May 15, 2017 CANADA (SUN) Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.
VIII. EVOLUTIONARY NATURALISM
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882)
Hayagriva dasa: Darwin's conception of evolution rests on the premise that there is a real genetic change from generation to generation. In other
words, he rejects the Platonic eidos (idea, type, or essence) for a species. Whereas Krsna says that He is the generating seed of all existences, Darwin would reject the existence of a particular seed for a particular type. There are no fixed species, but shifting, evolving, physical forms, constantly changing.
Srila Prabhupada: No. The forms are already there from the beginning of creation. There is evolution, however, but Darwin thinks that this is an evolution of the body. That is incorrect. The body never evolves, but the soul within the body evolves and transmigrates from one body to another. The soul is within the body, and as he desires, he evolves. A man may desire to change apartments, and he may move from one apartment to another, but it is the man who is doing the changing, not the
apartment. According to the Vedic conception, the soul evolves, not the body.
Syamasundara dasa: Darwin originated the doctrine of natural selection
and survival of the fittest. An animal, he maintains, will develop in a
way that is best suited for survival in his environment, and he will pass on his superior qualities to his offspring. Some species survive, and
others, not so suitable to the environment, die out.
Srila Prabhupada: A snake gives birth to many hundreds of snakes at
a time, and if so many snakes are allowed to exist, there will be a disturbance. Therefore, according to nature's law, the big snakes eat up the
small snakes. Nature's law is not blind, because behind it there is a
brain, and that brain is God.
"This material nature is working under My direction, 0 son of Kunti,
and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this
manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." (Bg. 9.10)
Whatever is taking place in material nature is being directed by the
Supreme Lord, who maintains everything in order. When one species
becomes overly dominant, nature arranges to curb it. According to the
theory of Malthus, whenever there is overpopulation, there must be some
war, epidemic, or earthquake. These natural activities do not take place
by chance but are planned. If Darwin says it is a matter of chance, his
knowledge is insufficient.
Syamasundara dasa: Darwin also sees a plan or design in nature.
Srila Prabhupada: If you see a plan or design, you must ask, "Whose
design?" As soon as you admit that there is a design, you must admit a
designer. It is nonsense to say that nature is simply working mechanically. If so, there must be some mechanic to set it in motion. The sun
rises exactly to the minute, to the second, and the seasons also come
according to plan. Behind the great machine of nature there is a brain
that has set it in order. We explain the original source of everything as
Brahman, the Absolute Truth, Krsna. Scientists admit that they do not
know where things are coming from, but when they see them, they suddenly claim to have invented them. But that is not invention. These
things are already there.
Syamasundara dasa: From scientific research, it is concluded that
through the years, animals have evolved toward more and more complex
forms, from very simple forms found in the sea to more complex forms,
such as dinosaurs and so on. These forms eventually died out, and other
forms evolved from them.
Srila Prabhupada: When you say they died out, you mean that those
animals no longer exist on this earth. But how can you say that they are
not existing somewhere else? Now, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, the human body evolved from the simians.
Syamasundara dasa: He claims that they are related, that they come from the same ancestor.
Srila Prabhupada: That is another thing. Everything is related. But he
claims that the ape's body or monkey's body developed into a human
body. If that is the case, why haven't the simians ceased to exist? We
can see that apes, monkeys, and human beings are existing simultaneously. Scientists cannot prove that no human being existed aeons ago.
If man evolved from the ape, the ape should no longer exist. Karyakarana. When the effect is there, the cause is finished.
Syamasundara dasa: It is not that the monkey caused the man to exist;
rather, they came from a common ancestor.
Srila Prabhupada: We say that we all come from God, the same ancestor, the same father. The original father is Krsna.
murtayah sambhavanti yah,
tasarn brahma mahad yonir
aham blja-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)
Syamasundara dasa: At any rate, according to Darwin's theory, there
is an evolution from simpler forms to more complex forms, from small
one-celled animals to more complex animals like man.
Srila Prabhupada: But at the present moment, the simple forms are
existing along with the complex. It is not that the simplest developed
into the most complex. My present body has developed from my childhood body, but that childhood body is no longer existing. Presently, the
species are simultaneously existing.
Syamasundara dasa: But they find no evidence that all these complex
forms existed in earlier times.
Srila Prabhupada: Earlier times or modern times are not in question.
When I see all the 8,400,000 species still existing, where is the question
of development? You may not know or have evidence that these forms
existed long ago, but that is due to your imperfect knowledge. These
species are all existing now, and they were existing millions of years ago.
You may not have evidence of this, but that is a different thing. We
accept evolution, but we also accept the fact that the species are all
existing simultaneously now. If they are not existing on this planet, they
are existing on some other. Of course, Darwin had no chance to study
that. We accept the proposition that there is an evolutionary process from
aquatics to insects to birds to animals and to humans, but we do not
accept Darwin's theory that one species becomes extinct as another survives. All are existing simultaneously.
Syamasundara dasa: But there are many forms that are extinct on this
Srila Prabhupada: But has Darwin seen all the planets and all the universes? Has he the power to see everything? Since our powers are limited,
we cannot conclude that a particular species is extinct. Of course, the
scientists do not accept the fact that our senses, by which we are gathering information, are limited. But they are. It is not possible to excavate
the entire earth. We can only take samples. Our first charge against
Darwin is that human life was always existing. He cannot prove that at
a certain time there was no human life. It is not that the bodies of the
species are changing. These bodies are already there. Rather, the soul
is changing bodies, transmigrating from one body to another, and this is
actual evolution. It is the evolution or progress of the soul from one body
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