by Denyse O'Leary
Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama , was chosen the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan Buddhists as a small child in 1940. (He was believed to be the reincarnation of the Thirteenth Lama.) After a failed 1959 revolt against the 1949 Chinese takeover of Tibet, his government has been exiled at Dharamsala, India, along with tens of thousands of Tibetans.
The Lama would be a theocrat if he were not in exile. However, he is not at all most people's idea of a theocrat. He is an intensely curious man who has made friends with great philosophers of science and scientists, such as Karl Popper, Carl von WeizsÃ¤cker, and David Bohm. He also championed interreligious understanding, all the while campaigning for the rights of the Tibetan people. In 1989, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
In particular, he is well known for his Mind and Life conferences, which bring together physicists and neuroscientists to hear reports on neuroscience investigations into the workings of the human mind, along with input from a Buddhist persepective. As Mario Beauregard and I note in The Spiritual Brain, Buddhists have attempted to understand consciousness for several millennia, but only recently have neuroscience tools been an option. Hence their interest.
The Lama's 2005 book, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (New York: Morgan Road Books, 2005), was released amid considerable controversy. Hundreds of neuroscientists protested his addressing a 2005 conference because they saw it as mixing science and religion. More on that later. His book, Single Atom, is still a top seller in the Religion and Spirituality category.
What makes Single Atom interesting for the intelligent design controversy is the way in which an atheistic Buddhist approach to origins differs dramatically from a Western theistic approach - but comes round to rejecting Darwinism all the same. Letâ€™s have a look at some of those differences.
Next: Part Two: If you are a Buddhist, what would test your faith and what wouldn't?
Part One: Intelligent design east? The Dalai Lama kisses Darwin goodbye
Part Two: If you are a Buddhist, what would test your faith and what wouldn't?
Part Three: Why does the Dalai Lama reject Darwinism?
Part Four: Materialist neuroscientists vs. the Dalai Lama
Part Five: Other reviews of Single Atom: Materialists and non-materialists continue to lock horns
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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