So we just got back from vacation. It wasn’t long enough to forget what I was working on or any of my network passwords (they never are), but we enjoyed the cool, overcast skies, saw some lighthouses, ate some great food, and saw a pod of whales from the balcony of our hotel. The only downside was a bathroom that looked as if it had been taken directly from an Airbus 320. It was clean and well kept, but damn was it tiny.
Anyway. Not your problem. Today’s post is short, and sweet … brought to you once again by my favorite religious leader, the Dalai Lama.
This is also the guy who said that if science proved wrong some of the concepts of Buddhism, then it’s Buddhism that would have to change in response. Compare this to evangelical Christianity, which has responded to such “controversies” like evolution and big bang cosmology by 1) not bothering to understand any of it, 2) making fun of what little they can figure out, and 3) calling what the bible says “science”, thus demonstrating they don’t even understand what science is either.
But let’s put that aside for a moment and consider that when your normal, everyday, mainstream Christian is asked what what Jesus and the bible teaches, it’s going to be something along the lines of mercy, compassion, kindness, etc. Pretty standard stuff. But even within that population, the argument will be made that you still need to belong to some sort of religion in order to have that kind of moral foundation. Atheists are, according to a recent Pew survey, the least trusted religious (so to speak) demographic in this country.
So, for the Dalai Lama to suggest that morality should be de-coupled with religion is big. Atheists have been maintaining for a long time that our moral code comes more from secular moral philosophy and rational discussion than the pages of an ancient Hebrew text, but to have a religious leader say the same will carry far more weight than people like Dawkins, Dennet, and others. We’ll see if it has any effect; Buddhism has always been the odd man out religion-wise (don’t believe in god, willing to change in light of better explanations of reality, etc.) so I’d expect them to clear the path for other religions to follow. Let’s just hope they do.