Let us drive another nail in the tired and completely false Hollywood/pop culture trope of science vs religion shall we? Because, in case one forgets, a huge number of the world’s greatest scientists, mathematicians, and Nobel Prize winners were Christians that saw no conflict of science and religion but as two paths equally seeking truth. One path via the created world, and the other path via divine revelation of the human condition – and not in conflict but in harmony with each other.

Delayed Decomposition

“It’s definitely happening, and it’s definitely weird”. Scientists are increasingly agreeing something is going on, but in the centuries it has been happening, no science has come forth to explain it. Most recently, scientists have noted that after the death of some Tibetan Buddhist monks, their bodies remain in a meditating position without decaying for an extraordinary length of time, often as long as two or three weeks. A fascinating account of the phenomenon was written by Daniel Burke for the publication Tricycle.

The Thukdam Project of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds is now studying the phenomenon. For Buddhists, thukdam begins with a “clear light” meditation that allows the mind to gradually unspool, eventually dissipating into a state of universal consciousness no longer attached to the body. Only at that time is the body free to die. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson first encountered thukdam after his Tibetan monk friend Geshe Lhundub Sopa died and then saw him five days later: “There was absolutely no change. It was really quite remarkable.”

But this isn’t a new phenomenon, incorruptibility and long delays in decomposition of particularly holy individuals has been well known in the Christian world for centuries.

Faith and Science together – as they always have been.

As Fides Et Ratio and other Catholic documents point out, faith and science are two sides of the same coin of seeking truth. This isn’t just a Catholic idea, here’s a particularly interesting quote from Dalai Lama from the article:

What science finds to be nonexistent we should all accept as nonexistent, but what science merely does not find is a completely different matter. An example is consciousness itself. Although sentient beings, including humans, have experienced consciousness for centuries, we still do not know what consciousness actually is: its complete nature and how it functions.

Dalai Lama


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