Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Buddhism on the Brain

In today's New York Times there is an editorial by David Brooks (whom I know nothing about) called, "The Neural Buddhists." It discusses the move beyond materialism among the brain theorists (what we like to call "philosophers of mind") to the acceptance of the transcendent: "The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real." He calls this "Neural Buddhism."

Brooks reads this shift as part of the culture war between a Christian worldview and a scientific worldview. But this one is not so much about atheism as it is about orthodoxy. He says, "The cognitive revolution is not going to end up undermining faith in God, it's going [to] end up challenging faith in the Bible."

A couple of (undeveloped thoughts):
1. The vast majority of scientists are not going about actively attempting to undermine Christianity or religion in general. There are only a few loud-mouthed ones with big book deals that are doing that. The rest go about their business trying to advance within their guilds by discovering new things.
2. There are two extremes we would do well to avoid: a) reading the Bible as a scientific textbook; b) thinking that revelation has no import for the larger worldview in which science operates.

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