Wow, Frank, I am both honored and intimidated that you have posed these questions to me, and truly I mean that. I am only vaguely, vaguely, vaguely familiar with your work, but I do sense from your first post in this topic that you have some blazing fire in the head and some blazing fire in the belly, and me, I’ve only got this tiny, thumb-sized flame in the heart, and some empty space elsewhere (and I don’t mean I’m an airhead, thank you.).
By the way, are you familiar with Ian Barbour and his work? I think he framed it under the caption “Religious Naturalism.” He had a degree in Divinity and a Ph.D. in physics, I remember his winning the 1999 Templeton Prize for his work in helping religion and science connect, dialogue. Perhaps one of his most notable phrases was something to the effect of “science may tell us what is possible, but religion can tell us what is desirable.” I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of his work, but that phrase has always been meaningful to me, and maybe we’ll come back to that.
I am certain I am no intellectual match for you, particularly when it comes to science subjects like Thermodynamics. (Let’s see, that’s the physics that deals with heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work; with four laws describing how these quantities behave under various circumstances and forbid certain phenomena, such as perpetual motion–right? Full disclosure: while I did know a tiny little something about thermodynamics, having tried, unsuccessfully of course, silly me, to apply the laws a couple of decades ago to experiences with subtle body kundalini shakti–so much heat! so much energy!–I did look it up before responding to this post.)
Do you have a sense of play? Because I can’t see myself getting through all these responses without a bit of it. To hold these subjects with a little bit of non-seriousness reminds me, at least, that both science and spirituality are interpretations of reality; they are not reality itself. Same goes for the Integral framework. This is where epistemic humility comes in–knowing that we don’t know. And when we know that we don’t know, might as well grin and bear it…
You say that Spirit-in-action makes IT theological. I tend to go to the source of words, and theology, deriving from the Greek ‘theos’ meaning God, and ‘logos’ meaning words, essentially means “god words” or more relevant, I think, “words about God.” So while Wilber et. al. who speak of Spirit-in-action are in a general sense speaking theologically, so is anyone who speaks of not-Spirit-in-action. In the most general sense, anytime we speak about Spirit, even to negate Spirit, we are being theological.
Which reminds me of a quote by one of the evolutionaries antecedent to Integral evolutionaries, Sri Aurobindo. “Faith is what we live on until there’s knowledge.” (In The Life Divine, I believe.) Everyone lives on some degree of faith, faith that the sun will rise in the morning, set in the evening, etc. and even atheists, who I believe have a place in the Integral conversation, have a faith in the absence of Spirit.
But Spirit-in-action applied to IT does make IT comprehensive/whole for me. I’ve always felt the AQAL model is both substantive and roomy enough for anyone to maneuver in; if one doesn’t relate to or like the spiritual components and references, one can leave them alone, extract them, and still have a functional, useful reality framework.
But without the spiritual components of Wilber’s theory/model, it simply would not be complete enough for many of us. If I can’t locate my direct experiential knowledge (knowledge, not faith) within a reality framework, then it’s simply not comprehensive or whole enough or large enough for me. And yes, those colors…perspectives: they speak to real things for many of us. And the “seer-ism,” that you say is the opposite of scientism; I’m not sure I totally agree with that, given that there are studies relating meditative states to physiological changes in the body, and studies showing how shamanic states of consciousness affect brain waves, for instance. So there is a little objective “science” documenting at least the effects of certain subjective, interior spiritual states, experiences.
As to “Spirit focuses on our Earth…why Earth in this vast universe…a special creation after all?” No, not a special creation; that honor, I think, would have to go to the first rock out, the speed-demon Mercury who every time it appears to go retrograde, four times each year my astrologer friend tells me, messes up communications and electronics, and we all know how important communication and electronics are to evolution…(a little woo-woo, a little play; couldn’t resist).
One of the stripped-down words I’ve used in the past for Spirit (and I’ve used and still use a lot of different words, depending on the stage perspective I’m taking), is Intent. Try that on for size: Intent-in-Action. Because it does seem that there is intentionality behind evolution, behind manifest creation. And indeed, it’s mysterious; can’t get around that, and who would want to?
So perhaps the moon is as it is due to Intent; perhaps the moon is intended as nothing more than a little light in the night here on the earth, or as a facilitator of romance on earth, or to help the oceans do their tide-thing, or farmers time the planting of seeds, or give astronauts something to do with their time…I don’t know. But why would you say Eros is ineffective on the moon? Because there aren’t complex, conscious life forms there? That’s kind of like asking why don’t rocks speak English?
Back to Intent, we know that with humans intent can shape perception, can shape both what one perceives and how that is interpreted. So I don’t think it’s that Eros has preferences, rather, humans have preferences tucked within their intent. Some people have an intent, consciously or unconsciously held, to “see,” to experience directly “who am I” and others don’t. Or, aren’t willing to use the methods in a disciplined and long-enough fashion that would reveal more of “who am I” and this thing called Spirit.
I’m pretty sure my responses here are not going to satisfy; maybe someone else can pick it up. But as Annie Lennox would sing “these are the contents of my head.” And why don’t you come over to the S-I-A team? you know, give peace a chance because all we need is love and we can’t live with or without you.
I need to hear some music!
Thanks for the challenge and the fun.