Sunday, September 16, 2007

Does Buddhism conflict with modern science?

"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. The religion which based on experience, which refuses dogmatic. If there's any religion that would cope the scientific needs it will be Buddhism."
- Albert Einstein
Among all the major religions of the world, the Buddhist teachings do not have any conflicts with the discoveries of modern science. It does not have any creation myths, nor does it attempt to attribute any natural phenomena to supernatural agencies.
It embraces fully the Theory of Evolution which in fact clearly demonstrates the Buddhist doctrine of Impermanence. Thus, it has no difficulties with fossil remains, carbon-dating and geological evidence with which modern science uses to date the age of the earth to be around 4.5 billion years.

The Buddha had said specifically that there are countless star systems in existence, and that our world is like a speck of dust compared to the vastness and diversity of the universe. He never said that the earth or the human species were created by an unseen deity to hold a special place in the universe. Using modern astronomy, satellites and radio telescopes, we can observe the trillions of stars and billions of galaxies in the universe; and see clearly that the Buddha made a very accurate observation of our place in the cosmos.

The Buddha's concept of time, in the context of the universe, seems to be very much in accordance with modern science. Buddhism measures the timescale of the universe in 'kalpas' which are inconceivably long periods of time. He gave the analogy of a silk cloth brushing the top of a mountain once every hundred years. The time it takes for the mountain to be worn down to nothing is approximately the duration of one 'kalpa'. Therefore Buddhist cosmology is quite in line with current scientific estimates of the age of the universe, which is taken to be about 13.7 billion years old.

Also very interestingly, The Buddha mentioned that the universe is in a continual state of expansion and contraction and that these cycles last for unimaginably long periods of time, or for many, many 'kalpas'. It seems that He anticipated the Oscillating Universe Theory by more than 2,500 years.

In one of the suttas (teaching), the Buddha held up a cup of water and said that there are countless living beings in the water. For a long time, nobody understood what He meant, but today we can see through a microscope that there are in fact countless micro-organisms in any cup of water. Thus there may still be many things the Buddha said that we have yet to discover and comprehend.

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