At 13.7: Cosmos and Culture, a blog sponsored by NPR, astrophysicist Adam Frank takes on the changing relationship between Buddhism and science. Early interest in Buddhism among scientists had to do with an assumed parallel between the principles of quantum physics and ancient truths of eastern religion. In Frank’s estimation, this 1970s discussion was “mostly silly.”
More recently, however, the discussion has shifted. Today, scientists take an interest in Buddhism in hopes of learning something about mind and consciousness. Frank reports from a recent conference he attended and notes that, aside from neuroscientists, scholars with an interest in holism, human evolution, and sustainable culture—some of whom work in the social sciences—took an interest in Buddhism as well. He concludes:
When we discuss science and religion, as we so often do in this blog, we usually focus on the conflict model that has been the public norm in this country. The problem with including Buddhism in the mix of our discussions of science and religion is that its most visible public entrance into the debate had been through the quantum mechanics and physical sciences. This is, to my mind, the wrong gate. Hopefully that era has passed and a new and more meaningful discussion can begin that will be fruitful and enlightening for everyone.