On Sunday 6 November, Director of Nalanda Institute Achariya Tan Siang Chye gave a talk on the Buddhist view on ‘Science and Faith’. He first addressed the dichotomy between those who ‘understand the world through science’, and those who ‘understand’ it through religion. Many followers of theistic religions tend to merely believe in what their religious books say. On the other hand, with so-called empiricism, many people observe something ‘scientifically’ and choose to accept that as the truth.
For Buddhists, however, the core of our beliefs and understanding lie in the direct experience of the Four Noble Truths through insightful meditation. Achariya explained the phrase ‘nullius in verba’, which roughly translates as ‘take no one’s word for it’. He linked this to the Kalama Sutta, where the Buddha taught the correct way to approach truth, putting aside dogmatism, ‘logical’ deductions, and mere inference.
With regards to the nature of reality, the late Ven. Dr. Walpola Rahula said that “science is an understanding of the external, material world, but has no understanding of the inner world of humankind”. In comparison, Buddhism aims at discovering this inner world in the ethical, intellectual, psychological and spiritual sense. Buddhism points to a way of cultivation, culminating in Right Understanding of the ultimate truth – Nibbāna.
We thank Achariya for the fascinating and thought-provoking talk. Sadhu anumodana!