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What does Neil deGrasse Tyson have to say about “Buddhistic” astrophysics?

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What does Neil deGrasse Tyson have to say about “Buddhistic” astrophysics?

He may have what he’s described as only “the Reader’s Digest knowledge of Buddhism,” but famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a fascinating thinker in just about any capacity.

So: what does he think about how Buddhist thought and science may or may not intersect? Can they learn from each other? That’s what author Jerome Freedman wanted to know when he sat down with Tyson in 2011. The outspoken Tyson, unsurprisingly, offered skeptical and thoughtful insights into Buddhist philosophy and the nature of the universe, and you’ll find a number of these distilled here in excerpts adapted from the full conversation (which you can read or order a copy of on Freedman’s website, here). Read on for Tyson’s thoughts on the Buddhist ideas of interconnectedness and impermanence, and how a Buddhist outlook might be more conducive to science.

Impermanence

I have something to say about impermanence. I love comparing time scales of things. That’s a favorite past time of the astrophysicist. There is the time scale that is the mother of all time scales, and that’s the decay of the proton, if it decays at all. 1030 years is the latest calculation. Or 1032. That is 20 orders of magnitude longer than the current age of the universe.

So even a proton decays. That’s the most stable known particle. So you can say Buddha had it, even there. But then, once again, it explains everything. And therefore leaves us with nothing. So it’s not really a scientifically useful concept.

If you want to assume everything decays, you’ve got the proton — one sextillion times the age of the current universe — the current theories say that it will decay and then you’ve got everything. Chock it up as Buddhistic if you like!

Rationality

It’s not science if you can’t make a testable prediction. It’s metaphysics. There are tremendous metaphysics traditions in the Far East, but none of it leads to scientific discovery. But, let’s not distract ourselves with the absence of quantitative value to these teachings. There are statements about the physical world in Buddhism that are less conflicting with what science has revealed about the natural world than other religious philosophies. In Buddhism, there’s not a challenge to reconcile with science, because the spirituality doesn’t really prevent Buddhists from having those thoughts.

Science was invented in the west. But, had it been invented in the east, had it been invented in both places at the same time, I bet you it would have risen faster in the east then it did in the west. That’s my hypothesis.

Full article: Lion's Roar

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"none of it leads to scientific discovery."

That's not true. Thai scientists "discover" things every day - when they read Western scientific journals.

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I think that religion should try to answer the question "why" and science the question "how" : both cannot be mixed

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I think that religion should try to answer the question "why" and science the question "how" : both cannot be mixed

Asking "why" has already pre-decided the issue, as the question implicitly accepts the assumption that there IS a reason for things.

But this is not by any means proven or self-evident. The primary question should be: "Is there a why?"

I think the answer to this can be justifiably argued to be "no", and consequently "how" becomes the only question.

I can then accept that religion spends its time investigating a non-existent issue...

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"Science was invented in the west. But, had it been invented in the east, had it been invented in both places at the same time, I bet you it would have risen faster in the east then it did in the west. That’s my hypothesis."

The above statement could be considered controversial. We tend to think that science originated in ancient Greece during the times of Euclid, Archimedes, Aristotle and so on. However, the true scientific methodology of experimental testing to either prove or falsify a theory or hypothesis, probably originated in the Middle East.

The first true scientists was probably a Muslim with the name of Ibn Al Haytham, (or Alhacen, and later Alhazen).
He was born in Iraq in 965 AD, and died about 1040 AD in Cairo.

You can read all about him at http://www.ibnalhaytham.com/discover/who-was-ibn-al-haytham/

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I find that when Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses Astro-physics and Cosmology and Astronomy...  he's truly brilliant.  I love listening to him.   

            But when he goes off course and discusses economics, climatology/paleoclimatology or politics or other subjects he is not expert in....  he demonstrates his ignorance of those subjects to people who truly know those subjects.   

   He truly fools people who know no better..and they hang on to his every word. 

             Neil deGrasse Tyson should stick to his specialty.   He truly is amazing when it comes to Astro-physics and Cosmology and Astronomy.  

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On 2016-1-29 at 7:09 PM, partington said:

I think the answer to this can be justifiably argued to be "no", and consequently "how" becomes the only question.

 

In absolute terms, you maybe considered just as incorrect as those who argue a "yes" answer.

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On ‎29‎/‎01‎/‎2016 at 0:09 AM, partington said:

Asking "why" has already pre-decided the issue, as the question implicitly accepts the assumption that there IS a reason for things.

But this is not by any means proven or self-evident. The primary question should be: "Is there a why?"

I think the answer to this can be justifiably argued to be "no", and consequently "how" becomes the only question.

I can then accept that religion spends its time investigating a non-existent issue...

Surely the words 'why' and 'how' are often interchangeable, as in 'Why am I tired?' and 'How is it that I am tired?' How come? is also a substitute for Why?

 

I get the impression that the word 'why' tends to be asking for the short answer, whereas the word 'how' tends to result in a longer answer providing more details.

For example, if we ask the question, 'Why do we feel pain?', the short answer could be, in order to survive. A feeling a pain can be considered as a strong biological message that something is wrong with our body which needs fixing. It's essential information for our survival.

 

Imagine if a child could stick its hand in a fire without feeling any pain. It might light it's hand like a candle and watch in amazement as its hand burns.

A person might sprain his ankle. Without an accompanying feeling of pain the person could continue as usual, jogging or jumping or playing football until his ankle completely broke.

However, if we ask the question 'how' does pain arise, then we could get a very long answer from Biologists and Neuroscientists.

 

When the question 'why' is unanswerable, so is the question 'how', I suspect. At least I can't think of any exceptions.

 

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