An alternatingly enlightening and frustrating dialogue between one of the world’s greatest physicists and one of its greatest metaphysicists.
What is life? Is the universe conscious? What is the connection between mind and brain? Is God an illusion? These are some of the questions pondered and debated by Mlodinow (Theoretical Physics/CalTech, The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, 2008, etc.) and Chopra (Muhammad, 2010, etc.), who alternate writing short essays and responses. Chopra is known for his self-help books and his user-friendly, Eastern-lite philosophy, and he posits that scientists, with their materialist methods and concerns, have blinded themselves to the deeper realities of a universe infused with love and consciousness. He sees science as a cudgel used to beat spirituality into the dust. Mlodinow attempts, at first patiently but with increasing exasperation, to explain what science is and what it is meant to accomplish. He repeatedly stresses that “wish fulfillment should not shape our worldview.” His rationality and sardonic wit get the better of Chopra at nearly every turn; the latter exhibits occasional flashes of inspiration but evinces throughout a willful ignorance of the scientific method and a penchant for using words like "quantum" or "relativity" merely as meaningless props to buttress his fuzzy, deliberately vague spirituality. Though some readers may allow themselves to be convinced by his mantra that everything will be all right no matter what because the universe loves us, he fails to present a case for why science should unquestioningly accept his insights.
A useful primer on the virtues of clear thinking, but somewhat lacking in substance.