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Reviewed by Eric Chaffee
"A Hindu and a Jew
bumped into each other at church . . ."
Well, maybe it was a lecture hall; and even though they had significantly different outlooks, they became friendly sparring partners in what could become one of the great scientific debates of the ages.
Ever since the demise of logical positivism, the science community has gotten defensive about it's beliefs. That doctrine argued that all reality must be measurable by the five senses. Of course, we always knew that there is more to reality than measurement. (How much does real love weigh? What enables us to resonate to the ring of truth, like a tuning fork to a piano string?)
Some scientists have gotten aggressive, trashing the belief systems of other people. Richard Dawkins, for example, mimics the most strident of religious fundamentalists in arguing for the superiority of his "
Reductionist materialism can't explain consciousness to itself. Scientific Atheism was the official religion of the
The problem with their church is that, like the Taliban, they browbeat anyone who won't knuckle under. Young scientists, especially, are intimidated into silence. They dare not speculate metaphysically, lest their career be damaged. ("Don't bring that heresy into my lab; switch your major to philosophy or divinity!")
Well, there are those champions of science who have taught honorable skepticism, even while urging their graduate students to challenge the bullies. Richard Feynman was such. He offered a real takedown and reversal for those who would face such bullies, with his DEFINITION OF SCIENCE: "belief in the ignorance of authority." He effectively was saying: 'Hey kids, don't be afraid to announce Emperor Science to be naked, utterly devoid of any explanation for consciousness, which is the laboratory of reality -- but be prepared to offer substantial scientific evidence to support your replacement hypothesis.'
Deepak Chopra has such offerings. And listening to the debate between both scientists featured in this volume is truly thrilling. It hasn't been this exciting since The Pope took on Galileo! But this time the underdog (Chopra) wins. Chopra writes from a nondual position; he reminds me of Mary Baker Eddy, who, over 100 years ago courageously observed: "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." It would seem that universal consciousness may be a spiritual (rather than material!) pantheism. Has science ever been able to prove there is intelligence in matter? Yet, like a child believing the tv can see him, or that the computer can think, this is what science still asserts, all the while insisting that truth not be argued by mere assertion.
I only wish the editor of the book had used a different font for each of the two debaters, as they both have their distinctive voices for addressing the same issues. It would enhance clarity to "see" their voices on the page the way the ear would naturally differentiate them in a room. ~eric.
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