DARWIN ISSUE DISAPPOINTS!
Most of the past issues of BTG India have been good readings. Also the special issues. However the latest issue, Examining Ch(?) Darwin (Sep ‘09) was a big disappointment for the following reasons:
1. We are so used to seeing beautiful pictures of Krishna/ demigods / illustrious souls on the cover page. The hideously ghostly picture of Charles Darwin was a put off.
2. I, my family, and some congregation friends were shocked and puzzled at not seeing a single picture of Radha-Krishna and Prabhupada in this issue of the ‘Magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement’. The only picture of Radha-Krishna is in the paid ad on the inside back cover!
3. The introductory article, ‘Need for this issue’ states: “We want to present in front of the masses our case against Darwin.” In my humble opinion, BTG India is read predominantly by ISKCON devotees. With a circulation of even 1 lakh we can’t claim that we cater to the masses across the country.
4. Also in my humble opinion, to the congregation devotees and the masses across the country, Darwin and his Evolution theory are non-issues (except maybe for educators who write text books for primary schools and the parents of children studying in lower classes in those schools). Yes, Darwin’s day was publicized in the newspapers for one single day and after that there has not been even a whimper of news on this till date in the newspapers. Possibly most of our countrymen are too strong spiritually, too hassled politically, and too disturbed socially trying to make two ends meet or trying to enjoy life and therefore I assume they have no time to devote to our dead friend Darwin, and his more dead evolution theory (from their spiritual perspective). We should not deny the fact that there are still enough intellectuals, historians, biologists, and other scientists of other hues who will be terribly interested in Darwin. But in my humble opinion, BTG India doesn’t reach them
5. So this special issue, I won’t say has damaged the reputation of ‘The Magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement’ but I would certainly say we have lost an opportunity to convey things more meaningful and of more interest to the real readers of this great magazine.
6. This issue has devoted 29 pages to our dear Ch (?) Darwin to meet with your objective of “We want to present in front of the masses our case against Darwin.” Just two articles (1) “Evidence let it speak” and (2) “Trying to make sense of it all” would have sufficed (number of pages involved – 10). Also instead of the title “Trying to make sense of it all,” a title like “Would Darwin please throw some light?” would have been more relevant and impactful. Your title seems to put the burden of understanding on the reader.
7. The article “A Friendly Conversation” runs into 8 long pages! (and there is an implicit promise of equal number of pages coming in the next issue). One wonders if such length would not be too taxing on simple devotees who subscribe to BTG. The article also has grammatical errors, unexplained words (eg. conditional) and has a quote of famous evolutionist running into over one page in small print giving the impression that the conversation is a contrived one. In this article, I was searching for ‘the case against Darwin’ and found none. In the process I did read a lot about pratyaksha, anumana, and sabda pramana. I must acknowledge that the mail to Bill Gates is a brilliant illustration.
8. The article “An Objective Scientist?” is a clear defense of Darwin! Defending how Darwin was compelled to write his “Theory of Evolution”. It’s an unwarranted article.
9. The article “First Religious Dogmatism Now Scientific Fundamentalism” seems too highbrow to my simple mind (and I am one of the masses in the sense that I don’t go for intellectual sounding reading). Also the sub-title in this article “No confrontations please” is so apologetic. Instead it should have been “Why don’t the evolutionists want confrontation?”
10. I thought I would give you the feedback since you have invited the readers to do so in your editorial. I wish the magazine had given the editor’s email address somewhere. It took me almost a day to hunt it out after three telephone calls!
11. You have ended your editorial with the remark ‘We plan to dedicate one more issue to address this topic in further detail.’ I am sincerely hoping and praying that you will not do that as it would be another waste of opportunity and an act of distracting devotees away from vitally important topics to non-issues. A devotee friend reminds me that Srila Prabhupada has said that whoever refutes Darwin’s theory of evolution will make spiritual advancement, but then Prabhupada, I assume, is talking about boldly refuting (as he would do) and not being wishy-washy about it.
Your servant and one special issue disappointed reader
(Bamsi Gopala Dasa)
1. As the issue was dealing with a very specific issue we decided to put Darwin’s picture on the front page. Although many did not feel that the cover is a ‘put off’ we respect your right to feel so.
2. Again, this issue dealt with a very specific topic, hence, the change in format of the entire magazine.
3. We may not be doing so at the present moment, but that’s what Srila Prabhupada wanted. We do not want this publication to resemble a ‘house journal’ of an organization. Rather, it should be a dynamic instrument of influencing public opinion.
4. You agree here that we do not reach them. Why ?? Perhaps we feel that, we are never going to influence public opinion, so why bother.
If you just want to glimpse how seriously this issue is influencing world opinion make a search for the above topic on the internet and see for yourself as to how many people are discussing it.
Accepting the fact that “possibly most of our countrymen are too strong spiritually and too hassled politically and too disturbed socially trying to make two ends meet or trying to enjoy life and therefore I assume they have no time to devote to our dead friend Darwin and his more dead evolution theory (from their spiritual perspective)” it is imperative that we deal with this issue head-on. Many accuse Indian intelligentsia of simply aping (no pun intended) the West. The ugliest aspect of this imitating is visible in the wholehearted acceptance of this theory.
5. For at least two ‘real readers’ the contents were very relevant.
6. Precisely that’s what we think is lacking. We want the reader to think and then decide.
7. We apologize for the grammatical errors. The errors are regretted. The small print is a regular style for quoting someone.
The idea behind this piece was to set a format for a proper debate on this issue. As most discussions and debates on this issue tend to degenerate into ad hominem attacks and a lot of ranting and raving; we thought it would be a good idea to put forth points on both the sides of the fence.
We are glad you appreciated the illustration. Thank you.
8. The question mark in the title of the article asks whether Darwin was an ‘objective scientist’.
Science is to know things as they are. This implies a search for truth. And a true search has to be objective. It cannot be a product of popular culture. The followers of true “science” have to be objective, uninfluenced by changes happening around them. If the work of one of the most influential scientists turns out to be simply a product of cultural, social, and intellectual changes around him, what kind of a scientist is he? And if he is, what kind of a science is he following? Spiritual science hasn’t changed over yugas. What was described in the satya-yuga still holds true. That is science. The idea behind the article was to expose people to these facts.
9. The article was to showcase different aspects of intolerance that eventually find their way into the minds of those who yield power. Things have gone a full circle. The same mistakes committed by the power-wielding church from years bygone are now being repeated by the current power-wielding scientific lobby. If one doesn’t agree with them, one is suffocated. Is this science? True science gives other opinions and views sufficient chances to present evidence. The best wins. But, if free thought is stifled and voices are suppressed, it is no better than the detestable fundamentalism that scientists themselves complain about and condemn.
10. Our apologies, again!
11. We really appreciate your heartfelt comments. Without deep love for Srila Prabhupada and his mission you would not have taken the trouble to express your thoughts. Even if it may seem that we have failed to please you in this attempt, we sincerely hope to do so in the future.
Fight against Atheism
I am very glad that we are addressing the issue of evolution. Slogans all over London are proclaiming that there is no God. We must fight against this propaganda. A strong BTG issue against Darwinism and its atheistic offshoots is a powerful way to counter this offensive on God. Even though such attacks on God can not harm God, if devotees don’t defend the reputation of God by preaching His glories and smashing anti-God campaigns, it can lead to havoc in the society.
I also have some comments on some of the articles in the issue.
A Friendly Conversation:The conversation is inconclusive.
Also, I thought that we did not answer all the pointed accusations made by the powerful and large section where we directly quote a famous evolutionist. We presented the Vedic way of gaining knowledge, but did not use it to fight the accusations made by Dawkins.
Also, a lot of accusations made by evolutionists against creationists are against the Christian creationists, whose theology is not deep enough to effectively handle the keen scientific accusations made by the evolutionists. But I think Gaudiya Vaishnavas can fight all those accusations quite convincingly especially by presenting the process of God realization scientifically and emphasizing that without following the process there is no point in making accusations against the practitioners for preaching the glories of God.
We also did not try to explain how Vedas explain the different species which have different capabilities. Though we mention the change of bodies, we don’t give the Vedic understanding for all the concepts and observations which the evolutionists explain in their way.
In short, I did not get any strong unambiguous message from the article. And because of the powerful words of athiest which we did not provide any answers for the readers will feel that evolutionists are correct and that the creationists can’t defend their stand.
An Objective Scientist: The first paragraph talks about relative knowledge, which is conditioned by surroundings. Whenever we do that, we must assert how transcendental knowledge is absolute and not relative. Just talking about relativity of knowledge can lead people to think that all knowledge including transcendental is relative.
In this article we give reasons for why Darwinism became popular. But irrespective of the reasons why evolution became popular, it is wrong. We are not saying that anywhere. Also, to be fair, just because something became popular because of some special circumstances, it doesn’t prove that it is wrong. Lot of great art comes out of social circumstances, and a lot of science comes out of a need to improve. That doesn’t make the art lousy or the science dogmatic.
Religious Dogma and Scientific Fundamentalism: About Galileo’s example, we are saying that Galileo was eventually right by going against the Church. Similarly, isn’t evolution also going against the “church”? In fact evolutionists can say that belief in God is dogmatic and even though creationists (similar to church) won’t agree, that doesn’t mean the creationists are right. After all, Galileo was right even though he went against the church.
In fact, a peer review is the Vaisnava way, isn’t it? By decrying the concept of peer review, we are saying that parampara system is bogus and that we must think totally independently giving scant respect to any sort of authority. Instead, we could have explained that in a scientific circle, a peer review is to ascertain whether the presentation is scientific enough and not whether the implied conclusion is according to established notions. But that in case of pro-ID papers, the dogma seems to be against ID and therefore even scientific papers are not accepted and/or are ridiculed.
The idea of the link to the movie “Expelled” is good.
Let the Evidence Speak: Here we are directly attacking the theory of evolution. It’s based on scientific work and though not all will be able to digest so much science, it is still a fit article in an issue dedicated to examining evolution.
What About the Start? Another great article which asks pointed yet simple questions that evolution can’t answer.
Our Reply: Thanks for your comments. We are happy that you liked Caitanya Carana Dasa’s article.
HAPPY ABOUT DARWIN ISSUE
I am very grateful for the deep philosophical summary on Darwinism in Back to Godhead magazine. It was made quite easy to grasp the basic thinking of scientist behind these theories. We at IIT Mumbai used to have very long discussions sand difficult arguments with some students about science and spirituality where Darwinism was the most prominent topic. I had many Darwinian friends who used to study Srimad Bhagavatam online along with Darwin’s other work. They used to present their philosophy very well. So, as soon as I saw the picture of Darwin on the cover, I was happy to get some details and it was really a helpful issue.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK
Thank you for the special issue on Lord Ganesha. Many of my doubts got cleared.
It has also been a great experience and a kingdom of knowledge in the issue on Charles Darwin and the evolution theory. I can feel the heat of hardcore and fearful knowledge of our devotees. No one can defeat them in the world as far as proving God is concerned.
Do keep up the good work and carry on with such issues.
Reply to the letter was written by Syamananda Dasa
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