A friend of mine posted on Facebook a quote that was attributed to the Dalai Lama. It read, "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." Immediately skeptical, I did a quick Google search to see if any other sources could verify the quote's authenticity. To my amazement, I found an editorial in the New York Times written by Tenzin Gyatso that contained this exact statement (for those who don't know, Tenzin Gyatso is the name of the 14th Dalai Lama). So, here we have a rough equivalent of the Buddhist Pope saying that religion must bow to the authority of science. What a statement!
The conclusions we can draw from this are endless - The Dalai Lama isn't saying that Buddhism will adapt with science. He is, quite literaly, suggesting that science is superior; he is suggesting that traditional Buddhist doctrine would instantaneously be wrong if science found itself in disagreement with the faith (Could you image the Pope suggesting that?).
There are a great deal of reasons why I find Buddhism to be so fascinating, but chief among them is the Dalai Lama. Not only is he a religious leader (I believe) who is before his time, but I think that we'll start to see more religious leaders begin following his example by embracing science rather than staunchly opposing it at every turn. If not, as I've said before, I think we'll see religion begin to change on a fundamental level, unrecognizable from its current form.
There are other supremely interesting quotes from the same editorial:
"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview."
"The goal here is not to prove Buddhism right or wrong - or even to bring people to Buddhism - but rather to take these methods out of the traditional context, study their potential benefits, and share the findings with anyone who might find them helpful."
"You see, many people still consider science and religion to be in opposition. While I agree that certain religious concepts conflict with scientific facts and principles, I also feel that people from both worlds can have an intelligent discussion, one that has the power ultimately to generate a deeper understanding of challenges we face together in our interconnected world."
Also, this last quote plays into the discussion we are having over AI: "Just as the world of business has been paying renewed attention to ethics, the world of science would benefit from more deeply considering the implications of its own work. Scientists should be more than merely technically adept; they should be mindful of their own motivation and the larger goal of what they do: the betterment of humanity."
If you want to read the whole editorial, here's the link: Our Faith in Science By Tenzin Gyatso.
Hope you're all having a wonderful break!