Friday, July 3, 2009

Science, Religion, Fundamentalists

An interesting confluence of news stories were available in print and audio this past week. First, heard on BBC on Monday (by the way, searching for stories on the BBC website in order to document a post like this, is one of the most frustrating endeavours...rarely do search words, checking story times,etc. yield useful results)was a story about a surgeon in Turkey who is one of the leading lights in the Muslim world advocating against Darwin and the theory of evolution. He joins his fundamentalist Christian and fundamentalist Jewish brethren in frothing at the mouth on the subject. He presents a Creationist Science point of view on the biblical/Quranic view of the origin of life and, in the Abrahamic tradition, explains the creation of the earth in six days by doing a Bill Clinton....it all depends on how you define the length of a day.......Fortunately, there are plenty of sane scientists and philosophers in Turkey who are able to debate him on this.

At the other end of the spectrum, was a story in the New York Times about a group of Tibetan monks and nuns who are taking a course to learn the basics of mathematics and science in order to broaden their understanding of the outer world. This is a one month course at Emory University in Atlanta . While many of the participants found some of the material slow going, their life-long habit of focus and meditation allowed them to gain insights very quickly. In advocating for this type of learning, the Dalai Lama said views science and Buddhism as complementary “investigative approaches with the same greater goal, of seeking the truth,” he wrote in “The Universe in a Single Atom,” his book on “how science and spirituality can serve our world.” He stresses that science is especially important for monastics who study the nature of the mind and the relationship between mind and brain." (NYT cited above)

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