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. isabel marant sale

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    July 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  2. Daeng

    I believe that video games comes into the creagoty of Psychiatric yes most people believe that video games are aggressive but i believe that video games can teach humans lots of things for egif u allow a killer to play the game he wont commit any murder coz that person is not mentally well and he'll use all his agony on the game

    June 29, 2012 at 6:04 am |
  3. dos_hombres

    Just another (however, successful) Charlatan and Flim Flam Man.

    March 18, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  4. Todd Chavey

    Words should draw a picture
    Of what they’re speaking of
    Like piecing together a puzzle
    When together – call it Love.
    But confusion is the epitaph
    Of a world split in two
    Because words are used in lieu of true
    Each side sticks to its own view.
    The same is true in a marriage
    When the two try to relate
    Each is true to their own point of view
    Creating a difference, that old heated debate.
    Children are reared in this confusion
    On life they can’t depend
    Fear is creating in their little soul
    Portraying an image of them.
    The same is true in any case
    When a difference does arise
    Call it an argument – call it a war
    Most words do tell of lies.
    Because words are used differently
    They’re dependant on the person
    Each speaks with words and their silent self
    Well hell, I’ll stick to my own version.
    But if words could come upon this earth
    To tell the truth of us
    Words would die in the midst of love
    Our words would say, “We must”.
    Because we to one means togetherness
    Different words would mean the same
    Oppression, aggression, recession and mental depression
    Many words would spell one name.
    And to say to those I wish to expose
    That words have but one name
    Giving of self above all else
    Is the Word and the name of the game.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  5. Jass Brown

    Hi sir,
    Thanks for sharing the valuable information regarding religious fundamentalists and science fundamentalists with us . we are also providing the information regarding Science , Religion and Spirituality . Keep continue to posting like this.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Future

    Hello. Very good your work. I invite you to know the next release of AMAZON. The book "Chatting with the Universe." Click here: http://bit.ly/qx6qOW And I congratulate you on your blog

    July 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  7. Jamininthejungle

    Giving all of the credit to the universe is still giving all of the credit to objects. It is still idol worship. There is no evidence that the universe is living. Parts of the universe work inside of life forms only when directed.

    Evolution never disproved Genesis because evolution is unable to explain where the layers of sediments in the strata came from without a global flood so the flood is still historical fact which means evolution never happened.

    The universe does nothing to order any elements.There is no evidence of that at all. Life forms are dependant on complete assembly. They do not work at all unless they have everything in place for them to work. The egg requires a chicken and a chicken requires an egg. There is no such thing as partial assembly of either one.

    The function of hydrogen working inside of us shows that the entire universe made of hydrogen and its derivatives have a Maker as we do. No fantasy, imagination, assumption, speculation or conjecture is allowed in science, ever. There is a direct cause for everything there is.

    Biblical teaching requires perfection and truth and so does science. No idol credit giving is allowed.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • hahaha

      wow, just wow. " evolution is unable to explain where the layers of sediments in the strata came" try billions of years

      July 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  8. Ahmad Hamzah

    To have a really fascinating read about religion and science please check the below resources about ISALM & SCIENCE:

    May 4, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Jamininthejungle

      Only our Maker Himself is able to transform and remake us again because no one else can. He did that by being born of a woman as He promised for thousands of years and by taking the punishment that we deserve on Himself. Everything that we do is literally on and against Him and His Spirit speaks truth to us.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Shaas

      Dear Ahmed,
      I have looked into the first of the mentioned website supposedly about "science for islam". I did not find any basic approach to integration of Religion and Science.
      What I found are just some shallow explanations of day to day activities. One short chapter, for example, explained about "Shaking hands with a woman". With love from the Middle Ages.

      June 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  9. Tony

    God is most often conceived of as the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe. Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God. The most common among these include omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. The divine spirit is an eternal being and the universe is his infinite kingdom.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • hahaha

      You still don't have a soul, just a brain, and if there is a creator of the vast universe it does not care if pink monkeys worship it

      July 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  10. sharon Dalzell

    I would like to believe Deepak, but I'm not sure he's not just another dream weaver, no offense to Dr. Chopra, as I say I would like to believe what he's proposing, we don't know though, so we need to keep scientifically ethical, it it can't be disproved, it's metaphysical, and therefore not science. As far as I know, what Chopra is suggesting can't be dis proven, or proven, therefore, it's thought, not science.

    March 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Tonja Edgecomb

      I believe they call "thoughts" theories. Seems like quantum physics has more than its share of theories.

      May 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  11. naturechaplain

    "If God is to be found anywhere, it is inside the consciousness of each person." This seems to be the only "science" Chopra ever offers. A god, spirituality, faith beyond any rational investigation or productive conversation. The New Age is getting older and older.

    March 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  12. methodman

    Science and Spirituality are compatible because they both involve attempts to represent various lines of thought in relationship to the self and the environments that are for public good. Religion is its own delusional refuge. I just tell religious people to shut up and they know better to not carry their delusion when I am around. It has become that bad. These people are not going to listen so they can just shut up.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:51 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.