Friday, 25 March 2011

Buddhism does not conflict with Science

Buddhism never conflict with science. There is no any historical event showing that Buddhism and science are contradict or conflict with each other as another religion does. In addition, there has been never even once that Buddhist monks and scientists are controversial. Having no controversy between Buddhism and science is due to main causes as below.

Buddhism attempts to not dominate scientific truth because Buddhism never make certain of Buddhist teaching related to classical science revealing in the Buddhist Canon, Tipiaka,  as the eternal truth that none can oppose. For example, the Tipiaka has recorded the fundamental four elements: earth, fire, water, air, but the modern science claimed that there are 109 elements at the present day. This seems to be a light of controversy, but Buddhists would not dispute with scientists in the account of elements in true number, at least on the two reasons.

1.       The Tipiaka does not hold the principle of science as the absolute truth in itself. No matter a particular branch of scientific knowledge has pertained to the Tipiaka, such knowledge has been comprised like the instrument or tool for teaching dharma only. The aim of containing a particular discipline of knowledge in the Tipiaka is just to help the readers can assess the ultimate reality as it were in the Buddha’s saying, “Regardless of the past, the future, I teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering.That is, the Buddha teaches only the Four Noble Truths. Only science and other discipline of knowledge during that time have been brought to contribute the teaching on the Four Noble truths. The Buddha has not taught science, but dharma. If the Buddha actually focus the teaching on how many elements really have, audiences might be interested in merely the account of element and failed to recall the dharma. Suppose that the Buddha was born in this century, he perhaps would employ current knowledge as a part of his teaching.

2.       When we speak of teaching dharma, it can be found that the Four Elements in the Buddhist Canon and the 109 elements of the contemporary scientists both are common for supplying the intention to teach the same dharma. That is, the Buddhist term ‘elements’ are defined as “the things that bear their own intrinsic natures (attāno sabhāvam dhārentīti dhātuyo).” It implies that earth, fire, water, and air elements are causally dependent arisen. They are not living beings, self or ātaman, as well sentient beings and persons (dhātūti nijjīvamattasseta adhivacana). All substances in the world are comprised of these Four Elements which have no essence to grasp or cling as being self, or one’s own self. Regarding the scientific term of “element”, it is referred as “a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substance”. It means that the various elements such as Au (gold) and Fe (iron) are not reductable to be other elements such as H (hydrogen) and O (oxygen). All elements are natural suchness. If they are decomposed to be their components, what we get might be an atom or paramānū (sub- particle). This shows that the concept of elements in science is the same as in Buddhism on the truth that they are causal dependent arisen, not living beings, or self. We thus can maintain the teaching of elements to teach people abandoning the self- attachment.

If science teachers educated students with the intelligent design, they can claim the teaching in the proponent of dharma at the same time as well. For example, when the teaching design is relevant to an issue of elements, the teaching can link to the studying of non-self, or non-endurance. All things arise from the combination in various compositions. There is nothing permanent to grasp and clinging. Learning science in this way, students are able to see things as they really are, and know how to detach them. The more students learn about non-self, the less they pertain to the self. If science teachers teach without understanding and profit from experience, students might think that the teaching of 109 elements in science is the right thing than the Buddhist teaching of the Four Elements. The excessive thought of self might have enlarged, learning science will thus cause the increasing of competition, stress, and suffering to students.

Therefore, when teachers teach science, they should teach learners how to reduce their ego, and feel happy as well. The teachers may teach the discipline of science by integrating with Buddhism. This shows that Buddhist teaching is not controversial to scientific theories.

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