- The position of the Mīmāṃsā school was not only that the scriptures of what we now call Hinduism had no author but that the only sentences that are authoritative are those that express a command either to do something or to avoid doing something. This means that anything that might be described as narrative is not considered authoritative. This approach means there is very little potential for conflict between science (which has few injunctions in the imperative voice) and religious texts, or between historical narratives and religious texts. Scripture deals solely with the realm of “ought,” while science and history deal solely with the realm of “is”. Do you think an approach like that could be used in the West to reduce the tensions between science and religion?
- In their critique of those schools of thought that regard divine revelation as superior to merely human thinking, Buddhists made made of the linguistic, rhetorical and stylistic similarities between passages of scripture and poetry and prose composed by human beings. Is that a convincing line of argument? If not, can you think of ways of improving on the Buddhists’ argument?
- Some modern Buddhists have claimed that there are points of resemblance between Buddhism and science, not so much in the conclusions they reach but in their insistence that no claim be accepted with being put to a practical test. This anti-authoritarianism spirit, says these authors, makes conflicts between science and Buddhism unlikely. Every Buddhist teaching, they say, is akin to a working hypothesis in science. Thus the Four Noble Truths might be thought of as the Four Plausible Working Hypotheses. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the claim that there is little potential for conflict between science and Buddhism?