As we travel around the country promoting our new book, War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, people are asking about the major points of contention between science (the worldview represented by Leonard Mlodinow) and spirituality (the worldview represented by Deepak Chopra). Do we always disagree or are there some points of agreement? We thought it would be appropriate to summarize the major differences and agreements in a short note.
Our book has four major sections: Cosmos, Life, Mind and Brain and God.
Leonard describes Einstein's theory of relativity, and quantum theory, and how they are combined to create a scientific theory of how the universe began and evolved. He describes the impressive agreement between the theoretical predictions based on this picture and actual observations of the heavens made by astronomers. Deepak proposes a creative first cause that preceded the infinitesimally brief Planck epoch (10-43 seconds) following the Big Bang. He suggests that since the laws of nature and perhaps space and time emerged after the Planck epoch, any understanding of the pre-created universe remains outside the scope of objective science.
We describe the cutting-edge ideas of modern genetics. Leonard argues that physical evolution occurs through random mutations and natural selection. Deepak argues that random mutations are not an adequate explanation for the variety and speed of viable adaptations.
Mind and Brain:
Leonard posits that the mind is created by the physical workings of the brain, and that our consciousness can be explained through the same laws of nature that govern the rest of the physical world. Deepak proposes that the brain is the physical instrument of the mind, just as a radio serves to turn invisible radio waves into music.
There is an important point of agreement here. Leonard maintains that "while science often casts doubt on spiritual beliefs and doctrines insofar as they make representations about the physical world, science does not -- and cannot -- conclude that God is an illusion." While not defending God in religious terms, Deepak holds that God is a way of understanding some extremely crucial things: the source of existence, the reality beyond spacetime, the underlying consciousness and creativity in the universe.
Leonard suggests that the universe operates according to laws of physics while acknowledging that science does not address why the laws exist or how they arise. Deepak maintains that the laws of nature as well as mathematics share the same source as human consciousness.