Back 25 or so years ago, some people, including me, from my church created what we called a religion-science dialogue group that gave presentations on different subjects around town.
It was a way of suggesting that science and religion need to be in conversation with one another because each of them has something of value to offer. Science can answer questions that are out of range for religion and religion can offer answers to the one question science can never explain: purpose, or why we exist at all.
That group eventually dissolved, but my interest in science and religion having a dialogue has not. Which is why today I am going to link you to two sites with quite different ideas.
The first is this story from Pacific Standard magazine. It describes the benefits Buddhism can bring to people who are interested in environmental science, and particularly such issues as global warming.
It describes what it calls "a daylong gathering of activists, yoga instructors, Buddhist practitioners and meditation enthusiasts all intent on bringing more mindfulness and loving kindness to their approach to climate activism."
I'd not previously given much thought to how Buddhist thought and practice might inform an approach to ecology. Pretty intriguing -- in the way that, say, an ethic of environmental stewardship taught by the three Abrahamic faiths is interesting.
The other site I'm linking you to is this 2016 blog post from my friend Markandey Katju, a retired justice on India's Supreme Court. Markandey and I were classmates for part of a year in the 1950s in India and have remained friends since then. He's a self-declared atheist and thinks the only reasonable approach to understanding the world and our lives is scientific. He has no room for religion.
"Religion and science," he asserts, "are poles apart. It is nonsense to say that they complement each other. Religion is based on 'divine revelation' and faith, while science is based on reason and observation. I believe that men should be governed by science."
Markandey seems to be a proponent of what has been called the "God of the gaps" theory, meaning, in his words, "With every step science advances, religion recedes." Which is to say that religion is useful for answering mysteries only until science solves those mysteries. At which point religion proves useless, according to this theory.
But, as I say, science can never answer the question about life's ultimate purpose. That is the area in which only religion and philosophy can offer answers.
So you have your choice today. Is religion -- specifically Buddhism -- helpful in pursuing environmental science or is religion useless or worse when it comes to science?
You know where my friend Markandey Katju stands. And that's not where I stand on this matter. But he and I know how to disagree and still be friends (and, by the way, science didn't teach me that).
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SAME SONGS, BUT MORMONLESS
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is changing its name. It now will be known as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Well, that's certainly better than, say, The Great Salt Lake Flats and Sharps.