How do you explain consciousness? How do you explain evil? What exactly is the human experience?
Drs. Mlodinow and Chopra sparred over these issues today and gave much food for thought. As James Bennett said, science is currently winning the war on the ground because of how deeply technology is woven into our lives. We depend on medical breakthroughs and innovations in technology to survive, but could there be a pendulum swing occurring? Given certain gifts of science such as global warming and biological warfare, could spirituality and its perspective become more relevant?
As Dr. Chopra said in War of Worldviews, "One must be decisive here...a world ruled solely by science would be hell on earth." He claims, and Dr. Mlodinow partially agrees, that science is a very effective methodology for understanding partial truths, and it looks at the world as it relates to humans. But it does not see the world as it is because it cannot explain the raw experience.
Dr. Mlodinow counters, "Just because science does not currently explain consciousness, does not mean it cannot or will not explain consciousness."
It all boils down to the separation or the supposed separation between the mind and the brain. Is there a difference between the two?
Dr. Chopra believes there is. His favorite definition of the mind is, the mind is an in-body and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information, and because the mind of individuals are regulating the flow of the same information and energy, our minds our intertwined. The brain, however, is the physical neural reactions that occur within our body.
Dr. Mlodinow agrees that science cannot explain the raw experience, but believes there is no difference between the brain and mind. He points to split-brained patients as proof. These people, who have undergone a splitting of the brain to protect them from extreme seizures, were asked, "How many seizures did you have in the past week?" In one example Mlodinow gave, the right hand of the patient held up three fingers, the left held up four and then an argument ensued between the essentially two different minds and brains that surgery had created.
Dr. Mlodinow believes that science is still discovering and evolving and has the potential to more completely explain these truths with further research.
When the subject of evil was brought to light, it was Mlodinow that went on the attack. He pointed to events such as the Holocaust and 9/11, and spirituality's claim that "things happen for a reason," paints it as the position that is cold and heartless. He said that according to science, everything occurs to the laws of nature without purpose.
But if spirituality's claim is that there is a purpose, how does it explain the presence of someone like Hitler?
Dr. Chopra pointed to the presence of a collective consciousness, and the nature of consciousness. He said that every human being acts from the level of their conscious development, whether they're coming from a primitive or more enlightened level, but that their actions are also a direct manifestation of the collective conscious development. Therefore, Hitler, who Dr. Chopra would classify as having a very primitive conscious development, was allowed to take the actions he took, because the collective consciousness that he was working within was also primitive.
At the bottom line of their arguments are the following fundamental beliefs:
According to Dr. Mlodinow, everything occurs according to the laws of nature. We don't know where the original laws come from, and that is why science can only represent partial truths, but every discovery that was ever made, was in accordance with the laws of nature.
Dr. Chopra believes that since science cannot account for the raw experience or the subjective, it is incapable of completely answering questions of the human existence.
Where do you stand? Is science capable of explaining the human experience? Or do we as humans need an element of spirituality to make sense of the world around us?
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