Hindu views on evolution

Hindu views on evolution

Hindu views on evolution include a range of viewpoints in regards to evolution, creationism, and the origin of life within the diverse traditions of Hinduism. The accounts of the emergence of life within the universe vary in description, but classically the deity called Brahma, from a Trimurti of three deities also including Vishnu and Shiva, is described as performing the act of 'creation', or more specifically of 'propagating life within the universe' with the other two deities being responsible for 'maintenance' and 'destruction' (of the universe) respectively. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/beliefs/intro_1.shtml BBC - Religion & Ethics - Brahman & the Trimurthi] ] In this respect some Hindu schools do not treat the scriptural creation myth literally and often the creation stories themselves do not go into specific detail, thus leaving open the possibility of incorporating at least some theories in support of evolution. Some Hindus find support for, or foreshadowing of evolutionary ideas in scriptures, namely the Vedas. [ [http://www.well.com/user/jct/science.html "Science and Spirituality: Any Points of Contact? Dr. J.S.R.L. Narayana Moorty] ] [Krishnamurti Centennial Conference; Miami University, Ohio, May 18-21, 1995. ] . An exception to this acceptance is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), which includes several members who actively oppose "Darwinism" and the neo-Darwinist theory of evolution.

Hindu creation accounts

According to the Vedas creation of the universe is shrouded in mystery. The Rig Veda says:

"Then was not non-existence nor existence: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was at first concealed in darkness this. All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit. Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit. Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent. Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it? There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder. Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? The devas are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being? He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not" - (Rig Veda 10.129.1-7) [ Griffith, Ralph T.H. (Transl.): "Hymns of the Rgveda", Vol. II, 1889-92; Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1999.]

A Hindu creation account is recorded in the sacred texts, the Upanishads, according to which the universe, the Earth, along with humans and other creatures undergo repeated cycles of creation and destruction (pralaya). A variety of myths exist regarding the specifics of the process, but in general the Hindu view of the cosmos is as eternal and cyclic.

Hindu opposition to Christian Creationism

Hindus (along with people of other faiths) have been reported to be apprehensive about efforts to teach Christian creationism in public schools in the US. [ "Christian agenda worries other faiths: push for intelligent design seen by some as imposing Christianity on others", Jim Baker, Lawrence World – Journal, May 12, 2005. See [http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/may/12/christian_agenda_worries article on LJ world] ] An objection to the teaching of creationism based on the religious texts of a particular faith, is that in a pluralistic society this can result in the imposition of one religion.

Hindus and evolution

In general, Hindus believe in biological evolution in some form. [ [http://www.hinduwebsite.com/evolution.asp Hinduism and evolution of life ] ]

Day and Night of Brahma

Science writers Carl Sagan and Fritjof Capra have pointed out similarities between the latest scientific understanding of the age of the universe, and the Hindu concept of a "day and night of Brahma", which is much closer to the current known age of the universe than other creation myths. The days and nights of Brahma posit a view of the universe that is divinely created, and is not strictly evolutionary, but an ongoing cycle of birth, death, and rebirth of the universe. According to Sagan:

The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scale still. [cite book | last =Sagan | first =Carl | authorlink =Carl Sagan | title =Cosmos | publisher =Ballantine Books | date =1985 | isbn =978-0345331359 p. 258.]

Capra, in his popular book The Tao of Physics, wrote that:

This idea of a periodically expanding and contracting universe, which involves a scale of time and space of vast proportions, has arisen not only in modern cosmology, but also in ancient Indian mythology. Experiencing the universe as an organic and rhythmically moving cosmos, the Hindus were able to develop evolutionary cosmologies which come very close to our modern scientific models. One of these cosmologies is based on the Hindu myth of "lila"—the divine play—in which Brahman transforms himself into the world. [cite book | last =Capra | first =Fritjof | authorlink =Fritjof Capra | title =Tao of Physics | publisher =Shambhala | date =1991 | isbn =978-0877735946 p. 198]

Vishnu's Avatars and Darwin's theory of evolution

There has also been some comparison between the avatars of Vishnu and Darwin's Theory of Evolution, as the incarnations generally mirror increasing phylogenetic sophistication in keeping with the theory's proposal of terrestrial reptiles and mammals evolving from aquatic and amphibian life. Accordingly, the list of the avatars goes as follows- "Matsya-the fish, Kurma-the turtle, Varah-the boar, Narsingh-the half man-half lion being, Vaman-the dwarf man, Parshuram-the forest dweller, Rama-the ideal man, Krishna-the Divine man, Buddha-the spiritual man and Kalki-the tech-savvy avatar which is yet to take birth" [ [http://abyc.wordpress.com/2007/04/24/incarnations-of-vishnu-theory-of-evolution/ Incarnations of Vishnu & Theory of Evolution « Going Insane ] ] [ [http://mailerindia.com/god/hindu/index.php?vish6 Hindu Gods ] ]

ri Aurobindo and evolution

Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) proposed a religious "theory of evolution", though in his usage, evolution refers to the theorized adventures of the "World-Spirit" moving through successively greater levels of consciousness, from matter to man, seeking fulfillment.

ISKCON and evolution

Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) have expressed their belief that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is false, but do not necessarily dispute evolution all-together. The views of the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, on Darwin and evolution are found in his book "Life comes from life". [ [http://www.angelfire.com/ego2/prabhupada/life/life_comes.htm Life Comes from Life] - written by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON)] ] [ [http://www.hknet.org.nz/DarwinTheoryGoneApe.html A selection of quotes and small essays] - mostly by Bhaktivedanta Swami, founder of ISKCON, on Darwinian evolution and other topics.]

Michael Cremo wrote "Human Devolution: A Vedic alternative to Darwin's theory", published by ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, [cite book | last =Cremo | first =Michael | authorlink =Michael Cremo | title =Human Devolution: A Vedic alternative to Darwin's theory | publisher =Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing | date =2003 | isbn =0892133341 ] to describe a view that man has existed on the earth in modern form far longer than that offered by the currently accepted fossil evidence and genetic evidence. Cremo suggests that Darwinian evolution should be replaced with "devolution" from the original unity with Brahman. His books have been met with considerable skepticism by the scientific community which charges that Cremo's theories are pseudoscience. [ [http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol19/3185_iforbidden_archaeologys_imp_12_30_1899.asp "Forbidden Archaeology´s Impact by Michael A Cremo", Tom Morrow, Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 19 (3): 14-17.] ] [ [http://www.ramtops.co.uk/tarzia.html "Forbidden Archaeology : Antievolutionism Outside the Christian Arena," Wade Tarzia, Creation/Evolution 34:13-25, 1994] ] Some have dubbed these beliefs as akin to a form of "Vedic creationism." [ [http://www.flonnet.com/fl2301/stories/20060127003309700.htm "Vedic creationism in America", Meera Nanda, Frontline: India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU, Volume 23 - Issue 01, Jan. 14 - 27, 2006] ]

ee also

* Relationship between religion and science
* Mormonism and evolution
* Jainism and non-creationism
* Jewish views on evolution
* Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church
* Creation myth



* Cavanaugh, Michael A. 1983. A Sociological Account of Scientific Creationism: Science, True Science, Pseudoscience. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.
* Eve, Harold, [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805797416 "Creationist Movement in Modern America"] , Twayne Pub, 1990.
*"The Hidden History of the Human Race (The Condensed Edition of Forbidden Archeology)", Michael A. Cremo, Torchlight Publishing, May 15, 1999ISBN-10: 0892133252
*"Forbidden Archeology: The Full Unabridged Edition", Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson, Torchlight Publishing; 2Rev Ed edition, January 1998 ISBN-10: 0892132949
*"Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and the Making of Hindu Nationalism in India", Meera Nanda, Rutgers University Press, 2003.
*"Explaining Hindu Dharma A Guide for Teachers", N. K. Prinja (ed), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (UK). pp. 204. Chatham Printers Limited, Leicester, UK, 2001.
*"Forbidden Archeology's Impact: How a Controversial New Book Shocked the Scientific Community and Became an Underground Classic", Michael A. Cremo, Torchlight Publishing, January 1998, ISBN-10: 0892132833.

External links

* [http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2004042001741000.htm&date=2004/04/20/&prd=th& Humankind and evolution] : Editorial in The Hindu, April 20, 2004.
* [http://www.beliefnet.com/story/144/story_14456_1.html "Dharma vs. Darwin?" Swami B.V. Tripurari] : Beliefnet article describing Hindu perspectives on evolution
* [http://www.beliefnet.com/story/77/story_7776_1.html "The Perils of Vedic 'Science' ", Meera Nanda] , Beliefnet article on Hindu science and evolutionary theories.
* [http://www.creator-creation.com/darwin.htm "The flaws in Darwin's theory"] : An anti-Darwinian evolution website that advocates Hinduism.
* [http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1991/05/1991-05-06.shtml "The Secret Diary of Charles Darwin, Sivasiva Palani"] : Discussion of contradictions between Hinduism and evolution in "Hinduism Today".

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