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    Excerpts from Chapter 1



THE BIGGEST PROBLEM a creationist, who wishes to explain things logically and scientifically, faces is how to deduce what happened billions of years back depending upon what we have today. Thus, we ask, what proof exists today that the cosmos was created in one way or another? A big-bang theorist bases his proof on the so-called background radiation, supposedly an outcome of the big-bang. This seems to make sense because the background radiation can be observed today. Religionists on the other hand have a hard time justifying the creation of the universe by an intelligent being God, as that is not available for observation. As I will show shortly, new conceptions about God and His creativity are needed to answer this question, that are found in the Vedas though not well understood. But, one might ask, “If big-bang is already consistent with facts known today, then why should we seek an alternative theory of creation?” And the answer is quite simple: although the big bang is consistent with background radiation, there are other areas in which this theory falls short. For example, big bang does not explain consciousness. The proof of a theory can be considered complete if it explains all phenomena that come under the purview of the theory. For a theory of creation, the source of creation must be consistent with all the facts in creation. So, a relevant theory of creation must be consistent with the phenomena of consciousness and because big-bang is inconsistent with consciousness (at the very least does not explain it) it makes sense to look for alternate theories that might better explain consciousness. The Vedic approach makes particular sense in this regard because of its explicit orientation to consciousness and experience. But this means that the Vedic theory must not only explain consciousness but also background radiation and other phenomena explained by science.

In the Vedic view, the phenomenon of conscious experience is all that there is to different phenomena as this phenomenon covers all others, as special cases. The creation of the universe is essentially the creation of conscious experience. This is a crucial point at which Vedic view starts, and evidently it is already a stark departure from modern science. Conscious experience, in the Vedic view, is not an incidental addendum to the creation. Creation is creation of experience. However, this experience is not ordinary experience. It is rather the experience of God, who creates the world by creating His experience. The relation between God and the creation is that between consciousness and its content. If God ceased to experience, the world would also cease to exist just as a thought ceases to exist if we draw our mind away from it. God as the creator is the primary experiencer of the universe and He makes the universe available for experience to others. In this sense, His omniscience pertains not to knowing a world that exists independent of Him but a world that exists precisely because He knows it.

This view is sometimes called Idealism in Western philosophy, indicating the primacy of the observer for experience to exist and contrasts with Realism in which the objective world is the primary substrate for experience. Philosophers object to Idealism because it seems to imply that if something is not being observed then it must cease to exist. So, I might suppose that my room disappears when I go out of it. George Berkeley – one of the founding fathers of modern empiricism (but an Idealist at heart ) – argued that the world does not disappear even when an individual consciousness turns away from it because God continues to observe it regardless. Vedic Idealism is similar to Berkeley’s position, but there are some differences. In the Vedic view, the phenomenal cosmos exists because God observes it, even when no living being is observing it. But, what happens when God is not observing the cosmos? The Vedic answer is that matter still exists but in a state in which it cannot be known. In Berkeley’s Idealism, God must constantly observe the world to sustain it. In the Vedic view, when God withdraws his consciousness away, the world exists but it cannot be known by the individual consciousness. Now, this seems to imply that God creates the universe and an individual consciousness is merely an onlooker. After all, if the experience of the universe is a creation of God, then all actions in the universe are God’s actions. But, if all experiences are created by God, then how is the living being responsible for his or her actions? How can an observer be responsible for someone else’s (in this case God’s) actions?

The answer to this quandary lies in a very important distinction between knowability and knowledge. Knowability is the having of properties that enable something to be known. A creation that cannot be known by consciousness is not yet created, from a consciousness standpoint, even though it exists. Further, this knowability must be converted into an individual knowledge. An actual experience converts knowability into knowledge, but there must be a knowable world available prior. In the Vedic view, God creates knowability and the individual consciousnesses create knowledge. That is, God creates the ingredients that can be known, which are the ingredients or conditions of knowability. The ingredients can be combined variously to create knowledge, which converts possibility into actuality. An individual consciousness does not create ingredients of knowability but he or she does create knowledge from existing ingredients. The knowledge however depends upon knowability and so a living being’s experience depends upon God’s experience. The creation of knowability is the primary creation and the creation of knowledge is secondary creation which comes after the primary creation. I will be primarily concerned with the primary creation in this book.

Vedas describe that the creation of knowability in matter is due to God’s glance over a primordial material reality to make it knowable; thus, the creation begins when God “glances over” matter. His glance imbues matter with knowability and makes it amenable to knowing by others. This can be understood as follows. God’s glance can be compared to someone shining light in a dark room to make the objects in it knowable. In the case of creation, this “light” is God’s consciousness which converts unknowable matter into aspects of knowability. Consciousness in the Vedas has two aspects: prakasha and vimarsha. Prakasha is the aspect of consciousness that illuminates the world and vimarsha is the aspect that observes it. In other words, matter is not knowable by itself. It must be illuminated by awareness before it can be known. This illumination is performed by God’s glance at the start of the creation which transforms unknowable matter into knowable reality. After knowability is created, individual consciousnesses can use it to generate various forms of personal or shared knowledge.

Now, we might ask: “What is knowability?” How do we know the world? And the answer that I will elaborate over the course of this book is that knowability in the material creation is distinctions. To know something is to make a distinction from other things and for something to be knowable it must allow or facilitate that distinction. The world is built out of several distinctions. Most of the distinctions that we make in everyday life are combinations of more fundamental distinctions that God creates at the beginning of the universe. In other words, the universe begins with the creation of distinctions. Prior to the creation, matter exists in unknowable state which means that no distinctions have yet been drawn. In this stage, the universe exists materially although there are no objects. Objectivity depends upon the ability to make distinctions and universe must be fundamentally distinguishable in order for objects to be created. The creativity of God is that He divides primordial indistinguishable matter into fundamental distinctions, which become the ingredients for an ordinary consciousness to combine and create new objects. The situation can be compared to when we enter a dark room. At this time, no individual objects can be seen and all things are one (darkness). When light shines, distinctions are made and objects are distinguishable. God’s consciousness as prakasha, similarly, shines over matter to illuminate it into distinctions that others can combine. The creation of knowability is therefore the creation of distinctions. If there is a fundamental distinction that God has not drawn in the beginning of creation, others too cannot use it in their personal or shared creations. So, the creativity of ordinary consciousness depends upon the creativity of God because the generation of different distinct objects depends upon the kinds of distinctions that are available for combining.

Thus, if the question is whether the creation exists when it is not known (by individual consciousnesses) the answer is “yes”. Even when an individual awareness is not experiencing, distinctions exist because of God’s glance. If, on the other hand, the question is whether the creation exists if it is not knowable, the answer is “no”. If the world is not knowable, then there are no objects, although primordial matter exists. Creation is the addition of objectivity to matter to make it knowable. The difference between God’s creativity and ordinary creativity is that God generates objectivity and individual consciousnesses create objects. Vedas thus distinguish between primary and secondary creations. Primary creations are concerned with the principles that constitute the basis of knowability or objectivity while secondary creations are about how these ingredients are combined into objects. I will be in this book primarily concerned with the grounds of knowability describing the various ways in which combinations of epistemic ingredients can be created, although I will not deliberate upon the actual combinations themselves. The key point of Vedic thought here is that it introduces a definition of the universe: universe is all that is knowable and not all that exists. Prior to creation, matter existed but was not knowable because it was not objective. The universe begins with the conversion of matter into objects. It implies that matter is not a priori objective. Rather, consciousness converts matter into objects and because consciousness is necessary to make this transition, it is necessary for the universe to be knowable.

In short, regardless of the reliance upon notions about consciousness, the crucial difference between Vedic creationism and modern science is primarily the nature of matter that is postulated. There is no criterion in big bang that makes matter knowable. Science assumes that the world is knowable and a priori objective such that theories about the world can be built. Science also assumes that the ultimate theory of world would be understood by consciousness. These are leaps of faith, not adequately justified; they are not false, however. The Vedic theory instead delves into the fundamental premise of why and how matter must be knowable. For nature to be ultimately understandable and knowable, it must have some property – namely, the property of knowability by consciousness. Science presumes that matter is by itself knowable. Vedas rather tell us that the knowability of matter is something that is given to it by consciousness: consciousness illuminates matter and makes it knowable. Science presumes that the atoms and subatomic particles of reality were automatically created through big bang. The Vedic theory is that the creation of this distinguishability itself is the glance of God; when God withdraws His glance, all distinctions merge into one unknowable existence leading to a collapse of objectivity. The difficulty for present-day science is how to justify why there are only such-and-such kinds of fundamental objects in the world and the direction in which science is moving comes close to Vedic ideas. In science, the cosmos springs forth through incremental steps of symmetry breaking in which a singular and undifferentiated reality becomes increasingly differentiated and distinct. In Vedas too unknowable matter is broken into distinctions. The question however is: what causes symmetry breaking? And ultimately science cannot explain this because symmetry breaking in science is mathematical and not causal. Science can tell us that the fundamental particles of nature are the facts of reality, which are logically related to a singular undifferentiated reality, without explaining how the differentiation is affected. In Vedas, this symmetry breaking is the glance of God, under which matter becomes differentiated. Present science also does not explain the meaning of symmetry breaking, which the Vedic theory does. In the Vedic view fundamental particles are conditions of knowability. The justification for why certain particles exist therefore lies in how consciousness can know. The world is cut up into distinctions in a way that conforms to the capabilities in consciousness to know. The atomic ingredients are the conditions of knowledge.

The Vedas thus claim that consciousness precedes the existence of creation not in the sense that consciousness creates matter or that matter “emerges” from consciousness but in the sense that consciousness creates knowledge out of matter. Consciousness is thus the existential cause of the phenomenal world because phenomena (in contrast to matter) come into existence in the presence of consciousness. Phenomena emerge from matter, and this emergence takes place in the presence of consciousness. This implies and assumes a distinction between consciousness and matter, and defines consciousness as the agency that converts matter into experience. It means that consciousness is not a passive agent that merely “looks on” while the creation exists. It is also the agent that brings about the phenomenal world.

The Vedic theory holds the answer to the age-old philosophical question of “How can something come out of nothing?” Basically, it is asked: if there was nothing prior to creation, then how did the creation come out of nothing? The Vedic answer is that the creation does not happen out of nothing. Unknowable matter rather exists prior to creation. By glancing over it, God imbues it with knowability. Creation is the transformation of unknowable to knowable, not a transformation of non-existent into existence. Vedas often use the terms “manifest” and “unmanifest” to distinguish the states when matter can be known from when it cannot be known. So, the existence of laws of nature does not preclude the dependence of material nature on God’s consciousness. Rather God’s consciousness defines the conditions under which the laws are true, by defining the objects to which they apply. Present science presumes the existence of certain fundamental objects and then discovers the laws applying to them. The Vedic theory first explains why certain kinds of objects must exist before we discover the laws. If we assume that the world is a priori objective, then it can in principle be studied and understood per scientific laws. But these laws must be laws of knowledge and its evolution or the laws of the evolution of conscious experience. They apply so long as the world is knowable or objective.

Apart from this fundamental distinction that God creates knowability and individual consciousnesses create knowledge, the development of knowability and knowledge follow parallel paths. That is, for something to be visually observed it must be visually observable; for something to be audibly heard, it must be audible. After the creation of the principle of objectivity, the universe gradually evolves by a development of this principle into various kinds of knowability: for example, the various modes of sensations, the faculty of conceptualization, the various abilities for judgments, and the prowess to emote. Knowability develops into concepts and sense data; both further develop into various kinds of concepts and variety of sense data. In this sense, the creation by God and the creation by living beings are similar. The steps in which God creates knowability are also the steps in which a living being creates knowledge. The structure of knowledge is also the structure of knowability. An analysis of how knowledge is created can therefore be applied to the creation of knowability as well. This means that the creation of the cosmos follows the steps used in cognitive processes of ordinary creativity. So, the creation that happened billions of years ago can be understood by understanding what is happening in everyday creativity. The processes that were enacted at the time of creation of the cosmos with regard to knowability should be similar to the processes that govern ordinary creative action now with regard to the creation of knowledge.

In the Vedic view thus, the solution to the problem of how to verify what actually happened billions of years ago in the past lies in treating the world as knowability. The Vedic theory of creation can be empirical because it explains universal creation using the same processes by which we create music, art, books, buildings etc. Ordinary creativity follows the path of creation of knowledge and cosmic creativity follows the path of creation of knowability; because the structure of knowledge and knowability must be similar, understanding the creation of knowledge suffices for an understanding of the creation of knowability. It is not a matter of wondering what could have happened billions of years ago, but rather a matter of understanding what really is happening now. A big-bang theorist cannot work with a similar hypothesis because every phenomenon cannot be treated as a big-bang or anything like it. While big-bang posits a logical difference between what happened in the past versus what is happening in the present, in the Vedic view the two must follow similar steps as knowability and knowledge. Creation of knowability happened in the beginning but creation of knowledge is happening everyday. The study of these everyday processes can be used to study the origin of the universe, if matter is knowledge. Vedas compare the creation of cosmos to the gradual development of cognitive and conative facts in a living being, as evidenced in all creative acts.