Back to Godhead Analysis

Carbon 14 Goes Out of Date

A RECENT ISSUE of Time carries an article in which leading archaeological authorities admit that they have long been wrong in their theory of "the cultural inferiority of prehistoric civilization in Europe." The article states, "Now, in a surprising about-face, archaeologists are sharply questioning their old assumptions about the cultural inferiority of early Europeans." What has prompted this major reassessment is a change in archaeology's key dating tool-the so-called carbon 14 "nuclear clock."

For our present purposes we need not discuss the technicalities of why the scientists' wonderful play with the "nuclear clock" has proved inaccurate. Suffice it to say that nature has out-tricked them and forced them to make major adjustments in the science of archaeology.

This radical change in archaeological theory should serve as a lesson that the pronouncements of material science, based on knowledge gained through imperfect senses by imperfect minds, are subject to error; they should not be considered absolute. Science so dominates all fields of knowledge, however, that when materialistic scientists say that they can make man immortal in his material body or that they can create life, we receive the news as credible, for we are under the sway of the scientific method of speculation. But now the archaeologists' change of view gives evidence that this method is defective. And whoever puts forward such theories as absolute fact is indeed cheating.

The modern materialistic mind cannot process the idea that the Supreme Personality of Godhead has already informed us of the Absolute Truth through sacred, revealed scriptures and that these words spoken by God represent axiomatic scientific facts. We prefer to research for our knowledge. Indeed, we do not believe in the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead because we cannot find Him through our empiric methods.

But those who are real educators, scientists and philosophers, the liberated sages of the Vedic civilization, follow the Vedic literature as sources of Absolute Truth from which one can derive all the material and spiritual knowledge necessary for attaining perfection in human life. The conclusion of Vedic thought is that man is not a product of this material world; his real self is an eternal spiritual soul who is part of the Complete Whole, or God-Sri Krsna. Man's duty for perfect happiness is to engage in transcendental loving service to that Supreme Personality of Godhead.

We may note with interest that archaeologists, having reviewed their mistaken method for dating ancient bones and plants, now conclude, "We have completely undervalued the originality and creativity of prehistoric Europe." Now they understand that even in prehistoric times skilled and cultured workers were living in Europe. Thus the empiric method yields glimpses of reality only after many mistakes and many revisions of theories.

But if one simply gives submissive aural reception to the Vedic literature, one can at once have access to all knowledge, material and spiritual. For example, it is well known to followers of the Srimad-Bhagavatam,the ripened fruit of all Vedic literature, that highly sophisticated forms of human society existed on earth 5,000 years ago, and even long before that. In fact, the first living entity, Brahma, who appeared in the beginning of material creation, is the most highly developed, sanctified and intellectual being, and he is capable of creating entire planetary systems, as well as the bodies of all species of life.

So long as we deny the authority of the Vedic scriptures, taking them to be mythology, and instead turn to the theories of the scientists who are playing with material nature to the amazement of people in general, we will be subject again and again to errors and revisions of the truth; we will never come to know the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. As stated in the Padma Purana, "No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna through his materially contaminated senses." In his commentary to Bhagavad-gita As It Is, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes: "A Krsna conscious person has realized knowledge, by the grace of Krsna, because he is satisfied with pure devotional service. By realized knowledge, one becomes perfect. . . but by academic knowledge, one is easily deluded and is confused by apparent contradictions."

Archaeologists and other scientists would do well to use their technological methods to confirm, in scientific language, the truth enunciated in the revealed scriptures. In this way, they could free themselves of error, and both they themselves and all mankind would benefit.