This is a raging controversy in America: was it God or random chance? The creation theory states that God created the world with all its diversity. The evolution theory states that random chance turned chemicals into genes and genes into an organic life form that mutated, and depending on natural selection over millions of years, gave rise to the multitude of living creatures, from the amoeba to man.
The controversy began over a century ago when Darwin published his book, The Origin of Species that claimed that humans had descended from monkeys! The idea seemed preposterous. He was condemned as a heretic and caricatured wherever he went.
There are those who argue that the Bible must not be taken literally. In the Genesis, inorganic materials are created first, then came the birds and fish, and only then man, indicating an acknowledgment of evolution. Only the timescale is different. What is stated as days may refer to millions of years in human terms. This symbolic school believes that the story of Noah’s Ark indicates how natural calamities can destroy a whole race of beings, the dinosaurs, for example. The Original Sin, they say, is not historical but metaphysical: when the man submits to passion rather than reason, causing disharmony in the quest for one’s own pleasure.
Battle lines rose: scientific thinking was contemptuously labeled as ‘foreign’ and ‘western’ by the Right, and celebrated as ‘modern’ by the Left.
The oldest Hindu text, the Rig Veda, seeks the origin of species, in a radically different way. It asks why did evolution happen. A clue, perhaps, lies in the fundamental difference between animal and man.
Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, religion, mythology, and management.