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. BRB San Deigo

    I just want to do the chick in the photo before Chopra does. We sure don't need any more "Mystic Children" running around begging for more money.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • 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 3:33 pm |
  2. Rabia Diluvio

    Here is a crazy idea...let's interview SCIENTISTS on matters of science and THEOLOGIANS on matters of theology and leave the new age claptrap artists for the crystal-banging contingent who are after McSpirituality and McScience for the Short Attention Span.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • spottingLies

      Well said. Or to put it another way, How about I come to your church (being a scientist) and preach to your followers on the nature of God?

      February 15, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Dave

      spottingLies, why would those who have light and truth seek someone to speak to them who are in the dark and have no knowledge of the truth?

      February 15, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  3. Dave

    The Holy Bible points out..“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. ...
    Intelligent men and woman know they cannot deny there is a Creator but they mask that revelation with the absurd. Articles like this always make me feel like they're tossing God a bone. Whether that's the intention or not, I cannot say but that is what these articles make me think of. There have always been scientific statements given in the Word Of God, the Holy Bible, that took men thousands of years to figure out. Some are, the earth is round, blood is the issue of life, there are oceans currents etc etc yet...many refused to listen

    February 15, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • swk14

      "Intelligent" men and women don't give credence to your silly fairy tale written by goat herders thousands of years ago.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Dave

      swk14, hell opens up it's jaws and swallows intelligent men and women every single day and night.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • swk14

      In your little padded cell world...yes it does.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  4. MirrorMirror

    Science seeks to explain creation; religion explains the creator. They are complimentary. Conflict only arises when one or both steps accross the boundary into the other's domain. Science cannot prove the unprovable because it is outside the realm the physical existence. Religion must use faith rather than reason to explain what is unknowable - ie. God.

    Consciousness can "perceive" things but Chopra stretches if he thinks consciousness is God. That is mental projection and the hope and folly of the ego. Our nearest link to the divine is our feeling heart - the seat of our soul - and can be perceived regardless of one's intellect. It is what distinguishes us all as human and children of something more. Thousands of years of philosophy and mental energy will never produce evidence of God but love and forgiveness provide a timeless window into our source - yet all that is completely unprovable and unmeasureable by science.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Anonymous


      Altruism is studied and explained by evolution. Just because you haven't read the explanation doesn't mean one doesn't exist.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Scott

      First comment that comes close to making the appropriate distinctions here.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Paula


      February 15, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  5. AWMessenger

    A little Chopra and a little ganja = TOTAL CHAOS. I know this from experience ... dude.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  6. swk14

    Sorry but the "god side" doesn't have any facts on it's side. Also, I can't believe someone just mentioned "the missing link" as something that is acutally part of science and then accused CNN of being left leaning. People in America are basically science idiots and we are an embarassment to the world.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  7. J C

    Noisy atheists? Certainly no bias there. Atheists tend to be people of reason and would change their minds and embrace "God" if the evidence were there. Science is certainly not at war with religion. If anything it is the other way around, religious dogmatists unwilling to accept the fallacies inherent in their sacred texts and teachings try to refute science. Scientists are merely in search of truth and knowledge, religion is often scared of what that may mean and how it would shake their very foundations.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  8. RRMON

    "You really think that is air you're breathing", Morpheus

    February 15, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  9. TheArche

    What is God, the creator of all things? If so, then we must realize that the Creator is in all things you see. Not just one book (The Bible), but every book that exists. The good, the bad and the ugly...If you believe otherwise then you do not believe in the Creator, but a character in a book. Not one religion, but all religions...there was not one son of God, but there are billions...Without God, nothing would be...To truly believe is not the same as to follow, the Creator is inside of each and everyone one of us....

    Do not limit yourself to what you were taught (religion), with the Creator inside each of us, we truly are limitless...

    February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  10. John

    Chopra, basically, is a late-night, infomercial guy posing as a spiritual guru whose opinion is at a higher level than yours. Thus, you (whose life is empty without Chopra's input) need to buy his books so that he can enlighten you. He's a contemporary P.T. Barnum, suckers.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  11. JoJo

    "invisible forces that shape creation – not labeling them as God but as the true shapers of reality beyond the space/time continuum"...true BS.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  12. Ugh

    ...aaaaaand it's articles like this that will keep CNN from ever being an actual news outlet. Giving crackpots top billing on your home page is no way to earn the respect of intelligent people.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  13. JohnQuest

    For all of the believers, here is something to think about, (paraphrasing Sam Harris) :

    Imagine if everyone on the planet woke up tomorrow and we have forgotten everything we knew. What would our priorities be? I think the main thing would be to learn how to survive. Food, build a shelter, avoid predators, figuring out how to get along with other people, learning how to use our tools. After we learned all those necessary, survival things, would we ever see the bible or Torah as anything more than myth, like Greek mythology? In other words, based on what we know, when would God show up?

    February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  14. wpod

    This seems like a thinly veiled ad for his conference. Wonder how much CNN got paid for this link to his site?

    February 15, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • spottingLies

      Not even veiled, obvious.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  15. Dave, PhD

    Shame on CNN for giving this charlatan a platform to spread his pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo. CNN is thus contributing to the mis-education of America. Shame! What's next, CNN? Alchemy?

    February 15, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Roberto

      Sure, since you added "PhD" after your name, you MUST know what you're talking about. Come on, Dave! tell us the secrets of the universe!!! hahah

      February 15, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Ryan

      If any of you actually had half the understanding of quantum physics that this guys does then you would realize what he is actually referring to. Consciousness creates reality: Copenhagen Interpretation. He's trying to show that the further science peers into the substance of the universe the more that substance depends on the act of observation. *Mind Blown"

      February 15, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • John

      No Dave, not alchemy. It will be validating astrology. This stuff is all so last century. I think that the impending arrival of the singularity will at last put the arguments to rest and bring about the death of all religion once and for all. Unfortunately, we may not survive long after this event.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  16. Colin

    I have never understood what is meant by "extreme atheism" You can only NOT believe in something so much. Vocal atheism, I get, being that I am one.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Alverant

      Extreme islam murders people for not being like them. Extreme christianity dehumanizes people for not being like them.

      Extreme Atheism are people saying "I am an Atheist."

      Big difference in criteria don't you think?

      February 15, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Jeff

      Extreme or dogmatic atheism is more than just personally thinking there isn't an all powerful creator god, or that this idea of god influences your life. It's the belief that any and all spiritual beliefs are worthless and should be prohibited. This is a poor ideology because it seeks to create uniformity of thought in the same way fundamentalist religion does, thus lowering its self to level of the thing it claims to loath.
      Religious people should keep their ideas to themselves, but so should atheists. There is no "Truth"; there are facts, but they are inconclusive at the moment in some regards.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  17. spottingLies

    @Darryn Foley non-sense, pure non-sense. The scientific theories for the beginning of the universe are admittedly incomplete. This is recognized by scientists as they work toward a complete theory (that would be scientific theory, not conspiracy theory, look it up). The religious belief is, on the other hand, entirely based on magic.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  18. Robert

    LOL! Deepak Chopra likes to say jibberish about science, religion, and spiritiuality so that stupid and/or uneducated people will think "deep" thoughts and ultimately give him money.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • spottingLies

      ... you forgot -"and promote his conference."

      February 15, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • John

      You've nailed it precisely, Robert!

      February 15, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Fred Magyar

      Oh come on Robert...

      "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."

      Then again we have to conclude that apparently the vast majority of the atoms and molecules in the universe must be really really stupid if the number of people who believe this stuff is any indication...

      Quantum Biology?! ROLF! Richard Feynman is rolling over in his grave. QED! ( No pun intended.)

      February 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  19. joe g

    I am not fan of this article for three reasons: 1 the author assumes Darwinian evolution is absolutly correct when he fails to mention how the missing link is still missing, 2 he only wants to make money, and 3 CNN needs to be a little more honest about being a left leaning news organization. They post opposing views on their site, but those views are never the lead story on the front page.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Sorry God :/

      what link is still missing, they have fossils or early humanoids leading up to us

      February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Alverant

      The missing link is not missing. Nor is it a requirement to prove evolution. Evolution is real. All the science we have confirms it.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • spottingLies

      Do some research. There is no missing link, evolution is happening around us every day – you are not a clone of your mother or father are you?

      February 15, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • T3chsupport

      No more missing than Jesus.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • swk14

      Wow Joe....you need to perhaps take a basic science class before you EVER comment on anything in this realm. Perhaps you should also put down your religious mumbo jumbo and actually read a real live scientific article on evolution. You are clueless and part of what's wrong with this country.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Jim

      I think the article ties together nicely the synchonous possibilities of both science and religion with regard to our universe. I am saddened to see you ( and probably others) just dismiss the whole discussion out of hand.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Howard

      Actually, there are a lot of "missing" links in the evolutionary picture. Since our knowledge of evolution depends largely on unearthed fossils, and since the Earth's erosive processes can be so destructive, it's not surprising that some "links" still haven't been discovered. Some may never be found. However, evolution is a lot like algebra. You can have unknowns in the middle of an equation, and still determine the answer based on the remaining parts of the equation. Finally, the surest proof of the interconnectedness of life on Earth is the similarities of DNA between all life forms.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • c free

      macro evolution is not happening around us...no we are not clones of our parents...but our parents are human and so are we...and 4 billion years from now...humans will still be having...humans!!! learn something you evolutionists!!! you have no proof just flawed methods you believe from other scientist that you read out of books!!! it's just like they try to say about the bible....any scientists in this comment section? no? oh so it's just people who read about evolution, believe it, and go online and defend it as fact! how is that different than a religion?

      February 15, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • al

      What? You should look around. There are thousands of missink links that have been found. That's the problem with religious people (Chopra included)... They are so simple-minded, they won't look at the evidence and when forced to, they won't understand it.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  20. Rich

    Science and religion aren't opposed at all.
    It's the worldview that separates an athiest from a creationist.
    An athiest looks at a fossil and says "because I believe everything came from nothing somehow, this fossil must be such and such years old.
    A creationist looks at the SAME FOSSIL and says "because I believe the bible is true, this fossil must be such and such years old"
    It's not like the "God" side has no facts to support it's theories people. it's presuppositions before we even look at the same evidence. I've had enough of this "science vs. the bible" balogna.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • spottingLies

      You are lost. Maybe you should have spent more time in science classes. The atheist looks at the fossil and applies methods of analysis that have been proven out to determine it's age, the creationist checks a 2000 year old book of unknown origin for his answer.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • someoneelse

      The Bible and science aren't even comparable. One is a storybook written long ago by peasants from an ignorant era. The other is a tool (not a belief in any way) that has proven itself through the ages. Your post is inane and ignorant of true thought.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • AWMessenger

      A little Chopra and a little ganja = TOTAL CHAOS. I know this from experience ... dude.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Slim

      Way to assume, Rich. Those who understand science, who may or may not be athiests, comprehend the idea that everything is here because of a much larger action which set things into motion. It could be called a greater being, but most educated people understand the Law of Conservation of Energy. There had to be a starting point. Its just that many dispute (with proof) that "God" or another being was this point.

      I do agree with you that Science and religion are not opposed. The Bible can be used as a time frame to refer to when humans starting going nuts.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • John

      "It's not like the "God" side has no facts to support it's theories people."

      This is pure B.S. There is absolutely no evidence to support the existence of any gods and that's a fact. FYI, facts, by the way, are indisputable and that's a fact. Chopra is a husker and a quack.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • c free

      exactly...like spottinglies tries to come back with but is no problem to creationists...those dating methods the scientists use can be flawed..that's the problem with the skeptic, he's not skeptical enough, he quickly dismisses the bible as fiction or of unknown origin haha....but easily accepts billions of years because the dating methods are "proven". proven to who? other evolutionists? were they there? that's legit science? c'mon be open minded and honest...it'll lead you to the cross!!!!

      February 15, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • gener

      Those who think they get all the information in science class are sadly mistaken. Much of the information is incorrect, some of it is an absolute lie, created by a hierarchy of materialist priests who do not want people to know the truth. It is amusing to me when people without any true education make fun of people who do. Eventually the lie will be exposed.

      The essence of Deepok Chapra's message here is now confirmed by many scientists. Most of them cannot write scientific papers because they will be censored, due to the nature of the lie, but there are still many new books being published that describe the new science and its spiritual encounters. That has nothing to do with traditional religion, much of which is a lie in its own proportion, but it has a lot to do with true spirituality.

      To say that the Bible is written by a bunch of ignorant cavemen shows an extensive naaivism not to be believed. The Bible, as with all sacred literature is chock full of secret codes, allegories, messages, and so on, some that are very scientific in nature. Of course, so many people who think they are well educated know nothing about this. The foolsh think they are wise, and the wise think they are foolish.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:58 am |
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