With the exception of a few radical skeptics, who can’t justify belief in anything, most people believe that an objective reality exists outside our own minds. The Vedic scriptures tell us that human life is meant for understanding that reality and harmonizing ourselves with it. While science and religion disagree on how to uncover the truth, at least they agree it exists.

Some scientists contend that science must be value-neutral, that it should concern itself only with the cold, hard facts uncovered in the laboratory, and not with such things as beauty, goodness, and love. For the strict reductionist, everything is just particles and energy, making beauty, goodness, and love illusory. Placing value on them by elevating them above ugliness, evil, and hatred is simply a deluded human enterprise that has nothing to do with the fundamental nature of existence.

We find, however, that in practice, science doesn’t reject values. Scientists generally proclaim that science should be used for the good of mankind, implying that they know the difference between good and evil. They’re making a value judgment. When science rejects values, we end up with technology used for the most horrible purposes, as seen in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia.

While we might disagree about the details, human beings tend to value qualities that elevate us above the animals. Every country enacts laws founded on moral principles, most of which center on the idea of how we should treat each other. As Hippocrates wrote, “First, do no harm.” Simply put, we believe it is better to be good than bad.

We believe, for example, that it is better to love than to hate. We admire the man who loves his family and makes sacrifices that demonstrate his love. We revere people who help victims of abuse, violence, poverty, or racism. Just consider the respect for Mother Theresa. Science can’t prove the validity of our feelings, but we accept them as real. Somehow, we just know that certain qualities are good.

Every genuine religion sees God as the supreme good, and a fundamental principle of religion is the cultivation of goodness. The founding teachers of every religious tradition have encouraged us to develop such qualities as tolerance, nonviolence, peacefulness, and respect for the rights of others. And in every tradition, we find people, generally called saints, who show us that the human potential for goodness is boundless.

Despite its lack of scientific verifiability as an objective truth, we know intuitively that goodness is real. From a strictly materialistic perspective, it’s hard to explain why we think that love is better than hate. Here, a spiritual point of view comes to our aid: We value goodness because we’re all part of God, the supreme good. Goodness is an essential element of our nature.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers have taught and shown that by practicing bhakti-yoga we can rise to the level of perfect goodness. In that state, our true identity as pure spiritual beings is revealed. And it includes perfect happiness in loving union with the source of all happiness, Lord Krishna. Even ordinary experience in this world shows that good people tend to be happy. Science may not be able to explain why, but as the philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.”