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Richard Dawkins interviews Father George Coyne - Comments

tvictor's Avatar Comment 1 by tvictor

Thank you very much for sharing some interviews for free on the internet
Can't wait for the other parts

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 14:53:00 UTC | #285336

Tzsak's Avatar Comment 2 by Tzsak

Mm, the guy seems pretty reasonable. Liking the interview so far. May send this interview to friends who still think of Dawkins in the way the media tends to portray him.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 14:55:00 UTC | #285338

amuck's Avatar Comment 3 by amuck

I saw Father George Coyne on Bill Mahers film 'Religulous' and I thought he came across as one of the more rational of the religious interviewed by Bill Maher.

This prompted me to see him in person at a lecture he gave in Toronto at the Newman Centre Chapel, Univerity of Toronto:

Naming the Holy Lecture Series - The Dance of the Fertile Universe: Searching for God in a Scientific Culture, Prof. George V. Coyne, SJ, Astronomer, the Vatican Observatory, President, the Vatican Observatory Foundation, Adjunct Professor, University of Arizona, Wednesday Nov. 12, 2008, 7:30pm


This was presented in the Catholic church to a (strangely enough) predominantly Catholic audience, and we got to see the real Fr. Coyne hidden under a (thin) veneer of rationality.

After an hour or so of a very good review of why science is the best tool we have for understanding the universe, and a number of pot shots at creationists and intelligent designoids, we got to hear what he really thinks.

Basically, living beings are organized as a tree, the tree appears to have a direction, and only god could have given it this direction.

That was it. What a waste of time. I could not see the difference between Fr. Coyne and the rest of the 'I don't understand it therefore nobody can understand it therefore nobody will ever understand it therefore god done it' crowd.

By the way, from a brief chat I had with Fr. Coyne, he seems to be somewhat ambivalent about his role in Religulous. I assured him that he came across very well (from an evidence based perspective), but I suspect he may have had different criteria.

One comment from another member the audience touched on the 'Bill Maher made all these people look bad' theme. This generated a lot of sympathetic murmering and buzzing from the rest of the audience. No one seemed to consider the fact that the people that came across as foolish in Religulous were foolish people.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 15:20:00 UTC | #285343

maton100's Avatar Comment 4 by maton100

So literature is supernatural? Wow!! Now that's brilliant theology.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 15:36:00 UTC | #285346

j.mills's Avatar Comment 5 by j.mills

Hmm. In part 2 he rejects biblical literalism and effectively says it was written by fallible humans. In part 1 his "positive evidence" for god is the scriptures and traditions of christianity and other religions. Shome mishtake shurely?

Conceding all the scientific ground, he leaves little for god to do, little to bother believing in. The mindset is endlessly exasperating - and, in its retreat to the gaps, quite unrepresentative as usual of the grass-roots believers.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 16:03:00 UTC | #285350

Osmano's Avatar Comment 6 by Osmano

Yeah, Father Coyne looks like a reasonable man.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 16:35:00 UTC | #285356

black wolf's Avatar Comment 7 by black wolf

j.mills,
you beat me to it; that's exactly what I noticed. His only apparent reason for his faith is his belief in the depth of tradition. Maybe he has grown so attached to his faith that his mind just gives up and refuses to contemplate the thought that all these tens of thousands of people who wrote scripture and theology over the last forty or sixty centuries could have been fundamentally wrong. Writers who themselves were thrown on the wrong track merely by doing exactly what he is doing now, refusing to acknowledge the very plausible and parsimonious possibility that all it took were a few ignorant or deluded or gullible or even deceptive men to start it off. Mankind has started off hundreds of thousands of religions, and many of those survived and prospered for long times.
Sticking with the story from a position of a nearly totally crisis-safe and well-paid occupation within the system is reasonable from a personal standpoint, and of course that makes the mind all the more reluctant to consider letting even the most intellectually shaky position go. Intellectual rigor and honesty are not high on a list of human priorities in comparison to things like food, clothing, lodging and emotional security, even if a false sense of security. Ironically, that's exactly what evolutionary theory would predict.
Exasperating is exactly the word I had in mind when I heard what he said at the end of part 1. The justification for the assumption that the supernatural exists is the assumption that the evidence lies outside the realm of nature. I cannot comprehend how someone can insult his own intelligence so gravely and confirm it with a straight face without bursting into tears. The strength of the self-defence our minds build up around cherished delusions is truly phenomenal.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 16:39:00 UTC | #285357

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 8 by Alternative Carpark

Nice old guy, but listening to him it is clear that he wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:02:00 UTC | #285361

Ygern's Avatar Comment 9 by Ygern

He does come across as a thoughtful and rational person. But I'm still hoping to hear what he thinks constitutes 'positive evidence' for God.

This is where he stops sounding reasonable and merely sounds wishful.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:09:00 UTC | #285364

Casa Addams's Avatar Comment 10 by Casa Addams

Thanks!

It seams like pt4 is missing the HQ option for some reason...

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:14:00 UTC | #285367

polestar's Avatar Comment 11 by polestar

What a lovely guy and what lovely quotes to be used by our lot.

He (and the Vatican) accepts the whole of science but just tacks God onto the first nano-second of creation (note the small C) and adds the soul onto humans - neither of which can be disproved (only because you can't prove a negative, not because the beliefs have any merit).

Politically (with a small P, in the sense of suasion and argument) we should clutch Fr. Coyne to our breasts rather than picking on his supernatural fallacies: Dawkins's handling of the interview shows us the way - and must be contrasted with his visible disgust in another interview with a raving Muslim who told him he should cover his women.

Our American fellows here should note that this wishy-washy version of religion is very characteristic of Europe in general, especially the Roman Catholic church and the Church of England: we have very few Christian fundamentalists (alas, a growing number, however) although we have plenty of Islamists (actually a small number but of great impact). J.Mills appears to disagree but I would not nit-pick on the basis of his brief comment about "grass-roots believers."

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:26:00 UTC | #285370

Kiwi's Avatar Comment 12 by Kiwi

I don't agree with Polestar about clutching this guy to our collective breast.

This kind is the most dangerous theist to debate with. He seems so reasonable, and yet it all comes down to him believing because of what he was indoctrinated with as a child, and subsequently reinforced as an adult. As others have said it's remarkable to watch an intelligent trained scientist deluding himself like this.

I agree with RD's interview technique in this case, gentle questioning, allowing him to expose his foundationless beliefs. But because of the gentle conversation, we are tempted to let him get away with his supernaturalism. Remember he is a Catholic priest with all that entails.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:40:00 UTC | #285375

tiove's Avatar Comment 13 by tiove

this guy is quite amazing he seems so kind, and what he says about the unification of faiths/religions interests me. I mean that would be amazing because i think you would need a level of rationality and and progressive thinking to try and build bridges, or to even unify religion. It would be such a monumental reform but obviously it would be gradual not something overnight, and it could occur best with an increased belonging in society i mean where inter faith people can mix together, i am an ex muslim, and i can say that people who are religious tend to be more kinder to me [this could be hard to apply to muslims] and i feel this is why it could work; if they could stop trying to highlight the contradictions with each other and increase that sense of belonging through wanting to understand and finding commonalities than why not but then the idea of recognition of jesus from jews and the same with muhammad from Christians seems quite unlikely.

However it would definitely require some rationality and post structuralist thinking to unify the faiths, and with such an intellectual basis you can make the argument that interpretation of scripture will be from a more mature perspective thus reducing the violent reactions from religious thinking
ammar minhas

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:48:00 UTC | #285377

Goldy's Avatar Comment 14 by Goldy

I mean that would be amazing because i think you would need a level of rationality and and progressive thinking to try and build bridges, or to even unify religion.

Surely the rational wouldn't bother. Get rid of the mythology and then mankind would fight purely for concrete reasons, such as resources :-)
The kindness of the religious could also become intense hatred - witness communal and sectarian violence.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 17:55:00 UTC | #285378

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 15 by Dr. Strangegod

...then mankind would fight purely for concrete reasons, such as resources.


Goldy, this is what mankind tends to fight for. The religious justifications are often a smokescreen. What is the Israel problem about? Land and water. What is the Iraq War about? Oil and shipping lanes. Almost all major wars can be explained by resource management. The politics and religion and idealogy are just used by the ones in control to convince the populace to support a war that is really about something else.

(And before anybody freaks out, I don't think the Iraq War is JUST about oil, of course. The motivations are always complicated and convoluted and multifaceted.)

The justification for the assumption that the supernatural exists is the assumption that the evidence lies outside the realm of nature.


Nicely put, wolf. Turn that into a proscription with the "is" replaced by a "cannot be" and you have a good debating point.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:10:00 UTC | #285380

Dr. Hameer's Avatar Comment 16 by Dr. Hameer

I didn't know where to post this, but I guess here would be appropriate. The following is BY FAR the best critique of The God Delusion I have read. It resonates with the true spirit of science which is not to disprove the existence of God, but rather to inquire as honestly as possible into the nature of reality (whatever that may be).

Let us not throw any chairs at each other. This is food for thought for all of Dawkins' fans (myself being one of them) and let us remember a wise saying which goes something like this:

"Do not read to accept or to reject, but rather to weigh and consider". Enjoy!



The God Delusion? Part 1

Deepak Chopra - November 15, 2006

Recently there have been a spate of books about God from scientists responding to the debate over intelligent design that flared up last year. These books raise a chorus of skepticism that God exists, most in no uncertain terms. Science stands for rational thought, faith for superstition and unreason. The latest bestseller in this vein is Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," and since I had the chance to debate Dawkins on Channel 4 in England, I wanted to pick up the subject here.

Dawkins has written extensively on evolution, holds a chair at Oxford University, and speaks out loudly against any possibility that God is real. He makes many points to support his claim that religion is nonsense and that there isn't the slightest shred of rational proof for God, miracles, the soul, etc. Since this is such an important issue, I want to argue against him point by point in some detail.

1. Science is the only valid way to gain knowledge. Nothing about God is needed to explain the world. Eventually science will uncover all mysteries. Those that it can't explain don't exist.

This is the bedrock of Dawkins' argument, as it is of most skeptics and scientific atheists. In his new book Dawkins expresses his position with deep disdain for those who disagree, and his poisonous tone weakens his argument. Yet there's no doubt that with current advances in genetics and brain research, scientists have more confidence than ever that mysteries are being unraveled as never before. By the same token, something as primitive as faith in God looks more and more pointless and misguided. At best God is a matter of personal belief, at worst a superstition that blocks progress (in the way the Bush Administration uses theology to block stem-cell research).

The unfairness of this argument is that it squeezes God into a corner. Dawkins makes it an us-versus-them issue. Either you are for science (that is, reason, progress, modernism, optimism about the future) or you are for religion (that is, unreason, reactionary resistance to progress, clinging to mysteries that only God can solve). He goes so far as to tar anyone who believes in God with the same brush as extreme religious fanatics. Sadly, the media often follow his lead, erasing the truth, which is that many scientists are religious and many of the greatest scientists (including Newton and Einstein) probed deep into the existence of God. Not to mention the obvious fact that you don't have to go to church, or even belong to a religion, to find God plausible.

But let's leave Dawkins' heated and unfair rhetoric aside. Is science the only route to knowledge? Obviously not. I know that my mother loved me all her life, as I love my own children. I feel genius in great works of art. None of this knowledge is validated by science. I have seen medical cures that science can't explain, some seemingly triggered by faith. The same is true of millions of other people. I know that I am conscious and have a self, even though Dawkins--along with many arch materialists--doesn't believe that consciousness is real or that the self is anything but a chemical illusion created in the brain. By Dawkins’ reasoning a mother’s love is no more real than God as neither can be empirically quantified.

A materialist could conceivably analyze the brain functions of a Mozart or Beethoven down to the last synaptic firing, but that would tell us nothing about why music exists, why it is beautiful, where great symphonies come from, why inspiration uplifts the listener, or in fact any relevant thing about the meaning of music. The world in general has meaning, deep meaning at times. This cannot be dismissed as a delusion, an artifact of chemicals. Beauty and meaning can be known independent of a biochemical analysis.

The same analogy comes to mind whenever one hears that brain research will eventually explain all human thought and behavior. If a scientist could map every molecule in a radio as it was playing the Beethoven Fifth, there would be a complete diagram of the symphony at the level of matter. But the radio isn't Beethoven. It isn't his mind, and a diagram of Beethoven's brain, which would also be at the level of matter, is equally futile to explain what his mind was like except in the crudest terms.

For thousands of years human beings have been obsessed by beauty, truth, love, honor, altruism, courage, social relationships, art, and God. They all go together as subjective experiences, and it's a straw man to set God up as the delusion. If he is, then so is truth itself or beauty itself. God stands for the perfection of both, and even if you think truth and beauty (along with love, justice, forgiveness, compassion, and other divine qualities) can never be perfect, to say that they are fantasies makes no sense.

Science knows about objective reality, the mask of matter that our five senses detects. But the mind goes beyond the five senses, and it does Dawkins no good to lump the two worlds of inner and outer together. In fact, insofar as brain research can locate centers of activity that light up whenever a person feels love or pleasure or sexual arousal, these subjective states leave objective traces behind. That makes them more real, not less. In the same way, the brain lights up when a person feels inspired or close to God; therefore, we may be getting closer to the connection between inner and outer states, not further away.

This is only the outline of an argument against science as the only valid route to knowledge. Before going on to Dawkins' other points, let's see what responders have to say.



The God Delusion (Part 2)

Deepak Chopra - November 17, 2006

In the continuing debate between science and religion, Richard Dawkins makes another sweeping claim.

2. God is unnecessary. Science can explain Nature without any help from supernatural causes like God. There is no need for a Creator.


To many people this argument sounds convincing because they believe in science and find God hard to believe in. But Dawkins has pulled the same trick that he resorts to over and over. This is the us-versus-them trick. Either you think there is a personal God, a superhuman Creator who made the world according to the Book of Genesis, or you are a rational believer in the scientific method.

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,' not worth the bother except to ridicule them). 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.

Therefore, reducing God to a Sunday school picture and claiming that the Book of Genesis--or creationism in general--competes with science isn't accurate. Fundamentalism hasn't played a role in scientific debate for generations. Einstein pointed out that he didn't believe in a personal God but was fascinated by how an orderly universe and its physical laws came about.

Nor is it fair to present God as a Creator standing somewhere outside the universe. Dawkins ridicules this notion by saying that such a God didn't need to create the cosmos through the Big Bang and billions of years of evolution. He could have created it whole and perfect to begin with. Thus if we observe evolution at work--as of course we do--then God is irrelevant and unnecessary.

This attempt to second-guess God again reduces him to a person who thinks like a human being and would carry out creation the way a smart scientist would--a Richard Dawkins, for example. 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 word would be 'the All," which in Sanskrit is Brahman and Allah in Islam. Not every language is stuck with He or She.

So at bottom, the real question is this: Do we need an all-pervading intelligence to explain the universe? Forget the image of God sitting on a throne, forget Genesis, forget the straw man of a Creator who isn't as smart as a smart human being. 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.

The second worldview can be called religious, but it's a trap to say that only a Christian God explains intelligence in the universe. 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. Dawkins shows no interest in uniting these two perspectives (he disdains the whole notion of a religious scientist), but many of is colleagues do.

Before talking about such a synthesis, let's see what responders think. Is God an all or nothing proposition as Dawkins claims? Must science absolutely exclude God in any form?



The God Delusion? Part 3

Deepak Chopra - November 20, 2006

One of the reasons that Dawkins' book has touched a nerve is that many scientists are outraged by the religious tide in world affairs. Using theology as a shield, politicians are undermining the whole rational structure of scientific progress. This bring us to another major point for Dawkins.

3. The universe is a complex machine whose workings are steadily being demystified by science. Any other way of viewing the world is superstitious and reactionary.

What is so strange about this argument is that Dawkins himself is totally reactionary. His defense of a material universe revealing its secrets ignores the total overthrow of materialism in modern physics. There is no world of solid objects; space-time itself depends upon shaping forces beyond both space and time. The notion that Dawkins stands for progress while religion stands for anti-progress may be true in a broad social sense. Nobody would pick a Baptist preacher to lead the human genome project.

But arch materialism is just as superstitious as religion. Someone like Dawkins still believes there are solid objects randomly colliding to haphazardly form more and more complex objects, until over the course of billions of years the universe produced human DNA with its billions of genetic bits.

What's wrong with this argument is that if you trace DNA down to its individual atoms, each is more than 99.9999% empty space. If you take an individual electron, it has no fixed position in either time or space. Rather, ghostly vibrations wink in and out of the universe thousands of times per second, and what lies beyond the boundary of the five senses holds enormous mysteries.

Enough mysteries, in fact, to be consistent with God. I don't mean a personal God or a mythic one or any God with a human face. Set aside all images of God. What we observe once we get over the superstition of materialism (a superstition Dawkins defends to the last degree) is that random chance is one of the worst ways to explain how the universe evolved.

--The various constants in nature, such as gravity and the speed of light, are too precisely fitted with each other for this to happen by chance.
--If any one of six constants had been off by less than a millionth of 1 percent, the material universe couldn't exist.
--Events at opposite ends of the universe are paired with each other, so that a change in the spin of one electron immediately produces a twin effect in another electron. This ability to communicate instantly across millions of light years cannot be explained by materialism. It defies all notions of cause and effect. it defies chance.
--Every electron in the universe exists as a wave function that is everywhere at once. When this wave function collapses, we observe a specific isolated electron. Before the wave collapses, however, matter is non-local.

The ability of objects and events to be everywhere at once seems like an attribute of God--omnipresence. The ability of electrons separated by millions of light years to 'talk' to each other seems like another attribute of God--omniscience. This doesn't mean that God explains the universe. It means that there may be governing forces at work which allow the existence of universal consciousness. The self-aware universe is a plausible theory. Many writers have described it, although Dawkins disdains such theories.

If the universe is self-aware, it would explain the formation of a self-replicating molecule like DNA far more elegantly than the clumsy, crude mechanism of random chance. As the astronomer Fred Hoyle declared the probability that random chance created life is roughly the same as the probability that a hurricane could blow through a junkyard and create a Boeing 707.

Before proceeding with the next step in refuting the anti-God position, let's pause to see what responders think. Do you think a random universe of concrete objects colliding by chance is the right model for creation?


November 23, 2006
Correction
Dear friends,
I want to thank the responders who pointed out that Fred Hoyle, the British astronomer who invented the phrase Big Bang, nevertheless opposed the notion of an expanding universe. I remembered one fact and forgot the other. My apologies.
Love,
Deepak



The God Delusion? Part 4

Deepak Chopra - November 24, 2006

At a certain point we must leave Dawkins behind, since he is riding a hobby horse. He feels compelled to attack the onslaught of irrational forces that pose a crisis to the very existence of science. I doubt the crisis is so dire. Without screaming that the sky is falling down, one can say that two broad rivers of human experience have run into each other. One river carries science and objective observation of the world. The other river carries subjective experience and our craving for meaning, beauty, love, and truth.

There is no reason why these two rivers need to be separated, and what we are seeing--despite Dawkins' hysterical defense of materialism--is a merging. With a generation there will be accepted theories that integrate the world 'out there' with the world 'in here.'

This brings us to another of Dawkins' major points.

4. 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.

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?

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.

--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.

I realize that I've dropped a bomb into the discussion. The instant the word 'intelligent' comes up, skeptics rush in to shout that one is defending Intelligent Design, which is a stalking horse for creationism, which is a stalking horse for fundamentalist Christianity, which is a stalking horse for Jesus as the one and only son of God. Such is the heated climate of debate at the moment, and Dawkins takes full (unfair) advantage of it. Only Jesus freaks could possibly believe in an intelligent universe.

However, if consciousness is innate in the universe, so is intelligence. That absolutely has nothing to do with God sitting on a throne in heaven creating Adam and Eve. 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. Without a doubt there is enormous design, complexity, organization, and interconnectedness everywhere in Nature. You can either say "I see it, let me explain it" or you can say "Ignore it, it's just a byproduct of randomness."

Consciousness isn't just plausible as part of Nature, it's totally necessary. Not just to keep God around but to keep science around. That will be the next stage of the discussion. First I'd like to hear responders' views. Do you think you are conscious and intelligent, or are you being fooled by random chemical reactions inside your skull?



The God Delusion? Part 5

Deepak Chopra - November 27, 2006

Science has progressed through experiments that convince people about the truth through verified results. If it's true that consciousness is everywhere in Nature--a basic tenet if you want to prove that God exists--there needs to be an experiment to prove it. Materialists argue

that no such experiments exist and therefore no claim for either consciousness or intelligence is believable. Life proceeds by chance, adaptation, and survival. That's the creed of Darwin, who single-handedly stripped Nature of everything having to do with intention, purpose, and intelligence as a guiding force. In Dawkins' view there's no need to alter this stroke of radical surgery.

This can be stated as another major point.

5. Consciousness is a byproduct of matter. Its existence has no other explanation.

There are many philosophical ways to cast doubt on this statement, but since science believes in experiments, here is one. It's a thought experiment. Einstein came up with the theory of relativity through a thought experiment, so it's completely valid as science to do experiments in your head.

Think of a yellow flower. Can you see it? Are you sure of the color and the fact that it's a flower and not a fish that you can see? If so, then the experiment has been successful. You have made a major strike at the root of materialism. When you see a flower in your mind, there is no flower inside your brain. That seems simple enough. But where is the flower? There's no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain's gray matter? Obviously not.

Yet you assume--as do all who fall for the superstition of materialism--that flowers and the color yellow exist 'out there' in the world and are photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue. In fact, existence of flowers shifts mysteriously once it is closely examined. The experience of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell is created in consciousness. Molecules don't assemble in your head to make the sound of a trumpet blaring in a brass band, for example. The brain is silent. So where does the world of sights and sounds come from?

Materialists cannot offer any reasonable explanation. The fact is that an enormous gap exists between any physical, measurable event and our perception. If I talk to you, all I am doing is vibrating air with my vocal cords. Every aspect of that event can be seen and measured, but turning those vibrating air molecules into meaningful words has never been seen or measured. It can't be.

That's why Dawkins will never find God. He's looking in the wrong place. The physical world can't deliver God, not because God doesn't exist, but because the solid, physical world is an illusion--as quantum physics proved long ago--and one must look inside consciousness itself to find what God is about. If God is a universal intelligence, that will turn out to be a fact. It won't be superstition. It won't be derived from the Bible or the Koran.

When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. If a molecule isn't an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world. When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the field, which quantum physics continues to explore. Crude skeptics like Dawkins lag far behind.

Fortunately, as the two worlds of inner and outer begin to merge, we won't be plagued by either the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism. New concepts will explain how the color yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.

That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument. It doesn't prove God by any means, much less does it degrade science. The damage that anti-God rhetoric does is to cloud reality. In reality there is ample room for both God and science. Many forward-looking thinkers realize this; sadly, Richard Dawkins isn't among them.



The God Delusion? Part 6

Deepak Chopra - December 01, 2006

The fact that Dawkins is serving as point man for a broad sense of outrage among scientists who want religion to stay out of the laboratory is admirable. But that is a social issue. The deeper issue is whether God has anything to offer to science. Dawkins emphatically thinks there is no practical use for God, the soul, transcendence, or any other so-called spiritual concept in his field, which is evolutionary biology. This brings us to another main point.

6. The evolution of life can be explained completely without intruding the notion of an intelligent designer.

This point would seem to be a slam dunk, since Darwin's theory--and those that have sprung from it--is purely physical. Evolution proceeds, according to Darwin, through environmental stresses that put pressure on a species to survive. A sudden change in climate, the appearance of new predators, a drastic drop in the water supply are all examples of such stresses. Some creatures will adapt better than others. This is measured by whether a population of animals increases or decreases. Thus adaptation comes down to reproduction. If an animal exhibits changes that increase its chance of passing those changes on to its offspring, evolution moves forward. If, however, a mutation occurs that lowers the chance for reproduction, obviously it can't be passed on, and as a result other species survive in the endless competition for food, territory, and mating rights.

This whole scheme, which has been validated thousands of times over, excludes God. Random mutations have nothing to do with a designer. The rise and fall of species shows no intelligent plan. Even the idea of progress is over-simplified. Evolution doesn't automatically make a species bigger, stronger, more intelligent or more beautiful. Blue-green algae, for example, is one of the most primitive forms of life, yet it fits its niche in the environment perfectly well today, just as it has for billions of years. The fact that an orchid seems more beautiful to our eyes and a redwood tree more majestic doesn't mean God created that beauty and majesty. Or that Nature intended those qualities in any way.

Yet the triumph of materialism in explaining the formation of life is grossly flawed. Dawkins realizes that there are enormous gaps in evolutionary theory, but he keeps assuring us that these will be filled in over time. Genetics, like evolution itself, proceeds by increments, and we mustn't leap to embrace an intelligent designer just because so many things around us seem, well, intelligently designed.

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. For centuries one of the strongest proofs of God has been the inference that nothing less than a supreme being could have created life. Unfortunately for Dawkins, refuting this claim isn't nearly as easy as he thinks.

To begin with, he tries to claim probability for his side, saying that the odds against a Creator God are too slim to be credible, whereas the odds for Darwin's theory exist right before our eyes. Could it really be true that blue-green algae evolved, one tiny step at a time, until every single tree, flower, fern, and grass grew from it (not to mention every animal)? The odds seem impossibly small, but the fossil record proves that they came true.

God, on the other hand, is merely inferred. He's an invisible supposition, and who needs one when we have fossils? The flaw here is subtle, for Dawkins is imagining God in advance and then claiming that what he imagines has little chance of existing. That's perfectly true, but why should God be what Dawkins imagines--a superhuman Creator making life the way a watchmaker makes a watch? Let's say God is closer to being a field of consciousness that pervades the universe. Let's say that this field keeps creating new forms within itself. These forms swirl and mix with each other, finding more combinations and complexities as time unfolds. Such a God couldn't be imagined because a field is infinite, and there's nowhere it isn't. Thus trying to talk about God is like a fish trying to talk about wetness. A fish is immersed in wetness; it has nothing to compare water to, and the same is true of consciousness. We are conscious and intelligent, and it does no good to talk about the probability of not being conscious and intelligent.

We are in God as a fish is in water. Dawkins doesn't take this argument seriously (he imagines that he can entirely dismiss geniuses on the order of Plato, Socrates, Hegel, Kant, Newton, and Einstein simply because they aren't up on the current issue of Scientific American, as he is). In the past, thinkers saw intelligence and consciousness all around them, and they set out to explain their source, which some called God. It's not necessary to use such a word. But it is necessary to find the source.

Dawkins, along with other arch materialists, dismiss such a search. Are information fields real, as some theorists believe? Such a field might preserve information the way energy fields preserve energy; in fact, the entire universe may be based upon the evolution of information. (there's not the slightest doubt that the universe has an invisible source outside space and time.) A field that can create something new and then remember it would explain the persistence of incredibly fragile molecules like DNA, which by any odds should have disintegrated long ago under the pressure of entropy, not to mention the vicissitudes of heat, wind, sunlight, radiation, and random mistakes through mutation.

Dawkins falls prey, not to the delusion of God, but to the delusion of an all-mighty chance acting mindlessly through matter. He cannot admit the possibility of an ordering force in Nature. Therefore, he has no ability to discover the precursors of the human mind, which is ultimately the greatest triumph of evolutionary biology, not DNA. Until we have a credible explanation for mind, it's pointless to argue about God as if we understand what's at stake. Religion and science are both operating with incomplete concepts.

The entire universe is experienced only through consciousness, and even though consciousness is invisible and non-material, it's the elephant in the room so far as evolutionary theory is concerned. This is a huge topic, of course, and I've offered earlier posts on the many flaws in current evolutionary theory. under the topic of Intelligent Design. It's difficult threading one's way through the battlefield, with fundamentalists firing smoke on one side and skeptics arrogantly defending the scientific status quo on the other, but earth-shaking issues are at stake. When we understand both intelligence and design, a quantum leap in evolutionary theory will be possible.



The God Delusion? Part 7

Deepak Chopra - December 04, 2006

Ultimately, Richard Dawkins can fight with religion all he wants and it will be only a sideshow. He is a color commentator sitting in the bleachers, not a player in the game. Skepticism offers critiques, not discoveries. Ironically, this is a shared fate with religion, which has ceased to play a progressive and vital role in modern society. The two are locked in a sterile embrace. So how can a new conception of God change this situation? The answer centers on the last point from Dawkins in our discussion.

7. The universe is full of wonder and mystery, but these will be solved, one at a time, until science has a complete understanding. In this way the entire supernatural tradition--and God himself--will be erased.

This is a powerful and optimistic claim that seems plausible in an age of heady discoveries in physics and biology. The famous Theory of Everything draws closer to fulfillment than ever. In fact, science has become even more ambitious. The original Theory of Everything belonged solely to physics. It had no intention of explaining the evolution of life. But with the completion of the human genome project, life will also cease to be a mystery, so Dawkins assures us. Every mechanism hidden inside DNA will be mastered and used for human good.

It's hard for materialists not to thump their chests, as Dawkins so brazenly does. Unfortunately, the Theory of Everything has hit a brick wall. Quantum physics lacks the power to cross the border into the invisible world that lies beyond subatomic particles, the so-called virtual domain. Not only is this the realm of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy'--mysterious shadows of the matter and energy we see around us--but all possible universes also lie across the same boundary, as well as the "zero point" where space and time are born.

Genetics seems to be riding higher, but behind the display of public triumph, biology has not solved the existence of mind, and therefore the same obstacle faces both fields. An invisible world lies sealed off from investigation, leaving us to trace its footprints and echoes. MRIs and CAT scans are impressive but limited. As someone once commented, brain research is like putting a stethoscope to the outside of the Astrodome and trying to figure out the rules of football. Dawkins finds consciousness (as well as quantum physics) totally irrelevant, a comment on his own intellectual limitations rather than reality. If God is going to become viable again, he will have to be a God who solves some key mysteries in the virtual domain:

--What separates life from inert matter?
--What part does the observer play in creating reality?
--How does the infinite quantum field organize and govern every event in the universe?
--How does chaos relate to order? Are they enemies or secret allies?
--How did evolution overcome entropy, the ceaseless march of the physical universe toward chaos and the deep freezer of "heat death"?
--Why is the universe so amazingly hospitable to human life?

This last question is the most pressing one, for both believers and non-believers. To claim that the swirling, chaotic quantum soup that erupted from the Big Bang evolved into human life by random chance is only believable because science has no urgent need to find a credible alternative. As long as a scientist stands outside nature with his nose pressed against the glass like a child peering through a bakery shop window (to borrow an image from the noted physicist John Wheeler) we get a false picture of the cosmos. The only advantage of isolating yourself in this way is that it fits the scientific method. But no matter how many rats run through the maze, it's futile to pretend that we are outside the experiment. The truth is completely different:

--We are imbedded in the universe. What we observe is ourselves reflected back at us.
--Every sight, sound, texture, taste, and smell is the product of an observer. As the observer changes, so do all these qualities.
--We perceive imagination, beauty, creativity, etc. in ourselves and thus we see the same in Nature. Every attribute of the human mind is imbedded in the universe.

Why can you remember your birthday and the face of someone you love? Because DNA can remember how to produce generations of human beings. Why does DNA remember? There's the mystery. We can link memory as a human attribute to chemical memory. But when we ask where chemicals learned to remember, science is baffled. Dissecting DNA is one thing. Asking the "why" of DNA is another.

Dawkins feels that why is a foolish, probably meaningless question, totally devoid of scientific interest. So be it. But why is the single most important question humans ask, particularly when it comes to ourselves. Ultimately we want to know who we are and our purpose for being here. Dawkins doesn't seem to have any doubt about who he is: he's the evolutionary byproduct of chemical forces, physical laws, random events, natural selection, competition, adaptation, and survival. So is an amoeba. Sadly, this reductionist picture of human life is devoid of meaning. It's merely a map of how a physical machine called the body came to be built. Such knowledge is like knowing everything about a computer except how to plug it in.

What if memory is an attribute of Nature itself? All around us we see memory at work. The insulin that functions in primitive organisms retains the same function in higher mammals. The chemical reaction that propels a butterfly's wings to beat is duplicated to make human heart cells beat. Once we take seriously the notion that we are inside the bake shop, not standing outside with our noses pressed up against the glass, it becomes obvious that memory isn't a separate, isolated attribute.

Nature is constantly remembering. Nature is constantly creating, exercising imagination, discovering quantum leaps. When hydrogen and oxygen combined, the result wasn't another inert gas. It was water, and water represents a huge imaginative leap on the part of the universe. The reason one can say this with confidence is simple: if the universe didn't have imagination, neither would we. That's what it means to be imbedded in the field. Nothing we know about ourselves can be separated from what Nature displays.

Which finally, at long last, breathes new life into God. Dawkins is absolutely right to declare a requiem service over the God of organized religion and to warn us about the dangers of superstition, dogma, and pseudo-science. (Too bad he isn't wise enough to heed the words of a right-wing fundamentalist on CNN: "As long as you hate us, we're not going away.") But what Dawkins tragically misses holds far more optimism for the future than he ever could: the universe is renewing itself through us. Science is God explaining God to God using a human nervous system. Or as one wit put it, God created scientists to prove that he doesn't exist--and failed.

There is nothing outside the field. It displays omnipresence and omnipotence, being all-pervasive and containing all matter and energy. Soon science will come to terms with the presence of consciousness in the field (advanced systems theory as well as information theory is hard at work already) and we will add omniscience to the list. This new God will be the source of mind. Its ability to orchestrate evolution will make sense because it must. Humans cannot have any knowledge except knowledge of ourselves. Every facet of the cosmos is a mirror. The fact that the chemical reaction driving a butterfly's wings also keeps you and me alive is no accident--it's part of a design.

Contrary to what Dawkins thinks, this design isn't a blueprint or a diagram set down by a fictitious God. It's a vital, ever-evolving, imaginative, dramatic process. Strangely enough, so is human existence. The similarity isn't a coincidence--there is nothing we call human that isn't, quite literally, transcendent. Beyond the physical world lies the womb of creation, and whether we call it God is irrelevant. We came from a source, we are forever in contact with our source, and we are constantly returning to our source. This is the real mystery of existence that Dawkins trivializes with his over-heated skepticism. Far more profound are the words of T.S. Eliot:

And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled.

In the final post on this topic, I wll address some of the responses I have received.

P.S.
Some responders have problems with a sentence from this post: "When hydrogen and oxygen combined, the result wasn't another inert gas. " I meant, of course, another inert gas like radon or neon. If I thought that oxygen and hydrogen were inert gases, I wouldn't have stated that they combine, since by definition inert gases can't combine. They have no free electron(s) in their outer orbits with which to combine.

This discussion will be more productive if we all grant each other the respect we would like to receive.

Love, Deepak

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:17:00 UTC | #285382

Goldy's Avatar Comment 17 by Goldy

Comment #299443 by Lucas
Exactly. Without religion, we won't have any bollocks about it being God's will etc (TB and GWB would have been out quicker with their "God told me it was right" excuse).
If one is going to see taxes going towards a war, might as well make it a war with a proper reason (even if it is a stupid reason), as opposed to justifying it with fairy sprinkles....

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:18:00 UTC | #285383

Goldy's Avatar Comment 18 by Goldy

Comment #299445 by Dr. Hameer
Old Deepak also appears to forget the pantheon of other gods that existed - not all for beauty and niceness....

Why does DNA remember'

It doesn't. People remember. The rest of his argument appears to be in the same vein...I don't think he really understands what the gods are about either...

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:23:00 UTC | #285386

T0psp0T's Avatar Comment 19 by T0psp0T

I wonder how one could not have doubts about the validity of a particular religion when acknowledging the fact that mere coincidence, i.e. the environment where one grew up in, most often is a main determinant of believing a particular religion rather than another. No matter to what extent one being brought up in a particular religious atmosphere may deny, the mind of many such individuals is prone to having a unconscious preference for the religion in question. Therefore, when one attempts to emphasize the inconsistency of having a particular belief being based solely on environment, an answer from such an individual that holds that environment as such hasn't had a profound impact on his or her particular 'choice', but instead was the result after having considered other religions, to some extent cannot be taken seriously. It would be different of course in the case of the former atheist, whose mind wasn't preoccupied by a particular religion in the first place.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:30:00 UTC | #285388

Amnis73's Avatar Comment 20 by Amnis73

I love the intelligent and well thought out comments that more often than not are found throughout this site. I'm sure I've said it before, but I learn a lot from the different viewpoints so eloquently expressed and yet again my expectations of human beings are saved by the rational few.

Personally, I'm torn between debating with these sorts of theists, or writing them off. They seem to be the ones that show the most promise when it comes to making the leap from letting go of those last tenants of 'faith' to accepting rationality; yet they are highly dangerous to the argument for rationality because their foot in the door is what leaves room for the religiots to thrive.

I have a friend who insists he still believes in god; though a scientist, his idea is that the realm of the unknown is god's realm, and until science explains EVERY unknown phenomenon, god will exist to him. I remind him that the realm of god has been shrinking for millenia, is it so hard to think that there may not be one, and one day we will indeed explain life, the universe and everything? I think he really is clinging to the brainwashing he received as a child. Another reason I think he clings to his shredded faith is because after losing his mother to cancer, he wants to believe he'll see her again after death.

Now I've lost people very close to me and I cannot for the life of me reconcile the childish wants of the 'soul' surviving after death with what I understand reality to be; we cease to exist when we shuffle off this mortal coil. But how in the world can you say that to someone who lives their life as though they will have something to look forward to after they die?

Anyone that has any experience in this sort of situation please PM me because its really a question that I've been struggling with for a while, and I could use some outside input. Every grief counselor I've spoken to seems to think that one should find comfort in knowing their loved one is 'in a better place,' or whatever bullshit dream they think will satisfy the bereaved, but I find no comfort in such absurdity. Reality cannot be suspended for the mollycoddling of human emotion (this may explain why people consider me to be a heartless bitch :)


edited for poor grammar, oops

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:33:00 UTC | #285390

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 21 by Caudimordax

16. Comment #299445 by Dr. Hameer

(I know, shouldn't feed the troll...)

But I couldn't help remembering Julia Sweeney after worshipping Chopra so much that she took a course in quantum mechanics and concluded:

Deepak Chopra's full of shit!

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:53:00 UTC | #285397

theonlybap's Avatar Comment 22 by theonlybap

Thanks for posting this!

I like Father Coyne -- was my professor last semester in astronomy. He's a great guy, and I really did learn a lot about astronomy from him. Doesn't let his beliefs muck up his science, which I found respectable.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 18:58:00 UTC | #285399

tvictor's Avatar Comment 23 by tvictor

"Eventually science will uncover all mysteries. Those that it can't explain don't exist.
This is the bedrock of Dawkins' argument,"

Not really, read Chapter 2 : The Poverty of Agnosticism:
"The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing."

Dawkin merely said that, even though science cannot disprove god, it can make statistical "weighings" of its high unlikeliness.

I know that this is just one of several points from the review but im too sleepy read that wall of text

EDIT: It disapeared :o

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 19:08:00 UTC | #285402

Nick LaRue's Avatar Comment 24 by Nick LaRue

I live in Australia and I've finally seen the first episode of The Genius of Charles Darwin last night. The next episodes are over the next few weeks on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning on the History channel, of all places (would have made more sense on Discovery but I'll take what I can get). I'll wait to see the other episodes before I see the uncut interviews. My wife and I really enjoyed the first part. Reading some of the reviews from when it was originally released I was a touch concerned but found them to be unwarranted. Richard Dawkins did a wonderful job as far as I'm concerned. (I thought about downloading the torrents but never got around to it)

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 19:27:00 UTC | #285403

Dr. Hameer's Avatar Comment 25 by Dr. Hameer

I see that the article of Deepak Chopra's critique on Richard's The God Delusion, IS NO LONGER THERE!!! I posted it as food for thought for all of the 'enlightened' thinkers on this forum so we may exchange ideas. Did the admin of this website remove it?

If so, that's a shame and pathetic to say the least!

[edit from admin: I moved it to the 'alternate' comment thread. Please keep the discussion here related to the video. If you'd like to start a different discussion, please do so in the forum: http://richarddawkins.net/forum/. ]

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 19:43:00 UTC | #285404

zbob's Avatar Comment 26 by zbob

Dr. Hameer, here it is:
The God Delusion? Part 1

Deepak Chopra - November 15, 2006

Recently there have been a spate of books about God from scientists responding to the debate over intelligent design that flared up last year. These books raise a chorus of skepticism that God exists, most in no uncertain terms. Science stands for rational thought, faith for superstition and unreason. The latest bestseller in this vein is Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," and since I had the chance to debate Dawkins on Channel 4 in England, I wanted to pick up the subject here.

Dawkins has written extensively on evolution, holds a chair at Oxford University, and speaks out loudly against any possibility that God is real. He makes many points to support his claim that religion is nonsense and that there isn't the slightest shred of rational proof for God, miracles, the soul, etc. Since this is such an important issue, I want to argue against him point by point in some detail.

1. Science is the only valid way to gain knowledge. Nothing about God is needed to explain the world. Eventually science will uncover all mysteries. Those that it can't explain don't exist.

This is the bedrock of Dawkins' argument, as it is of most skeptics and scientific atheists. In his new book Dawkins expresses his position with deep disdain for those who disagree, and his poisonous tone weakens his argument. Yet there's no doubt that with current advances in genetics and brain research, scientists have more confidence than ever that mysteries are being unraveled as never before. By the same token, something as primitive as faith in God looks more and more pointless and misguided. At best God is a matter of personal belief, at worst a superstition that blocks progress (in the way the Bush Administration uses theology to block stem-cell research).

The unfairness of this argument is that it squeezes God into a corner. Dawkins makes it an us-versus-them issue. Either you are for science (that is, reason, progress, modernism, optimism about the future) or you are for religion (that is, unreason, reactionary resistance to progress, clinging to mysteries that only God can solve). He goes so far as to tar anyone who believes in God with the same brush as extreme religious fanatics. Sadly, the media often follow his lead, erasing the truth, which is that many scientists are religious and many of the greatest scientists (including Newton and Einstein) probed deep into the existence of God. Not to mention the obvious fact that you don't have to go to church, or even belong to a religion, to find God plausible.

But let's leave Dawkins' heated and unfair rhetoric aside. Is science the only route to knowledge? Obviously not. I know that my mother loved me all her life, as I love my own children. I feel genius in great works of art. None of this knowledge is validated by science. I have seen medical cures that science can't explain, some seemingly triggered by faith. The same is true of millions of other people. I know that I am conscious and have a self, even though Dawkins--along with many arch materialists--doesn't believe that consciousness is real or that the self is anything but a chemical illusion created in the brain. By Dawkins’ reasoning a mother’s love is no more real than God as neither can be empirically quantified.

A materialist could conceivably analyze the brain functions of a Mozart or Beethoven down to the last synaptic firing, but that would tell us nothing about why music exists, why it is beautiful, where great symphonies come from, why inspiration uplifts the listener, or in fact any relevant thing about the meaning of music. The world in general has meaning, deep meaning at times. This cannot be dismissed as a delusion, an artifact of chemicals. Beauty and meaning can be known independent of a biochemical analysis.

The same analogy comes to mind whenever one hears that brain research will eventually explain all human thought and behavior. If a scientist could map every molecule in a radio as it was playing the Beethoven Fifth, there would be a complete diagram of the symphony at the level of matter. But the radio isn't Beethoven. It isn't his mind, and a diagram of Beethoven's brain, which would also be at the level of matter, is equally futile to explain what his mind was like except in the crudest terms.

For thousands of years human beings have been obsessed by beauty, truth, love, honor, altruism, courage, social relationships, art, and God. They all go together as subjective experiences, and it's a straw man to set God up as the delusion. If he is, then so is truth itself or beauty itself. God stands for the perfection of both, and even if you think truth and beauty (along with love, justice, forgiveness, compassion, and other divine qualities) can never be perfect, to say that they are fantasies makes no sense.

Science knows about objective reality, the mask of matter that our five senses detects. But the mind goes beyond the five senses, and it does Dawkins no good to lump the two worlds of inner and outer together. In fact, insofar as brain research can locate centers of activity that light up whenever a person feels love or pleasure or sexual arousal, these subjective states leave objective traces behind. That makes them more real, not less. In the same way, the brain lights up when a person feels inspired or close to God; therefore, we may be getting closer to the connection between inner and outer states, not further away.

This is only the outline of an argument against science as the only valid route to knowledge. Before going on to Dawkins' other points, let's see what responders have to say.



The God Delusion (Part 2)

Deepak Chopra - November 17, 2006

In the continuing debate between science and religion, Richard Dawkins makes another sweeping claim.

2. God is unnecessary. Science can explain Nature without any help from supernatural causes like God. There is no need for a Creator.


To many people this argument sounds convincing because they believe in science and find God hard to believe in. But Dawkins has pulled the same trick that he resorts to over and over. This is the us-versus-them trick. Either you think there is a personal God, a superhuman Creator who made the world according to the Book of Genesis, or you are a rational believer in the scientific method.

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,' not worth the bother except to ridicule them). 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.

Therefore, reducing God to a Sunday school picture and claiming that the Book of Genesis--or creationism in general--competes with science isn't accurate. Fundamentalism hasn't played a role in scientific debate for generations. Einstein pointed out that he didn't believe in a personal God but was fascinated by how an orderly universe and its physical laws came about.

Nor is it fair to present God as a Creator standing somewhere outside the universe. Dawkins ridicules this notion by saying that such a God didn't need to create the cosmos through the Big Bang and billions of years of evolution. He could have created it whole and perfect to begin with. Thus if we observe evolution at work--as of course we do--then God is irrelevant and unnecessary.

This attempt to second-guess God again reduces him to a person who thinks like a human being and would carry out creation the way a smart scientist would--a Richard Dawkins, for example. 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 word would be 'the All," which in Sanskrit is Brahman and Allah in Islam. Not every language is stuck with He or She.

So at bottom, the real question is this: Do we need an all-pervading intelligence to explain the universe? Forget the image of God sitting on a throne, forget Genesis, forget the straw man of a Creator who isn't as smart as a smart human being. 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.

The second worldview can be called religious, but it's a trap to say that only a Christian God explains intelligence in the universe. 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. Dawkins shows no interest in uniting these two perspectives (he disdains the whole notion of a religious scientist), but many of is colleagues do.

Before talking about such a synthesis, let's see what responders think. Is God an all or nothing proposition as Dawkins claims? Must science absolutely exclude God in any form?



The God Delusion? Part 3

Deepak Chopra - November 20, 2006

One of the reasons that Dawkins' book has touched a nerve is that many scientists are outraged by the religious tide in world affairs. Using theology as a shield, politicians are undermining the whole rational structure of scientific progress. This bring us to another major point for Dawkins.

3. The universe is a complex machine whose workings are steadily being demystified by science. Any other way of viewing the world is superstitious and reactionary.

What is so strange about this argument is that Dawkins himself is totally reactionary. His defense of a material universe revealing its secrets ignores the total overthrow of materialism in modern physics. There is no world of solid objects; space-time itself depends upon shaping forces beyond both space and time. The notion that Dawkins stands for progress while religion stands for anti-progress may be true in a broad social sense. Nobody would pick a Baptist preacher to lead the human genome project.

But arch materialism is just as superstitious as religion. Someone like Dawkins still believes there are solid objects randomly colliding to haphazardly form more and more complex objects, until over the course of billions of years the universe produced human DNA with its billions of genetic bits.

What's wrong with this argument is that if you trace DNA down to its individual atoms, each is more than 99.9999% empty space. If you take an individual electron, it has no fixed position in either time or space. Rather, ghostly vibrations wink in and out of the universe thousands of times per second, and what lies beyond the boundary of the five senses holds enormous mysteries.

Enough mysteries, in fact, to be consistent with God. I don't mean a personal God or a mythic one or any God with a human face. Set aside all images of God. What we observe once we get over the superstition of materialism (a superstition Dawkins defends to the last degree) is that random chance is one of the worst ways to explain how the universe evolved.

--The various constants in nature, such as gravity and the speed of light, are too precisely fitted with each other for this to happen by chance.
--If any one of six constants had been off by less than a millionth of 1 percent, the material universe couldn't exist.
--Events at opposite ends of the universe are paired with each other, so that a change in the spin of one electron immediately produces a twin effect in another electron. This ability to communicate instantly across millions of light years cannot be explained by materialism. It defies all notions of cause and effect. it defies chance.
--Every electron in the universe exists as a wave function that is everywhere at once. When this wave function collapses, we observe a specific isolated electron. Before the wave collapses, however, matter is non-local.

The ability of objects and events to be everywhere at once seems like an attribute of God--omnipresence. The ability of electrons separated by millions of light years to 'talk' to each other seems like another attribute of God--omniscience. This doesn't mean that God explains the universe. It means that there may be governing forces at work which allow the existence of universal consciousness. The self-aware universe is a plausible theory. Many writers have described it, although Dawkins disdains such theories.

If the universe is self-aware, it would explain the formation of a self-replicating molecule like DNA far more elegantly than the clumsy, crude mechanism of random chance. As the astronomer Fred Hoyle declared the probability that random chance created life is roughly the same as the probability that a hurricane could blow through a junkyard and create a Boeing 707.

Before proceeding with the next step in refuting the anti-God position, let's pause to see what responders think. Do you think a random universe of concrete objects colliding by chance is the right model for creation?


November 23, 2006
Correction
Dear friends,
I want to thank the responders who pointed out that Fred Hoyle, the British astronomer who invented the phrase Big Bang, nevertheless opposed the notion of an expanding universe. I remembered one fact and forgot the other. My apologies.
Love,
Deepak



The God Delusion? Part 4

Deepak Chopra - November 24, 2006

At a certain point we must leave Dawkins behind, since he is riding a hobby horse. He feels compelled to attack the onslaught of irrational forces that pose a crisis to the very existence of science. I doubt the crisis is so dire. Without screaming that the sky is falling down, one can say that two broad rivers of human experience have run into each other. One river carries science and objective observation of the world. The other river carries subjective experience and our craving for meaning, beauty, love, and truth.

There is no reason why these two rivers need to be separated, and what we are seeing--despite Dawkins' hysterical defense of materialism--is a merging. With a generation there will be accepted theories that integrate the world 'out there' with the world 'in here.'

This brings us to another of Dawkins' major points.

4. 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.

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?

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.

--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.

I realize that I've dropped a bomb into the discussion. The instant the word 'intelligent' comes up, skeptics rush in to shout that one is defending Intelligent Design, which is a stalking horse for creationism, which is a stalking horse for fundamentalist Christianity, which is a stalking horse for Jesus as the one and only son of God. Such is the heated climate of debate at the moment, and Dawkins takes full (unfair) advantage of it. Only Jesus freaks could possibly believe in an intelligent universe.

However, if consciousness is innate in the universe, so is intelligence. That absolutely has nothing to do with God sitting on a throne in heaven creating Adam and Eve. 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. Without a doubt there is enormous design, complexity, organization, and interconnectedness everywhere in Nature. You can either say "I see it, let me explain it" or you can say "Ignore it, it's just a byproduct of randomness."

Consciousness isn't just plausible as part of Nature, it's totally necessary. Not just to keep God around but to keep science around. That will be the next stage of the discussion. First I'd like to hear responders' views. Do you think you are conscious and intelligent, or are you being fooled by random chemical reactions inside your skull?



The God Delusion? Part 5

Deepak Chopra - November 27, 2006

Science has progressed through experiments that convince people about the truth through verified results. If it's true that consciousness is everywhere in Nature--a basic tenet if you want to prove that God exists--there needs to be an experiment to prove it. Materialists argue

that no such experiments exist and therefore no claim for either consciousness or intelligence is believable. Life proceeds by chance, adaptation, and survival. That's the creed of Darwin, who single-handedly stripped Nature of everything having to do with intention, purpose, and intelligence as a guiding force. In Dawkins' view there's no need to alter this stroke of radical surgery.

This can be stated as another major point.

5. Consciousness is a byproduct of matter. Its existence has no other explanation.

There are many philosophical ways to cast doubt on this statement, but since science believes in experiments, here is one. It's a thought experiment. Einstein came up with the theory of relativity through a thought experiment, so it's completely valid as science to do experiments in your head.

Think of a yellow flower. Can you see it? Are you sure of the color and the fact that it's a flower and not a fish that you can see? If so, then the experiment has been successful. You have made a major strike at the root of materialism. When you see a flower in your mind, there is no flower inside your brain. That seems simple enough. But where is the flower? There's no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain's gray matter? Obviously not.

Yet you assume--as do all who fall for the superstition of materialism--that flowers and the color yellow exist 'out there' in the world and are photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue. In fact, existence of flowers shifts mysteriously once it is closely examined. The experience of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell is created in consciousness. Molecules don't assemble in your head to make the sound of a trumpet blaring in a brass band, for example. The brain is silent. So where does the world of sights and sounds come from?

Materialists cannot offer any reasonable explanation. The fact is that an enormous gap exists between any physical, measurable event and our perception. If I talk to you, all I am doing is vibrating air with my vocal cords. Every aspect of that event can be seen and measured, but turning those vibrating air molecules into meaningful words has never been seen or measured. It can't be.

That's why Dawkins will never find God. He's looking in the wrong place. The physical world can't deliver God, not because God doesn't exist, but because the solid, physical world is an illusion--as quantum physics proved long ago--and one must look inside consciousness itself to find what God is about. If God is a universal intelligence, that will turn out to be a fact. It won't be superstition. It won't be derived from the Bible or the Koran.

When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. If a molecule isn't an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world. When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the field, which quantum physics continues to explore. Crude skeptics like Dawkins lag far behind.

Fortunately, as the two worlds of inner and outer begin to merge, we won't be plagued by either the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism. New concepts will explain how the color yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.

That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument. It doesn't prove God by any means, much less does it degrade science. The damage that anti-God rhetoric does is to cloud reality. In reality there is ample room for both God and science. Many forward-looking thinkers realize this; sadly, Richard Dawkins isn't among them.



The God Delusion? Part 6

Deepak Chopra - December 01, 2006

The fact that Dawkins is serving as point man for a broad sense of outrage among scientists who want religion to stay out of the laboratory is admirable. But that is a social issue. The deeper issue is whether God has anything to offer to science. Dawkins emphatically thinks there is no practical use for God, the soul, transcendence, or any other so-called spiritual concept in his field, which is evolutionary biology. This brings us to another main point.

6. The evolution of life can be explained completely without intruding the notion of an intelligent designer.

This point would seem to be a slam dunk, since Darwin's theory--and those that have sprung from it--is purely physical. Evolution proceeds, according to Darwin, through environmental stresses that put pressure on a species to survive. A sudden change in climate, the appearance of new predators, a drastic drop in the water supply are all examples of such stresses. Some creatures will adapt better than others. This is measured by whether a population of animals increases or decreases. Thus adaptation comes down to reproduction. If an animal exhibits changes that increase its chance of passing those changes on to its offspring, evolution moves forward. If, however, a mutation occurs that lowers the chance for reproduction, obviously it can't be passed on, and as a result other species survive in the endless competition for food, territory, and mating rights.

This whole scheme, which has been validated thousands of times over, excludes God. Random mutations have nothing to do with a designer. The rise and fall of species shows no intelligent plan. Even the idea of progress is over-simplified. Evolution doesn't automatically make a species bigger, stronger, more intelligent or more beautiful. Blue-green algae, for example, is one of the most primitive forms of life, yet it fits its niche in the environment perfectly well today, just as it has for billions of years. The fact that an orchid seems more beautiful to our eyes and a redwood tree more majestic doesn't mean God created that beauty and majesty. Or that Nature intended those qualities in any way.

Yet the triumph of materialism in explaining the formation of life is grossly flawed. Dawkins realizes that there are enormous gaps in evolutionary theory, but he keeps assuring us that these will be filled in over time. Genetics, like evolution itself, proceeds by increments, and we mustn't leap to embrace an intelligent designer just because so many things around us seem, well, intelligently designed.

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. For centuries one of the strongest proofs of God has been the inference that nothing less than a supreme being could have created life. Unfortunately for Dawkins, refuting this claim isn't nearly as easy as he thinks.

To begin with, he tries to claim probability for his side, saying that the odds against a Creator God are too slim to be credible, whereas the odds for Darwin's theory exist right before our eyes. Could it really be true that blue-green algae evolved, one tiny step at a time, until every single tree, flower, fern, and grass grew from it (not to mention every animal)? The odds seem impossibly small, but the fossil record proves that they came true.

God, on the other hand, is merely inferred. He's an invisible supposition, and who needs one when we have fossils? The flaw here is subtle, for Dawkins is imagining God in advance and then claiming that what he imagines has little chance of existing. That's perfectly true, but why should God be what Dawkins imagines--a superhuman Creator making life the way a watchmaker makes a watch? Let's say God is closer to being a field of consciousness that pervades the universe. Let's say that this field keeps creating new forms within itself. These forms swirl and mix with each other, finding more combinations and complexities as time unfolds. Such a God couldn't be imagined because a field is infinite, and there's nowhere it isn't. Thus trying to talk about God is like a fish trying to talk about wetness. A fish is immersed in wetness; it has nothing to compare water to, and the same is true of consciousness. We are conscious and intelligent, and it does no good to talk about the probability of not being conscious and intelligent.

We are in God as a fish is in water. Dawkins doesn't take this argument seriously (he imagines that he can entirely dismiss geniuses on the order of Plato, Socrates, Hegel, Kant, Newton, and Einstein simply because they aren't up on the current issue of Scientific American, as he is). In the past, thinkers saw intelligence and consciousness all around them, and they set out to explain their source, which some called God. It's not necessary to use such a word. But it is necessary to find the source.

Dawkins, along with other arch materialists, dismiss such a search. Are information fields real, as some theorists believe? Such a field might preserve information the way energy fields preserve energy; in fact, the entire universe may be based upon the evolution of information. (there's not the slightest doubt that the universe has an invisible source outside space and time.) A field that can create something new and then remember it would explain the persistence of incredibly fragile molecules like DNA, which by any odds should have disintegrated long ago under the pressure of entropy, not to mention the vicissitudes of heat, wind, sunlight, radiation, and random mistakes through mutation.

Dawkins falls prey, not to the delusion of God, but to the delusion of an all-mighty chance acting mindlessly through matter. He cannot admit the possibility of an ordering force in Nature. Therefore, he has no ability to discover the precursors of the human mind, which is ultimately the greatest triumph of evolutionary biology, not DNA. Until we have a credible explanation for mind, it's pointless to argue about God as if we understand what's at stake. Religion and science are both operating with incomplete concepts.

The entire universe is experienced only through consciousness, and even though consciousness is invisible and non-material, it's the elephant in the room so far as evolutionary theory is concerned. This is a huge topic, of course, and I've offered earlier posts on the many flaws in current evolutionary theory. under the topic of Intelligent Design. It's difficult threading one's way through the battlefield, with fundamentalists firing smoke on one side and skeptics arrogantly defending the scientific status quo on the other, but earth-shaking issues are at stake. When we understand both intelligence and design, a quantum leap in evolutionary theory will be possible.



The God Delusion? Part 7

Deepak Chopra - December 04, 2006

Ultimately, Richard Dawkins can fight with religion all he wants and it will be only a sideshow. He is a color commentator sitting in the bleachers, not a player in the game. Skepticism offers critiques, not discoveries. Ironically, this is a shared fate with religion, which has ceased to play a progressive and vital role in modern society. The two are locked in a sterile embrace. So how can a new conception of God change this situation? The answer centers on the last point from Dawkins in our discussion.

7. The universe is full of wonder and mystery, but these will be solved, one at a time, until science has a complete understanding. In this way the entire supernatural tradition--and God himself--will be erased.

This is a powerful and optimistic claim that seems plausible in an age of heady discoveries in physics and biology. The famous Theory of Everything draws closer to fulfillment than ever. In fact, science has become even more ambitious. The original Theory of Everything belonged solely to physics. It had no intention of explaining the evolution of life. But with the completion of the human genome project, life will also cease to be a mystery, so Dawkins assures us. Every mechanism hidden inside DNA will be mastered and used for human good.

It's hard for materialists not to thump their chests, as Dawkins so brazenly does. Unfortunately, the Theory of Everything has hit a brick wall. Quantum physics lacks the power to cross the border into the invisible world that lies beyond subatomic particles, the so-called virtual domain. Not only is this the realm of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy'--mysterious shadows of the matter and energy we see around us--but all possible universes also lie across the same boundary, as well as the "zero point" where space and time are born.

Genetics seems to be riding higher, but behind the display of public triumph, biology has not solved the existence of mind, and therefore the same obstacle faces both fields. An invisible world lies sealed off from investigation, leaving us to trace its footprints and echoes. MRIs and CAT scans are impressive but limited. As someone once commented, brain research is like putting a stethoscope to the outside of the Astrodome and trying to figure out the rules of football. Dawkins finds consciousness (as well as quantum physics) totally irrelevant, a comment on his own intellectual limitations rather than reality. If God is going to become viable again, he will have to be a God who solves some key mysteries in the virtual domain:

--What separates life from inert matter?
--What part does the observer play in creating reality?
--How does the infinite quantum field organize and govern every event in the universe?
--How does chaos relate to order? Are they enemies or secret allies?
--How did evolution overcome entropy, the ceaseless march of the physical universe toward chaos and the deep freezer of "heat death"?
--Why is the universe so amazingly hospitable to human life?

This last question is the most pressing one, for both believers and non-believers. To claim that the swirling, chaotic quantum soup that erupted from the Big Bang evolved into human life by random chance is only believable because science has no urgent need to find a credible alternative. As long as a scientist stands outside nature with his nose pressed against the glass like a child peering through a bakery shop window (to borrow an image from the noted physicist John Wheeler) we get a false picture of the cosmos. The only advantage of isolating yourself in this way is that it fits the scientific method. But no matter how many rats run through the maze, it's futile to pretend that we are outside the experiment. The truth is completely different:

--We are imbedded in the universe. What we observe is ourselves reflected back at us.
--Every sight, sound, texture, taste, and smell is the product of an observer. As the observer changes, so do all these qualities.
--We perceive imagination, beauty, creativity, etc. in ourselves and thus we see the same in Nature. Every attribute of the human mind is imbedded in the universe.

Why can you remember your birthday and the face of someone you love? Because DNA can remember how to produce generations of human beings. Why does DNA remember? There's the mystery. We can link memory as a human attribute to chemical memory. But when we ask where chemicals learned to remember, science is baffled. Dissecting DNA is one thing. Asking the "why" of DNA is another.

Dawkins feels that why is a foolish, probably meaningless question, totally devoid of scientific interest. So be it. But why is the single most important question humans ask, particularly when it comes to ourselves. Ultimately we want to know who we are and our purpose for being here. Dawkins doesn't seem to have any doubt about who he is: he's the evolutionary byproduct of chemical forces, physical laws, random events, natural selection, competition, adaptation, and survival. So is an amoeba. Sadly, this reductionist picture of human life is devoid of meaning. It's merely a map of how a physical machine called the body came to be built. Such knowledge is like knowing everything about a computer except how to plug it in.

What if memory is an attribute of Nature itself? All around us we see memory at work. The insulin that functions in primitive organisms retains the same function in higher mammals. The chemical reaction that propels a butterfly's wings to beat is duplicated to make human heart cells beat. Once we take seriously the notion that we are inside the bake shop, not standing outside with our noses pressed up against the glass, it becomes obvious that memory isn't a separate, isolated attribute.

Nature is constantly remembering. Nature is constantly creating, exercising imagination, discovering quantum leaps. When hydrogen and oxygen combined, the result wasn't another inert gas. It was water, and water represents a huge imaginative leap on the part of the universe. The reason one can say this with confidence is simple: if the universe didn't have imagination, neither would we. That's what it means to be imbedded in the field. Nothing we know about ourselves can be separated from what Nature displays.

Which finally, at long last, breathes new life into God. Dawkins is absolutely right to declare a requiem service over the God of organized religion and to warn us about the dangers of superstition, dogma, and pseudo-science. (Too bad he isn't wise enough to heed the words of a right-wing fundamentalist on CNN: "As long as you hate us, we're not going away.") But what Dawkins tragically misses holds far more optimism for the future than he ever could: the universe is renewing itself through us. Science is God explaining God to God using a human nervous system. Or as one wit put it, God created scientists to prove that he doesn't exist--and failed.

There is nothing outside the field. It displays omnipresence and omnipotence, being all-pervasive and containing all matter and energy. Soon science will come to terms with the presence of consciousness in the field (advanced systems theory as well as information theory is hard at work already) and we will add omniscience to the list. This new God will be the source of mind. Its ability to orchestrate evolution will make sense because it must. Humans cannot have any knowledge except knowledge of ourselves. Every facet of the cosmos is a mirror. The fact that the chemical reaction driving a butterfly's wings also keeps you and me alive is no accident--it's part of a design.

Contrary to what Dawkins thinks, this design isn't a blueprint or a diagram set down by a fictitious God. It's a vital, ever-evolving, imaginative, dramatic process. Strangely enough, so is human existence. The similarity isn't a coincidence--there is nothing we call human that isn't, quite literally, transcendent. Beyond the physical world lies the womb of creation, and whether we call it God is irrelevant. We came from a source, we are forever in contact with our source, and we are constantly returning to our source. This is the real mystery of existence that Dawkins trivializes with his over-heated skepticism. Far more profound are the words of T.S. Eliot:

And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled.

In the final post on this topic, I wll address some of the responses I have received.

P.S.
Some responders have problems with a sentence from this post: "When hydrogen and oxygen combined, the result wasn't another inert gas. " I meant, of course, another inert gas like radon or neon. If I thought that oxygen and hydrogen were inert gases, I wouldn't have stated that they combine, since by definition inert gases can't combine. They have no free electron(s) in their outer orbits with which to combine.

This discussion will be more productive if we all grant each other the respect we would like to receive.

Love, Deepak

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 20:05:00 UTC | #285407

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 27 by Laurie Fraser

How could anyone have respect for a dullard like Chopra?

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 20:25:00 UTC | #285411

kkelly's Avatar Comment 28 by kkelly

Comment #299451 by T0psp0T

wow, you're cute.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 20:38:00 UTC | #285415

croatcat's Avatar Comment 29 by croatcat

A nice example of the beauty of catholicism. Hypnotizingly subtle. Everything is open to interpretation, to a point, then all is drawn back to the love of god. Thus there are never any contradictions to worry about defending.

I did find this slightly amusing

re. John Paul II statement "the church, for very good reasons...It trails behind in making a declaration like this. It trails behind by too long a period of time in absorbing scientific culture and then judging it and speaking out on it."


How about because religion is irrelevant to scientific endeavors. Which is what the good Fr. said, but then said god's hand is in all things, but he doesn't intervene, except for the virgin birth and ressurection...and on and on..."You're getting very sleepy."

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 20:52:00 UTC | #285416

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 30 by Lisa Bauer

Just to be an insufferable nitpicker...

I have to correct RD on one thing -- in Part 5 at about 9:15, he says, "if you had been raised Muslim you would not believe in the Virgin Birth" (of Jesus). Muslims DO believe in the Virgin Birth, the story of it is told in the Qur'an more than once as an example of "Allah does whatever he wants, he says 'Be' and it is." Muslims don't believe that he was the Son of God (just a prophet) or that he was crucified and raised from the dead; generally it is held that somebody else was crucified in his place or that it was a hallucination, and Allah took Jesus "to himself."

That said, this was a very fascinating interview.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 21:29:00 UTC | #285417