In her review of Richard Dawkins' book 'The God Delusion', Mary Midgley points out that Dawkins is labouring under the same flawed ideology he is attacking.
Correctly linking fundamentalist religion with atrocities throughout history, he proposes that science should replace religion entirely. ("Imagine there's no Heaven...no religion too").
This is rather like saying that because American and Nazi social Darwinist scientists misappropriated Darwin's ideas for racist ends, ultimately leading to the Holocaust, all science should be done away with.
By redefining Pantheism and Buddhism as non-religions, Dawkins tries to steer around the fact that many of the greatest scientists, such as Einstein, had pantheistic religious attitudes, and that Buddhism has not been credited with much in the way of atrocities. A religion with a ubiquitous god (Pantheism), or one without the concept of god(Buddhism), can still be a religion in the proper sense of the word. Pantheism does not even entail a belief in the supernatural or metaphysical, since god and world are seen as coextensive.
It could be argued in fact that the removal of religion by Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, aided their horrendous crimes, by removing all vestiges of moral conscience in the perpetrators. When it comes to mindless violence, atheist dictatorships do not have a much better record than theocracies.
Midgley is to be commended for pointing out the pressing need to find the causes of fundamentalist religious thinking rather than simply reacting against it. If scientists react, they fall in to the same trap as religious opponents of evolution reacting to the misuse of Darwin's ideas.
Religion - particularly in its more introspective forms: Sufism, Zen, Gnosticism - is concerned mainly with self-knowledge (or should be), while science is concerned with knowledge of the world. The false rivalry between Science and Religion largely disappears when, like Einstein, one experiences self and world as a continuum.
The Buddha recognised that bodha (Self-knowledge) and dharma (religion) are codependent. Ultimately, however, the realisation of the Self supersedes human religious mores.
Self-knowledge is of great advantage to scientists, helping them to see when their prejudices and desires are distorting their objectivity, as was the case with social Darwinism.
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