Steve Paulson recently interviewed Integral philosopher Ken Wilber for  It’s a good, clear interview that introduces most of Wilber and Integral Theory’s basic stances.  I highly recommend giving it a read.  Seriously, check it out….


(Steve Paulson) You’ve written that there’s a philosophical cold war between science and religion. Do you see them as fundamentally in conflict?

(Ken Wilber) Personally, I don’t. But it depends on what you mean by science and what you mean by religion. There are at least two main types of religion. One is dependent upon a belief in a mythic or magic dogma. That is certainly what most people mean by religion. Science has pretty thoroughly dismantled the mythic religions. But virtually all the great religions themselves recognize the difference between “exoteric” or outer religion, and “esoteric” or inner religion. Inner religion tends to be more contemplative and mystical and experiential, and less cognitive and conceptual. Science is actually sympathetic with the contemplative traditions in terms of its methodology.

When you refer to mythic religions, are you talking about the kinds of stories we read in the Bible?

Or any of the world’s great religions. Lao tzu was (allegedly) 900 years old when he was born. According to the Hindus, the earth is resting on a serpent, which is resting on an elephant, which is resting on a turtle. Those kinds of mythic approaches aren’t wrong. They’re just a stage of development. Look at [Swiss philosopher] Jean Gebser‘s structural stages of development. They go from archaic to magic to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral and higher. Magic and mythic are actual stages. They’re not wrong any more than saying “5 years old” is wrong. It’s just 5 years old. We expect there to be higher stages. There was a time when the magic and mythic approaches years ago were evolution’s leading edge of development. So we can’t belittle them.

Where do you think the scientific worldview falls short when dealing with religion?

Conventional science has correctly dismantled the pre-rational myths but it goes too far in dismantling the trans-rational. The mythic and magic approaches tend to be pre-rational and pre-verbal, but the meditative or contemplative practices tend to be trans-rational. They completely accept rationality and science. But they point out that there are deeper modes of awareness, which are scientific in their own way.

What do you mean by trans-rational?

The rest of the interview can be read here.