Reply To: Theories, Laws, and Facts


Hello CeruleanArc! Good observations.

First, let me point out the main difference between the foundational aspects of Buddha Dhamma and modern science.
– Modern science is based on physics, and physics is based on material phenomena. Mental aspects are EXPECTED TO arise out of physical phenomena. Therefore, anything outside of that framework, the scientists label “metaphysics.”
– Buddha Dhamma is based on the mind. Physical things also arise out of mental phenomena. This aspect ALSO comes out of Paticca Samuppada. I have not presented this analysis yet. Understanding that requires a good understanding of Paticca Samuppada (and Abhidhamma.)

With that in mind, we can look at your first observation: “Why don’t we remember our past lives?” Since some people do, and we’ve provided that as evidence for past lives being real, we now need to explain why only a few people have these memories. It’s simple. Because the spiritual component of a human being is the only thing that passes from one life to the next, then it must store memory. But because of the material limitations of the human brain, without some spiritual mechanism to allow the brain to access this information, the brain can only access memory stored in the brain..”
– In the above framework of modern science, there is nothing outside of the brain that can retain memories. So, when the brain dies, ALL memories are lost. It is not possible to even think about past lives, because there is no basis for future life to arise DUE TO the current life!
– This is why such phenomena as memories of past lives are not even seriously considered by scientists. They put all such phenomena into the category of “metaphysics” and don’t even try to address them. For them, that would be an impossibility based on the assumptions built into modern science as I outlined above.

Now, to the second part of your comment: “Anyway, I wrote all this because I find it particularly egregious when laypeople say, “It’s only a theory,” as if that was a gotcha for science. It really isn’t. Science has two names for “things that we are currently 99.99% sure that we know about the world.” The two names are laws and theories…”
– The difference between scientific LAWS and THEORIES is not clear-cut.
– Even those “laws” tend to be watered down to “theories” with new discoveries of deeper aspects. For example, we had “Newton’s laws of gravitation” for a long while, where gravity was treated as a force. But with Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity is a feature of “spacetime.”
– On the other hand, the laws of Buddha Dhamma are UNIVERSAL. Those laws (based on Paticca Samuppada) are effective whether a Buddha discovers them or not. A Buddha only discovers those nature’s laws. Those are not the laws of the Buddha!

Finally, you write: “EDIT: To clarify, both scientific laws and scientific theories are subject to change if disproven by an exception that “breaks the rules.” That’s the wonderful thing about science. .”
– Yes. Within the framework of modern science that is true. But science can make only so much progress because the framework is LIMITED TO material phenomena. There is no way to accommodate mental phenomena.
– For example, there are several scientific THEORIES on how consciousness may arise from inert matter. But none has been successful. It is an impossible task!