Dharma, Rebirth, and the Scientific Method


“Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation, that a certain hypothesis is verified or a certain fact emerges as a result of scientific investigation. And suppose, furthermore, that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research.”

[From A Policy of Kindness by His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama]

Commenting on the above quote from the Dalai Lama, author B. Alan Wallace writes the following in Buddhism and Science: 

“The Dalai Lama, however, offers an important caveat. He argues that it is critical to understand the scope and application of the scientific method. By invoking an important methodological principle, first developed fully as a crucial principle by Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), the Dalai Lama underlines the need to distinguish between what is negated through scientific method and what has been not observed through such a method. In other words, he reminds us not to conflate the two processes of not finding something and finding its nonexistence. For example, through current scientific analysis so far we may have not found evidence for rebirth, but this does not imply by any means that science has somehow negated the existence of rebirth.”

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