Friday, November 03, 2006

Where Do You Stand on God?

I've done some more thinking about this post from an integral perspective and have added some edits below. They are in blue, just like this.

Holons, Integral Institute's new monthly newsletter, is broken down in a really interesting way: Articles are listed by quadrants, altitude, and culture (althought the "culture" part is almost exclusively western, particularly American...I'm sure it will get more integral as time goes by). All in all, it's a great first step in providing second tier perspectives on a wide variety of subjects.

The section on "culture by altitude" particularly caught my attention, largely due to Sam Harris' new book, "Letter to a Christian Nation," and it's relegation to an orange altitude. One of the problems I see with the Holons quote is that there is just a short paragraph of a pop-up blurb that claims that Harris has a "kind of violence in his rational reductionism, which doesn't get resolved until trans-rational and integral stages," without explaining why. The only link takes you directly to the Random House website which is basically a commercial for the book. In my humble opinion, this is less than satisfying. I want to know why the editors have taken this position, not just that they have.

Much more richness on this subject is contained in the November issue of Wired magazine, in an article entitled, "The New Atheism," by Gary Wolf. This article, featuring inteviews with Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (The End of Faith), and Daniel Dennet (Breaking The Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon)...., is described thusly: "A band of intellectual brothers is mounting a crusade against belief in God. Are they winning converts, or merely preaching to the choir? These three, a "holy trinity of rationalism," eventually call us out to join them in an uncompromising (key word) war against faith. This is the mean orange meme, a double irony in that Dawkins coined the word "meme," and that this is extremism in opposition to extremism: sort of a "fundamentalist" rationalism.

All of these guys are partially right, and when you look at a lot of religion over the centuries, and even today, maybe a lot right. Still today, a lot of damage and cruelty is done in many of its forms, from the Catholic Church's stand on birth control to Islamic suicide bombers to the religious right in America (just think stem cell research), and even fundamentalist patriarchical Buddhism. These are not problems just for the New Atheists, but for humankind in terms of untold suffering, but also problems for people with a more evolved spirituality. It's still only partially right.

The point I want to make is that rejection of extreme fundamentalism shouldn't, and doesn't, logically lead to atheism.

What Dennett, Harris, and Hawkins don't get, or at least take into consideration, is the concept of an evolving God along with evolving structure-states and levels of development, which, quite simply, solves their problem by giving them someplace to go. Yes, that's right.....the conveyor belt from Integral Spirituality. What I don't get, is (these are smart guys....a lot smarter than I am) why don't they get it? Same answer....structure/stages (Okay... I get it).

....Spirituality......not just for religion anymore........

Quoting author Wolf, "The New Atheists have castigated fundamentalism and branded even the mildest religious liberals as enablers of a vengeful mob. Everybody who does not join them is an ally of the Taliban. But, so far, their provocation has failed to take hold. Given all the religious trauma in the world, I take this as good news. Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there's always a chance we could turn out to be wrong."

That's green-emergent-to-teal speaking, but it can be taken a lot further. Just as slavery, once deemed okay by religion, was abolished, we have a lot of work to do. Better than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Now that's depth.



Tom Mull said...


Tom Mull said...

Hey Gary: I'm Inclined to think that hardcore atheist are a little more in the amber to orange altitude range. Amber consciousness is not necessarily theisistic (which is just a type at level). I think that the deep structure of amber is more monistic, "my belief system right or wrong, my belief system", or absolutistic. That can apply to atheist as well as theist. In my own personal quandry between the amber and orange transition (I was very theistic at amber) I came to the conclusion that agnosticism was the only reasonable choice as one could not prove (in a formal operational/rational way) that it was either theism or atheism. To me all absolutism smacks of pre orange elements. =)

Gary Stamper said...

Great point, Tom, and I don't disagree. Your analysis rings true, and is a better way of saying "fundamentalism fighting fundamentalism." THanks!


Gary Stamper said...

Tom, I'm going back to my original position that it's orange, although maybe not Mean orange, just orange, or modernism, that trhe fundamentalist approach is just 1st tier being 1st tier (we're right, everyone else is wrong or crazy). Why? Because Dennett, Hawkins, and Hrris all demonstrate a worldcentric, as opposed to ethnocentric, viewpoint....unless you view their atheism as ethnocentric (could be, but I don't think in this case).

However, I could change my mind again....:)

Tom Mull said...

Hell Gary: My mind and its opinions are like a weather vane--Always changing directions. =)

Gary Stamper said...

Flex-Flow, Tom....doesn't surprise either of us! :)

Tom Mull said...

I'm so vane, I probably think this wind is about me. Go with the flow dude! I'm grovin' on your blog man. =)

Gary Stamper said...