Devotees of Lord Krsna challenge a skeptic scientist to back up his claim that life comes from matter.
Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor is president of the Sri Lanka branch of the Rationalist Association, an organization especially dedicated to disproving the existence of God and the soul. On August 14, 1977, the Colombo (Sri Lanka) Sunday Times published an article by Dr. Kovoor entitled, "Is There Life After Death?" In this article, Dr. Kovoor maintained that life is merely a complex chemical activity and that the soul cannot survive death, since there is actually no such thing as the soul. This article led to a heated debate, both in the Sunday Times and in correspondence, between Dr. Kovoor and members of the Sri Lanka branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. TheSunday Times articles and a portion of the correspondence are reproduced here.
Sunday Times August 21, 1977
It's Beyond Kovoor'S Power Of Observation
Although Dr. Kovoor and men of his stamp stand proudly on their platform of knowledge, it should be pointed out for the benefit of members of the public not expert in sophistry that men like Dr. Kovoor, who pose as the guardians of logic, reason, and the advancement of science, are sailing on a sinking ship when they meddle in matters that lie beyond the purview of their limited senses. This particularly applies to the question of life after death.
The very first line of Dr. Kovoor's article is, "I do not hold the view that my life is located in a particular spot in my body." This statement as well as a later one "I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death" betrays the flimsy platform upon which he has chosen to make his stand. Throughout the article Dr. Kovoor gives his views, beliefs, and opinions regarding a subject completely beyond his power of observation, and he tries to pass these imaginative speculations off as infallible scientific truths.
With all due respect to Dr. Kovoor, I beg to point out that the process of direct sensory perception, on the strength of which he has made so many statements regarding life after death, is completely limited and imperfect.
Consider, for example, the eyes. They function only under certain conditions: if there is no light, I cannot even see my hand in front of my face. We cannot see the nearest object to the eye the eyelid nor can we see that which is farthest away, the outer limits of the universe. Indeed, the eyes are imperfect. Similarly, the senses of touch, taste, and smell are limited, and the mind, too, is imperfect. Therefore any conclusions based on imperfect sensory perception must necessarily be imperfect.
Research, experimentation, and speculation conducted on the basis of imperfect sensory perception are meaningless when applied to matters that do not come within their purview.
Attempting to apply sensory perception to such matters would be like a child's trying to find who his father is by asking every man in the world a preposterous idea, to say the least. To understand the identity of one's father, one must accept the authority of one's mother there is no other way. Since no one is able to see his father at the time of conception, one must accept the version of one's mother. Any sane man must accept this.
Regarding souls and rebirth, Dr. Kovoor writes, "I have not any valid reason or evidence to believe it." This statement only goes to show that the process of direct sensory perception is limited and imperfect and that it therefore yields no result when applied to matters beyond its jurisdiction. Rather than foolishly declaring, "I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death," Dr. Kovoor would be much safer and more faithful to his professional ethic if he were simply to admit his inability or incompetence to deal with the subject matter in question. There is the soul, there is rebirth of the soul, and there is a Supreme Soul God. However, we should point out that because the soul is categorically different from matter, the techniques of material science must fail when applied to understanding the soul's existence and nature.
This does not mean, however, that the subject is open to the random speculation and opinion-making so fashionable today. Just as we have a material science to deal with material phenomena, so also we have a spiritual scientific process which allows its practitioner to penetrate the walls of gross and subtle matter and directly experience the truths of the soul, its rebirth, and its relationship with God, the Supreme Soul.
A true scientist would never prematurely declare, "I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death." Rather, he would enthusiastically embrace a standard technique accepted by respected and recognized men of spiritual science. Such a scientist and sincere seeker of truth would then, in the interests of science, submit himself to that process and make himself the object of experimentation. Only after he had perfectly applied all the practices and techniques to himself, under the guidance of an authorized professor of spiritual science, would he dare make judgmental remarks about the subject in question. Theory, observation, and experimentation are the true methods of science, and they apply equally to spiritual science.
Generation of Life
Life is not generated from a combination of chemicals, as some scientists would have us believe. Rather, it is life which generates matter. A living man and a living woman combined in sexual intercourse are the cause for generating a living child. A dead man and a dead woman have no power to generate living offspring. A living tree has the power to generate fruit; a dead tree, however, has no such power. The difference between life and death is the soul, which is described in Bhagavad-gita as superior energy (para prakriti). It is this superior energy which manifests all phenomena within our experience.
If life is a display of chemical combinations only, as some scientists suggest, why can't science inject a life-giving chemical into a dead body and make a man live forever? If we give a scientist the chemical ingredients of the material body, why can't he combine the chemicals and bring them to life?
When confronted with these questions, materialistic scientists will answer, "We are trying. We will do it in the future." But this is not science. This is a bluff.
These scientists proudly declare, "There is no soul. There is no God. Everything has come about by chance." But when asked to do something substantial to back up their claim, they can offer us only a postdated check: "We are trying. We shall do it in the future." Dr. Kovoor, being a typical materialistic scientist, resorts to this same bluff when he says, "The time will not be far off when man will be using his advanced knowledge in genetics to improve the quality of his own species."
Here is my challenge to Dr. Kovoor. Let him inject the appropriate chemicals into a dead body to bring it back to life. Or let him inject the appropriate chemicals into himself to check his own death and restore his old and worn out body to its youthful luster and beauty.
If he finds this task too difficult, perhaps he could just produce a simple form of life, such as a mosquito or a bedbug. Better still, let him recombine the chemicals of the praying mantis he decapitated (as described in his article) and bring it back to life. Or is the science of Dr. Kovoor only a one-way road to the destruction of life?
It may be that science is not yet ready with a one-step process by which to produce life as a finished product. If this be so, let Dr. Kovoor merely make a plastic egg, inject it with yellow and white chemicals, incubate his artificial egg, and thereby produce even one chicken that could go on laying eggs and produce more and more chickens.
Even this task may be a little too difficult for Dr. Kovoor. Perhaps, then, he could simply produce a drop of milk or a grain of rice by chemical combination. Then we could start taking him seriously.
Of course, everyone knows that these are impossible tasks for even the most powerful so-called scientist. Dr. Kovoor, in his next exposition, will undoubtedly give the reader a long-winded barrage of words to cover up his bluff. The sum and substance of it will be "We will do it in the future. We are trying." In any language, this is merely a bluff.
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Sunday Times August 28, 1977
It's Not Beyond Kovoor's Power Of Observation
[by Dr. Abraham Kovoor]
In the article titled "It's Beyond Kovoor's Power of Observation," in theSunday Times of August 21st, Messrs. Mahakanta dasa and Hamsaduta Swami of the "Hare Krishna" cult betray their appalling ignorance of modern branches of biological science such as biochemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, eugenics, genetic engineering, extra-uterine insemination, parthenogenesis, and so on.
It is clear from what they have written that they are equating life with mind and the nonexisting spirit or soul. They do not seem to know that while all organisms have life, only those animals which possess nervous systems have mind, and that mental faculties in animals vary in direct proportion to the development of their nervous systems. Despite the beliefs of millions of religionists for thousands of years, there is absolutely no biological evidence for the existence of souls in organisms. Messrs. Dasa and Swami say that according to the "professors of spiritual science," there is the soul, there is rebirth of the soul, and there is the Supreme Soul God.
I should like to know on what objective evidence these so-called professors make this fantastic statement. According to the two writers, life is prior to matter. They say, "Life is not generated from a combination of chemicals, as some scientists would have us believe. Rather, it is life that generates matter."
The prime source of life on the planet earth is the sun. Solar energy is fixed in green plants when sunlight is converted into chemical energy by the reaction sequence known as photosynthesis. Organisms other than plants obtain their energy by eating green plants or some of the eaters of green plants. These food substances serve as fuel for supplying vital energy to organisms. The energy in the food is liberated as vital energy by slow oxidation during respiration.
Dasa and Swami say that scientists, with their imperfect sensory powers, are incapable of understanding the reality of things as "spiritual scientists" do. Are the sensory powers of these pseudoscientists more efficient than those of real scientists? Or do the so-called spiritual scientists possess any form of perception other than sensory perception?
Knowledge and enlightenment cannot be had through meditation, which is only a form of self-hypnosis.
Dasa and Swami ask whether scientists can make a chicken come out of a plastic egg.
I do not know whether they are aware that scientists have made over ten elements, such as fermium, plutonium, and einsteinium, which God could not create because he did not know the technology involved in making them. Are these two men aware of the success of the Sri Lankan scientist Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma and the Indian scientist Dr. Bat Gobind Khorana, the Nobel Prize winner, in synthesizing amino acids, the building blocks of living protoplasm, from inert substances, simulating the conditions that prevailed in the primitive atmosphere of the earth? Do they know that human egg and sperm cells could be fertilized in test tubes, and the fetus developed in an artificial womb or in the womb of a hired woman?
Among animals that have evolved on this planet, man is the only animal that has progressed in all his activities. This he has achieved through his knowledge and science. While all organisms continue to live even today as their forebears did millions of years ago, man alone has progressed from the caveman state to the present spaceman state by using science and technology, and not by the help of any God or knowledge obtained from any scripture!
Advancements in medical science and social welfare services are helping more and more misfits survive to procreate more and more misfits as future citizens. While the short-term goal is achieved, the long-term goal is jeopardized. Future governments are not going to allow the misfits to procreate misfit children on the ground that "life originates from the Supreme Soul."
It is the unique ability of man to engage in creative thinking that has made him succeed in his fight against the laws of nature. The highly developed forebrain and the deeply convoluted cortex have helped him to think creatively. Scientists, as a general rule, are objective thinkers because they base their thoughts on empirical knowledge. Mystics and visionaries, the so-called spiritual scientists of Dasa and Swami, on the other hand, build up their thoughts on their subjective perceptions. Books on chemistry, physics, mathematics, geography, history, geology, anthropology, paleontology, engineering, medical science, astronomy, etc., are the products of objective thinkers. On the other hand, books like Arabian Nights, Gulliver's Travels, fairy stories, Mahabharata, Ramayana, the Bible, the Koran, Pilgrim's Progress, Jataka stories astrology, palmistry, numerology, theology, demonology, etc., are the products of subjective thinkers. While the former are factual, the latter are fictitious.
Some of the marvelous achievements of mankind in recent years have been the liberation of atomic energy, space flight, landing on the moon, organ transplantation, satellite communication, etc. All these were achieved through science. Mentally deranged intellectuals are capable of expatiating on their hallucinations and often become founders and preachers of diverse types of religious cults.
Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor
Sunday Times September 4, 1977
The Challenge Still Stands
[by Hamsaduta Swami]
First of all, it should be noted that Dr. Kovoor has done exactly what I predicted in my last article he would do namely, he has swamped the reader with a deluge of word jugglery in order to avoid the main issue, which is this: if life is generated by chance biochemical combinations, as some scientists claim, can the scientist Kovoor, given the proper chemicals, make the chemicals come to life?
Instead of answering this point. he has cleverly written, "Scientists have created over ten elements, such as fermium, plutonium, and einsteinium."
But elements are a far cry from living beings. Dr. Kovoor says that Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma and Dr. Bat Gobind Khorana, the Nobel Prize winner, have synthesized the building blocks of living protoplasm. If this is a fact, why hasn't Dr. Kovoor met the challenge by creating life with these building blocks? My challenge still stands.
As for incubating a baby in the test tube, this can be done only if you take the sperm and ovum of a living man and woman. In other words, the seed of life required to produce the baby in the test tube cannot be created by so-called scientists. What is their credit if they produce a baby in a test tube? God is already producing millions of babies daily in nature's test tube, the womb. On the other hand, scientists are killing thousands of babies in the womb by abortion and calling it "scientific advancement."
Dr. Kovoor's statement that scientists are "objective thinkers because they base their thoughts on empirical knowledge" only goes to emphasize our point that the soul lies beyond the jurisdiction of the limited senses. Therefore, a completely different process of approach has to be adopted. The definition of empirical is "that which is based on observation and experiment." Observation and experiment are conducted with limited senses, and therefore the conclusions thus derived are naturally limited and imperfect. Thus, the soul and the existence of God are in fact quite beyond Dr. Kovoor's power of observation. Why should he be so obstinate? This is a commonsense point that anyone can understand.
Dr. Kovoor says, "It is the unique ability of man to engage in creative thinking that has made him succeed in his fight against the laws of nature." This is a preposterous claim that only a fool would make. Nature forces everyone to undergo old age, disease, and finally death. Even the world's most powerful conquerors are helplessly dragged off the stage of life by nature in the shape of all-devouring death. Will Dr. Kovoor be the first living being in history who will not die? That remains to be seen.
Finally, Dr. Kovoor says, "Some of the marvelous achievements of mankind in recent years have been the liberation of atomic energy, space flight, landing on the moon," etc. Everyone knows that the first thing scientists did after discovering atomic energy was to manufacture the atomic bomb and promptly drop it on Japan, thus annihilating tens of thousands of innocent victims in a flash. Marvelous, indeed.
At the expense of untold billions of dollars and years of research and hard labor, scientists have supposedly gone to the moon. Of course, all they have "brought back" is a few blurry photos, a handful of rocks, and the revelation that the moon is barren. And now they want more money to go to Mars. What is so marvelous about this? It is complete lunacy. On our own planet earth, millions of people are without food, shelter, and basic education. Scientists would be more credible if instead of spending billions of dollars to bring rocks from the moon, they would spend the taxpayer's hard-earned money to improve his own lot on earth. Rocks are rocks, whether from China, from the moon, or from Mars. Or is it that science can turn the rocks into bread and cheese by applying some chemicals?
Now, to get to the main point, Dr. Kovoor asks on what objective evidence we have made the fantastic statements that life and matter both come from life, that there is a soul, that there is rebirth of the soul, and that there is a supreme soul, or God. It is said, "Fight fire with fire." Therefore, I may simply refer Dr. Kovoor to the authoritative, rational, and thoroughly scientific findings of three researchers, all with doctorates, who are members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. After examining the evidence they have presented, * (Bhaktivedanta Institute monograph number one: What Is Matter and What is Life? Monograph two: Demonstration by Information Theory That Life Cannot Arise From Matter. Monograph three: Consciousness and the Laws of Nature.) one who is truly a rationalist should agree with their conclusion that life never comes from matter, but only from life.
ISKCON Sri Lanka
After the Sunday Times had printed this exchange of articles, the Hare Krishna movement publicly challenged Dr. Kovoor to prove his statement that life originates from chance biochemical combinations. ISKCON publicly offered Dr. Kovoor five hundred thousand rupees (sixty thousand dollars) if he could create any form of life a mouse, a cat, a mosquito, or any other plainly visible creature-from inert chemicals. The Sunday Times ran this story:
"The high priest of Sri Lanka rationalists, Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor, who has been challenging people for decades to prove the existence of God, the soul, and rebirth, is now on the receiving end.
"ISKCON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) has now challenged Dr. Kovoor to prove his contention that life originated from matter.
"'We, the members of the Hare Krishna movement, are openly challenging him to produce any form of life, even a mosquito, by mixing chemicals together. If he cannot substantiate his theory, he should remain silent forever,' say the ISKCON members.
"They will be waiting for Dr. Kovoor at the Rama-Krishna Mission Hall on September 20, at 6:30 P.M. Admission will be free to the public."
While the issues were thus drawn in the press, Hamsaduta Swami and Dr. Kovoor crossed swords on their own in a continuing exchange of letters. Part of that exchange is reproduced here.
ISKCON Sri Lanka
September 6, 1977
Dr. Abraham T Kovoor
Sri Lanka Rationalist Association
Dear Dr. Kovoor,
I have further deliberated and have decided to write you a few more words on the existence of God, the soul, and the rebirth of the soul. I trust they may be of interest to you.
The greatest disease in the minds of the scientists is that they do not believe that something is a fact unless it is proved by scientific experiments. When a scientist makes a statement and he supports that statement with scientific experiments, everyone is completely convinced, and no questions are asked. When we talk about the spirit soul to these scientists, their usual response is, "How can one detect the presence of the soul?" Because they have been conditioned to working with machines, they wonder whether the soul can be detected by scientific experiments. However, scientists have to agree that even in their own scientific realm there are many facts that cannot be proved by experiments. The fact is that the soul is there, but in order to understand its existence we have to accept knowledge from the right person Sri Krishna (God) or His representative in disciplic succession, the spiritual master.
Everyone in the scientific community knows that mathematicians work with an imaginary number called "i," which is the square root of minus one (v-1 = i). This number does not figure among the natural numbers (1,2,3, etc.). However, important branches of mathematics for example, the theory of analytical functions are based on this imaginary unit. Without the help of this branch of mathematics, various complex theories and problems cannot be solved. Thus the existence of this number cannot be denied; yet there is no experiment to prove it. In a similar manner, scientists in the field of statistical mechanics also utilize various conceptual models ensembles, for example to explain their theories and arguments. These are all beyond the realm of experimental science. If scientists are willing to accept these imaginary and conceptual models, what is the difficulty in accepting the perfect knowledge given by Lord Krishna, the supreme scientist?
Another scientific theory that is beyond the limit of experimental science is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The statement of this principle is that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the position and momentum of any object. In mathematical language, it is stated that the product of the uncertainties in the measured values of the position and momentum (product of mass and velocity) cannot be smaller than Planck's constant. No existing experimental technique can prove this principle. However, scientists all over the world accept this statement as a fact, knowing that the experimental proof is beyond their ability. Similarly, there is no scientific experiment to prove the Third Law of Thermodynamics. This law, as formulated by Planck, states that the entropy of a perfect crystal at absolute zero degrees is equal to zero. Factually, there is no way to directly measure the absolute entropies. Therefore the proof of this law is beyond the realm of experimental science.
It is also to be noted that so-called scientific theories are changing constantly. For example, at the beginning of the nineteenth century (1808), John Dalton, in developing his atomic theory, stated that atoms could not be further divided. However, toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, it was found that Dalton's atomic theory could no longer be considered correct. It was observed that atoms could be further divided into fundamental particles like electrons, protons, and neutrons. It was also found that some atoms could emit alpha and beta particles, thereby producing new atoms, and so on. As a matter of fact, the so-called nuclear bombs are a result of these findings. In a similar manner, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Newton's mechanics had a tremendous influence on the minds of scientists, since they could be applied to gross material objects. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the discoveries of the fundamental particles, it was realized that Newton's mechanics failed in describing the motions of these particles. Thus quantum mechanics has been developed to explain the phenomena they exhibit. These theories are filled with speculation, and they are also changing. Just as past and present scientific theories are changing, so we can understand that future scientific theories will also change.
All of this simply shows that the brains of the highly honored scientists are imperfect, and as a result the theories proposed by these brains will always remain imperfect. Actually, perfect knowledge cannot be changed, but in order to get perfect knowledge one has to approach a perfect source. That source is Krishna and the Vedic literature. Of course, this may seem like an incredible statement to a scientific brain like yours, which is accustomed to testing everything with scientific instruments and so-called logic, reason, deduction, hypothesis, and theory, but it is nonetheless a fact. This can be understood by anyone who is scientific enough to experiment on himself by following the practices recommended in the Vedas, under the guidance of a self-realized soul.
The process is actually very practical. The spiritual master prescribes the process of spiritual discipline, and the student carries it out according to the directions given. If the student experiences the predicted result, then he concludes that the spiritual master was right. If the spiritual master is actually bona fide, the result will be positive. This procedure is quite similar to an honest scientist's reporting his results along with his experimental method. One who wants to verify the result can perform the same experiment himself. When the same result is reproduced by several scientists, it is accepted as a scientific fact.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that when someone believes that life comes from matter rather than from spirit, his concern for morality diminishes considerably. If all life is merely a complex combination of chance chemical reactions and if there is no supreme consciousness, no creator and controller, what need is there for moral restraint? This is not a new philosophy. In ancient Greece, Epicurus postulated that everything is simply a combination of atoms and void, nothing more. Today the word "epicure" describes a person whose main activity is to enjoy fine food and drink. The conclusion is that the philosophy that chance biochemical combinations are the origin of life is a philosophy that leads to unrestricted sense gratification, but it is by no means scientific. We can see one vivid example of how demoralizing and vicious this philosophy is in the present worldwide practice of abortion. Because of being taught that the embryo is not actually a living being but only a mass of inanimate chemicals, people have been convinced to kill their unborn children mercilessly within the womb.
I will be very interested in receiving your thoughts on these points and am prepared to discuss the matter further if you have any doubts about them.
I hope this letter meets you well.
Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor
Sri Lanka Rationalist Association
September 10, 1977
Mr. Hamsaduta Swami
ISKCON Sri Lanka
From [your] letters it is clear that it is futile for me, who base my philosophy on available scientific evidence, and you, who base your faith on dubious scriptures called Vedas, to try to convince each other.
If you insist that I should substantiate, by a demonstration before the public eye, my view that life originated from inert substances by chemical evolution under suitable conditions, I too have an equal right to ask you to substantiate your statement that "whatever we see in existence is the creation of the Lord, and that creation is going on at every moment" by demonstrating it before the public eye. As long as you are not going to get your "Lord" to demonstrate this, you need not expect me to conduct a one-sided show.
As far as I am concerned, the universe is only matter and energy in time and space. The question of a creator does not come in, because matter, energy, space, and time have neither beginning nor end. The various forms of terrestrial organisms, extinct as well as extant, are the products of millions of years of biological evolution of macromolecules of protein that were formed on earth as a result of chemical evolution under suitable conditions.
Can you tell me who created your "Lord," and where he was before the universe was created?
Yours in search of truth,
Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor
ISKCON Sri Lanka
September 15, 1977
Dr. Abraham T Kovoor
Sri Lanka Rationalist Association
Dear Dr. Kovoor,
I am in due receipt of your letter dated September 10, 1977, and have noted the contents carefully.
If it is futile to try to convince each other of our respective points of view, then what is the meaning of your science, rationalism, and search for truth? The close of your letter "Yours in search of truth" suggests that you have not yet found the truth. That is your defect: you have not yet found truth, yet you pose and speak as if you were in knowledge of truth.
The first aphorism of the Vedanta-sutra is athato brahma-jijnasa: "In the human form of life, one should inquire about the Absolute Truth, or God." You do not know what God is, yet still you have written, "The question of the creator does not come in…. The various forms of terrestrial organisms, extinct as well as extant, are products of millions of years of biological evolution of macro-molecules of protein that were formed on earth as a result of chemical evolution under suitable circumstances." In simple English, you mean to say that life is a result of chance biochemical combinations. So if this is a fact and if by this statement you wish to establish your credibility as a rationalist, scientist, and seeker of truth then why do you repeatedly fail to combine some chemicals and bring them to life, as I have challenged you so many times to do?
You say your philosophy is based on "existing scientific evidence." So where is the scientific evidence that life comes from chemicals? Mix the chemicals and prove it! You say, "As far as I am concerned, the universe is only matter and energy in time and space." Where did this matter and energy and time and space come from? Without giving any reason or evidence, you state, "The question of a creator does not come in, because matter, energy, time, and space have neither beginning nor end." Then again you ask me, "Who created your 'Lord', and where was he before the universe was created?" Your statements are inconsistent. First you say that matter, energy, time, and space have neither beginning nor end, and then you ask where the Lord was before the creation of the universe. This is clearly contradictory. This shows that you still have a long way to go in your search for truth.
Research reaches its conclusion when one accepts knowledge from the Vedas. Indeed, Vedanta means "the end of knowledge."
Instead of providing evidence to support your fantastic statements, you try to cloud the real issue by counterchallenging God to create life. This kind of tactic is like that of a penniless beggar who, when brought before the judge to show his means of income, challenges the government to show its source of income first. Such a challenge would hardly be entertained.
According to Roman, Greek, British, American, or international law, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, he who accuses, not with the defendant. You accuse the Vedas of being dubious, God of being fictitious, and those who follow God and the Vedas of being mentally deranged, foolish, gullible, dogmatic fanatics. But the burden of proof is on you. Without giving reason or evidence, you say, "The question of a creator does not come in … everything is a matter of chance biochemical combination." Do I have to accept this blindly? The onus is on you. Mix the chemicals and produce life. That is science. But no scientist can create even an insignificant mosquito from chemicals. Therefore, under the circumstances, it appears that it is you, and not we, who may be mentally deranged, foolish, gullible, dogmatic, and totally fanatic.
Scientists like to discredit the Vedas by saying that they are the writings of superstitious aborigines. But what kind of aborigines were they who wrote in a language so perfect in grammar, composition, poetry, and meter that a scholar needs twelve years to master the grammar alone? What kind of aborigines were they who thousands of years ago formulated divisions of time beginning with one ten-thousandth of a second up to the complete duration of universal time? What kind of aborigines were they who could describe, thousands of years ago, all the planets that modern scientists have only recently discovered? Where is the scientist today who can perfectly describe the process of conception taking place in the womb, as the Vedic so-called aborigines did thousands of years ago? How could these uncivilized aborigines categorize and enumerate in theVedas all the different species of life, numbering 8,400,000? How is it that theVedas, which are supposed to be the dubious writings of uncivilized aborigines, contain systematic information on subjects such as music, medicine, art, politics, architecture, warfare, and psychology? How could uncivilized aborigines even know the arts of reading and writing, much less describe the atom and atomic energy? How could they give descriptions of the orbits of the planets, their size, their eclipses, and the size of the universe, and how could they describe the soul and the Supersoul, God?
If Krishna is the Hindu aboriginal God, why did such a scientist as Oppenheimer pay Him heed by studying the Bhagavad-gita spoken by Him? Why did Einstein, Schopenhauer, Kant, Hegel, Emerson, Thoreau, Schweitzer, and scores of scientists more important and brilliant than you read Vedic literature especially Bhagavad-gita if these are books full of superstitions and the deranged ideas of uncivilized aborigines? What is your authority? Are you greater than God? Do you think that these highly learned and honored men were all fools and rascals who had nothing better to do than spend their valuable time reading the writings of uncivilized aborigines? Or could it be that the Vedasare books of knowledge originally given by God at the beginning of the creation, and that they are preserved by being handed down in a Vedic tradition of disciplic succession about which you unfortunately know nothing?
As a scientist, you would do well to take out some time and sincerely examine the Vedas on their own merit, not in terms of preconceived notions resulting from limited, imperfect speculations and experiments.
Whether one speaks for or against the existence of God, the central point is God. You say, "I hope you understand that it is not the way with science to provide proof for things that do not exist." But we see that the so-called scientist is very busy trying to prove the nonexistence of God. If God has no existence, why bother about Him? According to logic, one cannot conceive of a thing that does not exist. And if a nonexistent entity is inconceivable, where is the question of even discussing it, whether positively or negatively?
It is the peculiar madness of many socalled scientists that they cannot seem to get off the subject of God, who according to them has no existence. We see that the whole aim of their scientific research is to justify their rebellion against the authority of God and the scriptures by trying to find an alternative cause and reason for life and creation. Although these scientists would like to believe that life originated from inert chemicals, no one has ever observed such an event. Therefore, a science based on such beliefs can only be a science of rascals and fools.
My challenge to you, or to any scientist who claims that life originates from chemicals, still stands: mix the chemicals and produce life. Why can't you do it?
You say, "It is like this. It is like that," so then why can't you produce life? Sunshine is available, the earth is present, the water, air, fire, and all other ingredients are present, and life is being produced by God. If you are greater than God, why can't you produce something? What is the use of your talk if you cannot produce life? Nor can you stop old age, disease, or death. Your talk is simply empty nonsense. You cannot do anything, yet still you are talking, saying that life comes from chemicals. You are a talking scientist, and I am a practical scientist. Take some chemicals and save yourself from old age, disease, and death. I asked you to produce an eggwhere is it? The chicken is a better scientist than you, because it lays an egg and within a month produces another chicken. Therefore you are less important than a chicken. Chickens are producing life, but you cannot produce anything but empty sounds.
In the service of Krishna,
Having been challenged to demonstrate that he could create life at a public meeting, Dr. Kovoor declined to attend, saying that he would not feel obliged to demonstrate that he could create life unless God Himself were to appear in person to demonstrate the same thing. The Times reported this with the headline "Flummoxed Kovoor Passes the Buck." Then Hamsaduta Swami sent Dr. Kovoor this final letter.
ISKCON Sri Lanka
September 21, 1977
Dr. Abraham T Kovoor
Sri Lanka Rationalist Association
Dear Dr. Kovoor,
You wanted to place yourself above God, but God's devotees defeated you, as the newspaper correctly noted. I'm sure that the readers were also enlightened regarding the theory that life comes from chemicals.
You may be interested to know that you are the first so-called scientist in the world to be officially challenged by ISKCON, and you are also the first to be totally exposed in the public press. Your case is a landmark in history. Because the spiritual life in most religious communities has long ago died out, practically no one has been able to properly put forward the theistic point of view in the modern age. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, however, is presenting the yuga-dharma, the truly scientific method of religion for this age: it is perfectly teaching and following the Vedic religion. Of course, every religious movement claims to be genuine, but we have to distinguish the genuine from the fraudulent. Your defect is that because you have been repeatedly frustrated by encountering spiritual frauds, you have prematurely concluded that all religions are bogus. You want to brand God and religion fraudulent, but fraud can be understood only in relation to its genuine counterpart. That you fail to know. You do not know what is genuine.
I don't say that all scientists are frauds, but I do say that you or anyone claiming that life is generated from inert matter is definitely a fool or a fraud. In fact, you are both because you obstinately cling to the foolish notion that life comes from chemicals. What is the difference between your theory and that of the alchemists, who attempted (and failed) to produce gold from chemicals? A modern scientist scoffs at the alchemists yet he proposes to create life from chemicals. Isn't this the height of folly? I'm still open to be convinced that life comes from chemicals, if you can provide evidence by creating life from chemicals.
Now your life is nearly at an end, and at the time of death, when the messengers of death come for your soul, perhaps you will remember all this and understand everything. But then it will be too late, for you will be helplessly dragged off to repeat another life of material struggle in the shape of birth, death, old age, and disease. But if one simply chants Hare Krsna, he can be saved from this great struggle. I hope you will do that.
From the start of his Krishna conscious career eleven years ago, His Holiness Hamsaduta das Goswami has shown his fiery missionary spirit. After joining ISKCON in New York City, he helped establish centers in Montreal, Boston, Vancouver, and Berkeley. In 1969, Srila Prabhupada asked him to go to Germany, and for five years he traveled throughout that country, teaching the science of Krishna consciousness, opening centers, and overseeing the German translation and publication of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and other books. In 1976 Srila Prabhupada gave Hamsaduta the renounced (sannyasa) order, and today, as a member of the Governing Body Commission and a trustee of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, he directs ISKCON's activities in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and spreads Krishna consciousness throughout South India.