THE BLOG

'More Rational Than Thou'

06/05/2015 01:35 pm ET | Updated Jun 05, 2016

An open letter to Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer

Dear Richard and Michael,

I read your lament that some people leave religion for 'something worse,' Deepak Chopra's spirituality.

I would say that in the areas of (1) evolution, (2) consciousness and (3) the nature of reality, Deepak's view is closer to scientific truth than is yours.

Regarding (1) evolution, please see my Huffington Post blog -- which came first, feelings, or the brain?

Regarding (2) consciousness and (3) the nature of reality, Deepak maintains that inner conscious experience is more real than what appears to us as the material world, and that both consciousness and reality are, at deeper levels, 'non-local', interconnected across spatio-temporal boundaries, as occurs at small scales in the quantum world.

Dawkins sticks with materialism, which is suspect because (1) neuroscience tells us mental constructs don't match physical reality; that we, to some extent at least, construct reality, and (2) at small scales, matter encounters the quantum world, particles existing non-locally in multiple states and locations simultaneously.

The key question then is whether the brain utilizes quantum mechanisms in consciousness, in which case Deepak's non-local spirituality is feasible. Indeed, more and more evidence points to quantum biology, e.g. in photosynthesis proteins. If a potato or rutabaga can utilize quantum coherence, surely our brains might manage it. Indeed, coherent vibrations indicating quantum resonances have been detected in microtubules, cylindrical protein polymers which organize cell interiors including brain neurons.

Physicist Sir Roger Penrose and I have proposed quantum computations in microtubules mediate consciousness (the 'orchestrated objective reduction', 'Orch OR' model).

Dawkins omits consciousness in his worldview, but lists it as one of three remaining mysteries in evolution, along with the origin of sex, and differentiation. For the origin of sex, see my HuffPo blog.

Differentiation relates to 'how genes influence bodies', how the same set of genes produces a vast variety of cell types (and it 'goes wrong' in cancer and other diseases). Cell division, architecture, morphology and functional maintenance (e.g. synaptic plasticity in the brain) all depend largely on self-assembly of microtubules, and subsequent encoded transport by motor proteins along their lengths.

So all 3 of Dawkins' mysteries, and Deepak's non-local spirituality are approachable through quantum biology, specifically of microtubules.

Michael, you trashed Penrose-Hameroff 'Orch OR' in Scientific American years ago without a clue, and promised to revisit the topic given new evidence. Have you? Moreover your Skeptic Society meetings appear to be devoid of any skeptics to your ideas (invite me, why don't you?). Talk about preaching to the choir.

Richard, I've invited you several times to the Tucson consciousness conferences and you don't even reply. You would learn a lot, and I would tell you how a burst of consciousness caused the Cambrian evolutionary explosion.

So on my scorecard (evolution, consciousness, reality), its Deepak 3, Dawkins/Shermer 0.

Fellas, get off your pompous high horses.