by Narasingha das
By the grace of Srila Gurudev, “The War Between Science and Common Sense” was submitted as an e-book to Amazon on Radhastami. This is the first of a series of three books intended to clear obstacles in the way of hearing about bhakti, such as materialism and materialistic science, atheism, cheating religion, impersonalism and sahajiya. When I told Gurudev about my plans, he informed me that he would be very pleased if I could accomplish this service.
In particular this book challenges and exposes the theory of evolution from the point of view of logic and common sense, and does not therefore require any particular scientific or academic familiarity. In recent years, a number of devotees have decided that this is a needless point of contention, that there are far more important subjects to discuss with people in regards to Krsna-consciousness. Yet Srila Prabhupada gave it much attention, regularly referring to Darwin as ‘having cheated everyone.’
The book begins by establishing how relevant this subject really is to our world: that materialism and consumerism are promoting so much frustration and conflict in all our interactions today, and underlying all such is our basic view of life. This view is that matter is all in all – everything has come from matter, and matter is all there is to attend to; and the main cornerstone of such a view is indeed the theory of evolution.
Following the links below are some excerpts from this book, which can now be downloaded from Amazon.com (and please note that when you click on the book to begin the ordering process, there is a box that allows you to simultaneously download a free Kindle-reader software for your particular computer, should you not have a Kindle). We had wanted to make it available free of charge, at least for an introductory promotional period, but Amazon does not so much care for that – so we are charging a nominal 99c there. It is also available on Lulu.com in epub format, where it is indeed free, as well as on the iBookstore, which allows people in India and elsewhere who can not utilize Amazon, to also obtain it.
Here are the links to Amazon.com:
and to Lulu.com:
I humbly request any devotee that finds this book of some interest or value to kindly let your own networks of friends and others know about it, to share the links along with your own encouragements via Facebook etc.
From Chapter 1: “The Answer To Everything – And What’s In It For Us”
“…The philosophy of materialism presents matter as being the reason for everything, for our origins and futures both. It paints a picture of existence as being like a great sea of energy, wherein our own individual points of being are but single waves that arise for the briefest of moments before their miniscule forms and identities dissolve back into the vastness of the ocean once more. Can any profound meaning be realized by any such insignificant wave in this infinity of transience? No – this philosophy affords no such vanity. It suggests that there is no real point to anything in particular, aside from the simple existential fact of matter itself. So that ours is then but to fill this insignificant flash we call our life in whatever meaningless ways we may feel inclined, and in acquiring and consuming as we are willing and able. Then once more, along with everything that surrounds us, we must dissolve back into the ocean as absent evidence of the underlying emptiness of all appearances.
Materialism means that in the moment of our being here, we believe that whatever possibility we have for achieving success, fulfillment and meaning in life is through the twin processes of acquiring and consuming ‘stuff.’ This belief for our future informs our beliefs about our past, causing us to develop theories regarding the origins of everything which in turn justify and reinforce our further commitment to materialism. In effect this philosophy tells us: ‘there is, was and will continue to be nothing other than matter; so that matter is indeed all that matters.’ …
“… Yet where is the possibility of fulfillment within the context of such a philosophy or vision? Should we not at least question this paradigm, so that we can perhaps become free to consider if there are other possible and more nourishing alternatives, that might promote a far healthier relationship with our planet and all her interconnected ecosystems and interdependent residents? Because if we would hope to change what it is we see today, and what those who are to follow us will see tomorrow – then we must begin by changing how we see, or rather how we understand and believe, our past…”
From Chapter 3: “Should A Rational Person Think To Question Rational Science?”
“… to quote from Warren Bennis, it is indeed to ‘make way for a better future’ that I would challenge the primary existing paradigms of scientific, religious and philosophical thought, beginning in this volume with the theory of evolution, with a very definite intention of ‘disturbing the present.’ For as Lao-Tzu so sagely observed: “If you do not change direction, you might end up where you are headed.”
The opening chapter was intended to show where we are, and therefore where we can expect to continue going, under the impulse of materialism. Materialism also provides the context from which much of modern science views and tries to explain the various phenomena of existence. Therefore to question the direction in which we are headed seems to put us in a position of questioning, indeed challenging, science. Meanwhile the very implication of science is that we are dealing with rational and objective facts. By such association, the very act of questioning science must be judged irrational and non-sensical. In other words, to respond to the question I pose in the title of this chapter, no rational person would question rational science. Again, to quote William Irwin Thompson: “Just as once there was no appeal from the power of the churches without risking damnation, so now there is no appeal from the power of science without risking a charge of irrationality or insanity.”
The question is, is it in fact ‘rational science’ that is being questioned here?
Perhaps the first question should be, what actually constitutes science? For instance, if someone is clearly a bona fide ‘hard’ scientist, say a mathematician or a nuclear physicist, does this mean that all their pronouncements about anything and everything else are also ‘scientific’? Are their specific opinions and inclinations in regards to, say, politics or diet or sports or religion also ‘scientific’ then? Of course not. Unless, of course, such pronouncements are also borne out by the various criteria that do indeed determine what is actually of the quality of ‘scientific fact.’ And what are these criteria? In a nutshell these are understood to be science’s hallowed threesome of Observation, Theory and Experiment.
Observation means that we can see something happening. For example, we can see a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. We know then, that when we see a butterfly, previously it was a caterpillar. However, this a very distinct concept than that of one species supposedly evolving into another, or of an opposing thumb supposedly evolving from whatever arrangement of digits might have preceded it. Why? Because such a thing has never been observed. It has been supposed only – hence I used the word ‘supposedly.’ We can imagine that such a thing may have happened – but we cannot claim to have observed it.
“…This is why I have written that ‘we can imagine that such a thing may have happened,’ rather than ‘theorize’ that such occurred.’ This is the distinction between real science and the literary genre referred to as science fiction (and also science fantasy). The concern of science fiction is simply to imagine that something could happen. Every sci-fi show features so many imaginative technological possibilities for the future, such as star-ships traveling at ‘warp-speeds’ through ‘hyper-space’ and then fixing all kinds of damage their ships might incur on such ‘inter-galactic voyages’ with all manner of fancifully named tools. These tools are then able to perform their tasks by means of imagined natural laws and technologies for which we have no actual workable blueprint, even an approximate one, at this time. But there is no real science implied by such statements as Star Trek’s ‘Beam me up Scotty’; or Lost In Space’s ‘pass me a solar wrench.’
This is not to state, as categorical fact, that such imagined possibilities could not become true at some time in the future. Indeed, science fiction has prompted actual scientific research that has in turn produced real-world results. But the distinction between science fact and fiction must be affirmed. So it is one thing to be able to connect distinct observed facts with a theory that actually puts forward the possible mechanics as to how such connections are effected; and it is altogether another to throw out a word that hints at a process whose possible inner workings we have not even a vague sketch for, and that we have never observed actually producing the results we claim it would produce. Again, while it may perhaps become possible that such connections could be perceived and proved at some time in the future – that in no way justifies that such a proposition is scientific, i.e. proven fact, in the present.
It is the prerogative for science fiction to imagine that anything at all could happen; but it is the responsibility of science theory to propose the possible specifics regarding what may have occurred, and how such may have done so. This it does in the form of a proposal of a series of steps from one phase of development to the next. Then such a theoretical proposal in turn provides the basis of the last part, the conclusive part, of this entire construct: the experimental stage.
In other words, if someone actually knows how something works, they can reproduce it. After all, anyone can claim anything – yet what gives substance to their claims is the active proof that they can show us, in the form of the actual results of their experiments. But when we do not recognize this, but instead regard unsubstantiated claims as evidence in their own right, we set ourselves up to be fooled by fantasy and superstition, whether such be in the name of religion or of science.”
From Chapter 6: “The Argument For Consciousness – The Dawkins Delusion”
“…This life is not the whole play; it is but a single scene, where we are walking out onto its stage at birth and then back off again at death. So what is going on off-stage? What is our existence outside of this single scene on the stage of this world? Where was I before this birth, where will I be after this death? These are suitable questions for the discriminating intelligence afforded by this human form of life: for as human beings we have the ability to distinguish between our bodies and our indwelling conscious selves, between mere physical energy and Huxley’s “third thing.”
Yet if we fail to make this most basic and essential distinction, then all our enquiries into our nature and origins and fulfillment are in fact misdirected. All our answers are in fact deluded, regardless of how dexterous we may be with language, or how specialized and informed our education might appear to be. On the very first page of the preface to his book, ‘The God Delusion,’ Professor Dawkins claims that his book “is intended to raise consciousness.” This is certainly the most noble and generous of goals; but if he is unaware of what consciousness actually is, that it is something entirely distinct from its corporeal surroundings, then what actual substance is behind his claim? Rather, in the name of fostering enlightenment, he is but projecting his own delusions, his own unconscious misidentification of his unchanging self with his ever-changing and temporary bodily and mental circumstances.
If someone insists that actually, he is Napoleon, or Jesus, we can understand that he is suffering from a serious psychological disorder, so that we do not take seriously his deluded observations about life in general. Yet the general body of knowledge today, replete with all the goals, values and beliefs that society holds up as being ‘normal’ and ‘right,’ is based upon this most fundamental delusion of thinking of the unchanging essential self in terms of the temporary and external mind-body-ego constructs. Professor Dawkins’ own vision of the nature of reality is fully aligned with such elemental ignorance.
Meanwhile if we do not know what or who we actually are, how can we know what we truly need, what will in fact satisfy us? If the driver of a car has thoroughly identified himself with his car, he will imagine that he will himself become satisfied by cleaning and polishing his car and keeping it filled up with gas and so on. But the reality is, as he continues to neglect his own needs for the sake of attending solely to his car, he must know profound dissatisfaction, regardless of how much attention he gives to the car. Yet because he knows of no other objective than to attend to the car, he remains committed to serving it endlessly, hoping that one day he will achieve the fulfillment he seeks, while his actual experience is filled with frustration. This delusion, of mistaking the car as the driver, of mistaking this body-mind-social role as our actual self, is the very essence of materialism. It is the source of such philosophies as evolution, which then reinforce that very delusion in turn.
Professor Dawkins compounds his own and his readers’ confusion by going on to declare that “Human thoughts and emotions emerge from exceedingly complex interconnections of physical entities within the brain,” and that there is “no soul that outlasts the body” (The God Delusion, p.14). But as we can see, the body is continually changing, in this very lifetime, from the body of the baby through to the body of the old person – so that each of these bodies is certainly and continually being outlasted by the driving consciousness that inhabits and animates the entire succession of all such bodies. This consciousness is non-material in nature, and is the indication of what in Sanskrit is called the ‘atma,’ or self.
For all his education and specialized knowledge, the professor is speaking like a simple uneducated person who sees a television for the first time, and concludes that there must be a person trapped inside the television who is responsible for the sounds and images coming from it. Such a one cannot understand that the television is not the source of such images, but is merely a lifeless receiver, and that the images are coming from somewhere else entirely. The living self is the actual source of consciousness, which is the signal of life; whereas the body/mind/brain, along with all the “exceedingly complex interconnections of physical entities within the brain,” is merely the receiver.
To again quote Nobel-laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who studied every pertinent scientific discipline to discover the secret of life: “Though I do not know what life is, I have no doubt as to whether my dog is alive or dead. We know life by the existence of things for which there is no direct physical reason and which even seem contrary to the rules of physics… Life is a revolt against the statistical rules of physics. Death means that the revolt subsided and statistical laws resumed their sway.” And to repeat Huxley, albeit evolution’s first dedicated evangelist: “There is a third thing in the universe, to wit, consciousness, which I cannot see to be matter or force.” This, Professor Dawkins does not understand. Instead, he is quite deluded regarding his own most essential identity; and since all thoughts and ideas proceed outwards from the basic sense of self, then all of those are necessarily compromised by such basic self-ignorance, just as someone wearing pink lenses must, and erroneously, see and describe everything around him as being pink.”
From Chapter 18: “Eighth Argument – The Larger Picture”
“… The uniquely long neck of the giraffe is regularly put forward as a wonderful example of evolution in action: that it occurred in gradual steps as successive generations of giraffes were driven by survival-urge to stretch higher and higher into the trees for leaves to eat, free from competition with all the short-necks. One question that may immediately come to mind is, what about the juveniles? If survival required the giraffes to reach higher into the trees in order to escape food-shortages, the lower-reaching (and weaker, so even less fit to shoulder aside the competition) juveniles would not have been able to live long enough to grow into adults. But apart from this, there is a much bigger problem to the standard evolutionary argument of adaptation.
Giraffes are not simply distinguished from other animals by their long necks. Rather, such necks comprise but one feature of an entire physiological system. So that it would not have been sufficient for the giraffes ‘merely’ to ‘slightly modify’ their necks by ‘imperceptible gradations’ of stretching – and we’ll overlook that evolution’s original proponents ignorantly assumed that all that was needed for such would have been a ‘simple’ increase of some amorphous conglomeration of bone and muscle. Aside from the many complex structural characteristics of the cervical spine and supporting musculature and nerve filaments that distinguish giraffes, there are also specific and essential characteristics relating to the giraffes’ hearts and blood vessels. In order to pump blood so far up from the heart to the brain at the top of that long neck, the giraffe’s heart is unique in both structure and strength. And to transport blood being pumped at high pressure by such a powerful heart the blood vessels are similarly uniquely structured and reinforced.
Yet what the evolutionists are in fact suggesting is that not only did the giraffe’s neck and all the components of vertebrae and muscle and nerve and so on happen, by chance, to ‘adapt’ (i.e. go through enormous and very precise changes in fundamental structure) in perfect unison; but by happy coincidence, the entire heart and circulatory system also happened to evolve in a suitably unique and supportive manner. And we are meant to accept such a belief as being reasonable and scientific?”
From Chapter 26: “While Their Arguments May Misdirect With So Much Fluff & Bluster, On Closer Look They Are Revealed As So Much Bluff & Fluster”
“… Take the following statement by Professor Dawkins. “The most obvious way in which genes ensure their own ‘selfish’ survival relative to other genes is by programming individual organisms to be selfish. There are indeed many circumstances in which survival of the individual organism will favor the survival of the genes that ride inside it. But different circumstances require different tactics. There are circumstances – not particularly rare – in which genes ensure their own selfish survival by influencing organisms to behave altruistically. Those circumstances are now fairly well understood and they fall into two main categories. A gene that programs individual organisms to favor their genetic kin is statistically likely to benefit copies of itself.” (from ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins, Ch.6, p.216)
Consider the language he uses, like “ensure,” “programming,” “tactics,” “ensure … by influencing,” “programs … to favor their … kin.” The core assumption that his argument rests on, and which is pure presumptive assumption without any scientific proof or cogent argumentation to support it, is that genes possess what Dawkins in fact utterly denies can be possessed by any ‘God.’ His argument and language infer that genes possess what is effectively ‘supernatural’ intelligence, self-awareness, recognition of others (‘kin’) and also of goals and purposes in general, along with foresight and unimaginable and inexplicable powers of creation and organization. His choice of words expresses blasé matter-of-factness; but he never explains or even questions how it is possible that genes could possess such intelligence and seemingly ‘mystical’ potencies.
A little further on he writes that: “The other main type of altruism for which we have a well-worked-out Darwinian rationale is reciprocal altruism (‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’)… The principle is the basis of all trade and barter in humans too. The hunter needs a spear and the smith wants meat. The asymmetry brokers a deal. The bee needs nectar and the flower needs pollinating …”
“The asymmetry brokers a deal”?!? That’s awfully accommodating and ingenious of ‘the asymmetry,’ whoever that is! And this ‘rationale’ is ‘well-worked-out’? We may wonder, by the way, which came first, the nectar-providing flower or the pollination-provider bee? How did either one live without the other … or are they supposed to have evolved simultaneously, each figuring out what the other could provide them, while at the same time coming up with their own reciprocal contribution for the common cause of their mutual survival?”