By Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD
Human beings are unique in the scenario of life on Earth–that much is obvious. We are guided by awareness, and to implement our wishes, dreams, and inventions, the higher brain (chiefly the cerebral cortex) has evolved to extraordinary proportions. Although classical Darwinism is mindless, and staunchly defended as such by strict materialists, Homo sapiens is no longer caught in the clutches of natural selection. As we saw in the first post of this series, human society is very different from the state of nature. Chimpanzees don’t get their food at the grocery store, and we don’t get ours by fighting with rivals in the treetops.
So the real dilemma isn’t whether human evolution is guided by mind, because clearly it is. What remains puzzling is how much connection there is between our mind and our genes. There is no doubt that the roughly 23,000 genes you inherited from your parents remain the same throughout your lifetime. If the genetic blueprint was as fixed as an architect’s plans, there would be no mind-gene connection. You would be the puppet of DNA, mechanically carrying out whatever actions are programmed into the 3 billion base pairs that constitute the human genome.
To defenders of strict Darwinism, the difference between instinct, which controls animal behavior, and mind, which gives freedom of choice, is lost. But no one who isn’t harping on an agenda could claim that a Mozart symphony or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was created by instinct. The range of the human mind is vast and creative. But as we create the complex human world, are our genes listening? If so, are they cooperating in our creative enterprises? Continue reading
By Frank A. Wilczek, PhD and Deepak Chopra, MD
Science tells us what the world is, not what it means. As expert as they are at collecting and analyzing data, most modern scientists tend to shy away from the question, “What does it all mean?” To them, the question seems so vague as to be, well, meaningless.
But it was not always so. The boundaries separating science from other ways of understanding reality–mysticism, theology, and philosophy–used to be more fluid. In ancient Greece Pythagoras was both a rigorous mathematician and a charismatic shaman. Sir Isaac Newton was both a hard-nosed empirical physicist and an obsessive Christian theologian. Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr elucidated physics and at the same time wrestled with issues concerning the basic nature and meaning of reality. Although not a conventional believer, Einstein was comfortable with fluid boundaries, as one sees in a famous quote of his: “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.” Continue reading
Despite the fact that today we pride ourselves on being a culture of multi-taskers, I myself am anything but. For me, multitasking is the art of messing up several things at once. But we all know – and perhaps secretly despise – the woman who can seemingly do it all. And seamlessly, at that! Yes, she’s the one who gets up at 5 a.m., sprints to the gym, then showers, answers all her e-mails, fixes her family a breakfast of steel cut oatmeal with flaxseeds and warm organic maple syrup and is ready to go to the office as soon as she drives her two equally perfect children to school. Her male counterpart is just as Type A and accomplished. Not only does he hold down a high-powered day job, but he is a nationally ranked squash player and on weekends writes poetry when not competing in an Ironman Triathlon. In a pinch, he can re-shingle his roof.
One morning, many moons ago, I decided that I, too, could do it all. On that particular day, I also made my family oatmeal for breakfast and carefully chose my husband’s suit and tie. And as soon as I rushed my older sons off to the bus and took my little girl to nursery school, I hopped in the car and gave him door-to-door service to his office.
An hour later, all missions accomplished, I returned to my office and started to write my column with still plenty of time left to meet my deadline. I sat back in the chair and let out a large self-satisfied sigh, thinking to myself, Who said you can’t do it all? Just then the phone rang. Continue reading
Science is meant to be the opposite of a belief system. No one underlined this point more securely than Charles Darwin, who devised a theory of evolution that defied the strongest belief of his time, the all but universal belief in the bible version of the origins of man. The fossil record supported a notion contrary to the Bible, that creation was a process, not a single event dictated by a divine Creator. Despite a century and a half of proof that Darwin was right, taking God out of evolution still sticks in the throat of many people.
Pollsters find, to the dismay of trained scientists, that God remains in play for many when it comes to our origins. For example, a 2013 Pew Research poll found that one-third of respondents believe that human beings have always existed in their present form. When broken down by religion, this anti-Darwin, pro-Bible view is held by 64% of white evangelical Protestants and 50% of black Protestants broken down by political party, only 43% of Republicans believe that human beings evolved over time versus 67% of Democrats and 65% of independents. Continue reading
There are lists for everything.
FBI’s Most Wanted.
But we are truly excited to see Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2015 where even the “bottom” of the list includes amazing innovators in science, technology, family and global health. It is a beautiful diverse group of men and women alike who have lived lives of intent, followed their passion, and in turn, are currently impacting the world for the better. Continue reading
By Daisy Swan
There is increasing credible science and recent press extolling the personal and professional benefits of regular, short sessions of simple breathing meditation. Yet it’s not uncommon for very intelligent people to believe this just isn’t for them. You might be one of them. Does this resonate?
Meditate? Not for me. I’ll get lazy, lose my edge, fail to compete, and lose the game of success. Continue reading
There’s always a sense of crisis in the air generated by whatever bad news is making the headlines. At the moment, the greatest alarm is being stirred by terrorism and the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet at a deeper level, our anxiety centers on something much deeper, the possibility that the human experiment has reached a dead end. A set of enormous problems face us, from climate change and overpopulation to epidemic disease and global water shortages, that test the limits of human nature.
The terrible possibility of moving backward in our evolution as a species seems possible to many observers. We occupy a unique place in Earth’s evolutionary history, being the only creatures threatened not by natural selection but by our mindset. Pessimists point to climate change as a stark example. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of global warming, no solution is being acted upon quickly enough. The American public has become numbed by issue fatigue. Deniers have political clout, and ordinary citizens feel helpless to the point that many feel doomed. We continually prefer to either ignore the problem or push it away as the consumer lifestyle adds more and more to the underlying problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading
It was only a few days ago that this 200 year old mummy was discovered in the Mongolian province of Songinokhairkhan but the questions it’s caused will take some time to answer. The mummy was found covered in animal hide, revealing what appears to be a man meditating in Lotus position. Continue reading
A flurry of controversy surrounded the astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson two weeks ago when he took a jab at religion in the name of science. It began Christmas day with a mischievous tweet: “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.” Then deGrasse Tyson felt that he needed to be more pointed in a follow-up tweet: “QUESTION: This year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday.” Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
You may have noticed headlines about the rise of prescription drugs as a major cause of addiction and death by overdose. Pain pills are overshadowed by illegal drugs like heroin and their dangers masked by a certain air of respectability. Yet America is in the midst of an epidemic of painkiller overuse as well as addiction. As a nation we constitute only about 5% of the world’s population, but we consume some 80% of the prescription drugs called opioids, the strongest and most addictive pain pills, that go by names like Vicodin, OxyContin, Dilaudid, codeine, and Percocet. We consume 99% of the global supply of a particular opioid called hydrocodone, which is used in combination with other drugs for pain relief but also cough suppression. In 2014 the FDA approved a new version of a pure hydrocodone despite the objections of its own medical advisory panel (which voted 12 to 2 against approval) and 30 states. Today opioid overdose deaths (one every 30 minutes) exceed deaths from motor vehicle accidents as well as the combined total of deaths by heroin or cocaine overdose.