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If all religions took this stance I believe alot of them would be better off.....
joshua keene's profile photoDonovan Colbert's profile photoMike Irwin's profile photoJudy Kerr's profile photo
share it around, i find it incredibly refreshing to see someone in religion having an open mind.
Sounds like that man might know a thing or two
I like that. I believe that the pope also said that about Christianity 
Yea, however I believe that the Dalai Lama would actually follow through on that +chad aldridge .....
Good, I was just about to Google to check on that, didn't sound like anything the Pope would say LOL
This is the reason that I have a hard time thinking of budhism as a religion. Isn't a major teaching of theirs pure and honest skepticism? I need to find a good book on the subject.
I feel that he is way open to changing his beliefs if need be, he just won the Templeton Prize,"The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions has made him an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among world religions, has won the 2012 Templeton Prize."
I guess you can do either way with it however I do believe that this is a man who sees religion has a set of defining moral values that are fluid and open to change as humanity and it's knowledge evolve
I quickly scanned through this thread... I want to point out a couple of things.

+Paul Newport It isn't EVER the onus on a metaphysically based religion or spiritual belief system to "prove" that one of their dogmas or beliefs is true. Matters of factual proof or disproof are always solely on the discipline of Science. If science doesn't even want to bother with trying to observe a phenomenon, then the onus is on science to admit that reluctance and say, "we do not have enough information to make a judgment either way on that issue". "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but we're so sure that this is just metaphysical hocus-pocus we're not even going to entertain approaching this with the scientific method, because to do so would damage our credibility", is not a sufficient answer from the scientific community in matters like these.

So the problem comes when secular atheists like Stephen Hawking claim, "at the end of life, we simply wink out, and there is no God". Hawking has absolutely zero supporting evidence to back this claim. He has his own belief system, which is just as faith-based as a devoutly religious person's perspective. If you agree with Hawking, you also have nothing but your opinion, your faith, against the faith of those who believe otherwise. Neither of your positions has any support for your argument. All you have is your feeling. I draw no distinction between either opinion.

I'll give you a couple of great examples that tie nicely into this:


The Vatican has an official stand that there may be other intelligent life in the universe based on sound scientific hypothesis and emerging theory and evidence (such as the increasing number of discovered planets of the right size and composition within the "habitable zone" for life in their solar systems). The Vatican ADMITS that they've been proven wrong about this by science. Their traditional orthodox theology was that humans were unique creations in the universe in reflecting God's image - the only creatures capable of intelligent thought which is evidence of the "divine spark". But if a more advance race should show up, that certainly undermines that scriptural belief. So they've changed their theology to account for this.

Most of the sites you'll find discussing this will be fringe sites focused on UFOlogy - but this above is a mainstream news outlet.

So, when we're talking about being close-minded, it seems like the Catholic church is already taking steps to live up to the ideals in the quote above. I find it ironic that posters here are claiming the Catholic church isn't capable of embracing scientific change when it contradicts their theology and yet those posters haven't researched enough about the Catholic church to know that the exact OPPOSITE is the case. Where is the close-mindedness here? Give some credit where credit is due. The Catholic church has done what you claim they are incapable of doing.

Two: You specifically mention reincarnation. In fact, a very respected scientist is at the lead of the scientific study of reincarnation.

The historical back-story of Dr. Ian Stevenson is very interesting. His studies include many mainstream, peer-reviewed examples of study applying the scientific method, and his work in those examples is very highly regarded among his peers in the scientific community. But he has found very interesting results in the fringe study of reincarnation (with a focus relating on "reincarnated" individuals describing who they were, how they died, and having correlated birthmarks consistent with the traumatic injuries that caused death in the previous life. Despite being rural people with no long distance communication, the descriptions were consistently accurate, as were the method of traumatic death. Read the Wiki list for more details).

The strange thing is that mainstream scientists have a certain reluctance to discuss Dr. Stevenson's research on reincarnation - because he is so widely admired and his methods are so consistent with the scientific method - but they don't like the results because it upsets the conventional wisdom, dogma and belief system of the scientific community.

Again, the close-mindedness does not exist on the level of the spiritual as frequently as the secular. Perhaps this thread helps illustrate my points about this even further. People who have not studied in depth have opinions based on what they've been TOLD by science - that they take on FAITH, without ever digging deeper themselves to find out if what they've been told is true or not.

Skepticism. Research for yourself. I bet the Dali Lama knows (more than I do) about both of the topics I addressed above, just... for the record.
Buddhism is generally considered a philosophy. You can be a Tao Buddhist, a Christian Buddhist, a Zen Buddhist... Buddhism is generally compatible with whatever religious doctrine you believe and the study of Buddhism isn't concerned with your conventional spiritual faith. Buddhism as it is practiced today is a spiritual framework for how to live a good life. Eastern philosophy is really hard for the western mind to wrap itself around. A big problem comes when the Western Christian finds that Buddhism puts itself as superseding a religious Deity. Before your Christian God, Buddhism describes the meaning of the universe that being must operate in. It supersedes Him. At least, that is my understanding. I'm no Buddhist. There is a lot of discipline required, so I hear.
I was describing Buddhism to a friend offline while discussing these threads, and I said,

Buddhism says if you believe in a Christian God named Jehovah who sent his son Jesus to Earth to save human souls - that is fine. You may be right. We do not know the answer to that. We are concerned with the framework under which that happens, or does not happen - and until your idea is proven correct or wrong, it is as likely as anything else, as we understand reality through the lens of Buddhism. What we want to understand is more fundamental than something so specific.

And then I thought... remarkable how much that is like what I've been trying to say here.
+Donovan Colbert and +Erin Coyne are there no ideas for which this blanket of respect is harmful? Is it perhaps just the opposite of the belief that no ideas deserve respect, or don't deserve it until earned? I hope that by now you both know that I'm not baiting. Finding myself in the wrong the other day has lead me to tread carefully as I reconstruct my view. Respect may just be so complex that it requires a person by person, case by case, moment to moment decision. Could you have no respect for a person for one thing and then have complete respect for them for another?
I'd also recommend reading this article:

to expand on some of the scientific theory which the theologists and scientists in the Catholic church (they do have a lot of scientists and other really-smart-people in their ranks) referenced when changing their theology about intelligent life with a "divine spark" in the Universe. They didn't just change their minds because Zecharia Sitchin convinced them that we were seeded by alien astronauts. They used... ta-dum... SCIENCE. Recently. Like, between 1960 and today they've radically altered their theological dogma based on emerging scientific evidence - from, "we are the only special creation of God in the entire universe with souls to save" to "the universe may be full of souls worthy of salvation". That is a pretty big change influenced directly by scientific study.

On the other hand, they maintain their stand on abortion, homosexual relationships and other hot political topics and ideological topics. But there isn't any scientific evidence to contradict their theological belief. There won't be, because these are morality issues - not science. You don't have to like it, or agree with it, but you can't really establish if it is actually wrong, right, or something else entirely.

Science doesn't lead you to conclude that homosexuality is good or BAD. It should lead you to conclude that homosexuality is NATURAL and that if something is natural there is an apparent paradox in a benevolent God prohibiting you from acting on that nature, especially if He claims to have created that natural balance of law. But you've left science - you're now in your own area of metaphysical rationalization. In the other thread, I expanded on one way to look at issues like this that I think has a stronger scientific plausibility than either the rationalization that this activity is good or bad. Maybe actions have quantum repercussions in a reality we cannot observe but already exist in and neither side understands exactly what certain "religious" prohibitions are about.

For the record, lacking any sound reason to believe otherwise, I am firmly pro-choice and actually support removing state and federal recognition of ceremonial/spiritual marriage to be replaced by a universal domestic partnership entered into as a standard contract by any number of consenting adults of any relation, relationship, gender or sexual orientation - not that my opinion on those topics really has anything to do with the larger discussion going on here. I just wanted to head that direction off at the pass.
+Erin Coyne I get that. I was up all night after our last discussion trying to find an order for all of the new pieces Donovan supplied me. I figured it was a better use of my time then sleeping would have been.
I hope it was a positive mind-blowing experience, Erin. :) I get real uncomfortable talking about these topics that are so black and white to so many people - where there is so much pressure to be "either with us or against us".

As far as respecting an individual opinion and not others - exactly.

+Mike Irwin On respect for belief - that is a difficult one. I have a friend who believes in "chemtrails". I have other friends that believe in 9-11 conspiracy theories that include the Bush Dynasty and Zionist cabals. I have a friend who thinks Vin Diesel is one of the 21st century's greatest actors. Do I have my own opinions on these topics? Yeah. I sure do. Do I feel compelled to argue my perspective when I think someone is so obviously off base? Yes. But I try to do it , increasingly so as I get older, from a tone of as much respect and tolerance as I can muster. I mean, I'm involved in these threads because I'm arguing MY perspective as "superior", right? I'm trying to convince minds and change hearts - so I've got an investment in what is being said here and a bias toward my opinion.

But imagine if I came into this thread with a very defensive tone supporting Christianity, or a very offensive tone against the non-religious being intolerant of the religious? How far would have we gotten with this discussion?

Not as far, right? So if you're posting pictures of a rocket flying to the moon and a plane flying into a building with the caption, "Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings", what tone are you setting for having dialog with people you disagree with?

If you post a picture of the Dali Lama with a quote that reads, "If science proves something about Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change" and then post the comment, "Too bad other religions like Catholicism can't be this open minded", (and you're wrong about that) - how does that set the tone for any meaningful dialog?

Likewise, if someone goes, "All Muslims are terrorists and we should turn the Middle East to glass and solve a lot of problems"... do you see how one big problem crashes right into another one, there? Some would say this is exactly right, and we aren't willing to draw a line and do what really should be done in this last case. Others would say that the suggested solution is worse than the perceived problem. That is a real-world example of the question you pose. When do you draw the line, where, and for what reasons - when it comes to showing respect for something you disagree with? When your secular judicial system has been replaced by Sharia law? When a redneck cowboy decides to launch a WW-3 against the Middle East?

I recently wrote elsewhere about respecting for different cultures in regard to Anonymous exposing a rural Russian girl to global death threats for throwing puppies in a river. I said, "who gets to decide," what is "right" on a matter like this that has strong cultural elements? Should hackers in New York be making moral judgments about how poor Russian farmers treat animals that we see as pets and they see as pests and burdens? What about Dolphin Hunts in Japan, or ritual genital mutilation in Africa? If we change ritual genital mutilation in Africa, should we also go after ritual scarification there? Is my way of life so much better that I should seek to enforce it on Polygamists in Utah? What about homosexuals in San Francisco?

I don't know. When you start looking at it through the right lens, deciding when to act and when not to in voicing your strong opinion certainly becomes more difficult to do.
+joshua keene I wasn't trying to call you out specifically in the examples above. I think you've been very open minded in pursing and allowing the conversations that have been spawned by your recent posts. I appreciate that. I was using the examples broadly to say how I might respond if I was more directly committed to one of the religions that might take a defensive approach to your posts.
I see your point about it, I have learned alot from the convos on Plus from my posts. I was raised Roman Catholic and have alot of issues in the past with close minded people there with a surprising amount of hatred and intolerance ( yes I did get kicked out of confirmation classes for arguing with a priest over moral issues LOL) and I think it sometimes leaks out on my posts
I got in trouble as a teen in youth group for trying to discuss theories that the last supper was actually a psychoactive drug binge. :) Followed that up with an argument with the pastor over if Exodus 21:22-23 clarifies God's stand on when a fetus is considered equal to a human life and was politely asked not to return. People hate to be challenged on their core beliefs - but if you're involved yourself in a pursuit that is all about asking questions, it seems silly to hide your head in the sand when a decent one comes up. My mom and her side of the family including my 5 half-siblings were all brought up Roman Catholic. It seems like a tough road to walk - from what I know of it.
Well here I am, the unique one, born and raised atheist by two atheist parents who not only do not believe in gods, but never bothered to bring them up past telling me how to lie to my boy scout council during interviews so that I wouldn't get kicked out. What little I thought of god I gleaned from television and movies and other unavoidable exposure, and that quickly disappeared right around the time I realized that Santa and the rest were "lies". I didn't read the bible until I was in my early twenties and then I didn't care for it. The way it was written seemed primed to cause confusion and for the life of me I couldn't understand why an intelligent, all-powerful being who had used language to confuse and disorient us would then try to use language to relay information to us. It seemed to me it would be easier to pass the information along through, I don't know, a magic stone that one gazed upon revealed all the knowledge through clear thought rather than text that could be used to manipulate the message. Thus began my decent into capital "A" Atheism.
I think it's easy to forget that despite all of the good things you can attribute to religion, it, or more specifically the people who practice it, have also done a lot of damage to some people's minds. Psychologically speaking, there's an argument for the anger that atheists feel. For some, perhaps it's therapeutic to release some of the rage that has built up inside of them from being ostracized by the people who once claimed to love them unconditionally (or a multitude of other issues that serve no point to list). The Kubler-Ross model puts "anger" quite a few steps away from "acceptance". Though I myself never suffered anything like this, I find it akin to how I feel empathetic anger towards serious race related issues, despite myself being a middle-class white boy.
+Paul Newport you said: "... science has no evidence whatsoever of reincarnation..."
Bear in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
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