Egos clashed on ABC's Nightline when modern-day guru Deepak Chopra entered a week-long debate against arch athiest Dr. Michael Shermer. The debate was organized as a part of Nightline's "Face Off" event series, and was incited by a public challenge issued by Chopra.
Joined by religious scholar Dr. Jean Houston and neuroscientist Sam Harris, the group gathered at the California Institute of Technology to settle a long-time argument regarding the ultimate question: Does God have a future?
The debate was heated from the get-go, with Chopra issuing a rousing appeal to his audience of scientists and students: "One of the things we have to do is stop being the Jihadists and Vatican of conservative, orthodox science, which is not relevant anymore."
Shermer snapped back by claiming that Chopra's opening remarks were "the very embodiment of woo woo," a term Shermer uses to describe what he considers dangerous pseudoscience.
Initially, the debate centered around accusations of misrepresenting contemporary theories of quantum physics to serve either religious or atheistic ends. Harris criticized Deepak's identification of God/Nature as "infinite potentiality," calling his interpretation "unprincipled." Chopra made the claim that Harris' conception of science was dogmatic and closed off to alternative interpretations.
In the final days, the debate gravitated around whether spiritual experiences should be explained in material or immaterial terms. Eventually, the debaters could not agree on the issue of whether such experiences originate within the body or outside of it.
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