Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ken Wilber's Mysterianism

In a recent members-only video on Integral Life, titled "Can Evolutionary Science Explain Evolution Itself? / The Mystery of Evolution", Ken Wilber reiterates his view on evolution before a group of students. (Though the larger part of the video is about first-person consciousness, and the inability of science to explain it—or does science perhaps just say consciousness is not what we think it is? We will focus here on evolution proper).

In this video, Wilber clarifies his position: science is helpful with phenomena "once they have arisen", but is unable to explain phenomena "when they appear for the first time". For this, something else is needed, Wilber calls it in his writings and talks: Eros, Spirit-in-Action, or let's just call it God. Consequently, such a spiritual view of evolution generates feelings of awe, as testified by one of his students and approved by Wilber.

I consider this view to be the result of lazy thinking and in the end harmful. It does not explain anything. It is anti-science. It makes an easy division in on the on hand reductionistic science, which does its own job of clarifying the details of nature, and on the other hand, evolutionary spirituality, which "explains" evolution and provides an inspiring wordview of growth.

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