Mathematics shows that chance alone would never begin to produce the things that go into life.
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
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[Posted April 30, 2006]

Science by accident, chance and chaos

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Founder-Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

Srila Prabhupada

Life Comes From Life slideshow discussions (Part 4) - July 3, 1976, Washington D.C.


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Probability theory refutes scientists' claim that life began by chance

Svarup Damodar: ...Next Sadaputa will take over, and he'll describe the mathematical and physical concepts of proving the existence of Paramatma.

Prabhupada: Yes, do it.

Pusta Krsna: Would you like to [see more] tonight Srila Prabhupada?

Prabhupada: Why not? What business we have got? [laughter]

Svarup Damodar: Shall I offer it for you?

Prabhupada: Yes.

Sadaputa: This slide shows... these are the laws of nature according to physicists. And the point we make is that this is their understanding of the final cause of things, and it's very limited. Actually, on this one page, these equations describe everything that goes into all the actions and interactions of chemistry according to their present understanding. And so there are two main points to make about this. Number one, these are very... these laws describe very simple forces, pushes and pulls between atoms and things like that. And so intuitively it is very hard to imagine why such simple forces should cause anything complex to organize itself together. Now the scientists customarily make the assertion that laws like this are universal, but one thing we can notice is they have no proof of that. These laws which they say are universal are only studied in certain limited experimental situations with inanimate matter, and then they extrapolate and they say that they apply to everything. But actually the equations are so hard to solve even for reasonably simple molecules that they can't actually test out their assertion. So it's actually just a bluffing statement. So in this slide we wanted to point out how limited these laws are, how limited their concept of the laws of nature is.

The next slide, according to the scientist's idea, there are two things going on—these laws and also chance. So this is a calculation showing what happens if you just have chance acting to form one of these proteins that Svarup Damodar was talking about, and you can calculate... Actually here you calculate, suppose you threw a protein together at chance—and here we even allow a ten percent error, you're allowing to get it wrong among ten percent of the proteins—but still chance comes out to ten minus two-hundred-and forty-fourth power. Now the scientists are always saying if you wait for a long enough time, even something very unlikely can happen; but here we have a calculation of how long you'd have to wait, according to mathematics and the probability theory, and even if you assume an unrealistically high rate of forming proteins at random, still you'd have to wait, according to this, ten to the hundred-and-sixty-seventh power billion years. And that's a little bit too long. [laughter]

Prabhupada: Hare Krishna. That is mathematics.

Svarup Damodar: That's longer than Brahma's life.

Sadaputa: So mathematics shows that chance alone would never begin to produce the things that go into life, because this, say, is just for one protein, but it's estimated in the simplest cell that they experiment with that there are some three thousand proteins. This is what they estimate. And in a human, in a single cell of the human body, they estimate three hundred thousand, or even three million. It's just an estimate. But it shows that chance is completely unrealistic.

Now the scientists will say that both chance and natural laws somehow mysteriously go together in what they call natural selection to produce living structures. In the next slide, this is also a calculation, and it shows that that is not correct either, at least as far as the mathematics goes. What this says is suppose you look at the earth and you're going to wait four point five billion years—that's what they estimate is the age of the earth—and ask what is the chance of finding a given organized structure. And mathematically there's a thing called information theory, and you can show that the chance of getting an organized structure with a high level of information goes down exponentially, so that for an amount of information higher than that of the laws that cause these things to move, the chance goes down practically to zero. So it wouldn't happen.

So this gets kind of complicated, but there's a basic point behind it; namely it indicates that the natural laws that are causing things, like that list of those laws, must already have in them, built into them, whatever is going to be manifested. That is, if some given structure can be manifested in the material world, that means the laws that are causing things must already have at least that much built into them. But their understanding of natural laws, the laws are too simple, too short to have that kind of thing built into them. So there's that argument. We'll go on to the next one. This is some mathematical formulas related to that. I don't think we should dwell on that.

This slide right here gives an example of the kind of structures you find even in simple organisms. This is a bacterium. When they look at it under a microscope, they can see that this bacterium has a reversible motor built into it, and this motor spins a spiral flagellum, and by spinning it it propels the bacteria through the water, just like a submarine. So this very sophisticated motor is built into the wall of the bacterium. So that shows the kind of structures for which designs would have to be there. Actually, the scientific explanation, the way that they explain how this comes about, is completely impossible, because they would say that either by chance it came about all at once—and the chances are way too small, so that would never happen—or else it would have to come by small stages somehow. But what would be a small stage in the formation of a workable motor? Can't even think of how that would work. So it doesn't make much sense. So what we wanted to argue was that these living structures are very highly complex, they have a very great amount of information needed to specify them, and then mathematically it follows that this evolution process can't happen, because the probability is way down, it's something impossible. So we wanted to argue that.

The next slide—we wanted to compare some structures. This is the chemist's idea of what a diamond... the top picture is a chemist's idea of what the structure of a diamond looks like. It's based on very simple repeating patterns. It's reasonable perhaps that chemical pushes and pulls could produce a simple design like this just by pulling the molecules together. The lower thing is a structure for graphite, which is another simple design built on hexagons. But on the other hand, in living systems you have things like this. [shows slide] According to the way they've analyzed it, there are chemical structures of this complexity. So we'd like to argue that this requires a very large amount of information to specify this thing, and so the simple natural laws couldn't account for this. On the other hand, it's very reasonable to suppose that an intelligent designer can account for things like that. These protein structures that Svarup Damodar was pointing out, it's not just any old structure, but it performs a very specific function within the cell, just like a little automatic machine of some kind. So we'd like to argue that the chance and molecular forces theory won't explain things like this, but to say that there is an intelligent designer would be a sensible explanation.

The next slide, this shows some of the complexities of what goes on inside a cell, and it's only a fraction of what is there. It's hard to read, but each little bit of print refers to some very complicated chemical reaction involving big molecules like the one in the last slide. So there are hundreds of reactions like that on this one page, and this page is one out of four from a chart that we found detailing some of these things. This metabolism goes on even in the most primitive cells like this bacterium, and yet it's only a fraction of the total of what goes on. The scientists will admit they've only made a fractional study of all that's going on in these cells. So that kind of argument is one line of reasoning we'd like to present.

Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics

[Points to another slide:] Now this refers to another thing. We'd like to describe the concept of consciousness as being something not material—nonphysical and nonchemical. And it turns out that actually in modern physics that's already a basic principle, and it's been that way for the last fifty or sixty years, but that's not widely admitted or taught in the schools. But actually in modern physics, it's called quantum mechanics. They realize that in order to describe physical processes you have to include the observer in the picture; you can't describe these things without accounting for the observer, and so they made an analysis. This was done by von Neumann, who was one of these physicists. He analyzed the difference between the observer and the observed. So here we have a man looking through, say, a microscope at some object, and you can see that in this case you can draw the line between the observer and the observed. So the man is observing the microscope plus object. And physically there are, according to the physicist's idea, there are these equations, represented by number one, equation number one, which describe all the molecules and forces of interaction on the observed side. But there's another kind of equation that goes in quantum mechanics, which corresponds to the observer's side, and this equation is completely different from the first equation. So this indicates that the observer must be something different in nature from the observed. Now the next slide shows here the boundary between the observer and the observed is moved. It's kind of arbitrary. You can move the boundary back so now the observed becomes the eyeball and the microscope and the object, and the observer is still on the other side. And the basic idea is you can move this boundary back, step by step, and on one side you can put, at least in principle, more and more of the parts of the body into the observed system, but on the other side you still have the observer, and he continues to be described by an equation that can't be reduced to the force laws that are used to describe the observed. So the conclusion is that the observer must be something nonphysical. He's not actually part of that physical body at all. So that's actually basic in quantum mechanics. So we wanted to present that.

Inspiration

Now this slide... There's another line of evidence here. It's the inspiration, and Srila Prabhupada has said that intelligence is the form direction of Supersoul. So it's interesting, it's really striking to observe how various people create things in mathematics and science and art, like that. It's very striking. So we made two examples here. This one is a mathematician names Gauss. He lived in the nineteenth century, and his concern was to solve mathematical problms. The interesting thing is that in a very difficult mathematical problem, the person never solves it by figuring it out consciously, step by step. But what happens is that he tries very hard to figure it out for a long time, and nothing happens, and then all of a sudden the answer comes to him. So it's hard to read that quote. This is a quotation by this Gauss describing how that happened to him.

Devotee: "I've succeeded not on account of my painful effort, but by the grace of God. Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle happened to be solved. I myself cannot say but when the conducting thread which connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible."

Prabhupada: So the chance theory is the grace of God.

Svarup Damodar: Grace of God?

Prabhupada: Yes, because if God sees that the rascal is trying for so many years, "All right, give him a chance." [laughter] That is His mercifulness. So what they call chance theory, that is grace of God.

Svarup Damodar: So God is all-merciful.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. That is the proof.

Sadaputa: Actually, this couldn't come about by just chance, because the number of possibilities...

Prabhupada: There is, but he takes it as chance. All the possibilities taken together he is given by God. That he does not know. He takes it as chance. But there is no question of chance. It is the gift of God.

Sadaputa: Next example, this is another example taken from music. This example is Mozart. Mozart was a musician. He composed symphonies. And in that quote which-I'll just summarize it instead of reading it—he explains how it was that he created these symphonies. He explained that actually what happened was that ideas just came into his mind, melodic themes and so on, and he says "Whence do they come I do not know, and I have nothing to do with it." And actually what would happen was that an entire symphony would just blossom into his mind, and he wouldn't even know where it was coming from. So...

Prabhupada: Unknown.

Svarup Damodar: Unknown source.

Sadaputa: So we want to argue that this demonstrates that Supersoul is acting. These cases of these very famous musicians and scientists and such, there are many of them, they can be multiplied at great length, and they are very striking that way.

We are also thinking that this inspiration illustrated the modes of nature and the law of karma to some extent, because like the mathematician had to struggle very painfully for a very long time without getting his result, and then he got it, so that seemed more like the mode of passion and like that. But Mozart apparently just got these things without having to struggle for them, as though that was his past karma or something.

Complexity and Spiritual Varieties

Next slide. This is a summary of the basic kind of argument we wanted to make. The picture on the left, those ovals represent states of matter, configurations of matter, and they go from simple, toward the bottom, like just a chemical solution, up towards more complex as you go up, like living bodies of different kinds. The theory of evolution is sort of indicated in the left-hand one. According to that theory, you have very simple natural laws, and you start out with simple physical states, but somehow these natural laws produce a progressive increase in order, as indicated by those arrows going up. But actually we want to argue that simple natural laws don't have the power to do that, and that the situation on the right is what would happen if you just had simple natural laws, namely they would keep shoving things around on a simple level but never produce anything complex. The next slide, though, indicates that if you had natural laws with a high order of complexity, then they could manifest physical situations with a high order of complexity also, depending on how much was built into the laws. So we wanted to, in these two examples, indicate a higher and higher order of natural laws. So what we wanted to do was then combine these two things together, on the one hand that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon, and on the other hand, that in order to get...

Prabhupada: This is physical, but subtle.

Sadaputa: The actual perception of the soul is not...?

Prabhupada: Perception of the soul is there, but this physical demonstration is of the soul by consciousness. The more it is purified, it becomes spiritual. The consciousness is there. The more it is purified, then it becomes spiritual. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 19.170]. It has to be purified. The water is crystal clear, but when it comes in touch with the earth it becomes muddy. But again you can clarify it, and water becomes crystal clear. That consciousness is Krishna consciousness.

Sadaputa: So we wanted to then say that, a few lines of reasoning, that you have to have higher-ordered laws to cause complex forms...

Prabhupada: That higher-order laws is explained, mayadhyakshena [Bhagavad-gita 9.10].

Svarup Damodar: Mayadhyakshena prakritih?

Prabhupada: Suyate sa-characharam, hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate. Things are going down on account of the superior direction.

Svarup Damodar: Actually, that is shown in the next slide.

Prabhupada: That's all right.

Sadaputa: I want that next slide on there. There it is.

Prabhupada: There. Yato va imani bhutani jayante.

aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
budha bhava-samanvitah
[Bg. 10.8]

Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah [Bg. 7.19]. Here is vasudevah sarvam iti. Find out this verse, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19]. This is Vasudeva. Vasudeva must be, and from Him, everything is coming. That is real knowledge.

Hari-sauri: [Reads:]

bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma sudurlabhah
[Bg. 7.19]

"After many births and deaths..."

Prabhupada: It is conclusion, vasudevah sarvam iti. So you are mahatma, sudurlabhah, not ordinary rascal mathematician. [laughter] But you are real mathematician, that vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah [Bg. 7.19]. Read the purport.

Hari-sauri: [Reads:]

"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare."

Purport
"The living entity, while executing devotional service or transcendental rituals after many, many births may actually become situated in transcendental pure knowledge that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of spiritual realization. In the beginning of spiritual realization, while one is trying to give up one's attachment to materialism, there is some leaning towards impersonalism. But when one is further advanced he can understand that there are activities in the spiritual life and that these activities constitute devotional service. Realizing this, he becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrenders to Him. At such a time one can understand that Lord Sri Krishna's mercy is everything, that He is the cause of all causes, and that this material manifestation is not independent from Him. He realizes the material world to be a perverted reflection of spiritual variegatedness and realizes that in everything there is a relationship with the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna. Thus he thinks of everything in relation to Vasudeva, or Sri Krishna. Such a universal vision of Vasudeva precipitates one's full surrender to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna as the highest goal. Such surrendered great souls are very rare. This verse is very nicely explained in the Third Chapter of Svetashvatara Upanishad: 'In this body there are power of speaking, of seeing, of hearing, of mental activities, etc. But these are not important if not related to the Supreme Lord. And because Vasudeva is all-pervading and everything is Vasudeva, the devotee surrenders in full knowledge.'"

Prabhupada: Vasudeva, surrenders. That's nice. All right, continue tomorrow. Vasudevah sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19].


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