December 1st, 2006


Deepak Chopra: Crap Artist

Deepak Chopra has been spinning his usual bullshit, this time in trying to debate Richard Dawkins about the existence of God.

"The fact that the world appears to be so perfectly knit, so stunningly precise down to the millionths of a degree, so beautiful, and in the end so meaningful to anyone who can appreciate these qualities, is a problem for materialists."

I don't know much about evolutionary biology, but I know this: The things humans find pleasurable and aesthetically pleasing can be explained as a beneficial adaptation. Since we co-evolved with our physical environment, why wouldn't we find it beautiful? The counter-example points up the absurdity of Chopra's statement: What incentive to survive is there for self-aware organisms trapped in a universe that is ugly, vile, and hostile? For that matter there are lots of ugly and hostile places in the universe and guess what -- we avoid them, and choose to live where we can be as comfortable as possible. Some humans are stuck living in shitholes, but even there they seem to find things to like about their own particular shithole. Humans adapt -- it's what we do.

Those who believe in God, have a bigger problem -- if you look for God in the physical universe, using the best intellectual and technological tools available, you don't find God. Every religion I'm aware of requires a leap of faith, which means that in order to believe in God, you have to accept a set of unprovable axioms as your foundation.

I don't mind as much as Dawkins does that people believe in God. Religion is every bit as much a provisional human model of the universe as Science. On a pragmatic level, believing in God can be comforting to people, and help them make morally beneficial choices. But every religion mistakes the model for reality, something that Science never does.

Philip K. Dick's most famous quote is “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” God is something that fails to satisfy that definition. Yet, the belief in God is compelling for a large part of humanity, and it can be argued, that belief is itself an beneficial evolutionary adaptation. The problem that both religion and science pose to humans, and that neither has solved, is how do we apply the tools they give us with wisdom?