I live about two miles from the Omni Resort where the Chopra Center now has its headquarters. It is an expensive resort where tennis and golf tournaments are held and rooms can go as high as $5000 a night. Chopra runs retreats or seminars in the center. For $6000 you can stay for several days and hear in person his message of hope and healing while buying one or more of his eighty books. The most recent one is The Future of God. Over twenty have made the NYTimes best seller list.
In recent months Chopra has been focusing more intensely on his running battle with Dawkins, whose scientific credentials he deprecates along with his disbelief. Chopra is big on quantum mechanics as an explanation that allows for God. This is his latest blog piece:
My own feeling is that Deepak Chopra is simply a high-priced scammer, a kind of minister to the rich, but he also appeals to and takes money from less wealthy devotees. The fact that he is Indian and a doctor adds to his mystique. He never seems to answer Dawkins' arguments directly, but instead indulges in ad hominem attacks.
Often people who are dissatisfied with traditional religion turn to alternatives like Chopra, hoping to find answers to their questions and a guide for their lives. They probably do not feel that they are being scammed, but to me it seems clear. This kind of thing is not illegal, but it is unethical.
Yet another load of specious hogwash from a veteran snake-oil salesman. As per usual, Deepak makes appeals to emotion and what science either does not know or he'd rather it didn't. There remains no substantive argument, new or otherwise; just a rehash of the same-old same-old.
According to Chopra, there's a god because he wants there to be a god and he feels better about himself if there is a god. Ooooooooooooooooookay...
Chopra is not a physicist. His using quantum mechanics as an explanation is nothing more than modern trendy "god in the gaps" logic. He is a quantum mysticist.
It's too bad he and I aren't young any more. I'd love to watch, as scientists gain a firm understanding of quantum physics. His pseudo-scientific psychobabble melt into ridiculousness.
Of course that would never happen. He'd just double down and dive deeper into the gap.
Chopra uses the term consciousness with liberal abandon. He doesn't seem to pin down exactly what it is. It is some vague and mystical concept.
But science is making early inroads into understanding consciousness, and the mind and freewill, as outcomes of the functioning of the brain, in purely materialistic ways. The brain is a material thing, working by means of physics and chemistry, having evolved, to produce the outcomes which we label mind, consciousness and freewill.
There is plenty of evidence that the brain constructs our experiences and that what we perceive is a useful illusion. If a person fractiously accepts and defends any such illusions as factual, (ie. accurate representations of the truth about reality), then that person is delusory.
The problem is that contrary to what Chopra says, going into the mind is just as likely to produce illusions and delusions, rather than anything of any other value.
I have found that the following is a good series of videos, which delve into this area:-
Quantum science show, 'Science of the perfect drink': http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4145918.htm
(One might like to watch the whole thing, it's not very long).
'Comprehending Consciousness Part 1', by the PolyMath, (21min 27sec): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xp_v2KfP0k
'Comprehending Consciousness Part 2', by the PolyMath, (1h 30 min 29 sec): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMJmEtnPSXE
'Comprehending Consciousness Part 3', by the PolyMath, (20 min 18 sec): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67zS1ulFV1A
(these last three can be heavy watching, but truly fascinating, IMHO).
I reckon that these videos highlight the truth that relying on the mind, (our consciousness), will tell us "lies"; lies which are useful short cuts and adaptations, evolved in order for us to get by in life.
These are interesting videos. (Haven't got completely through the long one yet.) I am always interested in learning how to improve my martini mixing. It's a lifelong quest.
Chopra defines "God" in a non-supernatural way, like other liberal religious people.
The risk is though, that people will do a quick switch with the God-definition, so that it becomes a cover for all sorts of superstition and supernatural belief.
That kind of God-experience needs to be accompanied by rigorous rationality - paying attention to one's assumptions. And the problem is that often people don't pay attention to their own assumptions. They aren't trained to do so - so they assume things that please them.
Jimmy, I think you just said a mouthful. If there were no profit or control gained from it, religion would wither in the time it takes to talk about it.
Besides profit and control, I've thought of another reason some religions might have arisen. Some people like an audience for their wild stories, and lots of people listen and believe. I think If people were more critical thinkers, and demanded evidence, religions never would have arisen.
Certainly control has played a major role. Karen Armstrong has said that before 1700 you could not separate church and state in the popular consciousness (or something to that effect). The idea that a supernatural being has ordained the organization of the world and each individual's place in it justified the power of monarchs throughout history.
I think you could make a very good historical case that authority of a king over his subjects was the mainspring of religious development throughout most of history.
Dr. Clark, have you read When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone? I'm not saying she had a handle on 100% of the truth, but it IS obvious that things were very, VERY different before the Northern Invaders took over the Mediterranean about 4,000 years ago. (I still want to know where they originated.....and why they left.)
There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity. — Robertson Davies