Buddha Statue, Chinese Garden, San Francisco, CA

For those of us who have read the Bible, the Koran and a good number of other religious texts, there is one unifying truth that rings out loud and clear: None of these texts seems to hold any information that could not have been held by the people who lived at the time the texts were written. The Bible, for example, has exactly no information inside it that hints at some fundamental discovery about the Universe that was not known to the bronze- and iron-age inhabitants of Middle East. This poses a serious problem for adherents. Why would divinely-inspired texts not have real predictive power?

It turns out, that there is a religious text that is capable of describing things that were not otherwise known to the ancients. That text is the Lalitavistara Sutra, a Buddhist text in which the Buddha rather accurately predicted the size of a typical atom, a yojana in Sanskrit. Here goes:

Four krosha, each of which was the length of
One thousand arcs, each of which was the length of
Four cubits, each of which was the length of
Two spans, each of which was the length of
Twelve phalanges of fingers, each of which was the length of
Seven grains of barley, each of which was the length of
Seven mustard seeds, each of which was the length of
Seven particles of dust stirred up by a cow, each of which was the length of
Seven specks of dust disturbed by a ram, each of which was the length of
Seven specks of dust stirred up by a hare, each of which was the length of
Seven specks of dust carried away by the wind, each of which was the length of
Seven tiny specks of dust, each of which was the length of
Seven minute specks of dust, each of which was the length of
Seven particles of the first atoms.

The net result is approximately that of a carbon atom.

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