Jan 08, 2017 CANADA (SUN) Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.
IV – RENAISSANCE THOUGHT
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Hayagriva dasa: Francis Bacon is generally acknowledged as the founding father of modern science in England, and although he did not work in a modern laboratory like today's scientists, he inspired what has become known as the scientific method. He believed that science could give man a mastery over nature that would improve his life on this earth. For Bacon, science was not simply an intellectual or academic undertaking, but a utilitarian one.
Srila Prabhupada: It is erroneous for Bacon or any other scientist to
think that science can control nature. It is not possible to control birth,
old age, disease, and death. During our lifetime, we may be able to make
some changes and give some facilities, but that is not the ultimate end.
Hayagriva dasa: Bacon disliked mental speculation about God because
we cannot expect God to conform to our own conception. Due to God's
infinitude, no conception of God can be unbelievable. By and large,
Bacon relegated theology to the realm of faith, and science to the realm
of knowledge of the world.
Srila Prabhupada: It is good to be a master architect and make a house
with all modern facilities, but if these facilities cause us to forget life's
real aim, we have lost a great deal. It is better to remain without facilities,
evacuate in the field, and bathe in the river, than overly concern ourselves with modern amenities, facilities for a pampered life. If we forget
our real business — how to revive God consciousness — we have not advanced but regressed.
Hayagriva dasa: Bacon did not conceive of science as being a disunifying factor as far as religion or God is concerned. Rather, he believed
that science could enable civilization to progress. It could be a binding
force between man and God.
Srila Prabhupada: That is certainly a very good idea, but many modem
scientists are denying the existence of God. Many are claiming that God
is dead, that there is no need of God, or that we can manufacture God
and man in our own way.
Hayagriva dasa: Bacon considered some knowledge to be supernatural
in that it comes from God, whereas other forms of knowledge are attained
through man's own attempts. He admits that the material senses are
imperfect and act like false mirrors, which distort the actual world. Thus
men are constantly being deceived.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, although they are advancing the cause of material science, they are forgetting God in the process. This is most degrading. Men should prove by scientific methods that God exists and is doing
everything. Scientists should use a scientific method to understand how
the supreme intelligent Being is working. God's scientific knowledge is
perfect, and knowledge that complies with this is very good. But if men
have a little knowledge and defy the existence of God, their knowledge
is useless. So their little knowledge has become a dangerous thing.
Hayagriva dasa: Bacon says something very much like this. He writes:
"It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but
depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita:
murtayah sambhavanti yah,
tasarh brahma mahad yonir
aham bija-pradah pita
"It should be understood that all species of life, 0 son of Kunti, are made
possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving
father." ( Bg . 14.4) If we have a little intelligence and think about this
verse, we can understand that all living entities are coming from some
womb. Since everyone is the child of some mother, there must be a father.
When we are grown, we must understand our father, his property, and
his desire. How can we deny a universal father?
Hayagriva dasa: This is Bacon's conclusion: "For a while, the mind of
man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in
them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity."
Srlla Prabhupada: Yes. This is the version given in Bhagavad-gita.
aharh sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvarh pravartate
"I am the origin of everything. Everything is emanating from Me." ( Bg .
10.8) The V edanta-su.tr a also states: janmadyasya yatah. "The Supreme
Being is He from whom everything is emanating. " It is a fact that there
must be a source of everything, and it is the business of philosophy to
find that original source. It is neither scientific nor philosophic to try to
obscure or ignore the original source.
Hayagriva dasa: Concerning superstition, Bacon writes: "It were better
to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of
Him. For one is unbelief, and the other is contumely."
Srila Prabhupada: Why should we remain superstitious? Why not introduce education whereby everyone can understand God and His nature?
We are trying to establish such an institution with this Krsna consciousness movement. If the government participates and cooperates, the masses
of people can understand this science of God and benefit.
Hayagriva dasa: Bacon distinguished between sects and religions. Sects
change, but true religion "is built upon the rock; the rest are tossed on
the waves of time "
Srila Prabhupada: Real religion comes directly from God because religion is the law of God. Therefore we must philosophically and scientifically understand God and His law. That is the perfection of knowledge.
Hayagriva dasa: Many of the Indian sects are successful in America
because their leaders do not impose any restrictions.
Srila Prabhupada: They have no conception of God. They come for some
material profit, and this is revealed in the course of time.
Hayagriva dasa: Bacon also believed in the divine right of kings, maintaining that the king is empowered by God to make laws. He also felt
that a national church could best provide for the people's spiritual needs.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore it is necessary that the king be so trained
as not to misuse his power. According to the Vedic system, the king was
educated to abide by the instructions of saintly persons, brahmanas. The
brahmanas would advise, and the king would follow their desire. If a
king misuses his power, he is good for nothing. His monarchy will be
abolished, and the people will replace it with something else.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust