Chopra sees flaws in scientific method!
Molecular neuro-biologists have in the past few decades begun to investigate the physical and chemical processes through which thought and memory are formed. They have found that impulses are passed from one neuron (a brain cell) to the neighboring neuron by the exchange of chemicals called neurotransmitters. And there is a long way between understanding these impulses and extending that understanding to the explanation of feelings, emotions, and thoughts. To Chopra this lack of knowledge is a great opportunity to embark on his ungrateful antipathy to science:
I see too many flaws in the argument that a deeper knowledge of body chemistry is all we need – the body has too many chemicals (literally thousands of them), they are produced in bewilderingly complex patterns, and they come and go too fast, often in fractions of a second. What controls this constant flux? We cannot leave the mind out of the mind-body connection altogether. To say that the body heals itself using only chemicals is like saying that a car shifts gears using only the transmission. Clearly it takes a driver who knows what he is doing.(p. 36)
What Chopra identifies as a “flaw” is, in reality, the very essence of the scientific method! It is precisely because there are thousands of chemicals produced in complex patterns moving in fractions of a second that science picks a part of this complex system and focuses on that part. To appreciate the fault in the attribution of “too many flaws” to the scientific method, let us consider the solar system, and see how the quote above applies to that system:
I see too many flaws in the argument that a deeper knowledge of gravity is all we need to understand the solar system – the system has too many planets, moons, and asteroids (literally thousands of them), they are moving in bewilderingly complex patterns, and they come and go too fast. What controls this constant flux? We cannot leave the mind of the solar system out of the mind-body connection altogether. To say that the system moves only under the influence of gravity is like saying that a car shifts gears using only the transmission. Clearly it takes a driver who knows what he is doing.
In order to discover gravity, Newton had to focus on a very small part of this huge system: the earth, the moon, and an apple! He would never, ever have discovered the law of gravity had he insisted on looking at the entire complex system at the same time – the so-called “holistic” approach. And it is safe to say that if we insist on looking at the entire “bewilderingly complex patterns,” without first isolating parts of it and focusing on those parts, in other words, if we insist on studying our body based on the recommendation of mind-body physicians, we will never, ever understand either our body or our mind.
As for the mind-driver analogy, it is obvious what Chopra is driving at (pun intended): there has to be a mind to drive the body. But does a car really need a driver? Google announced in October 2010 that it had been building robotic cars that had been driving themselves around California – down curvy Lombard Street in San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the Pacific Coast Highway, around Lake Tahoe and from Google’s Mountain View headquarters to Santa Monica (a 350-mile trip), … over 140,000 miles in total! On May 7, 2012, Google received the first license from the state of Nevada to test its driverless vehicles in cities across the state. And in the not-so-distant future, we will see driverless cars on every street and highway. So Chopra’s “driver” is not needed for driving the body!