Before leaving this part of the talk, I would like to insert another small observation. The emergence and development of science has undoubtedly helped to improve understanding and the human intellect, about this there is no argument. But at the same time, if we look closely we will see that it has also caused human intelligence and understanding to decline. How so? In previous ages, when science was just beginning to emerge and develop, people were very impressed with its achievements. People were excited at the discoveries and technological achievements of science. They put all their hopes for an answer to their problems into science and technology. All of nature's mysteries were going to be revealed, and science would lead humanity into an age of perfect happiness.
These people who wholeheartedly trusted science then turned around and began to doubt their religions and the answers provided by them. Many people lost faith and discarded religion.
Unfortunately, the truth dealt with by science is only a specialized or fractional truth. It deals only with the physical world. Science has no answers to the questions dealing with internal human problems, the answers for which mankind had previously turned to religion. The discarding of religion in modern times would not be such a big loss, if by religion we simply meant the institutional forms known as religion, but this discarding is also a discarding of that part of religion which dealt with solving internal human problems.
With science taking no interest in these matters, and people discarding them, it gives rise to a huge gap. The answers which had previously been searched for and provided by religions have been ignored, causing a retardation of mankind's mental and spiritual growth. It is not only retarded, in some cases it has even gone into retrograde.
The nature of the world, life and human problems does not allow mankind to ignore the need for religion. Fundamental, immediate and practical answers are still as much in demand as ever before. When science is seen to be incapable of providing an answer to this need, and when human beings tire of their fascination with science, they come to their senses and remember this fundamental need within. Then they turn once more to religion for their answers. But because the stream of mental development has been interrupted, or set back, such searching is very unsteady. It might even be necessary to start all over again. Examples of this can be seen in some of the religious developments in highly developed countries, where, in spite of being surrounded by high scientific advancement, people have foolishly and gullibly fallen for charlatanry.
However that may be, science is not without its merits and blessings in leading to better understanding within religious circles. It is well known how religion, especially in its institutional forms, has on occasion taken an active role in suppressing the development of human intelligence. Some religions have clung blindly to absurd beliefs and practices, even in the face of their own fundamental principles.
The development of science, in particular its attitudes and methods, has had some measure of good influence on religions and religious attitudes in society. At the very least, it has given the opportunity, or acted as a catalyst, for religion to re-evaluate some of its teachings and attitudes. It also serves as a gauge with which to appraise the answers given by the different religions, and offers them a chance to better themselves. However, from the point of view of the masses, especially in countries which have received scientific influences in their outlooks and methods, science does not seem to have had a significantly beneficial effect on lifestyles and mental well- being. Science itself is not of much interest to most people. Even though most would look at science favourably, their belief in it is much the same as how they would believe in something magical or mystical. Their belief is naive, it is not based on knowledge. This is scientism. When most people think of science, they look straight past it at technology, which they look on as a means for gratifying their desires.For that reason, the development of science has had little positive influence on the knowledge, understanding, or attitudes of society. On the brighter side, at this point in time people seem to be getting over their excitement about science and are beginning to look at their needs in relation to religion. Numerous religions are addressing these needs on different levels. At the same time, some members of scientific circles are becoming aware of the limitations of orthodox science, expanding the horizons of their research to include religions, which suggests the possibility of a fully-developed science merging with afully-developed religion, which together can lead humanity to reality, peace, and a life free of foolish attachments.
On the other hand, science may be trying to prove something which religion has already predicted. While humanity cannot wait for an answer, we must provide one of some kind, and this answer has become religion. This answer is still not proven, but we must accept it for now, while science slowly and methodically tests it out. In this scenario, science is that effort on the part of humanity to prove the truths (or non-truths) of religion. Looking at it in this way, the two fiends harmonize; having arisen from a common origin, they eventually merge once more. As time goes on, the limits of the scientific method will once again be reached. Science will be unable to prove the truths presented by religion. A numbered leading scientists are now beginning to realise this. They say that this final, ultimate truth spoken of by religion is beyond the reached science at any stage in time. Now we have talked about science and also religion, going through the origins and development of both. Now let us take a look at Buddhism and finally get into the subject proper of this talk.
... Many people today view ethics as merely the
arbitrary dictates of certain groups of people ...
but while science has cut itself off from
any consideration of ethics or values,
Buddhism studies and teaches the role of ethics
within the natural process....
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