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Buddhism and Cosmology


Anti-Buddhist arguments
The usual arguments against Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy.

Behaviorism
'...It is amazing that no-one ever realised that all phenomena - from atoms to galaxies - can only be known via internal mental states. If internal mental states do not exist then the things that become manifest through them cannot exist - or at any rate must always remain totally innaccessible to understanding.  (But presumably this doesn't matter because understanding, being an internal mental state, also cannot exist!)...'

Christianity and  Buddhism, Genesis and Science
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'Christian Fundamentalists still hanker after the truth of Genesis, whereas Buddhists are happy to accept scientific explanations for the origin of the Universe.'

Creationism
'Bible-believing creationists claim that the world and all its species were created in six days of a single week around 4004 BC . In contrast, Buddhist philosophy is evolutionary. Buddha taught that all things are impermanent, constantly arising, becoming, changing and fading.'

Dualism
'The western response to materialism is dualism, which claims that there are two kinds of things in the universe - material objects and souls. The major exponent of dualism was Descartes. Dualism implies that  mental experience is a radically new feature that only humans possess, and a late optional extra slipped into an already well-defined, functional, physical universe.'

Emergence
'One interesting aspect of emergent phenomena is the different causal and organisational relationships which appear at different levels of investigation.  For example, ecology emerges out of biology, which emerges out of chemistry, which emerges out of physics, which emerges out of mathematics, which emerges out of the mind contemplating the empty set.  Each level of investigation has its own explanatory relationships, yet if we check carefully there is no 'added extra' coming from the side of the objects. (Everything is algorithmically compressible without remainder, there are no mysterious ingredients added as we progress from lower levels to higher levels).'

Empty set - the origins of number
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...in the final analysis the entire number system has been generated by the play of mind on emptiness, in the complete absence of the need to refer to any material thing, or things, which are being counted.  Numbers are therefore fundamentally devoid of inherent 'Platonic' existence..'


Feminism and inclusive language -   Why the Creator of the universe must be male
Why was the universe designed by a male rather than a female? Gender is required to allow DNA to recombine and evolve in different and potentially novel combinations.  Patriarchal religions preach that God is a single unborn, uncreated, unevolved, non-biological entity who does not reproduce and will endure for all eternity. He hasn't undergone evolution Himself,  so why does He need to be sexually differentiated at all?.

God
'For in Him we live, and move, and have our being'

Laws of physics - their anthropic origin
'Both quantum theory and Buddhist teachings on sunyata suggest that as soon as an observer's mind makes contact with a superposed system, all the numerous possibilities collapse into one actuality. At some instant one of these possible alternative universes produced an observing lifeform. The first act of observation by this mind caused the entire superposed multiverse to collapse immediately into one of its numerous alternatives'

Mathematics - Its unreasonable effectiveness in science and engineering
So we are left with something of a mystery. According to the physicalist worldview, the mind (including mathematicians' minds) is an epiphenomenon of matter which has evolved solely to ensure the survival of the selfish genes which code for it. Why should this 'top-level' phenomenon have such intimate access to the 'bottom level' phenomena such as quantum physics? After all, the two levels are supposedly separated by less well-understood (in some cases) explanatory layers such as evolutionary psychology,   neurology, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and chemistry.

Metaphysics
'Metaphysics means, literally,  'beyond physics'.  Metaphysics deals with phenomena which are either more basic than physics, or beyond the reach of physical methods of analysis and understanding.'

Mind over matter
Can the mind directly affect sensitive machines?

Multiverse
'Throughout its early history the universe continued to develop as an immense superposition of probabilities. Not only was the structure of the universe superposed, but all logically possible states of matter, physical constants, properties and laws were simultaneously present and evolving into ever increasing diversity.'

Obscurantism
At present the Young Earth view is winning within the US educational system, as more and more boards of education restrict the teaching of evolution, plate tectonics and astronomy. The Young Earthers' victory is being won not by the strength of their arguments, but by imposition of censorship. It is likely that soon many young Americans will simply never come into contact with the concepts the Big Bang or a universe created prior to 4004 BC - either in their lessons or libraries.

Spooky action at a distance (EPR Paradox)
'One of the most vivid illustrations of the interactions of the mind of the observer with a quantum system is given by EPR - the 'Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox', or 'Spooky action at a distance' as it is sometimes known. The experimental evidence seems to show that the observer's mind goes to its object unobstructedly and instantaneously.'

Young Earth
'The 'young-earth' viewpoint is similar to creationism. The theological motivation is identical -  to defend Biblical chronology by proving that the world is only a few thousand years old. The challenge facing the 'young-earthers' is that all dating mechanisms which use the decay of naturally radioactive atoms in minerals agree that many of the earth's rocks were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. To get round this objection  the 'young earthers' have either to invoke more conspiracy theories, or postulate that somehow the rate of radioactive decay was very much faster on the early earth than it is now. '

- Sean Robsville

RATIONAL BUDDHISM
If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?

Christian versus Buddhist worldviews

Buddhism in Everyday Life
The Daily Meditation