Sunday, 21 July 2013

Are Buddhism and science incompatible?

Book review by Paul Knitter 

"Donald Lopez is on a mission. In his “role as a scholar,” he feels called “to protect, preserve, and defend the religion that he studies.” More specifically in this book, he seeks resolutely to protect and defend “the old Buddha” from “the scientific Buddha.”

Who is this scientific Buddha who, in Lopez’s view, is threatening, “bleaching,” “domesticating” the message of the original Buddha? It’s the Buddha “discovered” by critical, Enlightenment Europeans who thought they found a religion without God, based only on experience and reason. Nowadays, it’s the Buddha who is presented as not only compatible with, but a harbinger of, the discoveries of quantum physics and even biological evolution. Most recently, it’s the Buddha whose teachings on the benefits of meditation are being confirmed by neurological research and by movements such as “mindfulness-based stress reduction.”

Lopez will have none of this. Yes, he recognizes that Asian Buddhists used this “made in Europe” scientific Buddha to trump missionary accusations that Buddhism was superstitious and world-denying. (More recently, Pope John Paul II made the latter charge.) But Lopez finds that the real and “timeless” message of Buddha is “radically incompatible” with science. Thus, while the life of this scientific Buddha may have been helpful and happy, Lopez wants to make sure that it is short and consigned to nirvana as promptly as possible..."   Full article

Related Article

Buddhism and Science

No comments: