The Challenge

Beyond the Purview of Scientific Experimentation and Hypothesis

After the Sunday Times printed this exchange of articles, Hansadutta publicly challenged Dr. Kovoor to prove his statement that life originates from chance biochemical combinations, offering Dr. Kovoor Rps 500,000 (sixty thousand US dollars) if he could create any form of life—a mouse, a cat, a mosquito or any other plainly visible creature—from inert chemicals. The Sunday Times ran this story:

The high priest of Sri Lankan rationalists, Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor, who has been challenging people for decades to prove the existence of God, the soul and rebirth, is now on the receiving end.

The Hare Krishna movement has now challenged Dr. Kovoor to prove his contention that life originated from matter.

“We, the members of the Hare Krishna movement, are openly challenging him to produce any form of life, even a mosquito, by mixing chemicals together. If he cannot substantiate his theory, he should remain silent forever,” say the Hare Krishna members.

They will be waiting for Dr. Kovoor at the Ramakrishna Mission Hall on September 20, at 6:30 pm. Admission will be free to the public.

Having been challenged to demonstrate that he could create life at a public meeting, Dr. Kovoor declined to attend, saying that he would not feel obliged to demonstrate that he could create life unless God Himself were to appear in person to demonstrate the same thing. The Sunday Times reported with the headline: “Flummoxed Kovoor Passes the Buck.”

In the meantime, Hansadutta and Dr. Kovoor exchanged letters:

Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor
Sri Lanka Rationalist Association
September 6, 1977

Dear Dr. Kovoor:

I have further deliberated and have decided to write you a few more words on the existence of God, the soul and the rebirth of the soul. I trust they may be of interest to you.

The greatest disease in the minds of the scientists is that they do not believe something is a fact unless it is proved by scientific experiments. When a scientist makes a statement and he supports that statement with scientific experiments, everyone is completely convinced, and no questions are asked. When we talk about the spirit soul to these scientists, their usual response is, “How can one detect the presence of the soul?” Because they have been conditioned to working with machines, they wonder whether the soul can be detected by scientific experiments. However, scientists have to agree that even in their own scientific realm there are many facts that cannot be proved by experiments. The fact is that the soul is there, but in order to understand its existence, we have to accept knowledge from the right person—Sri Krishna (God) or His representative in disciplic succession, the spiritual master.

Everyone in the scientific community knows that mathematicians work with an imaginary number called “i,” which is the square root of minus one. This number does not figure among the natural numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.). However, important branches of mathematics—for example, the theory of analytical functions—are based on this imaginary unit. Without the help of this branch of mathematics, various complex theories and problems cannot be solved. Thus the existence of this number cannot be denied; yet there is no experiment to prove it. In a similar manner, scientists in the field of statistical mechanics also utilize various conceptual models—ensembles, for example—to explain their theories and arguments. These are all beyond the realm of experimental science. If scientists are willing to accept these imaginary and conceptual models, what is the difficulty in accepting the perfect knowledge given by Lord Krishna, the supreme scientist?

Another scientific theory that is beyond the limit of experimental science is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. The statement of this principle is that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the position and momentum of any object. In mathematical language, it is stated that the product of the uncertainties in the measured values of the position and momentum (product of mass and velocity) cannot be smaller than Planck’s constant. No existing experimental technique can prove this principle. However, scientists all over the world accept this statement as a fact, knowing that the experimental proof is beyond their ability. Similarly, there is no scientific experiment to prove the Third Law of Thermodynamics. This law, as formulated by Planck, states that the entropy of a perfect crystal at absolute zero degrees is equal to zero. Factually, there is no way to directly measure the absolute entropies. Therefore the proof of this law is beyond the realm of experimental science.

It is also to be noted that so-called scientific theories are changing constantly. For example, at the beginning of the nineteenth century (1808), John Dalton, in developing his atomic theory, stated that atoms could not be further divided. However, toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, it was found that Dalton’s atomic theory could not longer be considered correct. It was observed that atoms could be further divided into fundamental particles like electrons, protons and neutrons. It was also found that some atoms could emit alpha and beta particles, thereby producing new atoms, and so on. As a matter of fact, the so-called nuclear bombs are a result of these findings. In a similar manner, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Newton’s mechanics had a tremendous influence on the minds of scientists, since they could be applied to gross material objects. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the discoveries of the fundamental particles, it was realized that Newton’s mechanics failed in describing the motions of these particles. Thus quantum mechanics has been developed to explain the phenomena they exhibit. These theories are filled with speculation, and they are also changing. Just as past and present scientific theories are changing, so we can understand that future scientific theories will also change.

All of this simply shows that the brains of the highly honored scientists are imperfect, and as a result, the theories proposed by these brains will always remain imperfect. Actually, perfect knowledge cannot be changed, but in order to get perfect knowledge, one has to approach a perfect source. That source is Krishna and the Vedic literature. Of course, this may seem like an incredible statement to a scientific brain like yours, which is accustomed to testing everything with scientific instruments and so-called logic, reason, deduction, hypothesis and theory, but it is nonetheless a fact. This can be understood by anyone who is scientific enough to experiment on himself by following the practices recommended in the Vedas under the guidance of a self-realized soul.

The process is actually very practical. The spiritual master prescribes the process of spiritual discipline, and the student carries it out according to the directions given. If the student experiences the predicted result, then he concludes that the spiritual master was right. If the spiritual master is actually bona fide, the result will be positive. This procedure is quite similar to an honest scientist’s reporting his results along with his experimental method. One who wants to verify the result can perform the same experiment himself. When the same result is reproduced by several scientists, it is accepted as a scientific fact.

In conclusion, I would like to point out that 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 chance chemical reactions, and if there is no supreme consciousness,
no creator and controller, what need is there for moral restraint? This is not a new philosophy. In ancient Greece, Epicurus postulated that
everything is simply a combination of atoms and void, nothing more. Today the word “epicure” describes a person whose main activity is to enjoy fine food and drink. The conclusion is that the philosophy that chance biochemical combinations are the origin of life is a philosophy that leads to unrestricted sense gratification, but it is by no means scientific. We can see one vivid example of how demoralizing and vicious this philosophy is in the present world-wide practice of abortion. Because of being taught that the embryo is not actually a living being, but only a mass of inanimate chemicals, people have been convinced to kill their unborn children mercilessly within the womb.

I will be very interested in receiving your thoughts on these points, and am prepared to discuss the matter further if you have any doubts about them.

I hope this letter meets you well.—Respectfully yours,
Hansadutta das

This entry was posted in KRSNA Books, Science & Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Challenge

  1. Saptarshi Roy says:

    Namaste Acharya ji,

    It’s 2013, almost half a century since Dr. Kovoor issued a challenge with regards to the absence of soul and that life happens due to chance chemical reactions.

    Yet, your challenge still stands.

    Respect, glories and obeisances to Srila Prabhupada.

    S. Roy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>