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Apr. 12 2010 - 1:56 pm | 2,382 views | 2 recommendations | 7 comments

Deepak’s Upgrade to God 2.0

In the ABC Nightline debate between myself and Sam Harris v. Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston, Deepak read quotes from Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking indicating that they believe in God. I pointed out that both scientists stated quite clearly that they do not believe in God. Deepak responded that of course they (and he, Deepak) don’t believe in the old white male bronze-age god of the Bible, and that we need to upgrade our ideas about god to include the findings of modern science, especially physics, most notably quantum physics. In response to this, one of my cycling training partners named Stephen Beckner outlined the best summary I have seen of what Deepak is proposing. Stephen writes me:

I finally got around to watching your debate with Deepak over at abc.com. Chopra has improved his debating skills a little over time, or perhaps it’s better to say his tactics have evolved.  His method is to attempt to make the skeptics appear stodgy and intransigent. In a brilliant turn of the tables, suddenly it’s you who’s stuck in the “dungeon of orthodoxy”. He subtly invites his opponent to actually explain why his interpretations of quantum mechanics are wrong. But if the opponent steps into that trap, the audience will find the ensuing cascade of jargon alienating. They will feel stupid, and blame the skeptic. In light of this, I was inspired to create a visual aid for the next time you or Sam debate with him. This chart will help the audience to understand what Deepak really means when he speaks of God.

Deepak, if you read this, please let us know if this is, indeed, pretty much what you mean by upgrading our notions of the deity.

Upgrade to the all new version of God. Key improvements include the following:

GOD (beta version)               GOD 2.0

Omnipresent                          Non-Local

Supernatural                          Anti-Matter

Hell                                        Dark Matter

Eternity                                 Space/Time Continuum

Holy Trinity                          Particle/Wave Duality

Leap of Faith                         Quantum Leap

10 Commandments                E = MC2

Council Of Rome                   Copenhagen Interpretation

Peter’s Denial                         Quantum Erasure

Judas’ Kiss                             Decoherence

Parting of the Sea             Sea of Consciousness

Loaves and Fishes                  Quarks and Bosons

Apostles                                String Theorists

Money Changers             Quants

Burning Bush                         Roadside IED

Godhead                                General Relativity

Reincarnation                         Special Relativity

Karma                                    Quantum Entanglement

Deepak (and anyone else), please feel free to reconfigure the God 2.0 chart as you think best.


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  1. collapse expand

    In that debate, Deepak did another tactic. He called you (Mr. Shermer) out loudly for considering him the guru of woo woo.

    But clearly he speaks “woo woo” all the time!!

    By discarding Mr. Shermer’s statements in the beginning, he created this trend in the audience that its incorrect to use the words “woo woo” for his newage stuff.

  2. collapse expand

    I am pursuing a master’s in theology from a progressive Catholic University in the Twin Cities and have encountered a wide range of belief systems here, from atheist to evangelical to Buddhist, and others.
    I’m a natural skeptic and am always asking questions.
    I watched the ABC debate and honestly was disappointed in the clash between you, Michael Shermer, and Deepak Chopra. I know Jean Houston and thought she needed a different venue. She did not come across as well as she might have otherwise.
    I really enjoyed Sam Harris’s levelheadedness.
    But here’s my point – we need to define our terms, and I honestly could not get that from your debate. Who/what is god/God, faith, belief, religion?
    Yes, many of us have updated/upgraded our notion of this God/god, and some have just abandoned using the word altogether because it’s just too loaded.
    I so much wanted to see common ground reached in the debate, but instead I saw bickering and defensiveness and frustration. I guess that makes good television.
    My guess is that just about everybody has a different notion of God/god, and I can’t say that they aren’t all accurate or true.
    There is no room for sarcasm or name-calling in any good debate. Perhaps it would be better for all of us, no matter where we are on the God/god spectrum, to truly try to understand how others think about the mysteries of life rather than fighting and posturing, which is what I felt was happening. That might keep us from starting wars in the name of religion or God or no-god, or secularism or humanism, or whatever ideology we might be practicing at the moment.

  3. collapse expand

    Seems the religious always want to change the definition of these imagined gods to match the reality of science.

  4. collapse expand

    Why are we so excited about distinguishing our inspiration from another’s? Whether you believe in God or not, its clear that the Universe and life in particular, is all about diversity. Why be in such a hurry to pin down God? As if that would be possible in any case. I didn’t see the debate, but I’m reminded of the parable of the eight blind men who come upon an elephant. Each one reaches out to touch the elephant and determine what it is. One touches the trunk and claims the elephant is a great snake. Another touches the leg and says the elephant is a great tree. Etc. You get the drift…

  5. collapse expand

    NICELY DONE. You showed how correspondence theory is completely bogus, I should know, i’m a theology major, nothing dumber than hermeneutics.

    Understanding how this rose up evolutionarily, and were we fit into the evolutionary tree To me is of paramount importance to get past the God discussion. I’m a Calvinist evolutionist, while deepak is clearly a Wesleyan evolutionist. E.O. Wilson Proposed Calvinist evolution for everyone except for Science, HA, now that’s funny. Somewhere we are going to have to find a harsh Calvinist view on evolution. I love blending my old theology into evolution PERFECT…:D My take Micheal is you are a wimpy Wesleyan evolutionist, you think your independent in some way..LOL.. from my point of view everyone is a Christian..lol.

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    About Me

    Dr. Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University. His latest book is The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. His last book was Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is also the author of The Science of Good and Evil and of Why People Believe Weird Things. He received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years, and since his creation of Skeptic magazine he has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!).

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