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Darwin's theory seems to make a lot of sense to most people. What are the Gaudiya Vaisnava objections to Darwin's theories regarding the evolution of the human species? Our main objection to Darwinian evolution is that it sees consciousness as a product of matter. We cannot agree with this proposal, nor does it make much sense in terms of verifiable evidence. Where do we see consciousness arising from inert matter and what scientific experiment can prove that this occurs? Our theory is that matter evolves from consciousness--the supreme consciousness. Otherwise, we acknowledge the evidence for some kind of evolution. Hindus were evolutionists long before Darwin. Hindu scriptures teach that the various forms of life exist conceptually within God and evolve out of matter in conjunction with the desires of karmically-bound souls. In this way, the material body evolves on the basis of the jiva's [the individual soul or ego] desire or necessity. For example, when the desire or necessity to see arises in the jiva, the eye is manifest. Brahma is said to be the first soul and the repository of all the other jivas, who under his direction evolve upwards through aquatic life, to plant life, etc. Interestingly, Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave a lecture on the evolution of matter through the material mode of goodness at the British-Indian Society. He also analyzed the Dasavatara Stotram (Ten Incarnations of Visnu) in terms of evolution. In his view, the dasavatara conception almost parallels the Puranic notion of life's evolution from aquatic life upwards: Matsya (fish), Kurma (amphibian), Varaha (land animal), Narasinga (both animal and man), etc. How does the theory of evolution coincide with the Vaisnava account of creation? In brief, here is how creation occurs according to the scripture: Visnu resides in the "causal ocean," consisting of innumerable jiva souls in seed form, all of whom are under the latent influence of their karmic desires left over from the previous world cycle. At this time, the modes of material nature (gunas) are in a state of equilibrium. At some point, a feeling arises within Visnu, followed by an infinite vibration. This develops into an abstract idea and then into an actual thought, "I shall become many." Thus, the undisturbed equilibrium state of the gunas is activated by Visnu's glance of life, consisting of many jivas. Material nature is then galvanized by time and another world cycle is manifest. This manifestation of the world is not technically a process of evolution in every sense, because the cause of the world itself (Visnu) never undergoes transformation. As matter develops, the jivas develop from gross to refined subtle expressions through 8,400,000 forms beginning with aquatic life and culminating in human life. At the time in this process that humanity makes its appearance on earth, everything is in order for the jiva souls to meet their maker. At this point, the world consisting of the jivas and matter--the marginal and external saktis of Visnu--becomes conscious of itself. Unfortunately, this auspicious moment in cosmic history can take a turn for the worse for some souls. These souls think away their chance for liberation with sophisticated theories that deny their ties to a supreme consciousness, as does Darwinian evolution. There may be some truth to Darwin's theory, but it has done at least as much to obscure the nature of the material reality as it has to reveal it. Still, we agree with the part of Darwin's theory that says that the material world is a struggle for existence in which one living being is food for another (jivo jivasya jivanam)--survival of the fittest. But there is much more to the picture than this.

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1 Sara Di Diego = "There is a passage in Rig Veda that states outright that they aren't sure if God created the universe or not:"Who really knows, and who can swear,How creation came, when or where!Even gods came after creation’s day,Who really knows, who can truly sayWhen and how did creation start?Did He do it? Or did He not?Only He, up there, knows, maybe;Or perhaps, not even He."— Rig Veda 10.129.1-7"