There are many elements of Buddhism that directly support modern scientific beliefs. One scientific belief that is usually challenged is the prospect of a God and his ability to create a universe. According to Florida State University (2010) Buddhism does “not assert or depend on the existence of a God” (para. 4). Instead, Buddhism focuses on nature, and the ability to live as one. When people reach enlightenment (Nirvana) they become one with the universe and the cycle of samsara ends. Furthermore, Buddhism does not assert that a God could alter the destiny of individuals. Instead, Buddhism places the importance on the individual to determine his or her own fate or salvation.
Another scientific principle that is supported by Buddhism is Newton’s third law of motion. According to Newton, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” (University of Tennessee, n.d., para. 6). Buddhists support this assertion in the prospect of Karma. Karma supports the ideology that an individuals actions in the present or in the past will affect them in some way (positive or negative) in the future (BBC Religions, 2011).
Other principles that are widely supported in Buddhism are not consistent with modern scientific principles. Amongst these include the cycle of samsara, or rebirth. Scientific principles would not support the ideology that an individual can reincarnate into other forms or bodies. Instead, scientists would argue that there is no scientific way to prove this claim.
These features help to explain how Buddhism has spread to the west. The ability to have religious beliefs coincide with scientific principles helps to gain support for the religion. This contrasts other religions such as Christianity, as scientific principles generally do not support this religion. From a different perspective, some of the principles of Buddhism are difficult to prove. Therefore, a level of skepticism may remain, decreasing the number of individuals living in western countries who perceive Buddhism or other religions as accurate.
- Buddhism & Science: Probing the Boundaries of Faith and Reason (2011) Retrieved from: http://online.sfsu.edu
- Karma (2011) Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk
- Newton’s Three Laws of Motion (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://csep10.phys.utk.edu