critiquing reductionistic scientism, not the actual mechanism of natural selection (the only time he mentions Darwin's theory in the entire 300-page book):

One of the other fashions of scientism is the notion that evolution by natural selection (mutation plus statistical probability) is the sole explanatory agent for all of creation. We are not discussing whether evolution occurred [via natural selection]; it most apparently did. We are discussing its [proposed] cause or agent, in this case, chance. For it is asserted [by reductionistic materialists] that everything, in no matter what domain, is equally a product of chance evolution.[2]

Visser maintains that natural selection alone, or adaptation and mutation of the genome, as biology maintains, is sufficient to explain not only how but why evolution went from, say, frogs to apes, or rocks to Shakespeare, while Wilber is actually suggesting that if we use ALL our modes of knowing, including the spiritual-transcendental, then we can access and see that Spirit (and God-Realization) is the ultimate “drive” or purpose (or Source and Condition) for the entire evolutionary process from the Big Bang onward (and beyond).

This type of integral understanding comes from acknowledging the interior evolution of consciousness as well as the exterior evolution or complexification of natural life forms. Mr. Visser simply cannot believe we can have it both ways. But yes, we can, as I have constantly maintained (in my essays), because exterior and interior evolution must be integrated in our theories (since they're already united in reality). This error occurs because scientific materialists are missing a Big Part of the Whole Picture about our existence, namely, the truth and reality that the universe is ultimately Divine or God Itself. Or, as Bob Marley might sing: “Jah live!” It is totally possible to use BOTH science and spirituality together in our advancement of knowledge and wisdom.

Visser and Lane persistently doubt or deny Nondual Spirit, or at least show no evidence they understand it in their essays, so the only logical conclusion I can draw is they do NOT see God. Thus they refute Spirit-in-action as being the source behind evolution, whether from cosmology to biology to psychology to spirituality, because their own Eye of Spirit is still mostly closed (but that can always change). That is fine for their own personal beliefs, but it is NOT BEING INTEGRAL.

It is totally possible to use BOTH science and spirituality together in our advancement of knowledge and wisdom.

The Marriage of Science and Spirituality

In a later book (nearly twenty years later, once again only mentioning Darwin once), Wilber continues with his same critique against flatland materialism and scientism by proposing we instead use the method of epistemological pluralism—i.e., accessing the three or more “eyes” of knowledge acquisition—to get a truer vision of our universe and existence, and not commit category errors, as this extensive quote from The Marriage of Sense and Soul(1998) explains:

The three Eyes of Knowing are, of course, just a simplified version of the universal Great Chain of Being. If we picture the Great Chain [or Great Nest] as having five levels (matter, body, mind, soul, and spirit), men and women have five eyes available to them (material prehension, bodily emotion, mental ideas, the soul's archetypal cognition, and spiritual gnosis). Likewise, if the Great Chain is divided into twelve levels [such as by following Plotinus or Aurobindo], we have twelve eyes or twelve levels of awareness and knowing [and so on]….

The point is that, any way we slice the great pie—three levels, five levels, twelve levels or more—men and women have available at least the three basic Eyes of Knowing: the Eye of Flesh (empiricism), the Eye of Mind (rationalism), and the Eye of Contemplation (mysticism), each of which is important and quite valid when dealing with its own level, but gravely confused if it attempts to see into other domains. This is the very heart of epistemological pluralism, and, as far as it goes, it is indeed quite valid.

Now, if the existence of all three Eyes of Knowing were a commonly accepted fact in modernity, the relation of science and religion—and their peaceful coexistence—would be no problem whatsoever. Empirical science would pronounce on the facts delivered by the Eye of the Flesh, and religion would pronounce on the facts delivered by the Eye of Spirit (or the Eye of Contemplation). But mainstream modernity has soundly and thoroughly denied reality to the Eye of Spirit [Visser's view]. Modernity recognizes only the Eye of Reason yoked to the Eye of Flesh—in Whitehead's phrase, the dominant worldview of modernity is scientific materialism…. [And thus] in no case is the Eye of Contemplation or the Eye of Spirit required….

The hard part is that modernity does not accept the higher levels themselves (the transmental, transrational, transpersonal, and contemplative modes, and thus it sees no need whatsoever for the integration [of science and mysticism]. Why try to integrate science and Santa Claus?[3] [This is Visser's primary critique.]

Now THAT is what Ken Wilber is about… and much more! He never claims to be writing about the validity of natural selection per se, as Visser wants him to do, or even its denial, but he is trying to overcome the fractured and collapsed Kosmos, the flatland materialism of modernity. Therefore, I am constantly astounded that Visser overlooks ALL this other material that Wilber provides, and instead focuses on out-of-context quotes from interviews where Wilber is obviously using more extreme platitudes to make his point (heck, he even uses cuss words). Readers, please take note and go read Wilber for yourself… and then do the yoga!

Evolution IS Spirit-In-Action (Not an Addition to Evolution)

An adequate integration or “peaceful co-existence” between science and religion, between rational reason and mysticism (and mythic archetypes, natural phenomena, etc.) is exactly what Wilber's work is all about. The “Eyes of Knowing” are simply an epistemological tool to help us overcome our addiction to rationalism and empiricism and be willing to entertain and embody transpersonal (and transcendental) and transrational perspectives. It is not about “adding” Spirit to evolution to justify the spiritual perspective, as Visser constantly maintains, like Creationists do. Wilber's mission and writings are about healing (and transcending) the “disaster of modernity,” not justifying (or denying) the scientific position on biological evolution (which seems to be Visser's mission). Shall I go on? Wilber has written over twenty books, so it's easy:

The real problem of our modern fragmentation… is that all higher modes of knowing have been brutally collapsed into monological and empirical science. Both atomism and systems theory are monological/empirical, and it is a reduction of all knowledge to monological modes that constitutes the disaster of modernity. The higher modes themselves—mental and supramental, rational and transrational, hermeneutic and translogical, contemplative and spiritual—have all been rudely reduced and utterly collapsed to the Eye of Flesh [molecules and genes, etc.] and its extensions [measuring with microscopes, telescopes, etc.], and whether that monological madness be atomistic or systems-oriented [or evolutionary] is quite beside the point.[4]

The point is that Visser and Lane are constantly committing the very fallacies and category errors Wilber's integral theories are attempting to overcome.

I could go on and on. The point is that Visser and Lane are constantly committing the very fallacies and category errors Wilber's integral theories are attempting to overcome. Obviously therefore, they do not understand or are incapable of integrating Wilber, let alone science and mysticism. Thus they try to tear him down (and God with him) by offering science as the better alternative. Once more, missing the point since Integral Theory includes science, it just doesn't make it the ultimate theory of reality altogether for we also need to include spirituality (or Spirit).

Most importantly, such an Integral Perspective that uses ALL the Eyes of Knowing (thus integrating Spirit) has a major impact on our views about evolution, another topic that totally escapes the scientific materialists and evolutionary biologists (including Visser and Lane). Wilber's Integral Vision maintains that evolution is “Spirit-in-action” manifesting as the unfolding of Ultimate Divine Reality or God itself in (and as) the cosmic domain. Thus, Spirit is not an additive grafted onto biological evolution (as Visser complains); nor is it the mere fortunate display of chance and favorable adaptions. Does life really need to become human (with culture and art) to survive and be fit? There seems to be more going on here than what scientific materialists are willing to concede; and that is their error. In this regard, Wilber's views on evolution are similar to, but not identical with, the Absolute Idealists, such as Schelling and Hegel, yet he's trying to eliminate their errors—such as “no yoga!”—as he brilliantly explains:

The world is not static and pregiven; it develops, it evolves, it takes on different forms as Spirit unfolds the universe. And, the Idealists maintained, understanding this unfolding or development is the secret key to understanding Spirit itself….

Like all other living systems—we humans are in the process of growing toward our own highest potential, and if the highest potential is God, then we are growing toward our own Godhood….

Thus, Spirit knows itself objectively as Nature; knows itself subjectively as Mind; and knows itself absolutely as Spirit—the Source, the Summit, the Ground, and the Process of the entire ordeal.

Note, then, the overall sequence of development: from nature to humanity to divinity; from subconscious to self-conscious to superconscious; from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal; from id to ego to God. But Spirit is nonetheless fully present at each and every stage as the evolutionary process itself: Spirit is the process of its own self-actualization and self-unfolding; its being is its own becoming; its Goal is the Path itself.

Thus, humans can end their alienated and unhappy consciousness, not primarily by going back to Nature but by going forward to nondual Spirit. Not preconventional Nature but postconventional Spirit holds the key to overcoming alienation and dissociation, and that Spirit is contacted, not by spiraling regression to preconventional slumber, but by evolutionary progression to a radiant Nonduality….

Only Spirit itself, which is beyond any feelings of Nature and beyond any thoughts of Mind, can effect this radical unity. Spirit alone transcends and includes Mind and Nature…. For prerational Nature can be seen with the Eye of Flesh and rational Mind with the Eye of Reason, but transrational Spirit can be seen only with the Eye of Contemplation, and contemplation is definitely not feelings plus thoughts: it is the absence of both in formless intuition, which, being formless, can easily integrate the forms of Nature and of Mind, something that either or both together could never do for themselves….

This was truly a stunning vision; the likes of which humankind has rarely seen: evolution as Spirit's temporal unfolding of its own timeless potentials….

One of the crucial ingredients in any integration of science and religion [therefore] is the integration of empirical evolution with Transcendental Spirit…. This extraordinary insight is to Idealism's everlasting credit. This lustrous vision saw the entire universe—atoms to cells to organisms to societies, cultures, minds, and souls—as the radiant unfolding of a luminous Spirit, bright and brilliant in its own way, never-ending in its liberating grace.[5]

THIS, and more, is where Wilber is at. Nowhere, ever, do I see Visser or Lane understand this fundamental thesis of Wilber's work, ever: “Spirit is nonetheless fully present at each and every stage as the evolutionary process itself”—it cannot be said much better (or more clearly), in my opinion. Spirit or God is not added to evolution—as Creationists are wont to do—but it is the process itself as a whole (as my essays constantly emphasize). Need another quote from Wilber from another book? How about this one from Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995), for there are many throughout Wilber's career, since that has always been his main concern (so why does Visser overlook all of these statements?):

Spirit is not merely or even especially the summit of the scale of evolution, or some sort of Divine omega point (although that is part of the story). Spirit is pre-eminently the empty Ground, or groundless Emptiness, fully present at each and every stage of evolution, as the openness in which the particular stage unfolds, as well as the substance of that which is unfolded. Spirit transcends and includes the world: transcends, in the sense that it is prior to the world, prior to the Big Bang, prior to any manifestation; includes, in the sense that the world is not other to Spirit, form is not other to Emptiness. Manifestation is not “apart from” Spirit but an activity of Spirit: the evolving Kosmos is Spirit-in-action [not an addition to evolution].[6]

And this is where my critique is centered as well; a person is not being fully integral if you do not SEE with (or at least include) the Eye of Spirit (which itself is beyond words or ideas). Incredibly, although he claims to be an expert on Wilber's work, Visser misses or dismisses what Wilber is really up to. Perhaps, this is because he fails to do what the Idealists too failed to offer others to confirm their philosophy: do the yoga! Become Enlightened; Awaken to God-Realization—try it, you'll like it! Hence, Wilber's work is not just about airy-fairy theory (theoria) but about real life self-disciplined practice (praxis) and enlightened insight (gnosis):

Our task is not specifically to reintroduce spirituality and somehow attempt to show that modern science is becoming compatible with God [a fallacy Visser often accuses Wilber of]. That approach, which is taken by most of the integrative attempts, does not go nearly deep enough in diagnosing the disease, and thus, in my opinion, never really addresses the crucial issues.

Rather, it is the rehabilitation of the interior in general that opens the possibility of reconciling science and religion, integrating the Big Three [of nature, science, and art, or the Good, the True, and the Beautiful], overcoming the dissociations and disasters of modernity, and fulfilling the brighter promises of postmodernity. Not Spirit, but the within, is the corpse we must first revive.[7]

Again, a topic the practitioners of scientific materialism totally dismiss, for they don't understand it or practice going within. They do math, then doubt God; do empirical experiments, but fail to realize the Divine Reality or Spirit-in-action since it can't be measured or calculated. God cannot be proven but only realized. Yet, Wilber is not just playing theoretical mind games, but is calling for an authentic spirituality, actual sadhana and spiritual practice, disciplines in all areas of human life, as the Sages have always taught (including even possible guidance under a Guru, if such a path is chosen). Only then will we (or anyone) continue to evolve as Spirit-in-action itself becomes more fully enlightened with the evolution of interior consciousness.

Authentic spirituality can no longer be mythic, imaginal, mythological, or mythopoetic: it must be based on falsifiable evidence. In other words, it must be, at its core, a series of direct mystical, transcendental, meditative, contemplative, or yogic experience— not sensory and not mental, but transsensual, transmental, transpersonal, transcendental consciousness—data seen not merely with the Eye of Flesh or the Eye of Mind [aka science], but with the Eye of Contemplation.

Authentic spirituality, in short, must be based on direct spiritual experience, and this must be rigorously subjected to the three strands of all valid knowledge: injunction, apprehension, and confirmation/rejection—or exemplar, data, and falsifiability….

It is only when religion emphasizes its heart and soul and essence—namely, direct mystical experience and transcendental consciousness, which is disclosed not by the Eye of Flesh (give that to science) nor by the Eye of Mind (give that to philosophy) but rather to the Eye of Contemplation—that religion can both stand up to modernity and offer something for which modernity has desperate need: a genuine, verifiable, repeatable injunction to bring forth the spiritual domain.[8]

THIS is what I have been emphasizing about Wilber's work in my essays, a reality Visser-Lane don't even deal with other than to dismiss these knowledge claims as being invalid and unnecessary. And, worse, Visser wants to emphasize that he thinks Wilber is weak on his understanding of biological evolution… whereas, in reality, Wilber is offering so much more… so much more!

Real Science, Real Religion vs. Bogus Science, Bogus Religion

Frank Visser likes to maintain Wilber does not adequately understand science, particularly in regard to biological evolution since the integral pandit proclaims it is ultimately a spiritual process, something science will never concede. But this is a distortion of Wilber's views, for he most certainly understands science—and the philosophy of science—better than practically anyone I have ever read. Let's just quickly go back to the essay “Eye to Eye” and see the depth of Wilber's understanding about science (I encourage everyone to go read the essay or chapter and decide for yourself):

Empiric-analytic science is simply the organized body of verifiable knowledge grounded by the Eye of Flesh…. Scientific proof is empirical and inductive; it is not rational and deductive (although, obviously, science uses logic and deduction, only it makes them subservient to empirical induction)…. The point is that the classic scientific method was empirical and inductive, not rational and deductive….

Odd as it sounds today, that was a stroke of genius: let the Eye of Flesh itself check facts in the domain of flesh [or physical matter-energy], and thus avoid the category errors of confusing flesh [matter] with reason and contemplation. I am going to suggest that not only was that a great benefit to science, but also a potentially great benefit to religion, because it acts to strip religion of its nonessential and pseudoscientific dross, which has contaminated every major religion bar none….

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that empiric-analytic science is measurement. Measurement, and virtually measurement alone, gives the data of scientific experiments…. In summary, we have this: The ingenious and enduring contribution of Galileo and Kepler [and all other scientists] was the demonstration that, as regards the physical or sensorimotor world, the Eye of Reason can and must be linked to and grounded in the Eye of Flesh by inductive experimentation, whose very heart is repeatable measurement (number). Let the Eye of Flesh speak for the Eye of Flesh—and empirical science was invented for just that purpose.[9]

Or again, back to our other main reference source, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998):

As its own proponents constantly explain, science is basically value-free. It tells us what is, not what should be or ought to be…. Science might offer us truth, but how to use that truth wisely: on this science is, and always has been, utterly silent. And rightly so; that is not its job, that is not what it was designed to do, and we certainly should not blame science for this silence. Truth, not wisdom or value or worth, is the province of science.[10]

In fact, Wilber readily hands us the tools and means to adequately integrate a value-free science and value-laden religion (or true mysticism) by recognizing the strengths of both while jettisoning the weaknesses and dogmas of both as well. He calls us to ally real science and real religion against bogus (or untrue and inadequate) science and religion:

For it then becomes perfectly obvious that the real battle is not between science, which is “real,” and religion, which is “bogus,” but rather between real science and religion, on the one hand, and bogus science and religion, on the other. Both real science and real religion follow the three strands of valid knowledge accumulation [i.e., injunctions, apprehension, confirmation, or exemplars, evidence, falsifiability], while both bogus science (pseudo-science) and bogus religion (mythic and dogmatic) fail that test miserably. Thus, real science and real religion are actually allied against the bogus and the dogmatic and the nonverifiable and nonfalsifiable in their respective spheres.

If we are to effect a genuine integration of science and religion, it will have to be an integration of real science and real religion, not bogus science and bogus religion. And that means each camp must jettison its narrow and/or dogmatic remnants, and thus accept a more accurate self-concept, a more accurate image of its own estate.[11]

Why do scientific materialists, especially people like Visser and Lane, fail to see this? It could not be made more clear, in my opinion. THIS is the Integral Enterprise, so a website called “Integral World” should be promoting such a view, not dismissing and attacking it.

And, if you will notice, so far in this essay, I have basically only been quoting from two of Wilber's books—but all of them are like this (or similar), full of respect for science, integrating its discovered facts. Nonetheless, hardly any ever mention Darwin or natural selection, per se, since that is not his primary concern—like Visser wants it to be because Wilber uses the term “evolution.” Ken Wilber is a philosopher-mystic, not a scientist (certainly not a materialist), thus he will include yet transcend science when necessary. But scientific materialists, relying only on the knowledge of science, no matter how fascinating and wonderful, is still incomplete for it can't measure Spirit! Once more, Wilber (way back in 1983) explains: “Because scientism could not get a ruler on God, it proclaimed Spirit nonsensical and meaningless. Christ was therefore deluded, Buddha was schizophrenic, Krishna was hallucinating, Lao Tzu was psychotic.”[12] Or, perhaps even better:

God is not a verifiable proposition, but the ground of all propositions, and thus God cannot pass the scientific quiz. The test had arrived, and philosophers, religionists, theologians, mystics, and poets were flunking it by the thousands. In fact, they should have refused to take the test—they should have realized that transcendent values are not empiric facts revealed to the Eye of Flesh but contemplative and nonverbal insights revealed by the lumen superius in the cave of the Heart. As it was, they simply began a long series of undignified retreats, trying to think of ways to prove that God was an object, like a rock, or a proposition.[13]

This is the fallacy of scientific materialism and exactly what Wilber, and other integralists, are combating to overcome… and it is ONLY authentically overcome and revealed (or realized) by opening the Eye of Spirit and seeing God as Ultimate Reality (not as a mythic or parental deity). In other words, simply to become (and be) Enlightened. Thus, Wilber (unlike Visser or Lane), includes this liberating truth proclaimed by the Saints and Sages and Siddhas for millennia:

The great and secret message of the experimental mystics the world over is that, with the Eye of Contemplation, Spirit can be seen. With the Eye of Contemplation, God can be seen. With the Eye of Contemplation, the great Within radiantly unfolds.

And in all cases, the eye with which you see God is the same eye which God sees you: the Eye of Contemplation [in ecstatic meditation and searchlessly beholding].[14]

Why does Visser overlook all of these kinds of statements made by Ken Wilber instead of concentrating on some feeble statements Wilber makes in spontaneous interviews or with a couple of sentences culled from Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and A Brief History of Everything (and perhaps elsewhere) that mention natural selection, actually a topic the integral pandit hardly ever covers?[15] The reason is Visser fails to understand Wilber's principal message and primary thesis, as far as I can see. When reviewing the essays written by the so-called “high priesthood” at Integral World, I can only conclude, therefore, they just do not “get it” (or get Wilber); nor do they see with the Eye of Spirit—God is invisible to them (as to all scientific materialists), at least for the time being. But, as evolution proceeds, individually, collectively, and cosmically, the evolution of consciousness, the evolution of Spirit-in-action, will potentially awaken all beings to see and know what is “always already” Here being what IS. The Heart reveals what the mind alone cannot know.

So, just to emphasize this point, let's return to this same secret and great message being delivered by Wilber way back in the early Eighties (nearly forty years ago), just to prove once again this is what Wilber is really about, not some creationist critique of natural selection:

It is a direct seeing by the contemplative eye, and it can be transmitted from teacher to student [from Guru to devotee] because it is directly public to that eye. The knowledge of God is as public to the contemplative eye as is geometry to the mental eye and rainfall to the physical eye. And a trained contemplative eye can prove the existence of God with exactly the same certainty and the same public nature as the Eye of Flesh can prove the existence of rocks.

A comprehensive-transcendental paradigm [or integral theory] would draw freely on the Eye of Flesh and on the Eye of Reason; but it would also be grounded in the Eye of Contemplation. That eye embodies a valid mode of knowledge; it can be publicly shared; it can be communally validated. No more is possible; no more is needed.[16]

Now that is BEING INTEGRAL, my brothers and sisters! This is “enlightened science” or an enlightened view of evolution (as John White pointed out). Only you can decide for yourself, however, so go look and see! Do the yoga!


  1. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye” in Eye to Eye (1983, 1990), pp. 6-7, 9 [emphasis and title caps added].
  2. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye” in Eye to Eye (1983, 1990), p. 29.
  3. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), pp. 18-20 [title caps added; italics in original].
  4. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), p. 38.
  5. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), pp. 105-106, 103, 108-111.
  6. Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995), p. 583, 1n.
  7. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), pp. 142-143.
  8. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), pp. 166-167.
  9. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye” in Eye to Eye (1983, 1990), pp 12-17.
  10. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), p. x.
  11. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), pp. 169-170.
  12. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye” in Eye to Eye (1983, 1990), p. 25.
  13. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye” in Eye to Eye (1983, 1990), p. 21.
  14. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998), p. 174.
  15. Granted, in agreement with Visser, I have conceded that Wilber could do a better job at addressing the validity of natural selection in the biological domain, reviewing it with more sophistication, than he has done in the past, but like I maintain, Wilber does not really concentrate on natural selection (and its limits).
  16. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye” in Eye to Eye (1983, 1990), pp. 34-35 [title caps added; italics in original].

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