Sunday, 6 March 2011

Dialogue between Christian and Buddhist scientists?

In recent years I have become more and more interested in Buddhism and the Indic religions. I am starting to follow the dialogue between scientists with Buddhists, mostly the Dalai Lama and his entourage. From what I have read in this field, I have to express frankly a disappointment regarding the scene between scientists and Christian theologians (ordained or not).

My clearest criticism here concerns the basic lack of efforts on the part of the Christian theologians to criticize the western world which western science has helped to build. I have found for the dialogues with Buddhists that the monks (esp. westerners with solid credentials in a scientific field converted to Tibetan Buddhism) spare no ammunition in critcizing the ideological assumptions and metaphysical bases of the western scientific Establishment, on matters as wide ranging as nuclear physics and atomic weapons, genetics and cloning, one life or not, etc.. I have sensed in the dialogues between Buddhists that the Buddhist ordained are very eager to make these occasions also at least sharing of worldviews, life views, aspirations of new avenues for humanity, etc.. In contrast it seems that when the dialogue is between scientists and Christian theologians, the latter spend so much time and effort in defending or establishing Christian theology as methodologically not inferior to natural science. This seems to be that the Christian theologians are saying implicitly to the scientists that "we won't rock your ideological boat". I sense a strong eagerness to assert oneself as on the same footing as the western scientific establishment, and very little compared to the Buddhists in pushing the agenda to whether the footing of western scientific establishment is best for humanity.

My ideal is to see multi-logues involving scientists, Christian theologians like Revd Polkinghorne as well as Buddhist monastics with backgrounds like Matthieu Ricard. I do believe that Christian theologians with such an interest need to be pushed by the Buddhists to critically reflect on what further lengths they can go in probing out the Grundlage of western science. The presence of more than one religious tradition I believe would push the dialogues to an encounter between science and religion, rather than just any religion.

These are some interesting points, though I don't think Christians are quite as un-critical of some of the smuggled assumptions as you suggest.

The International Society for Science and Religion tries to bring together serious scholars in this area from all religious traditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment