Evolution Vs God – Part 2 (An Indian perspective)

(Read Part 1

To continue on my previous post:

Interestingly in India 3% of the 1 billion people don’t believe in god. As we all know India is a pretty relegious, traditional country which strongly believes in cultural values and relegious preaching. Lets talk about the 97% who do. Here is an interesting article I found regarding that. It’s thought provoking. I know it’s long, but it’s good.  If you are into this kind of stuff then you’re gonna have fun!

“Vedic creationists claim to derive this picture from the “Vedas”, in which they include the Puranas as well, especially the Bhagvat Purana.  Like all fundamentalists, Vedic creationists take the Bhagvat Purana, along with the Bhagvad Gita, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, to be literally true. They then proceed to use the “facts” described in these sacred texts to condemn Darwin and all of materialist science.

For example, The notion of the “day of Brahma(in Hindu culture, the god who created all)” lasting some 4.32 billion years as literally true. Also that the “current day of Brahma” began two billion (2,000, 000, 000) years ago. A literal reading of the Ramayana convinces that humans and monkey-like hominoid creatures coexisted. Putting the two ideas together, they come up with the fantastic notion that the ancestors of modern human beings have existed for two billion years. They want us to believe that human beings walked the earth at a time when fossil records show that only bacteria existed on the earth.

This completely contradicts the best scientific evidence from fossil records and radiocarbon dating that show that the ancestors of modern human beings only appeared around 200,000 to 100,000 years ago: that is, after the appearance of fish, amphibians, and reptiles and other mammals and hominoid species, from which humans have evolved. Vedic creationists set aside all this evidence as a mere social construct of Western archaeologists and palaeontologists who, they say, have been brainwashed by an atheistic, materialistic worldview. Once you remove the “knowledge filter” of Western-Christian materialism, they tell us, “spiritual sciences” will become dominant again, just as they used to be before the “reductionist” science of the West banished the gods from nature.

ON the face of it, Vedic creationism with its longer time spans looks more “scientific” than the old-fashioned Bible literalists who insist that the earth is only 6,000 years old. But what the two creationists share is the belief – entirely unfounded on verifiable facts – that human beings have been around since the beginning of life, and that they have not descended from the apes. (In fact, A.C. Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, used to describe Darwinians as “rascals” and “fools” for believing in such “nonsense” as the evolution of humans from apes. Prabhupada’s spirit lives on in Vedic creationism.)

The shared ground extends into the more “advanced” I.D. as well. Proponents of I.D. bring in a Designer God to explain the existence of “irreducible complexity” of life, which they think cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Proponents of Vedic creationism likewise, bring in Atman because they think that the existence of consciousness cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Just like the ID-ers completely ignore the mass of studies showing how complex structures such as eyes can arise out of natural causes, Vedic creationists completely ignore the mass of studies showing that the phenomenon of consciousness can be explained by purely natural causes. In both cases, there is the same wilful neglect of scientific method and scientific evidence in order to defend a religious conception of natural order.

Vedic creationism as an “ism”, as a “scientific” challenge to Darwin, has been more influential in America than it is in India. But the ideas of Vedic creationism – the enormous time spans, the cyclical yugas, the day and night of Brahma, the creation of new species as a result of transmigration of the Atman – are obviously better known in India than in America.

Indeed, most of what the Vedic creationists are talking about is part and parcel of a common perception held by a majority of Indians. Even well educated, scientifically trained Indians believe in karma-transmigration as the force propelling evolution or devolution of species. Many of us encounter Darwin in our schools and college curricula. But thanks to the rote learning that goes on in most of our science classes, Darwin hardly makes a dent on the Vedic creationist ideas we absorb from our myths and religious discourses. For all intents and purposes, Darwinism remains quite irrelevant to our picture of the world. (Yes, most Americans, too, believe in their God over Darwin. Perhaps that is one reason why America, among all advanced Western countries, remains so hospitable to Christian fundamentalism. We surely do not want to imitate the worst traits of American culture.)”

 Now, having read this “relegious vedic philisophy” and almost fundamentalist hindu based beliefs, today, I know for a fact that Indians take pride in how receptive they are and their religion and culture is to scientific ideas.

I read this article fantastically written by an Indian author Meera Nanda about the Indian perspective on all this, My attempt to try and recreate it:

“Many educated Indians compare Hinduism favourably with Islam and Christianity on precisely this issue of openness to new ideas. In India, Muslims and Christians are often put down as “illogical”, “superstitious” and “fundamentalist” while Hindu’s are seen as enlightened and open to arguments and evidence.

But they remain receptive to science only by ignoring its substance. They can keep celebrating the “Indian” who is supposedly open to arguments and evidence, only by not really engaging with the content of new ideas. An honest engagement with Darwinism would mean acknowledging that if we actually believe that Darwin is right then Vedic creationism cannot be right, and vice versa. Honest engagement would involve revising our views in the light of more persuasive evidence (from fossils and biology) that supports the Darwinian theory of evolution. I do not see many signs of this kind of critical engagement with science in India today.

The complicity of Vedic creationism with Christian creationism in America will hopefully make us take a critical look at our beliefs. If we are troubled and tickled by the creationist challenge to the scientific understanding of evolution in America, it is time, perhaps, to look at the anti-scientific creation stories that we ourselves subscribe to. Can we, in all honesty, believe in Vedic creationism and still think of ourselves as modern, scientific and enlightened?”

She has answered my previous question(in Part 1 of this post) of “Can you believe in God and Evoluion? ” from her perspective. Can you?

 

 

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