War of the Worldviews (book review)

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I have just finished reading the book War of the Worldviews by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow.

It is, as the title suggests, a book about two different world views, one being scientific (Leonard) and the other spiritual (Deepak). The book is build up so that both the authors give their view on a specific topic like, ‘Is the universe alive?’ ‘What is life?’ ‘Is the brain like a computer?’ ‘What is the future of belief?’ and so on.

Deepak takes a spiritual view on these topics but stays away from dogmatic religion (which I’m grateful for). Instead he is talking about a spirituality that is embracing science to a large degree but disagrees with the idea that everything in the universe is objective and based on matter i.e. materialism. Instead his view is that science need to transcend but include it’s materialism and embrace the subjective side of reality. Deepak’s view is that everything in the universe is sprung out of consciousness and unless we use both the subjective and the objective sides of reality we can never give any answers to the hard problems like explaining why we are conscious, what love is and what the wetness in water is.

Leonard’s world view is based solely on science and the scientific processes. That means he wants measurable evidence and independent and repeatable test results before he can believe that anything is true. He does however not deny the beauty and that humans are often guided by their subjective thoughts and feelings. He does however think that these subjective things are created by electrochemical reactions in the brain and does not come from an immaterial realm e.g. the universal consciousness that Deepak talks about.

In short Leonard thinks that the universe is just made out of matter and that consciousness is created by the brain and Deepak thinks that the universe has an immaterial trait to it and that the brain is an amplifier of consciousness, a consciousness that is the origin of everything.

I think the idea behind the book is excellent and it is a brilliant initiative to put two different world views in the same book and let the reader go between these in every chapter. I found my self really embraced by the various topics and having to think hard about who I thought had the most compelling world view, cause they both have some very strong arguments for their own views, of course.

One problem is that very often I got a feeling that they where talking beside each other and did not really address the others points. At other times I think they agreed more then what they would like to admit. This became obvious when I, at one point, had put down my Kindle in the middle of a chapter and picked it up again the day after and I had forgotten who’s chapters I was on. It took me two pages before I had figured out if it was Leonard’s or Deepak’s chapter I was reading.

Personally I lean more towards Leonard’s world view and I also think he comes across a little more convincing then what Deepak does. Deepak certainly has a few very good arguments and since none of them have any proof for the really hard problems it is down to the reader to decide what world view is the most compelling. Which one you choose also has a lot to do with what biases, background, culture and life conditions you have of course. The most important thing is that, as a reader, we get to jump between two world views that both seems correct but at the same time are humble about what they can actually know. I think that is the best part of this book. We must learn to be humble about what we know and that we should always try to take the best of both world views and see if we can create a new one that is even deeper and wiser then any of these two are. This last view comes across more in Deepak’s last words then in Leonard’s so Deepak finished on a high note, which I want to credit him for.

I can recommend this book to anyone that are interested in science, spirituality and the human mind. It is quiet a ride into your own mind.

Below you can watch an interview by Larry King when he talks to Deepak and Leonard about their book. Enjoy!