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War of the Worldviews: Where Science and Spirituality Meet - And Do Not [Paperback]

Deepak Chopra , Leonard Mlodinow
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Oct 2012
Two bestselling authors first met in a televised Caltech debate on “the future of God,” one an articulate advocate for spirituality, the other a prominent physicist.  This remarkable book is the product of that serendipitous encounter and the contentious—but respectful—clash of worldviews that grew along with their friendship. 

In War of the Worldviews these two great thinkers battle over the cosmos, evolution and life, the human brain, and God, probing the fundamental questions that define the human experience.

How did the universe emerge? 
What is the nature of time? 
What is life?
Did Darwin go wrong? 
What makes us human?
What is the connection between mind and brain? 
Is God an illusion?
This extraordinary book will fascinate millions of readers of science and spirituality alike, as well as anyone who has ever asked themselves, What does it mean that I am alive?

From the Hardcover edition.

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War of the Worldviews: Where Science and Spirituality Meet - And Do Not + The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
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Product details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (CA); Reprint edition (2 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307886891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307886897
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 12.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 522,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Leonard Mlodinow is a lucid thinker and engaging writer" (Stephen Hawking)

"Deepak Chopra did an excellent job ... this is an interesting and provocative book which will be read and talked about for a long time" (Hans Peter Duerr, Max-Planck Institute)

"We need a worldview grounded in science that does not deny the richness of human nature...This book points the way ..." (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

"A remarkable contribution to the history of ideas; eminently readable, no matter what side of the fence you are on" (Prof. V S Ramachandran, author of The Tell Tale Brain)

"Two compelling figures of our time mindfully joust on the battlefield of brain, cosmos, and evolution... a win-win for the authors and for every reader." (Dr Rudolph Tanzi, Harvard Medical School) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow enter the territory of Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, with this remarkable discussion of science versus spirituality --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less of a war. More of a misunderstanding. 30 Oct 2011
In Plato's Allegory of the cave human beings live confined and restricted in a subterranean cave which has a mouth open at one end to the light outside. The human occupants of this cave have been there since childhood and are shackled in such a way that there heads are immobile, with there gaze constantly fixed on the back of the cave, opposite the opening, upon which are projected shadows. Knowing no different, the constrained humans take the shadows on the cave wall to be reality. Some of the cave dwellers, being of a scientific disposition, spend their whole lives studying the movement of the shadows, recognising regularities and patterns, speculating as to their origins. Some shadows exhibit such regularity that laws of shadow behaviour are developed. So hypnotised by the shadow play are these cave dwellers that they little suspect the reason for there being any shadows at all is due to the light - that non of them have ever directly seen - coming from the mouth of the cave.

This scenario pretty much sums up the theme of this book. Deepak Chopra considers materialistic science to be engaged in the study of shadows. At the same time he feels science is ignoring, and indeed hostile to, the very thing that gives the shadows any reality at all, the light i.e. consciousness or spirit (both words are used interchangeably by Deepak as pointers to THAT which is itself formless and empty but which gives rise to all forms and potential).

Leonard Mlidinow argues that, without good reason to think otherwise, we must confine our interests, our studies, our investigations and inquiries to the shadows (the material world), limiting our hopes, dreams and desires to the shadow world. It is a naïve and vain hope to think there is anything else.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly recommended book 14 Nov 2011
This is a great book which I believe to be very important. It is interesting and readable, and I highly recommend it. It is a discussion from two contrary viewpoints about some of the basic questions of existence, as how the universe and life as we know it came about and what we are as living beings. It gives an overview of the current scientific view on these questions, and at the same time presents an alternative spiritual view. The two participants of the debate are Deepak Chopra, whose viewpoint is considered spiritual, and Leonard Mlodinow, whose position is that of common objective science. Their disagreements and different approaches to the basic questions of existence really made me think deeply on them, and that is what I believe is the real value of the book.

In earlier history, mans view of life was very much dominated by religion. In the latter decades, a more materialistic and atheistic scientific position has gained ground. It is based on actual observations and measurements of animate and inanimate physical objects, such as cells and structures of living organisms. Contrary to religion, it is considered by its proponents to be a purely rational approach to reality, as it is based on observable facts and not on religious dogmas.

The question is, however, if the materialistic science that Leonard and many other prominent scientists represent actually is as rational as they claim it to be. For instance, if I interpret Leonard correctly, it is a common view among scientists that creation could have sprung from a state of nothingness, and thus that life could have sprung from non-life, that intelligence, purpose and the laws of nature could have sprung from non-intelligence and that consciousness could have sprung from non-consciousness?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Science versus one very specific spirituality 30 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book presents a lively and engaging discussion that will hold something for most people interested in this debate. However - although this may just be a symptom of my own intellectual bias - I have to confess to yawning and/or despairing through much of Chopra's musings. I think it is a fair criticism of the book - rather than just of Chopra - that it wasn't so much a battle between `Science' and `Spirituality', but between `Science' and Deepak Chopra. By and large I feel Mlodinow succeeded in presenting an erudite and skilled overview of the scientific worldview, as understood and espoused by scientists. Chopra on the other hand uses `spirituality' as a vessel to promote his own particular brand of belief, that rejects much of organised religion, and embraces ideas of a universal quantum consciousness and thinking universe - which may well have succeeded in recruiting some agnostics to the Chopra Centre. I therefore expect many towards the spiritual/religious end of the spectrum will feel unrepresented by Chopra's arguments, and, in this format, would need to see a whole series of discussions to have their worldview adequately represented. So maybe this should be seen more as "War of the Worldviews: Science vs Chopra" and we should look forward to "Science vs Gellar", "Science vs Icke", "Science vs Scientology" in due course ...or at least until a proponent can be sought to represent spirituality in a less parochial and self-interested way?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I declare neutrality 17 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"War of the Worldviews" contains a debate on science and spirituality between Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow. Chopra is a neo-Hindu/New Age self-help writer with at least one foot in Hollywood. Mlodinow is a quantum physicist who co-authored several books with Stephen Hawking. Subjects covered in the book include Darwinism, the mind-body problem and the future of religious belief.

Despite all the hype (both Larry King and the Dalai Lama recommends the book), "War of the worldviews" is incredibly boring. Both Deepak and Leonard - they use their first names throughout - pull a few verbal punches, but these sound contrived in the extreme. War? What war? At bottom, both writers agree that somehow science and spirituality can or should be harmonized, and both reject creationism or the hard line ID position. This, of course, narrows the battlefield considerably. Besides, Chopra and Mlodinow apparently worked together on their book, making the war metaphor even more contrived. If you want a real war, let Dawkins argue with Ted Haggard or Yousef al-Khattab!

Personally, I wish to declare neutrality in this war. I suppose I "should" support Deepak, but many of his concrete arguments are quite bad. Thus, I'm sceptical to the idea that quantum physics "prove" spirituality. At best, it suggests that a certain kind of crude materialism simply can't be the whole picture. However, I fail to see how a wave function is spiritual? Chopra's arguments against Neo-Darwinism also miss the mark (and no, I don't consider myself Neo-Darwinist). Thus, he doesn't make a clear distinction between genetic and reciprocal altruism, which Neo-Darwinism can explain, and "real" altruism, which it arguably cannot. It's also unclear why Chopra sees the intelligence of Border Collies as mysterious?
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