( A monograph on the current controversy in India, surrounding Darwin’s Theory )
- Introduction :
Darwin has become a topic of hot controversy in India in the last few weeks, and of course, a subject for the media.
A few weeks back, in a seminar, Hon. Shri Satya Pal Singh, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, made a statement that Darwin’s theory of Evolution is incorrect, and that a Committee will be formed to look into this Theory. After this, the Indian scientists protested against this statement. Consequent to all this, Hon. Shri Prakash Jawadekar, cabinet minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) made an announcement that no such committee will be formed. But the controversy is not over, and the Scientists are observing the week beginning 12th Feb. 2018 as ‘Darwin Week’ to emphasize that Darwin’s theory is correct. This has been organized by ‘The India March for Science Organising Committee’ and ‘The breakthrough Science Society’. The organisers say that Darwin’s Theory has been proved to be correct by a number of development in the field of science.
It seems that the hue & cry on Darwin is not going to die down soon.
- No sides :
While it is neither the intension of the author of this monograph to take one or the other side in this controversy, nor to put down anybody ; he intends to go into some aspects of Darwin’s Theory, and would try to arrive at conclusion about the controversy ( though not necessarily about the Theory itself).
- A bit about Darwin & his Theory :
- Darwin was an Australian. He was born in 1809. In 1859, Darwin wrote his famous book, ‘Origin of Species’. In it he overturned the old theory of ‘Creation’ that was in vogue in the Western i.e Christian world. ( In this monograph, we will shortly go into that theory of Creation ).
- As per Darwin’s theory of Evolution, life on this planet Earth has evolved though random genetic mutations, along with the ‘Process of Natural Selection’, where ‘survival of the fittest’ is the rule.
- This Theory has led scientists to believe & ‘prove’ that man has descended from Apes, and also that Homo Erectus, Neanderthal Man etc. has disappeared as they were not the ‘fittest’.
- New finds / theories that have replaced old ones : Some Examples :
As we have seen earlier, Darwin’s theory has overturned the old theory.
In fact, it is not just Darwin, but several other persons in a number of different fields, who have put up new theories which invalidated old ones.
- Let us start with Darwin himself. For centuries, the (old) theory of Creation that was believed by the Christian World was that ‘God created man in his image ( & from earth, ‘mitti’ )’. But, Darwin , as mentioned earlier, talks not of ‘Creation’, but of ‘Evolution’. He overthrew the old theory.
- It was also believed by the Christian West ( as per a theory formulated by a Christian priest of the medieval period) that the Earth & this World was created circa 4000 BCE ( the priest had given not only the exact year, but the month, date & time of creation too ! ). Research in the past couple of centuries has shown that the Earth is several billion years old.
So, out went the old theory.
- In early-medieval period, people in Europe believed that the ‘Earth is flat’; and in fact while seafaring they had a fear that they will fall of the Earth’s edge if they travel far from the Coast. But, of course, we now know that the Earth is Round (pear-shaped).
That caused the demise of the old theory.
- For centuries, Europeans believed that ‘The sun revolved round the Earth, and that the Earth is at the center of the Universe’ . Galileo showed that it is the Earth which moved around the Sun. ( Of course, he was hounded for his new theory & jailed. His theory took some time to take root, but take root it did, and out went the old theory).
- Now we also know that the Earth is not at the Centre of the Universe, that Sun is only a small star situated in one of the spiral arms of the galaxy ‘Milky Way’, and that there are billions of such galaxies in the Universe.
Needless to point out that the old theory is no more talked about.
- Take Newton’s theory. It was a revolutionary theory in its time, and was followed for some centuries ; but in early 20th century, when ‘Theory of Relativity’ was proposed by Einstein, it was found that Newton’s theory had limitations. Now Einstein’s theory has replaced Newton’s.
- Throughout the 19th century, Europeans believed that ‘India has no history
& civilization before the invasion on Alexander’.
But, in early 20th century, archeologists found sites of the Harappan Civilization, ( also referred to as ‘Indus Valley Civilization’ ), and the Westerners had to grudgingly accept its period as 3500 BCE, and thus the old theory was debunked.
- After independence, as Harappa & Mohen-Jo-Daro, (the then-known main sites of the Indus civilization) were lost to Pakistan, Indian archeologists made a concerted effort to find new sites of this civilization. This has led to finding the course of the ‘Lost’ river Saraswati, and a number of sites of the Harappan civilization such as Kalibungan, Lothal, Dhola Vira, Rakhigadhi etc ; (and also later-Harappan sites such as Jorve, Nevase, Daimabad & others in Maharashtra).
It was found that many such sites of the Harappan civilization
were located at the banks of River Saraswati, and consequently , many Indian archeologists replaced the name ‘Indus civilization’ with ‘Saraswati-Sindhu Civilization’.
Another old theory has been annulled.
- Now, recent research at Rakhigadhi (in Haryana) has shown that the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization (Indus civilization) was 6000 BCE old, and the period of the pre-Harappan civilization there has been found to be 7000 BCE.
Even the relatively-recent theory about the period of the Indus Civilization has fallen .
- Some new theories which are threatening to dethrone older ones :
- Aryan Invasion Theory : ( AIT ) :
#This came into vogue after the Indus Civilization was found. Then Western scholars put up a theory that semi-nomadic ‘Aryan’ invaders came into India, and it was they that destroyed the Indus Civilization.
[ Note : It is to be noted that ‘Aryan’ is not the name of any Race, but the ‘then-experts’ made it so, wrongly ].
#After some decades, after more artifacts were found at the Indus sites, and new finds were unearthed , the Aryan Invasion Theory had to be abandoned, and it was replaced by the ‘Aryan Immigration Theory’ which says that ‘Aryans’ came into India in small groups and settled here.
( And, so the Invasion theory fell, and was modified).
But, whether it is Invasion Theory or Immigration Theory, it postulated that then ‘Aryans’ came into India from the West, from the region of Iran. Most western experts and several Indian experts still believe in this Theory.
#In the past couple of decades, a new theory has been promulgated by some Indian Researchers and has been supported by some PIO Researchers from USA. Its primary premise is that the ‘Aryans’ originated in India, and spread westwards, and they have ‘proved’ it by the use of Rigvedic texts.
Supporters of both these theories are having bitter fights with each other. We have to wait to see who finally wins.
- Aryan-Dravid Divide :
# We have seen that, after finding Indus/ Harappan Civilization, the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT, referred above) came into existence. It postulated that the Harappans were Dravidians, who were driven away by the invading Aryans.
# Then, the South-Indians, particularly the Tamilians, took up this theory in zest, and this caused a North-South Divide.
# Recent genetic studies have conclusively proven that there are no separate ‘Aryan’ or ‘Dravidian’ races in India. It is in fact a single mixed-genetic group. So in fact, the Aryan-Dravidian theory is defunct and should be thrown out of the window. ( However, old biases still exist, and it will take some time before they are discarded).
- The period of the Vedas :
# In the 19th century, Max Muller postulated the period of the RigVeda as middle of 2nd Century BCE.
# However, new evidence is taking the period of Vedas considerably backwards. For example, ‘Yajna-Vedis’ are found in the Harappan Civilization sites, which has led several Indian scholars to postulate that the Indus civilization was indeed RigVedic Civilization.
# Now a debate is raging about the above, which will to a great extent determine the Period of RigVeda. But, in any case., most Indian scholars now believe that the Period indicated by Max Muller is incorrect.
- ‘Proto-Indo-European’ language :
#In the late 18th century, William Jones noticed the similarity between Vedic-Sanskrit (proto-Sanksrit) , Avestan, Greek & Latin. This led to the theory of a common, ancient ‘Indo-European’ language, which is supposed to be the mother of the abovementioned languages. That in turn led later to ‘Proto-Indo-European’ Language, which has been postulated as the mother of ‘Indo-European’. It ought to be remembered that such a language has not actually been found anywhere, but has been merely postulated.
# We have seen that, now, some Indian researchers have put up a ‘Indian Origin’ Theory ( also called ‘Out of India ‘theory) , in place of AIT which postulated that Aryans entered India from outside. ( This has been discussed above ).
#The mention of Vedic Gods in Mittani texts of mid-second millennium BCE in the Middle-East regoin, is being interpreted by both sides to support their theory.
#Those scholars, who are siding with the ‘Out of India’ theory say that , there has been no ‘Proto Indo-European’ language, but in fact it was a ‘proto proto-Sanskrit’ that spread into Persian, Europe etc.
#Believers of both these theories are now battling it out.
- Has Darwin’s theory been ‘totally’ proved ? Is it a ‘perfect’ theory ? Are there any Lacunae in it ? –
Somebody may wonder as to what is the relevance of all the above with the Darwinian Theory. We are now going into it.
(a) Let us refer an Article titled ‘Darwin’s Demise’ , by Will Hart .
- Darwin himself was aware of the weakness of his theory. He called the Origin of Flowering Plants as ‘An Abominable Mystery’. This is one of the weak links in Darwin’s Theory, and it has not still been solved. Darwin himself wrote – ‘It is the most serious objection that can be urged against the Theory.
( It seems that Darwin was more open-minded than many scientists & experts who support his theory ).
- Michael Behe, a biology professor, in his book ‘In Darwin’s Black Box : The Biochemical challenge to Evolution’ focuses on 5 phenomena : *Blood Clotting, * Cilia ($), *The human Immune System, *The transport of materials within cells, *Synthesis of Nucleotides.
After analysis, he arrives at a conclusion : ‘These are systems that are so incredibly complex that no ‘gradual, step-by-step’ Darwinian route could have led to their creation.
[ ($) Cilium – Plural Cilia. Cilia : Many tiny hair-like processes which line cells in passages in the body and by moving backwards and forwards drive particles or fluid along the passage ].
- Has any evidence been found from the fossil-records concerning transitional species ?
The late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould says, ‘All paleontologists knows that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms ; transitions between major groups .. ’ .
It has to be noted that, fossils of early and extinct primates, hominids, Neanderthals, and Homo Sapiens, have been found ; but no fossils of the transition linking ape and man.
The same situation exists about appearance of Flowering-plants. Fossils representing non-flowering-plants from 300 million years ago are found, as well as those of flowering-plants from 100 million years ago. But, no plants have been found showing the gradual process of mutations that represent the intermediate species (of plants) that link the two.
- Once the world-renowned anthropologists Louis B. Leaky was asked about the ‘missing link’. He replied, ‘There is no (just) one link missing – there are hundreds of links missing’.
- Just a hundred years after Darwin, the structure of DNA was discovered.
Geneticists know that the vast majority of mutations are either negative or neutral. In other words, mutations are usually mistakes. It appears that mutation is not a very reliable primary mechanism, because natural -selection is obviously not a dynamic force that could drive the kind of changes that scientists attribute to the evolution theory.
Michel Behe (referred earlier) has pointed in his book that life within a cell is just too complex to be the outcome of random mutations.
- David Lewis, in his article points out that , in the case of the human brain, its advanced capacities, such as the ability to perform calculus, ability to play the violin, van not be explained by Darwin’s Theory.
- Even Consciousness itself, can not be explained by Darwin’s ‘Survival of the fittest’ doctrine alone.
Darwinism depends upon the assumption that all existence is matter-based, & it can not account for Consciousness.
- Lewis refers to an article by David Chalmers, titled ‘The puzzle of Experience’, that was published in the world-famous, highly-reputed magazine, ‘Scientific American’. Chalmers says, ‘For many years, Consciousness was shunned by researchers. ……. Science , which depends on objectivity, could not accommodate something as subjective as Consciousness.’
- Several scientists rejects Darwin’s often-stated premise, which holds that, all life evolved from primitive matter, accidentally, without purpose or design.
- Lewis also points out that , the proliferation of closely-related biological species on continents separated by vast oceans also puzzles Darwinists.
- Lewis brings up an important & interesting point, ‘Why limit the debate to Western models ?’ . He indicates that Eastern models too must be studied.
[ For example, in another field, Fritjof Capra, in his book ‘Tao of Physics’ harmonizes Vedic, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophy with the subtleties of the Quantum Theory. ]
- Some objections to the ‘Established Science’ :
Let us refer a Marathi article titled ‘Prasthapit Vidnyanavareel Aakshep’ (Objections to established Science), that has appeared in Marathi Daily ‘Loksatta’ ( Indian Express Group), Mumbai Edition, dated 17th Feb. 2018, and written by Ravindra Rukmini Pandharinath, which describes the attitude of some scientists.
- Scienticism – It says that not only devout Religionists are Dogmatic , but also those supporters of science who consider Science as a ‘Religion’. Their attitude is that, for example, if the topic is ‘Dams’ , no one but a Civil Engineer should speak ; if the subject is health-related, no one but a medical doctor should speak on it.
Is such an attitude right ? David Lewis ( referred previously) states, ‘common sense seems to take a backseat to scientific Dogma’.
- Several feminist thinkers have criticized that the Language & Connotation of Science are biased by Male-dominated thinking. Science claims to be neutral & fact-based, but it closes its eyes to the gender-differentiated thinking that is hidden deep within it.
- Feminist critics, who also include Scientists, claim that , the established-science believes the male-body to be the Benchmark, while the female-body is considered as if it is an aberration.
- Scientists are not an undivided fraternity. We have already discussed about the male-dominance & the feminists. Apart from this, there is a tussle between the ‘Capitalist-oriented Science’ and the ‘Marxist-oriented science’. Marxist-scientists have an objection that the present modern-science has been developed in the framework of Capitalist values & beliefs , and accordingly it has accepted that value-system. This is naturally not acceptable to them.
This means that Scientists themselves are not united in their approach & conclusions, and that, their conclusions might be coloured by their attitudes & beliefs.
8. Freedom of Expression :
- Discussing differing points of views : India’s Ancient Tradition :
- India has a long tradition of tolerating & discussing differing points of views. Over the centuries, Indian Tradition has been that, an author / philosopher would first discuss with respect others’ differing views & theories, calling that as his ‘Poorva-Paksha’ ; and then he would , in his ‘Uttar-Paksha’, present his own theory, and therewith proving wrong / incomplete , the theories propagated by others.
- Right to Free Speech : The Constitution of India grants every citizen the Right to Free Speech.
As this is a fundamental right, everybody ha the freedom to express his thoughts & opinions ; and others should not object to such expression per se.
- Some Quotes : Towards this, let us look at some quotes of thinkers – ( Approximate translation) . Ref. Loksatta Mumbai Edition, Dtd. 16th to 19th Feb., 18 : –
- – Justice Chpalgaonkar : We do talk about Freedom of Expression. However, the openmindedness necessary for respecting others’ expression, has still not taken root in our society.
- – Laxmikant Deshmukh : Former bureaucrat , and the Chairperson of the Marathi Literary Convention held in Vadodara ( Baroda) in Feb. 2018 : Every citizen of this country has the right to free expression. While using this Fundamental Right, it is necessary to ask questions to the Establishment.
- – Shyam Manohar, a senior litterateur who was felicitated in the above Marathi Literary Convention : …. Curiosity for different things is one of the two basic driving force(s) of human beings. …… Complex questions & the efforts to get their answers is the sign of a civilized society. The civilized Society must keep alive some place (within one’s own life) for knowledge. …. .Knowledge is not only to be possessed , it has to be created too . One should make the effort to pass on the knowledge to the society ; one ought not insist on winning ( in the dialogue, the effort) .
- Conventions / Councils held in the past : some examples :In the past history of India & the world, we do find councils / Congress / Assemblies / Conventions (held under different names) for discussing important issues.[ Mind you, we are not discussing as to what conclusions these congregations arrived at ( & whether they were right from today’s perspective) , but we are highlighting the fact that such Summits were indeed held, where complex issues were deliberated upon seriously and decisions taken that were seen to be right from the then-prevailing knowledge, beliefs & point of view ] .
Here are some examples –
- In the few centuries after the demise of Buddha, 3 Summits of Buddhist monks were held to discuss Buddhism, the first one a short time after Buddha’s demise, the second one at Ashok’s time, & the third one at the time of Kanishka.
- Do discuss about Christianity & its tenets, A Convension of Churh-Fathers was held in late-1st Century AD , and in mid-3rd Century AD.
- In Maharashtra, in the 13th Century AD, young Vitthalpant became a Sanyasi ( renounced the worldly attachments) without taking his wife’s permission. On learning of this, his Guru ordered him back into Grihasthashram ( living the life of, & following the duties of a Householder). On returning to family-life, he gave birth to 4 Children , one of whom later came to be known as Sant ( saint) Jnaneshwar.
- When these children were grown up sufficiently, Vitthalpant wanted their Upanayan ( scacred-thread ceremony) to be performed. For this, he approached the Congrregation of Learned & knowledgeable persons in Alandi ( near Pune) , who deliberated on the matter in their Gathering & told what penance Vitthalpant must undertake as per the ancient religious-laws, which decision he & his wife didabide by.
- The same congregation told Vitthalpant’s sons to approach the Elders’ at Paithan, who were very well versed in the ancious traditions & laws of the Religion. Accordingly, when these brothers approached the Congragation at Paithan, the gathering did deliberate on this issue in all seriousness.
- Even today, there is a Gram-Panchayat in villages, which deliberates on important issues seriously and comes to a decision.
- What may be re-emphasized is that, for important & complex issues, setting up & organizing meetings of such Gatherings for serious deliberations has continued from the past several millennia.
10. Concluding Remarks :
- The above referred article of Author Ravindra that appeared in Loksatta, articulated that, it is not right for the Central minister of State for HRD to say that, ‘since our religious scriptures do not mention anything about Evolution , the Evolution-theory should not be taught in schools’.
( Present Author’s observation – This statement of the Hon. Minister of State is as reported in the media. The minister himself has not rendered any further comment on this subject. )
But let us be clear that, at the same time, it is not right for the scientists to be ‘Dogmatic’ and work against a dialogue on Darwin’s theory. ( Author Ravindra too has said that ).
- Unfortunately, these days, we Indians are forgetting our old system of ‘Tolerence’ , and are presently becoming more & more Intolerance by anybody is unacceptable ; specially from the Scientist fraternity.
Let us hope that both sides will see the way of the wise & that a serious debate on Darwin’s theory takes place.
( Author’s Note – But, perhaps, it ought to be a discussion without bringing in the argument covering God and/or Extra-terrestrial-Intelligence into it. (This is the personal opinion of the author of this monograph )) .
- A deliberation does not necessarily mean that immediately a Commonly-agreed-to-conclusion would be arrived at, i.e. acceptable to all. Even if in this Conference, various aspects and differing view-points are discussed dispassionately & in non-emotional atmosphere, that itself should be considered as good progress.
- Finally : Can we hope that the Central Govt.’s Cabinet-Minister of HRD would have a logical & dispassionate view on this matter, and would take the lead in organizing such a conference ?
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- Subhash S. Naik
eMail : firstname.lastname@example.org