Buddhism and science: BFF? Many scientists seem to want to embrace Buddhism (it apparently beats the alternatives) and western Buddhists in turn want to be validated by science. This issue is a thorny one and has been sorta kinda addressed on this blog here and here. Ultimately no religion can (or should attempt to) accommodate the demands of science. Buddhism for a variety of reasons is in fashion as the least repulsive religion to scientists, but the romance quickly crumbles when it comes out that, for example, the Dalai Lama may not be a Darwinist.

Anyhoo, Melissa Lafsky has a nice post for Discover about how Tibetan Buddhist monks will be doing science-y type stuff in San Francisco:

Major sectors of Christianity and Islam have made it clear that they’re not going to be best friends with science anytime soon. But at least one of the major religions is extending an olive branch.  New Scientist reports that:

More than 30 Tibetan monks, plus a handful of nuns, will be collaborating with a team from San Francisco’s Exploratorium (”the museum of art, science and human perception”) to build exotic machines to create patterns from sunlight using cardboard, dowels, reflective sheets of mylar and electronic components.

If all goes to plan, the monks will return to their monasteries and start spreading the joys of scientific exploration among other followers of their religion.

The project is the latest reflection of the monks’ spiritual leader’s fascination with science. In the Dalai Lama’s 2005 book The Universe in a Single Atom, the Nobel peace laureate argued that science and spiritual inquiry have much to learn from one other.

According to an Exploratorium press release, the Dalai Lama has been exploring how cosmology, neuroscience, and other fields interrelate with Buddhism since childhood (His Holiness does tend to be precocious). Now he’s setting his monks on an “ambitious” mission to “share not only in the traditions of Buddhism, but…also in Western scientific inquiry and evidence on the physical plane” with a goal of “shap[ing] these already highly educated monks into science leaders.”

Now if we could just get the Pope to follow suit

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