Kabbalistic Woo-Hoo For A Monday Afternoon

Oh HuffPost Religion Page, what would I do without you?  On days when I’m feeling neither sufficiently cantankerous nor inspired enough to write a post, I just turn to your pages of crapalicious silliness and I find something to write about.

Today’s gift came from Levi Ben-Shmuel, economic developer, singer-songwriter, Tai Chi practitioner and Kabbalist extraordinaire.  As he considers what happens to patients during open heart surgery, he teaches us that: Continue reading

Shermer Vs. Chopra, Round Two

On the same day that I posted my modest comments about Michael Shermer vs. Deepak Chopra, Shermer put an hysterical and informative piece on Skeptiblog.  Here’s a priceless example comparing the traditional deity to the new one that Chopra is concocting:

God 1.0
God 2.0
fully man/fully God
leap of faith
Council of Rome
supernatural forces
the Godhead
the Trinity
forgiveness of sin
virgin birth
wave/particle duality
wave-function collapse
quantum leap
Heisenberg uncertainty principle
Copenhagen interpretation
dark energy
dark matter
space/time continuum
quantum entanglement
general relativity
special relativity
quantum erasure
quantum decoherence
virtual reality

Michael Shermer is one of the best science writers around.  He is responsible for Skeptic magazine and a regular columnist for Scientific American.  In the months to come I will review his outstanding book, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time.

Deepak Chopra’s Quantum God

I had a really busy day, so of course I spent my free hours tonight trying to understand the goofiness that is Deepak Chopra.  I was never really interested in him too much before, but he’s been writing about Stephen Hawking’s new book so I thought I’d give him a read.  He wrote two long, long articles about the book and I started with part two.  I had to read it three times before I even understood what the hell he was talking about.  Here’s one of the more clear passages:  
In modern quantum theory, the building blocks of Nature are not static “things,” like pebbles or little billiard balls, but dynamic, dancing interactions of possibility waves. If that is correct, as it is generally agreed it is, then one can assert a transcendent realm. To call something a possibility wave is to call it a “potential.” A potential does not exist in space-time, it is actually the source of space-time. As such, the infinite transcendent presence from which space-time and all waves arise is the immeasurable potential of all that was, is and will be. As such, these waves of possibility allow an infinitely complex set of actualities to emerge.
Thus challenged, I watched the ABC Nightline debate between Michael Shermer and Sam Harris on one side and Chopra and Jean Houston on the other.  Shermer called Chopra’s ideas “woo-hoo” and a ridiculous (and arrogant) misuse of scientific concepts that he barely understands.  Exactly.
Sam Harris emphasized from his first comment that Chopra’s gobbledy-gook isn’t about any kind of god that is at the heart of modern religion or faith.  Chopra said that was a god of the past, not the future.  Then more “woo-hoo.”
I’ve been hearing a lot of “woo-hoo” recently.  I hear it from all kinds of new age-y types, both religious and just “spiritual.”  I consider myself pretty spiritual, too, in that I’m concerned with the welfare of the human spirit of love, creativity and altruism.  I don’t need to attribute that to “dancing interactions of possibility waves” and then call it God.
I suppose if this is the future of mystical thinking, it’s a lot better than what the fundies are pushing.  I don’t think it’s going to go very far since it’s almost incomprehensible.  On the other hand, Sam Harris has often asserted that there is some danger to this type of discourse about God.  Chopra and other religious moderates provide cover for fundamentalism because they use the same vocabulary.
Sherwin Wine taught us to say what we mean and mean what we say.  I’m going to keep taking that advice.