O’Reilly and Chopra diss Dawkins

UPDATE:  A reader below notes, correctly, that Chopra apologized for what he said about Dawkins on this show. Good for him, though Chopra apparently has stopped “listening to his worst critics without being personally offended,” a lesson that, in this video, he says he learned two years ago. That said, I put this video up not to show his attack on Dawkins so much as to show what Chopra believes about the transcendent.


Here are two malefactors taking on Dawkins in a short clip from two years ago. First Dawkins appears, denies belief in God, and O’Reilly says “You’re wrong.” It’s funny: like kids saying, “Yes, there is!”  “Is not!” “Is too.”  But of course the burden of proof lies on Bill.

Then, in the bulk of the video, O’Reilly asks Chopra if he believes in God, and Deepak basically avows belief in a Abrahamic God—as well as free will (and I don’t think it’s compatibilist free will). How does he know there’s an omnipotent, omniscient “force”?, asks O’Reillly. Chopra says because his heart tells him so. The heart is a notoriously unreliable organ for reasoning.

Oh, and note that O’Reilly claims that Dawkins’s atheism doesn’t bother him (O’Reilly), when it clearly does.

h/t: Lestat


  1. Posted December 13, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “notoriously unreliable?” That’s understatement if there ever was one.

    As far as I know, blood pumps have zero reasoning abilities.

    Feeling diplomatic today?

    O’Lielly and the Deepster are a perfect marriage – two Morans is a tiny pond.

    Idiosos out trollin’ for idiosos.

    • Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Actually, research is increasingly showing that the heart has considerable cognitive abilities that can affect or even override the brain’s decisions. It is hardly a mere blood pump. That’s not to say it is a conscious reasoning system, but the heart plays a bigger role in decision making than medical science used to admit. So you can’t decisively knock Chopra’s statement from a scientific point of view.

      (A few sources to check out: Firstly, here’s a 2011 article that summarizes a lot of modern neurocardiology research: http://articles.mcall.com/2011-02-12/health/mc-health-neurocardiology-20110212_1_heart-disease-united-states

      A 2013 article, “When gut feelings are better than careful analysis”, describing some (admittedly controversial) new research in psychology and cognitive processing:
      http://www.smh.com.au/business/when-gut-feelings-are-better-than-careful-analysis-20130329-2gz0c.html#ixzz2nNqWFJgV http://www.smh.com.au/business/when-gut-feelings-are-better-than-careful-analysis-20130329-2gz0c.html

      Then, here are a couple papers that dive into further detail:

      Neurocardiology: close interaction between heart and brain: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12471-012-0369-4/fulltext.html

      The Little Brain on the Heart: http://www.ccjm.org/content/74/Suppl_1/S48.full.pdf

      And, from a psychiatric viewpoint, The Heart, Mind, and Spirit: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Heart,%20Mind%20and%20Spirit%20%20Mohamed%20Salem.pdf

      Hope it’s interesting.)

      • Sean
        Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        And I believe there is also proof that your gut mas some cognitive ability also.

        But I think they are comparing reason to emotion. And emotion is notoriously for decision making!

      • Posted December 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        @Andron Surely you’re not serious. Although I haven’t yet read any of the links given I can say, w/ a very large degree of confidence (just like I would say about ANYTHING the Deepster had to say). that what these link have to offer has got to be pure prattle.

        If ones heart has much to say about ones reasoning ability I dread to think what kind of influence the bottom side of ones large colon has.

        On second thought, I do think I have a very good idea.

        • Posted December 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          The heart has damned little to do with cognition. Palpitations can result (and be noticeable) from stress hormones, and perception of palpitations could certainly cause more stress, but that’s about it.

          Much more interesting is the role, hinted at by Andron in an obfuscated manner, that the vagus nerves plays in mood as well as the way that intestinal bacterial conditions can influence the vagus nerve. But, again, this has damned little to do with actual cognition and much more with a general sense of (or not) wellbeing. Insofar as good mood improves cognition and dread degrades it, it plays a role in cognition, but there’s not any actual thinking going on there.

          Then again, this shouldn’t be so surprising. Pain or distress from any major nerve system is going to change your mood; just ask anybody who’s broken a limb, or is suffering from sciatica, or has serious burns, or whatever.



          • Posted December 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            @Ben. Yeah, “cognition” is a tricky word, since its definitions vary a lot. I was using it to refer more to general information processing, not necessarily on a conscious level like reasoning or thinking, but definitely exercising some measure of influence on conscious processes. The question is really how far that influence goes, either by palpitations, rhythmic variations, endocrine interactions, or direct neural signals.

            You make a good point about the role of wellbeing in (indirectly) helping one think more clearly. I’d bet that we will discover that very low-level activity throughout the body plays a larger role in conscious decisions than we’re aware — or than we’d like to admit. (Ironically, that’s a gut feeling prediction :P )

            @revelmundo. I am serious, though I would not claim that the heart is doing any sort of reasoning. I’ll leave it up to you decide whether the journals and institutions behind the papers I cited (Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of the Netherlands, Netherlands Heart Journal, Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists) are “prattle” or not.

            • Posted December 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

              @Andron The Deepster makes these very kinds of claims and appeals to “authority.” They’re not impressive. If fact, all they do is raise ones bullshit antennae.

              Anyone claiming – as you did – that “the heart has considerable cognitive abilities” is sadly mistaken. If you claim that the heart has cognitive abilities, so must you admit that the bottom end of the large intestine has it too.

              Are you ready to admit that as well?

  2. Alan
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    They both claim to kick Dawkins butt in debate, then call him dishonest. I dont think I can watch garbage like this anymore, due to my getting sick. Too much bullshit for me to handle.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink


      • Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        I made it to 1:45….


        • Kevin
          Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          I made it to 0:00.

          • Marella
            Posted December 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            I decided that this was the ideal end point too.

          • gerard52
            Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

            Me, too.

    • Larry Cook
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Exactly how I feel. O’Reilly in particular makes me feel ill. I find it very difficult to watch someone who says such unreasonable and ignorant things with so much conceit and phony good nature. He’s a know-it-all know nothing.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      It’s the single silliest piece of Dawkins bashing I have ever seen.

  3. Alex Shuffell
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Didn’t Chopra end up apologising for what he said in this video? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KX-JVt0uf0 -

    • Alex Shuffell
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      I had to watch the Chopra O’Reilly video again, it is difficult to understand what they are saying. They are getting over excited. There are some fun moments where O’Reilly clearly is making Chopra uncomfortable, O’Reilly is loud and rude, Chopra can’t say anything, just nod and agree.
      When Chopra does explain his beliefs in “an active deity” and Chopra answers with more than just Jesus, acknowledging other prophets. O’Reilly replies “but that’s a matter of faith though.”
      O’Reilly has a special moment talking about a meteor causing evolution and Chopra tries to say that “Evolution does not contradict the fact that…” O’Reilly interrupts him “…That’s what I say, Intelligent Design does not contradict science.” Chopra again tries to be polite and agreeable, he really gets uncomfortable. If you skip the first two minutes of of insulting Dawkins the rest of the video is quite hilarious, I love the look on Chopra’s face, he’s never seemed so human. The apology video makes much more sense, Chopra really does not want to associate himself with O’Reilly.

  4. SSC44
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Chopra’s woo-woo has been wonderfully exposed by Dawkins et al. Subsequent to the O’Reilly interview, Chopra made an ‘official’ apology on YouTube.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 14, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      This is the first thing Chopra has ever said that couldn’t have come out of a word salad machine. Good on him for that.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 14, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Kudos to Chopra for apologizing; I’m sure that wasn’t easy & maybe this O’Reilly thing has somehow shaken him enough that he will be more aware of his reactions in the future.

  5. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink


  6. Greg Esres
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I find it painful to see Dawkins appear on shows like O’Reilly. What purpose does it serve? You have to be willing to match O’Reilly’s jerkiness if you want to avoid being abused.

  7. Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    My enteric brain says they are full of it. Pardon me while I go vomit.

  8. James Mauch
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I have self proclaimed smart people telling me that because we have never manufactured a living cell it is therefore proven beyond a doubt that an omniscient being exists, aka god. Why does my little mind only see this conclusion as totally idiotic. There has to be a logical fallacy lurking somewhere.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Pick up a stone and understand that there are, in principle, more quantum states available in it to store all of the information that humanity has ever stored. In a stone.

      At present, no one knows how to harness that capacity, but science keeps moving forward. Faith does not. These persons who tell you that god exists have nothing more to say on the issue that a cell may be to complicated to understand.

      I do not know what dark energy is, so it must be god? The theist’s argument ends there. A scientists only begins or continues.

      Incidentally cells and dark energy and electrons and photons and almost everything we know about the universe comes to us by science, not religion, never has and never will, unless the religious change their ways.

    • Sean
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      This type of stuff is claimed all the time by the theists, and then when science achieves the goal they are holding up as an argument, they move on to the next scientific challenge. (Almost like a god-of-the-gaps type thinking).

      The universe revolving around the earth was proof we are the center of g-ds creation. Now they need some other “miracle” to hold up as “proof”.

    • Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Your mind is working correctly. Humans have made new life forms, including cellular life, if you allow for some flexibility of definitions. Craig Venter has replaced the DNA from bacteria cells with completely synthetic DNA, and the cells re-booted to be a new kind of cell. Various groups have made RNA molecules that can self-replicate and evolve. These can be regarded as a new form of man-made life.
      I do not want to get into how life could have started without intelligence here (it would take a longer posting), but a natural origin of life does not seem to be a great problem. Just requires an intersection of various natural processes that were likely common on the early earth.

  9. Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I will need to look at this later. Busy now. But, wow.. seeing a picture of O’Relly + Chopra together. My retinas cannot un-see it.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      There are different levels of unsee. O’Reilly-Chopra is near 9.0 on log scale. In comparison, mid-80′s hair metal music video is 6.9.

  10. Sean
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Honest Question:

    Can someone tell me what did Chopra and Hawkins “collaborate” on?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Hawking… Chopra didn’t say he’d collaborated with him.

      Video timestamp 4:51:-

      “…you know, my collaborator, Stephen Hawking’s co-writer, says that time does not conclude & cannot conclude that god is an illusion…”

      Chopra is referring to the Chicago-born theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow who has co-written books with both Chopra & Hawking on separate projects:-
      LM & SH:- A Briefer History Of Time
      LM & SH:- The Grand Design
      LM & DC:- War of the Worldviews: Where Science And Spirituality Meet – And Do Not

      • Sean
        Posted December 14, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        The Deep-chop is prob hoping more people I’ll make the same error I made!

        Thanks for pointing that out.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Funny that Chopra says he believes in an Abrahamic god since he says the opposite at his debate vs. Harris & Shermer at Caltech. I guess he just wants to get along with O’Reilly. :/

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    So this book on war of the world-views is “scientific” vs. “spiritual”??

    Bertrand Russell and Percy Shelley were perfectly comfortable talking about their own “spirituality” and would never have bought into Deepity’s claptrap. Has Deepity looked at Robert Solomon’s book “Spirituality for the Skeptic: The Thoughtful Love of Life?”

  13. Simple biologist
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    The most recent Chopra related thing that I’m sort of happy is this:


    Note that it appears to be the official Linkedin mothership blog. Why it makes me happy is that I’ve already for few years fought the social and employment pressure to get Linkedin profile. That they peddle this type of pseudo-science as “big idea” makes me even more sure that it was the right idea to stay clear from Linkedin.

  14. Diane G.
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink


  15. Druie Cavender
    Posted December 14, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I would really like to know how many of these evangelical right-wingers (like O’Reilly) actually believe in a god, or whether they just pretend so as to keep their “fans” happy. Has there ever been a study to compare people’s stated beliefs vs. their actual beliefs when they are given anonymity?

  16. Posted December 17, 2013 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    “Oh, and note that O’Reilly claims that Dawkins’s atheism doesn’t bother him (O’Reilly)”

    Oh, really?

    (pun intended)

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