Monday, September 09, 2013

Science? Buddhism?

I think one reason I had had this blog quasi-moribund was because one is never going to stop the flood of ignorance.  It's good to try to do one's best though not to be a part of it.  Here now comes the Zennist, with more of that "scientism" stuff.
Western Buddhists seem to want Buddhism to embrace their religion called “scientism” which is the belief that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative world view....
These Western Buddhists don’t seem to understand that science, when you boil it all down, is just a huge kettle of metaphors which still can’t answer, “What is the universe made of?”  One such metaphor is the universe is like an encyclopedia of mathematics.  But the universe doesn’t speak mathematically.  The general theory of relativity doesn’t speak about a universe that we can observe.  Another metaphor concerns light.  Is it like a particle or is it like a wave?  Particle and wave are just metaphors.  The help us to understand light, but at the same time, they also hide the real nature of light.   Particle and wave are also fictions being limited in that respect.  There is scarcely any difference between metaphors and fictions.  Both can be apt and very useful—both are, undeniably, fabrications of the mind.
When we compare old religions with modern science they are no different when looked at through the notion of metaphor.  In one extensive metaphor, God creates heaven and earth.  In a more modern one there is a big bang.  God, a creator-builder, is a metaphor for the mystery of creation.  The big band is an explosion metaphor for the mystery of creation.  Both are also fictional which means they are both artful fabrications of the human mind. 

I keep hearing about these "Western Buddhists"who subscribe to "scientism"  but I have yet to actually see the writing of any of them.  I tend to think that the charge of "scientism" is made by woo advocates, who themselves hardly have any idea of what science is or what the scientific method is. 

Scientists attempt to derive an ordered, logical explanation from phenomena that are observed.  In one sense you could say the "universe doesn't speak," but on the other hand, a hell of a lot of things are well explained by appeal to the Central Limit Theorem.  Science is not at all concerned with "the real nature" of light, but only phenomena associated with it. 

And yes, the General Theory of Relativity not only describes a universe we can observe, it describes a universe we have observed. 

The Big Bang is not "an explosion metaphor for the mystery of creation," it's a limit implied by running the state trajectory of the universe backward.

While of course this is all encountered by scientists, woo-advocates, and others through their mind,  regarding observable phenomena science has proven useful in its ability to describe phenomena. Metaphysics is still outside the range of science and is irrelevant to it.

If Buddhists wish to speak about science, I would hope they would engage in right speech in discussing it.  It might help for them then to learn about science, at least enough to understand what science is and what it is not.

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