The Dalai Lama has an op-ed on science and faith in yesterdays New York Times. There are some delightful descriptions of his encounters with science as a child, which I imagine are excerpts from his recent book. I also like how he intertwingles religion and science–not making one higher up in a hierarchy.
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.
And the converse:
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.
The impact of science and our way of life on our environment is something I’ve been reading about in Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things. I haven’t finished it yet but the essential message so far is that we need to design objects in our environment so that they can reveal information about how they fit into the environment. This information amounts to links to databases that can track the history of the object, how to get customer support, history of ownership, manufacturing origins, internal components, details on customizing and interfacing, etc. Sterling calls these objects spimes and if you are interested his speech at SIGGRAPH has more details.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m mentioning both Spimes, Buddhism and Ted Nelson in the same breath. I suppose all three focus the attention on just how deeply interconnected we all are with each other and with the world around us. Sometimes these interconnections can be overwhelming. Meditating on this inter-connectedness, and building tools to manage the connections responsibly are two worthwhile things I’d like to work on.