I don’t doubt that Deepak Chopra really believes the stuff that he says, but I wouldn’t blame him if he was just peddling his version spirituality to make a buck. Not only do you get to be rich and famous but you get CNN to give you free advertising:
[N]ext week my foundation is hosting a symposium in Southern California where the gap between science and spirituality will be narrow somewhat, not on the basis of religion but on the basis of consciousness.Setting this aside the supposed purpose of Chopra’s (thankfully) brief editorial is to suggest that the gap between spirituality and science is getting smaller. He gives two reasons for this:
My conference, called the Sages and Scientists Symposium: The Merging of A New Future, is only one in a wave of gatherings through which hundreds of researchers are working to define a new paradigm for the relationship between spirituality and science.
One is the trend to seek God outside the church. This has given rise to a kind of spirituality based on personal experience, with an openness to accept Eastern traditions like meditation and yoga as legitimate ways to expand one's consciousness. If God is to be found anywhere, it is inside the consciousness of each person.So as the ‘god of the gaps’ gets smaller and smaller people are redefining how they view god. I don’t think society will ever get rid of religion. I suspect that religion will constantly be replaced by something more ephemeral as more of the world is understood in concrete terms. That doesn’t bother me too much. What does bother me is this idea that the gap is narrowing between science and spirituality. They are two fundamentally different approaches to ‘knowing’ the world and no amount of redefining religion will bridge that gap. His second reason to believe the gap is smaller:
The other trend is a growing interest by scientists in questions about consciousness. Twenty years ago, a respectable researcher couldn't ask daring questions such as "do we live in an intelligent universe?" or "Is there mind outside the body?"Chopra is acting as if the binding problem and the hard problem of consciousness aren’t readily discussed within neuroscience*. They are and quite openly. They have been for a long time. One of the most recent and vocal advocates of investigating the hard problem is David Chalmers who burst on the scene, you guessed it, about 20 years ago. But again the problem is that any scientific study of the mind would have to be conducted in an objective, measurable, falsifiable, and predictive manner. This is not narrowing the gap, it is jumping from one side to the other. The gap remains.
And just for good measure, here is your dose of Chopra gobbledygook:
[S]cience will have to account for why the human brain, which lives in the macro world, derives its intelligence from the micro world. Either atoms and molecules are smart, or something makes them smart. That something, I believe, will come down to a conscious universe.Which makes me wonder if Chopra thinks the computations occurring in my computer right now also derive from a conscious universe.
*Personally, I think the