Speculation Is Neither Science Nor Philosophy by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in July 1975 on an early-morning walk in Chicago.
Srila Prabhupada: Where does Darwin begin?
Disciple: He begins in the ocean. He says that some fishlike animal climbed out of the ocean and began to breathe the air.
Srila Prabhupada: Then where did the ocean come from?
Disciple: He doesn’t say.
Srila Prabhupada: Then his theory is not perfect.
Disciple: Scientists say there was great turbulence on this planet in the beginning. The oceans were stirring, and then some lightning charges occurred.
Srila Prabhupada: From where did the lightning come? And from where did the ocean come? Where is his philosophy? It is a speculation.
Disciple: They say it all began from a primeval explosion.
Srila Prabhupada: Then I ask the same question: Wherefrom did the explosion come?
Disciple: They say that the explosion took place at time zero.
Srila Prabhupada: Time zero?
Disciple: Time began then, at time zero. And they say that the question “What was before that?” is not a logical, sensible question.
Srila Prabhupada: Why?
Disciple: They say it’s a question that should not even be asked.
Srila Prabhupada: No, then they are rascals. They are beginning from zero. How can you begin from zero?
Disciple: Everything comes from nothing then.
Srila Prabhupada: That is not philosophy.
Disciple: They say it all originates from a giant mass of primordial matter.
Srila Prabhupada: Then the same question arises: From where did the matter come?
Disciple: They say it’s an accident.
Srila Prabhupada: So that is rascaldom. Where is the accident? Nothing is accidental. Everything happens by cause and effect. The Bible says that in the beginning there was God, or the word of God. So God was there. That is the beginning. In our philosophy, too, that is the beginning. The Srimad- Bhagavatam gives evidence: janmady asya yatah [1.1.1] . . . aham evasam evagre [2.9.33]. And the Bhagavad-gita: aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate [10.8]. This is our philosophy. Everything begins from God. Now you can ask, “From where did God come?” But that is God. God is existing. He is not caused by any other cause. He is the original cause. Anadir adir: He has no beginning, but He is the beginning of everything. This is the conception of God given in the statements of Brahma: anadir adir govindah [Brahma-samhita 5.1]. That adi is the original person, Govinda, Krishna. We find this in the Vedic history. Brahma is there in the beginning. He is a deva, one of the demigods the first demigod. Now Krishna says, aham adir hi devanam [Gita 10.2]: He is the cause of the demigods. He is the cause of Brahma also. So this is our philosophy. We don’t begin from zero or from an accident.
Disciple: Darwin never tried to understand the Vedic philosophy.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no, he admitted that he speculated. He is not a philosopher; he is a speculator. He has admitted: “It is my speculation. I think like this.”
Disciple: He started his speculation from the creation of life.
Srila Prabhupada: Anywhere, speculation is neither science nor philosophy.
Disciple: They call the Vedas speculation. They say the Upanishads are speculation.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no, no, not speculation. Sri Isopanishad [Mantra 1] says, isavasyam idam sarvam: everything is beginning from the isa, the supreme controller. Where is the speculation in the Vedas?
Disciple: They say the Vedas are written by a man. Therefore they are imperfect.
Srila Prabhupada: What is your philosophy? It is written by a man. What is the value of your philosophy? It is speculation. We don’t say that the Vedas are written by man. They come from a transcendental source. The words spoken by the Lord are called apauruseya, which indicates that they are not delivered by any mundane person. They may say whatever they like, but we don’t accept it. Suppose somebody says, “Your father’s name is so-and-so.” What is his authority to say what my father’s name is? I know very well, So their suggestion is like that: “Your father’s name is this.” Is that a very good suggestion? We can challenge: “You don’t know anything about my family. How can you say, ‘Your father’s name is this?’” Is it not rascaldom? You do not know anything about my family, and you say, “Your father’s name is this.” What is this logic?
Disciple: Darwin’s whole theory rests on the fact that he showed bones and archeological evidence.
Srila Prabhupada: Anyway, it is not possible that he has seen all the bones. So taking it that he has studied by seeing the bones, I can say very easily that it is not possible for a person like him to see all the bones. That is my challenge. He says, “Millions and millions of years ago . . .” But he lived for fifty years. How has he seen all the bones? He is a limited person.
Disciple: They admit they haven’t found all the bones, but they say that what they have found is conclusive evidence.
Srila Prabhupada: But they cannot say that. If you have seen all the bones, then you can conclude. But they say some of the bones are missing. Therefore their theory is always imperfect.
Disciple: Just this year they found a skull that was millions of years older than any human skull they found before.
Srila Prabhupada: That’s all right. But still they cannot say they have found all the skulls. They simply guess: “There is some gap of millions of years.”
Disciple: They even say that the missing link is the most important part.
Srila Prabhupada: So that is not science. Therefore we say they are rascals. And other rascals will believe them.