To recap Deepak Chopra's objections to Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion:
- In Part I Chopra claims that it is Dawkins' assertion that if Science can not explain the existence of something, that something does not exist. Hogwash. Apparently, Chopra does not understand Ockham's Razor: anything not required in an explanation is superfluous and must be cut from the final synthesis. God is not required to explain anything, and therefore has little chance of existing.
- Part II is just a superfluous reiteration of his statement in Part I.
- In Part III Chopra attempts to debunk materialism through the anthropic principle and the existence of Quantum Mechanics. The anthropic principle has taken a huge blow recently with the publication of the results of simulating the universe in the total absence of weak nuclear interactions. Quantum Mechanics is not only itself a part of materialism, it was BORN from materialism. In essence, Chopra debunks himself.
Time for Part IV, where Chopra asserts that Dawkins believes that:
The universe is neither intelligent nor conscious. Science doesn't need those ingredients to explain nature and its workings. Starting with atoms and molecules governed by strict physical laws, we will eventually explain everything.
Seeing as there is no evidence in support of an intelligent or conscious universe, I can not see how Chopra is able to refute this, and he doesn't disappoint. Instead, he makes an ad hoc attack: "This argument has to be made in a very loud voice with total conviction to sound plausible. Dawkins holds that humans are conscious because chemicals randomly collide in the brain to produce a phantom we ignorantly call the mind. This is a fashionable view and in fact is the logical outcome of arch materialism. Where else could mind come from if not molecules, assuming that molecules are the basis of the brain and therefore of reality itself?"
Where else indeed? "Common sense finds it hard to take this argument seriously, because it leads to nonsense. The brain contains an enormous amount of water and salt. Are we to assume that water is intelligent, or salt is conscious? If they aren't, then we must assume that throwing water and salt together--along with about six other basic building blocks of organic chemicals--suddenly makes them intelligent. The bald fact is that Dawkins defends an absurd position because he can't make the leap to a different set of assumptions." What is he saying? That a human body is composed of just carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, hydrogen and sulfur? It was once said that the human body is composed of about $6 of these chemicals. But this ignored that the synthesis of complex molecules is very expensive. The $6 figure was rather myopic. This is no different than Chopra's view. Consciousness comes from the enormously complex biochemistry and structure of the human brain, a result of evolutionary processes. The only assumption in Dawkins position is that consciousness is explainable via naturalism.
So what are Chopra's assumptions?
"--Consciousness is part of existence. It wasn't created by molecules.
--Intelligence is an aspect of consciousness.
--Intelligence grows as life grows. Both evolve from within. --The universe evolved along intelligent lines."
This is meaningless drivel. Is an amoeba conscious? It exists. Molecules exist, but are hardly conscious. Intelligence requires consciousness; it is not an aspect of it. Intelligence grows as life grows? I don't even know what that means. The universe evolved along intelligent lines? No. The universe is exactly as we would expect it to be in the absence of design. The big difference between Dawkins' and Chopra's positions is that in Dawkins' case, materialism is his starting point. He has no conclusion to influence his path. Chopra's on the other hand (and this is true of creationists as well) starts with his conclusion: the universe is conscious. It's his base assumption and his final answer, at which he arrives not from empirical evidence, but personal prejudice."If we remain sane and clear-headed, the reason to assume that consciousness exists is simple. There's no other way to account for it." This is just a God of the Gaps argument, or perhaps the Argument from Personal Incredulity. Either way it's bogus, weak and lazy. It says, "Oh, this is just too hard to understand. Let's chalk it up to some nebulous deity and go for a beer." This is a contemptible position. He claims that consciousness "isn't just plausible as part of nature, it's totally necessary." He poses a bizarre question to the reader: "Do you think you are conscious and intelligent, or are you being fooled by random chemical reactions inside your skull?" It's a total canard. Consciousness is, as I've said, a result of the brain's enormously complex biochemistry and structure. What he's done is reduced that to "random chemical reactions". This glib statement is another strawman: make a caricature of your opponent's position to make it sound ridiculous. But it's Chopra that comes across as ridiculous. I can't wait to trash the fifth installment.