Do “Laws” of Physics Only Apply Locally?

The team — from the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge — has submitted a report of the discovery for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters. A preliminary version of the paper is currently under peer review.

The report describes how one of the supposed fundamental constants of Nature appears not to be constant after all. Instead, this ‘magic number’ known as the fine-structure constant — ‘alpha’ for short — appears to vary throughout the universe.

“After measuring alpha in around 300 distant galaxies, a consistency emerged: this magic number, which tells us the strength of electromagnetism, is not the same everywhere as it is here on Earth, and seems to vary continuously along a preferred axis through the universe,” Professor John Webb from the University of New South Wales said.

“The implications for our current understanding of science are profound. If the laws of physics turn out to be merely ‘local by-laws’, it might be that whilst our observable part of the universe favours the existence of life and human beings, other far more distant regions may exist where different laws preclude the formation of life, at least as we know it.”

“If our results are correct, clearly we shall need new physical theories to satisfactorily describe them.”

The researchers’ conclusions are based on new measurements taken with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, along with their previous measurements from the world’s largest optical telescopes at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Mr Julian King from the University of New South Wales explained how, after combining the two sets of measurements, the new result ‘struck’ them. “The Keck telescopes and the VLT are in different hemispheres — they look in different directions through the universe. Looking to the north with Keck we see, on average, a smaller alpha in distant galaxies, but when looking south with the VLT we see a larger alpha.”

“It varies by only a tiny amount — about one part in 100,000 — over most of the observable universe, but it’s possible that much larger variations could occur beyond our observable horizon,” Mr King said.

The discovery will force scientists to rethink their understanding of Nature’s laws. “The fine structure constant, and other fundamental constants, are absolutely central to our current theory of physics. If they really do vary, we’ll need a better, deeper theory,” Dr Michael Murphy from Swinburne University said.

“While a ‘varying constant’ would shake our understanding of the world around us extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What we’re finding is extraordinary, no doubt about that.”

“It’s one of the biggest questions of modern science — are the laws of physics the same everywhere in the universe and throughout its entire history? We’re determined to answer this burning question one way or the other.”

Other researchers involved in the research are Professor Victor Flambaum and PhD student Matthew Bainbridge from the University of New South Wales, and Professor Bob Carswell at the University of Cambridge (UK).

This article originally appeared on

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45 Responses to Do “Laws” of Physics Only Apply Locally?

  1. A message from the celestial authorities:

    Matter in all the universes, excepting in the central universe, is identical. Matter in its physical properties depends on the revolutionary rates of its component parts, the number and size of the revolving parts, their distance from the nuclear body or the space content of matter, as well as on the presence of certain forces as yet undiscovered on planet Earth

    Science can speculate, but the siddha has spoken.

    • I just perused the source material for your quote here. Urantia movement? I’m mentally exhausted just trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. It has answered a lot of my questions about you though! You sound like a card-carrying member, and I think that’s why I often find you very hard to understand.
      Why not stick to Gaudiya Vaisnavism? Much more simple, universal and potentially completely satisfying. At least on this site you could do us that favor. We know that you have some stock in GV teaching, so leave Urantia in its place and give us your best.
      That stuff is too confusing and may require some assistance, some extra-curricular activity, some vapors(!) to truly understand. Not here please.

  2. Who gave you this information? I mean which celestial authority?

    Some physicists were expecting this to happen because they think that mathematical models are always approximations and better the model it can approximate a larger data set. That principle worked very well in Gravitation and Electromagentism where small number of constants were able to explain a wealth of data at least around our solar system. Now, as the empirical means of testing are extending, it is harder for the same models to fit the data. Physicists wished that it was and many people who liked the fine tuning argument (which says fundamental constants are just too delicately balanced and that shows design) may not like this if all constants are provisional and local. Obviously you can interpret the data anyway, but the non-believer can make an argument for no structure in the universe, just randomness.
    It is puzzling, when you understand nature too much, then one can say one does not need God as humans have figured everything out, and one can’t understand nature in simple ways, they say it is too complicated (perhaps because the Christian God was too simple managing heavens and hell (dawkins argument))

    • I think the “siddha” is Jesus… But then again there is someone named Michael too. And I don’t know, KB may be channeling his own particular siddha. Quote is from the “Urantia book”. Highly recommended if you need some zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • The Urantia Book is hardly new revelation. According to Wikapedia, it originated in Chicago, Illinois, USA, sometime between 1924 and 1955 and who its authors are is debatable.

        • Good work Sherlock!
          Yes, it is the Urantia Book.
          The Urantia Book is 100% bona-fide revelation and I have not one iota of doubt about it.
          This is the real thing.
          I have deciphered a good portion of the book.
          The main keys are this:

          Universal Father = Maha-Vishnu
          Thought Adjuster = Supersoul
          Eternal Son = Hiranyagarbhba Brahma
          Original Son = Hiranyagarbha Brahma
          Infinite Spirit is = Shambhu
          Conjoint Actor = Lord Shambhu
          Creator Son = Lord Brahma
          Paradise Son = Lord Brahma

          You find the holy trinities in Urantia Book as well.

          I am not a dabbler. I have studied the Urantia Book deeply for several months and I can assure everyone that the book is exactly a revelation by a commission of celestial authorities.

          Now you all have the chance to broaden your understanding beyond the petty politics of the Hare Krishna movement.

          I love Urantia Book.
          It is every bit a pure and authorized as Srimad Bhagavatam.

          I know there will be naysayers, but all I can say in advance is that I am very sorry for you one and all.

          It’s not for everybody. A certain type of Hare Krishna extremist will not approve of the book, but then again I could are less what they think because I know it in my heart of hearts.

          I am willing to help with any questions on parts other might have a problem with.

          You are welcome in the Brotherhood of Jesus.

        • You’ve studied for “several months” and you think you’ve got it all figured out?

          The result of reading this book is an inflated ego, apparently.

          Studying the Bhagavatam has a much different result. I’ll stick to hearing from Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

        • You’re right, it’s not for everybody. Feel sorry for me if you must, but if being in the Brotherhood of Jesus means I have to listen to misguided ideas like “Urantia Book is as pure as the Bhagavatam” then I’ll pass. Somehow I don’t think I’m missing out.

    • Obviously you can interpret the data any way . . .

      Now that is Gita siddhanta! “In whatever way one devotes oneself, I make his faith steady.

      But you are quite right. Good, sober points.

  3. Even if Urantia and all other celestial information is true (relatively), that does not change the fact that even the Demi-gods with their super-advanced material technologies are seeking Krsna, like Krsna said.

    Maybe the fact that intelligent entities always seek “higher information”, means that their perception of their intelligence is inversely proportionate to their humble acceptance of Krsna as Supreme Godhead due to the element of Ego. After All, Krsna can also show himself as a Computeristic Lightning Orb to those who seek to see that aspect of him. But, what “personal” qualities does an Orb of Knowledge display? Thats why I think all new information and scientific advancement can be categorized as “Variegated Mental Narrative Potentiality”.

    I am excited about the idea that the Laws of Physics may be different around the Universe, because that means that even the supposed stringent “laws” in the Universe are subject to change and that also implies that the job of Lord Brahma is not generic, but infinitely variegated. If anyone can post information on “Transcendental Variegatedness”, please do so !

  4. Here is a nice statement in UB about Hinduism.

    94:4.8 While Hinduism has long failed to vivify the Indian people, at the same time it has usually been a tolerant religion. Its great strength lies in the fact that it has proved to be the most adaptive, amorphic religion to appear on Urantia. It is capable of almost unlimited change and possesses an unusual range of flexible adjustment from the high and semimonotheistic speculations of the intellectual Brahman to the arrant fetishism and primitive cult practices of the debased and depressed classes of ignorant believers.

    94:4.9 Hinduism has survived because it is essentially an integral part of the basic social fabric of India. It has no great hierarchy which can be disturbed or destroyed; it is interwoven into the life pattern of the people. It has an adaptability to changing conditions that excels all other cults, and it displays a tolerant attitude of adoption toward many other religions, Gautama Buddha and even Christ himself being claimed as incarnations of Vishnu.

    The Holy Name of Lord Vishnu appears 3 times in UB.

    • Hinduisim adapts Unrantia; The Uraantia Puraana.

    • Next stop: The 12th Planet, by Zechariah Sitchin. It’s a revealed history of planet Earth. Then perhaps Battlefield Earth. Your endorsement of UB as equal to Srimad-Bhagavatam says all there is to say. What could I possibly add?

    • This a challenge and it makes the case of religion weaker in wake of Dawkin’s arguments that all revelations are basically hallucinations. So Urantia, Falun Gong,Sukyo Mahikari ( actually may have sincere followers. I have seen some of them in the latter two, and there is some overlap between all revelations, but there is not a clear cut method to assess which one is true. Apart from them we have tons of others Aum Shinrikyo, Gedatsu-kai, Kiriyama Mikkyo, Kofuku no Kagaku, Konkokyo, Oomoto, Pana-wave laboratory, PL Kyodan, Seicho no Ie, Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan, Sekai kyūsei kyō, Shinreikyo, Sukyo Mahikari, Tenrikyo, and Zenrinkyo. We can say SB is one of the most developed, but to prove the truth of one revelation over another to a person like Dawkins (or perhaps to anyone) is almost impossible because in one sense revelation means axiomatic truth if it was indeed a universal revelation. To distinguish between hallucination and revelation is also not an easy task. For instance a famous one:

      Emanuel Swedenborg (help·info) (born Emanuel Swedberg; January 29, 1688[1] – March 29, 1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, Christian mystic[2][3] and theologian. Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. In 1741 at the age of fifty-three he entered into a spiritual phase [2] in which he eventually began to experience dreams and visions beginning on Easter weekend April 6, 1744.[4] This culminated in a spiritual awakening, where he claimed he was appointed by the Lord to write a heavenly doctrine to reform Christianity. He claimed that the Lord had opened his eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell, and talk with angels, demons and other spirits.

      To top it, all people (including KB) here are absolutely sure of their particular revelation.

      And now this claim, every person thinks they are origin of everything.
      Sukyo Mahikari claims that the documents owned by the Koso Kotai shrine proves that Jesus Christ came to Japan at the age of eighteen in order to study and perform austerities, and that Jesus returned to Japan, where he died at the age of one hundred and eighteen.[15]
      “Sukyo Mahikari teaches that the Japanese emperor sent emissaries throughout the world to lead civilizations in regions such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, so that every place on earth was influenced by the ancient Japanese (McVeigh 74).
      It teaches that Japan is at the center of original civilization and that the Japanese were the first of God’s creatures. Further, it teaches that all languages, cultures, religions, and civilizations originate in Japan.[16]”

      Africans say the same about their continent! Africa is origin of everything. The current time can make one realize how hard it is to actually get to anything true.

      • Gaura-Vijaya, I agree with you to a certain extent but I think it is important to distinguish between relative and absolute truths.

        Relative truth will resonate with a individual’s psychology and allow them to pursue a path with sattva.

        Absolute truth is that path by which a practitioner’s heart becomes purified and selfless, loving service develops. This is so rare!

        Of course everyone thinks their path is best. There is nothing wrong with that but following the path should lead to progressive softening of the heart. Objectively, you will not find a softer heart than that of Mahaprabhu and his followers.

        I would argue that the subjective experience one has in the presence of another whose heart is pure is much more “real” that the logical truths of philosophical debate.

        • Objectively, you will not find a softer heart than that of Mahaprabhu and his followers.

          Objectively, you “should not” (not will not) find a softer heart than that of Mahaprabhu and his followers. Many practitioners of GV do not seem to possess that and anyway it is hard to say the hear will be soft etc as Vaisnavas can be heavy like a thunderbolt also and still be soft. And people who are actually not soft can use SP and BSST’s example to rationalize their anger.

      • I think that you have to look at revelation as that which that leads to mysticism and the experience of the nature of consciousness that dissolves the conventional sense of self—ego effacing truth. This sets a bottom line for revealed truth. In all such traditions we have too much in common to ignore. Then within such ego effacing traditions that actually speak about the nature of consciousness we can discuss which tradition most deeply explores the nature of consciousness. The Bhagavatam is about the consciousness of consciousness, Radha’s consciousness of Krsna. This is where Gaudiya Vaisnavism excels.

        • I agree. That is why I said GV explores the depth of consciousness, which is not matched by other traditions. However, I just said it does not show that GV is more true than others. I mean there is no mean to demonstrate that one revelation is true and other is false because in one sense Paramatama/Bhagavan is guiding/misguiding souls at all times so personal revelations keep on happening. How universally those revelations can be applied is another thing.

  5. Equal to the Bhagavatam????

    On what authority – more of those ‘siddhas’?

    >The Holy Name of Lord Vishnu appears 3 times in UB.

    And it appears thousands of times in almost every Mayavadi book on the market. What’s the benefit and what’s the conception?

    >According to Wikapedia, it originated in Chicago, Illinois, USA, >sometime between 1924 and 1955

    This sounds like a cross between Mormonism and Scientology.

    Correct me if I’m wrong KB, but I can’t recall Prabhupada or Srila Sridhara Maharaja speaking about the Urantia Book – but of course, this is probably just my Hare Krsna narrow-mindedness.

    Actually I consider myself pretty open-minded, but in this case I am reminded of a Yiddish proverb – “If you’re too open-minded, your brain will fall out!”

  6. It is amazing that we are preoccupied with the natural laws and goings-on in distant galaxies while our own life here on Earth is a huge mess, on just about every level. Despite a tremendous development of science, we are faced with essentially the same problems as 5000 years ago. The same can be said about the religion.

    The science and religion must focus on the immediate and tangible ways to improve our life and thus prove it’s value. If the religion does not help us become a better person, if it does not satisfy our deep longing for spirituality, if it does not bring us closer to God here and now, then it is actually a waste of time. And if science is used to the detriment of society or individuals, if it exploits rather than improves the things it touches, then it is a waste of time as well.

    It is really up to us HOW we use science and religion. They are merely tools available to us.

  7. Are we seriously considering Urantia? really? How about Course in Miracles? Bringers of the Dawn is my favorite New Age book from when I was 15, dressed in black lipstick, and waved a wand around casting circles and using a black scrying mirror.

    Now my obsession is with the Sith and the Jedi… I even joined the Sith religion on Facebook. And I am obsessed with the forging of the One Ring, by Sauron. But I know it is PRETEND! PLAY! FANTASY! KB, seriously?

    This thread makes me feel nuts.

    • This is the joke page–right?

    • I agree totally Gopakumar! This thread almost makes me feel nuts too.

      When The Harmonist appeared on line, my initial response was, “Finally! A venue for sane Gaudiya Vaisnava discussions!”

      Now, if I was a first-timer and I came across KBs postings on this thread, I would probably think I had clicked on a website dedicated to ‘World of Warcraft’ or ‘Call of Cthulhu” by mistake!

      Forgive me for my unsolicited opinion here, but I think that if the moderators allow KB to drag the threads into the realm of fantasy, then the next thing we’ll be reading about is Atlanteans, Mu, Flat-earth theories, UFOs, crystal worship etc.

      Who knows, it might even be revealed that H.P Lovecraft and L.Ron Hubbard were actually siddhas!

      KB – for the sake of sanity, please stick to guru, sadhu and sastra – the three pramanas that genuine Gaudiya Vaisnavas accept and desist from proselytizing about the ‘wisdom’ of Urantian siddhas, spaghetti monsters, necromancers, elf-queens etc.

      That’s my two cents anyhow…

    • This thread makes me feel nuts.

      I don’t think you’re nuts Gopa… But you may have outed yourself as a bit of a nerd! 🙂

  8. If I knew I was going to leave my body in, say, one week, what would I study or do? Would any one truly spend that time reading the Urantia book?

    I dare say that most of us, if not all, would make the a choice in conformity with our consciousness and with the right spiritual guidance. How much time do we have left in this body? Why wait?

  9. Recently, somebody at our ashram requested me to read this thread and asked me what I thought about a recent posting about the Urantia Book. I hope nobody minds me offering my opinion here.

    Personally I find K.B.’s statement objectionable when he says that we all “have a chance to broaden our understanding” in that he (and others of his ilk) seem to believe that bhakti-yoga is somehow deficient and needs to be fortified by something else outside its own tradition.

    Serious practitioners of other faiths consider their own theologies to be substantial and don’t try to amalgamate practices from other belief systems into their own religions. Christians don’t study Bhagavatam and Gita to better understand the teachings of Jesus. Buddhist monks don’t chant hari-nama as part of their daily sadhana to attain nirvana.

    So why is it so prevalent amongst some western Vaisnavas to mix in the ideologies and practices of other faiths?

    I guess one answer may be that they just can’t fully relinquish their attachments to their previous beliefs, whether it be Christianity (esoteric or exoteric ), Buddhism, New Age etc. and simply accept Vaisnavism as it is.

    It’s bad enough trying to mix Buddhism and Christianity into Gaudiya Vaisnava theology, but to try to mix in the Urantia Book and other such baseless theories is simply absurd.

    • I hope nobody minds me offering my opinion here.

      Please do so regularly! Thanks Maharaj!

    • Swami B.V. Giri:”So why is it so prevalent amongst some western Vaisnavas to mix in the ideologies and practices of other faiths?”
      In this particular case I think it is related to the interface between science and religion – a very difficult area for any faith, an area where most religions could use some outside help.
      Most of us Western devotees were influenced by the views of Srila Prabhupada, which are rather anti-scientific and at times clearly contradict very well established scientific facts. Such views are hard to swallow for a lot of people. Thus it is rather popular among devotees to approach outside sources which try to bridge the divide between faith and science.

      • Thus it is rather popular among devotees to approach outside sources which try to bridge the divide between faith and science.


        I think your statement has some merit, but it doesn’t seem to hold up so well when we see devotees getting into obviously unscientific things like Urantia, Course In Miracles, etc. To me an interest in those types of paths seems to indicate a lack of sadhu-sanga and focused sadhana by which the devotees can be satisfied with GV and not have to look outside it for answers.

        • I was going to agree that in my experience KB has not been too scientific in his approach to philosophy, but rather dogmatic. I think one characteristic of a scientific mind is some critical thinking and objectivity.
          Sure, Urantia might talk about scientific topics like cosmology, but what about it’s science of the self?
          Endorsement of Bhagavatam or Urantia should come from a well-reasoned advocate but I’m not finding that at least from KB. I’m finding defense of the cosmology of the Bhagavat for fundamentalist reasons and advocacy of Urantia as the new testament of 5th canto. If devotees want more understanding of topics of science, I think they should be encouraged to study under the wisest of sages in that field. Prabhupada may have bashed science, but I think that was more a symptom of our teachings investment in spirit rather than matter. We are all about the other 3/4ths of the creation.

        • I was making a general comment to a general question Swami B.V. Giri asks:”So why is it so prevalent amongst some western Vaisnavas to mix in the ideologies and practices of other faiths?”

          The fact that some Gaudiya Vaishnavas take seriously books like Urantia merely shows a weakness in the Gaudiya doctrine when it comes to the subject matter of bridging science and religion or explaining Puranic view of the Universe. KB is certainly not alone in placing faith in such texts. I have seen worse.

          This is a serious matter. GV doctrine will not be taken seriously by modern society unless it learns how to deal with the scientific world view.

        • Yes, during his time that is what BVT was doing. Prabhupada had something else in mind during his campaign: Breaking faith in science as a world view thought to be able to answer everything. That was important as well.

          The scientific worldview is flawed as a worldview—a theory of everything—but not the scientific method for arriving at relative truths. At the heart of the issue is the nature of consciousness.

        • Yes, the purely scientific world view is flawed, but I said: “GV doctrine will not be taken seriously by modern society unless it learns how to DEAL with the scientific world view”.
          In other words, a good religious doctrine must be able to reconcile the observable scientific truth with it’s teachings. Merely berating science and the world view it presents is not very convincing. Anybody can claim their scripture and doctrine are perfect, but it takes a lot more than that to convince most people that the proposed view is worth a closer look.

        • Yes, I mentioned two ways in which previous acaryas DEALT with it. Here I am equating the scientific world view with natruralism in the case of Prabhupada’s berating it, which admittedly strayed at times from the bottom line to berating the scientific method itself and relative truths derived from it. His students embrace and extension of this practice to the point of absurdity is your compliant. Mine as well. In the case of BVT, he tried to reconcile spiritual truths with scientific truths. Interestingly, that is what made his outreach popular!

      • Most of us Western devotees were influenced by the views of Srila Prabhupada, which are rather anti-scientific and at times clearly contradict very well established scientific facts. Such views are hard to swallow for a lot of people.

        Why are the views of Srila Prabhupada anti-scientific? Could you please elaborate.

        I would agree with Swami Tripurai when he says – “Prabhupada was breaking faith in science as being able to answer everything.” Once Srila Prabhupada said something like – You can place your faith in the scientists – I will place mine with the Vedas.

        It may be true that some “interpretations” of the knowledge in the Vedic literatures are anti-scientific, but this is just a fundamentalist type of interpretation and limited to outspoken people. Unfortunately, such ignorant comments usually get the most attention – Take the comments here about this very interesting article – they are saying the “laws” of physics may be limited to our little earth playpen in space – but most of the comments are about some Urantia book.

        • Room Conversation Hyderabad, April 14, 1975
          Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, the other day we were talking about proving different assumptions through archeological findings.
          Prabhupada: That is also bogus. Archeological findings is bogus.
          Brahmananda: But it seems that big skeletons of all these big dinosaurs…
          Prabhupada: That we have already information. We have got timingala. Just like big house. They can swallow up, what is called?
          Devotee: Whale. Whale.
          Prabhupada: Whale (indistinct).
          Tamala Krsna: No but these dinosaurs move on the land. They’re not fish. And they’re very big and we have information…
          Prabhupada: So what is to you? You are also a created being. He’s also created being. That’s the (indistinct). You are not creator of the (indistinct)
          Tamala Krsna: But you say that there was more intelligent life previously, whereas we see these dinosaurs were previously.
          Prabhupada: But you do not see, you simply imagine.
          Tamala Krsna: No. We have the skeletons.
          Devotee: We have the bones, the bones of animals.
          Prabhupada: But that’s all right. There was a big animal, that’s all. Just like you are a foolish animal, so there was a big animal. What is the difference? They are animals.
          Tamala Krsna: But we have skeletons showing the men at that time also and their brains were very tiny.
          Prabhupada: That you say. But I don’t believe it. I have not seen.

          To me, this is an example of anti-scientific views SP held and promoted.

        • I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with you that Prabhupada was hard on science and specifically the scientific ideas of the time like going to the moon, evolution, etc. The times he was preaching were also very rich with the view that science was going to solve the problems of the world; I would say much less than those same scientific ideas are today very integrated with the whole culture.

          Even so, I think you can see in this conversation that Prabhupada is having fun, and he is also bringing in a spiritual point of view as his basis. “So what, there used to be a big animal, and now you are a foolish animal (read scientist)…” and I can almost hear him developing the point to say human life is meant to come off the animal platform, etc. etc. For Prabhupada, science was materialism and so he packaged it very neatly in the category of uselessness and didn’t deal with it subtly. I personally don’t see that as a fault, though I don’t think its the greatest approach for these times when the lines between spiritual, intellectual, philosophical, and scientific study are much more blurred and these views blend, merge and pervade and overlap within the culture.
          I think as a general rule we need to stop living in the past; pushing Prabhupada’s greatness and wishing it was like ‘ol times, or struggling with how Prabhupada’s points of view don’t jive with our sensibilities now. There is some honor in letting Prabhupada (or anyone) live in their time – when they were glorious, accomplished and amazing.
          If some people hang on to a figure like Prabhupada and try to continue dated preaching and personality blueprints on into the future that is unfortunate, but let it not be our problem.

        • Kulapavana wrote:
          Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, the other day we were talking about proving different assumptions through archeological findings.
          Prabhupada: That is also bogus. Archeological findings is bogus.

          Is this anti-scientific, or common sense? Srila Prabhupada isn’t the only person to suggest that archeology is nonsense.

          In the late ’50s, novelist Robert Nathan wrote a satire called The Weans. It was first published in a couple of installments in Harper’s Magazine, then as a novel in 1960. My father had a copy, and I read it when I was 13 or 14. The premise is that it’s a report from archeologists from Africa about 5000 in the future. They’ve been exploring a great continent in the west that apparently had some sort of civilization in the distant past (our present). Nathan uses the future archeologists’ misreadings of fragments of our culture to comment on how silly the ideas of archeologists in the ’50s might have been. It’s often hilarious, and I still recommend it. (I read it again about 20 years ago because I found four copies in the library of the university where I was teaching at the time.)

          As I’ve pointed out here and there over the last 20 years or so(and I think Swami has made the same case several times), Srila Prabhupada’s critique was aimed not as science per se, but at scientism, the idea that empirical positivism leads to the only knowledge worth having. Such an approach necessarily leads to imperfect knowledge of a very narrow field (gross matter). That may be controversial, but many thinkers of repute have pointed out the same thing.

          Srila Prabhupada, aware of our culture’s slavish devotion to scientism, challenged it head on, unwilling to take prisoners or give any quarter. The issue was simply where we should repose our faith: in matter, or in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At the same time, he encouraged our use of the advancing technology of our time in Krishna’s service, since whatever exists is Krishna’s energy. So here we are today.

        • Babhru: “Is this anti-scientific, or common sense? Srila Prabhupada isn’t the only person to suggest that archeology is nonsense.”
          No, archeology is not nonsense. It is a very useful science, imperfect as it may be. Some devotees still believe people 5000 years ago were 12 feet tall based supposedly on shastric or parampara sources. THAT is nonsense, and we have plenty of archeological evidence to prove it. A devotee should accept KNOWLEDGE wherever it may be found. That is common sense.

        • I agree with Kula-Pavana on archeology and dating based on that. It is certainly not perfect by any means, but religious people even from biblical history talk about 6000 year old earth and dismiss archeology saying that is nonsense and their revelation is word of God and is perfect. I think SP did train bhakti svarupa damodar goswami and others for BI and they dealt with the matter in a different manner. But for other SP thought, it is better to break their faith in science and let them concentrate on krsna. Certainly it does seem too extreme sometimes because he insisted on empirical facts of the Vedas like many christian preachers. The problem is that we cannot abandon that now because many SP’s disciples feel that all this is an essential part of his teaching. (Archaeology is nonsense and always incorrect and vedic scripture is correct on every fact out there. It seems little different from christian evangelical preaching)

        • The essential point is reliance on the mind and senses, which, according to our perspective, are imperfect instruments. I’m not here to champion Drutakarma’s case or anything like that, nor to assert that nothing archeologists claim is true; however, anyone who is at all objective can find enough discrepancies in archeologists’ reading of past cultures, enough drastic shifts in what they “know,” that they should have some doubts. Again, the question is scientism, rather than science: a staunch belief that whatever is worth knowing can be perceived through the senses and understood by the mind, and that everything else is mere superstition. That’s all I’m addressing.

        • Babhru: “the question is scientism, rather than science: a staunch belief that whatever is worth knowing can be perceived through the senses and understood by the mind, and that everything else is mere superstition.”
          Scientism is a response to 2000+ years of religious wars and inter-religious quarrels as to the nature of Truth.

        • I agree with you on scientism. Some of SP’s disciples and grand disciples have taken it too far to oppose science in itself, not scientism, even when it is not necessary. That was my only concern.

        • This room conversation doesn’t seem anti science to me. Prabhupada just says – so what if they’ve found a dinosaur and points out that the Vedas mention such things – timilinga. He says he doesn’t believe what the scientists say – thats not being anti-science, its being anti – faith in science as the authority on truth.

          In our society science is the authority on truth – if the scientists all agree that ‘based on the available evidence we have at this time’ some thing is true eg – the big bang, the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe, etc etc it is accepted as true.

          I think Srila Prabhupada is trying to establish that the Vedas are his authority on truth. That is not necessarily anti-science. Srila Prabhupada once said something like – material science is not unimportant, but it is important only so far – why spend your time studying the dinosaur when you could study the wonderful creator of the dinosaur.

          It’s true that some of his comments have been interpreted as anti-science, but its just his awesome lion-like preaching in action. He spares no-one and makes no compromise! He challenges both the scientists and also the acceptance of science as the ultimate authority.

  10. Maybe a question here could be :” How does one assimilate all these disparate fragments under the knowledge that they are all an expression of the Supreme Personality of Godhead?”

    The “concept” of Bhakti remains the same throughout all of this, so any variety of information cannot touch it. I think these different systems of knowledge/imagination are mainly necessary in the construction of a Vaikuntha destination. There is absolutely no need for a base spiritual information other than Krsna Bhakti. But, Krsna didn’t display all his pastimes in his “short” visit to Earth, so beyond familial/local spiritual experience, the only thing that is left is an exploration of the variety of human potential.

    This cultural setup is true next-level civilization and can only be possible when information/knowledge is free across a complete system ie. Earth and the Internet. When/If all the mundane religions collapse due to failure of direct empirical measurement and internal chaos, Krsna Bhakti will remain as the sole survivor because when there is “consciousness” there is Krsna, because Krsna is consciousness personified. There are a myriad ways of justifying and explaining this. If one has unwavering faith in Krsna, he will provide answers. For those of us on the battlefield – Bhagavad Gita to the Max!.

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