The Sheldrake Vernon Dialogues
Summary: Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author best known for his hypothesis of morphic resonance. Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and author. Together they discuss: consciousness, prayer, angels, science and spiritual practices, magic, dreams, hell, the unconscious, rituals, enlightenment, atheism, materialism, and more.
Modern science started in the seventeenth century during the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants. Science was seen by some of its proponents as a "third way" of reaching ultimate truth, and many people today believe that science has superseded religion. But what does Christianity get right? In this dialogue Mark and Rupert explore some of the positive aspects of the Christian tradition.
Bookstores worldwide are stacked with books about mindfulness, spirituality, and transpersonal studies. A new consciousness seems to be evolving. But in various periods in the past, for example in medieval Europe and Tibet, many people were engaged in spiritual practices. How is the abundance of spiritual practice today different? In this dialogue, Rupert and Mark explore this new garden of awareness.
With the advancements of science, most notably in the realm of quantum physics, scientific concepts are increasingly used to make broader spiritual points and give the discussion more weight. But are writers on spirituality extrapolating far beyond what science can bear? If not, what does science actually contribute to spirituality? In this dialogue, Rupert and Mark discuss the realm where science and spiritual traditions meet.
Materialism is the doctrine that claims the ultimate reality is matter, and many people believe that this theory disproves the existence of God. But need a materialist be an atheist, or need an atheist be a materialist? Developments in contemporary science have radically changed our understanding of matter. In this dialogue Mark and Rupert disentangle materialism from atheism, showing that a more sophisticated and contemporary form of materialism could include a spiritual dimension.
According to the materialist philosophy that still dominates the sciences, there is no free will. The human mind is nothing but brain activity, and the brain is a genetically programmed computer. So can materialists have free choice, including the choice to believe in materialism? If they can, it would suggest the mind is more than just brain activity. In this dialogue, Rupert and Mark explore this question and discuss recent research on free will.
Science is a method of inquiry. It involves free-thinking, hypothesis testing, paying attention to evidence and proceeding in a reasonable fashion. But for many people, science has become a belief system, rather than a method of inquiry. In this dialogue, Mark and Rupert explore the nature of this quasi-religious faith, and discuss how the sciences can be liberated from this dogmatic spell.