Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent


The Mystery of God and the Brain

posted by Admin

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology

As science has steadily undermined the long-held beliefs of religion, almost all that remains for people of faith is to say that God is a mystery and will always be one. Insofar as Einstein was religious, he possessed a feeling of awe and wonder at the mystery of the universe. But science hasn’t stopped chipping away at mystery, promising to reduce spiritual experience to measurable brain activity. I doubt that belief in God, the soul, heaven and hell, and other tenets of faith will be drastically affected – polls continue to show that these things remain articles of belief for around 80-90% of responders.

 

Will neuroscience eventually be able to locate God in our neurons, and if so, should that tiny area of the brain be excised or boosted?  No doubt there are arguments on both sides, depending on whether you hold that God has been good for the human race in the long run or bad. Setting aside such judgments, it turns out that the possibility of finding God in the brain creates a baffling mystery that neither religion nor science can tackle alone.

 

Now that advanced brain scanning can map the way our brains light up with each thought, word, or action, it’s clear that no experience escapes the brain. For a mystic to see God or feel his presence, for St. Paul to be suddenly converted on the road to Damascus, or for St. Teresa of Avila to have her heart pierced by an angelic arrow, such experiences would have to register in their brains. Yet this indisputable fact (so far as present knowledge extends) doesn’t give science the advantage over religion. For it turns out that the brain has definite limitations on what it can experience.

 

The work of the late Polish-American mathematician Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) is relevant here, because Korzybski worked out the layered processing that goes into the everyday processing of reality. Billions of bits of data bombard our sense organs, of which only a fraction enter the nervous system. Of that fraction, more is filtered out by the brain, which uses built-in models of reality to filter out what doesn’t fit. When people say “You’re not hearing me” or “You only see what you want to see,” they are expressing a truth that Korzybski tried to quantify mathematically.

 

Sometimes the things a person sees are simply outside the range of human experience, like our inability to see ultraviolet light. But a great deal more depends on expectations, memories, biases, fears, and simple close-mindedness.  If you go to a party, and someone tells you that you are about to meet a Nobel Prize winner, you will see a different person than if you had been told he is a reformed Mafia hit man. When all the filtering and processing is complete, there is no doubt that the brain doesn’t actually experience reality but only a confirmation of its model of reality.

 

Two interesting points follow:

1. All models are equal as viewed from the level of the brain.

2. Reality transcends any model we can possibly make of it.

 

These two points allow God, the soul, and all other spiritual experiences back into the picture. The first point demolishes the notion that science is superior to religion because it gathers facts while religion deals in beliefs. In truth, science filters out and discards a huge portion of human experience – almost everything one would classify as subjective – so its model is just as selective, if not more so, than religion’s. As far as the brain is concerned, neural filtering is taking place in all models, whether they are scientific, spiritual, artistic, or psychotic. The brain is a processor of inputs, not a mirror to realty.

 

The second point is even more telling. If our brains are constantly filtering every experience, there is no way anyone can claim to know what is “really” real. You can’t step outside your brain to fathom what lies beyond it. Just as there is a horizon for the farthest objects that emit light in the cosmos, and a farthest horizon for how far back in time astronomy can probe, there is a farthest horizon for thinking. The brain operates in time and space, having linear thoughts that are the end point of a selective filtering process. So whatever is outside time and space is inconceivable, and unfiltered reality would probably blow the brain’s circuits, or simply be blanked out.

 

Korzybski held that even mathematics was a model, subject to the limitations of all models that the brain constructs. Not everyone would agree – holding on to mathematics as a universal truth gives advanced physics its toehold on the quantum world.  But I am not using any of these ideas as bludgeons to bash science. All agendas aside, Korzybski simply pointed out, using the language of mathematics, that whatever reality is, it transcends the brain.

 

In that single word – transcendence – there’s a level playing field between science and religion. Reality transcends, or goes beyond, what the brain discerns. If something supernatural springs from the transcendent, materialists and skeptics may argue that it can’t be real. Actually, there’s no way to prove that a natural experience is real. Seeing angels and seeing a tree, mountain, or cloud are equally inexplicable. As the noted physicist Freeman Dyson has asserted,

 

“To summarize the situation, we have three mysteries that we do not understand: the unpredictable movements of atoms, the existence of our own consciousness, and the friendliness of the universe to life and mind. I am only saying that the three mysteries are probably connected.  I do not claim to understand any of them.”

 

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Kishan Vasekar

posted December 3, 2013 at 2:29 am


Dear Deepakji-I retired due to severe heart attack,kidney failure and 40 days in ICU (4 days on ventilator.I have survived for more than 2 yeras now and recovered miraculously.I beleive and had direct divine experiences for last 30 years.In fact I was revived by GOD and I saw it vividly . All thru my ICU stay I was meditating and praying with Mantras which I learnt from my Guru.Being Chemical Enginerr from reputed IIT , I am analysing my experiences on scientific basis supported by Bhagvad Gita .
I think consciousness triggers neurons with specific sounds of Mantra and create Resonanace . this Energy helps us to get connected to GOD , Saints and we get such experiences.Brain is like computer and thinking is OS with Mantras acting as passwords for different folders.Bhagvad Gita clearly says that your past life Knowledge is transferred (thru DNA -probabaly ) and specific neuron memeory is activated.With Bhakti , Devotion , Karmayog one achievs Dnyan -ultimate knowledge and after death whole Energy collapses like Black Hole.
Science with its limitations is yet to prove GOD particle or Theory of Everything.May be after few centuries , presnece of Soul will be proved as Brain like instrument will be developed.till then Best is to Meditate and follow great sages of India. Jai shrikrishna



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

God Is the New Physics
When spirituality and physics started to be linked, many scientists called it the use of metaphor. It couldn't literally be true that there was a Tao of Physics that linked quantum mechanics to ancient Chinese philosophy. At best there might be a weak link--God and the new physics--the way one might

posted 10:54:59am Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Will God 2.0 Be Indispensable in Ten Years?
The primary difficult with God isn't belief--more than 80% of US responders tell pollsters that they believe God exists. The problem is that God is irrelevant, providing few if any practical benefits in daily life. In an age of faith the circumstances were in God's favor. When people got sick or die

posted 1:58:33pm Dec. 08, 2014 | read full post »

Why Physics Needs God But God Doesn't Need Physics
Recently I created a brief storm on Twitter by throwing out questions that physicists can't answer. Twitter allows you to contact famous physicists directly, and it's predictable that a handful will become irritated and even riled up if you dare to challenge them. "What happens in physics stays in p

posted 10:19:20am Dec. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Why God Makes More Sense than Atheism
After two centuries of the tug-of-war between science and religion, it's clear science occupies the dominant position. It has passed the "So what?" test, meaning that science as applied to practical daily life has been immensely more important to modern people than God. This has given atheism, both

posted 10:39:29am Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

How Richard Dawkins Lost His Battle with God
When he wrote his 2006 best-seller, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins expected to accomplish two aims that have proved to be remarkable failures. The first aim was social. He wanted to attract a horde of doubters, fence-sitters, and agnostics to gather their courage and join the atheist ranks. This

posted 11:50:49am Nov. 17, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.