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Thursday, December 10, 2009

On The Theory Of Evolution

From Dandavats

By Dr. J. Chakrabarty, Florida State University

The concept of evolution of species, generally attributed to Charles Darwin, actually had its origin thousands of years ago in ancient India, and formed the basis of the illuminating philosophy of the Vedas. Since Darwin lived at a time when the profundity of the Indian wisdom already made an indelible impression on the minds of the western savants, it is hard to imagine how Darwin could possibly have escaped the compelling influence of the Indian thoughts while formulating his theory of evolution.

Darwin differed, however, from the Indian views on evolution in several respects, all of which made his theory an intellectually unacceptable proposition. Three of the most conspicuous lines of difference between the two theories will be discussed in what follows:

1. Evolution, according to the Vedas, presupposes involution. This means that distinct attributes which remain dormant within the evolving entity simply unfold when the conditions become favourable for their manifestation. Thus, life evolves in matter just because life is already involved in matter, even as the essence of a tree is involved in the seed that producers it under suitable external conditions Similarly, mind evolves in life because mind is already involved in life, and does not make its appearance from an external source.

The Vedic literature is quite emphatic about the facts that a nonexistent entity can never be made to exist in any form whatsoever, and an existing entity can never be put out of existence, though it can be transformed into a variety of other forms. The Vedic theory is therefore fully consistent with the laws of physical science, and the hypothesis of involution ensures compliance with the principles of conservation of mass and energy in the process of evolution;

Darwin’s theory, on the other hand, seems to suggest that the various attributes which characterize the process of evolution are superimposed on the evolving entity, presumably from an external source which the theory fails to identify. The Darwinian theory of evolution therefore suffers from the logical fallacy of certain things coming into existence virtually from nowhere, which is untenable from the scientific point of view.

Indeed, no physical event can ever take place as a natural phenomenon without some kind of scientific reason behind it, any more than an apple can fall from the tree without the existence of the gravitational forces. The Darwinian theory of evolution also violates the well established casual law for the occurrence of phenomena.

2, According to the Vedic theory, an orderly process such as the evolution can never take place on its own, but requires the presence of an intelligent principle which is denied in Darwin’s theory. The Vedic seers duly recognized the indispensability of an intelligent principle, designated as Brahman, which forms an immutable substratum of the ever-changing phenomenal existence.

The visible changes that take place in the universe could not have been perceived without the existence of an unchanging reality, even as the events that take place in a movie could not have been possible without the presence of a stationary screen. The denial of this dual purpose of the intelligent principle seems to be a bigotry that goes counter the advancement of science.

It is quite unreasonable to suppose, as Darwin’s theory seems to do, that the insentient
Nature that operates on a set of physical principles over which it has no control whatsoever is capable of making crucial decisions and also implementing them in minute details. The idea of natural selection, which is an essential feature of the Darwinian theory, therefore seems to be logically inadmissible.

Indeed, any selection that occurs has nothing to do with the insentient Nature, nor with the ill-equipped living entity, but has everything to do with the absolute Brahman, the intelligent Principle, which ensures the evolution to proceed in the appropriate manner. It should be noted that natural instinct and intuition seem to be meaningless expressions from the scientific point of view, since naming is not explaining.

3. The Vedic theory is also emphatic about the fact that the process of evolution applies to the individual living entity, not to the entire species to which it belongs. It is the evolution of the individuals that accounts for the collective process of the evolution.

Darwin’s idea of the physical transformation of a lower form of species into a higher form is absurd, not only because such a thing has never been observed in the recorded history of mankind, but also because of the logical impossibility of bringing about the intrinsic changes in living entities, necessary for the attainment of higher states of mind, by means of mere physical changes in them. The Darwinian theory is also incapable of explaining the observed differences between individuals within the same species, since they are simultaneously generated and ought to be identical in all respects.

The Vedic theory, on the other hand, explains the evolution of species with the help of its unique philosophy of rebirth. The overwhelming body of evidence put forward. by eminent psychologists of modern times lends support to the existence of rebirth, which cannot be brushed aside as being a piece of superstition.

The acceptance of rebirth is indispensable in a realistic theory of evolution, since it makes a number of issues fall into a consistent pattern. According to the principle of rebirth, a living entity can take birth in a higher form of life when the lower form ceases to be useful for its further evolution, no miraculous metamorphism being necessary for this purpose. According to the theory of rebirth, different living entities belonging to the same species but at different stages of their evolution can easily coexist with different mental levels.
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The admission of rebirth makes the Vedic theory of evolution a much broader one than that of Darwin, since the attainment of human birth need not be considered as the culmination of evolution, Indeed, a single span of life is never enough to get rid of the animal propensities inherited from our subhuman ancestors.

The process of evolution therefore continues according to the Vedic law of karma, which is simply the casual law applied to the actions of individual living entity, until the individual attains perfection as a human being and is able to realize the unity of existence. It is such individuals who make real contributions to the advancement of mankind. The Vedic theory is also capable of explaining the reason why certain individuals are found to be exceptionally gifted in certain areas of human accomplishment.

Indeed, it is not by a miracle, but with the help of sustained efforts made over the spans of several lives that one could acquire such exceptional qualities. The Darwinian theory is not concerned with such things at all.

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