June 01, 2017
Better than worshiping gods is obedience to the laws of righteousness.
Buddhism is one of the most popular religions in the world and many people follow Buddhist teachings no matter what religion they belong to. Buddha's teachings are different and a little more practical than the others. It is in a way, more relatable to the current era. Some of the differences, such as Buddha never considered him as god, makes this religion more science friendly.
An evolutionary biologist, David Barash, shares some interesting insights about Buddhism being a way to look at the world rather than being a religion. He claims that what he found most attractive and amazing about this religion is, there are no creator gods and no holy writs. Even Buddha himself emphasises that he is not a god, but just a teacher.
Also, he mentions that according to the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, “Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation, that a certain hypothesis is verified or a certain fact emerges as a result of scientific investigation. And suppose, furthermore, that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research.”
Among the key aspects of Buddhism, one is that a person must gain knowledge through experiences rather than relying upon the ancient sacred texts. Kalama Sutra, as the author suggests, is the comfortable fit between Buddhism and empirical science. Here, Buddha explains how to deal with the bewildering diversity of conflicting claims on the part of various Brahmins and itinerant monks, that evidently has an attitude entirely open to empirical verification and thus, consistent with science.
Another example is the word from Pali Canon, “Just as one would examine gold through burning, cutting, and rubbing so should monks and scholars examine my words. Only thus should they be accepted, but not merely out of respect for me.”
Although, all this is in line with science, there are things that are contrary as well, such as Buddhist culture does believe in daily ritual devotions, amulets and other special charms, and also that Siddharth Gautam was a divine being. Barash claims that among all this, he finds the concept of rebirth to be ridiculous.
On the other hand, he also suggests that if rebirth is taken into consideration as the recycling of atoms and molecules, and the Karma is believed to reflect the reality of cause and effect, then Buddhism and biology are close allies indeed. According to him, rather than NOMA (“Non-Overlapping Magesteria”), as the late Stephen Gould proposed for religion and science, Buddhism offers the bracing prospect of POMA (“Productively Overlapping Magesteria”).
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