The Challenge

It’s Not Beyond Kovoor’s Power of Observation

Sunday Times, August 28, 1977
by Dr. Abraham Kovoor

In the article titled “It’s Beyond Kovoor’s Power of Observation” in the Sunday Times of August 21, Messrs. Mahakanta das and Hansadutta of the “Hare Krishna” cult betray their appalling ignorance of modern branches of biological science, such as biochemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, eugenics, genetic engineering, extra-uterine insemination, parthenogenesis and so on.

It is clear from what they have written that they are equating life with mind and the non-existing spirit or soul. They do not seem to know that while all organisms have life, only those animals which possess nervous systems have mind, and that mental faculties in animals vary in direct proportion to the development of their nervous systems. Despite the beliefs of millions of religionists for thousands of years, there is absolutely no biological evidence for the existence of souls in organisms. Messrs. Das and Hansadutta say that according to the “professors of spiritual science” there is the soul, there is rebirth of the soul, and there is the Supreme Soul—God.

I should like to know on what objective evidence these so-called professors make this fantastic statement. According to the two writers, life is prior to matter. They say, “Life is not generated from a combination of chemicals, as some scientists would have us believe. Rather, it is life that generates matter.”

The prime source of life on the planet earth is the sun. Solar energy is fixed in green plants when sunlight is converted into chemical energy by the reaction sequence known as photosynthesis. Organisms other than plants obtain their energy by eating green plants or some of the eaters of green plants. These food substances serve as fuel for supplying vital energy to organisms. The energy in the food is liberated as vital energy by slow oxidation during respiration.

Das and Hansadutta say that scientists, with their imperfect sensory powers, are incapable of understanding the reality of things as “spiritual scientists” do. Are the sensory powers of these pseudo-scientists more efficient than those of real scientists? Or do the so-called spiritual scientists possess any form of perception other than sensory perception?

Knowledge and enlightenment cannot be had through meditation, which is only a form of self-hypnosis.

Das and Hansadutta ask whether scientists can make a chicken come out of a plastic egg.

I do not know whether they are aware that scientists have made over ten elements, such as fermium, plutonium and einsteinium, which God could not create, because He did not know the technology involved in making them. Are these two men aware of the success of the Sri Lankan scientist Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma and the Indian scientist Dr. Bal Gobind Khorana, the Nobel Prize winner, in synthesizing amino acids, the building blocks of living protoplasm, from inert substances, simulating conditions that prevailed in the primitive atmosphere of the earth? Do they know that human egg and sperm cells could be fertilized in test tubes and the fetus developed in an artificial womb or in the womb of a hired woman?

Among animals that have evolved on this planet, man is the only animal that has progressed in all his activities. This he has achieved through his knowledge and science. While all organisms continue to live even today as their forebears did millions of years, man alone has progressed from the caveman state to the present spaceman state by using science and technology, and not by the help of any God or knowledge obtained from any scripture!

Advancements in medical science and social welfare services are helping more and more misfits survive to procreate more and more misfits as future citizens. While the short-term goal is achieved, the long-term goal is jeopardized. Future governments are not going to allow the misfits to procreate misfit children on the ground that “life originates from the Supreme Soul.”

It is the unique ability of man to engage in creative thinking that has made him succeed in his fight against the laws of nature. The highly developed forebrain and the deeply convoluted cortex have helped him to think creatively. Scientists, as a general rule, are objective thinkers, because they base their thoughts on empirical knowledge. Mystics and visionaries, the so-called spiritual scientists of Das and Hansadutta, on the other hand, build up their thoughts on their subjective perceptions. Books on chemistry, physics, mathematics, geography, history, geology, anthropology, paleontology, engineering, medical science, astronomy, etc. are the products of objective thinkers. On the other hand, books like Arabian Nights, Gulliver’s Travels, fairy stories, Mahabharata, Ramayana, the Bible, the Koran, Pilgrim’s Progress, Jataka stories, astrology, palmistry, numerology, theology, demonology, etc. are the products of subjective thinkers. While the former are factual, the latter are fictitious.

Some of the marvelous achievements of mankind in recent years have been the liberation of atomic energy, space flight, landing on the moon, organ transplantation, satellite communication, etc. All these were achieved through science. Mentally deranged intellectuals are capable of expatiating on their hallucinations and often become founders and preachers of diverse types of religious cults.—Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor

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