Letter to the Editor of the Enneagram Monthly

Mario Sikora
Sep 11, 2011

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing my article, “Spirituality and the Enneagram in Business,” in the September issue of Enneagram Monthly. I felt it necessary to write this letter, however, because I’m concerned that your summary of the article in the “From the Editor” section may give readers the wrong impression of what I am advocating, and, of course, I feel compelled to comment on your advocacy of Michael Behe.

I want to be clear that I do not believe that the business domain is one where activity occurs “irrespective of our secret motivations, feelings, and thoughts,” and I would strongly disagree that the domains of business and spirituality are diametrically opposed world views with separate value systems. On this latter point, I believe that comparative religion scholar Karen Armstrong would agree with me; in a recent column in “The Washington Post” she wrote “?Two years ago we launched the Charter for Compassion and yet the people who have come forward to help us have not been religious leaders but business men and women.” I find that people in the business world are, on average, as concerned about ethics and values as people in the religious world (with a few notable exceptions in both camps, of course).

The issue for me is not one of separate or opposed ethics and values, it is the clear and precise demarcation between natural and supernatural explanations of phenomena. Once that line is crossed into the supernatural during a corporate training course there are significant ethical and legal issues at play, in the US at least. The vagueness of the term “spiritual” and (some of the things that fall within its domain) blurs that line. Thus, a “secular” Enneagram rather than a “spiritual” Enneagram is appropriate in the business world for legal and ethical reasons (at a minimum).

Contrary to what many outside of it think, the business world is not an ethics-free zone; nor are ethics and values the exclusive domain of the spiritual/religious world. In fact, as Plato pointed out 2400 years ago in the Euthyphro dialogue, ethics and values are better left to the worldly domain. (In brief, the “Euthyphro dilemma” states that if the gods decide by fiat what is morally good, then morality is arbitrary and could change at their whim; if the gods refer to something beyond themselves when deciding what is morally good, then they are merely middle-men who serve little purpose and can be ignored.) Secular philosophers have wrestled with issues of ethics and morals from time immemorial. Thus, moral philosophy, while often incorporated into religion, is not a priori a religious activity—it is a secular activity and just as germane to the business world as any other.

I do not advocate the use of the Enneagram divorced from the consideration of ethics or personal values in the business world or any other domain. In 15 years of coaching leaders I have found that discussions of ethics, meaning, and personal values and the impact they have on my clients’ business and personal lives are often central to the conversation. Very, very rarely do we actually focus on direct profit and loss issues; they don’t need a coach or the Enneagram for that. They need a coach and the Enneagram to find out how to improve their personal well-being and their interpersonal efficacy in the business world; both of these things have the added advantage of generally contributing to the bottom line.

I do, however, advocate for divorcing the Enneagram as used in group training programs from anything related to the supernatural or metaphysical in the business world for the legal, logical, and philosophical reasons I stated in the original article.

While we’re on the topic of the supernatural, it is difficult for me not to comment on your most recent advocacy of Michael Behe and intelligent design (ID) “theory” and your claim that Darwin would have to reject his own theory if he were alive today. Rather than go into a lengthy critique of Behe and ID (which I did in the Enneagram Monthly in 2007), I’d like to offer a few sources for alternative perspectives on Behe and his work in the name of fairness and balance (as the saying goes, “We report; you decide.”)

To learn what Behe’s colleagues at Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences think of him, read their collective public statement on the website, which ends with: “While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.” (http://www.lehigh.edu/bio/news/evolution.htm)

To learn what the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania had to say about Behe and his testimony in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, read the judge’s scathing memorandum decision athttp://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover_decision2.html#p121. Juicy tidbits include: “As expert testimony revealed, the qualification on what is meant by ‘irreducible complexity’ renders it meaningless as a criticism of evolution” and “We therefore find that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.”

To learn what actual evolutionary biologists think of Behe’s ideas on evolutionary biology (it should be pointed out that Behe is a biochemist and working outside his domain of expertise and training when addressing evolution), I recommend H. Allen Orr’s review of Behe’s book at http://bostonreview.net/BR21.6/orr.html. (Such negative reviews are legion and I’ve yet to find a positive review of either of Behe’s books on evolution by an actual evolutionary biologist.) Orr’s review is a bit challenging as he goes into some detail of the science, but, hey, it’s a complicated topic. (In particular, he goes into significant detail in dismantling Behe’s bacterial flagellum and mouse-trap arguments, which you cite as evidence in support of Behe.) My favorite lines: “In truth, we’re done. Behe’s chief objection to Darwinism is flat wrong, and, bereft of this, he’s got little to say. But when you do look at what else he says, you find a bizarre string of confusions and contradictions.”

To find what one of the most respected biologists in the country, Francis Collins thinks about ID and Behe, you can read the chapter on ID in his book, “The Language of God.” Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Human Genome Project, is an evangelical Christian who has debated Richard Dawkins on the existence of God in the pages ofTime and has stated that he believes that God occasionally interferes with human affairs through the performance of miracles. Even with this bias he is adamant that intelligent design is simply not worthy of consideration as a scientific theory.

We could go on in this vein for a long time; there is a library’s worth more of valid criticism of ID readily available to the curious reader. I doubt these perspectives on Behe will sway those who want to embrace intelligent design in order to support a metaphysical point of view. However, the Enneagram grows out a tradition of people who call themselves to be seekers after truth and genuine seekers after truth must be open to evidence and willing to slay their sacred cows. At a certain point, ignoring the preponderance of evidence presented by experts in a given field begins to border on obstinance. I encourage readers to explore the evidence with an open mind.


Mario Sikora

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