Something New Under the Sun?

29 Jun

It is difficult to think an original thought—something that has never been thought of before. It might be like trying to imagine a new color that is not yellow, red or blue nor a blend of two or all three. In fact the writer of Ecclesiastes says that there is nothing new under the sun; what has occurred will occur again, and what has been done in the past will be repeated in another day. The problem is no one remembers or calls it to mind, so future generations are apt to forget what was said or done in earlier years (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11).

Is the theory of evolution new? That is, was it new when Darwin wrote about it in his The Origin of Species? I don’t believe it was new then, nor is what many believe about it today new in the true sense of the word. Did you know that there are striking similarities between this modern theory and the Hindu religion? There are, you know. In fact, some believe (and I quite agree) that the theory itself is wrapped up in Hinduism, perhaps it wasn’t intended to be so, but if one understood the origins of the theory, it might be difficult to deny!

The “origin of species” was debated thousands of years ago in what was ancient India. Notice what was written down cir. 1200 BCE:

“Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of the universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen? Whence this creation has arisen – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.” (Creation Hymn, Rig Veda: Nasadiya: 10:129—emphasis added)

Baruch Spinoza -- Born 1632, Died 1677 Image from Google Images

Baruch Spinoza — Born 1632, Died 1677
Image from Google Images

Baruch (Benedict de) Spinoza was born in 1632. He had a pantheistic view of the universe in much the same manner as scientists today envision ‘god’. He argued that as a rule god doesn’t govern the universe, but rather he (it) is the deterministic system behind everything and, in fact, includes all that exists in itself. True human happiness is found in knowing the system and our place within it (god). In the 19th century an instructor of Asian languages, Sir M. Monier-Williams, who grew up in India had this to say about the Hindu religion:

“Indeed, the Hindus were Spinozists 2,000 years before the birth of Spinoza, Darwinians centuries before the birth of Darwin, and evolutionists many centuries before the doctrine of evolution had been accepted by the Huxleys of our time, and before any word like evolution existed in any language of the world.” (Sir M. Monier-Williams, Professor of Sanskrit, University of Oxford, 1894).[1]

Interesting, don’t you think? But, could the ancient Hindu faith really be the source of such a modern ‘scientific’ theory? Well, the similarities are there, and I doubt that anyone could deny that. However the question would be: is it carrying things too far to conclude that the theory of evolution actually comes out of the Hindu religion? Well, let’s see where the next few blog-posts take us.

[1] M.L. Burk, Swami Vivekananda in the West, vol.2, 3rd edition, p. 128, 1984

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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Hinduism, theory of evolution


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