His conclusions rest heavily on a thin surface of guesswork.
Real evidence supporting his theory is in short supply.
by Bali Mardan dasa
Over the past 150 years, the expanding role of science in almost every sphere of life has produced a revolution in ideas—a revolution epitomized by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Although never proven more than a theory, it is accepted by millions as fact. In discussing the influence and implications of his theory, I shall suggest an alternative explanation of evolution that is both theistic and scientific, and which does not depend upon the imperfect methods of speculation used by Darwin. Because this account of man’s origin has until only recently been confined to the Vedic literature originally written in Sanskrit, Western man has heretofore remained ignorant of its profound significance.
Science Versus Religion
Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Western civilization held to a strong belief in the existence of one Supreme God, and the fabric of life was woven of this faith. With the advent of the Age of Reason, however, the credibility of Christianity was severely tested in the crucible of scientific scrutiny. Although many Christians saw in the discovery of scientific laws new revelations of God’s glory, probing scientific criticism of the explanations of the creation given in the Bible undermined the traditional authority of Christian doctrine.
The literal Biblical description of man’s origin was given its severest test in 1859, when Charles Darwin published Onthe Origin of Species, a treatise which was designed to prove the gradual evolution of man from lower forms of life. Until Darwin’s time, Church doctrine was expressed by such authorities as Archbishop Ussher, who specified that the world was created at “9:00 a.m., October 23, 4004 B.C.” This date was calculated from the Biblical record by tracing history back to Adam and Eve and then to the cosmic creation. But Church spokesmen found it difficult to refute Darwin’s all-encompassing explanations. After some initial resistance, most advocates of the Biblical version of evolution realized the tide of the times and began to praise Darwin for showing how intelligently God had arranged the evolution of species from lower life forms up to the human form. Darwin himself, however, avoided mention of God in his writings. Privately he admitted, “I look upon all human feeling as traceable to some germ in the animal.”
By the late 19th century, fundamentalists could no longer hold the scientists at bay with their literal interpretations of the Bible, and Church authorities tried to adjust Christian theology to scientific change. An increasingly materialistic community of scientists saw that the time was ripe to attack man’s faith in God and establish science as the new deity with themselves as its priests. For example, in 1893 Ernst Mach said, “The theological conception of things gave way to a more rigid conception; and this was accompanied with a considerable gain in enlightenment…The physical philosophy of theology is a fruitless achievement, a reversion to a lower state of scientific culture.”
Today, the ideas of Darwin play an integral role in much scientific research. Modern geneticists and biochemists, for example, have expanded Darwinism by producing a theory of existence in which God has become extraneous. By promising life from the laboratory and immortality within the fleshly body, they have convinced the public that the origin of human life is a molecular accident and that man himself is nothing more than a complex combination of chemicals.
But if we examine Darwin’s methods, we will find his conclusions to be less “scientific” than the certainty with which he states them would suggest. In theorizing that all life forms have developed from one remote ancestor, Darwin decided that some unknown force must have combined with the time factor to cause the evolution of the different species we see today. He thought that the final stage of this process was the development of man from the monkey. In the writings of Thomas Malthus (An Essay on Population)Darwin found the mechanism that seemingly gave evolution its conclusive rationale. Malthus said that animals and man reproduce in geometric progression, whereas the supply of food in the world increases only arithmetically. He argued that if even one species of life reproduced without any check, it would soon overrun the world. (Fish and insects lay many thousands of eggs.) Malthus described a constant struggle for existence in which the population of living organisms is trimmed, thus keeping an equilibrium in nature. Darwin suggested that the struggle for existence would favor certain varieties of life, and that the fittest of those would survive, fitness being measured in terms of the capability of an organism to gather food, defend itself, and reproduce. He called this the process of “natural selection,” which supposedly was the mechanism nature provided to guide the changing species along the path of evolution. Later, the genetic theories of Gregor Mendel and others provided explanations for the occurrence of mutations.
In his diary, Darwin admits “a constant tendency to fill up the wide gaps of knowledge by inaccurate and superficial hypotheses.” This suggests that Darwin’s theory, however well it may explain his collected data, rests merely on circumstantial evidence. Neither Darwin nor anyone since has directly observed a transition from one species to another. No one has ever seen a parent from one species give birth to an offspring initiating a new species. The best Darwin could do was claim that such an event must have happened in the past. He felt this was the only way to explain his observations.
Alive and Well
Peking Man, Neanderthal Man and like discoveries have made headlines throughout the world as primitive human forms that have preceded the evolutionary development of modern man. Such claims are closer to propaganda than to scientific truth. As we see around us, primitive forms live side by side with more advanced ones. The Darwinists once declared that a primitive fish, the Coelacanth, had been extinct for the last seventy million years. But quite surprisingly, the Coelacanth has since turned up alive and well in the waters off South Africa, unchanged from fossilized forms hundreds of millions of years old. There are many similar examples, and in each instance the scientists cleverly rearrange their theories to fit the changing evidence.
That primitive men exist, in the past or in the present, does not prove that civilized men are a recent development. The evidence found by Dr. Leakey in Africa within the last few years definitely shows more advanced humans living at a much earlier period than less developed human species found living at a later date. There is no real evidence of higher forms evolving from lower ones. Were future scientists to discover the remains of twentieth century aboriginal tribes in New Guinea, would it be valid for them to conclude that such were the dominant form of human life in the twentieth century? Of course not, because the aborigines of New Guinea represent only a small fraction of the human race at the present time.
Furthermore, in India, the center of the ancient world, the civilized method of disposing of the dead has always been to cremate the bodies, thus leaving no evidence for future paleontologists to speculate about. Excavated bones come from aboriginal tribes living side by side with the advanced Vedic culture. Proof of Darwinism rests on a very thin surface of empirical guesswork. It is actually no proof at all.
The best-known and most obvious evidence against Darwinism is the virtual absence of intermediary forms of species, either alive or fossilized. Without these missing links, there are no connecting links through which evolution could have proceeded. In addition, Darwinists cannot explain the development of fish, birds, whales or dolphins. The duckbilled Platypus also defies their explanation, as do thousands of other wonderful creatures. A few quotes from the scientists themselves will reveal Darwin’s theory for what it is—an unscientific claim to satisfy the minds of atheistic men:
“The fossil record does not tell us how fishes came into existence…we can only guess as to the way in which the first fishes originated.” (Url Lanham, The Fishes)
“The origin of the birds is largely a matter of deduction. There is no fossil evidence of the changes through which the remarkable change from reptile to bird was achieved.” (A.J. Marshal, Biology and Comparative Physiology of Birds)
Not only is there no proof that lower forms of life develop into more complex and advanced ones, but even the theory of change by mutation, which had been so readily accepted, has now been shown to be faulty. Dr. Alan Wilson, professor of biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. M. King, a research geneticist, presented evidence in Science magazine, April 11, 1975, that mutation cannot possibly account for the changes in life forms necessary for evolutionary development. The pillars of Darwinism are crashing to the ground, for without a valid explanation of variation, Darwin’s whole idea becomes absurd.
The actual fact is that there is no solid evidence for Darwinian evolution. Millions accept it blindly, not daring to question the scientific community that has given the theory its stamp of approval.
The Vedic View of Evolution
Darwin’s error was to minimize his own human frailty. Overlooking the limitations of his own senses and mind, and ignoring the inevitable human tendency to become illusioned and make mistakes, he cheated the public by claiming as fact that which could only be tentative hypothesis. To find the conclusive explanation of the origin of species, we must approach a source of knowledge which is beyond the imperfections of our tiny brains. This infallible source of knowledge is the Vedic scriptures which, unlike the speculative postulates of empirical scientists, are spoken directly by the Supreme Lord Himself.
In the Vedic literature, we find a well-substantiated explanation of the origin of the many species from a theistic, yet thoroughly scientific, point of view. The theists of Darwin’s time had no scientifically viable arguments with which to defend and explain divine creation. For instance, why does life display such a varied gradation of organisms, from the most simple amoeba to the complex human being? What is the relationship between animal and human life? The answers to these questions are given in the Vedas.
According to the Vedic information, the material body is only a temporary covering of the eternal soul—a puppet that dances for some time until the soul passes on to the next life form. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, a manual for spiritual life spoken by Lord Krishna (God) Himself: “As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.” (Bg. 2.13)
The soul, the vital spiritual spark in each material body, is thus understood to be the active principle in the cycle of birth and death. The nature of the soul is described as follows: “Know that which pervades the entire body to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul. Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is subject to destruction.” (Bg, 2.17-18) Scientists have no access to knowledge of the soul through their methods of empirical observation and experimentation, because the soul is described as being beyond the purview of the mundane world, immeasurable by the blunt instruments of our senses.
Modern Darwinists postulate a common ancestor for all species—a single-celled organism with minimal life functions. The Vedas also specify one origin for all living entities, but the Vedic conclusion is that the origin of all species is God. As Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita: “It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Bg. 14.4) “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.” (Bg. 10.8) Many present-day followers of Darwin maintain that life originated by accident in a primeval chemical soup, but when the Vedic scientist asks to know where the soup came from—or the universe for that matter—Darwinists cannot reply. The theory of accidental creation of the universe is based simply on unproved assumptions and an unwillingness to admit ignorance.
Darwin theorized that the varieties of life forms gradually evolved from one another over a great span of time. The Vedas, however, explicitly describe the process by which all species were created at the beginning of the universe. The Vedas categorize 900,000 species of aquatic life, 2,000,000species of plant and tree life, 1,100,000 species of insects, 1,000,000 species of birds, 3,000,000 species of beasts and 400,000 species of human beings. The Vedas do not say that all 8,400,000species of life must exist simultaneously on any one planet. There are countless millions of planets within God’s creation, each with life forms suitable for its environment. Simply because a particular species—such as the dinosaur—is no longer visible on earth is no proof that it does not exist somewhere else.
The material world is created for the small minority of souls who rebel against the supremacy of God. The Lord provides a place for them where they may act out their fantasies as tiny gods of the mundane sphere. At the same time, however, God provides the means by which the fallen souls may revive their God consciousness and return to the spiritual world.
The apparent lack of God’s mercy in nature caused Darwin to disbelieve in a creator. He lamented, “I can see no evidence of beneficent design.” Actually, the miseries that all creatures are heir to in this world are, in one sense, a blessing, for they prompt the living entity, when he reaches the human form of life, to inquire into the means of escape from this painful condition. Suffering exists as long as we try to exploit nature and remain in ignorance of our true spiritual position. Evolution is the means by which the Supreme Lord gradually brings the living entity to full consciousness, and the varieties of life are the various prisons the soul must pass through on his sojourn within matter. The culmination of the soul’s evolution is the human form of life, where one may at long last end the cycle of birth and death and re-enter the spiritual realm. If, however, one misuses human life by neglecting spiritual culture, he must again descend into the animal species and once more be subject to the process of evolution. The Brahma-vaivarta Purana states that: “One attains the human form of life after transmigration through 8,400,000species of life by the process of gradual evolution. The human form of life is spoiled for those conceited fools who do not take shelter of the lotus feet of Govinda [God].”
The fate of those who misuse human life is further described in the Bhagavad-gita: “Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence into various demoniac species of life. Attaining repeated births among the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence.” (Bg. 16.20)
The Vedas emphatically declare that having now achieved the extremely rare human form, we should use the opportunity to inquire about God, the origin of everything. The most complete and authoritative information on God and His creation is to be found in the Vedas themselves, and the essence of the Vedic wisdom is contained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita. This literature, presented in English for the first time without adulteration by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, provides the seriously inquisitive seeker with a totally theistic and scientific explanation of the creation of the universe and the origin of species, and explicit instructions on how he can complete the evolutionary process by becoming God conscious in the human form of life.