When one explanation (the physicalist) is supported by the weight of highly successful theories in physics, biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, and the other side has no accepted theory on its side, the debate seems totally unequal. But in David versus Goliath battles, be careful of rooting for Goliath. The possibility of a science of consciousness, which would involve a thorough explanation of mind and how it relates to matter, can't begin until the obstacles in its path are removed and old accepted assumptions are overturned.
That has already begun, on all fronts. In physics, the essential problem of how something came out of nothing (i.e., the big bang coming out of the quantum vacuum state) stymies cosmologists, while at the microscopic level the same mystery, this time involving subatomic particles, emerging from the virtual state, is equally baffling. In biology the prevailing Darwinism cannot explain the quantum leap made, with astonishing rapidity, by Homo sapiens in terms of reasoning, creativity, language, our use of concepts as opposed to instincts, tool-making, and racial characteristics. We are the offspring of the newest part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, and yet there is no causal connection between its evolution and the primal Darwinian need to survive. This is evident by the survival of a hundred primate species lacking a higher brain, reasoning, tool-making, concepts, etc. Finally, in neuroscience and biochemistry, there is zero connection between nerve cells, and their chemical components, and mind. Unless someone can locate the point in time when molecules learned to think, the current assumption that the brain is doing the thinking has no solid footing.
The day-to-day work of scientists isn't dependent on explaining how mind arose in the cosmos--not yet. The relation between mind and matter has existed in philosophy for centuries, and working scientists don't consider philosophy relevant to their research. Collecting data and doing experiments needs no help from metaphysics or philosophy. But when you look at the unanswered questions in physics, biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, it's more than a coincidence that all, without exception, impinge upon the same inability to know how consciousness actually works. By taking for granted the obvious fact that it takes a mind to do science, we've reached the point where science is leaving out the very component that might answer the questions that urgently need answering, not because philosophy demands it but because science does.
The sticking point is physicalism itself. If everything must be reduced to the smallest units of matter and energy, and yet there is zero evidence that mind follows that pattern, it is unscientific to cling to physicalism. Even a staunchly mainstream physicist like Stephen Hawking has commented that reality doesn't necessarily match the current models in science. The mind is real, and since that's true, defective models are required to change or even be thrown out. To repair the most glaring defect of all--our inability to explain mind--imperils all the sciences for the simple fact that science is a mental activity. If we set physicalism aside, what would be another starting point for a new model of reality?
Instead of conceiving reality from the bottom up, moving from tiny building blocks to larger and larger structures, one could do the reverse and create a top-down model. In other words, the starting point would be the whole, not the parts. So what do we know about reality as a whole?
Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor UCSD Medical School, researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are You Are the Universe co-authored with Menas Kafatos, PhD, and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. discoveringyourcosmicself.com
Pankaj Joshi is a theoretical physicist and Senior Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai India. Professor Pankaj Joshi has published many (more than 170) research papers, and monographs on cosmology and gravitation. He has made fundamental contributions on gravitational collapse, black holes and naked singularities. The new analysis on collapsing stars from Joshi and his collaborators, as reported and reviewed in his Oxford (1993) and Cambridge (2007) monographs, showed that both black holes and visible naked singularities form when massive stars collapse at the end of their life-cycles. Recent results from Cambridge, Princeton, Perimeter and others, now corroborate these results.
His research was published as an International cover in “Scientific American.” He served as an adjunct Faculty with the New York University, and was awarded the A C Banerji Gold Medal and Lecture Award by the National Academy of Sciences, India, along with many other awards. He holds visiting faculty positions in many reputed universities and has won fellowships in various scientific academies. His research papers and monographs are widely cited internationally. His recent book, The Story of Collapsing Stars (Oxford University Press), explores the death of massive stars and the subsequent formation of black holes or naked singularities through gravitational collapse of stars.