Deepak Chopra continues his weird riff on Dawkins The God Delusion with an eruption of New Age babble. This time he says he’s going to do a “thought experiment” to disprove materialism. It doesn’t.
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?
Uh, we don’t assume the brain is a camera that files away a set of snapshots. What a stimulus, such as the sight of a flower, does is to trigger a response in the pattern of electrical and chemical activity in the brain: associations are made between stored memories, sensations are remembered. What is generated when you visualize a flower is not the flower itself inside your head, or even an image of a flower: the pattern of electrochemical activity is recreated. It’s rather bizarre that Chopra thinks a memory of a trumpet requires brass and acoustic vibrations inside your cranium, but he’s clearly very naive.
The brain is not inert, although it is silent. I’ve sunk electrodes into brains and recorded cellular responses to visual stimuli; I’ve washed them in calcium sensitive dyes and watched the flow of ions; I’ve measured fluctuations in changes in blood flow through the tissue as it handles processing tasks. I’ve recorded from the frog tectum as we show it a cricket (a much more interesting sight to a frog than a flower) and watched impulses flicker across it. We can see the external world transduced into complex signal processing phenomena in the brain.
What is Chopra’s explanation for the phenomenon? You knew he’d eventually have to start chattering about quantum physics and vibrations, didn’t you?
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’s little more than babbling New Age buzzwords. Nothing in his explanation has any meaning: “collapsed quantum wave” sounds so scientificological, but it doesn’t explain anything.
That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument.
I’m still trying to figure this one out. Because I can imagine a flower, I have disproven atheism?
I’m utterly unconvinced of anything other than that Deepak Chopra is an ignorant fraud.