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This review is from: War of the Worldviews: Science Vs. Spirituality (Hardcover)
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First of all I'll say that this is Not a book that is meant to blend science and spirituality (although I saw some blending anyway). It is a debate between two authors, each with his own world view.
Early on, I began highlighting passages and flagging pages so I could later organize significant information for my review. I now have pages & pages of highlights and 30+ pages of notes. It didn't take long to realize that my review would end up being a book if I didn't pare down and condense everything I wanted to say. So... I will try to be brief.
Of the two authors, Leonard Mlodinow is the non-spiritual scientist. He believes that spirituality arose from our desire to be immortal, that our imagination formed compelling pictures not based on reality, but simply manufactured in our minds to serve our needs and desires. For the most part I feel he is only moderately respectful of Deepak's views; he is quick to point out all the instances in which a spiritual concept is illogical or cannot be proven. He seems unwilling to even consider that unanswered questions may have a spiritual side. He is honest about science not having all the answers and makes no apologies for it. Some of his writing is fascinating and I learned from it, although I could find No instance where the conclusion was: "This is science, therefore spirituality is unproven".
Deepak Chopra is the other author, a physician who has a strong scientific & spiritual background. The main difference between the two authors, is that Deepak is able to see the spiritual component in not only the unanswered questions, but in the answered ones as well. And although Deepak may not be able to prove the viability of spirituality by the black & white scientific standards of some, his arguments are nonetheless extremely compelling. Throughout the book he is very respectful of Leonard's views, while deftly substantiating his own beliefs using scientific data.
As far as the format of the book goes, it is very well organized. The topics are divided into chapters, and for each topic the authors take turns being the first one to write his view. The next author replies with a rebuttal, and through this switching back and forth they get to trade off on who has the last word on a subject. The topics are fascinating; a couple of my favorites were, "Is The Universe Alive", and "What is the Connection Between Mind And Body".
To summarize, I will say that although I found some of Leonard's information interesting, he (thankfully) gave absolutely no information that would sway me from my spiritual beliefs. When I thoughtfully considered his seemingly convincing arguments, I always concluded that he was simply unable to see even the possibility of spirituality, on the basis that spirit could not be proven to his satisfaction. And yes, I know my 'thankfully' comment above confirms that as Leonard says, we humans do desire to be immortal, to have something to look forward to after physical death. But just because we desire it does not mean it's illogical or impossible.
As you have probably guessed, I lean strongly towards Deepak's views (as I did before ever reading the book).
You might say I was biased going in, and I suppose that's true. But I did try to go in with an open mind. In fact, when I saw what the book was I immediately wondered if there would be anything in it that would cause spiritual doubt for me. I decided to be brave and read it. But before I did, I asked myself "What if I am wrong...What if there really is nothing after we die...How would that change the way I live?" I was surprised at the answer that immediately popped into my head at the last question. The answer was `It would change nothing'. I would still strive towards love, kindness, compassion, and non-judgement. It felt good to know that I have no ulterior motive for choosing to live this way.
I'm glad I read this book. It in no way diminished my beliefs, and in many ways strengthened them. I respect the views of Leonard M., even though I do not agree him. And if by some remote chance I am deluded in my spiritual thinking, I will simply enjoy my delusions while in physical form.
Note: This review is from an advanced pre-release copy of the book.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 31, 2011 10:47:46 PM PDT
David Keymer says:
I think you're wrong in your conclusions but this is a good review. Congratulations.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2011 7:16:35 AM PDT
Thank you for that, especially in light of the fact that you disagree with my conclusions. Tolerances for differences is a wonderful thing!
Posted on Sep 20, 2011 8:27:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 20, 2011 8:35:24 PM PDT
V. Chapala says:
I was in basic science research and am a practicing physician now. I had longing for peaceful life in may father's citrus grove since I was few years old. I was not brought up with any religious conviction. As I was growing I felt a void in my being somewhere. I did not know what it was. Research and medicine produced more unknown questions of life. It was then one day I came to know what is life, and what is the purpous of human "Being". I do not want to bore any one with my awakening to it.
First of all science is only trying to understand what is already existing that can be measured.. I yet to see the scientific explanation of life force across the nature, explanation for LOVE,HATE AND DESIRES. How are they formed and stored. Science can not even identify smiple thing like how our body stores the immunization information and protect the body. Can the science explain what is missing in the body at death? Can science prove why some are born with extraordinary memory what we call intelligence? There is so much science can not explain because it is only after quantifiable elements of nature. Spirituality is after nonquantifiable. One has to go and practice in the highest laboratory called spirituality with dedication doing transcendental meditation with the help of some higher spiritual teacher. One day all scientists will come to the same point as I am today. It just a matter of time like a first grade student eventually make to high school - hopefully.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 4:13:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 25, 2011 4:14:08 AM PDT
S. Moran says:
Outstanding comment, I am a retired senior engineer from a major aerospace company and couldn't agree with you more. Mankind is fooling around trying to understand what has already been given to us, and in the process making a complete mess of it, instead of using it to create the beautiful paradise this planet was meant to be.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 11:20:27 AM PDT
What I have found is people have their beliefs first and then throughout life only look at evidence that supports those beliefs. Some are open to listen to other points of view, but very few ever change their original world view after listening. Inductive reasoning will not be seen as supporting a probable conclusion (science is probable, never certain) if that conclusion is against the person's original belief.
Posted on Oct 6, 2011 4:42:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2011 7:31:12 PM PDT
You say "I could find No instance where the conclusion was: 'This is science, therefore spirituality is unproven'". This betrays a fundamental lack of understanding about what the scientific method of inquiry is all about.
As for V. Chapala's comment complaining that science hasn't explained everything, therefore it can't... that's just silly. Science couldn't explain how birds and bees could fly until recently. I guess before that it was some kind of supernatural miracle? And there are emerging hypothoses concerning the origin of emotions, including love and hate. As for the emergence of religion - while you're here at Amazon go look up "The Faith Instinct."
Finally, how can anyone respond to someone who believes that earth was "meant to be a beautiful paradise" without laughing or resorting to insults? Curse you, Serpent!, for tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and causing God to drive us from the Garden of Eden.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2011 6:15:49 PM PDT
"life force across the nature," Wow, Doc! The old VITALISM idea before Cell Theory, Evolution, Molecular Biology, Genetics etc. came into being. Vitalism=The force that gives life. You need to update your study of neurobiology and quite a few other biology subjects.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2011 7:15:04 PM PDT
V. Chapala says:
Thank you my friend SF for coming to the defense of science. Remember, I was a scientist and live in the world of science every day. New discoveries and new findings every moment. What I say is that we are trying to find the nature of things that include the formless form before it became into form. What is it? Why wait for some one to tell you what it is. Go beyond the mind that is trying to comprehend. Discover it yourself. You can do it if you spend a fraction of time you spend in the outside laboratory. That lab is waiting for you and it is in you. Start your search now. All the best.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2011 10:55:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2011 10:57:25 AM PST
I have been lax about keeping up with comments on my review, but read these today and wanted to respond to SF. Apparently I did not phrase the following comment well, "I could find no instance where the conclusion was 'This is science, therefore spirituality is unproven". So to clarify, I will give a direct example that explains my statement.
In the epilog of the book Leonard discusses an experiment where scientists used equipment to assess the 'table turning' phenomenon that sometimes happened during sessions where participants were attempting to contact the spiritual realm. The scientists discovered that the movement began as random fidgeting, and then led to the participants 'unconsciously' moving the table themselves, rather than than the movement being communication from another realm. The equipment used, showed that it was indeed the participants causing the movement and that the reaction was Unconscious.
My point then, is this: Maybe it's just a simple case of unconscious minds that 'happen to be' working in unison, I don't argue that possibility. But, the results of the experiment do Not Disprove spirituality to me. If it did, then my statement would be, "Scientific instruments found an explanation, therefore spirituality does not exist here". But of course, that is Not my statement. Furthermore, if the participants were acting unconsciously, what was affecting their unconscious minds? I'm not speaking necessarily of departed souls here, or even of a God necessarily. I'm talking about the possibility of a means of telepathy, or even an intelligence beyond what we can prove. For me, that also falls under the category of spirituality.
The above example is one of many I found throughout the book.
I hope this explains what I mean by my statement. And finally I would like to respond to your last comment about those who believe earth was "meant to be a beautiful paradise". Why do you assume all spiritual people believe that?
One final question, did you read the book? I'm just curious.
To summarize, I would like to say this: I realize that not everyone is spiritual. I respect that. My comments are not meant to sway you to believe the way I do. They are simply meant to clarify the statement that was misunderstood, and to explain why I think the way I do. You disagreed before and it's likely you will still disagree. I have no problem with that. The first commenter, David Keymer, does not agree with my views either, but he was respectful nonetheless. Kudos to all those who can disagree, and do it in a respectful manner.
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