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Much Ado About Nothing

Now don't get me wrong. Charles Darwin's observations are by no means 'nothing'. He gave to the world his work "On The Origin of Species", a culmination of all his observations about nature and species. A hundred and fifty years on, scientists are still modifying the basic tenets of evolution and finding more proof to substantiate Darwin.

But few scientific theories have generated as much disturbance and controversy as this particular one. Why does evolution pose such a big threat to the established order of things? Why does a country that is supposed to be at the forefront of scientific thought, have laws that prevent evolution from being taught? A mere 40% of Americans actually believe in evolution. So what do the other 60% believe?

They believe in 'creationism'. Come again??!! You heard me right. Creationism is the belief that all life on earth was created in its present form by a deity or 'God'. The movement to re-introduce creationism into school textbooks was so strong that it is now taught along with evolution as an alternate theory to origin of life on earth. I can only suppose that Americans have not evolved like the Europeans!

Evolution shakes the foundation of religious Christians. For all devout Catholics, Man was created by God in His image. Earth was created in 7 days starting from the famous 'Let there be light'. How do you go from Man-supreme pinnacle of God's creations to Man-descendant of apes? You don't.

Even for those who do not interpret the Genesis in the literal sense, evolution poses a threat. They are prepared to accept evolution as an explanation for how our bodies evolved but not as an explanation for human behavior and thought. How can you say that the mind cannot exist independent of the material body? What does that imply for the existence of the so called 'soul'?

So I asked myself why doesn't Hinduism have this problem with evolution? What do devout Hindus believe? I think the answer lies in the way Hinduism works. Hinduism as a philosophy leaves room for all schools of thought. In fact, there is as much literature on atheism as there is on theistic schools of thought in Hindu philosophy. There is no definitive version of the creation of life. If you believe in the traditional schools of thought, you can accept evolution as the practical manifestation of the concepts of 'Karma'. Are you an agnostic? No problem. Evolution is the path God intended man to take and he does not interfere in the process anymore than man himself can. Atheist? No worries. Evolution is scientific fact supported by fossil evidence. I do not think there is any particular doctrine which precludes a belief in evolution.

Let me put an end to this 'ado about nothing'. Darwin did to biology what Einstein did to Newtonian physics. On this special day therefore, a salute to Darwin for what he gave the world and a toast to all the scientists who are still working to unravel the mysteries of the universe!!!

Evolution in Action

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