Big Bang II
Thompson explores a question challenging Big Bang theorists since its initial inception: How do variegated qualities arise from homogeneity? Thompson proposes that even the most rigorous mechanistic analysis must assume the presence of “invisible forces.”
TRANSCRIPT: Big Bang II. Origins Seminar 3: San Diego - c. 1986 / (003)
Thus far I have been making some comments about the British article on cosmology, or the Big Bang. Essentially there are four main themes to this article. Firstly, scientists' theories are highly speculative. Secondly, there are definite defects in the theories that can be pointed out. And the third one is that the Big Bang model (this is true of all scientific models of origins) cannot explain how variegated complex reality emerges from something that is not variegated and complex. That is, how does something come out of nothing. And then the fourth main point here is that the picture of reality presented in Vedic scriptures is essentially what we call higher dimensional, to use a term borrowed from science. But the scientists themselves are proposing various things that are higher dimensional, so if Vedic literature proposes it, what is wrong with that? So those are the four basic points that are made in this article. And of course two of those are negative in character, namely, that the theories from scientists are speculative, and, that they have various defects. Those points are merely made to tear down what they are saying, but the other two points also can be used to build up the Vedic worldview that we would like to present.
I have thus far made some points concerning this idea that reality is actually higher dimensional so I think I should make a few more points about that, because this is quite important, so the last time I gave a historical summary in which the basic point was that originally people believed in a universe in which there was a room for a personal God. Outside of the shells of the universe there is what in Europe is called the Empyrean realm, which we would call Vaikuntha, and this is where God as a person can have his kingdom. So this made it very easy to believe in God; after all what are you going to put outside the shells of the universe anyway, – simply a void? You have to have something there.
So what happened with the development of modern cosmology and astronomy is that the idea of the universe with a covering and then a region outside in which God can exist, got replaced with the idea that reality is 3-dimensional Euclidean space that extends to infinity and is just full of matter; and the matter, for that matter, is very thinly distributed. It’s mostly just empty space. By the way, we have this cartoon here, this is a thing we contrived. Actually, this was originally from Martin Luther's Bible. It was a picture of Jehovah presiding over the Creation. So in this circle here, originally there is a picture of the Earth, with Adam and Eve, standing in the Garden of Eden. And significantly enough it shows the universe contained within a shell. So Martin Luther was thinking that way. Interesting point! So what we did was, we put the Big Bang here in place of the Garden of Eden. And then in the original picture, Jehovah was holding his hands up in some kind of Western rudras indicating his benedictions.
We put here a clipboard with an equation in one hand, and a calculator in the other hand indicating a modern conception of the creation, namely that everything is running according to some equations. Actually the point behind that, is that according to the modern scientific theory, the whole world is running according to the solutions of some mathematical equations. And if God exists at all, His only role is to sustain matter, so it can interact according to those equations. In fact, we were looking at this BBC broadcast in which a physicist from Cambridge followed semi-Vedic practice by becoming a Roman Catholic priest when he became old, so it’s almost like taking sannyasa. This was considered to be quite unusual. He was expounding his philosophy, which is that God is simply sustaining the universe, holding everything up as it were. Everything is happening within the universe in accordance with the laws of physics which are set up by God. However, if that’s true, it eliminates religion completely, because it means that we are simply arrangements of atomic particles, or whatever they may be, moving according to the laws of physics. And it maybe that God is holding the whole thing up so it can all happen, but still we are just moving according to the laws of physics. So if we pray to God, that’s just another thing that's happening according to the laws of physics. It has nothing to do with God. And there is no question of God responding to our prayer because if he did that, he would be interfering with those laws, and that's not what he is doing. He is just maintaining the laws. In one stroke this philosophy totally kicks out religion – you may have God but you don't have religion. And you don't have the idea that the individual human being has anything to do with God. A human being is just a collection of atoms. This is the philosophy of Deism.
The Vedic philosophy gives quite a different viewpoint. There are laws governing how matter operates and Krsna is enforcing those laws, but they are more like the laws of a state or a nation in which there are options for doing different things. They are not like the laws of physics in which everything just flows from cause to effect inexorably. Also, Krsna can either enforce His particular laws, which basically are known as the laws of karma, or if He wants He can not enforce them. In fact, that’s Krsna's role. Mukunda means Krsna can give liberation. That means He can suspend His laws for a given spirit soul and only He can do it. The demigods are not granted this power, because they are within the jurisdiction of the law of karma themselves. But Krsna can either enforce the laws or not enforce them as He wishes to. So it’s a different conception.
So I wanted to say something about this idea of space. We were saying the other day that the idea developed that the universe consists of 3-dimensional Euclidean space. Then Einstein came along and suggested that it consists of 4-dimensional non-Euclidean space. So he introduced the idea that space itself curves in such a way that it can curve around on itself. And this is a little bit hard to imagine. The Vedic conception, though, presents an even more amazing idea about space. To get an idea of that, you can consider the statement made in the Brahma-samhita, verse 35, where it says that Govinda is an undifferentiated entity and there is no distinction between Him and His potency. It goes on to say that all of the universes are contained within the form of Govinda, but at the same time, Govinda is present in His fullness within every atom within the universe. So one can consider the implications of that! What is being said there, is that within the personal form of Krsna, of course this is very much describing a personal form, you have all the universes. So there is Krsna and there is all these universes within Him.
So then you go into one of these universes and then within that universe you pick out an atom, any atom you like, and you go down within that atom. So you have to tremendously reduce your scale of size to get down to an atom; and then within that atom there is Krsna. And it explicitly says that in His fullness He is present there, it’s not that just part of Him is present, or some aspect of Krsna, or some manifestation or something like that, but in His fullness he is present there, which means He is all there. But that means that within Him there are all the universes again, and you can go down to within one of those universes, to anyone you like, and pick an atom and then within that atom there is Krsna. So essentially what this is saying is that every point is connected to every other point through Krsna. Think about that! Suppose you can pass through Krsna; now this is not even a speculative idea, because I will give you a sastric reference for it in a moment.
But suppose you can pass through Krsna, then you can travel to any universe instantaneously. How could you do that? Well, take an atom like this one right here, and just shrink down, assuming you can shrink yourself – this power is required – and pass through Krsna, and go to any one of those universes since they are all within Krsna. And there you are, you traveled to another universe, just like that. So actually, if you look into the Srimad-Bhagavatam, you will find many references which show that this kind of process actually works. For example, there are two occasions in which Mother Yasoda looks into Krsna's mouth and sees the entire universe. In fact, it’s described there that, for example when Krsna was accused of eating dirt by His cowherd boy friends, He said, "I have not eaten dirt! Just look in My mouth and see if there is any dirt there or not?" Mother Yasoda looked into Krsna's mouth and instead of seeing dirt, she saw all the universes. And in fact, she saw Mother Yasoda looking into Krsna's mouth!
Of course, you may say, “Well this is just a vision,” that Krsna projected a vision, so that Mother Yasoda experiences this. But then there is also the description of the experience of Markandeya Rsi for example. Seems Markandeya Rsi had asked Nara-narayana the benediction of being able to see the material energy – this is a somewhat dangerous benediction to ask for – so Krsna showed him.
So what happened was that Markandeya Rishi was given a direct experience of being able to live through the devastation at the end of the day of Brahma, without dying. So Markandeya Rshi was awash in the midst of the ocean of devastation and he was simply being hurtled back and forth by tremendous waves. There was no land anywhere, and this was a little bit disconcerting. At a certain point, he saw this island, which was very effulgent, which was situated in the midst of this vast ocean. And on a leaf of a banyan tree in that island, there was this little baby resting on a leaf, which was quite remarkable. And this child was extremely attractive; as a matter of fact it was Krsna – He was laying there. Markandeya Rsi was a great devotee of the Lord, so he went to see Krsna. At this point the baby inhaled, and Markandeya Rsi was drawn into his body, so he entered within the body of the Lord, and found himself within the universe, not in a phase of devastation but in the phase of creation in which everything was there, in a nice orderly fashion with the planets and so on and so forth. And then Krsna exhaled again, and he came out of Krsna's body and once again he was in the ocean of devastation. So this is the example. The point here is that one cannot cannot conceive of Krsna as being situated in 3-dimensional space or 4-dimensional for that matter, because the kind of situation we are describing here is impossible, if you are within, say, 3-dimensional space. If you have a form within 3-dimensional space, then what is within that form is definitely smaller than what is outside of it. You can’t say that what is outside also lies inside. But in the case of Krsna that is the fact.
Actually, you can look at ... he is sort of like an avadhuta, probably he is self realized and he’s just not letting on (laughter). He doesn’t want to have the association of those on a lower level of realization.
Mathematicians have studied the idea of space quite extensively, trying to figure out what it is, and they came up with the idea that the basic starting point for understanding what space is, is the idea of how things are connected together, so that they are either next to each other, or they are far apart. So they call this “neighborhood relations.” So you take a bunch of points. You can put them together with different neighborhood relations in different kinds of space. For example, if you put them together in a grid horizontally, you can get a 2-dimensional space. So each point you can imagine is connected to 4 neighboring points, it goes out in a plane. Or you can imagine taking the same points and connecting them together in a 3-dimensional grid, so that each point is now connected to 6 neighboring points. And there are various other ways you can connect them. The way they are connected together determines the space. What this verse in the Brahma-samhita is saying that from Krsna's viewpoint, every point is connected to every other point. So everything becomes a perfect unit. Now the dimensionality of space is measured by how things are connected together. For example, in the case where 1 point is connected to 4, you call it 2-dimensional. And when 1 point is connected to 6, you call it 3-dimensional, and you can go on up in that way. So if every point is connected to every other point, you can say it’s infinite-dimensional. So that’s the kind of space that’s existing according to the Vedic literature.
Why do we see 3-dimensional space only? Well if you have infinite dimensional space and if you place a limitation on certain entities within that space, then they can operate only within a limited number of dimensions. There are different limitations that can be imposed on the senses of a living entity. According to the Vedic literature, the senses include senses of perception and senses that perform work. With senses of perception, we become aware of things in different places, so this also brings up the idea of neighborhood relations, or how things connect together in space. Our senses tell us what’s happening next to us, but they don't tell us so much about what’s happening far away. That’s the nature of the senses.
There are also the senses that perform action, such as the arms and the legs and so on. So with these senses you can go to a different place, but you can only go to neighboring places, at least immediately. That is, to get to a distant place, you have to go through all the neighboring places that are in between. So the senses are related to what space is, you can say.
Different beings have senses with different capacities. Krsna has senses with unlimited capacity. He can perceive every point in space simultaneously. In fact, it’s not that these points are at a distance from Him. But He is at every point in space simultaneously. He is an undifferentiated entity. He can’t be divided up into parts, because he is actually everywhere at once. This is almost like the Big Bang idea, that you start out with a point, and everything expands from it. But actually for Krsna everything is in a unit completely accessible all at once. So this is essentially inconceivable from our standpoint, but that’s Krsna's situation. This means that Krsna is not situated in, say, a 3-dimensional space.
Mayavadis use this misconception to advocate their impersonal conceptions. For example, when I was in Vrindavan once, one Mayavadi there, seems there are a lot of Mayavadis there, everyone I met actually was one. This was at the time the science conference we held, in which various different Indian scientists got up to speak, and every single one without exception presented Mayavadi philosophy.
This person said to me that Krsna is not absolute. He is completely relative and His so-called form is full of duality – there is nothing absolute about it – so he cannot be God. So I will prove it to you. Here is a picture of Krsna. Alright, here is Krsna's arm right? Well below His arm here is air, empty space. And he went down lower and here is Krsna's leg. Down here is His foot. And below that, well, there is more space, or earth or whatever. So that’s duality. His body is made of different parts and they are situated within space in one place not in another place, it’s here and not over there, so its relative. So how can you say that it’s Absolute Truth? This was his argument. This is based on either deliberate or inadvertent ignorance of everything that’s stated in the Vedic literature, because it’s a actually a misconception to think that first of all you have 3-dimensional space, and then Krsna is a form within that space in a particular place. So the actual situation is that space is manifested from Krsna, and Krsna's space is infinite-dimensional, and all of it is subsumed within Krsna's form, all at once. And for different living entities this infinite-dimensional space is subdivided in different ways by the limitation of their senses.
For human beings like ourselves, we are limited to a 3-dimensional continuum, so that’s all we can see. However, the demigods according to Vedic literature, are not so limited. This is also true of various great rsis and yogis and so on. And you can see they can appear and disappear at will – at least from our point of view they are appearing and disappearing, while from their point of view they are traveling. Srila Prabhupada says actually it still happens, that a yogi in Haridwar, could enter the Ganges river and emerge in Allahabad to participate at Kumbha Mela. It’s not exactly that he swims under water holding his breath. Of course, they are very expert at holding their breath, but that’s not the method. Somehow he just enters there and emerges in other location. So for him, the way the things are connected together is different than it is for us.
Also there is the prapti siddhi in which, for example, in the Nectar of Devotion Srila Prabhupada makes the point that a yogi can reach out and touch the moon with his finger. You might ask how can that be? The moon is very far away, and by any standards it’s certainly far away, so how is it that the yogi can just reach and touch it with his finger? Or how is it that a yogi can reach out from here and pick some pomegranates in Afghanistan, that’s one example, and they will be here in his hand? This indicates for him things are connected differently, because how can he reach all the way to Afghanistan?
The basic idea then is that the demigods have a higher degree of connectivity that they can operate in, and, then personalities such as Narada Muni are even more powerful than the demigods in this regard. They can travel directly to Vaikuntha for example. I was just reading about when Dhruva Maharaja was liberated, a Vaikuntha airplane came to pick him up and this took him to Vaikuntha. So there is actually air transport, so to speak, between the earth and Vaikuntha. A flower airplane can come down and you can get onboard and go to Vaikuntha, if you have a spiritual body, that is. And Srila Prabhupada pointed out that unless you have a spiritual form, then it’s simply not possible to do this; even the great sages and demigods can’t do it. They can’t even think of how to do it. And that many of them don’t even know that it’s possible. So this was a basic point we wanted to make.
There is an illustration here, in this magazine, you may have seen, which is to illustrate this idea of higher-dimensional reality. Actually the outlines in this figure here, are what is known as a tesseract – that’s a 4-dimensional cube. You can actually make drawings of 4-dimensional cubes. Essentially if you make a drawing of a 3-dimensional cube, of course it’s just 2-dimensional anyway, from each point 3 lines will emanate. Similarly in a drawing of a 4 dimensional cube, from each point you have to have 4 lines emanating. So that’s what we have here. What we put here: New York City, on one face of this cube, and we put sort of a heavenly scene, perhaps maybe it’s in the heavenly planets or something, on the other face of the cube, to indicate how within the same space you can have different realms of existence.
As I was saying, this is the Vedic conception, but the scientists themselves have played around with similar ideas, so therefore one shouldn't regard these ideas as being completely impossible apriori. For example, I pointed out this idea that in quantum mechanics, the universe is continually splitting into copies of itself, and the copies no longer communicate with one another. So according to this idea we are having a certain experience, but this is only one universe. There is another universe that is branching off from this one, in which we have different experiences, for example, there is another universe which branched off from this one say 10 years ago, and in that universe we are not here today, but we are doing something else. Maybe we got run over by a car, or, something. And in another universe that branched off 50 years ago, in that one maybe some of us don't even exist, or maybe we are quite different, and so on.
So there is this theory, which some scientists seriously contemplate, according to which all these parallel universes exist, but we cant see them. Other scientists think that this is all complete nonsense, of course. But it is seriously considered. The point there is that if they can speculate about things like that, it’s not such a far out idea.
Well we of course do argue this as a basic point, which is also made in this magazine, that the scientist's method of understanding reality is, in fact, to try and manipulate it and take it apart. The paradigm for that is a child taking apart a clock to try and figure out how it works, then putting it back together again. If you can take something apart and put it back together again, the chances are that you get a pretty good understanding of how it works. So that’s the scientist's approach to things.
So there are certain things that are within their grasp that they can try to take apart. You can basically say that these are the things that are nearby and of medium size. But if things are very far away or very large then there is no way you can take them apart. And if they are very small, it’s also not possible to take them apart. So the scientists are sort of limited to a medium range. That’s why Srila Prabhupada said that their explanations take place in the middle, that they cannot explain ultimate origins of things. To explain ultimate origins you have to go down to the very small, unlimitedly small things, and also to the unlimitedly large things, and also there is the time dimension. You have to be able to go back in time.
As a matter of fact, the scientists try to extend the penetration of their senses using various techniques and various kinds of instruments. To see things that are very large they use telescopes and radio telescopes and so on. And to see very small things they use microscopes and particle accelerators that are intended to enable them to see very small things – that’s what they’re for. And to try to go backwards in time, they investigate rocks in the earth, and they try to interpret these as records of what went on in the past. And then they try to use the dating methods to find out how long ago these things happened. So in this way they try to gaze into the past. But these methods are imperfect. And they become more imperfect, the further you try to extend your grasp. And so indeed, there is a fundamental limitation to science, that’s a basic argument we would like to make. It may be that things work well when you are dealing with things that are immediately within your control. For example, take chemistry: In the laboratory you can mix together different chemicals and heat them and do different things with them, and see that certain reactions take place; and that's more or less within your grasp – you can manipulate these things. You can say with fair assurance, that we see that the chemicals tend to combine in such and such a way, and it happens every time we do it.
But when it comes to discussing the ultimate origin of things, one has to go to things that can't be manipulated. So you can say: well how could you understand God in that case? Well, of course, the basic point of our philosophy is that you can’t understand God with the power of your senses or the power of your mind. If you try to do it in that way, you will never understand God, and you will simply remain on a mundane platform. But if you surrender to Krsna, then Krsna by his mercy can tell you about Himself. That is, we don't have the power to go to God using our own power, but Krsna has the power to come to us if He wants. There is no limitation on what Krsna can do.
If we please Krsna, and He decides He wants to reveal Himself to us, then He can come to where we are and present Himself in a way that we can understand. Of course, that doesn't mean that we can ever understand Krsna in His fullness, because Krsna is unlimited and we are limited, so how can unlimited present itself completely to the limited? In that case, the limited entity would also have to become unlimited. So we can never understand Krsna in totality, but none the less, we can understand Krsna to some extent; and Krsna by His own power can reveal Himself to some extent to us. So of course, the basic principle in the Vedic literature is that if we surrender to Krsna, then He will be pleased with us, and then He will reveal himself. So the basic premise of bhakti-yoga is that Krsna actually wants to reveal Himself to us, that’s the natural state of affairs; and He will do it only if we are willing to cooperate with Him. And cooperating with God means surrendering, for very tiny entities; and that’s the only kind of cooperation you could have, between a tiny entity and God.
So therefore, our proposal is that if there is Krsna who is supremely powerful and all-knowing and so on, then there is a possibility that one can understand ultimate reality by surrendering to Krsna and having Krsna reveal Himself. This is an argument you can present to someone whose position is one of total skepticism. Let’s say he doesn't believe any of these things, he doesn't accept sastra or anything like that. You can say that as a matter of logic: if there is a Supreme Being who is endowed with all these powers and so on, then it’s possible that you can understand that Supreme Being by surrendering to Him, in which case He will reveal himself. That’s a logical possibility. And the only way to really know if that works, of course, is to try it – how else could you know? But if you say, “I won’t try it, but prove to me that it’s so,” then what possible sort of proof can there be? But you can try it, so that’s a logical possibility.
On the other hand, if there is no Supreme Being who is in control of everything and nothing exists but matter that extends onwards and onwards out to some vast distance, then how can we really hope to understand everything? The scientists can use their methods, but how can they ever be sure, because what science can do is limited to what one scientist can do in the following sense – the highest understanding attained by a scientist is always an individual understanding. You can't say there is a collective understanding of a thousand scientists. Each one has his individual understanding. And that is limited to what he can acquire in one short lifetime. So how much can you learn in one short lifetime? Let’s say that for many millions of years scientists accumulated knowledge, and it was all stored up in some highly advanced computer memory, so that just by pushing buttons, you could read out any part of it, as you desired. Still you can only have access to a limited part of that knowledge, because you only have a limited time in which to study all that material. So still that means that for one scientist there is an absolute limit to what he can know. Unless, of course he proposes to make himself immortal, which of course they would like to do. But we’ll have to wait and see on that one. We could wait to see if anyone is remaining youthful for the next 50 years, to see if he has a chance for immortality. Of course, even that wouldn't prove anything. You could be youthful for the next 50 years and then get run over by a truck.
So there is an absolute limit to what you can figure out using your mind and senses. So by that method you have no hope, let’s face it. If you can prove anything scientifically, you can prove that you have no hope of really understanding everything scientifically. But if Krsna is really there, then you do have hope. So you can consider that it’s either nothing, or maybe something. So why not consider the “maybe something!” What's the use of sticking stubbornly with nothing?
A: Well, Fred Flintstone had pretty advanced technology, look at all those trained dinosaurs that he had.
A: Well, the point can be made that there is an …
A: Yeah, but how far can it accumulate? It’s important to ask that. One has the idea that we can go on to infinity, but how far can you accumulate this knowledge? For example, I can give the following analogy. Suppose I say that I am going to jump over the moon, as a famous cow is said to have done. Well, I can practice to do it; I can engage in efforts to improve my ability. And the first day I try, I can jump 3 feet in the air. And this isn't much, but by working at it, a few days later I may be able to jump 4 feet in the air; and I can say I have made progress. And then, working at it some more, I can come to the point of jumping 6 feet in the air. So I can say I have made more progress. And I don't know what the limits are but... what’s the high jump record anyway, anyone know? Trivia thing on it … that’s long jumps, we want high jumps in this case.
A: Yeah, but let the metaphor be understood in terms of the actual meaning of it. The point is that you may endeavor in a certain way, but that does not mean you can go on unlimitedly. And I was pointing out a certain obvious limit. You see in the case of jumping to the moon there is an obvious limit. You can strengthen your legs to a certain point, but at that point legs cannot do anything more. I doubt you can jump more than 10 feet in the air ever, for example.
Similarly, well, you may say that with machines and so on, we can unlimitedly extend our ability, but as long as we remain human beings, we are limited by our mind and senses. So how much can you learn? You may say knowledge accumulates, but how much of it can you study? Well, you may say, "This isn't a practical problem, actually, we haven't had any difficulty extending our knowledge thus far." But that’s not really true. Actually today there is what is called the “knowledge explosion,” which bothers people quite a bit. Because, nobody can study all the things that other people are coming up with. So nobody really knows what science is doing today. The point is that everyone is becoming narrowly specialized in learning more and more about less and less. It’s not possible to learn all of the different things which people are studying. So one person can only have a few little bits and pieces of knowledge. No one has seen yet how to get around that limitation, unless you can build yourself a more powerful mind. Of course you can say that in future we can build ourselves more powerful minds, but there is no real indication that you can do that. Anyway, if you can build yourself a more powerful mechanical mind, then that mind will inherit the future, that you won’t!
There is one newspaper reporter who was interviewing a professor from MIT, who is working on artificial intelligence. He said, "Soon we will build computers that are a hundred times more intelligent than human beings, and the future will lie with these computers, and maybe they will keep us as pets." The reporter was saying, "What about your own children? How can you work on machines that will replace human beings?" And the scientists very nobly said that, “I feel myself obliged to aid the emergence of intelligence in whichever form it appears.” But there is still that limitation on what you can know.
A: Well, let’s take the empirical method. Now, I gave an argument saying that if there is God and all that, then you can hope to get knowledge by surrendering to God. Thats also essentially the argument made by Pascal. So let's say you don't accept that. Alright, so let’s say you use the empirical method. So in that case, let's investigate nature empirically. Thus far we have done things with gross matter and built various machines, so that’s nice. But there are various frontiers of research which suggest new ways of enlarging our empirical view of things. For example, there is the dimension of the mind, where there are various psychic phenomena and so forth – the whole subject of parapsychology. So that can be discussed. Now later on we have an article here on consciousness and we mention a couple of these things. One point about this magazine is that it’s so brief that we hardly touch on these various points. For example, there is empirical evidence for reincarnation. Now among hard line scientists this is considered to be absolute rubbish. Alright, there is evidence for it, so how can you say it's rubbish? You are not being a real empiricist if you say that! The real empiricist has to look at all the data. If it’s data that is coming in then you have to look at it. How can you say you are an empiricist if you don’t? If you don't look at all the data that is coming in, whatever it may be, then you are just being dogmatic.
It’s a fact that people as a rule tend to be dogmatic. Its natural. In a way it’s not even harmful, if you got the right dogmas. That’s the advantage of having a civilization in which you really do have the absolute truth coming down. Because in a civilization like that, if people become dogmatic about this knowledge, then that’s perfectly alright, because you are becoming dogmatic about something that really is true anyway. Actually, the tendency to be dogmatic is there due to the fact that it’s so hard to figure everything out using your senses. So therefore people have a natural tendency just to believe something, regardless of what they see. Actually the tendency of most human beings is that they believe a given thing. And if they see something that contradicts it, they think that there must be something wrong with what I am seeing – anyway I don't believe it – and they go on believing what they believed before. Most people are like that, most of the time. So that’s known as being dogmatic. So the scientists also tend to be that way. Of course they accuse the religionists to being dogmatic. And it’s true that religions have come up with some interesting dogmas. It’s been argued that the world was created in 4004 B.C.; and in the short life of maybe 70 years or so, if you don't surrender to Jesus then you will burn in hell for eternity; and other things which have got certain drawbacks. So therefore dogmatic religion has acquired a very bad name.
Other people have acquired the idea that if somebody does not accept the dogmas of current religion then we should put him on something known as a rack, in which we pull him out and stretch him out with ropes until all his joints burst open. And meanwhile, we should light a fire under his back, and stick short spikes under his fingernails. And then finally, if he accepts our dogmas, then we should take him out and burn him at the stake. So these kind of things gave religion a bad name. And the scientists are carrying out the noble tradition of opposing religious dogma, in order to save people from this kind of thing. So they will say dogma is very bad, but unfortunately, like other people, scientists tend to be dogmatic. So the tendency is that they will accept a certain viewpoint.
So the physicists for example, have a certain theoretical picture of what is possible in nature. And they view everything as made up of atoms, electromagnetic fields, subatomic particles and various things like this. So if you tell them, "Well, here we have evidence, that a person is remembering a previous existence," they will say, "As far as our picture of things is concerned, that is simply not possible. Physically there is no way that can happen. So therefore it doesn't happen. So therefore if somebody reports this, there is a mistake somewhere. Maybe somebody is making up a story," or something like that. But the fact is that there is evidence like this. So you can delve into it and see what the evidence is? Now naturally if you do that, then since you are using the empirical method, you are going to run into problems. But if you are going to use the empirical method, you have to expect that. It is imperfect. You can never really be sure. There are always other ways of looking at the evidence, but that’s the way it works with science. If you say we made all this great progress using that imperfect method, then why not use it here. Why say at this point, "Well its imperfect therefore we won’t accept the conclusions?" Because you were just arguing a few minutes ago that using these imperfect methods you had made such great progress, so why shouldn't we use these methods? So using the same imperfect empirical methods you can, for example, find there is evidence for reincarnation.
But if there is reincarnation, what does that mean? That means that some kind of organized entity with mental powers, with memory, with emotions and so forth, which is completely invisible, is leaving one body that dies and going somehow to another body which is being born. Or possibly going into that body before it is born, who knows exactly how it works? But somehow, that has to be happening. And that’s completely invisible, so that immediately means there is an invisible world and it’s inhabited with sentient beings. So immediately you accept one of the basic tenets of religion, because all religions basically have said this: that there is an invisible world, it’s inhabited with beings that have different powers, and so forth. So empiricism leads you to that conclusion.
And then in this magazine we also indicated these out-of-body experiences. For example, here is a picture of a fellow, sort of ghost like being, hovering over an operating table. So the point is that people with medical crises in which they go into a coma have in many cases awakened from the coma and reported that during the time they were supposedly out of commission physically they were experiencing what was going on around them from a different perspective. For example, this shows a person who has had a heart attack being resuscitated by the electro-shock method in which they put two paddles on the person's chest and put a electric shock through them, and this jolts the heart back into operation. So during that time the heart is not beating, which means that no blood is going to the brain, and if that happens the person passes out almost immediately. Maybe you know what happens sometimes when you get up very quickly – you feel a little faint. The explanation is, that the blood circulation to the brain isn't working quite right. So just for a moment if the blood circulation is cut off you begin to feel faint. So the heart completely stops, then you black out completely. At least his is the understanding that the doctors have, of what happens. If it stopped for more than a few minutes then there is an irreversible brain damage. So the idea is that this person's heart is stopped and his brain supposedly does not work according to medical science. This is empiricism of course.
You can say, "Well, we don't understand things properly, but still, let’s accept the progress we have made in medicine. You are not against progress right?" So accepting this progress, we accept this understanding. Well then, the person wakes up from the experience later on and says, "Well doctor, while I was out I saw what you were doing because I was floating above the operating table in my subtle form. And I heard everything you said: you said this and this and you cracked a certain joke about my protruding abdomen which I definitely dislike very strongly. And furthermore, you did this, this, and this," and it turns out that it’s right. So how did that happen? So there is empirical evidence for the existence of the subtle body. So, if the person is actually an empiricist, then he can consider these things. Now of course, the road of empirical investigation is a very long road. You can’t just instantaneously come to final conclusions, but that’s the way it is with empiricism. But you can consider this, and it can be argued that if you consider empirical evidence then the Vedic picture of things is not perhaps so bad. And that’s a very long story of course.