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Science provides one of the most important intellectual and cultural forces influencing modern society. Everyday we are constantly under the influence of various products of modern science from the time we wake up, and throughout the day and night. Nevertheless it is an acknowledged fact that due to its limited tools of physics and chemistry, modern science cannot properly grasp the secret of life that animates the scientist—the source of the development of science. Niels Bohr famously acknowledged in his “Light and Life” lecture “that life is consistent with, but undecidable or unknowable by, human reasoning from physics and chemistry”:
Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr (Nobel Prize in Physics) made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure & quantum theory
“The existence of life must be considered as an elementary fact that can not be explained, but must be taken as a starting point in biology, in a similar way as the quantum of action, which appears as an irrational element from the point of view of classical mechanical physics, taken together with the existence of elementary particles, forms the foundation of atomic physics. The asserted impossibility of a physical or chemical explanation of the function peculiar to life would in this sense be analogous to the insufficiency of the mechanical analysis for the understanding of the stability of atoms.”

"Guiding vision" is one of the major parameters that drive modern science and it is very much necessary to have a proper perspective to proceed towards the real goal of science. Science cannot progress towards uncovering the truth with a flawed guiding vision and mere emphasis on only temporal practical problems. The molecular paradigm (‘Material origin of life – Abiogenesis’ along with ‘Darwinian evolution’) was the dominate guiding vision of 20th century biology and most biologists carried out their research work based on this perspective, without considering its correctness. From his own experience Albert Szent-Györgyi (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937) explains how the efforts to understand life within the molecular paradigm of reductionism have come full circle:
Albert Szent-Györgyi
Albert Szent-Györgyi (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) discovered vitamin C and the components and reactions of the citric acid cycle.
“As scientists attempt to understand a living system, they move down from dimension to dimension, from one level of complexity to the next lower level. I followed this course in my own studies. I went from anatomy to the study of tissues, then to electron microscopy and chemistry, and finally to quantum mechanics. This downward journey through the scale of dimensions has its irony, for in my search for the secret of life, I ended up with atoms and electrons, which have no life at all. Somewhere along the line life has run out through my fingers. So, in my old age, I am now retracing my steps, trying to fight my way back.”

Ref: Gyorgy A. (1972). What is life? In: Biology Today. Del Mar, CA: CRM Books, p. 5.

In 1871 Charles Darwin proposed his “warm little pond” idea for life’s origin, to compliment his evolution theory and for a century and a half this served as the guiding vision for biologists. However, during the last few decades scientists accumulated major empirical evidence that thoroughly relegated Darwin's vision to nothing more than a fairy tale. An apparent confirmation of the same can be found from the first two paragraphs of the article ‘Goodbye to the Warm Little Pond?’, published in Science magazine:
“Ever since 1871, when Charles Darwin made his oft-quoted allusion to life’s beginnings in a “warm little pond,” scientists have tended to imagine the origin of life as being a rather tranquil affair-something like a quiet afternoon in a country kitchen, with a rich organic soup of complex carbon compounds simmering slowly in the sunlight until somehow they became living protoplasm.

“Sorry, Charles. Your Warm Little Pond was a beautiful image. It’s been enshrined in innumerable textbooks as the scientific theory of the origin of life. But to hear the planetary scientists talking these days, you were dead wrong. The Warm Little Pond never existed.”

Following Darwin, many biologists believed that living cells were simple globs of protoplasm. However, due to the advance of technology, biologists now realize that cells (the smallest living unit of life) are actually subdivided into organelles, and those organelles can execute all the jobs a cell needs to do, such as using food to make energy, removing wastes and so on. Moreover, in multicelluar organisms there are various types of cells (like muscle cells, brain cells, blood cells, and so on) that are capable of carrying out the specific assignments that are necessary to keep the cell alive. Cells contain many microbiological machines, which Michael Behe (Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania) calls "irreducibly complex" and states:
Michel Behe
Michael J. Behe (Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania)
“In Darwin's time all of biology was a black box: not only the cell, or the eye, or digestion, or immunity, but every biological structure and function because, ultimately, no one could explain how biological processes occurred.”

Francis Crick initially laid the foundation of what is known as the central-dogma of biology: two linear information flows: DNA —> DNA during replication and DNA —> RNA —> protein during protein synthesis. Later, in 1970, evidence from
Temin and Mizutani’s work, which established that reverse transcriptase activity can copy RNA back into DNA, forced Crick to revise his unidirectional formulation and he allocated an additional arrow from RNA to DNA (RNA —> DNA). However, Crick dogmatically claimed that transfers of information from protein to nucleic acid (protein —> DNA, protein —> RNA) or from protein to protein (protein —> protein) are unacceptable as he stated “the discovery of just one type of present day cell which could carry out any of the three unknown transfers would shake the whole intellectual basis of molecular biology...” Following Crick's original concept many scientists were calling DNA the “Book of Life,” but subsequent evidence established the imprudence of such claims. Even Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics and the corporate arm of the DNA sequencing project, stated that “genes can’t possibly explain all of what makes us what we are.” We now know that in a living cell every genome function includes inputs and information-processing networks. Cells can rearrange their genomes, thereby writing information that influences all features of genome function. Cell regulatory functions, such as the DNA proofreading/repair mechanisms and alternative splicing of pre-mRNA, clearly disprove the simplistic central dogma, and thus significantly modify our understanding of information dynamics. Therefore, James A. Shapiro (Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Chicago) explains that cell functioning cannot be explained by reducing it to any single molecule like DNA and RNA and stated, “it seems that “the intellectual foundations of molecular biology have indeed been shaken—and shaken hard.”

Darwinists translated the vision of “Central Dogma” into conventional evolutionary theory. Random mutations were considered as copying errors that changed the DNA sequence one base-pair at a time, thus changing protein sequences one amino acid at a time. This scheme was in line with the neo-Darwinian view of gradual accidental change. It supplied a molecular depiction of how proteins, the working molecules of the cell, could evolve new structures and functions. The errors in replication processes are presented as the molecular interpretation of chance or accident. They insist that all genetic alteration happens accidentally and randomly. They believe that the organism has no control over the alteration process, and that the genome mechanically decides organism characteristics. For them, the genome is a ROM (read-only memory), which is modified only by accident. This claim of Darwinists about randomness and accident became dogmatic with the intent to reject all possible revivals of the role of a supernatural agent found in religious explanations as the cause of origin of diverse living organisms. Negating this paradigm, 21st century biology shows that proteins evolve by accumulating and rearranging polypeptide domains and not by a series of individual amino acid alterations. Hence, the evolutionary genomic alterations are not stochastic, localized point mutations, but exchanges of DNA encoding segments. The DNA substantiation does not verify the slow gathering of random gradual changes transmitted by restricted patterns of vertical descent, as claimed by neo-Darwinian theory. It is being reported that cells have the ability to modify themselves adaptively and to change their own heredity. Upsetting the speculations of the past mechanistic views, it is well acknowledged that recombination has the capability to produce information and to modify the content of the genetic storage. Barbara McClintock’s (Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine) findings have shown that organisms can engineer their DNA. Following the same line of research, James A. Shapiro coined the term ‘Natural Genetic Engineering’, which corresponds to the ability of living cells to manipulate and restructure the DNA molecules that make up their genomes. This paradigm shift is a major setback to neo-Darwinism, because cellular biochemistry is based on guided mechanisms and thus acts in predictable ways. In contrast to neo-Darwinism, DNA changes are now known as nonrandom with respect to time, physiology and life history. As a result of all these developments, frontier biology rejected the dogmatic faith of Darwinists: genome is a ROM, which is only modified by accident. The emerging alternative view of 21st century biology explains the genome as a RW (read-write) memory system subject to nonrandom change by dedicated cell functions. The genome is actively modified in a coordinated and controlled mode by the sentient cell functions and hence new biology views life forms as self-modifying beings.

The major contribution of Darwin was that he could convince people in his time about biological evolution by proposing a mechanism based on natural selection and he supplied fossil records as major evidence for his evolution theory and morphologically based TOL (Tree Of Life). There are several problems attached to the dating techniques used in fossil record. Apart from that, the fossil record suffers four major defects that are principally incompatible with Darwinian gradualism: (a) stasis, (b) sudden appearance of forms, (c) sudden disappearance of forms, (d) relative absence of transitional forms. Still, many hold a wrong notion that the fossil record supports gradualism in Darwinian evolution. Joseph A. Kuhn (MD, Department of Surgery, Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas) strongly affirms in his paper ‘Dissecting Darwinism’:
Joseph A. Kuhn
Joseph A. Kuhn
(MD, Department of Surgery, Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas)
“The transitional species from primitive primates to man have been illustrated in textbooks for over 100 years. These drawings form the visual imagery that supports Darwinian evolution for high school students, university students, medical students, and the public. However, honest dissent exists in the accuracy of most of the transitional prehominoids, with many found to be frauds or animal species…

“Moreover, several of the textbooks continued to incorrectly promote the debunked Miller-Urey origin of life experiment, the long-discredited claims about nonfunctional appendix and tonsils, and the fraudulent embryo drawings from Ernst Haeckel. In essence, current biology students, aspiring medical students, and future scientists are not being taught the whole story. Rather, evidence suggests that they continue to receive incorrect and incomplete material that exaggerates the effect of random mutation and natural selection to account for DNA, the cell, or the transition from species to species.”

The morphologically based TOL (Tree Of Life) representation has dominated evolutionary biology from the time when Darwin first proposed it as a sufficient description of the total history of life forms on Earth. Later, a three-domain tree of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) was introduced by Carl Richard Woese (American microbiologist and biophysicist) which construct trees of other universal genes, such as ribosomal proteins and core RNA polymerase subunits. Thus, TOL was perceived as an authentic victory of tree thinking in biology. However, we now know that mechanisms like transduction, natural-transformation, horizontal (lateral) DNA transfer and conjugation can produce sudden changes in living organisms. Genome-wide analysis of gene phylogenies (phylogenomics), revealed an additional intricate image of evolution and invalidates the TOL based on fossil data. The discovery of HGT (Horizontal Gene Transfer) has completely changed the whole picture. These research studies recommend that TOL should be replaced by a ‘net of life’ or a ‘forest of life’. Hence Eugene V. Koonin, a senior investigator at National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), USA states in his paper ‘Microbial genomics challenge Darwin’:
Eugene V. Koonin
Eugene V. Koonin
(Biologist & Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA)
“At the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, genomics, especially comparative genomics of microbes, shattered each of these key tenets of (neo)Darwinism. We are now fully aware that many of the most important genomic changes are by no account miniscule; that the mutational process is far from being completely random; that evolution of complexity via routes distinct from natural selection is possible; and that pervasive horizontal gene transfer makes the original concept of the Tree of Life largely obsolete. Perhaps even more remarkably, the study of genome evolution, in particular in microbes, has brought to fore completely novel aspects of the evolutionary process of which Darwin and the architects of the Modern Synthesis were utterly unaware.”

French philosopher René Descartes is known for encouraging mistreatment of animals because he argued that only humans are conscious. From the 17th century onwards, after René Descartes, many furthered this misconception—that only humans are conscious and that no animals are conscious. Fortunately, findings in the twenty-first century help to remove this error of judgment. Recently, several prominent scientists signed the Cambridge declaration at the First Annual Francis Crick Memorial Conference, stating, “… the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.” However, the statement unfortunately perpetuates further misunderstandings, that, “neurological substrates … generate consciousness”. The “identity theory” explains that states and processes of the mind are alike to states and processes of the brain. Therefore, scientists and philosophers following the concept of identity theory believing that the brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile. That is why utill now, the major focus of consciousness studies are focused on brain research. However, all these materialistic theories are completely disproven by twenty-first century biology. Surpassing the molecular paradigm, 21st century biology uses terms like information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading and so on to explain cellular processes. Twenty-first century biology shows that even the smallest cells (brainless) are also conscious entities (read ‘Bacteria are Small but not Stupid’). In the context of multicelluar organisms, James A. Shapiro states in his famous book “Evolution: A View from the 21st Century” (reviews of this book can be found in several prominent journals):

James A. Shapiro
James A. Shapiro
(an expert in bacterial genetics and a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago)
“Without an elaborate sensory apparatus to pick up signals about chemicals in the environment (nutrients, poisons, signals emitted by other cells) or to keep track of intracellular events (DNA replication, organelle growth, oxidative damage), a cell’s opportunity to proliferate or contribute to whole-organism development would be severely restricted. Life requires cognition at all levels”

The last sentence, “Life requires cognition at all levels” is the same paradigm that Vedanta has advocated since antiquity. In the ancient Eastern philosophy of Vedanta, it is described that the atma (soul) is responsible for animating the bodies of all living organisms, from the simplest single cell to complex multicellular organisms. The immortality of atma is explained in Bhagavad-gita verse 2.20 and the same is also described in Katha Upanisad verse 1.2.18, na jayate mriyate va vipascin nayam kutascin na babhuva kascit ajo nityaḥ sasvato 'yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire – “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”, where the word vipas-cit means learned or with knowledge. According to Vedantic understanding atma is eternal and fully cognizant. Vedanta explains that consciousness is one of the symptoms by which the existence of the atma can be inferred. Although scientists cannot sensually perceive the atma, still they can infer its existence just from the presence of consciousness in all biological systems. As the presence of the sun can be inferred from the sunlight, similarly existence of the atma can also be understood from the presence of the different varieties of consciousness in various living organisms.


Some scientists try to provide a mechanistic description for living organisms but the bodies of living organisms are not like the machines that a human could manufacture artificially. Unlike artificial machines, the bodies of all living organisms (from bacteria to humans) are inimitably complex. Traditionally, in both Eastern and Western philosophy, life is understood as a cognitive or sentient principle. Sentience cannot be manufactured artificially by any noble mechanical and chemical arrangement of dead atoms and molecules. For example, the invocation of Sri Isopanisad provides the concept of ‘Organic Wholism’: “om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udacyate purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate"The ‘Organic Whole’ produces ‘organic wholes’. An ‘organic whole’ cannot arise from parts that have to be assembled. That process can only produce inorganic, mechanical machines or chemical processes, not living organisms. A similar conclusion made by Rudolph Virchow in 1858, “omnis cellula e cellula” (“every cell comes from a cell”). In 1864, Louis Pasteur also demonstrated that life cannot arise from non-life (abiogenesis is impossible) and with experimental evidence established the theory of biogenesis: Omne vivum ex vivo – life comes only from life. In his book “This is Biology,” 20th century’s leading evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr wrote:
Ernst Mayr
Ernst Walter Mayr
(20th century's leading evolutionary biologist, a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, and historian of science)
“It is a little difficult to understand why the machine concept of organism could have had such long lasting popularity. After all, no machine has ever built itself, replicated itself, programmed itself, or been able to procure its own energy. The similarity between an organism and a machine is exceedingly superficial.”


Zygote to adult embryonic development of every species also follows a fixed unique blueprint leading to production of an adult organism of that particular species only. A frog’s zygote will never develop into a puppy. Life intrinsically preserves its species type. The Darwinian objective theory of evolution, using the laws of physics and chemistry, cannot explain why species like bacteria, fish, frogs, banyan trees, lions and so on appeared. On the other hand, the Vedantic conception holds that different forms (species) are original archetypes that accommodate different varieties of consciousness through which the transmigration of the soul (atma) takes place on the basis of the evolution of consciousness. For example, Visnu Purana states, “jala-ja nava-laksani sthavara laksa-vimsati krmayo rudra-sankhyakaḥ paksinam dasa-laksanam trimsal-laksani pasavah catur-laksani manusah"There are 900,000 species living in the water. There are also 2,000,000 nonmoving living entities (sthavara), such as trees and plants. There are also 1,100,000 species of insects and reptiles, and there are 1,000,000 species of birds. As far as quadrupeds are concerned, there are 3,000,000 varieties, and there are 400,000 human species. According to Vedanta, species identification and classification are based on a cognitive paradigm, where the body is a biological expression of the consciousness of the soul (atma). Therefore, the different species described in the above verse are representations of different varieties of consciousness. The transmigration of the soul (atma) is described in Bhagavad-gita 8.6: yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajanty ante kalevaram tam tam evaiti kaunteya sada tad bhava-bhavitah “The soul (atma) obtains a body in the next life based on the consciousness in which it left the previous body.” Animals and lower species of life do not have enough intelligence to understand these descriptions of ancient wisdom. However, a sober human being may easily understand his/her entanglement in the dangerous cycle of endless transmigration and thus inquire about their true identity as the immortal soul under an expert spiritual guide. Vedanta advocates this scientifically verifiable subjective evolution of consciousness, while the unscientific Darwinian objective evolution of bodies is only a misconceived perverted reflection of this subjective evolution of consciousness. A lot of time and energy has already been wasted for more than 150 years following the dogmatic imposition of Darwinian misconceptions and now the scientific evidence is forcing honest scientists to understand genuine biology based on cognition as revealed in depth within ancient Vedantic literature.

A two day international conference on "Is Science able to explain the Scientist? (Science and Scientist — 2014)" will be held at Siddharta Auditorium, P.B. Siddharta College of Arts and Science, Vijayawada, A.P., India from November 28, 2014 to November 29, 2014. 'Science and Scientist — 2014' will bring together leading Biologists, Engineers, Scientists and Academicians from around the world. The main goal of this conference is to provide a platform for the academic, scientific and industrial community to cultivate the proper spirit of inquiry for understanding 'Life and Its Origin' using science-based progress in their respective research areas. The conference greatly encourages topics in such areas as: 'Failure of Biologism or Biological Determinism’, 'Failure of Genetic Determinism - Life Beyond Genes', 'Debunking Darwinism', 'Scientific Critique of Science', 'Man and Machine', 'Logic of Life', 'Cognitive Biology', 'Freewill', 'Soul Hypothesis', and so on. The aim of the conference is to bring together worldwide leading researchers, developers, practitioners and educators interested in advancing the state of the art in 'Life and Its Origin' for exchanging knowledge that encompasses a broad range of disciplines among various distinct communities. It is expected that speakers will highlight new prospects for scientifically understanding life based on 21st century biology. The theme for this conference is innovative and meant for inspiring the researchers to understand the scientific validity of ancient Vedantic wisdom and thus confidently practice its conclusions by implementing them in their own lives. This conference shall provide a new forum for discussions on 'Harmony of Science and Religion'.

‘Science and Scientist – 2014’ welcomes the submission of manuscripts that meet the conference criteria of significance and scientific excellence. Submissions of reviews and perspectives covering topics of conference interest are welcome and encouraged. Reviews should be concise and no longer than about 18 manuscript pages. All articles (including 'Reviews') are peer-reviewed.


TOPIC AREAS
We request the authors to read our publications "The Harmonizer" and "Darwin Under Siege" to get a clear idea about the type of articles that are suitable for ‘Science and Scientist – 2014’.
 
Posted: 2014-04-02
 
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