Ragged Clown

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God as subjective experience

In part One of his criticism of The God Delusion at huffingtonpost.com, Deepak Chopra makes the case that science can’t explain subjective experience.

For thousands of years human beings have been obsessed by beauty, truth, love, honor, altruism, courage, social relationships, art, and God. They all go together as subjective experiences, and it’s a straw man to set God up as the delusion. If he is, then so is truth itself or beauty itself. God stands for the perfection of both, and even if you think truth and beauty (along with love, justice, forgiveness, compassion, and other divine qualities) can never be perfect, to say that they are fantasies makes no sense.

I am not sure if he is suggesting that God is just a subjective experience or if beauty and love exist, God must exist. No doubt, in part two, he’ll explain how all this relates to whether or not God is a delusion.


9 responses to God as subjective experience

Matt November 16, 2006

I heard him on Forum recently, making a case for “life after death”. He begins by citing evidence for “something is up” (my term, not his) via all kinds of double/triple blind studies where they do things like put twins in different sound/light controlled rooms punch one guy in the arm and the other feels pain in that arm etc. Has callers phone in with a few stories like “[something definitely IS up]…my daughter said grandpa came and visited her last night, and then I just got a call he died last night”. Got a few “of course thats all BS/coincidence” calls and to each one he cited a different set of Official Scientific Studies by Real Universities etc. Not sure what to think. Lots of studies. Pretty sure what to think 🙂

He’s not advocating an old guy with a beard is calling the shots, but rather that there’s information that gets transferred at the speed of light that can’t be explained by science. “Spirit” Info can’t be destroyed, and therefore the info that is fundamentally you goes somplace else after your body dies.

He’s at least a very intelligent, entertaining guy.

Aaron Rhodes November 16, 2006

I strongly believe when peopls say “There was a study” or “I heard a story” or something similar, most of the time they are making it up or riciting something someone else made up. Sort of the same way urban legends are created. Give arguments without citing un-verifiable sources and I’ll be all ears.

Kevin November 16, 2006

I won’t pass final judgement until after episode two but my prediction is that he is going for this angle:

– no-one is advocating for an old man with a beard but
– some abstract ideas exists
– god is an abstract idea
– therefore god exists

and the people who do believe in an old man with a beard will feel justified in their beliefs because Deepak Chopkra proved God exists.

Julio Santos November 16, 2006

I’m reading Dawkin’s book. It’s marvelous so far (70 pages out of 400). Dawkins hopes his book will make people on the fence, or people who are “more educated” or whatever, will see how the notion of God is silly. This must be only time I disagree with Dawkins so far (no, not that the notion of God is silly…you silly…but that people might change their mind after reading the book). I think he’s being too hopeful. However, it should make any atheist a better atheist.

I like how he takes no prisoners. None of that crap that science can’t disprove god and therefore it shouldn’t try. His argument is that science can’t disprove god (or the flying spaghetti monster, or the invisible unicorn, or fairies) but it can show how improbable those things are.

On the notion of the bearded man in the sky, Dawkins covers that on page 20 or something. Something about how “of course I know no one believes in the bearded man in the sky, that is not the god I’m talking about, because that god is clearly non-existant…I’m saying this because some will say “aha! Dawkins debunked the bearded man in the sky, big deal, no one believes in that anyway”.

Looks like Chopra didn’t read that far.

Also, like Dawkins argues (and that will be a line I’ll use from now on), what makes Chopra or anyone for that matter, a better specialist on stuff that doesn’t exist, than anyone else? Why should we even quote him?

Bob November 16, 2006

Someone should verify the existence, and then the validity, or invalidity, of the studies Chopra cites. Now I strongly believe that would be interesting science. My guess is they will be pretty shaky.

Dawkins, oh Dawkins. Still reading the book, but I seriously believe he was abducted and beaten severely by missionaries as a child. What a mean streak. Very unbecoming and tends to distract from his arguments.

Matt November 16, 2006

>Someone should verify the existence, and then the validity, or invalidity, of the studies Chopra cites

As I recall he was pretty specific about the Universities and the investigators that did the studies, but I don’t remember the names. The interview was at


I googled a bit, and the stuff at http://www.med.unc.edu/wellness/main/links/prayer.html
seemed to be similar stuff. Some reputable sounding names used in the same breath (Duke Univ).

At http://www.officeofprayerresearch.org/opr/search (no easy way to get a list, so I searched on “the”) there a jillion studies cited, but it wasn’t with enough detail to get a sense of their individual validity. About half seemed to be of the “something is up” variety.

For example:

Does Prayer Influence the Success of in Vitro Fertilization-Embryo Transfer?

Dr Kwang Cha, MD more…
Dr Rogerio Lobo, MD more…
Daniel Wirth, JD, MS more…

Affiliated Organization:
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Journal of Reproductive Medicine, September 2001, Volume 46 (9), Pages 781-787
September 2001

Summary: What was found: The intercessory prayer group had a higher pregnancy rate, as compared to the no prayer group. The rate was 50 percent versus 26 percent. The outcome was statistically significant.

Aaron Rhodes November 16, 2006

When this supposed intellectual finds it necessary to cite studies that are probably fraudulent without mentioning that fact, it is probably fair to say he is not interested in science and facts as much as he is in influencing others toward his agenda.

Julio Santos November 17, 2006

> Still reading the book, but I seriously believe he was abducted and beaten severely by missionaries

And that was before the mullahs, elves, ghosts, and aliens joined in 🙂

I think you’re somewhat right though, if you use that as an analogy. I’m reasonably sure he believes (as I do) that science and humanity in general, was abducted and beaten severely by missionaries.

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