Opinion: Creationism Debate Remains Irrelevant to Buddhists

December 3, 2005

Source: Toronto Star


On December 3, 2005 the Toronto Star ran an opinion piece by Punnadhammo Bhikkhu, a Canadian Buddhist monk who lives in a forest monastery retreat, on the debate over intelligent design. Bhikkhu writes, "The argument between creation and evolution began almost as soon as Darwin published The Origin of Species, and it is still going strong. This is a debate, however, that doesn't engage all religious traditions. For Buddhism, it is pretty much irrelevant... [M]uch of Buddhist philosophy is actually opposed to the idea of creation by a supreme being... But there is another side to it. Although Buddhism has no interest in Creationism, that doesn't mean it supports a mechanistic view of human existence. There is a spiritual dimension of our lives that is very difficult to explain away in materialist terms. To cite a problem that is recognized in the Western philosophy of mind, the emergence of consciousness is very hard to account for in strict Darwinian terms... The same Buddhist text that rejects the idea of a creator as arbitrary goes on to reject another form of arbitrariness: so-called random arising... Reliance on randomness is no better, really, than saying, 'That's the way it is because God made it that way.' Speaking speculatively, perhaps there is some underlying direction to evolution. Perhaps consciousness itself is continually seeking out a more suitable physical vehicle... The possibility that there may be other options [besides creationism or evolution], or even nuances, barely gets a hearing."