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« The Conference | Main | Something hopeful »

October 31, 2006


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I don't think the world is ready to accept Confucianism, especially today when American and Muslim worlds are increasingly moving to religious extreme. Intelligence Design seems to be likely issue of 2008 election. One of the central theme of Confucianism is the rejection of god. How does Confucianism fit into this modern world outside of China?

Maybe it's because of the lack of religious conviction that stop Chinese from pushing Confucianism globally. It's not Chinese hold strong proprietary claim on the Confucianism but feel no need to force it on the others.

Maybe we can push Confucius as the ultimate atheist but I think atheists today would pick Richard Dawkins over Confucius for his latest book "God Delusion."

Thanks for the very good point about religion and the lack of a "God" presence in Confucianism. Those are important issues to consider. I wonder, however, for those people and in those places where the centrality of a God figure is less important - I am thinking especially of Europe and among certain strata of Americans - that Confucanism can have a certain appeal. Or, whether some elements of Confucianism, particularly its emphasis on family ethics, might be adaptable to a cultural milieu in which a God ideal circulates...

I think what Chinese need is a Renaissance, updating the old philosophies for the modern world.

Church has actually done well with this, updating the theology to be more compatible with the modern science. The development of Big Bang can be traced to Georges Lemaître (a Roman Catholic priest) and his argument with Einstein for universe could be dynamic. While Hawking met with Pope, he was asked not to pursue behind Big Bang as a single origin of universe sits well with Church. Evolution is getting a upper hand and Church has come up with Intelligence Design. Michael Behe's wonderful book "Darwin's Black Box" is a milestone work on Intelligence Design.

Even though I don't like Church's effort but those efforts are respectable to carry a continuous dialog between theology and modern progress. What's the Chinese equivalence to the works of Lemaître and Behe? What would Confucius or Lao Zi's comment on Big Bang and Evolution? Who are the modern spokepersons for them?

I think there are practical relevance to ponder the questions as the rapid progress in biotech. There are ethic questions in cloning, stem cell, and bio engineering. The cost of toolkits are falling rapidly and we will see high school kids being able to engineer new organisms in the lab with in decades. What's the moral, philosophical, and ethical standards to guide Chinese kids toward to use the newly acquired ability for the good?

The modernization in China and one child policy have already started to created a generation of ill adjusted teens. College senior suicides are on the raise. What's going to help us from a generation of really pissed off Chinese teens with WMD in the arm's length?

Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism need a modern make over, not only for oversea but, most importantly, for the future.


"What would Confucius or Lao Zi's comment on Big Bang and Evolution?"

If you reread the TTC carefully, perhaps you could find in some chapters that Laozi have already addressed what Western science call the 'Big Bang' theory?

Good luck.

Hi Allan,

I am more or less asking the question rhetorically pondering when we will be able to see works like Behe's or Dawkins' out of Chinese ancient wisdom.

I have seen some interesting works on linking Big Bang to the Taoist's chaotic creationism myth or linking I-Ching's Trigrams to the AGTC DNA codes or Hexgrams 64 combinations for protein coding. However, most are done in a number matching coincidence with philosophical and even poetic approach. Not of these are been treated seriously in both scientific and Chinese worlds. Examine Eastern philosophy through the modern science is at best tabloid science today.

I think what Chinese philosophy can bring to contemporary issues is a broadening of our terms of reference. It can help us see the larger human context within which rational science operates. Science can help us with many physical questions, but it cannot tell us very much about the meaning of our lives. Moreover, the possessive individualism of modern capitalism causes us to lose sight of the fundamentally relational quality of human existence. The Chinese notion of "ren" (humanity) has two elements: a person and the number two. It thus suggests that we cannot be fully human in and of ourselves alone. We can only be fully human in our relation to others. There's an idea to keep in mind...

Philosophies, Eastern or Western, always serve as the intellectual plumbing for the rational science to bridge the gaps between the known science and our understanding of the world. In today's science and technology, we have less of the "Can do" problems. Instead, we are facing "Should do" problems.

Is stem cell or human cloning morally right? How about the researches into genetic engineering? There are moral standard setup by the international committee but it doesn't prevent the scandal in Korea. As China's leaders call for innovation and backing it up with government researches and development grants, I think it's very important to bring the Chinese philosophy up to date with science and being able to understand moral and ethnical standards for the Chinese researches community.

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