The Enigma Of The Universe ► 4 ►A Critique ► I. What is Universe ► (C) Realism and the Jain View ► 1. Materialism and the Jain View ► Refutation of Materialism ► III. The Cosmological Argument

Posted: 31.12.2014

The materialists claim to base this argument on purely scientific facts. The modern scientific theories, according to them, have proved that "there was a time when our earth was a glowing gaseous nebulae. At that time organic life could not have existed upon it. There could have been no human beings and hence no mental activity. It was only after the earth had sufficiently cooled off, and the conditions for the origin of organic life were given, that plant and animal life came into being from which man also was evolved at a later stage. Hence mental life came into existence with organic life and is limited to the presence of its physiological conditions. There is no meaning, therefore, in assuming mind as something distinct from the organism because its origin is connected with the organism and they will certainly perish together.[1]

The modern materialists, on the basis of this theory of earth's formation, conclude that 4000 million years[2] ago, when the earth came into existence there was no life, and hence there was no existence of anything like soul or consciousness or mind. It was 2900 million years after the birth of the earth that life came into existence. The existence of mammals and birds extends over only 60 million years while that of man only to 1.5 million years. Thus mind is only a very late production. It should therefore be considered only as a qualitative transformation of matter, itself, and not as an ultimate reality.

Now the cosmological argument can be shown to be invalid not only on logical basis but on scientific basis too. 'Modern scientific investigations have made it clear that neither the universe nor "life" is merely confined to the earth.[3] Not only this, but the recent researches tend to show that "life" is older than the "earth". The scientists of Bradford University have found in the meteorites some material identical to the one found in the living cells. Commenting on this recent development, the critic of The Times of India[4] observes: "Is there life elsewhere in the universe and was there life before the earth was formed? Sceptics and legend-lovers continue to say no and would want a flying saucer with extra-terrestrials in it taken to their doorstep before they would believe any such thing. But they have no think again: new evidence has been gathered which shows that life did evolve independently of what happened on the earth. Chemical analysis made at Bradford University shows that material identical with sporopollenin, which can only be formed inside a living cell, has been found in meteorites. The usual argument advanced here is that it is a contaminant, but since the chemical forms four percent of the meteorites weight the local contamination theory fails.

"Sporopollenin is the biological material that forms the outer coating of pollen grains. Ordinary physical processes could not have created it on the planet's surface because in such conditions it is unstable and quickly decomposes. It is also felt that the theory that life on the earth evolved by natural processes out of a prebiotic soup of inorganic chemicals is not necessarily tenable. The Bradford Researchers think that the earth was seeded with life from outside, from another world or worlds." Thus it can be seen that the cosmological argument has got subverted on the scientific basis.

Now we shall try to clinch the cosmological argument on logical basis. It is a matter of common experience that living objects essentially differs from material objects in that the former possess "consciousness" whereas the latter does not. Now the law of material cause, which is accepted as a fundamental law in logic, states that the quality which is intrinsically non-existent in a substance cannot be created by any kind of transformation. But the above hypothesis of qualitative transformation assumes the production of "life" from "matter" which essentially lacks "consciousness". Thus, it is inconsistent with the above law, and hence, it must be rejected as illogical.

Also the materialists leave unanswered the important question such as how and why consciousness was created from matter.[5] The eminent writer on the history of the universe, J. G. Bennett, in his conclusive remark on the "origin of life" expresses this thus[6]: "The conclusion that we are bound to draw from all these considerations is that the fortuitous origin and evolution of life and human culture on the earth must be rejected as contrary to the well-established laws of probability and thermodynamics......

"This is, as is well recognised even by mechanistic biologists, not the only serious difficulty. Inert matter is insensitive, life is sensitive. When and how did sensitivity arise from insensitivity? Again, man is conscious and entertains ideas of value and purpose. Inert matter is unconscious and the whole argument in favour of mechanistic theories is that they do not require any assumptions as to conscious purposes at origin of life. How then could consciousness and purposefulness have arisen in a world from which they were previously totally absent?"

Further he writes:[7] "The obvious difficulty of "believing that sensitivity and consciousness could be produced by chemical reactions of inert matter has led materialistic and mechanistic scientists to make the assumption that these properties must be associated with all matter and take themselves apparent when living bodies having a high degree of organisation, have evolved. Such hypotheses are unsatisfactory inasmuch as they do not account for the transition from the 'atomic' to the 'organic' state of consciousness." Thus the cosmological argument is untenable on logical ground too.

Lastly let us consider the argument in the light of the Jain view. The Jain philosophy asserts that all substances including soul and matter have been existent in the universe since ever and will continue to exist till eternity.[8] No new soul is ever created in the universe. Infinite number of souls goes on transmigrating from one life to another and from one part of the universe to another. Thus, birth of a new organism is nothing but transmigration of a soul from its previous life.

 It is also asserted by the Jain theory that a suitable structure of matter is required to serve as a nucleus (or birthplace) for the soul to take birth in. The nucleus is called as yoni. There are different kinds of yonis for different species. The yonis may be composed of totally lifeless matter or of bodies of living organisms, or of a combination of both.[9] Formation of yonis takes place by the suitable combination of the ultimate atoms (paramāṇus) or the molecules (skandhas) which continually undergo the processes of "fusion" and "fission" throughout the universe.

Now the fact ascertained by the scientists that no life existed on the earth for a long time (nearly 3000 million years) after formation of the earth can be explained on the basis of the Jain view as follows:

It is highly probable that at the time of formation of the planet earth, the yonis were wanting and this condition might have prevailed over for a period of 3000 million years. Also it is unlikely that during this period the environment could have been congenial for sustenance and growth of living organisms. Hence, the earth would have remained devoid of living beings. Later on, when as a result of the natural processes, the yonis would have been formed and also, the environment would have become amicable for sustaining life, the souls (already existing in other parts of the universe) would have started to take birth in the yonis and thus would have begun "life" on the earth. Thus, it can be said that the assertion of the Jain philosophy that soul and matter are two independent substances having beginningless existence in the universe convincingly explains the origin of life on the earth without either contradicting the scientific facts or contravening the logical principles.

Thus, all the three arguments adduced in proof of materialism are shown to be fallacious as well as inconclusive.

Footnotes:
[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]
Share this page on: