A new flavour of : Science versus Religion

From Nature:

A growing number of neuroscientists are calling for the cancellation of a special lecture to be given by the Dalai Lama in November. The Buddhist leader is due to speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in Washington DC, but a petition against the talk has already gathered some 50 signatures.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since he fled Chinese troops in Tibet in 1959. Over the past decade he has increasingly encouraged researchers, sometimes at gatherings at his home, to study whether Tibetan Buddhist meditation can reshape the brain and increase mental well-being (see Nature 432, 670; 2004). It was during one of these meetings that he was asked by a member of the society's executive committee, to give an inaugural lecture on 'the study of empathy and compassion, and how meditation affects brain activity'.

Some of the critics believe that the Dalai Lama's lecture should be ruled out because of his status as a political and religious figure. "One of the reasons for inviting him is that he has views on controlling negative emotions, which is a legitimate area for neuroscience research in the future," says Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But "the SfN needs to distance itself as much as it can from the Dalai Lama and his beliefs", adds Desimone, who opposes the lecture but has not yet signed the petition.

I plan to attend the SFN meet in Washington in November where the Dalai Lama (access required) will speak. Meditation has clear benefits and merits scientific study. Religion, despite its numerous flaws has many great things to offer. Science is not blindly against Religion. Science seeks the best available provided there are grounds for that belief, other than faith. Meditation needs to be verified quantitatively and scientifically.
From the subtext, it is pretty clear that there is some political motivation since most of the protestors are researchers from China or, of Chinese origin and there are only 50 signatories.


Ashutosh said...

Your post encouraged a post on my blog. I started with a comment here but then it became too long.
Have fun at the talk and eager to hear your report on it.

Julia said...

Hi Hirak...cool blog. I will plan to read it regularly.


Hirak said...

You're welcome!