Thursday, March 8, 2007

Deepak on The God Delusion - Part Deux

In part one, I showed that Deepak Chopra does not understand the difference between Science declaring something extremely unlikely via Ockham's Razor, where anything unnecessary to an explanation of observations is discarded. Rather, he sees Science as saying that anything that doesn't have a naturalistic explanation is non-existent. This is a ridiculous viewpoint, not the least in so far as it is false. Chopra is simply a sub-par thinker. Let's look at what he believes is Richard Dawkins second point against God:

God is unnecessary. Science can explain nature without any help from supernatural forces like God. There is no need for a Creator.

Deepak tries to hide by declaring that God is not a person:

"This assumption is false on several grounds. The most basic one is that God isn't a person. In a certain strain of fundamentalist Christianity God looks and acts human, and creating the world in six days is taken literally (Dawkins refers to such believers as "clowns," worthy of nothing but ridicule). But God isn't a person in any strain of Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, the branch of Hinduism known as Vedanta, and many denominations of Christianity--he's not a person in the Gospel of John in the New Testament."

Deepak I think missed the whole point of The God Delusion. Like Sam Harris' Letter To A Christian Nation and The End of Faith, The God Delusion was written to address the clear and present danger of fundamentalism in the Abrahamic religions. These religions do indeed view God as a person. According to the Bible, we were created in His image. Such a god can not exist. Refuting Deepak's version of spirituality would require a whole new book.

Well, we've seen how Chopra defines God as not being, but what is God to him? "God, if he exists, is universal, existing at all times and places, pervading creation both inside the envelope of space-time and outside it. To use a word like "He" has no validity, in fact; we are forced into it by how language works. A better term would be "The All," which in Sanskrit is Brahman and Allah in Islam. Not every language is stuck with "He" or "She."" This sounds rather pantheist to me, until he posits that "The All" demonstrates intelligence. That's where I draw the line between something I can respect and something I deride.

To Chopra, it all comes down to a choice. "The real debate is between two world views:
1. The universe is random. It operates entirely through physical laws. There is no evidence of innate intelligence.
2. The universe contains design. Physical laws generate new forms that display intention. Intelligence is all-pervasive."
Deepak seems to think that these two points of view can be united. Unfortunately, as Dawkins pointed out clearly in his book, these people are being intellectually dishonest. For a scientist to believe the second position, evidence for design and intent must be present. It is irrational to believe in something without at least some empirical evidence. The 'inner knowledge' thing just doesn't fly, since these are baseless perceptions masqueraded as undeniable evidence. This is simply a sham, a delusion in the truest sense. I direct anyone that thinks differently to read David Hume's work Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

"There is room for a new paradigm that preserves all the achievements of science--as upheld by the first worldview--while giving the universe meaning and significance." This is ludicrous anthropomorphizing. As humans, it is part of our behavior to see patterns, even when there are none. Our intellect has trouble believing that there is no meaning, no destiny for our species. As Vic Stenger points out in God: The Failed Hypothesis, the universe has a lot of waste if it has some kind of meaning that includes us. Our species has been around only a tiny fraction of the history of the universe; our species will likely never get beyond a few light years in exploring it, whereas it is billions of light years in size. Giving the universe meaning and significance where it has none is simply an Argument from Personal Incredulity. Not accepting that there is no purpose, no reason for existence is Deepak's failing, not the universe's. Instead he plays the fool and arbitrarily posits such meaning without evidence.

In part III of this series, Chopra makes an attempt to create a bridge between these two positions. You of course know that I already think this is impossible, since the second point above is false, merest illusion…..

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