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Evolution of matter vs Evolution of Species

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Thu Jan 27 2000 - 12:53:50 PST

Dear Bahagavatas,

Quite recently, my brother, who is going to be 15 tomorrow, asked me if I subscribe to Darwin*s Theory of Evolution; if not, why?  I am posting my response as I thought it may be of interest to bhagavatas who have young siblings or children. This topic was discussed in May 1999 (please refer to archives for details.)


There is no theory that is devoid of premise; given this, we can conclude that there is no such thing as a theory devoid of belief (the beliefs must be rational however in that they must not contradict common experience.)  The fundamental premise, that should be the substratum of every systematic rational theory, relates to the sources of knowledge that a theory accepts as valid.  Vedanta (Vis*istAdvaita) accepts three, perception, inference, and verbal testimony (two types empirical and scripture which is non empirical.)  Perception is only source of valid knowledge accepted by Darwin*s theory.   The two theories approach the issue from different points of view and draw different conclusions, as such there is no possibility for reconciliation.   Note the empiricist approach involved drawing conclusions based on inferences from direct observation, as such it is an only a conjecture and not an irrefutable argument.  Darwin*s theory is simply a theory; one can disagree with it o!
n a rational basis; it is not like an axiom of perception that is irrefutable.  

For the Orthodox Vedanta schools, in matters beyond the realm of senses, scripture has ultimate authority.  Evolution is not totally within the realm of perception as such scripture has ultimate authority.  The manu smriti  (Which is accepted by Vis*istAdvaita Vedanta schools as being as authoritative as the vedas) does not support the support the notion of evolution of species.  *Men are free from disease, accomplish all their aims, and live four hundred years in the Krita age, but in the Treta and (in each of) the succeeding (ages) their life is lessened by one
quarter.*   Thus, the orthodox schools of Vedanata cannot accept Darwin*s theory of evolution of species as it is opposed to scripture in a matter that is beyond the realm of perception; these schools accept the Vedantic theory of evolution of matter from subtle to manifest state instead.  

I like the idealism of the orthodox Vedanta, as such I do not prescribe Darwin*s evolution of species.  I also believe in accepting something in its entirety and am opposed to eclecticism, as such I accept the orthodox Vedantic description of reality in its entirety.   As the third sutra in the Vedantasutra states *s*Astra yonitvAt.*    This sutra is stated in the section that talks about the proof of the existence of Brahman; however the sutra applies in general to all matters beyond the realm of perception.

Ramanuja dasan,