The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in December of 1973, during a morning walk at Venice Beach, Los Angeles.
Devotee: The scientists say their power of reason tells them there’s no God. They say if you believe in God it’s strictly a matter of faith.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not a matter of faith—it is fact.
Devotee: When scientists say “fact,” they mean something they can perceive through their senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and in Krsna consciousness we can perceive God through our senses. The more we engage our senses in devotional service—service to God—the more we are able to perceive Him. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate: “When one engages his senses in service to the Supreme, that relationship is called bhakti [devotion].” For example, we use our legs to walk to the temple, and our tongue to glorify God and eat prasada [“the Lord’s mercy,” vegetarian food offered to Krsna].
Devotee: But the scientists say these are acts of faith. They say that when we offer food to God, it’s only our faith that makes us think God accepts it. They say they can’t see Him eating.
Srila Prabhupada:They cannot see, but I can see. I am not a fool like them. They are spiritually blind—suffering from cataracts—ignorance. If they come to me, I shall operate, and then they’ll see God also.
Devotee: Well, the scientists want to see God now.
Srila Prabhupada: But Krsna will not reveal Himself to them now, because they’re rascals—big animals. sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh: “Anyone who’s not a devotee of God is just a big animal—a big camel or a big dog or a big swine—and the people who praise him are the same.”
Devotee: They say we’re just dreamers—that we make up fantasies about God and the spiritual world.
Srila Prabhupada: Why do they say “fantasies”? They have no brain to understand—so they say “fantasies.”
Devotee: Well, their standard of objectivity is what they can perceive through their senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, they can perceive God through their senses. When they perceive sand through their senses, who do they think made the sand? They didn’t. When they perceive the ocean through. their senses, who do they think made that? Why are they such fools that they don’t understand this?
Devotee: They say that if God made these things, they’d be able to see Him, just as they can see the ocean.
Srila Prabhupada: And I say to them, “Yes, you can see God—but first you have to have the eyes. You are blind; you have cataracts. Come to me and I will operate. Then you’ll see God.” This is why the Vedic scriptures say, tad-vijnanartham gurum eva abhigacchet:
“To see God, you must approach a bona fide spiritual master.” Otherwise, how can they see God with their blind eyes?
Devotee: But the scientists don’t have any faith in the kind of seeing you’re talking about. The only kind of seeing they put any faith in is what they can gather through their eyes and their microscopes and telescopes.
Srila Prabhupada: Why? If you look up in the sky now, you will think it is vacant. But it is not vacant—your eyes are deficient. There are innumerable planet and stars in the sky, but you cannot see them—you are blind to them. So just because you cannot see the stars and planets, does this mean they do not exist?
Devotee: The scientists admit they’re ignorant about some things. But still they won’t accept your explanation of things they can’t see with their own eyes.
Srila Prabhupada: Why not?
Devotee: Because they think that what you tell them may be wrong.
Srila Prabhupada: That is their misfortune. Our gross senses cannot approach God. To know Him we have to hear from an authority—that is the process for gaining higher knowledge.
Devotee: But that step requires faith. Faith in the guru.
Srila Prabhupada: Not faith—common sense! If you want to learn medicine, you have to go to an expert physician. You cannot learn it by yourself.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, from all you’ve said, it’s obvious we can support our ideas as well as the atheistic scientists can support theirs. But they’re in control of society. They’re dominant.
Srila Prabhupada: Dominant? [Laughs.] One kick from maya [Krsna’s material energy] and all their “dominance” is finished in one second. They are controlled by maya,, but they are thinking that they are free. This is foolishness.
Devotee: They don’t want to come to their senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore they are rascals. A rascal is someone who will insist he’s right even after you have proved he’s wrong. He will never take a good lesson. And why do they remain rascals? na mam duskrtino mudhah: because they are duskrtina—very, very sinful. Don’t you see how they are making a world of slaughterhouses and brothels; how they are ruining everyone’s life by promoting sensual enjoyment? These are all sinful activities. And because the scientists are so sinful, they will have to suffer in the darkest regions of hell. In their next life they’ll become worms in stool. Yet out of ignorance they are thinking they are safe.