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Science-Earthquake


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#1 rahula

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 09:57 AM

Hi,

"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." (Digha Nikaya 16)

How do you understand this passage in light of science?

Thanks a lot,
Rahula


#2 mike

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 05:02 PM

QUOTE(rahula @ Sep 25 2010, 02:57 AM) View Post

Hi,

"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." (Digha Nikaya 16)

How do you understand this passage in light of science?

Thanks a lot,
Rahula


Hi Rahula,

In my opinion, the expressions translated here as 'this great earth', 'liquid', 'atmosphere', 'space', 'agitation', and 'tremors of the earth' are meant to be understood as pa~n~natti--'designation; name; concept'--rather than paramattha--'truth in the ultimate sense'. They are just conventions of the day for what we now know as geology, meteorology, oceanography. seismology and so on in a general sense.

To take these as references to paramattha dhammas or as a conflation of concept and reality would be a fundamental mistake, as I see it.

So if I'm right the dialogue--and the conceptual world it refers to--needn't be consistent with modern science to be perfectly true and consistent with the Dhamma. If there are still people a few centuries from now, all those sciences will probably be very different but the Dhamma will still be just as true in the same way as it always has been and is now.

Just myy two cents' worth.

mike

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