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Vol. II • 1979

Sorokin's "Integralism" vs. The Biblical Creation Position
by Ellen Myers


Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin (1889-1968) put sociology on the academic map in the United States and abroad, especially in Latin America, during his tenure as the first professor and chairman of the newly established department of sociology at Harvard University from 1930 until his retirement in 1959. Eminent scholars in the social sciences who received training under him include Professors C. A. Anderson, Bernard Barber, F. Kluckhohn, Charles Loomis, Walter Lunden, Robert Merton (dean of American sociologists of science), Cane C. Zimmerman'. Publications include no less than ten major works published in his native Russia between 1913 and 1923, and some 25 works published in the United States and abroad after he was expelled from the Soviet Union and moved here. Several of these, for example Contemporary Sociological Theories, The Crisis of Our Age, Fads and Foibles in Modem Sociology and Related Sciences, and The American Sex Revolution were translated into the world's major foreign languages including Turkish, Japanese and Hindi. In addition, Sorokin wrote several hundred editorials and essays and some two hundred papers published in the scientific journals of various countries.2 His writings span the whole range of human action from agriculture to the fine arts to penology to work efficiency to American-Soviet relations. They constitute a veritable encyclopedia of social relations studies and reflect an original and intrepid mind towering above narrow confines of specialization or of any one nation or historical period.

Underlying all Sorokin's work and inseparable from it is his philosophy which he calls "integralism." He summarizes it as follows:

Integralism is its name. It views total reality as the infinite X of numberless qualities and quantities: spiritual and material, ever-changing and unchangeable, personal and superpersonal, temporal and timeless, spatial and spaceless, one and many ... In this sense it is the veritable mystenum tremendunt et fascinosum and the coincidentia oppositorum (reconciliation of opposites). Its highest center the summum bonum is the infinite Creative X that passes all human understanding.. .3
In his "Reply to My Critics" Sorokin undergirds the above statement thusly: My ontology represents a mere variation of the ancient, powerful, and perennial stream of philosophical thought represented by Taoism, the Upanishads, and Bhagavad-Gita... shared by all branches of Buddhism, including the Zen Buddhist thinkers... In the Greco-Roman world this philosophy was developed by Heraclitus and Plato (especially after 385 B.C.), it was partly supported by Aristotle, and with variations it was reiterated by Plotinus, Porphyry, and other thinkers of the Neo-Platonic, the Hermetic, the Orphic, and other currents of thought. In Christianity it was expressed by many Church Fathers, like ... St. Thomas Aquinas (in his later period of life),... and by many Christian mystics like St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Ruysbroeck, Jakob Boehme, and others.

Even such rationalist philosophers as Descartes, Spinoza, and Giordano Bruno, and such great scientists as Pascal, Kepler, and Isaac Newton (in his theological works) supported several tenets of this philosophy.4 The Bible and the God revealing Himself infallibly in it are conspicuously absent from the sources cited by Sorokin as compatible with his system of thought. I believe this is so properly and necessarily because Sorokin's thought is based on the ultimately impersonalistic Being-Becoming or Form-Matter scheme most familiar to us in the Western world in its Platonic-Aristotelian formulation.

I shall review the principal tenets of Sorokin's formulation of this "ancient, powerful, and perennial stream of philosophical thought" and attempt to show why it is fundamentally incompatible with the Biblical creation position.  


By the "Biblical creation position" I mean unequivocal belief in special creation; literal Bible interpretation; the Triune God's design and purpose in nature; a young earth; a universal Noachian Flood; Christ as God and Man our Saviour; and Christ-centered thought and action in all areas of life. I consider this position a fundamental and integral part of trusting faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Personal God Who hears and answers prayer, and Who Himself by His sovereign Word created all things ex nihilo (or if you will, ex Dec) and holds them together (Colossians 1:16-17).

The Biblical creation position is incompatible with any and all forms of "process theology" or "process philosophy" because they posit an impersonal evolutionistic universe in which the difference between Creator and creature and the identity of man made in God the Creator's own image are erased.

Reality as originally created and ultimately restored by God is the "given" and immutable expression of God the Creator by His Word. This original and ultimate reality alone originally and immutably/eternally "is." The fall of man recorded in Genesis 3 ushered in the present state of "mixed" reality which contains both the gradual unfolding of God's perfect work in and through men and women renewed in His perfect image by virtue of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection; and, the gradual unfolding or rather disintegration/dying of present reality affected by men and women rejecting Christ's atonement and hence their own eternal life or "being."

Since whatever exists originally and ultimately owes its existence to God's creation and sustenance, even that which today denies and disobeys God draws from Him whatever strength it still has left before death. The rebellious creature, namely, man (and fallen angels, not here under discussion; in lower creatures rebellion is not involved since they are not endowed with moral responsibility entailing freedom of choice), may be likened to a branch cutting itself off from the tree and root, its own source of life, power and fruitfulness (John 15:5). Yet even rebellious man denying and defacing God's image imprinted on him is still subject to God's creative law-word and norms, as all creation/reality inescapably is. The absolute norm for man within himself and for his relations with his fellow men is Jesus Christ Himself; the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), at once the Son of God and the Son of Man, or the norm for Man.

The Biblical creation position allows that truth may "evolve" in the sense of unfolding, as the oak unfolds from the acorn or as the purebred animal or plant unfolds from its original stock. But it denies that truth may evolve from error, even as an oak may not evolve from a cherry pit nor a purebred German shepherd dog from a kitten. Such unfolding is implicit in the "fixed kinds" created by God (Genesis I). God's own self-revelation in His written Word follows this pattern, for we see the New Testament "unfolding" from the Old. God's Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, came into this world as a babe and "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).  


I will now elaborate on what has been quoted in the introduction from Sorokin's own presentation of his philosophy. My summary of Sorokin's system must of necessity be confined to its major framework. I believe this can be done without bias by oversimplification because the same major framework is apparent and often explicit throughout his work, and also because of his work's remarkable inherent consistency. Finally, Sorokin's philosophy was formed in his early childhood by precepts of unbiblical Christianity mingled with paganism. It never substantially or permanently changed, as he himself tells us:

The moral precepts of Christianity ... decisively conditioned my moral values not only in youth but for the rest of my life ... the religious climate of my early age played an important part in the formation of my personality, the integration of my system of values, and the crystallization of my early philosophy. All in all mine was an idealistic worldview in which God and nature, truth, goodness, and beauty, religion, science, art, and ethics were all united into one harmonious system.5

What was this religious climate of his early age? Sorokin describes it fondly: The drama (of my life) begins in northern Russia ... among the Komi or Syrian people - one of the Ugro-Finnish branches of the family of ... The Komi were Russian Orthodox but along with their Christian faith they still maintained many beliefs, legends, and rituals of the pre-Christian, pagan religion. Each religion assimilated certain beliefs and practices of the other, resulting in a "paganized Christianity" or "Christianized paganism." However, there was no conflict or "cold war" between the elements of the two religions nor between the few sectarian believers in evangelical simplicity, peace, and non-violent resistance to evil. The basis of this "peaceful coexistence" was a commonly held conviction that the whole world is one living unity and that "Truth is one, but men call it by different names." Throughout all the years of my life among the Komi people, I do not remember a single case of religious intolerance or individual persecution.7

Now this "idealistic world-view" in which all is one seems too simple to be true. Primeval or ultimate "reconciliation of opposites" cannot be assumed from the start. The immediate evidence of our senses and analysis of our reason does not bear it out. Sorokin himself frequently took pains to point out that "congeries", that is, heaps of unrelated objects, exist in reality along with more integrated relationships such as those of cause-and-effect.

Certainly the assumption of reconciliationist oneness ultimately ascribing both good and evil to the character of God, or rather Sorokin's "Infinite Creative X", is the irreconcilable opposite to the God of the Bible Who cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13). Two of the Christian mystics Sorokin lists as congenial to his "integralism", Meister Eckhart and Jakob Boehme, were condemned as heretical by their orthodox contemporary church authorities, the former by the Roman Catholic, the latter by the Lutheran church. This illustrates the blindness or else indifference of Sorokin's position toward Biblical Christianity.

Eckhart and Boehme saw the ultimate end of man as "union with God," a favorite term of Sorokin's as well. They meant by this union integral oneness, i.e. mutual absorption as of a drop of water returning to oneness with the ocean. But this is not the oneness with God taught by the Bible and specifically by Christ Himself First, Christ expressly did not pray for the world at large (John 17:9). Second, He prayed that His own might be "one, as thou, Father, art in me, and fin thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21). Even while He prayed, He distinguished between the Father and Himself, the Father in Himself and He Himself in the Father, yet neither becoming the other and neither absorbed by the other. The oneness of Christians with the Godhead is like the oneness of the Trinity itself in that the personhood of each participant is never erased or absorbed. Even as the Father is everlastingly the Father, the Son the Son, and the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit, so we creatures are everlastingly creatures (and not God), and each of us is everlastingly the unique creature created at our conception by God in Christ, and foreseen by Him from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4, Acts 15:18). How else could we in eternity "know even as also lam known" (I Corinthians 13:12)? How else could we on the day of final judgment and beginning of eternity receive a new name written" known only to each of us alone (and to God) (Revelation 2:15)? Such knowledge of our individual selves throughout eternity is not conceivable for an individual drop of water reabsorbed into the ocean. Rather, the "three-Persons-in-One" concept of the supernatural Godhead is "the only one on the market"8 as C.S. Lewis rightly remarks. "Fixed-kinds" creation ex nihilo (ex Deo) reflects the "fixed uniqueness" of each of the three Persons of the Trinity.9 Sorokin's "integralism" in its false simplicity fits C.S. Lewis's statement:

If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.10  


Sorokin sees the nature of reality as a dyad of Being and Becoming, manifested in the "opposite phenomena of motion and the state of rest, of light and darkness, of fullness and emptiness, of health and sickness, of ugliness and beauty, of the true and the false, of A's and non-A's ~ As Arnold J. Toynbee states in a lucid and penetrating critique of Sorokin's philosophy of history, Sorokin has arrived here at the ancient Chinese concept of Yin-Yang, the principle of two opposites such as love-hate, male-female, front-back, etc. complementing and alternating with each other.'2

Now if "Being" and "Becoming" are members of such a dyad, how is either defined? Sorokin attempts to first define "Becoming" as "change" and "Being" as "not-change" as follows:

(The) incessant Becoming or Change (of any group, the whole of man- kind, and the entire physical and vital universe known to us) coexists with their continuous unchangeable Being: in any change something in that which changes be it physical or chemical or biological or psychosocial phenomenon preserves its sameness or identity and must remain unchangeable; otherwise we can neither think nor talk of a change of... any phenomenon Y that changes. Without the persistence of identity of these (phenomena) in their transformations, the very term of change becomes meaningless and empty. To sum up: empirically, our direct observation and experience testify that not only total reality but even its infinitesimal fragment the limited world of our existence represents a perennial coexistence of Heraclitus' "everything incessantly changes" with Parraenides-Zeno's denial of the reality of change and ascension of the reality of the unchangeable total Being. Empirical reality appears, indeed, as a reconciliation ofopposites.'3

But Sorokin has established merely relative change by identifying "Being" with that which is not changing at a particular moment in time, as compared to that which is then changing. This amounts to various phenomena changing at various rates of speed relative to each other, a concept with which Heraclitus would have no trouble. Absolute changelessness cannot be established in this manner.

As to the supposed unchangeableness of total Being, it cannot be established "empirically, (by) our direct observation and experience" because they are (a) limited to only part of all that is, and (b) limited in their reliability in observing and/or interpreting data. This, by the way, is Sorokin's own stand, strongly and frequently expressed through attacks upon his perennial bete noire, modern empiricism.

I conclude that Sorokin's statement that "empirical reality appears ... as a reconciliation of opposites" remains unsubstantiated, and that as between Parmenides-Zeno's "Being" and Heraclitus' "Becoming" Heraclitus seems to have the more plausible case. Or else, Sorokin's formulation of empirical reality as "reconciliation of opposites" needs restating, as "reconciliation of apparent opposites", perhaps thus: "(Total) Being = (Incessant) Becoming." I further classify Sorokin's "integralism" with pantheism in view of his "God-talk" linked to "all-is-one" talk. His affinity with Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism bears this out and is acknowledged by Oriental critics, or rather friends, of his work.'4

Note that in the "Being-Becoming" dyad it is "Being" or changelessness which is in danger of being swallowed up in "Becoming" or incessant change. Again, we see conflict with the Biblical creation perspective. To us, as stated earlier, there is only apparent change in the unfolding of that which is immutably "given" in and by God through fiat creation. Because of man's supplanting God's creative fiat by his insurrection (the Fall/sin), there is now also the apparent change of insurrection unfolding in the disintegration of that which is not fulfilling God's purpose assigned at creation and hence "is not." This disintegration, or what Van Til has aptly called "integration into the void", is progressive corruption ending in, or but a form of, death. But the transcendent Triune God-Creator is not subject to corruption/death. On the contrary, in the end "death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:54). Nor is His Word/creative fiat foiled. Christ tells us He came to fulfill the law of the Father, "for verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). In Him we can be restored in our originally intended likeness to God, with His law written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:8-12).

Now within the pantheist-"integralist" world qua its "all-is-oneness" it is impossible to separate the living from the dead, the straight from the bent, the healthy from the corrupt. One reason for this is the positing of false opposites, such as "Being versus Becoming." Begin with the God of the Biblical creation position, and separation is possible not between Being and Becoming, a pseudo-problem, but between Being and Not-Being. If at bottom all that is is one, then which label to put on which phenomenon is ultimately meaningless. But we hold that the God of the Bible decrees which is which, and there is total, immutable "one-label-only" meaning rooted and grounded in God Himself once and for all and that which is not what He says it should be "is not."

The Genesis account of man's temptation, fall, and foreshadowed redemption deals precisely with this issue. God's command to Adam, coupled with His prediction, "Thou shalt not eat of the tree... the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," is no idle threat. No "reconciliation of opposites," of God's command with disobedience, of God's law with the serpent's lawlessness is possible. In the end the serpent-tempter's head is to be crushed under the heel of the prophesied Seed of the woman, Christ (Genesis 3:15). In the end, when all things are finally revealed as they are, only that which is of God, His kingdom which cannot be moved, His city which has foundations (Hebrews 12:25-27, Hebrews 11:10,28) will remain. All that will be left of the persons (fallen angels and fallen human beings) who persist to the end in a "bent," rebellious, corrupted condition, not availing themselves of salvation in Christ - their "ashes" or irreducible remnants of disintegration (because these remnants are parts of identity originating in creation by God) - will be cast out from God's originally intended and finally restored/renewed eternal, immutable reality, the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. For these remnants there is the ultimate trash heap, Gehenna-hell-the "Lake of fire and brimstone."

In Sorokin's "integralist" or pantheism's "all-is-one" world such trash must be everlastingly "recycled" - perhaps the truest picture of unbiblical "reconciliation of opposites." This poses the problem of pollution of the whole. Pollutants cannot be "quarantined." Moreover, as stated above, no meaningful differentiation is possible qua "all-is-oneness" between sickness and health, pollution and purity. No wonder to one holding such a world view with in-depth perception, such as Gautama Buddha, the only escape or "heaven" is conceived as "nirvana", i.e. ultimate withdrawal from the recycling process by absorption in ultimate nothingness where individual consciousness ceases to exist.  


Upon this problematic pantheistic foundation Sorokin erects a grandiose thought structure with widespread implications for social science and philosophy of history. Toynbee rightly admires Sorokin as a pioneer, with the pioneer's curiosity and versatility.15 Sorokin's magnum opus, the four thick volumes of the Social and Cultural Dynamics, bristles with statistics and graphs, possibly the only attempt ever made at thoroughgoing quantitative analysis of such diverse sociological and cultural phenomena as the occurrence of wars and revolutions, "the spiritual and sensual in art," economic well-being related to the Catholic church, to industry, to agriculture etc., the rise and fall of "sensate" streams of philosophical thought (such as plain "materialism," relativism, determinism, nominalism etc.) spanning history from the sixth century B.C. to our own time. A number of colleagues and assistants were enlisted to help put this vast collection of data together, researching such source material as the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica and its listing of thousands of scholars, scientists, artists, statesmen etc., or the almost 13,000 scientific discoveries and inventions computed on the basis of a German source, the Darmstaedter Handbuch. These helpers commend Sorokin's scholarly restraint in not exercising any influence upon their gathering of data. The vastness of data and especially the newness of the sociological-sociometric enterprise as a whole when Sorokin pioneered it still is overwhelming to any interested reader today. It overwhelmed Sorokin himself, by his own statement in the Dynamks; "We collected so many singularistic facts that at the present moment we are lost in their multitude."16

This multitude of data is used by Sotokin as best he can to substantiate his sociocultural theoretical superstructure. He does not see sociocultural systems as identical with the "civilizations" of Spengler or Toynbee, nor in general with "Canzheiten" or sociocultural wholes going through cycles analogous to the life cycles of individual biological organisms. His focus is instead upon sociocultural supersystems, of which "Western civilization" is his most thoroughly discussed example. Western civilization, to Sorokin, is the Greco-Roman world including its permeation by Christianity and continuing down to our own day. A supersystem, stretching over many hundreds or even thousands of years, holds together in that all its component pans, though in some respects heterogeneous, jointly partake of the same major complexes of evaluating reality, or changeovers from one such major complex to another. The major complexes of evaluating reality comprise the best known of all Sorokinian pairs of opposites: the "ideational" complex versus the "sensate" complex.

Toynbee suggests that the common language words "other-worldly-minded" and "this-worldly-minded" would express Sorokin's concepts equally well.17 I agree. The "ideational" mode is to seek truth in that which is behind or above "this world", i.e. sense data. The "sensate" mode is the opposite, closely akin to logical positivism.

Sorokin also postulates a cross-breed between his "ideational" and his "sensate" complexes which he calls the "idealist" mode of viewing reality. Toynbee chuckles about the difficulty this term may present to "an outsider visiting Sorokin-land,"18 and indeed even academically sophisticated commentators manage to mix up "ideational" with "idealist." Sorokin, however, takes great pains to differ between the two; and he clearly prefers both these complexes to the "sensate" one, although seeing truth and error, values and faults in all three. Sorokin proceeds to claim, consistent with his "integralism," that all three fundamental complexes combined are the best possible approach to evaluating reality. This `integral theory of truth and reality" would use that which is valid in the three modes to form "integral three-dimensional truth" drawing upon intuition, reason and the senses as the principal sources of knowledge.19

One critic of this theory points out that this "integralist system of truth bears a close resemblance to what he calls the idealistic system ... Yet for over twenty-five hundred years the idealistic system of truth has proved, according to Sorokin's own quantitative studies, the least stable of the three main systems of truth."20 The inference is, of course, that each complex alone is more conducive to social stability than the three combined. I add that put together they need not necessarily lead to more knowledge/"truth" than each alone even if that which is valid could be reliably sifted out from each. Put together they might just as well combine their errors and cancel out each other's "truths," thus diminishing the knowledge/"truth" of each by itself.

Why does Sorokin introduce his "integral theory of truth and reality?" He has two main reasons dear to his heart. One, he is desirous to preserve "spirit" along with "matter" in reality. He sharply attacks Regelian idealism and Marxist-Leninist dialectic materialism for equating "spirit" with "matter," and their logical errors in seeing both as parts of total reality as well as all of it. His final point is:

Starting with matter as opposed to and devoid of mind, thought and spirit, they subsequently "bootleg" in by the back door "life, sensation, reflexes, and conscious thought," asserting that these immaterial forms of being in some miraculous way are developed by matter in its evolution ... The same errors are committed by the idealists in their own way.21

Over against this perspective Sorokin claims that his own "conception of total reality as the infinite manifold X is free from these contradictions and errors ... The integral view contains in itself `the principle ofcomplementarity' rediscovered by modern physicists ... (and) in agreement with our primordial ("supraconscious ) intultions."22

The Biblical creation position, of course, clashes head-on with Ilegelian idealism and its Marxist-Leninist dialectic materialist kin. But I am afraid Sorokin's case against them is in the nature of the pot calling the kettle black, for the following reasons. Could the evolutionist, dialectical Hegelian-Marxist notion of "evolving" be much the same as Sorokin's "principle of complementarity?" Is Sorokin right in calling "life, sensation, reflexes, and conscious thought" "immaterial forms of being," whatever these may be in Sorokin's own problematic Being-Becoming scheme? Last and one hates to labor the obvious-Sorokin's own "idealist" complex of truth evaluation can be plausibly viewed as a dialectical synthesis evolving from the thesis, "ideationalism" and its antithesis, the "sensate" complex.

Sorokin seeks to validate intuition as a source of knowledge and a function of the "spirit." He believes that "some kind of intuition is at the very basis of the validity of the systems of truth of reason and of the senses."23 Intuition is knowledge or awareness or instant cognition not explicable by rational processes or empirical sense data. Sorokin stresses that even extreme empiricists such as John Stuart Mill acknowledge the existence and significance of intuition.

Over and over again he refers to intuition's validity, especially by adducing examples of it from all fields of human creative endeavor. For example, French mathematician Henri Poincare's account of the formulation of the fuchsian functions (fonctions fuchsiennes) as the gift ofintutition24 is as impressive as the account of Newton's apple, Kekule's vision of the makeup of the benzene molecule in a ring of smoke, and many, many other scientific discoveries due to intuition acting, in Poincare's words, "with the same characteristics of brevity, suddenness, and immediate certitude."25 Sorokin links the creative process in the tine arts, "mystic experiences," and finally "religious and moral creations" to this same intuition, which he calls "supraconscious" as mentioned above. He sees a need for reason and the senses to balance intuition because "intuition Uncontrolled by reason and the senses very easily goes astray, often leading to intuitive errors."26 To Sorokin, intuition is received at what he calls the "supra-conscious level" of human personality. This is that element in rnan which permits him to communicate with a "cosmic supraconscious" from which inspiration/intuition is transmitted to men of creative genius in art, science, religion, literature etc.27

Sorokin's "cosmic supraconscious" of necessity harbors within itself evil, personified by the serpent/Satan in the Biblical account of the temptation and the Fall. While allowing error, he never recognizes the reality of evil. What would Sorokin make of the following true story related to us by William L. Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

Houston Steward Chamberlain('s) life and works constitute one of the most fascinating ironies in the inexorable course of history which led to the rise and fall of the Third Reich.

This son of an English admiral, nephew of a British field marshal, Sir Neville Chamberlain . . . was drawn irresistibly toward Germany, of which he ultimately became a citizen and one of the foremost thinkers and in whose language he wrote all of this many books, several of which had an almost blinding influence on Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler and countless lesser Germans...

Hypersensitive and neurotic and subject to frequent nervous breakdowns, Chamberlain was given to seeing demons who, by his own account, drove him on relentlessly to seek new fields of study and get on with his prodigious writings. One vision after another forced him to change from biology to botany to the fine arts, to music, to philosophy, to biography to history. Once, in 1896, when he was returning from Italy, the presence of a demon became so forceful that he got off the train at Gardone, shut himself up in a hotel room for eight days and, abandoning some work on music that he had contemplated, wrote feverishly on a biological thesis until he had the germ of the theme that would dominate all of his later works: race theory.

Whatever its blemishes, his mind had a vast sweep ranging over the fields of literature, music, biology, botany, religion, history and politics. There was, as Jean Real has pointed out, a profound unity of inspiration in all his published works and they had a remarkable coherence. Since he felt himself goaded on by demons, his books (on Wagner, Goethe, Kant, Christianity and race) were written in the grip of a terrible fever, a veritable trance, a state of self-induced intoxication, so that, as he says in his autobiography, Lebenswege he was often unable to recognize them as his own work, because they surpassed his expectations...

The book which most profoundly influenced (the German) mind, which sent Wilhelm II into ecstasies and provided the Nazis with their racial aberrations, was Foundations of the Nineteenth Centuiy (Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderis), a work of some twelve hundred pages which Chamberlain, again possessed of one of his "demons," wrote in nineteen months between April 1, 1897, and October 31, 1898, in Vienna, and which was published in 1899.28

Demons apart, Chamberlain's way of work which "he was often unable to recognize as his own" qualifies as intuition as outlined by Sorokin. Thus the source of intuition - the cosmic supraconscious - must be flawed. Chamberlain's demons represent the flaw.

I would like to make the following points. One, the concept of intuition Sorokin defends is of great significance in human creativity. Human creativity, of course, is most eminently part and parcel of God the Creator's image in man. As such it deserves in-depth analysis from the Biblical creation perspective. I believe Sorokin's contribution here is of value.

Two, Sorokin considers conversion experiences the products of intuition. Now when it comes to true Christian conversion, this is not the case. Indeed some Christian conversion experiences share with intuitive cognition "the same characteristics of brevity, suddenness, and immediate certitude." They also fit the intuition pattern because the knowledge gained is not accounted for by rational processes or empirical sense data, but is at it were received from beyond. But here the similarity stops. Christian conversion is personally knowing God Himself in Person and serving Him from the heart in total, obedient, undivided love. Much more than greater intensity or a change of head belief is involved - all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is a radical, and eventually (in eternity) total transformation into the likeness of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, to which we who are being thus transformed say continually and step by step, "Amen, Thy will be done on earth (in us) as it is in heaven." It is a fearful thing to meet God, for it means that after having merely "heard of Him by the hearing of the ear," now "our eye sees Him" - and therefore we, being given with the sight of the Holy and Perfect God a sight of our own sinful and marred selves, "abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5, 6). Woe unto us if the sight of Him does not cause us to desire to see Him throughout eternity and hence to "purify ourselves, even as He is pure" (I John 3:1-3). Conversion, as Pascal instantly knew, is "total and sweet renunciation, total surrender to Jesus Christ."29 Conversion is to live day by day the Virgin Mary's words, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to Thy word" (Luke 1:38).

Moreover, the God Whose Person is known in conversion is unmistakably the same immutable God for men, women and children of all times so meeting Him. Pascal knew he had been in the presence of the "God of Abraham God of Isaac God of Jacob, God of Jesus Christ"; hence his "certitude certitude" exultantly proclaimed with "tears of joy."30

What, then, of so-called "conversions" not producing greater likeness to the God and the Christ the convert claims to know? One of the saddest passages I found in Sorokin's autobiography is this:

(We investigated) 73 Boston converts "brought to Jesus" by two popular evangelical preachers. Of these 73 converts only one changed his oven behavior in an altruistic direction after his conversion. Thirty-seven converts... began to repeat more frequently the words, "Our Lord Jesus Christ" and similar utterances, but their overt behavior did not change tangibly. The remaining converts changed neither their actions nor their speech-reactions.3

No wonder Sorokin preferred to call Pascal's life-changing experience "mystic."32 What was exhibited to this man in Boston as "conversion to Jesus" must have seemed a cheap mockery even when compared to the "paganized Christians" of his childhood whom he credits with "not a single case of intolerance or individual persecution." What a terrible responsibility is ours who claim to have been converted to God and Christ, and to have eternal life in knowing Him (John 17:3). Sorokin was deeply touched by the "mystic" experience of Pascal three hundred years ago. What might have been the impact of a living neighbor credibly claiming conversion to God and Christ by reflecting God and Christ in actual day-by-day faithfulness in "little things!" What reflection of God and Christ do I, do you, radiate to a Sorokin among our college professors, or fellow students and teachers?

My third point is that if "some kind of intuition is at the very basis of the validity of the systems of truth of reason and of the senses" - then how can reason and the senses correct intuition when it goes astray? It would be like the branches correcting the root of a tree. Even if reason and the senses did not relate to intuition as branches to root, how are they themselves guarded from error while they attempt to "control" intuition? Again we run into the false premise we encountered when discussing Sorokin's "integral theory of truth and reality" combining his "ideational, idealist and sensate" complexes of reality evaluation, namely, that put together they lead to more "truth" than each alone.

Fourth, reiterating the point of the demons of Houston Steward Chamberlain, if intuition receives knowledge from the "cosmic supraconscious" indwelling the all-is-one-world as it must in the pantheist Sorokinian scheme then the source of the knowledge received may be polluted with error/evil. Chamberlain's "demon-inspired" race theory led to the Nazi holocaust. The Biblical creation perspective of the origin of man, of course, sees all mankind descended from the original literal first man and woman Adam and Eve. It is therefore totally incompatible with any and all "master race" notions. It rejects any and all theories or "knowledge" in conflict with clear Biblical teaching. God and His Word, being above creation, alone are and can be the final standard of what counts as knowledge/truth. God and His Word alone can validate intuition, reason, the senses, or any combination thereof.  


Sorokin's last major undertaking was the establishment of the Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism in February 1949 with a grant of $100,000 from the Eli Lilly Endowment. Eli Lilly had previously granted Sorokin $20,000 upon publication of Sorokin's Reconstruction of Humanity in 1948. In this work Sorokin investigated methods of preventing war, and "delineated a comprehensive plan of what and how (culture and values) should be reconstructed to establish a new, nobler, and better peaceful order in the human universe (and) the all-important role of unselfish, creative love in this reconstruction."33 Well-known scholars were associated with the work of this Center, including Ashley Montagu, F.C.S. Northrop, G. W. Allport, and Duke University's pioneer ESP investigator, J. B. Rhine whose work for the Center also dealt with parapsychology. Sorokin's books Altruistic Love; S.O.S.: The Meaning of our Crisis, The Ways and Power of Love, Social Philosophies of an Age of Crisis, Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology and Related Sciences (a very readable and eminently sensible work), The Amerkan Sex Revolution (mostly against Freudians), the one-volume edition of Social and Cultural Dynamks, and Power and Morality were published by the Center between 1950 and 1959. The Center also published two symposia edited by Sorokin, both on techniques claimed to instill and increase altruistic love. This enormous body of work is permeated by Sorokin's philosophy, and in panicular with his emphasis on intuition and the "supraconscious" which we have already spoken of. Sorokin mentions the following "methods of altruistic education of human beings and groups" analyzed and tested by the Center:

... the ancient techniques of Yogas, Buddhism, Zen-Buddhism, Sufism, and somatophysic techniques of Orthodox Christianity... the techniques invented by the founders of great religious and monastic orders Oriental and Occidental ... the techniques of the eminent secular educators, such as Comenius, Pestalozzi, Montessori, Froebel and others; and ending with the techniques used in such contemporary Christian altruistic communities as the Society of Brothers in Paraguay, and as the Mennonite, Hutterite, and Quaker communities in the United States...

A careful analysis of the ancient techniques of Yoga, Buddhism, and the monastic orders has been made because of the unexcelled possibly even unrivaled ingenuity, subtlety, and efficacy of these techniques.34 Sorokin divides "altruists" into the three types of (a) "fortunate" alttuists,i.e. such since childhood (for example, Albert Schweitzer): (b) "catastrophic" or "late" altruists whose lives are shatply divided into a pre-altruistic and an altruistic stage (for example, the Apostle Paul); and (c) the intermediary type, exhibiting traits of the two others in combination (for example, St. Teresa of Avila).35 He theorizes that altruism is a function of the affiliation of an individual with a group or groups. The more internally harmonious the group or groups, the more harmonious and hence altruistic the individual. And, "the supraconcious in man.. is also a condition necessary for becoming a genius of altruistic love."36 Sorokin sums up his Center's goal for society/mankind as tncreased `production, accumulation, and circulation of love-energy,' or a notable altruization of persons and groups, institutions, and culture especially an extension of unselfish love of everyone on everyone in mankind."37

By introducing his "supraconscious" Sorokin makes his concept of "altruization" vulnerable to the problem of pollution by error/evil, both by erroneous intuitive cognition uncontrolled and at any rate uncorrected by reason and the senses, and by erroneous or evil "leads" received from the "cosmic supraconscious."

In addition, what may work in producing apparent altruistic love among small, non-average and self-isolated groups such as monasteries or small religious communities may be quite difficult to adapt to the larger society, much less to mankind at large. It is because the members of the small groups felt themselves fundamentally at odds with the mainstream of their respective societies that they withdrew to their small communities in the first place in order to live with only those of "like mind." This initial and fundamental like-mindedness may account for much of the "altruistic love" among the members of such communities as well as for the particular methods and techniques used by each.

Transhistorical and transcultural differences may also be hard to overcome. Few if any Catholic monasteries of the present time, for instance, totally can or do conform to the medieval monastery pattern.

Lastly, the genuineness of altruistic love which is the product of outward methods and techniques, and/or its perseverance without the continued use of such "conditioning" are questionable.

Jesus qualifies in Sorokin's view as a "great apostle of unselfish love" along with Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi and Gandhi. "What techniques, what factors, and what sociocultural conditions were involved (to make them such)?" Sorokin asks.38 The Biblical creation perspective denies, of course, that Jesus can be put in the same category with anyone else, for He is God Himself Incarnate and the Creator of all that exists (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:1-4, 8-12). Without Jesus Christ the Creator, neither Buddha, Gandhi, St. Francis of Assisi (who would have agreed with us), nor Sorokin himself could have existed. In addition, as the Son of Man, the Perfect and Sinless Norm for man, all He said and did on eanh without any exception whatsoever perfectly reflected perfect likeness to God for which man was created. Besides, Christ's love is qualitatively different from any mere man's, but space does not permit elaboration.

Seen from the Biblical creation perspective, "unselfish love" is neither the function of group affiliation nor a "technique." It is rather the fulfilling of God's law (Romans 13:10). It is not "love-energy" to be treated like a commodity "produced, accumulated, circulated." It is rather Christ's love in you and me in our relations with our neighbors, the human beings next to us each moment, and as such the gift of God and pan of Christian conversion. Hence it cannot be produced or promoted by human "techniques" such as Yoga exercises. All such techniques are rather forms of the "will worship" or "goodness" of our own inventing and hence corrupt involved in the use of fig leaves by Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness after the Fall (Genesis 3:7). Such will-worship is involved and condemned in the "other gospeL which is not a gospel" of Galatians I, and Colossians 2:18-23.  


I. Sorokin's "integralism" viewing total reality as one may impress us simply as wishful and fuzzy thinking and hence as a negligible opponent to the Biblical creation position. Before adopting this assessment, however, we should remember that we have here indeed but "a mere variation of (an) ancient, powerful, and perennial stream of thought," shared by some of the world's most prominent non-Biblical religious and philosophical thinkers to this day.

2. Sorokin's solution to the problem of identity versus change, or "Being" versus "Becoming" is his concept of a "cosmic supraconscious" or "highest center" of reality where "reconciliation of opposites" takes place. His formulation is related to the ancient Chinese concept of Yin-Yang, or reality as pairs of opposites ever-stingly coexisting in a "principle of complementarity." It can therefore be plausibly viewed as compatible with either evolutionist Hegelian idealist or evolutionist Marxist-Leninist materialist dialectic.

3. Both Sorokin's concept of sociocultural superstructures as guided and held together by either "other-worldly-mindedness" (the "ideational' complex of viewing truth and reality), "this-worldly-mindedness" (the "sensate" complex of viewing truth and reality), or their cross-breed (the "idealist" complex of viewing truth and reality), and his claim for a combination of these three complexes as best for society and culture are beset by problems arising from their pantheistic foundation. The major problem is how to distinguish truth from error, especially as all three Sorokinian complexes are seen as mixtures of both. Since Sorokin pioneered modern international sociology, his system is also the fountainhead of much fundamental error.

4. Sorokin's work regarding intuition as a means of acquiring knowledge and part of human creativity has some value for students of human creativity and personality. Again, the problem of validation of knowledge gained by intuition appears insoluble from within Sorokin's or pantheism's "all reality is one" perspective. If intuition be the means of communication between men and reality's supposed central "cosmic supraconscious," then the source of error/evil may lie within the very fountainhead of knowledge. While similar to intuition in some instances and respects, Christian conversion is fundamentally other than intuition, in that Christian conversion implies radical and eventually complete transformation of the convert by the knowledge of the God of the Bible into His likeness, and the God known in all instances of Christian conversion is immutably the same at all times.

5. Sorokin's efforts to foster "creative altruism" center on his theory of altruistic love as a function of group affiliation, and on various methods and techniques used by "altruistic communities." He also sees the "supraconscious in man as necessary for altruization. Problems arise from (a) introduction of the "supraconscious" as a possible transmitter of error/evil; (b) transferring supposed techniques and methods of altruistic education from relatively small, non-average and self-isolated groups to larger, more average ones; (c) transhistorical and transcultural differences; and (d) questionable genuineness and/or perseverance of"altruistic love" depending on outward "conditioning."

The Biblical creation position sees "altruistic love" not as a function of group affiliation or of outward man-invented "conditioning" but rather as inward Christlikeness expressed towards our neighbors, or the human being(s) next to us each moment in time. This Christlikeness is part and parcel of Christian conversion/transformation and as such not the work of man but the gift and work of God to which we merely say "Amen" in heart, word and deed.

6. The Biblical creation position is incompatible with "integralism" because it does not see total reality as one. It rather begins with the transcendent, Supernatural, Immutable, Personal Triune God of the Bible Whose act of creation by His Word (Christ) ex nihilo (ex Deo) brought all else into being with the identity/meaning assigned to each at creation according to His purpose. Problems arising within the "integralist"-pantheist perspective, such as "Being" versus "Becoming" or the related problem of the validation of knowledge and identity/meaning, are pseudo-problems when viewed from the Biblical creation perspective.

7. Within "integralism"-pantheism reality can never be rid of error/evil. The Biblical creation position, on the other hand, provides for fundamental and ultimately revealed separation of error/evil, i.e., that which is not conformed to God's Law-Word, and therefore "is not," from truth/the good, Le., that which is of God and therefore conformed to His Law-Word, and which therefore alone `~is." Disintegration/death apart from Christ is now unfolding to full revelation at the end of this age/world as the ultimate "trash heap" for the irreducible remnants of God-decreed indentity - Gehenna-hell. Integration/life in Christ is now likewise unfolding to full revelation at the end of this age/world in the perfect, spotless and changeless New Jerusalem, the Heavenly City of eternity.


1 Phillip J. Allen, editor, P. A. Sorokin in Review (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1963), 474.
2 Ibid., 501-506
3 P. A. Sorokin, "I ntegralism is My Philosophy," in Whit Burnett, editor, This Is My Philosophy (New York: Harper, [957), 180.
4 Allen, op.eit, 373 374.
5 Sorokin, A Long Journey, the Autobiography of P. A. Sorokin (New Hayen, CN: College and University Press, 1963), 41.
6 Ibid., 11.
7 Ibid, 14.
8 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Paperback Edition 1960, Seventeenth Printing 1973), 141.
9 A major contemporary Christian thinker, Cornelius Van Til, bases his work on the "One-and-the-many" principle of the Godhead. I am indebted to him in many respects in my refutation of Sorokin.
10 Lewis, op. Cit., 145.
11 Allen, op, cit., 374.
12 Ibid., 84.
13 Ibid., 374-375.
14 Ibid., 306ff
15 Ibid., 68.
16 Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics (New York: American Book Co., 1937-1941), 111, 288.
17 Allen, op.cit., 78, n.35.
18 Ibid.
19 cf. Sorokin, Dynamics, IV, 762.
20 Allen, op. cit, 53.
21 Ibid., 378,379.
22 Ibid., 379.
23 Sorokin, Dynamics, IV, 747.
24 Sorokin, The Crisis of Our Age (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1941), 107-108.
25 Ibid., 108.
26 Allen, op. CIt., 378.
27 Ibid., 167
28 William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Greenwich, CN: Ninth Fawcett Crest Printing, April 1967), 152,153, 154.
29 Blaise Bascal, Memorial (of his conversion on November 23, 1654, reprinted in Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Trojan Horse in the City of God, Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago 1967, XI~XII).
30 Idem.
31 Sorokin, A Long Journey, 272.
32 Sorokin, The Crisis of Our Age, 108.
33 Sorokin, A Long Journey, 277, 278.
34 Ibid., 284.
35 Ibid., 286,287.
36 Ibid., 288, 289.
37 Ibid., 283.
38 Ibid., 286.

"Sorokin's 'Integralism' vs. The Biblical Creation Position"
CSSHS • Creation Social Science & Humanities Society • Quarterly Journal

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