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The 2012 Templeton Prize In Science & Religion Goes To…

The Templeton has been announced
With not a little drama
The winner of the science prize
This year? The Dalai Lama.

His research record surely shows
He’s there among the giants—
His name pops up whenever I
Am mulling over “science”.

The Templeton foundation’s choice
Has left me filled with hope;
I’m going to place a little bet…
Next year, they name the pope.

I was actually just talking about the Templeton Foundation to my class the other day. Going out of my way to say nice things. Mostly just buttering them up so they might award me the prize for my verses on science and religion. (That’s it! I’ll take advantage of one of my students’ spelling errors, and release a collection called “Science verses Religion”!)

But now I see the kind of competition I am up against. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever set themselves on fire following me. I mean, come on! Give a cephalopod a break!


It seems the Dalai Lama is not such a long shot after all! He has been a recognized science authority. Recognized, that is, by the Discovery Institute.

At least when it comes to understanding Darwinian theory, its limitations and dangers, there are some priests, pastors and rabbis who might benefit from taking a lesson from Tibetan Buddhism’s renowned spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama’s 2005 book, The Universe in a Single Atom, includes an excellent chapter, “Evolution, Karma, and the World of Sentience.” Check it out — it reads a little like an update of Alfred Russel Wallace’s World of Life.

The Dalai Lama has spent some serious time studying up on evolutionary theory and talking about it with scientists. He casts a respectful but markedly critical eye on Darwinian science and scientism.

“On the whole,” he writes, “the Darwinian theory of evolution…gives us a fairly coherent account of the evolution of human life on earth.” Something about that sentence prompts you to expect the coming “But” or “However,” and the Dalai Lama doesn’t disappoint. Philosophically and scientifically, he finds a variety of reasons for dissatisfaction.

After a discussion of how natural selection operates on genetic mutations, he writes that it may be a mistake to think of mutations as random: “that they are purely random strikes me as unsatisfying. It leaves open the question of whether this randomness is best understood as an objective feature of reality or better understood as indicating some kind of hidden causality.”

More tripe at the link, for those who can stomach it.


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever set themselves on fire following me. I mean, come on! Give a cephalopod a break!

    Are you calling for volunteers?

  2. says

    Dalai Lama says:

    If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.

    A better approach than 99.999% of other religious leaders. Surely this should disqualify him from Templeton!

  3. mck9 says

    To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever set themselves on fire following me. I mean, come on! Give a cephalopod a break!

    Be fair. Anybody following a cephalopod around has to be underwater, and can’t set anything on fire.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Hmph. *Anybody* can set themselves on fire above water. Dedication, that’s what I’m looking for!

  5. The Lorax says

    “that they are purely random strikes me as unsatisfying.”

    That’s some Grade A science there, buddy. Got the scientific method nailed right down. ‘Cause, you know, all scientists disregard data that they find unsatisfying.


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