Please find below an interview in “The Nation” newspaper of Malawi, Central Africa. It was published on 5 January 2014. The questions were answered by Radhakanth Prabhu – Congregational Development Officer of ISKCON Blantyre, but the reporter mistook him to be Murari Prabhu – The Chairman of ISKCON Blantyre.
Can it really be just a coincidence that Pope Francis releases his first “encyclical” reiterating the Church’s timeless teaching about marriage the same week Justice Anthony Kennedy released what I called his “fatwa” against opponents of gay marriage?
I called Justice Kennedy’s opinion a fatwa for two reasons: first, he refused to engage any rational argument; he simply dismissed our whole marriage tradition out of hand, without discussion. Second, he declared half the American people simply “enemies of the human race,” as Justice Scalia put it, for our commitment to the idea that marriage is the union of husband and wife. He made a Constitutional religion out of gay marriage, whole cloth, without any textual support at all.
The river Ganges, flowing from the heartland of the Himalayas across the plains of northern India, provides numerous places of pilgrimage for India’s religious population. Indeed, one can become ‘purified’ by a mere dip in her waters. Of equal sanctity are the cows that roam freely, grazing by her banks. They are considered pure in all respects; even their dung and urine are valued for their prophylactic quality. Householders living on the gangetic planes since ancient times have worshipped the Ganges and the cows, but when the British became rulers they viewed such Hindu traditions with skepticism. Yet much to their surprise they found that only Ganges water remained potable during the six-week ocean passage from India to Britain. Equally astonishing were the powers of the cow wastes: the stool, spread in a thin layer across the floor of a home and allowed to dry, formed a powdery ‘carpet’ on which no fly or unwanted pest would land; while the cow’s urine was a cure for various dangerous diseases. Though they were not induced to acknowledge it, India’s new rulers found some of her ancient religious belief suprisingly scientific. It would have been no surprise to an enlighten thinker like Albert Einstein who once remarked, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” [Out of My Later Years, 1956, p.26]
Just how do scientific explanations compare to religious explanations? Are these conflicting approaches to the same subject matter, or complementary approaches to distinct subject matters? Can scientific explanations and religious beliefs be reconciled? Let us take the help of Michael Peterson, et al in Chapter Eleven of Reason and Religious Belief as we compare and contrast the views that science and religion are in conflict, are compartmentalized, or are complementary. Afterwards we shall examine the so-called split between the natural sciences and the social sciences (sometimes called the “human sciences”), and discern what bearing, if any, this debate has on religion. Finally, we shall investigate the science/religion dialectic from the Vedic world-view perspective.
Defining and distinguishing branches of intellectual activity such as science and religion falls in the realm of philosophy. Intellectual disciplines can be analyzed according to certain general features: their objects, aims, and methods. When there is a similarity in the evaluation of religion and science according to these three, the potential for conflict arises.
When I was new in “bhakti” path, I used to read Srila Prabhupada’s book–“Life Comes from Life”. I was from science field and specifically I was more in researching various things and trying to understand scientists in depth. So I was very much in synchronization with the way scientists think. I did change my whole direction, by reading the books of Srila Prabhupada, based on a convincing fact that ascending process is faulty and guarantees failure to know the truth and that he was proposing a process that guarantees realizing the truth.
I got quite convinced of the fact that “sastra’s are the way and Krsna is the SUPREME. But I was not very much convinced of some of the arguments that Srila Prabhupada keeps against modern scientists to prove the existence of soul–for instance “because it is given in ‘sastra’s that’s why it is proved” and then he would go on saying that from centuries this process of evidence is followed (quoting from the Vedas) in Vedic India. I used to think “may be because Srila Prabhupada is not a scientist neither does he have much experience in science so he is not properly able to explain to these scientists.
How can we present the Vedas as the proof? It can be said that as there are many other things in the Vedas that are true so it is logical to put faith in the Vedas to understand that soul exists. But how can one say that because it is mentioned in the Vedas “it is proof”? But I had a great regard for Srila Prabhupada and thus did not challenge his way of explanation and felt a little guilty. I then started to honor such statements of Srila Prabhupäda as “arsa vakyas”–the statements from great authorities that might not be clear to us now but are not to be disrespected.
David: Hi. Where do you come from?
Gopal Das: Hare Krishna. I come from Italy.
David: I am David Raja. What is you name?