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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Secular buddhism and bad science

June 10th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The issue of secular buddhism is important because it shows how the influence of bad science is becoming more and more dominant.
You would think that people in a tradition as potent as that of buddhism could stand up to scientism and preserve the basics of their subject. But the onset of ‘secular buddhism’ shows how intelligent people are the biggest suckers for bad science, while the ‘dumpkopf” sectors of the religious right and the Bible Belt are able to distance themselves from science (with disastrous results).

It should be intelligent buddhists who can both embrace and stand back from science/scientism, and lead the way toward what should really be the ‘secular buddhism’: a form of religion for the modern age. There is a need to study modernity in a new way to see that it is not monofocussed on science. Only with the rise of technocratic domination has that happened. The onset of Newton’s philosophy was a great triumph, but its ambition to hegemony was challenged almost at once. Kant, Rousseau, the Romantics, a host of others. But somehow the dumbest forms of positivism came to dominate.
My interest in science is fundamental, but the fact remains that ‘science jocks’ rival religious true believers in their newly invented brand of stupidity.

The issue here is that science has its limits, so far. Somehow the idea became dominant (a sign of poor science intelligence) that the triumph of physics was an excuse to imitate Newtonion mechanics in all fields, the dumbest example being the natural selection theme of the Darwinists. There is no such science, as the field of evolution shows its resistance to reductionist hopes. It is not anti-science to warn that science in this mode can never address the whole of reality.

In general science can’t address reality because it can’t address values. That doesn’t matter with physics, but the suspicion lingers that as we ascend toward biology, culture, and mind science as we know it begins to fade out.
But the current crop of science obsessives, the products of truly dreadful specialized education, has been so dumbed down even as they master complex subjects requiring high intelligence that the lessons of science in the early modern have been lost.
It is baffling that buddhists should also catch this disease. It is a sign that the ‘parinirvana’ of Gautama is probably now the case: there is no more feedback to the organizations in his wake.
A new buddhism for a new age of secularism is an idea with great potential, but it is important to see that ‘buddhism’ has been reborn several times, under different names, e.g. the primordial jainism (=buddhism) of the age periods going back to the Neolithic. It might help to consider the common denominator in all these phases. That would remind secular buddhists that they are just going off the wall with a degenerate brand of a great tradition.

Tags: Science & Religion