The battle between science and religion – between, on the one hand, the worldview of atheists, humanists, agnostics and others who see this universe as devoid of any God, and entrenched believers on the other hand, whether Christian, Jew, or Muslim – seems only to be growing more strident as time goes by.
Actually, from all reports, the ranks of the unbelievers seem to be increasing, especially among the younger generation. Many of these are people who may have grown up in Christianity or Islam, but are turning their backs on religion in general because of the dogma and authoritarianism which they find no longer believable or palatable and which serve no useful function in their daily lives.
Atheists and humanists will point emphatically to the destruction that science has wrought upon religious beliefs during the past four hundred years, turning our worldview upside down.
But at the same time, since the turn into the twentieth century, the old world of classical science and physics has also been turned upside down with the advent of quantum theory and physics.
This is the world of electrons and atoms, quarks, bosons, strings and dark matter. This world exists and underlies and comprises everything we see. And it underlies everything we ourselves are also, mind and body, we are bound by the same immutable laws.
This is a world that behaves with its own laws – one that seems to turn our usual concepts of laws upside down. Nothing can quite be pinpointed here; we are dealing with a world of “uncertainty” – with electrons, for instance, on different sides of the universe seemingly being able to communicate with each other instantaneously – faster than the speed of light.
One of the great physicists of that time, John Wheeler, once wrote:
“Nothing is more important about the quantum principle than this, that it destroys the concept of the world as ‘sitting out there’….One has to cross out the old word ‘observer’, and put in its place the new word ‘participator’. In some strange sense, the universe is a participatory universe.”
In other words, our own lives and the universe around us are in truth deeply interconnected in more ways that we can even imagine. This is what science is revealing to us.
So how are these conflicting views to be finally reconciled?
There are other ways of looking at these problems, and in a recent talk given at the Humanist Community in San Jose, California, author James Hilgendorf presented a Buddhist perspective.
Including ideas and commentary from a wide range of famous people, including Arnold Toynbee, Albert Einstein, physicist John Wheeler, near-death researchers Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. Kenneth Ring, Leo Tolstoy, and others, as well as insights from Buddhism, Hilgendorf offered a vision of our relationship to the world and universe around us that combines, yet transcends, both science and religion as we commonly know them.
Hilgendorf has been practicing Buddhism for forty-three years with the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.
His complete talk is recorded on the YouTube video below.
James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books opening up a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, and a new religion for the world.
To arrange speaking engagements, contact him directly.