This exchange between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his disciple Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, Ph.D., took place in Atlanta during March of 1975.
Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami: Modern scientists are working very hard to create life in the laboratory.
Srila Prabhupada: Try to understand this. Just as God already exists, so the living entities, being part of God, also already exist—eternally. So you haven’t got to “create.” That is foolishness, because the living entities are eternal—they are never created. They simply become manifest in the material world in four ways. Some of them are manifested through seeds, some of them through fermentation, some through eggs, and some through embryos. But the living entities already exist, so there is no question of “creation.” This is the science of the living entity.
There are already so many millions and trillions of living entities, and yet the materialistic scientists are holding big conferences on how to create something. Just see this childish proposal. They are wasting time, misleading people, and wasting everyone’s hard-earned money. Therefore I say they are rascals. They are trying to “create.” What will they create? Everything is already there. But they do not know this, even with all their advanced education. Therefore, the Bhagavad-gita describes them as mudhas, rascals.
Now, you tell these mudhas, “My dear sir, you cannot create, nor can anything be created. Just find out where the living entities are coming from, what is their source, who is the brain behind all of nature. Find that out. That is real knowledge. If you struggle for this knowledge and try to find the original source of everything, then some day you may come to the platform of vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: you’ll understand that God is the source of everything, and your knowledge will be perfect.”
Look at this nice flower—do you think it has come out automatically, without the direction of any brain? This is nonsensical philosophy. These so-called scientists use so many bombastic words, but how much are they actually explaining? Nobody else can understand, only them. They put forth some complicated language in such a way that unless they explain it, nobody will understand. They say that everything is automatically done “by nature.” That’s not the fact.
Nature is an instrument, just like a wonderful computer. But still there is an operator. These rascals have no common sense. Where is the machine that is working without any operator? Is there such a machine within their experience? How can they suggest that nature is working automatically? Nature is a wonderful machine, but the operator is God, Krishna. That is real knowledge. Just because the machine is working very wonderfully, does that mean there is no operator? For example, the harmonium is also a machine, and if an expert musician is playing it, then it produces very melodious, pleasing sounds. “Oh, how nice.” But will the harmonium play automatically and give out melodious sounds? So they don’t even have any common sense, and still they are calling themselves scientists. That is our regret—that these people don’t even have any common sense, and still they are passing as scientists.
Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami: They are thinking that because through chemistry they are able to synthesize some primitive amino acids…
Srila Prabhupada: That is craftsmanship; that is not knowledge. For instance, let us say that you paint a picture of a rose. You are a painter—not a man of knowledge. “Man of knowledge” means someone who knows how things are being done. A painter simply imitates what he sees, that’s all. Therefore, art and science are two different departments.
Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami: So if they create something synthetic, that is just an art.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. For example, a good cook knows how to mix the spices and condiments and make very tasteful things. So you can call a chemist a good cook. Chemistry is nothing but the art of mixing different chemicals, that’s all. There is oil, there is alkaline, you mix it very professionally, and soap comes out—very useful.
Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami: But the scientists are convinced that somehow they’ll be able to create life and even make a human being.
Srila Prabhupada: This is not a problem, that without your creation of life the world will go to hell. Life is already there. For instance, there are so many motorcars—if I manufacture another motorcar, is there any great credit for me? So many motorcars are already there! When there were no motorcars, the first man who manufactured one had some credit. “Yes, you have done something nice—a horseless carriage. People will benefit from it—a convenience—that’s all right.” But when there are millions and millions of motorcars simply creating accidents, and I manufacture another motorcar, what is my credit?
Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami: Zero.
Srila Prabhupada: Zero. And to achieve this “zero,” they are going to hold some big conference, and so many people will come and spend money.
Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami: They want to make a better human being. They want to make life better.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is our proposal. We say to the scientists, “Don’t waste time trying to make life. Try to make your life better. Try to understand what your actual spiritual identity is, so that you may become happy in this lifetime. This research should be done.”
The first thing they have to learn is that there is a driver, or soul, within the “motorcar” of the body. This is the first point of knowledge. Unless one understands this simple thing, he’s no different from an animal. The driver—the soul—is moving the motorcar of this body. And if the driver is educated, then he can move his body for self-realization, so that he can go home, back to Godhead. Then he becomes perfect. So we are educating the driver—we are not trying to manufacture another tin car. This is Krishna consciousness.