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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Neural Buddhism: Do neurons get reincarnated?

Everyone seems to be getting in on the act. Now Chuck Colson takes a whack at David Brooks's "neural Buddhism" (= the neuroscience wew are left with now that materialism has proven to be the Mud that failed).

Colson, a Christan evangelist, isn't at all happy with the Buddhism part:
The evidence from neuroscience is only part of the picture. While the mystical religious experiences and moral intuitions he writes about are shared by many religious traditions, there is no comparable evidence for Buddhism’s other claims: Its tenets about reincarnation and the illusory nature of physical existence cannot be substantiated.

The interesting thing, however, as Mario and I discussed in The Spiritual Brain, is that in 2005 materialist neuroscientists staged a big protest over the Dalai Lama giving a lecture at a neuroscience conference - because he believes in reincarnation.

We thought they were out of line for precisely the reason Colson gives: Neuroscience as a discipline can't really say anything meaningful about reincarnation. The Lama's belief that he is the reincarnation of the previous Lama is - from a neuroscience perspective - not researchable, so it is not a belief that should put him in conflict with neuroscientists.

Of course, the materialist objects to the belief because it implies some sort of survival beyond death - but that isn't about neuroscience either, it's about materialism. Fortunately, the protest was ignored and the lecture went ahead. Good thing because the Lama has been a stalwart supporter of neuroscience research.

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