Has science disproved the Bhagavad-gita – does consciousness come from the brain, not the soul?

by January 12, 2012

Question: Science says that consciousness comes from the brain. Doesn’t this disprove the Bhagavad-gita claim that consciousness comes from the soul?

Answer: No. In fact, the question itself is incorrect.

The claim that the brain produces consciousness is made not by science, but only by materialist scientists who believe that matter is the only reality in the universe. Within science itself, these materialist scientists are being increasingly countered by a significant number of non-materialist neuroscientists, whose ranks include three Nobel Laureates, Dr Wilder Penfield, Dr John Eccles and Dr Charles Sherrington.

So the conflict over the origin of consciousness is not between science and Bhagavad-gita, but between materialist science and non-materialist science. Let us seek a verdict for their conflict in the ultimate court of appeal for science: empirical evidence.

Let us focus on the evidence concerning memories, which is one of the most important aspects of consciousness. Materialist science claims that our memories are stored in our brains. As we have stable core memories throughout our lives, materialist neuroscience requires that our brain cells must stay stable throughout our life. What do empirical findings say about the stability of brain cells?

Multiple researches published in reputed journals including Nature Medicine and Science have confirmed that our brain cells keep changing: old cells die and are replaced by new cells. To better understand the implications of this finding, let’s imagine that we write a message on a piece of paper and then gradually replace the molecules that comprise the paper. Suppose we replace all the molecules of that paper and find that the resulting paper still has the same message written on it. How could that be explained?

This is precisely what is happening with our memories, as is pointed out by consciousness researcher Dean Radin in his book Conscious Universe: “All of the material used to express that pattern [of information] has disappeared, and yet the pattern still exists. What holds the pattern, if not matter? This question is not easily answered by the assumptions of a mechanistic, purely materialistic science.”

Multiple evidences like the change of brain cells have confirmed what Nobel Laureate, Sir John Eccles wrote in his book The Brain and the Unity of Conscious Experience, “I believe that there is a fundamental mystery in my existence, transcending any bio­logical account of the development of my body (including my brain).”

The Bhagavad-gita helps us solve this mystery by providing the account that transcends biology. Gita wisdom explains that our consciousness emerges from the soul, and our memories are stored not just in our brains but also in our minds from where they are made available to the newly formed brain cells when the old cells die out.

Thus, the evidence from science disproves not the Bhagavad-gita but materialism.

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  • K. Jayadev Das
    January 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    \our memories are stored not just in our brains but also in our minds from where they are made available to the newly formed brain cells when the old cells die out.\ Excellent Prabhu!!

  • Sanjay Puranik
    January 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    yes of course the memories are stored in mind and soul.
    and the soul reside in heart as per the SHASTRAS.
    My question is, is there any scientific/spiritual research available of patients who have got their heart transplanted. any ref of spiritually dfrnt identity pertaining to the memories of the one whose heart is used for transplantation. is any investigation made in this regard…?

    • Sanjoy Parida
      January 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Hare Krishna,

      The research is available, and it has been observed that when the heart transplant was being done, the behavior of the person does not change. Because, the soul gets transferred to the transplanted heart, similar to the transferring of consciousness to the brain cells.

  • administrator
    February 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    From Jaydeep Chakrabarty via email:

    Thanks for your thought provoking articles which you send regularly. Iskcon is doing a wonderful job in spreading the words of Shri Gouranga Mahaprabhu.
    All the Best.

  • October 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    It is indeed pleasure reading your Krishna conciousness development ideas , keep posting such articles

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