Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow and spiritual leader Deepak Chopra faced off in a passionate but respectful debate, addressing some of the most fundamental questions that have intrigued humanity for hundreds of years, including what is life?, whether the universe is intelligent, the nature of time, and whether there is an afterlife. Initially, the two appeared separately for half-hour segments. "Our consciousness is the realm of all our experience," said Chopra, adding that science is a double-edged sword that can reach diabolical proportions when it's not value-based, such as in the creation of nuclear and biological weapons. Mlodinow commented that science is not designed to solve morality, ethics, and the meaning of life-type questions.
During the third hour the two jointly addressed a variety of topics. Is the universe alive or intelligent? Mlodinow doesn't see how such human qualities could apply to the cosmos, while Chopra suggested our consciousness is an activity of the universe, and "we are the human experience of the cosmos," and in that sense it's alive. "It's not the same thing as saying the universe is alive to say that there are conscious objects in the universe," Mlodinow replied. Regarding the issue of intelligent design in the universe, Mlodinow sees no evidence for that. There are laws of science and physics that can explain how the universe came to be without the need for a designer, he continued. Chopra sees examples of intelligence on both macro and micro scales, such as the harmonic working of cells within the human body, and the intricate conditions of our solar system that foster life here on Earth.
Is there life after death? Death is a necessary creative process of life, and "a continuum of transformation and evolution...what dies is the individual identity that is misperceived as permanent...a caterpillar dies to become a butterfly," Chopra offered. The idea of a soul is something that doesn't fit in with the scientific picture, Mlodinow noted. While he would love to believe in an afterlife, "I feel that I have to have the courage to accept that this is all that there is...and use that as a motivation to make the most of it," to live this life fully, without looking forward to a future life," he said.
First hour guests, 'Ghostbuster Gals' Ronnie Rennae Foster and Laura Lee Mistycah talked about some of the hauntings and paranormal activity they've investigated. The two try to help ghosts cross over, and have found that spirits want help in moving on because they feel trapped. They also discussed their different approaches, as Foster works with angels, and Mistycah follows a Wiccan path.