Buddhism and Modern ScienceIn all present day religions, we commonly find a set of moral teachings, modes of worship and belief in the unseen. The belief in the unseen, such as the cycle of rebirths, various celestial worlds that one could be reborn in his or her next birth and the ultimate objective of life, the attainment of Nirvana as taught in Buddhism, could be accepted as absolute truths, only if the facts belonging to the physical world, as included in the Buddhist scriptures, conform with modern established scientific facts. With this concept in mind, we invite you to examine the following data found in the Buddhist scriptures in the light of the established scientific facts. We only expect from you an unprejudiced mind, courage to accept the truth and patient reading of the following text in full. You be the judge. Let your judgment be fair and just. If the author of the scripture or the founder of the religion did not have a perfect knowledge of the physical world or his knowledge is proved to be incompatible with the established scientific facts, how are we to accept his teachings about the unseen? This will make the whole religion to fall to the ground and eventually rejected by the followers who expect to have their salvation through it. If descriptions found in the Scripture regarding natural phenomena only correspond to the primitive knowledge held by the contemporary generation of the founder of the religion, and do not conform with modern established science, it is a very clear and undisputable evidence that the founder of the religion was limited by the common human knowledge of his time, in spite of claims to the contrary. The scripture satiated with primitive and unscientific facts, surely cannot be a reliable source for anyone to rely on for his or her salvation in the hereafter. Let us examine a simple example from the Holy Book of Islam, which stands completely in contrast to the views held by the generation that was living at the time of the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him. In the 7th century, when the Quran was revealed, Arabs of that period had many superstitious and groundless beliefs regarding the physical phenomena. Lacking the technology and scientific knowledge to examine the universe and nature, these early Arabs believed in legends inherited from past generations. They supposed, for example, that mountains supported the sky above. They believed that the earth was flat and that there were high mountains at its both ends. It was thought that these mountains were pillars that kept the vault of heaven high above. However all these superstitious beliefs of Arab society were eliminated with the Quran. ''God is He who raised up the heavens without any support..'' (The Quran 31:10) This verse invalidated the belief that the sky remains above because of the mountains. The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical, i.e. it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth's shape. ''And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg shaped'' (The Quran 79:30) The Arabic word for egg here is dahaahaa which means an ostrich egg. The shape of an ostrich egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth. Some early translators of the Quran have translated this word as 'vast expanse', which is also correct. In many other subjects, important facts were revealed at a time when no one could have known them. (Ref: 'Miracles of the Quran' by Harun Yahya and 'The Quran and Modern Science compatible or incompatible' by Dr. Zakir Naik). Let us examine what the Buddhist scripture has to say about the physical phenomena.
Buddhist Universe (There is some uncertainty about the length of the Yojana or Yoduna, but to be rather below, than above, and for convenience of calculation, we have reckoned it at 10 miles per Yoduna) The infinite Worlds known to Buddha The Buddhists are taught that the universe is composed of limitless systems of worlds, called Chakkawala or Sakwalas located on a plane level with the world in which we live. They are scattered throughout space, in sections of three and three and incomprehensible as is their number, they can all be seen by Buddha; who can know whatever takes place in any one of them, if he turns his attention towards it, or wills to know it. (Mahapadana Suttawannana - Sara Sangaha Wisuddhi Magga) The present day Buddhism believe that Buddha attained enlightenment and as a result became omniscient (sarvanja), which is an indispensable pre-requisite to formulate a religion involving explanations about the unseen. Very strangely Buddha states the following in the 'Thevijjavajjagotta Sutta' of the 'Majjima Nikaya' (Sutta Pitaka). "I am not omniscient (sarvanja) and if anyone has stated that I am omniscient, it is not a statement made by me and this is a false allegation made to insult me". Unfortunately, according to this statement of Buddha, most of the present day Buddhists are insulting him by calling him a sarvanja (omniscient). Age of the Universe Age of the universe could be easily understood according to Buddhist scripture from the following description. The first Buddha 'Vipassi' appeared in this world before 91 kalpa, and lived 80,000 years. The second Buddha 'Siqee' appeared before 61 kalpa and lived 70,000 years. The third Buddha 'Vessabu' appared before 31 Kalpa and lived 60,000 years. In this kalpa four Buddhas have appaered, 'Kakusanda', lived 40,000 years, 'Konagama', lived 30,000 years, 'Kasyapa', lived 20,000 years and the last to appear was 'Gautama' and I will not have a long life span as people in the present epoch do not live more than 100 years. (Mahapadana Sutta-Deega Nikaya) Buddha is indirectly indicating that all the previous Buddhas have had long life span as it had been the normal situation for any human being of the particular period given above. Very interestingly, Dr. A.L. Basham, in his research work 'The wonder that was India' indicates in Chapter 7 that one kalpa is equal to 4.32 billion years. Accordingly the first Buddha 'Vipassi' has appeard in this world 91 X 4.32 = 393.12 billion years ago, the second Buddha 'Siqee' 61 X 4.32 = 263.52 billion years ago and the third Buddha 'Vessabu' 31 X 4.32 = 133.92 billion years ago. Unfortunately the Modern Science tells us that the age of the universe is less than 20 billion years. Dr.Kirinde Shammananda Chief priest in his book 'What Buddhists Believe' (Page297) says that 'The third school of thought says that the beginning of this world and of life is inconceivable since they have neither beginning nor end. Buddhism is in accordance with this third school of thought'. Modern science very categorically says that the universe has a beginning and on this basis only the scientists have calculated the age of the unverse. Then do they not reflect upon the Quran? If it had been from (any) other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction Quran 4:82 And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our servant (i.e. Prophet Muhammed), then produce a surah (chapter) the like thereof and call upon
your witnesses (i.e. supporters) other than Allah, if you should be truthful Quran 2:23 The shape of the Earth The shape of the earth could easily be understood from the following description. Just prior to the 'parinibbana' (death) of Buddha, an earthquake of great magnitude has occurred. Ananda Thera has inquired from Buddha about the causes of earthquakes. Out of the eight reasons given by Buddha, the first one only of physican nature. 'Ananda, this earth is on water, and the water is on air. When strong winds blow, the water gets disturbed, and when this happens, the earth gets tremors'. (Mahaparinibbana Sutta-Deega Nikaya) According to above, the earth is floating on water like a boat. Isn't it Amazing! The light of the Moon It is interesting to note that the Bible always refers to the sun and moon with the word 'light'. To distinguish between them, it adds the adjective 'greater' and 'lesser'. In Genesis it says, 'the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night'. (Genesis 1:17). If Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) had copied the Qur'an from the Bible, as some claims, he should have also used similar words to describe the light from the sun and the moon. The Qur'an however, very miraculously uses distinct words, nur (light) refers to the moon, while siraj or dhiyaa (burning lamp) refer to the sun. The Qur'an thus acknowledges that the sun is the source of light and the moon only reflects the sun's light. Scientists discovered this fact through advances in astronomy, but the Qur'an stated it centuries ago. Similar to the Bible, the Buddhist scripture also states sun and moon as sources of light. Please refer to 'Maagada sutta' in the Sanyukta Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka where Buddha has very clearly stated that the sun and moon are sources of light. 'And has made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp' (The Quran 71-16) The size of Maha Meru In the center of each system there is a mountain called Sineru or Maha Meru. It is 1,680,000 miles from its base to its summit; half of which mass is below, and half above the surface of the ocean. It is the same size, or 840,000 miles in length and breadth. (Satta Suryuggamana Suttara) The colour of Maha Meru On each side it is of a different colour, being like silver towards the east, and like a sapphire towards the south. It is supported on the three peaked Trikuta rock, like a vessel upon a tripod. Where these rocks rise to the elevation of 40,000 miles, there Maha Meru rests. The three rocks rest upon a World of Stone. On the summit of Maha Meru is Tawutissa, the heaven of Sakra. There are six dewa lokas in all. There are sixteen rupa - brahma lokas, in which there are no sensuous pleasures, and four more in which there are no bodily forms. The residence of the asurs is under Maha Meru. At the circumference or outer circle of the system there is a ridge of stone called the Sakwala Rock, 12,034,500 miles in diameter and 36,103,500 miles in circumference. (Sara Sangaha - Wisuddhi Magga - Jinalankara)
The size of the Sakwala Between Maha Meru and the Sakwala ridge there are seven circles of rocks, with seven seas between tham. (Wisuddi Magga) The Seven circles of Rock The first or innermost, Yugandhara, is 210,000 miles broad; its inner circumference is 7,560,000 miles, and its outer 8,220,000 miles. From Maha Meru to Yugandhara is 840,000 miles. Near Maha Meru the depth of the sea is 840,000 miles, from which its depth gradually decreases, until near Yugandhara it is 420,000 miles. The second, Isadhara, is 210,000 miles high, and 105,000 miles broad; its inner circumference is 11,340,500 miles, and its outer 11,970,000. The width of the sea between Yugandhara and Isadhara is 420,000 miles. Near Isadhara the depth of the sea is 210,000 milThe third, Karawika, is 105,000 miles high, and 52,500 miles broad; its inner circumference is 13,230,000 miles, and its outer 13,540,050. The width of the sea between Isadhara and Karawika is 210,000 miles. Near Karawika the depth of the sea is 105,000 miles. The fouth, Sudassana, is 52,500 miles high, and 26,250 miles broad. Its inner circumference is 14,175,000 miles, and its outer is 14,332,500. The width of the sea between Karawika and Sudassana is 105,000 miles. Near Sudassana the depth of the sea is 52,500 miles. The fifth, Nemindara, is 26,250 miles high, and 13,125 miles broad. The inner circumference is 14,647,500 miles, and its outer, 14,726,250. Near Nemindara the depth of the sea is 26,250. The sixth, Winataka, is 13,125 miles high and 6,562.5 miles broad. Its inner circumference is 14, 883,750 miles, and its outer 14,923,120. The width of the sea between Nemindara and Winataka is 26,250 miles. Near Winatak the depth of the sea is 13,125. The seventh, Aswakanna, is 6,562.5 miles high and 3,281.25 miles broad. Its inner circumference is 15,001,860 miles, and its outer, 15,711,700. The width of the sea between Winataka and Aswakanna is 13,125 miles. Near Aswakanna the depth of the sea is 6,562.5 miles. From Maha Meru to the Sakwala rock the distance is 5,597,250 miles; and the rock itself is 1,640,000 miles high, half below the water and half above. The seas between the circles of rock are called Sidanta, because their waters are so light, that the feather of a peafowl would not float in them. (Sara Sangaha, Wisuddi Magga, Jinalankara) The Seven Seas There are also seas that have their names from the colour of the rays that fall on them from Maha Meru, or from the gems that they contain. The rays are like the respective sides of the mountain; and the silver rays from the east, mingling with the sapphire rays from the south, cause the seas and skies in those directions to be of the same colour. (Sara Sangaha, Wisuddi Magga, Jinalankara) The rays pass from Maha Meru to the Sakwala rock The Great World is 2,400,000 miles in vertical thickness. At its base is the Gal Polowa or the World of Stone, consisting of hard rock, impervious to water, 1,200,000 miles thick; and above that is the Pas Polowa, or the World of Earth, also 1,200,000 miles thick. Underneath the World of Stone is the Jala Polowa, or the World of Water, 4,800,000 miles thick; and below this the Wa Polowa, or the World of Wind, 9,600,000 miles thick. (Sara Sangah, Jinalankara) The thickness of the Worlds of Stone, Earth, Water and Wind In the great sea between the Aswakanna and Sakwala rock there are four continents. 1. Jambudipa, in shape like a chariot, is 100,000 miles in length and breadth. 2.
Aparagoyana, in shape like a mirror, 70,000 miles. 3. Pubbawideha, in shape like a half moon, 70,000 miles. 4. Uttarakuru, in shape like a seat, 80,000 miles. Around each continent there are 500 islands. The faces of the inhabitants are of the same shape as the continents in which they live (Sara Sangaha). From Maha Meru to the Aswakanna rocks is 2,083,000 miles; from Maha Meru to the center of Jambudipa is 2,798,600 miles; and from Jampudipa to the middle of the Sakwala rock is 2,798,000 miles, a little more or a little less, as the odd yodunas are not reckoned. This continent is situated in the center of the Blue Sea. (Wisuddhi Magga) The distance from Maha Meru to Jampudipa If it were not for the circular rocks, all the waters would form one great ocean; then, when the great wind strikes against Maha Meru and the Himala wana, the Sakwala is shaken, the waters would be shaken too, and all running to one side, overflow the continents and islands, and the Sakwala would be destroyed. When the Sakwala is shaken, the waters within it are shaken too, and this causes the sea to ebb and flow. In the Maha Parinibbana Sutra, Buddha enumerates to Ananda, eight causes of earthquakes. The first he mentions is on this wise: "The earth rests on Jala polowa, or World of water, and the water rests on the Wa polowa, or World of Wind. The wind rests on the Akasa,...