In2-MeC

newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Helsinki, Finland
9 October 2003

I just returned from Tampere, a city a couple of hundred kilometers to the northeast of Helsinki. I spoke to the college students of an international school that sponsored by UNESCO. This is the second time I've visited there; our contact is a lady teacher of religion and philosophy that I met on the first visit a couple of years ago. She is a very nice lady and a fan of my book Substance and Shadow. The students were assembled from two classes: comparitive religion and psychology. I explained Vedic psychology and ethics. The teacher much appreciated my presentation, which she said was very clear. She took many notes. The students, I think, were a little green for my style of talk. They were slow to ask questions and mainly focused on simple things like why devotees dress like they do.

But one young fellow asked how we look at the theory of evolution. I explained that the Vedas offer a doctrine of spiritual evolution, of souls moving from birth to death to rebirth upward through all the species of life. Charles Darwin lived during the 1800s, when Great Britain was the colonial power over India, at a time when ancient Sanskrit texts were first being translated into English by European Indologists. I said it was very likely that Darwin derived his materialistic theory of evolution from the spiritual evolution described in the Vedas. The main difference is that in the Vedic view, the soul is evolving through higher levels of consciousness; in the Western scientific view, only matter is evolving and consciousness either is unreal or it is an epiphenomenon of biochemistry. The extreme materialism of the Western scientific viewpoint robs evolution of any ultimate meaning. If life is an effect of material formation, and material formation is transitory and will end in entropy, then the only purpose of evolution is change. . . change that blindly hurtles towards final destruction. Evolutionists expect in the future that mankind will die out and be replaced by some other form of life that will prove to be more successful in adapting to the conditions of nature. Darwin himself wrote that he personally found the idea of the future extinction of the human race to be most lamentable. That's it, then: humanity will have been nothing more than another a sad chapter of earth's history. The last chapter of that history will be the snuffing out of all life and the dissolution of the universe. So what's the point? The Vedic doctrine of evolution has a point: the rise of the eternal soul towards liberation from temporary embodiment in matter.

The same young man wanted to know about creation. I said that the official Christian doctrine is that the world was created in 4004 B. C. That is not acceptable to modern science, which posits a much older world. But science guesses that the universe began around 20 billion years ago; the Vedas say it began 150 trillion years ago. So the Vedic outlook on the history of the cosmos is much broader than Western science's.

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I fly out of Finland on the morning of the 11th, this coming Saturday. Destination: Warsaw. Within a couple of days after that I'll be in Prague. A week after that I'll be in Amsterdam. At the end of October I fly to Auckland, New Zealand. In early December I'll return to India.

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Going back to the topic of evolution: I recently saved to my hard disk the . jpeg images of the pages of a fine old book, God and Evil (1942) by the British philosopher C. E. M. Joad. On pages 146-187, Joad criticizes two versions of materialistic evolution. These two are Emergent Evolution and Creative Evolution.

The theory of Emergent Evolution is based on the observation that simple elements combine to form compounds that display properties unknown in the ingredient elements. The theory calls the new properties "emergent"-meaning that they appear out of nowhere. For example, oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water. The wetness of water is not observed in oxygen and hydrogen. Thus wetness is called "an emergent property. " From such examples, the Emergent Evolutionists build a belief that consciousness and even God emerge from a certain stage of material combination.

Joad points out that this belief is unscientific, since a fundamental aim of science is to predict events that are determined by preceding conditions. Consciousness is nowhere observed in dead matter. If consciousness as a completely new, unforeseen quality does indeed emerge at a particular level of material combination, then consciousness is not linked to a logical chain of causation. It just happens. "We might as well drop the language and concepts of science," Joad asserts, "and pronounce wholeheartedly for an independent creative force of life, or even for a creative God. " Joad adds that a God who emerges from evolution cannot be the eternal and transcendent Deity who is the object of mankind's religious emotions: reverence, awe, the sense of mystery, the desire to worship. The Emergent God "is latent in the natural world and is, therefore, a part of it, changing as it changes, evolving as it evolves. . . As with the universe, so with God; He will cease to exist as the universe which has evolved him ceases to develop. . . He is certainly not the creator of the world; nor is he the loving father of us all participating in, yet apart from the sufferings of His creatures. " Another criticism Joad makes is that since Emergent Evolution sees God as a product of the evolution of the consciousness of mankind, there is nothing worthy of man's reverence that man is himself not the author of. In other words, God is just one more "fact" of the human sphere of existence.

Emergent Evolution is monistic, in that it holds that all is one: matter alone. The theory of Creative Evolution is dualistic and thus reminiscent of the atheistic Sankhya philosophy of India. The components of the dualism are the Life Force (the animating principle of the universe, similar to the purusa of Sankhya) and Matter (the stuff of the physical universe, similar to the pradhana of Sankhya). Matter behaves in accordance with the laws of physics. The Life Force associates with Matter to form the bodies of living organisms. At the earliest stage of this association, the Life Force appeared as a blind, instinctive urge. By evolution it gradually acquired consciousness and purpose. Evolution is a universal moral code. By this code, a living entity is expected to raise the Life Force, as expressed in itself, to a higher level of development. This is a code of effort and endeavor. One ought never take life easily. Rather one ought always commit oneself with full sensory and mental energy to the difficult and dangerous path in order to advance to higher levels.
Joad argues that it is a logical fallacy to speak of the evolution of "higher life," "better life" or a "better quality of life" without reference to a standard of value that is outside life in the material world. For example, one cannot measure a roll of cloth without reference to a standard of value outside the cloth: yards and feet marked out on a tape measure.

Similarly, unless there exists a standard of progress to an ultimate goal of consciousness that is outside the evolutionary process, it is meaningless to speak of advancement to higher levels of life. Another problem with Creative Evolution is that the Life Force, Matter and their scheme of interaction (the "moral code" of evolution) have no common source and thus no fundamental unity. Why should they even exist, let alone function synchronously? Writes Joad, "The unity of a single Creator using these as the basic elements from which to construct. . . His universe would be an obvious example of such a unity. " He argues that Creative Evolution has no explanation for the appearance of life's sense of purpose at the later stage of evolution. Why should life, initially a blind instinctive urge, acquire mind and intelligence to conceive of a higher goal of life? This question leads to another question: why should the mind and intelligence purposefully interact with the body (for example, when the body is cold, why is that condition perceived as distressful by the mind, and why does the intelligence therefore plan the lighting of a fire to warm the body)? Creative Evolution has no answer.

Finally, Joad takes Creative Evolution to task for its moral implausibility. "In a creative evolutionary world. . . evil would disappear at a certain stage of life's development. " But the evil of birth, death, disease and old age afflicts living beings now as much as it ever has in the past. And just as Creative Evolution offers no plausible explanation for the unity of the Life Force, Matter and the evolutionary moral code by which these two interact, similarly it offers no plausible explanation of the co-existence of good and evil within the universe. Nor can it account for moral conflict: mankind's struggle with good and evil, in which we find ourselves tempted to pursue evil while knowing we have a duty to overcome that temptation and be good. Finally, if the only real moral code is that we ought to advance the cause of evolution, then we are "good" insofar as we keep ourselves fresh and vigorous, our sensory and mental faculties at cutting edge, and our powers stretched to full capacity. This definition of good is attained by a tiger on the prowl. A criminal similarly thinks himself good if he meets these criteria. Thus the "good" of Creative Evolution is inadequate even for civilized human life, what to speak of the ultimate goal of human life: the revival of our eternal loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Among today's evolutionists there is still speculation that God Himself evolved. In God-The Evidence (1997), Chapter Three, Patrick Glynn relates the thinking of Dr. Herbert Benson, a professor at the Harvard Medical School. In an evolutionary sense, Benson accepts the reality of God. His studies of patients showed him that their religious beliefs calm their minds, increase their hopes and even aid the efficacy of some medical treatments. Benson accepts God as a powerful "survival instinct" or "primal motive" within the human organism. He thinks the human mind had to construct God to cope with the rigors of the natural environment during the early stages of evolution. We are "wired for God", he says-the spiritual drive is absolutely fundamental to human physiology, as much as hunger or the sex drive. But the spiritual drive is really a biological drive.

This is really the last gasp of the materialist philosophers. The logic of the existence of God can't be denied, so they try to bind His existence to material laws. This is the strategy of classical Mayavadi philosophy, which posits a two-aspect God. The Isvara aspect--the God of religion, the ruler of the universe--is time-bound. This God will cease to exist at the time of maha-pralaya, cosmic dissolution. The Brahman aspect--the impersonal Self which is nirvisesa, absent of any characteristics--is beyond time. But He is not the God people worship, for He (It, actually) is not a person. He does not reciprocate with people's prayers and other acts of devotion. He does not even acknowledge the existence of people, or anything in creation. He is mute, senseless, mindless, motionless, emotionless, and completely removed from experience on any level. This impersonal absolute may be transcendental to the miseries of material existence. But such a God cannot help anyone achieve that transcendental state. He is as good as no God at all.

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