This conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and biochemist Thoudam Singh, PhD, took place in Bhubaneswar, India, on February 3, 1977.
Dr. Singh: What you’re saying about the scientists’ simply bluffing and taking people’s money – this is actually true. They are getting a lot of money from the government. The politicians tax the people very heavily and then funnel much of their money to the scientists. So the people have to work very hard, while the scientists enjoy “the good life.”
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Fat salaries. Especially in America.
Dr. Singh: In America, research is one of the top industries.
Srila Prabhupada: Then let them research honestly. When they become failures in their research, they must study the information in the Vedic literature. Let them study the information given by Lord Krishna and His authorized representatives – all about the nature of the self, the universe, and the Supreme Self. The scientists can test this information experimentally. Put it to the test and put it to practical use. Let this be their research. Then they will be successful.
But first, the scientists must admit their failure, and you have to prove that they are a failure. Help them see that, on balance, their research is not a success; it is a failure. They know nothing of the soul. They do not know who they are or, when this life ends, where they shall go. Simply wasting time. How can they say their research is anything but a failure?
Dr. Singh: Unfortunately, everything you’re saying is true. It can all be proved just from their own results, or lack of results. Any levelheaded scientist, anyone who is aware of the spiritual dimension, can use the modern scientists’ own findings to prove that their understanding of reality is quite . . . fragmented at best. Dwarfed, shriveled. And wrong.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, there is no doubt. They are a failure.
Dr. Singh: There are many genuine scientific facts they don’t even report. Whatever things they cannot explain – they just keep those hidden. There are many facts like that. Honest scientists have written whole volumes on the errors and defects in modern science. Whole books on all the errors and cheating.
Srila Prabhupada: All this can alert the people. We want people to look critically at all this nonsense: “Life comes from matter . . . Matter evolves from lower forms to higher forms . . . No need for an intelligent Supreme Spirit . . . Matter has intelligence . . .” Rubbish.
Dr. Singh: As Dr. Richard Thompson, a mathematics PhD from Cornell, has discovered, even Sir Isaac Newton cheated in his scientific work. Newton himself cheated.
Srila Prabhupada: Any materially conditioned soul must cheat. He must cheat, because he’s not perfect. So to keep his prestige, he must cheat.
After all, the conditioned soul is under the sway of the material modes, especially ignorance and passion, and he is burdened by the four material defects: bhrama, pramada, karanapatava, and vipralipsa – mistakes, illusion, imperfect senses, and this propensity to cheat.
With his imperfect senses and mind he must make mistakes – and fall prey to illusion, based on his many mistakes. Then, to hide his mistakes and illusion, he must cheat. “Oh, yes, I’m a very accomplished and knowledgeable scientist. You should heed me and pay me a fat salary.”
Dr. Singh: Yes. And when someone brings out these defects – these hidden defects that usually go unexposed – these scientists become practically dumbfounded. They become very quiet.
Srila Prabhupada: They know they are cheating, so they must become quiet. Maunam sammati lakshanam: as soon as they become quiet, that means they admit, “Yes, I cheated.” Otherwise, they would immediately make a refutation. But they know, “Yes, on this point I have cheated.” So when somebody catches them – “Here you have cheated” – then if they keep quiet, that means they admit, “Yes, I cheated.”
So you are performing a great public service simply by exposing the scientists’ defects. Imperfect senses, mistakes, illusion, and cheating – these are the property of every materially conditioned soul. Then what is he going to learn? And what is he going to teach? His position is imperfection, mistakes, illusion. He knows it. So if he presents himself as learned and tries to teach, he is not teaching. He is cheating.
Anyone in this material world is like this. A cheater. Only one who is a devotee of the Lord – he will hesitate: “With these imperfect senses and mind and this propensity to make mistakes and become illusioned and cheat, what can I teach?”
But one who is not a devotee – he’ll go on with these four assets – rascal assets – imperfect senses, mistakes, illusion, and cheating. This is the modern scientists’ position. Falsely they want to pose themselves as very learned scholars. But a sensible person will ask, “You may want to keep up your false prestige, but what right have you to mislead others?”
Dr. Singh: That is so true. Someone has to step forward and poke them. “You are extrapolating much, much more than you should. You are saying much, much more than you really know.”
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. “You are going beyond your capacity.” It is like the old saying – “a dwarf grasping for the moon.”
Dr. Singh: Yes. As you have pointed out, for instance, there is no foundation to these scientists’ claim that life can come out of chemicals. No one has ever seen such a bizarre thing actually happening. And if we analyze from a purely scientific and logical angle, there is no way anyone can make such a silly claim.
But within their tiny little spoonful of knowledge, they are hoping to find the vast sea of reality. They know just a tiny bit, but they extrapolate very widely and draw grandiose – and false – conclusions.
Srila Prabhupada: Simply speculation.
Dr. Singh: So I think what we’re saying is, “As we study reality, let’s be humble and honest. First let’s be honest.”
Srila Prabhupada: Certainly. “How can you be dishonest and at the same time call yourself a scientist? How is that?”