Evolution

Life: Real and Artificial

Complexity: 
Easy

Science: The Vedic View

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a group of scientists, mainly from the Los Alamos National Laboratories, once held a conference on “Artificial Life.” The theme of the conference, which I attended, was that the essence of life lies not in biological substance but in patterned organization.

If this idea is valid, the thinking goes, life forms should be able to set themselves up through many different types of material stuff. In particular, life should be able to exist as a pattern of electronic activity in a computer.

The conference organizers, casually dressed, long-haired men in their thirties and early forties, say that artificial, computer-based life forms are developing even now—and may evolve to dominate the earth.

According to this view, the evolutionary role of man is to give birth to silicon-based life patterns that will eventually look back on him as a primitive ancestor. The conference sponsors counseled a broad-minded attitude toward such evolutionary progress: we should transcend parochial anthropocentrism and welcome advanced life in whatever form it may emerge.

But some attending scientists doubted whether a program running on a computer could properly be thought of as alive. Philosopher Elliott Sober argued that when engineers make a computer simulation of a bridge, no one would think of it as a real bridge: the simulation merely shows a picture in which computations tell us something about bridges. In the same way, when a computer simulates an organism, we see a picture in which computations tell us something about life—we’re not seeing life itself.

Tommaso Toffoli, a computer scientist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, responded to this argument. Suppose, he said, that simulated people were driving in simulated cars on a simulated bridge. If the bridge were to collapse, the people would fall to their simulated deaths.

The patterns in a faithful simulation match the patterns found in reality: the simulated people cross the simulated bridge just as real people cross a real bridge. And since these patterns, Dr. Toffoli proposed, are the essence of what is happening, we can think of the simulation the same way we think of the original.

In principle, then, if a real material scene can exhibit life, so can a simulation.

In practice, of course, present computers, operating with a single processor, are weak at matching the patterns of reality.

But Toffoli suggested that the powerful computers of the future will consist of crystallike arrays of many thousands of microminiature processors, nearly atomic in size, all computing at once. Toffoli described such computers as “programmable matter.”

Indeed (though Toffoli didn’t say so), we might regard matter itself, with its interacting atomic subunits, as such a computer. According to this idea, life is already a computer simulation running on the “programmable matter” of the universe itself.

Now, if life is but a computer simulation, a series of computational states, then life too must be essentially unreal. Words such as “flower,” “dog,” and “human” are simply names, symbols we attach to patterns of matter. This, in fact, is the Vedic understanding not of life but of the material body. In the eleventh canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Krishna says to Uddhava that the gross and subtle forms of material bodies have no existence of their own; they are only temporary patterns manifested by the eternally existing reality, the Absolute Truth.

Krishna illustrates this idea with an example: “Gold exists before it is made into gold products, and the gold remains when the products have been destroyed. The gold alone is the reality while used under various names. Similarly, I alone exist before the universe is created and after it is destroyed, and I alone exist while it is maintained.…

“That which did not exist in the past and will not exist in the future has no existence of its own while it lasts.… Whatever is created and revealed by something else is ultimately only that other thing” (Bhagavatam 11.28.19, 21).

So we can look at the temporary forms of the material universe as patterns in Krishna’s energy to which various names have been assigned. In essence these patterns in Krishna’s material energy (bahiranga-shakti) are the same as the patterns of electrons that form and disappear in the circuitry of a computer during a simulation. So we can view the material universe as the ultimate computer sim- ulation, and Krishna as the ultimate simulator.

But seeing the material body as a succession of flickering patterns doesn’t mean we should view life the same way. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (2.20) that the soul, the individual conscious self, eternally exists: “For the soul there is never birth or death. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

Tommaso Toffoli’s simulated people on the simulated bridge lack one main element: consciousness. A series of computations might simulate the changes a person’s body undergoes, including those in the brain. But why should patterns of electric current generate the conscious experience of these changes?

We may easily imagine that the patterns of current that make up a machine’s computations may flow without conscious awareness. This suggests that if consciousness of the results of these computations exists in the computer, this must be due to some element that our understanding of computers has not yet taken into account.

Here’s how some might reply: It may be hard to understand how patterns of computer states could generate consciousness, but we already know that similar patterns generate consciousness in human brains. So why can’t this take place in a computer?

The answer is that we don’t know in any scientific sense that patterns of brain states do generate consciousness. Resolving how such patterns might do this in brains would be just as hard as figuring out how they might do it in computers.

Bhagavad-gita provides a simple solution by postulating that consciousness in the material body is due to the presence of an entity fundamentally different from matter. Given the difficulties philosophers and scientists have run into in trying to understand consciousness as patterns of material elements, they should think about this solution.

If we tentatively adopt this solution, then we may ask: How would the nonmaterial conscious entity be linked to the material body? We can understand how this link might work by returning to Toffoli’s story of the simulated bridge.

How could we introduce consciousness into the simulation? One way would be to make a “real-time” simulation, one in which the simulated events take place at the same pace as corresponding events in the real world. (One would simply need a fast enough computer.) Then one could put consciousness into the simulation by electronically linking the senses of real, conscious people with the simulated senses of the simulated people. The intentions of the conscious people would move the bodies of the people in the simulated world, and the conscious people would have the experiences the simulated people would have.

Far-fetched? Some people in computer science are already working on it. VPL Research in California is experimenting with “virtual realities” in which a person’s eyes, ears, and one hand are hooked up electronically with virtual eyes and ears and a virtual hand in a simulated world. The person looks through “eye-phones,” small TV screens placed directly in front of his eyes, and sees as though in the simulated world.

A “data-glove” electronically senses his hand movements, and another device the movements of his head; the resulting data control the movements of his simulated hand and head.

Thus the person experiences the simulated world through a simulated body, moves about in that body, and handles simulated objects in that world.

If it is possible to link human consciousness with an unreal, virtual body in a simulated world, why shouldn’t it be possible to link spiritual consciousness with similarly unreal bodies in the “real” material world?

The Vedic philosophy known as Sankhya describes the workings of such a communications link. The third canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam describes Krishna’s material energy as including an element called “false ego,” or ahankara, which serves as the interface between the nonmaterial soul and the material energy. This false ego serves like the eyephones and data gloves that link a human being with a computer running a virtual reality program.

Both the material body as understood in Vedic literature and the simulated body in a computer-generated world are merely temporary patterns in an underlying substrate. But the conscious self—the real essence of the living being—has a substantial reality outside the realm of transient patterns.

In the computer-generated reality this conscious self is a human being not part of the computer system, and in the Vedic philosophy this self is a transcendental entity distinct from matter.

One lesson we can learn from the thoughts and experiments of computer scientists is that such a relationship between the self and the material world is possible. And it just might be our actual situation.

Evolution: A Doctrine in Search of a Theory

Complexity: 
Easy

“All reputable evolutionary biologists now agree that the evolution of life is directed by the process of natural selection, and by nothing else.” With these words Sir Julian Huxley summed up the consensus of learned opinion at the Darwin Centennial Celebration in 1959.

Among the eminent biologists and evolutionists attending the celebration, great confidence prevailed that the origin of living species was now almost fully understood. Evolutionists had clearly established that all living organisms had gradually evolved through small variations in form and function, slowly accumulating, generation by generation, over a vast span of geological time. Geneticists had shown that all biological variations arose from random genetic accidents called mutations. Evolutionary theorists, building on this finding, had clearly identified Darwinian natural selection as the sole guiding force that sorted out these variations and thereby molded the diverse forms of living beings. Although many minute details certainly remained to be worked out, scientists believed they had arrived at an essentially complete understanding of life and its historical development.

With this striking unanimity of established scientific opinion reached little more than two decades ago, perhaps we are surprised to hear that the theory of evolution has recently become the focus of a great controversy among evolutionists themselves. The last few years have seen the established theory of mutation and natural selection increasingly challenged by critical studies and dissenting interpretations of the evidence. The theory has clearly shown itself unsound, although scientists have thus far been unable to devise an acceptable new theory to replace it.

This controversy became a near battle as some 150 prominent evolutionists gathered at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to thrash out various conflicting hypotheses about the nature of evolution. After four days of heated discussions (closed to all but a few outside observers), the evolutionists remained convinced that evolution is a fact. Unfortunately, however, they could not reach a clear understanding of just what this fact is. The New York Times reported that the assembled scientists were unable either to specify the mechanism of evolution or to agree on “how anyone could establish with some certainty that it happened one way and not another.”

Why this shift from unanimity and certainty to controversy and indecision? In this article we shall try to answer this question by examining some basic features of the modern theory of evolution. We shall try to identify the reasons why many scientists have sought an evolutionary explanation of life, and we shall also point out some of the problems that have impeded their efforts. We shall argue that the theory of evolution has been motivated more by philosophical misunderstanding than by the strength of empirical evidence and that the current confusion among evolutionary theorists has come about because factual evidence has persistently refused to conform to the patterns imposed by an inconsistent and inadequate philosophical system. Finally, we shall present for these philosophical problems a solution that can lead to a more satisfactory understanding of the nature and origin of life.

Can Creation Come from Chaos?

Complexity: 
Medium

Although scientists would like to assume that in the past, inert chemicals combined to produce life, as yet no one has ever observed such an event. In addition, although scientists have many theories about how life is working inside the cell, they have not been able to combine the constituent chemicals to form living cells, even in controlled laboratory settings. Thus, the claim of molecular biologists that life has come about by evolutionary development—beginning from a primordial environment of methane, ammonia, and water sparked by an electromagnetic or thermal stimulus—has never been substantiated by experimental evidence. Although scientists have found traces of amino acids (the building blocks of biological molecules) in reaction chambers filled with ammonia, methane, and water, the formation of these simple amino acids does not prove that life evolved by a chance combination of chemicals. Amino acids are a very long way from a living organism, so there is really no substantial justification for concluding that this common laboratory experiment proves life originated by chance in a “primordial chemical soup.”

Nor have the biologists found a chemical which, when injected into a dead organism, will restore life. In fact, they are having a difficult time explaining the activities of the living cell by chemical equations. Physicist Louis de Broglie has commented, “It is premature to reduce the vital processes to the quite insufficiently developed conceptions of nineteenth and twentieth century physics and chemistry.” And even if the microbiologist does try to analyze a living cell in the detail necessary to discover its exact chemical activity, he would have to kill it, obliterating with his instruments the very principle of “life” he was seeking in the first place. Consequently, many scientists are now looking for new concepts beyond chemistry and physics to explain how life works. These new attempts are called holistic approaches, which consider the living organism as a whole and view life as complementary to matter.

Nevertheless, most materialistic scientists reject this idea. They ignore the fact that living systems defy the second law of thermodynamics, which strictly governs inert matter. According to this law, no complex system of chemical reactions can maintain itself indefinitely. Yet living systems do maintain themselves, generation after generation, without any loss of complex order. Therefore we can safely say that life does not act according to the laws of chemistry and physics, and that it is perfectly scientific to talk of life as a principle separate from matter.

Also, from the point of view of mathematics and logic, we can see that complex living organisms cannot arise spontaneously from unorganized matter; there must be the touch of higher intelligence. Suppose we have a collection of short rods (A). If we then pass them through a box that combines the rods two at a time, at right angles to each other, we shall arrive at B. Then suppose we join the L’s together at random. We can see that the finalconfiguration C has no greater form than that which was explicitly specified in the system going from A to B to C.In other words, for C to have a specific, complex structure, we have to supply specific, complex information to create that structure. A random pairing of L’s cannot produce a complex, organized pattern. For example, if we wanted to generate the structure below, (D) we would have to supply explicit information at each step of the operation. In other words, all the information specifying the final structure must be available throughout the development of the structure. The basic mathematical theorems of Kolmogorov and Chaitin1 governing so-called complexities of formal systems confirm this argument. In general, all of this proves that something simple cannot create something complex by a random process. And when we apply this conclusion to the current theory of evolution, we see that random atoms and molecules couldn’t possibly have developed into complex living forms without an outside source of information.

As we have seen, known scientific principles such as those of thermodynamics, mathematics, and logic confirm that life comes from life, not from matter. Also, it is a fact of experience that a living plant comes from another living plant, an amoeba comes from an amoeba, a dog from a dog, and a human being from another human being. On the other hand, no one has ever observed a living entity coming from dead matter. Despite all this evidence, however, most scientists still cling to the theory that life comes from matter. Why?

The strongest arguments of the evolutionists are based on the fossil record. However, objective analysis of the fossil record reveals a different story than the one the evolutionists would have us believe. First, it is an admitted fact that after one hundred years of digging, practically no fossils of intermediate species (the famous “missing links”) have ever been found to confirm the Darwinian evolution-of-species theory. Second, fossil records do show that an entire system of highly evolved marine life-forms appeared abruptly at the beginning of the Cambrian age. There are thousands of feet of fossil-free sedimentary rock below the Cambrian stratum. Indeed, no undisputable pre-Cambrian fossils have been found anywhere in the world. Although evolutionists have many imaginative explanations for this sudden appearance of complex marine life, available evidence clearly does not confirm their theory that life originated from matter and gradually evolved into more and more complex forms.

In addition to the insufficient evidence upon which the evolutionists base their theories, their methods are suspect. Foremost among these are the conflicting dating processes used by archaeologists—especially the use of radioactive isotopes such as carbon 14.2 Besides this, there are a great number of false claims of various evolutionists that point up the highly speculative nature of their whole theory. For example, Haeckel’s “primordial muck,” supposedly the stuff that first generated life, turned out to be no more than a combination of inorganic salts. His error was discovered only after the idea had been widely circulated and had created a stir in scientific circles. Another embarrassment for evolutionists was the story of “Piltdown man.” After being accepted for forty years, Piltdown man proved to be a hoax—a “fossil” planted by someone seeking name and fame and interested in supporting evolution. Yet the evolutionists are no more certain now about the age of man than in the heyday of Piltdown man. Their constantly changing dating schemes regularly push the “original” man farther and farther back into the past. Finally, even the most well known evidence supporting the evolutionists’ theories has recently been called into question. For instance, several investigators have pointed out that the famous series showing how the horse evolved, which still appears in many young people’s textbooks, is erroneous and misleading3: the actual fossils betray abrupt and unchronological changes.

How can the scientific community continue to ignore all the evidence presented against Darwinian evolution? Because they’ve been conditioned to accept it as fact. Psychologists have discovered that this conditioning, or expectancy, plays a very important role in perception. For example, if you place a thermometer in some hot water, you expect the mercury to rise in the tube, and that’s what you see. But actually the mercury in the column first drops and then rises—because the glass of the thermometer expands more rapidly than the mercury at first. So our expectation has colored our perception. Similarly, scientists expect archaeological and other evidence to confirm Darwinian evolution, and this is what they perceive, despite insufficient evidence.

An even more deep-rooted reason for adherence to the Darwinian theory of evolution is that it provides a very convenient basis for hedonism, a life view free of concern for future consequences or morality. Aldous Huxley once said, “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning… For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”4 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 chemical reactions, and if there is thus no supreme creator and controller, what need is there for moral restraint? This is not a new philosophy. In ancient Greece, Epicurus postulated that everything was simply a combination of atoms and the void—nothing more. Today the word epicurean describes a person whose main activity is enjoying fine food and drink. The conclusion is that Darwinian evolutionary theory, with its implication that life comes from matter, is a philosophy that justifies unrestricted sense gratification, but it is by no means scientific.

Thus we have seen how the theory that life originated from matter is dubious on many grounds. First, no one has ever actually observed such an event. On the contrary, every day we see living organisms producing other living organisms—trees produce trees, dogs produce dogs, and so on. Second, living systems defy the laws of thermodynamics, proving that life is a principle separate from matter. Third, by the laws of mathematics and logic we concluded that a random combination of chemicals could not have produced complex living organisms without an outside source of information. In addition, we noted some of the more flagrant discrepancies in the evolutionists’ argument: the virtual absence of both pre-Cambrian fossils and “missing links” between species, and Piltdown man, Haeckel’s muck, and the misleading diagrams showing how the horse evolved. Finally, we noted how the scientists’ expectations and their deep-rooted hedonistic motives make their observations and conclusions less than impartial.

Although materialistic science has spread throughout the world, recently it has been challenged by thoughtful scientists, philosophers, and other intelligent people. Notably, the famous psychologist Carl Jung investigated the Western philosophical concept of matter and found that there is no clear definition of the term. Jung concluded that the term matter isno more than a symbol we attach to our observations of reality, and he saw no reason why we couldn’t see reality as spiritual (that is, conscious) rather than material. Further, many researchers are discovering phenomena that simply defy explanation by the standard laws of mathematics, chemistry, and physics. For instance, the newly recognized field of parapsychology concerns psychic phenomena such as ESP (mental telepathy), psychokinesis (“mind-over-matter”), and reincarnation. These phenomena suggest the need for a new understanding of nature—one that will explain the things around us in terms of a conscious cause.

We find such an explanation in India’s ancient Vedas. These books, which are about five thousand years old in written form and still older in oral tradition, describe that the underlying principle and source of life is personal consciousness, or spirit. Today, our tendency is to accept that everything is simply impersonal energy, and therefore that is all we see. But if we accept a personal, conscious background of existence, then we can understand that there must also be a Supreme Person, God. God explains Himself through the Vedas, and the Vedas come to us through the spiritual master, who, as part of a line of spiritual masters, delivers the Vedic message unchanged (Bg. 4.2).

Because our mind and senses are imperfect and cannot perceive spirit, we cannot know God, the Supreme Absolute Truth, by induction or mental speculation. The only way to overcome such difficulties is to approach a bona fide Vedic authority (one who has himself transcended the limitations of the senses and mind) and begin practicing real science—practical realization of the Vedic wisdom as taught by the spiritual master. In other words, in the Vedic sense, scientific method means to approach the spiritual master and follow his instructions.

This process is actually very practical. The spiritual master prescribes a process of spiritual discipline, and the student carries it out according to the directions given. If he experiences the predicted result, then the student draws the conclusion that the spiritual master was right. If the spiritual master is actually bona fide, then the result will be positive. This procedure is quite similar to an honest scientist’s reporting his results along with his experimental method. Anyone who wants to verify the result can perform the same experiment himself. When the same result is reproduced by several scientists, it is called scientific. However, there is one very basic difference between the methods of materialistic and Vedic science: the materialistic scientist relies totally on speculation and data coming through his imperfect senses to arrive at his conclusions, while the spiritual master relies on a perfect, divine source of knowledge. The bona fide spiritual master receives his knowledge directly from the supreme knower, God, or through the disciplic succession from God Himself.

But how can we know whether someone who claims to be a spiritual master is bona fide or not? According to the Vedic literatures, a genuine spiritual master must meet the following three qualifications: (1) He must teach according to the system of parampara, or disciplic succession. In other words, he must have received instruction from a bona fide teacher, who also received instruction from a bona fide teacher, etc. He must be able to trace his disciplic succession back to God Himself. A bona fide teacher will therefore never present anything that has not been presented by his predecessor teachers. (2) He must teach according to the authorized Vedic literature. All his conclusions must be supported by the Vedic scriptures. (3) His arguments and conclusions must agree with those of other teachers of spiritual knowledge already accepted as authoritative. So we find that the teachings of a bona fide spiritual master are in accord with the teachings of great saintly personalities like Jesus, Muhammad, Ramanuja, or Moses.

All of these qualifications are met by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He is scientifically presenting the Vedic description of the origin of life and matter. According to the Bhagavad-gita, which Srila Prabhupada has presented in an English translation with extensive commentary, life is eternal—it is never created or destroyed (Bg. 2.12). In addition, the Katha Upanishad (2.2.13) explains that there is a supreme eternal living force who is supporting the infinitesimal living forces. The Brahma-samhita (5.1)describes Him as Krishna, the supreme controller, who possesses a purely spiritual body composed of sac-cid-ananda (eternity, knowledge, and bliss). And what is matter? Again from the Bhagavad-gita (7.4)we learn that Krishna is the source of the eight separated energies that make up what we call the material energy, or matter. These eight energies are developed by a gradual process from pure consciousness, or Krishna consciousness, into (1) false ego (based on our desire to be separated from Krishna), (2) intelligence, (3) mind, (4) ether, (5) air, (6) fire, (7) water, and (8) earth. Everything that we experience is a combination of these two kinds of energy—the superior, conscious living entities and the inferior, inanimate material elements. And above both of them is God, Krishna, guiding and controlling all.

In the Thirteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, God explains how He has expanded Himself into every atom of the world as the Parabrahman, or Supersoul (Bg. 13.16). Material nature works under the directions of the Supersoul, who is omniscient and thus perfectly aware of the desires and activities of every living being. According to how we act during our lifetime, we create a certain state of mind, or consciousness. This consciousness is understood in detail by the Supersoul, and He awards us a suitable body in our next life. There are 8,400,000 different kinds of bodies (species) to accommodate the different mentalities of the living beings. So evolution is not a process of physical development, but of conscious development-from almost unconscious stages like trees or fungi, up through simple moving creatures like insects, up through birds, then four-legged animals, and finally to man.

When we reach the human form, we are at a juncture, for it is only in the human form that we have an intelligence keen enough to understand how to get free of the vicious cycle of birth and death. Human intelligence is meant for inquiring into this most important subject, not for developing extravagant means for sensual enjoyment. The method for liberation is one of purification—purification of our mind by hearing the sacred message from a bona fide source, and purification of our heart by rendering service to God. Anyone truly interested in finding the ultimate limit of knowledge, as well as attaining an eternally blissful life, must take up this process of devotional service to God.

BTG:You were both working scientists with Ph.D.’s when you joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Madhava, you were a chemist at the National Bureau of Standards, Sadaputa, your doctoral dissertation had just been accepted for publication by the 0American Mathematical Society. These days we don’t usually see scientists like you advocating spiritual ideas. How did you come to accept the philosophy of Krishna consciousness as scientifically sound?

Madhava dasa: When I first came into contact with Krishna consciousness, I heard Srila Prabhupada say something I’d never considered before. He said that everything could be understood in terms of a personal basis, rather than an impersonal basis. I began to understand that personalism was superior to impersonalism, because personality could include impersonality, but impersonality could not include personality. Srila Prabhupada’s concept was more all-encompassing, consistent, and rational. So I accepted it.

Sadaputa dasa: I pursued science for many years. The object of science, I felt, was to find out what the absolute truth is. Otherwise, what’s the use of research? So I primarily studied mathematics, which I saw as the basis of the other sciences. But by graduate school I had come to the conclusion that mathematics was not leading me to the truth, but to the void. It seemed to be only an arbitrary game of operations played with symbols on pieces of paper. I became frustrated because I realized there had to be something beyond mathematics, which didn’t make sense according to my scientific training, but which was nevertheless very important. So I investigated various sources of information outside the scientific realm—yoga, spiritual groups, and so forth—and then I came to Krishna consciousness. It was what I’d been looking for.

BTG:Do you think other scientists will be able to accept Krishna consciousness as you have?

Sadaputa dasa: Yes, if they consider it with an open mind.

BTG:What impact do you want your present work to have?

Madhava dasa: First, we want to expose other scientists to Krishna conscious ideas. Also, we think that people in general will also be interested in how two former academic scientists view Krishna consciousness. There’s a lot of interest now in the limits of science. More and more people are questioning science’s ability to solve the world’s problems. We’ve seen science’s ability to create problems. Now many people doubt it will be able to get us out of that situation. They feel that science has been overrated and they’re beginning to look at wider and wider perspectives to understand what’s going on. In psychology, the Gestalt movement has become popular because it doesn’t try to analyze consciousness in terms of behaviorism or atomism. In scientific theory we’re seeing a lot of emphasis on how the observer influences what he’s observing. In every scientific experiment, the consciousness of the observer has to be accounted for, but present theories don’t explain how. In addition, there are problems now in understanding the fundamentals of mathematics and of reason itself. There’s also a general trend toward trying to understand consciousness and the higher psychology of living beings. A recent study conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed a great deal of public interest in phenomena that can’t be explained by the known laws of science, such as psychokinesis, telepathy, Kirlian photography, and so on.

BTG:Could you tell us something about your present scientific work?

Madhava dasa: We’re trying to solve a fundamental problem-the problem of the origin of life. Today, most scientists say that matter creates life. But from our point of view—from the spiritual scientists’ point of view—it’s the other way around: life creates matter. We feel we have the advantage because we can observe life creating matter. For instance, a lemon tree can manufacture a drop of lemon juice. But of course a drop of lemon juice can’t create a tree. So we’re collecting the necessary scientific evidence to verify our everyday observation. On the other hand, the materialists’ theory that matter is the source of life isn’t based on any observed data. It’s simply a mental construct, a theory with no hard evidence to support it.

BTG: But doesn’t quantum mechanics support the theory that matter produces life?

Sadaputa dasa: No. Some people say it does, but we disagree. Quantum mechanics is the most widely accepted theory on the structure of matter. It was developed in the period from 1900 to about 1930. If you look in the library, you’ll see that all the science books published today claim that quantum mechanics applies in every material situation. Most scientists say it’s universal, But actually, quantum theory has been empirically verified by only very limited laboratory experiments. Although quantum theory is great for simple situations like that, it’s not mathematically feasible to apply it to anything more complex. For instance, theoretical chemists admit that they can’t apply quantum mechanics exactly to any molecule more complex than the diatomic hydrogen molecule, which is a very simple molecule. All they can do is assume it will work with bigger molecules. But a law that applies to one molecule won’t necessarily apply to another. Still, they’re gambling that quantum mechanics will. And to make matters worse, they’re assuming that the human body, which is inconceivably complicated, functions according to the theories of quantum mechanics. Such an assumption is irresponsible. No one can say that the nerve cells of the brain, for example, work in that way. Well, no one should say it—but they do anyway. Many scientists even say there can’t be a soul because the presence of a soul would violate some “well-established” physical laws. But when you get right down to it, no one can tell if those laws really do apply to living organisms or not.

BTG:You’ve brought up an interesting question. Why do so many scientists take it upon themselves to defeat religion? They say that as mankind progresses in scientific knowledge, he no longer has any reason to believe in God or the soul. But you’re saying there’s nothing inherent in science to prove this.

Madhava dasa: That’s right. The materialists’ attitude is based on an error in judgment. They base all their work on the unspoken assumption that everything has an impersonal basis. In other words, their belief that we can explain everything in terms of matter is just that—only a belief, not the result of an experiment. When we analyze, a materialistic scientist’s statements, we find that his concept of matter is not empirical, as he claims, but metaphysical. So it seems that the materialists are simply trying to replace a spiritual religion with a material one, of which they will of course be the new high priests.

BTG:But haven’t the material scientists created life in the laboratory?

Sadaputa dasa: To my knowledge, the farthest they’ve gone, so far is to take apart a virus, put the parts into a test tube, and watch them recombine. Is this creating life? First of all, whether or not you can call a virus “life” is a difficult question. To many people, viruses seem more like chemicals than living organisms. Second, the scientists didn’t create the virus anyway. They took it apart, and when they juxtaposed the molecules. they recombined. Their accomplishment wasn’t so remarkable, really, although it took a lot of work.

BTG:Can you demonstrate in the laboratory how life creates matter?

Madhava dasa: Yes. Several investigators have observed a remarkable phenomenon called biological transmutation that is experimentally verifia/ble and that can’t be explained in terms of our present physical and chemical theories. It occurs every day, in animals and plants. Most scientists in modern textbooks don’t discuss biological transmutation because it doesn’t conform to their present theories. What happens is this: when you put a seed into soil and add water and nutrients, the seed begins to grow. Now, after a certain amount of time, the chemical composition of the germinated seed will be different from an ungerminated one. But after you analyze them, you see that this difference can’t be explained by any additions of water or nutrients, or by any chemical reactions we can infer. The chemical difference between the growing and nongrowing seeds has to be explained in some other way. And no one knows what that explanation might be. Somehow the living seed actually creates not only compounds, but also basic elements, out of other elements. This is comparable to what happens inside a nuclear reactor or a hydrogen bomb! To think that a tiny seed does this as a matter of course, by its life energy alone, is inconceivable to the materialistic mind. But anyone with an, open mind will admit that the process of life is a mystery to us; It’s beyond our present understanding. Life doesn’t obey the laws of chemistry or physics.

Furthermore, Heisenberg discovered in 1927 that beyond a certain minuteness of atomic structure, we can’t be certain of both the position and the velocity of particles. In other words, our ability to investigate the ultimate nature of things with our present methods is limited. Beyond that limited range, we have to say that the world is inconceivable. Besides that, especially at the atomic level, the instruments we use always disturb whatever we’re looking at. So we can’t really talk about the structure of nature as it is. All we can talk about is the structure of our investigations, which is a different thing entirely.

Sadaputa dasa: Yes. For instance, in Newton’s study of gravitation, he spoke of an attraction between two bodies separated by space. But what is it that goes through space to hold the two bodies together? No one has ever answered this question. When Newton first presented his theory of gravitation, scientists and philosophers rejected it as mysticism.

Madhava dasa: The conclusion is that within the universe there’s an energy at work, a life energy. We can’t see it, but it must be there. Many great scientists have concluded that the energy which moves the universe is spiritual. And they have accepted that there is a supreme controller behind the universe. Einstein thought that way. And so did Galileo.

BTG:But most scientists don’t think that way.

Madhava dasa: Right. They exclude God by assuming that the material energy is working on its own without any outside help. However, by analyzing the activity of the material energy, we can see that it doesn’t perform according to materialistic theories. Other elements must be considered.

BTG:Doesn’t the theory of evolution do away with the necessity for God, or any spiritual purpose, in the development of nature?

Sadaputa dasa: Evolutionists justify their views by saying, more or less, “if it didn’t happen our way, we’d be forced to accept a supernatural explanation, and that we refuse to do.” That’s their best argument. But how did the eye evolve? They say, “It had to evolve by chance mutations, because otherwise we’d have to suppose divine creation.” They have faith in chance, and we have faith in God. That’s what it comes down to.

The Machinery of Evolution: Out of Gear?

Complexity: 
Medium

One of the most fundamental ideas in modern evolutionary biology is that the physical structures of living organisms can transform from one into another through a series of small modifications, without departing from the realm of potentially useful forms. For example, the foreleg of a lizard can, according to this principle, gradually transform into the wing of a bird, and the lizard’s scales can gradually convert into feathers. In the course of these transformations, each successive stage must serve a useful function for the organism in some possible environment. Thus each intermediate form between leg and wing must be able to act as a serviceable limb under some appropriate circumstances.

Darwin’s theory is based on the hypothesis that, without exception, all the organisms in the world today came about by transformations of this kind, starting with some primitive ancestral form. If such transformations are always possible, then the problem of evolutionary theory is to determine what events in nature might cause them to take place. However, if there exist any significant structures in living organisms that cannot have developed in this way, then for these structures, at least, the hypothesis of evolution is ruled out, and some other explanation of their origin must be sought. Charles Darwin, the founder of the modern theory of evolution, clearly recognized this point: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Although Darwin admitted he could not imagine the intermediate, transitional forms leading to many different organs, he assumed that they might later be revealed by a deeper understanding of the organs’ structure and function, and he proceeded to base his theory on their presumed existence. However, in the nearly 120 years since the publication of his On the Origin of Species, practically no significant advance has been made in the understanding of intermediate forms. While evolutionists often speak of changes in the size and shape of existing organs, they still can do very little but make vague suggestions about the origin of the organs themselves.

The geneticist Richard Goldschmidt once gave a list of seventeen organs and systems of organs for which he could not even conceive of the required transitional forms. These included hair in mammals, feathers in birds, the segmented structure of vertebrates, teeth, the external skeletons and compound eyes of insects, blood circulation, and the organs of balance. These organs, and many others, present a fundamental question: How can we explain the origin of a complex system depending on the action of many interdependent parts?

We would like to suggest here that for many organs, the reason why the required chains of useful intermediate forms are unimaginable is simply that they do not exist. Let us try to visualize this in mathematical terms. The class of all possible forms made from organic chemicals can be thought of as a multidimensional space in which each point corresponds to a particular form. We propose that in this space the potentially useful structures will appear as isolated islands surrounded by a, vast ocean of disjointed forms that could not be useful in any circumstances. Within these islands some freedom of movement will exist, corresponding to simple variations in characteristics such as size and shape. But going from island to island - that is, evolving from one particular type of useful organ to another - will require a long and accurate jump across the ocean.

Leaping the Gap

Figure 1 on the previous page depicts these ideas by a mechanical example. Here we consider the space of all possible combinations of mechanical parts, such as shafts, levers, and gears. These mechanical parts are comparable to the molecules making up the organs in the bodies of living beings. Since mechanical parts and molecules alike fit together in very limited and specific ways, a study of mechanical combinations should throw some light on the nature of organic forms.

If we visualize the space of mechanical forms, we can see that some regions in this space will correspond to wristwatches and other familiar devices, and some regions will correspond to machines that are unfamiliar, but that might function usefully in some situation. However, the space will consist mostly of combinations of parts that are useful as paperweights at best.

Since a machine can operate smoothly only if many variables are simultaneously adjusted within precise limits, the useful machines will occupy isolated islands, surrounded by an ocean of machines that are either jammed or broken. If we started from a point on the shore representing a very rudimentary machine, or no machine at all, then we would have to leap over this vast ocean in order to reach, say, a functional wristwatch. As we were making this leap, we could not obtain any guidance by testing the relative usefulness of the forms beneath, for all of them would be equally useless.

Since the bodies of living organisms are built of molecular components and are very complicated, they are not nearly as easy to visualize as the machines in our illustration. However, there are examples of organs that are simple enough to be comparable to man-made mechanisms. One such example is found in the one-celled bacterium Escherichia coli.

Each Escherichia coli cell possesses several long, curved fibers (called flagella) that enable it to swim. Each flagellum is connected at one end to a kind of motor built into the bacterial cell wall, and when these motors rotate in a certain direction, the flagella rotate in unison and act as propellers to drive the bacterium forward through the water. When the motors rotate in the opposite direction, the flagella separate and change the orientation of the bacterium by pulling in various ways. By systematically alternating between these two modes of operation, the bacterium is able to swim from undesirable to desirable regions of its environment.

The motors are presently thought to be driven by a flux of protons flowing into the cell. Each motor is thought to consist of a ring of sixteen protein molecules attached to an axle, along with a stationary ring of sixteen proteins built into the cell wall. Protons are steadily pumped out of the cell by its normal metabolic processes. As some of these protons flow back into the cell through the pairs of rings, they impart a rotary motion to the movable ring. Since the motor can operate in forward or reverse, there must be some mechanism that adjusts the molecules in the rings so as to reverse the direction of rotation.

Although the exact details of the Escherichia coli’s molecular motors have not been worked out, we can see that they depend on the precise and simultaneous adjustment of many variables. In the space of possible molecular structures, the functional motors will I represent a tiny, isolated island.

To have a continuum of useful forms spanning the gap between “no motor” and “motor,” we would have to postulate useful organs that do not function as motors but are very similar to motors in structure. For the selective processes of evolutionary theory to eventually choose a working motor, these non-motors would have to be progressively more useful to the bacterium the more motorlike they became. Apart from this very unlikely possibility, evolutionists can suggest no guiding process that can cross the gap.

In the case of very simple organs, such as the bacterial motor, it should be possible to carry out a completely rigorous study of the possibilities of form. Such a study would definitely resolve the question of whether the intermediate forms required by the theory of evolution do or do not exist. Of course, for the highly complicated organs of higher plants and animals, this kind of study may not be practical, but there are still many cases where the combinatorial logic of an organ strongly suggests the impossibility of useful intermediate forms.

One interesting example of this impossibility is found in the statocyst of a certain species of shrimp. The statocyst is a hollow, fluid-filled sphere built into the shrimp’s shell. It is lined with cells bearing pressure-sensitive hairs and contains a small weight. The weight tends to sink and press against the downward portion of the sphere, thus enabling the shrimp to tell up from down. Curiously, the weight is a small grain of sand that the shrimp picks up with its claws and inserts into the statocyst through a small hole in its shell. The shrimp has to do this every time it moults its shell.

Now, the question is this: By what intermediate stages did the arrangement of the shrimp’s statocyst come about? Both the statocyst and the behavioral pattern involved in picking up the grain of sand are quite complex, and neither is of any use without the other. Even if a statocyst evolved with a built-in weight and then lost this feature by a mutation, the appearance of the insertion behavior would require a leap involving the coordination of many variables.

A Personal Avenue of Approach

At this point, let us try to find an alternative explanation of how such a leap might come about. One natural process in which such leaps are commonly seen is the process of human invention. The products of human creativity, from watches to poetic compositions, are generated with the aid of spontaneous insight, which sometimes enables one toproceed directly to the solution of a problem without groping laboriously through many false attempts. In fact, it is often the case that after experiencing great frustration in a totally futile trial-and-error search, an inventor will see the complete solution to his problem in a sudden flash.
One example of this is the experience of the mathematician Carl Gauss in solving a problem that had thwarted his efforts for years: “Like a sudden flash of lightning,” he wrote, “the riddle happened to be solved. I myself cannot say what ... connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible.” It is significant that the solution did not exhibit even a hint of a connection with Gauss’s previous attempts. Here again we find a structure-this time a structure of abstract thought-that is not linked by any discernible chain of intermediate, forms to other, existing structures.

If it is the nature of biological form and the forms of human invention to exist as isolated islands in the sea of possible forms, then some causal agency must exist that can select such forms directly. The experience of inventors indicates that this agency lies outside the realm of human consciousness or control, and that it is capable of acting very quickly.

In the Bhagavad-gita a unified description is given of an agency that accounts for the origin of both biological form and human creativity. There it is explained that the ultimate cause underlying the world of our perceptions is not a blind, impersonal process, but a primordial, absolute personality—a personality possessing eternal form, qualities, and activities. Thus in Bhagavad-gita Sri Krishna affirms, “I am the father of all living entities” (Bg. 14.4) and also “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness” (Bg. 15.15).

Of course, even though the nonexistence of intermediate biological forms implies some kind of absolute information or guidance that transcends the categories of ordinary science, this is not sufficient in itself to bring us to the conclusion that the transcendental source must be the Supreme Person. However, this hypothesis opens up very interesting opportunities for further scientific investigation. If the information for the manifestations of form and order in this world exists in a transcendental state, then this information might be directly accessible in some way. And if the transcendental source is indeed the Supreme Person, as described in the Bhagavad-gita, then it is reasonable to expect that a personal avenue of approach is possible.

In fact, such an avenue does exist. It consists of an elaborate scientific method for establishing a personal relationship with the Supreme. This method, called bhakti-yoga, is quite similar to modern science, in that it depends on clearly specified procedures leading to reproducible results. It is experimentally verifiable, for it is based on direct personal experience attainable by anyone who carries out the procedures correctly.

Organization’s Origins

On the other hand, bhakti-yoga differs from modern science in its method of acquiring basic information. In modern science the hypotheses to be tested, as well as the methods for testing them, are obtained in a haphazard way from the poorly understood sources of “inspiration” or “creative imagination.” In the science of bhakti-yoga, experimental procedures and philosophical principles are both explicitly obtained from the Supreme Person. In other words, although the source of knowledge in both modern science and bhakti-yoga is the Supreme Person, in bhakti-yoga this is fully recognized, and thus there is direct access to the transcendental knowledge available from this source. A good example of this direct access is Bhagavad-gita itself, which, far from being a product of gradual cultural evolution, was directly spoken by Sri Krishna some five thousand years ago at Kurukshetra, in India.

It would be worthwhile for scientists to consider this direct method of attaining knowledge. Even though history has shown that “revealed knowledge” may become corrupted, the basic principle is still valid, and fruitful scientific investigation in this area should be possible. The value of seeking such a rigorous approach is especially apparent if, as we have seen, there is reason to suppose that organized form in both the biological and cultural spheres must originate from a transcendental source.

Forbidden Archeology

Complexity: 
Medium

ISKCON researchers have compiled evidence supporting the Vedic picture of the age of the human species.

Modern science tells us that anatomically modern man has been around for only about 100,000 years. The Vedic writings say he has been here a lot longer. Now a book from the Bhaktivedanta Institute takes a new look at the scientific evidence. That evidence, says the book, has been fudged.

The authors are Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Dasa) and Richard Thompson (Sadaputa Dasa), both regular contributors to BTG, and Stephen Bernath (Madhavendra Puri Dasa). Their book uncovers a startling picture not only of what the evidence is and what it means but also of how science reached its story.

We present here, in condensed form, the Introduction.

In 1979, researchers at Laetoli, Tanzania, in East Africa discovered footprints in deposits of volcanic ash more than 3.6 million years old. The prints were indistinguishable from those of modern human beings, said Mary Leakey and other scientists. To them this meant only that 3.6 million years ago our human ancestors had remarkably modern feet.

But other scientists disagreed. One such scientist was R. H. Tuttle, a physical anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Fossil bones show, he said, that the known human beings back then?the australopithecines?had feet that were distinctly apelike. So the Laetoli prints don?t fit. In the March 1990 issue of Natural History Tuttle confessed, ?We are left with somewhat of a mystery.?

It seems permissible, therefore, to consider a possibility neither Tuttle nor Leakey mentioned?that creatures with modern human bodies to match their modern human feet lived in East Africa some 3.6 million years ago. Perhaps, as suggested in the illustration on the opposite page, they coexisted with more ape-like creatures.

As intriguing as this possibility may be, current ideas about human evolution forbid it. Knowledgeable persons will warn against suggesting that anatomically modern human beings existed millions of years ago. The evidence of the Laetoli footprints is too slim.

But there is further evidence. Over the past few decades, scientists in Africa have uncovered fossil bones?apparently millions of years old?that look remarkably human.

At Kanapoi, Kenya, in 1965, Bryan Patterson and W. W. Howells found a surprisingly modern humerus (upper arm bone). Scientists judged it more than 4 million years old. Henry M. McHenry and Robert S. Corruccini of the University of California said the Kanapoi humerus was ?barely distinguishable? from that of modern man.

Then there is the ER 1481 femur?a thigh-bone found in 1972 in Lake Turkana, Kenya. Scientists normally assign it an age of about 2 million years and say it belonged to the pre- human Homo habilis. But Richard Leakey said the femur matches those of modern humans. And since the femur was found by itself, one cannot rule out the possibility that the rest of the skeleton was also anatomically modern.

In 1913 at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, the German scientist Hans Reck found a complete human skeleton?anatomically modern?in strata more than 1 million years old. The find has inspired decades of controversy.

Here again, some will caution us not to set a few isolated and controversial examples against the overwhelming amount of clear evidence. That evidence shows how modern humans came on the scene: In Africa (and, some say, in other parts of the world) they evolved from more apelike creatures fairly recently?about 100,000 years ago.

But it turns out that the Laetoli footprints, the Kanapoi humerus, and the ER 1481 femur do not exhaust our stock of unusual finds. Over the past eight years, Richard Thompson and I, aided by our researcher Stephen Bernath, have uncovered extensive evidence that calls current theories of how humans got the way they are into question. Some of this evidence, like the Laetoli footprints, is fairly recent. But much of it was reported by scientists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Without even looking at this older body of evidence, some will assume there must be something wrong with it. Scientists must have properly disposed of it long ago, and for very good reasons. But Richard and I have looked deeply into that possibility. We have found that the quality of the controversial evidence is no better or worse than the supposedly noncontroversial.

Drastic Revision Needed

Before us, one of the last authors to discuss the kind of reports found in Forbidden Archeology was Marcellin Boule. In his book Fossil Men (1957), Boule gave the reports a decidedly negative review. But when we looked into the original reports, we found poor grounds for Boule?s extreme skepticism. In Forbidden Archeology, we give primary source material that will let you form your own opinion about the evidence Boule dismissed. We also introduce a great many cases that Boule neglected to mention.

From the evidence we have gathered we conclude, sometimes in language devoid of ritual tentativeness, that the now dominant assumptions about human origins need drastic revision. We also find that a process of ?knowledge filtration? has left current scientific workers with a radically thinned-out collection of facts.

We expect that many such workers will take Forbidden Archeology as an invitation to productive discourse on (1) the nature and treatment of evidence about human origins and (2) the conclusions to which that evidence most reasonably leads.

The Knowledge Filter

As we begin Part I of Forbidden Archeology, we survey the history and current state of scientific ideas about human evolution. Mainly we are concerned with a double standard in how evidence is treated.

We identify two main bodies of evidence. The first (A) is controversial evidence that points to the existence of anatomically modern humans in the uncomfortably distant past. The second (B) is evidence that can be taken to support the now dominant view that modern humans evolved, in Africa and perhaps elsewhere, fairly recently, about 100,000 years ago.

After detailed study, we find that if the same standards for judging evidence are applied equally to A and B, we must either accept both A and B or reject them both. If we accept them both, we have evidence placing anatomically modern human beings millions of years in the past, coexisting with more apelike hominids. If we reject them both, we deprive ourselves of the evidential grounds for saying anything at all about human origins and antiquity.

Historically, many scientists once accepted the evidence in category A. But a more influential group of scientists applied standards of evidence more strictly to A than to B. So A was rejected and B preserved. This differing application of standards set up a ?knowledge filter? that obscures the real picture of human origins and antiquity.

In the main body of Part I (Chapters 2-6), we look closely at the vast amount of evidence that runs against current ideas on human evolution. We tell in detail how this evidence has been suppressed, ignored, or forgotten, even though it is as good in quality (and quantity) as the evidence for currently accepted views. When we speak of suppression of evidence, we are not referring to a satanic plot by scientific conspirators bent on deceiving the public. Instead, we are talking about an ongoing social process of knowledge filtration. Certain categories of evidence simply disappear.

Crude Human Artifacts

Chapter 2 deals with anomalously old bones and shells showing cut marks and signs of intentional breakage. To this day, scientists regard bones and shells as an important category of evidence, and many archeological sites are valued for this kind of evidence alone.

In the decades after Darwin introduced his theory, many scientists discovered incised and broken animal bones and shells suggesting that tool-using humans or near-humans lived in the Pliocene Era (2 to 5 million years ago), the Miocene (5 to 25 million years ago), and even earlier. In analyzing these cut and broken bones and shells, the discoverers carefully weighed and ruled out alternative explanations?such as geological pressure or the work of animals?before concluding that humans were responsible.

A striking example is a shell with a crude yet recognizably human face carved on its outer surface. The shell was reported by geologist H. Stopes to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1881. According to standard views, humans capable of the artistry the shell displays did not arrive in Europe until 30,000 or 40,000 years ago. And even in their African homeland they are not supposed to have shown up until some 100,000 years ago. Yet the shell came from the Pliocene Red Crag formation in England, a formation considered more than 2 million years old.

Concerning evidence of the kind reported by Stopes, anthropologist Armand de Quatrefages wrote in his book Hommes Fossiles et Hommes Sauvages (1884): ?The objections made to the existence of man in the Pliocene and Miocene seem habitually more related to theoretical considerations than to direct observation.?

Dawn Stones

The most rudimentary stone tools, the eoliths (?dawn stones?), are the subject of Chapter 3. These implements, found in unexpectedly old geological contexts, inspired protracted debate in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For some, eoliths were not always easily recognizable as tools. Eoliths are not symmetrical implements. Rather, they are natural stone flakes with an edge chipped to make them suitable for a particular task, such as scraping, cutting, or chopping. Often, the working edge bears signs of use.

Critics said eoliths resulted from natural forces, like tumbling in stream beds. But defenders of eoliths countered that natural forces could not have made one-way chipping on just one side of a working edge.

In the late nineteenth century, Benjamin Harrison, an amateur archeologist, found eoliths on the Kent Plateau in southeastern England. Geological evidence suggests that these eoliths were made in the Middle or Late Pliocene, about 2 to 4 million ago. Among the supporters of Harrison?s eoliths were Sir John Prestwich, one of England?s most eminent geologists; Ray E. Lankester, a director of the British Museum (Natural History); and Alfred Russell Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of the natural-selection theory of evolution.

Although Harrison found most of his eoliths in surface deposits of Pliocene gravel, he also found many below ground level. He also found more advanced stone tools (paleoliths). Again, geological evidence suggests that these were of similar Pliocene antiquity.

In the early part of the twentieth century, J. Reid Moir found eoliths (and more advanced stone tools) in England?s Red Crag formation. Moir was a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and president of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. The strata in which he found the tools are dated at 2 to 2.5 million years old. Moir found some of the tools in the detritus beds beneath the Red Crag. This indicates that they could have been made from 2.5 to 55 million years ago.

Moir?s finds won support from a most vocal critic of eoliths, Henri Breuil, then regarded as a preeminent authority on stone tools. Another supporter was paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In 1923, an international commission of scientists journeyed to England to investigate Moir?s main discoveries. The commission pronounced them genuine.

But in 1939, A. S. Barnes published an influential paper in which he analyzed the angle of flaking on Moir?s eoliths. Barnes claimed his method could tell between human handiwork and flaking from natural causes. On this basis, he dismissed all the eoliths he studied, including Moir?s, as products of natural forces. Since then, scientists have used Barnes?s method to deny the human manufacture of many other stone tools. But in recent years, stone-tool authorities have disputed Barnes?s method and its blanket use. This suggests that the European eoliths need to be looked at again.

Significantly, early stone tools from Africa, such as those from the lower levels of Olduvai Gorge, appear identical to the rejected European eoliths. Yet the scientific community accepts the Olduvai tools without question. Those tools, of course, fall within, and help support, the conventional places and times for human evolution.

But other eoliths of unexpected antiquity run into strong opposition. Here is another example. In the 1950s, at Calico in southern California, Louis Leakey found stone tools in strata dated more than 200,000 years old. According to standard views, humans did not enter such sub-Arctic regions of the New World until about 12,000 years ago. So mainstream scientists responded to Calico predictably: the objects found there were natural products or not really 200,000 years old, they said. But there the strata are, still dated at 200,000 years. And though most of the Calico implements are crude, some, including a beaked graver, are more advanced. They look for all the world like genuine human artifacts.

More Recognizable Tools

In Chapter 4 we look at a category of implements we call ?crude paleoliths.? In eoliths, chipping is confined to the working edge of a naturally broken stone. But the makers of crude paleoliths deliberately struck flakes from stone cores and then shaped the flakes (and sometimes the cores) into more recognizable tools.

Among the crude paleoliths we look at are the tools found in the late nineteenth century by Carlos Ribeiro, head of the Geological Survey of Portugal. Ribeiro found these tools in Miocene strata, 5 to 25 million years old. At an international conference of archeologists and anthropologists held in Lisbon, a committee of scientists investigated one of the sites where Ribeiro had found these implements. One scientist from the conference then found a stone tool even more advanced than the better of Ribeiro?s specimens. It matched accepted Late Pleistocene tools, yet it was firmly embedded in a Miocene conglomerate, in circumstances confirming its Miocene antiquity.

Crude paleoliths were also found in Miocene formations at Thenay, France. S. Laing, an English science writer, noted: ?On the whole, the evidence for these Miocene implements seems to be very conclusive, and the objections to them have hardly any other ground than the reluctance to admit the great antiquity of man.?

At Aurillac, France, scientists also found crude paleoliths, apparently of Miocene age. And at Boncelles, Belgium, A. Rutot uncovered a large collection of paleoliths in Oligocene strata (25 to 38 million years old).

Implements of Modern Man If You Can't Bear the Evidence, Kill It

In Chapter 5 we examine advanced stone implements found in unexpectedly old geological contexts. Given current estimates of what Homo erectus or Homo habilis could do, the tools discussed in Chapters 3 and 4 could conceivably be their work. But the implements of Chapter 5 are certainly the work of anatomically modern humans.

Florentino Ameghino, a respected Argentine paleontologist, found stone tools, broken mammal bones, a human vertebra, and signs of fire in a Pliocene formation at Monte Hermoso, Argentina, in 1887. He made numerous similar discoveries, attracting the eyes of scientists around the world.

In 1912, Ales Hrdlicka, of the Smithsonian Institution, published a lengthy but not very reasonable attack on Ameghino?s work. Hrdlicka asserted that all of Ameghino?s finds were from recent Indian settlements.

In response, Carlos Ameghino, Florentino?s brother, carried out new investigations at Miramar, south of Buenos Aires. There he found a series of stone implements, including bolas, and signs of fire. A commission of geologists confirmed the position of the implements in the Chapadmalalan formation, which modern geologists say is 3 to 5 million years old. Carlos also found at Miramar a stone arrowhead firmly lodged in the femur of a Pliocene species of Toxodon, an extinct South American mammal.

Ethnographer Eric Boman disputed Carlos Ameghino?s finds but also unintentionally helped confirm them. In 1920, Carlos Ameghino?s collector, Lorenzo Parodi, found a stone implement in the Pliocene seaside barranca (cliff) at Miramar and left it in place. Boman was one of several scientists Ameghino invited to witness the implement?s extraction. After the implement (a bola stone) was photographed and removed, another discovery was made.

?At my direction,? wrote Boman, ?Parodi continued to attack the barranca with a pick at the same point where the bola stone was discovered, when suddenly and unexpectedly, there appeared a second stone ball.? It is more like a grinding stone than a bola.? Boman found yet another implement 200 yards away. Confounded, Boman could only hint in his written report that the implements had been planted by Parodi. While this might conceivably have been true of the first implement, it is hard to explain the other two in this way. In any case, Boman produced no evidence at all that Parodi, a long-time employee of the Buenos Aires Museum of Natural History, had ever behaved fraudulently.

Arrowheads and bolas, the kinds of implements found by Carlos Ameghino at Miramar, are usually considered the work of modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens. The Miramar finds, therefore, taken at face value, show the presence of anatomically modern man in South America over 3 million years ago. Interesting? In 1921 M. A. Vignati discovered in the same Late Pliocene formation the fossil of a jaw fragment, fully human.

In the early 1950s, Thomas E. Lee of the National Museum of Canada found advanced stone tools in glacial deposits at Sheguiandah, on Manitoulin Island in northern Lake Huron. Geologist John Sanford of Wayne State University proposed that the oldest of these Sheguiandah tools were at least 65,000 years old and might be as much as 125,000. For those adhering to standard views on North American prehistory, such ages were unacceptable.

Thomas E. Lee tells what happened next: ?The site?s discoverer [Lee] was hounded from his Civil Service position into prolonged unemployment; publication outlets were cut off; the evidence was misrepresented by several prominent authors?; the tons of artifacts vanished into storage bins of the National Museum of Canada; for refusing to fire the discoverer, the Director of the National Museum, who had proposed having a monograph on the site published, was himself fired and driven into exile; official positions of prestige and power were exercised in an effort to gain control over just six Sheguiandah specimens that had not gone under cover; and the site has been turned into a tourist resort.? Sheguiandah would have forced embarrassing admissions that the Brahmins did not know everything. It would have forced the rewriting of almost every book in the business. It had to be killed. It was killed.?

In the 1960s, anthropologists uncovered advanced stone tools at Hueyatlaco, Mexico. Geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre and other members of a team from the U.S. Geological Survey obtained for the site?s implement-bearing layers an age of about 250,000 years. This challenges the whole standard picture of human origins. Men capable of making the kind of tools found at Hueyatlaco are not thought to have come into existence until some 100,000 years ago, in Africa.

Virginia Steen-McIntyre had a hard time getting her dating study on Hueyatlaco published. ?The problem as I see it is much bigger than Hueyatlaco,? she wrote to Estella Leopold, associate editor of Quaternary Research. ?It concerns the manipulation of scientific thought through the suppression of ?Enigmatic Data,? data that challenges the prevailing mode of thinking. Hueyatlaco certainly does that! Not being an anthropologist, I didn?t realize the full significance of our dates back in 1973, nor how deeply woven into our thought the current theory of human evolution has become. Our work at Hueyatlaco has been rejected by most archaeologists because it contradicts that theory, period.?

Such patterns of data suppression have a long history. In 1880, J. D. Whitney, the state geologist of California, published a lengthy review of advanced stone tools found in California gold mines. The implements included spear points and stone mortars and pestles. They were found deep in mine shafts, beneath thick undisturbed layers of lava, in formations that geologists now say are from 9 million to more than 55 million years old. The finds, Whitney wrote, pointed to the existence of human beings in North America in very ancient times.

W. H. Holmes of the Smithsonian Institution, one of the most vocal nineteenth-century critics of the California finds, responded: ?Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of [supporting] testimony with which he was confronted.? In other words, if facts disagree with the favored theory, then those facts, even an imposing array of them, must be discarded.

Skeletons that Cause Problems

In Chapter 6 we review discoveries of anomalously old skeletal remains, anatomically modern human. Perhaps the most interesting case comes from Castenedolo, Italy. There in the 1880s, G. Ragazzoni, a geologist, found fossil bones of several Homo sapiens sapiens in layers of Pliocene sediment 3 to 4 million years old. Critics typically respond that the bones must have been placed into those Pliocene layers by fairly recent human burial. But Ragazzoni, alert to this possibility, had carefully inspected the overlying layers. He had found them undisturbed, with absolutely no sign of burial.

Modern scientists have used radiometric and chemical tests to attach recent ages to the Castenedolo bones and other anomalously old human skeletal remains. But these tests can be quite unreliable. The carbon 14 test is especially shaky when applied to bones (such as those from Castenedolo) that have lain in museums for decades. Such bones are exposed to contamination that could make the test yield abnormally young dates. To remove such contamination requires rigorous purification techniques. Scientists failed to use those techniques when, in 1969, they tested some Castenedolo bones and found an age of less than a thousand years.

Although the carbon 14 date for the Castenedolo material is suspect, it must still be considered relevant evidence. But it should be weighed with the other evidence, including the original stratigraphic observations of Ragazzoni, a professional geologist. In this case, the stratigraphic evidence appears more persuasive.

Opposition on theoretical grounds to a human presence in the Pliocene is not new. Speaking of the Castenedolo finds and others of similar antiquity, the Italian scientist G. Sergi wrote in 1884: “By means of a despotic scientific prejudice, call it what you will, every discovery of human remains in the Pliocene has been discredited.”

A good example of such prejudice is provided by R. A. S. Macalister. In 1921, in a textbook on archeology, he wrote: “The acceptance of a Pliocene date for the Castenedolo skeletons would create so many insoluble problems that we can hardly hesitate in choosing between the alternatives of adopting or rejecting their authenticity.”

This supports the main point we are making in Forbidden Archeology: the scientific community has a knowledge filter that screens out unwelcome evidence. This process of knowledge filtration has been going on for well over a century, and it continues right up to the present day.

Java Man

In Part II of Forbidden Archeology, we survey the body of accepted evidence generally used to support the now- dominant ideas about human evolution.

Chapter 7 focuses on the discovery of Pithecanthropuserectus by Eugene Dubois in Java during the last decade of the nineteenth century. Historically, the Java man discovery marks a turning point. Until then, there was no clear picture of human evolution to be upheld and defended. So a good number of scientists, most of them evolutionists, were actively considering the evidence that anatomically modern humans lived in the Pliocene and earlier. But with the discovery of Java man, now classified as Homo erectus, the long-awaited missing link turned up in the Middle Pleistocene, only 800,000 years ago. As Java man won acceptance, the evidence for a human presence in more ancient times slid into disrepute.

This evidence was not conclusively tossed out. Instead, scientists stopped talking and writing about it. It didn’t fit with the idea that apelike Java man was a genuine human ancestor.

Interestingly enough, modern researchers have reinterpreted the original Java man fossils. The famous bones reported by Dubois were a skullcap and femur. Though they were found more than 45 feet apart, in a deposit filled with bones of many other species, Dubois said they belonged to the same individual. But in 1973, M. H. Day and T. I. Molleson determined that the femur found by Dubois is different from other Homo erectus femurs and in fact matches anatomically modern human femurs. This led Day and Molleson to propose that the femur was not connected with the Java man skull.

As far as we can see, this means we now have an anatomically modern human femur and a Homo erectus skull in a Middle Pleistocene layer considered 800,000 years old. This gives further evidence that anatomically modern humans coexisted with more apelike creatures in unexpectedly remote times. According to standard views, anatomically modern man arose just 100,000 years ago in Africa. Of course, one can always propose that the modern human femur somehow got buried recently into the Middle Pleistocene beds. But the same could also be said of the skull.

In Chapter 7 we consider the many discoveries of Java Homo erectus reported by G. H. R. von Koenigswald and other researchers. Almost all these bones were surface finds, their true age doubtful. Nevertheless, scientists have assigned them Middle and Early Pleistocene dates obtained by the potassium-argon method. The potassium-argon method is used to date layers of volcanic rock, not bones. Because the Java Homo erectus fossils were found on the surface and not below intact volcanic layers, assigning them potassium- argon dates is misleading.

The Piltdown Hoax

The subject of Chapter 8 is the infamous Piltdown hoax. Early in this century, Charles Dawson, an amateur collector, found pieces of a human skull near Piltdown, England. Scientists such as Sir Arthur Smith Woodward of the British Museum and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin later took part with Dawson in excavations that uncovered an apelike jaw, along with several mammalian fossils of appropriate antiquity. Dawson and Woodward, believing that the humanlike skull and apelike jaw came from a human ancestor in the Early Pleistocene or Late Pliocene, announced their discovery to the scientific world. For the next four decades, Piltdown man was accepted as genuine and was integrated into the human evolutionary lineage.

In the 1950s, J. S. Weiner, K. P. Oakley, and other British scientists exposed Piltdown man as an exceedingly clever hoax, carried out by someone with great scientific expertise. Some blamed Dawson, Teilhard de Chardin, or Sir Arthur Smith Woodward. Others have accused Sir Grafton Eliot Smith, a famous anatomist; William Sollas of the geology department at Cambridge; and Sir Arthur Keith of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.

J. S. Weiner himself noted: “Behind it all we sense, therefore, a strong and impelling motive.… There could have been a mad desire to assist the doctrine of human evolution by furnishing the ‘requisite’ ‘missing link.’ ”

Piltdown shows that in addition to the general process of knowledge filtration in paleoanthropology, there are instances of deliberate fraud.

Finally, there is substantial, though not incontrovertible, evidence that the Piltdown skull, at least, was a genuine fossil. The Piltdown gravels in which it was found are now thought to be 75,000 to 125,000 years old. An anatomically modern human skull of this age in England would be considered anomalous.

Evidence from China

Chapter 9 takes us to China. There in 1929 Davidson Black reported the discovery at Zhoukoudian (formerly Choukoutien) of the Peking man fossils. These specimens of Peking man, now classified as Homo erectus, were lost to science during the Second World War.

In addition to Peking man, many more hominid finds have been made in China. The dating of these hominids is problematic. They occur at sites along with fossils of mammals broadly typical of the Pleistocene. In reading various reports, we noticed that to date these sites more precisely, scientists routinely used the morphology of the human remains.

For example, at Tongzi, South China, Homo sapiens fossils were found with fossils of mammals. Paleontologist Qiu Zhonglang said: “The fauna suggests a Middle-Upper Pleistocene range, but the archeological [i.e., human] evidence is consistent with an Upper Pleistocene age.” Therefore, using what we call morphological dating, Qiu assigned the site to the Upper Pleistocene—and the human fossils with it. But our review of the Tongzi faunal evidence shows species of mammals that became extinct thousands of years earlier, at the end of the Middle Pleistocene. This indicates that the Tongzi site, and the human fossils, are at least 100,000 years old. Additional faunal evidence suggests a maximum age of about 600,000 years.

The practice of morphological dating distorts the fossil record. In effect, scientists simply arrange human fossils to fit a favored evolutionary sequence, setting the evidence of other species aside. If one goes by the true probable date ranges for the Chinese hominids, one finds that various grades of Homo erectus and early Homo sapiens may have coexisted with anatomically modern man in the middle Middle Pleistocene, during the time of Peking man.

Extinct Men Still Alive?

In Chapter 10 we consider the possible coexistence of primitive hominids and anatomically modern humans not only in the distant past but in the present. Over the past century, scientists have gathered evidence suggesting that humanlike creatures resembling supposedly extinct ancestral species of man are living in various wilderness areas of the world. In North America these creatures are known as Sasquatch. In Central Asia they are called Almas. In Africa, China, Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America, they are known by other names. Some researchers use the general term “wildmen” to include them all. Scientists and physicians have reported seeing live wildmen, dead wildmen, and footprints. They have also catalogued thousands of reports from historical records and from ordinary people who say they have seen wildmen.

Myra Shackley, a British anthropologist, wrote to us: “Opinions vary, but I guess the commonest would be that there is indeed sufficient evidence to suggest at least the possibility of the existence of various unclassified manlike creatures, but that in the present state of our knowledge it is impossible to comment on their significance in any more detail. The position is further complicated by misquotes, hoaxing, and lunatic fringe activities, but a surprising number of hard-core anthropologists seem to be of the opinion that the matter is very worthwhile investigating.”

Australopithecus

Chapter 11 takes us to Africa. We describe in detail the cases mentioned in the first part of this introduction (Reck’s skeleton, the Laetoli footprints, and so on). These provide evidence for anatomically modern humans in the Early Pleistocene and Late Pliocene.

We also examine the status of Australopithecus. Most anthropologists say Australopithecus was a human ancestor with an apelike head, a humanlike body, and a humanlike bipedal stance and gait. But other researchers make a convincing case for a radically different view of Australopithecus. Physical anthropologist C. E. Oxnard wrote in his book Uniqueness and Diversity in Human Evolution (1975): “Pending further evidence we are left with the vision of intermediately sized animals, at home in the trees, capable of climbing, performing degrees of acrobatics, and perhaps of arm suspension.” In a 1975 article in Nature, Oxnard found the australopithecines to be anatomically similar to orangutans and said, “It is rather unlikely that any of the Australopithecines … can have any direct phylogenetic link with the genus Homo.”

Inspired by the Vedic Writings

Some might question why we would put together a book like Forbidden Archeology unless we had some underlying purpose. Indeed, there is one.

Richard Thompson and I are members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness that studies the relationship between modern science and the world view expressed in the Vedic literature. The institute was founded by our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He encouraged us to critically examine the prevailing account of human origins and the methods by which it was established.

From the Vedas we derive the idea that the human race is of great antiquity. To conduct research into scientific literature on human antiquity, we put the Vedic idea into the form of a theory that various humanlike and apelike beings have coexisted for a long time.

That our theoretical outlook is derived from the Vedic literature should not disqualify it. Theories can come from many sources—a private inspiration, previous theories, a movie, a suggestion from a friend, and so on. What matters is not a theory’s source but its ability to account for observations.

Does God Go Against The Laws of Nature?

Complexity: 
Medium

Ernan McMullin, a physicist, philosopher, and Catholic priest in the Department of Philosophy at Notre Dame University, has given careful thought to the relation between religion and modern science. In the introduction to his book Evolution and Creation, he offers some advice he calls “valuable direction for the contemporary Christian”:

When an apparent conflict arises between a strongly supported scientific theory and some item of Christian doctrine, the Christian ought to look very carefully to the credentials of the doctrine. It may well be that when he does so, the scientific understanding will enable the doctrine to be reformulated in a more adequate way.1

McMullin applies this advice to the question of how the Christian doctrine of creation is to be reconciled with the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. Many Christian creationists have argued that divine creation is a supernatural process that cannot be understood in terms of known physical principles. But McMullin presents an alternative scenario in which creation is seen as a process of evolution proceeding according to natural laws.

He bases this scenario on ideas expressed by the early church father Augustine. Augustine maintained that Genesis in the Bible refers to a process of instantaneous creation in which God implants “seed principles” in formless matter. These seed principles are not final created forms. Rather, they contain the potential to gradually manifest these forms.

McMullin grants that Augustine thought each created form would develop from its own seed principle. The idea that one type of organism would evolve from another was foreign to him. But McMullin points out that Augustine’s idea can be readily adapted to modern evolutionary thinking. The seed principles can be thought of as the laws of nature God imposed on formless matter at the moment of creation (the Big Bang). Since God is omniscient and omnipotent, He can create laws that bring about the gradual manifestation of all created forms in the universe, including human beings.

These gradual evolutionary developments are simply the unfolding of Gods original plan, and they do not require any further “divine interventions” that would violate God’s natural laws. Thus McMullin is able to formulate an idea of evolutionary creation that agrees fully with modern science and “complements Christian belief.”2

Can McMullin’s approach be applied to reconcile the Bhagavad-gita with modern science? Of course, the topic of evolution is touchy and controversial. So we may be wise at first to just consider the idea that nature runs by divinely created natural laws. Let us see if the Bhagavad- gita supports this idea.

In the Bhagavad-gita (9.8) Krishna says, “The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under My will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end.” Here Krishna says that material nature (prakriti) is manifested automatically (avasham). Krishna also says (13.30), prakrityaiva ca karmani kriyamanani sarvashah. This means that material activities are in all respects carried out by material nature (prakriti). This also suggests that prakriti runs automatically, an idea given further support by the nearly identical statement (3.27) prakriteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvashah. Krishna also says (13.20) that the transformations of matter and of living beings are both products of material nature.

All in all, then, one might argue that the Bhagavad- gita agrees with the modern scientific conclusion that all material phenomena run according to the laws of nature. These phenomena are divinely directed in the sense that the laws of nature are created and sustained by God.

One might further suggest that God never engages in any kind of “divine intervention,” for then He would break His own laws (and violate the conclusions of science). From McMullin’s observations, one might gather that we’d be wise to understand the Bhagavad-gita in this way. After all, if we think that God sometimes breaks the laws of nature, when does He do that? Certainly He doesn’t seem to do it during the scientific experiments that demonstrate the natural laws. If we think God breaks the laws of nature, He must do it when scientists aren’t looking.

This means we are trying to fit God into the gaps in our scientific knowledge. McMullin warns, “Making God a ‘God of the gaps’ is a risky business. Gap-closing is the business of science. To rest belief in God on the presence of gaps in the explanatory chain is to pit religion against science.”3

If we invoke a “God of the gaps,” then we are asking for embarrassment when science fills the gaps and shows that we are fools. To show the inevitable results of this kind of folly, McMullin cites a remark by Augustine:

If those not bound by the authority of the Scriptures find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him base foolish opinions on the Scriptures, how are they going to believe the Scriptures regarding the resurrection of the dead? [How can they believe the Scriptures] when they think that the pages of Scripture are full of falsehoods regarding facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and light of reason?4

We can rephrase this by asking, “How are people going to believe in the scriptures of Krishna consciousness if devotees tell them that these scriptures are full of statements contrary to modern science?” Augustine has raised a good point, and McMullin responds to it by calling him “the man of good sense.”5

But there might be a problem here. What if your scriptures really do make statements contrary to modern science? How far can you go in scriptural reinterpretation and reformulation? To see what I mean, let’s consider some further statements from the Bhagavad-gita.

First of all, is it valid to interpret prakriti as material nature in the sense that physical scientists understand this term? Krishna says, “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.” (Bg. 7.4) Now modern science certainly accepts earth, water, fire, and air as forms of material energy, and ether might be so accepted if we were to identify it as Einstein’s curved space-time continuum. But modern physics makes no reference to mind, intelligence, and false ego as separate material energies.

Careful study shows that the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam portray mind, intelligence, and false ego as material energies not made from earth, water, fire, air, and ether. According to these texts, the mind comes up with thoughts, which govern the behavior of the body. This means the physical body is influenced by a type of energy, called mind (manas), unknown to modern science.

So even if the Bhagavad-gita is saying that material phenomena run automatically by the laws of nature, we must recognize that the Gita’s laws of nature are quite different from modern physicists’ laws. If the Bhagavad-gita is right, then thinking is not just a product of brain action. Rather, it involves the action of a kind of energy that science doesn’t know about.

This could be true, because there is an enormous gap in our scientific understanding of the brain. Why should we suppose that if science ever fills this gap it will fill it with the kind of physical theory of brain action that many scientists now favor? Scientists generally believe that the brain controls the mind. But a theory may emerge in which the mind controls the brain.

Another point is that according to the Bhagavad- gita, God does intervene in the course of natural events. The transformations of matter by natural law are only partly automatic, like the workings of a computer interfacing with a human operator.

The Bhagavad-gita (13.23) defines the role of the Supersoul as follows: “In this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” The words overseer (upadrashta) and permitter (anumanta) indicate that the Supersoul is in charge of the activities of each person. This means that the Supersoul’s decisions determine the behavior of the person’s physical body.

It follows that the human body does not strictly follow the laws of physics. If it did, the Supersoul’s role as controller would be a mockery, because His decisions would always have to accord with a system of differential equations.

Nor can we say that the Supersoul exerts control by directing the random events of quantum theory. Quantum mechanical randomness must always follow quantum statistics, and this means that it must appear noisy and chaotic, like the clicks made by a Geiger counter near a radioactive substance. Of course, the Supersoul can create random effects if He wants to. But to say that the Supersoul must always act in the chaotic fashion dictated by quantum statistics would be to contradict His position as overseer and permitter.

In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) Krishna says, “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.” Here one might conceivably argue that Krishna simply set matter in motion at the time of creation in such a way as to provide remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness for all the sentient beings who would later develop.

But this interpretation strains hard against Bhagavad- gita 10.10: “To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” This indicates that Krishna gives personal attention to individuals.

Commenting on this verse, Srila Prabhupada writes that Krishna gives instructions from within so that one “may ultimately come to Him without difficulty.” Of course, when a person receives these instructions, the result is that the person’s behavior changes.

In other words, Krishna specifically reciprocates with each person in an observable way that cannot be accounted for by any impersonal system of physical laws. This conclusion is also supported by Bhagavad-gita 10.11: “To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”

McMullin raises the question, “If Nature is complete in its own order, if there are no barriers to the reach of science, does not belief in a Creator drop away as superfluous?”6 Many intelligent people may feel inclined to reply that if Nature truly is complete in its own order, then belief in the Creator as described in Bhagavad- gita ought to drop away.

But why should we think that the order of nature, as envisioned by contemporary scientists, is complete? If science does succeed in filling the many gaps that exist in our current knowledge, a radically new and unexpected picture of reality may emerge. It may be the business of scientists to fill gaps, but scientists are certainly not obliged to fill them with the ideas current at one moment in history.

Just as nineteenth-century physicists had no idea of the quantum mechanical theory of the atom, so present-day scientists can have no idea of the science of mind that may develop in the future. And if science someday makes enormous progress and scientists begin to acquire the scientific knowledge of Brahma, they may then be able to see clearly how God intervenes creatively in the phenomena of nature.

References

  1. McMullin, Ernan, ed., 1985, Evolution and Creation, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, p. 2.
  2. Ibid., p. 38.
  3. Ibid., p. 35.
  4. Ibid., p. 48.
  5. Ibid., p. 48.
  6. McMullin, Ernan, “The Impact of the Theory of Evolution on Western Religious Thought,” Synthesis of Science and Religion, Critical Essays and Dialogues, T.D. Singh and Ravi Gomatam, eds., San Francisco: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1987, p. 82.