This book is precisely about what its title states: worldviews. It’s not about comparing and contrasting the detailed cosmological beliefs of science or religion(s). In fact, it does not really compare or contrast very much at all between them.Yet, it is very enlightening.
Here is a sample of the subjects:
1. How did the universe emerge?
2. Is the universe conscious?
3. What is life?
4. How do genes work?
5. What is the connection between brain and mind?
6. Is there a fundamental reality?
Following is how the book flows.
Deepak presents an essay on a particular subject outlining his predominantly personal views on religion and spirituality. I say personal, because he gives very few references for what he states. I sympathize with this because it's difficult to pin down spiritual beliefs to any single scriptural passage or spiritual founder. People from various faiths and within various denominations have different ideas about Scripture and the Divine. So Deepak cannot really speak for all religion or all spirituality.
However, he writes intelligibly and intelligently. What he says makes a lot of sense. For instance, he says that spirituality did not begin with God. It began with consciousness. On the surface, this may seem like a stretch or overly intellectual. But it isn’t. Spirituality, as distinct from religion, is certainly more mystical, abstract, and intellectual. This is broadly true for all faiths.
Moreover, in ancient yoga 3000 years ago, the question the Indian mystics asked was not “who is God?” It was “who am I?" (ko ham, in Sanskrit.) This is the angle Deepak takes.
On the other side, essays on the same subjects are written by the physicist and atheist Leonard Mlodinow. It does not even seem that both of them had read each other’s essays and really answered each other’s points. So the essays are non-confrontational and quite friendly. The reader is left to decide how to meld the two worldviews.
In the same vein as Deepak's, not all physicists, scientists, or atheists share the same worldview either. So Mlodinow, like Deepak, speaks mostly for himself and a certain sector of like-minded people. Mlodinow writes lucidly and honestly. I myself believe in God. But I still find that Mlodinow’s articles are intellectually honest. He is not a militant atheist. He is not rude, sarcastic, or obnoxious. He’s careful and perceptive.
In fact, Mlodinow goes on record saying that “While science often casts doubt on spiritual beliefs and doctrines insofar as they make representations about the physical world, science does not – and cannot – conclude that God is an illusion.” (Pg. 256) I think that says it all.
This book comprises a compilation of beautiful essays by two brilliant thinkers in two opposite fields discussing overlapping subjects of dispute and interest. Dive in and enjoy!
Full disclosure: I am a peer-reviewed researcher and author on this subject as well as emerging connections between ancient yoga and the Bible. Sanjay C Patel