Posted on: November 1, 2014
By Deepak Chopra
In every religion that believes in a personal God, there’s a connection between the divine and the human. A personal God created life, and he (or she) cherishes his creation. No love is more intense than divine love. No anger is more intense than divine wrath. As relationships go, the one with God poses the most difficulties, for an obvious reason. God is invisible and leaves no evidence about his existence in the physical world.
All religions who demand the worship of a personal God must overcome the same obstacle. There are various ways around it. You can ask people to have faith in God, with the promise that the faithful will meet him one day in heaven. You can depict the sufferings of Hell if faith fails. You can examine the triumphs and tragedies of everyday life and say that God is behind them, expressing approval when things go well and disapproval when things go badly. In short, there are many strategies for keeping a personal God viable.
Posted on: October 28, 2014
By Deepak Chopra
Back when schoolchildren regularly read uplifting poetry, there was a famous Victorian poem that affirmed the human birthright of free will. It was “Invictus,” by W. E. Henley and began:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
Posted on: October 23, 2014
By Deepak Chopra, MD
The notion that human beings walk, talk, think, and do things because our brains control us is a fringe idea, easily refuted with a few moment’s thought and rarely taken seriously. But it got a boost from an Op-ed piece in the New York Times last week under the title, “Are We Really Conscious?” Thousands of readers were exposed to an argument that has been around for decades, holding that the brain is a machine analogous to a computer, and its working parts (neurons) operate through strict cause and effect. Therefore, when we believe that we have free will, we are as mistaken as marionettes controlled by invisible strings.
The author of the Op-ed piece, a Princeton psychology professor named Michael S. A. Graziano, states the extreme case for brain-as-machine: We are fooling ourselves to believe we are conscious. He also states, quite falsely, that this mechanistic view is the only viable explanation for consciousness currently to be found in science. Actually, there are a number of annual conferences on the topic of science and consciousness, and it’s fair to say that Graziano’s strict materialistic view, although a pet theory in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), rarely comes up in these conferences. But with the name of a prestigious university attached, his Op-ed piece will start a discussion, so here’s my contribution.
Posted on: October 15, 2014
By Deepak Chopra, MD
For most people, miracles are something left behind in childhood. They require innocent belief, not adult rationality. The camp of vocal skeptics and atheists provide a crossroads, in fact, where one way leads to irrationality, the other to rationality, as if this definitively defines where the truth lies. If you don’t take the way of rationality, you will wind up in the realm of superstition, primitive myths, magical thinking, and bogus miracles.
Why, then, did Einstein make his famous remark that either nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle? Because he saw deeper into reality than the simplistic either/or of skeptics and atheists. As we saw in Part 1 of this series, there is no credible scientific theory that describes how the mind interfaces with reality. This means that there is no theory that proves the existence of miracles or disproves it. Until we can fully explain consciousness, we can’t fully explain the events that occur in consciousness.
It sounds startling, but science can’t explain ordinary experiences, much less supernatural experiences. No one knows how thoughts arise, why intuition exists, where creativity comes form, or most important of all, how the porridgy gray matter of the brain, which is totally dark and silent, produces the sights and sounds of the three-dimensional world. The simplest and most profound miracle that everyone encounters every day is this miracle.
Posted on: October 6, 2014
A Science of Miracles—No Longer Optional?
By Deepak Chopra, MD
In its ambition to explain every aspect of the natural world, modern science has sidestepped very few problems. Some mysteries are so difficult that they defy the scientific method. It’s hard to conceive of experiments that will tell us what happened before time and space emerged, for example. But two mysteries have been consistently sidestepped for decades out of prejudice. One is the nature of consciousness, the other the reality of phenomena loosely categorized as mystical or supernatural.
However, now that there is a burgeoning science of consciousness, fermenting with much theorizing, arguments, and controversies, it may be necessary to solve all kinds of fringe phenomena, in particular miracles, that have long been considered the province of superstition, credulity, and outright fraud. (This is the hardened position of the vocal skeptics’ camp, but their impact on the practice of science is too minimal to deal with here.)
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