Certain Beliefs and Uncertain Evidence: the Case of Shugden

Newcombe, Suzanne (2020). Certain Beliefs and Uncertain Evidence: the Case of Shugden. In: Francis, Matthew and Knott, Kim eds. Minority Religions and Uncertainty. Routledge-Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements. Routledge, pp. 22–43.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315595542-2


This chapter analyses the narratives and arguments presented on both sides of the Shugden controversy between 1996 and early 2016. Both supporters and detractors of the Dalai Lama's position recapitulated beliefs with heartfelt certainty. However empirical evidence supporting either positions is much more uncertain. This chapter argues that the polarized commitment seen in these disputes took the focus off unsettling political and existential questions and located knowledge in the certainty of personal experience.

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