All right, scientist, why is life not coming from matter now? You rascal. Why isn’t life coming from matter now? Actually such scientists are rascals. They childishly say that life came from matter, although they are not at all able to prove it.
Recorded on April 19, 1973, in Cheviot Hills Park, Los Angeles:
Srila Prabhupada: This material world is a composition of three qualities — sattva, rajas and tamas (goodness, passion and ignorance) — which are working everywhere. These three qualities are present in various proportions in all species of life. For example, some trees produce nice fruit, while others are simply meant for fuel. This is due to the association of particular qualities of nature. Among animals also, these three qualities are present. The cow is in the quality of goodness, the lion in passion, and the monkey in ignorance. According to Darwin, Darwin’s father is a monkey. [Laughter.] He has theorized foolishly.
Dr. Singh: Darwin has said that some species become extinct in the struggle for survival. Those which are capable of surviving will survive, but those which are not will become extinct. So he says survival and extinction go side by side.
Srila Prabhupada: Nothing is extinct. The monkey is not extinct. Darwin’s immediate forefather, the monkey, is still existing.
Karandhara: Darwin said there must be a natural selection. But selection means choice. So who is choosing?
Srila Prabhupada: That must be a person. Who is allowing someone to survive and someone to be killed? There must be some authority with discretion to give such an order. That is our first proposition. Who that authority is, is explained in Bhagavad-gita. Krsna says, mayadhyaksena prakrtih: “Nature is working under My supervision.” (Bg. 9.10)
Dr. Singh: Darwin also says that the different species were not created simultaneously, but evolved gradually.
Srila Prabhupada: Then what is his explanation for how the process of evolution began?
Karandhara: Modern proponents of Darwinism say that the first living organism was created chemically.
Srila Prabhupada: And I say to them, “If life originated from chemicals, and if your science is so advanced, then why can’t you create life biochemically in your laboratories?”
In the Future
Karandhara: They say they will create life in the future.
Srila Prabhupada: What future? When this crucial point is raised, they reply, “We shall do it in the future.” Why in the future? That is nonsense. “Trust no future, however pleasant.” If they are so advanced, they must demonstrate now how life can be created from chemicals. Otherwise what is the meaning of their advancement? They are talking nonsense.
Karandhara: They say that they are right on the verge of creating life.
Srila Prabhupada: That’s only a different way of saying the same thing: “In the future.” The scientists must admit that they still do not know the origin of life. Their claim that they will soon prove a chemical origin of life is something like paying someone with a postdated check. Suppose I give you a postdated check for ten thousand dollars but I actually have no money. What is the value of that check? Scientists are claiming that their science is wonderful, but when a practical example is wanted, they say they will provide it in the future. Suppose I say that I possess millions of dollars, and when you ask me for some money I say, “Yes, I will now give you a big postdated check. Is that all right?” If you are intelligent, you will reply, “At present give me at least five dollars in cash so I can see something tangible.” Similarly, the scientists cannot produce even a single blade of grass in their laboratories, yet they are claiming that life is produced from chemicals. What is this nonsense? Is no one questioning this?
Karandhara: They say that life is produced by chemical laws.
Srila Prabhupada: As soon as there is a law, we must take into consideration that someone made the law. Despite all their so-called advancement, the scientists in their laboratories cannot produce even a blade of grass. What kind of scientists are they?
Dr. Singh: They say that in the ultimate analysis, everything came from matter. Living matter came from nonliving matter.
Srila Prabhupada: Then where is this living matter coming from now? Do the scientists say that life came from matter in the past but does not at the present? Where is the ant coming from now — from the dirt?
The Missing Link
Dr. Singh: In fact, there are several theories explaining how life originated from matter, how living matter came from the nonliving.
Srila Prabhupada: [casting Dr. Singh in the role of a materialistic scientist]. All right, scientist, why is life not coming from matter now? You rascal. Why isn’t life coming from matter now? Actually such scientists are rascals. They childishly say that life came from matter, although they are not at all able to prove it. Our Krsna consciousness movement should expose all these rascals. They are only bluffing. Why don’t they create life immediately? In the past, they say, life arose from matter; and they say that this will happen again in the future. They even say that they will create life from matter. What kind of theory is this? They have already commented that life began from matter. This refers to the past — “began.” Then why do they now speak of the future? Is it not contradictory? They are expecting the past to occur in the future. This is childish nonsense.
Karandhara: They say that life arose from matter in the past and that they will create life this way in the future.
Srila Prabhupada: What is this nonsense? If they cannot prove that life arises from matter in the present, how do they know life arose this way in the past?
Dr. Singh: They are assuming…
Srila Prabhupada: Everyone can assume, but this is not science. Everyone can assume something. You can assume something, I can assume something. But there must be proof. We can prove that life arises from life. For example, a father begets a child. The father is living, and the child is living. But where is their proof that a father can be a dead stone? Where is their proof? We can easily prove that life begins from life. And the original life is Krsna. That also can be proven. But what evidence exists that a child is born of stone? They cannot actually prove that life comes from matter. They are leaving that aside for the future. [Laughter.]
Karandhara: The scientists say that they can now formulate acids, amino acids, that are almost like one-celled living organisms. They say that because these acids so closely resemble living beings, there must be just one missing link needed before they can create life.
Srila Prabhupada: Nonsense! Missing link. I’ll challenge them to their face! [Laughter.] They are missing this challenge. The missing link is this challenge to their face.
Nobel Prize for an Ass
Dr. Singh: Some scientists hope that in the future they will be able to make babies in test tubes.
Srila Prabhupada: Test tubes?
Dr. Singh: Yes, they intend to combine male and female elements in biological laboratories.
Srila Prabhupada: If they begin with living entities, what is the purpose of the test tube? It is only a place for combination, but so is the womb. Where is the credit for the scientists if this is already being done in nature’s test tube?
Karandhara: It is already being done by nature, but when some scientist does it, people will give him the Nobel Prize.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam: sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh.Srimad-Bhagavatam, one of the eighteen Puranas, is generally known as “the spotless Purana.” It was written down five thousand years ago by Srila Vyasadeva, who specifically intended it for the people of the present dark age of hypocrisy and quarrel. It is the original commentary on the Vedanta-sutra (by the same author) and is the cream of all Vedic literatures. Here Srila Prabhupada quotes a verse from the Second Canto of the Bhagavatam (2.3.19). In Srila Prabhupada’s English rendering of the Bhagavatam, this verse appears as follows:
samstutah purusah pasuh
jatu nama gadagrajah
TRANSLATION: Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krsna, the deliverer from evils.
PURPORT: The general mass of people, unless they are trained systematically for a higher standard of life in spiritual values, are no better than animals, and in this verse they have particularly been put on the level of dogs, hogs, camels and asses. Modern university education practically prepares one to acquire a doggish mentality with which to accept the service of a greater master. After finishing a so-called education, the so-called educated persons move like dogs from door to door with applications for some service, and mostly they are driven away, informed of no vacancy. As dogs are negligible animals and serve the master faithfully for bits of bread, a man serves a master faithfully without sufficient rewards.
Persons who have no discrimination in the matter of foodstuff and who eat all sorts of rubbish are compared to hogs. Hogs are very much attached to eating stools. So stool is a kind of foodstuff for a particular type of animal. And even stones are eatables for a particular type of animal or bird. But the human being is not meant for eating everything and anything; he is meant to eat grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, sugar, etc. Animal food is not meant for the human being. For chewing solid food, the human being has a particular type of teeth meant for cutting fruits and vegetables. The human being is endowed with two canine teeth as a concession for persons who will eat animal food at any cost. It is known to everyone that one man’s food is another man’s poison. Human beings are expected to accept the remnants of food offered to Lord Sri Krsna, and the Lord accepts foodstuff from the categories of leaves, flowers, fruits, etc. (Bg. 9.26). As prescribed by Vedic scriptures, no animal food is offered to the Lord. Therefore, a human being is meant to eat a particular type of food. He should not imitate the animals to derive so-called vitamin values. Therefore, a person who has no discrimination in regard to eating is compared to a hog.
The camel is a kind of animal that takes pleasure in eating thorns. A person who wants to enjoy family life or the worldly life of so-called enjoyment is compared to the camel. Materialistic life is full of thorns, and so one should live only by the prescribed method of Vedic regulations just to make the best use of a bad bargain. Life in the material world is maintained by sucking one’s own blood. The central point of attraction for material enjoyment is sex life. To enjoy sex life is to suck one’s own blo od, and there is not much more to be explained in this connection. The camel also sucks its own blood while chewing thorny twigs. The thorns the camel eats cut the tongue of the camel, and so blood begins to flow within the camel’s mouth. The thorns, mixed with fresh blood, create a taste for the foolish camel, and so he enjoys the thorn-eating business with false pleasure. Similarly, the great business magnates, industrialists who work very hard to earn money by different ways and questionable means, eat the thorny results of their actions mixed with their own blood. Therefore the Bhagavatam has situated these diseased fellows along with the camels.
The ass is an animal who is celebrated as the greatest fool, even among the animals. The ass works very hard and carries burdens of the maximum weight without making profit for itself. The ass is generally engaged by the washerman, whose social position is not very respectable. And the special qualification of the ass is that it is very much accustomed to being kicked by the opposite sex. When the ass begs for sexual intercourse, he is kicked by the fair sex, yet he still follows the female for such sexual pleasure. A henpecked man is compared, therefore, to the ass. The general mass of people work very hard, especially in the age of Kali. In this age the human being is actually engaged in the work of an ass, carrying heavy burdens and driving thela and rickshaws. The so-called advancement of human civilization has engaged a human being in the work of an ass. The laborers in great factories and workshops are also engaged in such burdensome work, and after working hard during the day, the poor laborer has to be again kicked by the fair sex, not only for sex enjoyment but also for so many household affairs.
So Srimad-Bhagavatam’s categorization of the common man without any spiritual enlightenment into the society of dogs, hogs, camels and asses is not at all an exaggeration. The leaders of such ignorant masses of people may feel very proud of being adored by such a number of dogs and hogs, but that is not very flattering. The Bhagavatam openly declares that although a person may be a great leader of such dogs and hogs disguised as men, if he has no taste for being enlightened in the science of Krsna, such a leader is also an animal and nothing more. He may be designated as a powerful, strong animal, or a big animal, but in the estimation of Srimad-Bhagavatam he is never given a place in the category of man, on account of his atheistic temperament. Or, in other words, such godless leaders of dogs and hoglike men are bigger animals with the qualities of animals in greater proportion This verse indicates that those who praise men who are like animals are no better than dogs, hogs, camels and asses. Sva means “dog,” vid-varaha means “stool-eating hog,” ustra means “camel,” and khara means “ass.” If the Nobel Prize is given to a scientist who is a rascal, the men on the committee who give him that prize are no better than dogs, hogs, camels and asses. We don’t accept them as human beings. One animal is praised by another animal. Where is the credit in that? If the men on the committee are no better than animals, anyone who receives the Nobel Prize in science is fool number one, because animals are praising him, not human beings.
Dr. Singh: For some scientists, the Nobel Prize is the ultimate.
Srila Prabhupada: They are rascals. They are speaking nonsense, and because they are juggling words, others are being misled.
Brahmananda Swami: Nobel is the person who invented dynamite.
Srila Prabhupada: He has created great misfortune, and he has left his money for creating further misfortune. [Laughter.]
Brahmananda Swami: The Gita says that demoniac people perform acts meant to destroy the world.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Ugra-karmanah ksayaya jagato ‘hitah (Bg. 16.9). They perform acts meant for inauspiciousness and the destruction of the world.
The Difference Between the Living and the Nonliving
[Srila Prabhupada points at a dead tree with his cane.]
Srila Prabhupada: Formerly leaves and twigs were growing from this tree. Now they are not. How would the scientists explain this?
Karandhara: They would say the tree’s chemical composition has changed.
Srila Prabhupada: To prove that theory, they must be able to inject the proper chemicals to make branches and leaves grow again. The scientific method includes observation, hypothesis and then demonstration. Then it is perfect. But the scientists cannot actually demonstrate in their laboratories that life comes from matter. They simply observe and then speak nonsense. They are like children. In our childhood, we observed a gramophone box and thought that within the box was a man singing, an electric man. We thought there must have been an electric man or some kind of ghost in it. [Laughter.]
Dr. Singh: One of the popular questions that arises when we start studying biology is “What is the difference between a living organism and that which is not living?” The textbooks say that the chief characteristics that distinguish the two are that a living being can move and reproduce, whereas dead matter can do neither. But the books never talk about the nature of the soul or about the consciousness of the living entity.
Srila Prabhupada: But consciousness is the primary indication that life is present. Only because of consciousness can a living being move and reproduce. Because a person is conscious, he thinks of marrying, and begetting children. And the original consciousness is described in the Vedas: tad aiksata bahu syam (Chandogya Upanisad 6.2.3). This means that God, the original conscious being, said, “I shall become many.” Without consciousness, there is no possibility of by-products.
The Individual Living Force
Srila Prabhupada: The gardeners supply water to the green trees, so why don’t they supply water to this dead tree and make it green?
Dr. Singh: From experience they know that it will not grow.
Srila Prabhupada: Then what is the element that is lacking? Scientists say that chemicals are the cause of life, but all the chemicals that were present when the tree was alive are still there. And these chemicals are still supporting the lives of many living entities such as microbes and insects. So they cannot say that life energy is lacking in the body of the tree. The life energy is there.
Dr. Singh: But what about the life energy of the tree itself?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is the difference. The living force is individual, and the particular individual living entity that was the tree has left. This must be the case, since all the chemicals necessary to support life are still there, yet the tree is dead. Here is another example. Suppose I am living in an apartment, and then I leave it. I am gone, but many other living entities remain there — ants, spiders and so forth. So it is not true that simply because I have left the apartment, it can no longer accommodate life. Other living entities are still living there. It is simply that I — an individual living being — have left. The chemicals in the tree are like the apartment: they are simply the environment for the individual force — the soul — to act through. And the soul is an individual. I am an individual, and therefore I may leave the apartment. Similarly, the microbes are also individuals; they have individual consciousness. If they are moving in one direction but are somehow blocked, they think, “Let me go the other way.” They have personality.
Karandhara: But in a dead body there is no personality.
Srila Prabhupada: This indicates that the individual soul has left that body. The soul has left, and therefore the tree does not grow.
Dr. Singh: Within the living body, Srila Prabhupada, there are innumerable small living entities, but the individual self who owns the body is also living there. Is that correct?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. In my body there are millions of living entities. In my intestines there are many worms. If they become strong, then whatever I eat, they eat, and I derive no benefit from the food. Therefore those who are full of hookworms eat very much but do not grow. They become lean and thin, and they are very hungry, because these small living entities are eating their food. So there are thousands and millions of living entities in my body — they are individuals, and I am an individual — but I am the proprietor of the body, just as I may be the proprietor of a garden in which many millions of living entities reside.
Student: So if I eat krsna-prasada [food offered to Lord Krsna], are the living entities in my body also eating prasada?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You are very benevolent. [Laughs.] You take krsna-prasada for others.
Karandhara: Welfare work.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but there are so many things within you for them to eat that you do not need to make a separate endeavor to feed them.
Minimum Words, Maximum Solution
Srila Prabhupada: The individual soul is never lost. He does not die, nor is he born. He simply changes from one body to another, just as one changes garments. This is perfect science.
Dr. Singh: But why don’t scientists accept this?
Srila Prabhupada: They are not nice men. They are rascals. They are not even gentlemen. Under appropriate circumstances, gentlemen will have some shyness or some shame. But these men are shameless. They cannot properly answer our challenges, yet they shamelessly claim that they are scientists and that they will create life. They are not even gentlemen. At least I regard them like that. A gentleman will be ashamed to speak nonsense.
Dr. Singh: They do not think before they speak.
Srila Prabhupada: That means that they are not human beings. A human being thinks twice before saying anything. Krsna makes the presence of life within the body so easy to understand. He says:
dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
[“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Bg. 2.13)] In these two lines, Krsna solves the whole biological problem. That is knowledge. Minimum words, maximum solution. Volumes of books expounding nonsense have no meaning. Materialistic scientists are like croaking frogs: ka-ka-ka, ka-ka-ka. [Srila Prabhupada imitates the sound of a croaking frog, and the others laugh.] The frogs are thinking, “Oh, we are talking very nicely,” but the result is that the snake finds them and says, “Oh, here is a nice frog!” [Srila Prabhupada imitates the sound of a snake eating a frog.] Bup! Finished. When death comes, everything is finished. The materialistic scientists are croaking — ka-ka-ka — but when death comes, their scientific industry is finished, and they become dogs, cats or something like that.
(From “Life Comes From Life” by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuapda)