Stages of Faith

Often on this blog, I’ve spoken of states of consciousness, the evolution of perspective, and the process of awakening.

In an apparently unrelated topic, a number of people have written extensively about the nature of intelligence. IQ is of course the standard way we measure ‘intelligence’. However, it is primarily focused on certain forms of intelligence and to some extent, a familiarity with the culture and test writing.

The question quickly becomes: what is intelligence? For many scientists, it is a measurable ability or capacity. But from the perceptive of my writing, intelligence is much more fundamental than that. Intelligence arises when existence becomes conscious. It is an embedded function of all that is and is found in the fundamental structuring and process of all experience.

From that perspective, all of us arise from intelligence but what aspects of that we express varies widely. Again, we are fundamentally here for consciousness to know itself. Put another way, for consciousness to discover its own intelligence.

In that way, the form of intelligence is as unique as the person. Our talents and abilities arise as a result of our embedded intelligence. We could say skill arises from practiced use of that inherent ability.

The variability of the expression of these skills lead Howard Gardner to propose other models of intelligence, such as kinesthetic (bodily, as with athletes), musical, natural, and social. Others, like logical, verbal and spatial were subsets of things tested on many IQ tests.

Other forms of intelligence, such as moral, existential and spiritual intelligence were also proposed but they failed to meet various criteria such as brain specialization and unique notation or symbology.

The idea of multiple intelligences is widely contested in scientific circles for a number of reasons, including that different forms of intelligence are correlated. In other words, people are often multi-talented suggesting intelligence is more fundamental than it’s form.

Research has concluded there are 2 primary forms of intelligence (fluid and crystallized, not unlike right/left brain function). Sternberg has proposed a triarchic theory of intelligence – essentially 3 methods of insight. This article is an excellent overview of the subject. It’s also worth mentioning the brain itself is 3 layered, leading to what might be called instinctive, animal and human functions. (search triune brain)

But clearly, people do have innate ability in certain areas, founded in basic intelligence. Thus, ideas like moral and spiritual intelligence remain. Perhaps it’s more a tree than separate types.

This weekend, I read an article in the local paper by Douglas Todd, a “spirituality and ethics columnist“. The article asked the question “What’s your Spiritual IQ?“.

He touched on Emotional and Moral intelligence, then explored the idea of a Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. It gets rather iffy to suggest spiritual progress is based on personal talent. Especially if this means our ability to make progress up a “ladder” or through a spiritual process. It’s not really about the person at all. But the process is founded in fundamental intelligence and our ability to reflect that.

Douglas goes on to discuss James Fowler’s Stages of Faith or spiritual development.
0 – (prestage) to age 2
1 – ‘Unconscious religious fantasy’ age 2 -7
2 – ‘Mythic’ – literal
3 – ‘Conventional’ faith, loyalty to an ideology
4 – ‘Reflective’, self-actualization becomes priority, review beliefs, rethink.
5 – ‘Integration’, find transcendent meaning
6 – ‘Universal’, enlightenment, actualizers of spirit, global.

It’s easy to compare this development to evolving states of consciousness or perspective (links above) and find much commonality. I also explore how perspective evolves in youth. Of course, I would subdivide 6 into higher states or perspectives. It’s also important to note that there’s a big difference between an integrated global thinker who has consolidated their understanding and someone who has awakened. Awakening or Enlightenment are not words I use to describe intellectual illumination.

One of the obvious reasons Fowler and many others have not well described the higher end is his observation that such people as Universalizers are “exceedingly rare”. One has to go back to very ancient texts to find it illuminated. But times are changing. It is no longer anywhere near as rare. I look forward to seeing new models that are based in intelligence itself rather than any intellectual ideas of it.
Davidya

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  1. Pingback: Faith « In 2 Deep

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