My Take: Science and spirituality should be friends
February 15th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

My Take: Science and spirituality should be friends

Editor's Note: Deepak Chopra is founder of the Chopra Foundation and a senior scientist at the Gallup Organization. He has authored over 60 books, including The Soul of Leadership, which The Wall Street Journal called one of five best business books about careers.

By Deepak Chopra, Special to CNN

For most people, science deserves its reputation for being opposed to religion.

I'm not thinking of the rather noisy campaign by a handful of die-hard atheists to demote and ridicule faith.

I'm thinking instead of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution has proved victorious over the Book of Genesis and its story of God creating the universe in seven days. Since then, God has been found wanting when measured against facts and data. With no data to support the existence of God, there is also no reason for religion and science to close the gap between them.

Yet the gap has indeed been closing.

Religion and spirituality didn't go away just because organized religion has been losing its hold, as suggested by showing decades of  declining church attendance in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Despite the noisy atheists, two trends in spirituality and science have started to converge. One is the trend to seek God outside the church. This has given rise to a kind of spirituality based on personal experience, with an openness to accept Eastern traditions like meditation and yoga as legitimate ways to expand one's consciousness.

If God is to be found anywhere, it is inside the consciousness of each person. Even in the Christian West we have the assurance of Jesus that the kingdom of heaven is within, while the Old Testament declares, "Be still and know that I am God."

The other trend is a growing interest by scientists in questions about consciousness.

Twenty years ago, a respectable researcher couldn't ask daring questions such as "do we live in an intelligent universe?" or "Is there mind outside the body?" That's because materialism rules science; it is the core of the scientific worldview that reality is constructed out of physical building blocks - tiny things like atoms and quarks - whose motion is essentially random.

When you use words like "intelligence" and "design" in discussing the patterns in nature, immediately you are tarred with the same brush as creationists, who have hijacked those terms to defend their religious beliefs.

But time brings change, and next week my foundation is hosting a symposium in Southern California where the gap between science and spirituality will be narrow somewhat, not on the basis of religion but on the basis of consciousness.

Outside the view of the general public, science has reached a critical point. The physical building blocks of the universe have gradually vanished; that is, atoms and quarks no longer seem solid at all but are actually clouds of energy, which in turn disappear into the void that seems to be the source of creation.

Was mind also born in the same place outside space and time? Is the universe conscious? Do genes depend on quantum interactions? Science aims to understand nature down to its very essence, and now these once radical questions, long dismissed as unscientific, are unavoidable.

My conference, called the Sages and Scientists Symposium: The Merging of A New Future, is only one in a wave of gatherings through which hundreds of researchers are working to define a new paradigm for the relationship between spirituality and science.

It is becoming legitimate to talk of invisible forces that shape creation - not labeling them as God but as the true shapers of reality beyond the space/time continuum. A whole new field known as quantum biology has sprung up, based on a true breakthrough - the idea that the total split between the micro world of the quantum and the macro world of everyday things may be a false split.

If so, science will have to account for why the human brain, which lives in the macro world, derives its intelligence from the micro world. Either atoms and molecules are smart, or something makes them smart.

That something, I believe, will come down to a conscious universe.

Agree or disagree, you cannot simply toss the question out the window. It turns out that the opposition of science to religion is a red herring. The real goal of a new science will be to expand our reality so that spiritual truths are acceptable, along with many other subjective experiences that science has long dismissed as unreliable.

We are conscious beings who live with purpose and meaning. It seems unlikely that these arose form a random, meaningless universe. The final answer to where they came from may shake science to its core. I certainly hope it does.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Deepak Chopra.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Leaders • Opinion • Science

soundoff (1,568 Responses)
  1. Phil

    All the answers are in the BIBLE ..... just take some time to read it and not put it down ... God created the heavens and the Earth ...... people waste more time on trying to prove everything .. just stick to Faith and if in doubt just look around at everything God created. One day even all the unbelievers will know the truth ... just hope it's not 2 late. God Bless and best wishes to all.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Observer

      Sorry, but "all the answers" are not in the Bible. If they were there would be no controversy and there wouldn't be all the errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense that are also included in the Bible.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Remember, this is a rational thought free zone you are about to enter. Check your mind at the door.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Reality

      If you have not already done so, please watch Julia Sweeney's monologue "Letting Go of God". You are one of the "stars" in the show.

      To wit:

      "I was so intrigued with this quantum mechanics that Deepak refers to over and over and over again in his books, that I decided to take a class in it.

      And what I found is-Deepak Chopra is full of sh__!"

      Julia Sweeney, Letting Go of God

      (Ex-Catholic) Julia Sweeney's monologue "Letting Go Of God" will be the final nail in the coffin of religious belief/faith and is and will continue to be more effective than any money-generating book or your "Ultimate Happiness Prescription".

      Buy the DVD or watch it on Showtime. Check your cable listings.

      from http://www.amazon.com

      "Letting Go of God ~ Julia Sweeney (DVD – 2008)

      Five Star Rating>>>>>

      February 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  2. David

    It's not 'science" and spirituality. It's eastern philosophy and Christian belief.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  3. Ramana

    I realized discontinuous things happen all the times in the micro world. Time is an illusion.Cause and effect has no meaning.. Things pop up in existence from no where.This micro world is embedded with in the cells of our body. More I study one question popped up .What is stopping those experiences in the micro world that I can not experience in the macro world. Science has no answer for it!!But it came to me as an enlightenment!! It is all in the mind!!The mind is the key.. No known  force is stopping you not to experience timeless zone , cause and effect reversal or some thing that pop in to existence. I realized . It is the mind that is the creating this block.not laws of physics. Mind is the one putting the blocks or creating an illusion!

    February 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  4. Farhad

    "Beyond your mask of a person you and I are the universe" – wonderful statement.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  5. Typo Finder

    You wrote, "It seems unlikely that these arose form a random, meaningless universe." I do believe you meant "from" not "form".

    February 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  6. Kevin R

    This guy is a farce. He doesn't even use the phrase "quantum physics" correctly. He's co-opting scientific terms to lend credibility to his fantasy like claims.

    Please people, DON'T listen to this idiot. There are far more relevant and intelligent people with real knowledge to share!!!

    Mike Shermer and Sam Harris have both annihilated this idiot in public forums.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  7. John Dale

    Why on earth is CNN giving this charlatan a platform? Has he promised you a cut of the money he scams off the gullible?

    February 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  8. Alec

    "If so, science will have to account for why the human brain, which lives in the macro world, derives its intelligence from the micro world. Either atoms and molecules are smart, or something makes them smart."

    Since when does 'intelligence' have to be a physical thing? It's not. Computers are getting closer and closer to becoming as intelligent as the human brain, and they are simply atoms of metal and plastic arranged in a certain way. Nothing makes those atoms smart, they're just there, placed in a pattern. One may argue that it took intelligent beings, humans, to arrange the atoms in such away, prompting that computers get their intelligence from us. However, it is entirely possible that the atoms could be arranged the same way in nature through random occurrences. Of course the chances of such happening is incredibly small, and you have a better chance of winning the lottery everyday of your life than such an event to happen, but it can happen. Point being, what Chopra is saying is completely BS. You're brain isn't a puppet attached to another universe full of intelligence, we're intelligent because that's just how we are. Once we have a better understanding of the mind, I'm sure I'll have a better answer. But to say you don't know is better than just making up a false and misleading answer...

    February 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Ramana

      Computers NEVER reach human potenntial.It is proved by Mathematical theorem called "Kurt Godel Incompleteness Theorem".

      February 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  9. 2pac

    We call him choppa in da hood. Real spit tho he gettin some donks right na. If i wus choppa id get a diff chickenhead eryday. Yay yayee.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  10. Jpbikerfreak

    Fail. This guy is a con artist.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  11. Ben

    One acid trip will turn the most militant atheist into a believer, and the most radical fundamentalist into a scientist.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      One order of scrambled brains coming up!

      February 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Richard

      Except the fundamentalist will lack the IQ needed to do a scientist's job.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  12. drew

    and that is why we are special,because in an every expanding universe, bigger than any any term we have to describe big, unmeasurable by any instruments mordern science has today, here we are, created by god in his image. no one else thinks its odd that a few more degrees either direction and our little chunck of cosmic rock would be unable to sustain life? everything on this planet plays of of one another so well, chance couldntly possibly have had all the power in creating our world! science dosent have

    February 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  13. hou jeeb

    it sounds like we are living in a universe best guided by intuition which we seem to give anyone and everyone whoever credit for having except our selves.... our world is moving faster and faster ... the sooner we accept our own intuition the better we will be.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  14. Richard

    Reminds me of the Baghwan Sri Ragnesh guru who fleeced the idiot Beatles out of their money. Let the moronic religio-sheep follow this guy.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  15. heather

    Is this the same deepak chopra that was best friends with micheal jackson for 20 years?

    February 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Daniel

      Yes, who encouraged him to seek help, called him out for being a drug addict, and did not talk to him for long periods after he told him he was ill. I have had friends who i knew were very ill, I did not hang out with them, but encouraged them to get help. Some did, some did not. Being a friend doesnt mean you accept the behavior.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  16. james

    chopra has no idea what quantum physics is and is using the term to lure ppl in to his bs. heres an interview of dawkins owning him

    February 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  17. Joh

    What is bigger then God, more evil than the devil. The poor have it, and if you eat it you will die?

    February 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      A television?

      February 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Jason


      February 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Joh

      Yes, nothing. Don't trust in your own intellect that is limited. The thoughts expressed in this article takes more of a believe than trusting in an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God who created this universe.
      Rom 1:22, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

      February 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  18. dogballs

    Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • mgolam

      Great Comments!

      Spirituality is the core of religion but can't be traced in the organized religions!

      February 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  19. Nan

    I find this article offensive and stupid. "Noisy atheists"? Science is about facts. Spirituality is about pomp and self delusion.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Your PalBob

      Spirituality is about consciousness and waking up. Enjoy your long nap.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Daniel

      I find you being offended offensive! LOL

      February 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • dave

      Nan you are such a bigot - Some religions have big ceremonies, not all. Spirituality can exist outside of religion. Some religious people have done bad things - so that means there is no God???. Some atheists have done bad things (Mao and Stalin) - so that means there is a God???? All human organizations will make mistakes and have bad apples. Over the past several years a number of teachers have gone to jail for sleeping with students -- so I guess you want to tear down all the schools or call anyone seeking an education "deluded" If you know anything about science you might know that physics has two theories of how the universe works - they contradict each other and each fails to predict how the universe works -- the theories are General Relativity and Quantum theroy - Science brought us Eugenics and Hitler - If I am interested in medicine I will not go to a plumber to learn - If I am interested in spirituality I will not go to a Scientist

      February 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Guru

      It is so sad, that you have a word called "atheist" to describe your ignorance of the facts. Facts are facts. Ignorance of the facts leads to igniorant words and phrases. the very fact that you have word – atheist in your thought process shows that there is a word called theist and anything that is opposite (or not acceptable condition) of the word theist describes the otherside of the word. Just imagine that there is theist in the world – then there can't be an atheist as well.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • denning

      Don't be disrespectin' yo local neighborhood athiest!!!!

      February 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Carolyn

      Nan the fact is...your knowledge is limited-–just like everyone else's.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  20. john steven grissom

    i like your stuff deepak. it definitely intrigues the mind. What do you think about all these cowards in the world that are so darn insistent on editing peoples stuff (like myspace pages for example) and they take away people freedom of expression because they (for wahteever reason) are embarassed that someone in the world might want to be expressive at some point in their lives? Where do i find people who are not so afraid of freedom of expression, amongst other things... freedom to create orginal music..... john steven grissom stevegtexas@aol.com (a 40 year old white male in fort worth texas USA.) 2/15/2011

    February 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      therapy. Its available.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Guru

      This is what I call true freedom of expression!

      February 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.