Relationship between Science and Religion

The relationship between religion and
science has been the subject of continued debate in philosophy and theology. Albert
Einstein, one of the greatest and most famous scientists of our time has also given
his opinions in his essay “Science and religion”
published in 1954 with his famous quote: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”1,2 Technological advancements and
scientific progress in the recent decade in multiple fields such as cognitive
psychology and physics have debunked many earlier hypothesis and also disclosed
new revelations of truth in the way we perceive our world. This paper shall
discuss the relationship between science and religion, in particular Buddhism
and how this has evolved with progress in scientific research and advancements
in technology.

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Buddhism
in a nutshell

Siddh?rtha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, also known
as Shakyamuni Buddha is widely recognised as an enlightened teacher who
attained full Buddhahood, and shared his insights to help sentient beings end
rebirth and suffering.  There are 84,000
methods taught by Shakyamuni Buddha on how to become enlightened and leave the
suffering of ordinary existence and the vicious cycle of reincarnation. These
teachings, taught 2500 years ago, are still studied by many and considered to
be relevant today. The frustrations and unhappiness that we face in our daily
lives, the worries that we have of what is to come, the physical and emotional sufferings
that we have had to endure in life – these are not just problems faced by people
from the past but also by the people of today. Buddhism offers the truth behind
these sufferings and the antidote to surpass these sufferings and problems that
we have.

Science
and similarities to Buddhism

 Science deals with testable knowledge about
physical phenomena in the universe with a primary objective of understanding
how the universe works. The
key traits associated with science are experimentation and deductive logic.
These are essential for validation of experiments or observations in
explanation of results using rational thinking and the spirit of inquiry. There
is a common saying that the force behind scientific
progress is the simple act of asking questions.

In a similar manner, questioning
of assumptions and even debate is encouraged in Buddhism. A key aspect is the
emphasis on the gaining of knowledge through personal experience and not solely
on the reliance on the authority of sacred texts of the teachings of avowed masters.
In Tibetan Buddhism, practitioners and scholars engage in reasoning and debate to
defeat misconceptions, establish a defensible view and clear away objections to
the view with one another3. In
the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha taught that any view or belief must
be tested by the results it yields when put into practice; and to guard against
the possibility of any bias or limitations in one’s understanding of those
results, they must further be checked against the experience of people who are
wise.4

1 Einstein,
Albert (1956). “Science and Religion,” Ideas and Opinions. New York:
Citadel Press, p. 26.

2 Don
Howard, Lesson no. 22, “Cosmic Religion and Jewish Identity”, Albert
Einstein: Physicist, Philosopher, Humanitarian , Course No. 8122, The Teaching
Company, LLC, 2009.

3 Tibetan
Buddhist Debate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2018, from
https://asiasociety.org/tibetan-buddhist-debate

4 “Kalama Sutta: To the
Kalamas” (AN 3.65), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access
to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013,

 

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