Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Buddhism quote from the Dalai Lama

"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview."
I like the basic principles of Buddhism and believe the Dalai Lama is a highly pragmatic and effective teacher. I am also impressed with the idea of Buddhism, particularly with how aspects of the practice fit so well with the scientific process, and also the idea of viewing it as a rebellion against nature (as taught in an excellent Coursera course by Professor Robert Wright).

However, while above quote indicates a level of openness to rational and scientific thought that some other belief systems (or at least some specific believers) do not share, note how the Dalai Lama's message is highly qualified. By saying that it's up to science to prove something wrong in order for Buddhism to change is one step in the right direction. However, science cannot disprove reincarnation, karma, or heaven or hell, or ghosts, or fairies. You've got as much of a rational basis to belief in any of these as you have to believe that the centre of the earth of made of cheese, or that when we die our spirits all go to another planet, or that we aren't alive at all, but are just advanced computer simulations living a completely artificial existence - we just think we're "real". That we might believe these types of things as individuals or in large groups doesn't make them more or less true. I'm not knocking these constructs from a social value perspective, not at all, but you can't ask science to disprove any them...THAT IS NOT HOW SCIENCE WORKS. Whilst you have a think about this, I'll be off playing hop-scotch with some goblins and a pygmy dragon that lives in my garage.

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