In search of a better means of increasing student receptivity to science: a look at American Buddhists and their disproportionately high acceptance of the theory of evolution

Abstract

This paper examines how Buddhists in America have been able to integrate evolution into their worldview to a much greater extent than other religious groups in the United States. Not only is evolution and science in general in line with the main teachings of Buddhism, but Buddhist teachers in the US have consistently encouraged Buddhists to embrace scientific findings and have even incorporated scientific data on evolutionary theory into their teachings. The fact that Buddhists in America have been able to accept and incorporate evolution into their spiritual practice is direct evidence of the fallacy of fundamentalist claims that the naturalistic reasoning used in scientific endeavor will necessarily lead students and researchers to lose their own spirituality, faith and humanity. By examining the ability for this spiritual practice to embrace science so wholly into their worldview, there may be lessons on how teachers can better remedy students’ misconceptions about the dangers of science with regard to their own faith.

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Beitrag zeigt, wie amerikanische Buddhisten in der Lage sind, Evolution viel mehr in ihr Weltbild zu integrieren, als andere religiöse Gruppen in den USA. Es wird gezeigt, dass Evolution und die allgemeine Wissenschaft nicht nur im Einklang mit den wichtigsten Lehren des Buddhismus stehen, sondern auch, dass buddhistische Lehrer in den USA Buddhisten immer wieder ermutigen, wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse zu akzeptieren. Manche Lehrer verwenden in ihren Lehren sogar wissenschaftliche Daten zur Evolutionstheorie. Die Tatsache, dass Buddhisten in Amerika die Evolutionstheorie in ihrer spirituellen Praxis akzeptieren und integrieren, ist ein direkter Beweis für den Trugschluss fundamentalistischer Behauptungen, dass die naturalistische Argumentation der Wissenschaft notwendigerweise dazu führt, dass Studenten und Forscher ihre eigene Spiritualität, ihren Glauben und ihre Menschlichkeit verlieren. Indem man die Fähigkeit dieser spirituellen Praxis untersucht, die Wissenschaft so vollständig in Ihre Weltsicht zu integrieren, kann gelernt werden, wie Lehrer bei Schülern falsche Vorstellungen über die Gefahren der Wissenschaft in Bezug auf den eigenen Glauben beheben können.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Watts.

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Lead Editor: Kenneth Tobin.

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Watts, E. In search of a better means of increasing student receptivity to science: a look at American Buddhists and their disproportionately high acceptance of the theory of evolution. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 15, 121–141 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-018-9895-8

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Keywords

  • Buddhism
  • Evolution
  • Mindfulness
  • Creationism
  • Science education

Keywords

  • Buddhismus
  • Evolution
  • Achtsamkeit
  • Kreationismus
  • naturwissenschaftliche Bildung