Document Type

Post-Print

Publication Date

8-2008

Abstract

Hindu responses to Darwinism, like Christian, have run the gamut from outright rejection to fairly robust but limited accommodations of the Darwinian perspective. Despite certain features of Hindu thought such as the enormous time-scales of traditional cosmogonies that may suggest considerable affinity with modern notions of organic evolution, more often than not traditional assumptions have worked against deep engagement with Darwinism, allowing only for superficial assimilation at best. Three fundamental factors have affected Hindu responses to Darwinism: the great diversity within the tradition spanning evolutionist and creationist perspectives, the encounter with Darwinism in the late nineteenth century as part of an alien culture, and the fact that this encounter occurred within a colonial context. This essay explores the complex interactions of these three factors, beginning with the diversity within the ancient and classical cosmological traditions, followed by consideration of colonial developments and the emergence of four representative Hindu approaches to Darwinism: Modern Vedic Evolutionism, Anthropic Vedic Evolutionism, Reactionary Vedic Evolutionism, and Modern Vedic Creationism. The essay concludes by discussing various epistemological issues in the attempts of modern Hindu apologists to legitimize Vedic world views. These issues include the appeal to modern science to confirm traditional ideals and values, while simultaneously subordinating scientific method to spiritual means of knowledge, or rejecting scientific methodology with its inbuilt skepticism entirely.

Publication Information

International Journal of Hindu Studies, vol.12, n.2, 103-151
DOI:10.1007/s11407-008-9058-8