Friday, 25 March 2011

Creation-Evolution Controversy

In addition the evolution theory of Charles Darwin struggled with creationism, a religious metaphysical, which claims that God is the design creator of the earth and universe. Creationism teaches that all kinds of things were created and had been designed orderly and elegantly by God. For example, mango trees are ever-producing mangoes, human hands are used for grasping of objects, human eyes allow vision, and human ears serve for hearing. These all things, subject to law, are not produced from the blind natural force, but the intelligent Designers, that is God.
          Charles Darwin’s proposed the evolution theory in his book On the Origin of Species, published in B.E 2402. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is a slow gradual process over the century or millennium year, the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor. Darwin’s general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) “descent with modification”. That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally overtime. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival. This mechanism called “natural selection”. Natural selection acts to preserve and accumulate minor advantageous genetic mutations. Suppose a member of a species developed a functional advantage. Its offspring would inherit that advantage and pass it on to their offspring. The inferior members of the same species would gradually die out, leaving only the superior members of the species. Plants and animals which have the fittest characteristics or their ability to adapt to their changing environment most effectively would survive and produce offspring, that is, the survival of the fittest, will be passed.
          The contribution of evolution theory has much negative impact on theological religion because it confutes to religious teaching of the intelligent Designer of the earth and universe. The claim of Darwin on evolution of all kinds of life over million years of time is equated to reject God created the world and creatures of every kind as occurring within six days. The claim of Darwin on man’s evolution from apes is meant to refuse religious teaching on God’s creation mankind from Adam and Eve. In addition, Darwin’s the survival of the fittest on the adaptation of all creatures over time such as the result of man’s erect position is due to long developmental period, not by the intelligent design of creator.
          Through the reason abovementioned, Darwin’s evolution theory has been rejected by theological religion since then till the present. The example of controversy occurred in the US when teachers taught the evolution theory in the public schools since 2450 BE. Fundamentalists introduced legislation in Tennessee and other 19 states calling for a ban on the teaching of evolution. Eventually there was an American legal case bring to trial, that is the Scopes Trial. John Scopes, a high school biology teacher, charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution in 2468 BE. Though evolution began to be widely taught in many public schools since 2503 BE with the encouragement of many legislators who feared the United States science education was falling behind that of other countries, the law on Butler Act had been still put in effect in many states until 2511 BE. The US Supreme Court finally saying that such acts were in violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause. However, a number of persons, still opposing the scientific theories of evolution concerning the origins of life, began their attempt took on activities over state legislatures recorded bills requiring teaching of “creation-science” when evolution was taught. This “balanced treatment” proposition was passed as model legislation by the Arkansas Legislature in 2524 BE . Later, Federal courts declared that teaching “creation-science” was a religious advocacy, and therefore, unconstitutional in 2525 BE . A similar law was also passed in Louisiana and litigation went all the way to the US Supreme Court. The Court declared the law unconstitutional in 2530 BE.The opponents of Darwin’s theory of evolution might do not take the fact that would bring an end easily that the pursuing may be continued.
          Evolutionary theory has no negative impact to Buddhism. It is because there are no supernatural being such as Brahman, or God involved in Buddhist teaching on the origin of earth and humans. On the contrary, theory of evolution seems to coincide with the Buddhist principle of Dependent Origination, that is, all phenomena arise as the result of interdependent conditions. The earth arises, evolves, and ceases according to conditions. The adaptation on its nature is going on because of causes and conditions which supporting. The change in the process of evolution arises according to the principle of impermanence (anicca).
 The clear example on this account is in the Aggañña Sutta, On Knowledge of Beginnings. In the sutta, the teaching of Brahmanism is addressed as follows. At starting of Universe Brahma created human beings. Each being is created from a different and separate body such as the warrior caste (Kashtriya) is originated from the chest and arms of God Brahma; the Brahmin caste born from Brahma’s mouth; the Vaishya caste born from Brahma’s thighs; the Sūdra caste born from Brahma’s feet. The Buddha denied this teaching. He described that caste system originated when beings came together as an early human society. The people lived together after a time, later on they disputed on each other, then they appointed some persons as the leader to do the judging and executed their disputation. This is the birth of ruler clans or warriors. While those who put aside evil and unwholesome things by setting up retreat in the forest, this led the title of Brahmin caste. Among the people who had settled and had family, some began to adopt various trades, the title of Vaishya caste or traders came. The remainder of people preferred the work of hunting to maintain their livelihood, thus they are called the Sūdra caste or hunters.
These teaching from the Aggañña sutta show the evolution of society. All of the castes did not originate from the creation of God Brahma, but from these people who are the members of the society divided through their occupations or duties in accordance to voluntarily. Speaking on the other words, action or deed created the class of individuals into various groups. Later on society regarded this classification as the caste system. The people who born in whichever caste must hold the lineage of that caste by birth. The Brahmins caste always regarded themselves as the high social order, and insulted the caste of Viashya, and Sūdra. The Buddha changed the conviction of Brahmins by saying that the people would be high or low, it has nothing to do with what their castes, but it is because of their actions. Doer of good will gather good, doer of bad will gather evil. As the Buddha saying.
Na jaccā vasalo hoti                na jaccā hoti brāhmao
Kammunā vasalo hoti              kammunā hoti brāhmao
Whoever will inferior not because of their clans. Whoever will superior not because of their clans. Beings as inferior because of their deeds Likewise, beings as superior because of their deeds[8]
This saying shows that adjustment of the society into the positive or negative direction will rely on the good or bad deeds of members in society. On the other words, what is Darwin called the “adaptation” is responsible to what we called the action or karma which has represented in Pāli as follows.
Kamma satte vibhajjati                    yadida hīnappañītatāya
It is action (kamma) that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.
The aforesaid is to display that Buddhism has never conflicted to sciences, and it is coincide with the Blessed One’s statement as follows.
Monks, I would not engage with people in quarrelsome debate, but the worldly address refute to me. Addresser of Dharma is not refute to anyone in the world. What things the scholar agree on non-existing, I address that having no such things. What 

Problems on the Origin of Man and the Universe

The evidence found that scientific theories confute the teachings of religion as systematized in theology concerning God, whereas they do not dispute with the central teaching of Buddhism. As the aforementioned, the theological teachings exist saying that God created the world and human beings, in contrast, scientists propose the theory opposed to the creationism, but from the naturalistic evolution.

The Bible particularly in the first verse of the Old Testament, Genesis, narrated the account of creation that God created the world and creatures of every kind as occurring in six days respectively:
Day 1: God created light—night and day.
Day 2: He placed the firmament of the heaven.
Day 3: Separated water/land; vegetable life.
Day 4: Placed the sun, moon, and stars, in the firmament.
Day 5: Created sea animals and birds.
Day 6: Created land animals and mankind.

God created the first man called “Adam”. Later on He took Adam’s rib and made into a woman called “Eve”.

Nowadays science proposes the theory that the Earth is not the center of universe, but the Earth, a planet, revolves around the Sun. Though the sun is the center point of solar system, the sun is one of over 100 billions stars in the Milky Way or Milky Way Galaxy, which Thai usually called “Tang Chang Peauk”. Milky Way is one of the billions of galaxies in the universe.

Scientists try to explain the very beginning of the universe through the Big Bang Theory which is accepted from most scientists is as follows.

Fundamentally the entire mass of the universe merged and compressed into a singularity, the so called Cosmic Egg, was 15 billion years ago.  It was expanding, very dense and very hot, then exploded gave a luminous fog, and the particles of Hydrogen and Helium, and other light elements of which later become the voluminous of dust and gases. The intense gravity is generated and pulled the various cosmic gases together and compacted to be the first galaxy in 12 billion years ago. The average appearance of hundred other galaxies would be the same by the compact of voluminous of dust and gases spread through space in a complex. Our own Milky Way galaxy continued to be visible based on the same manner for 10 billion years ago. The sun, one of a hundred billion stars making up the Milky Way galaxy, was also formed in the same way about five thousand million years ago.

Therefore, the Sun can be tantamount formed by the condensation of a dust-rich cloud of gas particles in the space.  Because of gravity, all of the gas wanted to concentrate in one place, but when the gas got closer to the axis of rotation, it started to rotate faster around that axis. The fast rotation of the gas meant that it could not all be concentrated in one place, and what happened instead is that the gas concentrated in a flat disk (like a plate) with most of the material in the center. The material in the center concentrated more until it got so hot and dense that it could start generating energy through nuclear fusion of the hydrogen. At that moment, the Sun became a star. The rest of the material clumped together and formed the planets, including the Earth. The origin of the Earth is also formed by this way around five thousand million years ago.

Scientists calculate that the Sun will be extinguished in another 5000 million years, which the world will come to an end as well.  At the moment the Sun gets its energy from turning hydrogen into helium. When the Sun's hydrogen runs out in the hot and dense center, then the Sun will start turning helium into carbon in the center, and hydrogen into helium in a shell around the center. This phase its outer layers will then expand into a red giant start which will be sufficient to engulf the planets Mercury and Venus. These layers will blow away from the Sun and form a planetary nebula, and leaving behind a stellar corpse known as a white dwarf. So once the Sun turns into a white dwarf it will no longer generate energy, but will very slowly cool down for die out.

The aforementioned about scientific theory on the origin and evolution of the universe certainly confute the teachings of God, or the Great Brahma created the world revealing in theism, because it narrates the origin of the world and universe without referring a creator God.

However, this scientific theory does not confute the Buddhist principle. It is because Buddhism teaches that the universe arises in accordance with causes and conditions, no creator. All things are interdependent arising.

According to Buddhism, there is no first cause. That is there is no God as the first world creator. Refuting about the God creator in Buddhism is clearly supported by the statements in the Pāli as follows.

 Nayida pakata bimba       Nayiam pakata agha  
Hetum paicca sambhūta      Hetubhangkā nirujjhati

The arising of matter has depended on conditions, it is extinguished because conditions extinguished.

In the Aggañña Sutta, the origin of the world is mentioned briefly as thus.

There will come a time when the mighty earth will evolve to deteriorate, perish, and be no more. When this happens, beings will mostly reborn in the World of Radiance… There comes also a time, when sooner or later this world begins to re-evolve. When this happens, beings who decease from the World of Radiance, usually come (i.e. are reborn) in this world.

The words of Buddha imply that the world has a cyclical change of arising and perishing. The Suriyā Sutta explains that the world will be destroyed by burning up from the appearance of seven suns.There will come a time, may be hundreds of thousands of years hence ...When the seventh sun appears, this earth and Sineru, greatest of mountains, will burst into flames, will blaze up and become a single sheet of flame ...

In this issue, Buddhism is compatible with science that the world will perish due to devour by fire, but the cause of burning is distinguished. Buddhism makes reference to a future time where there will be seven suns burn up the earth, but scientists explain that the earth will burst out because the sun expand increasingly many times of its present size.

          Phra Buddhakosajarn explains the arising of the earth in accordance with conditionality. That is there will be rain fall throughout the universe after the destruction of the earth to be dust. Rain will gather all dust becoming a rod of enormous water with the round shape like the rain drop on the lotus leaf. The wind will blow around the rod of water until the density of the water gradually dry up and eventually the earth appears.
The detail of the destruction and evolution of the earth in Buddhism seems to distinguish minutely from the scientific knowledge, but it does not cause Buddhism controversy to science. Principally, it is because Buddhism and science are compatible the arising of earth comes from the process of natural evolution, there is no God the creator. Moreover, The Cūḷanī Sutta points out that there will be billion universes in the Universe.

Buddhism does not conflict with Science

Buddhism never conflict with science. There is no any historical event showing that Buddhism and science are contradict or conflict with each other as another religion does. In addition, there has been never even once that Buddhist monks and scientists are controversial. Having no controversy between Buddhism and science is due to main causes as below.

Buddhism attempts to not dominate scientific truth because Buddhism never make certain of Buddhist teaching related to classical science revealing in the Buddhist Canon, Tipiaka,  as the eternal truth that none can oppose. For example, the Tipiaka has recorded the fundamental four elements: earth, fire, water, air, but the modern science claimed that there are 109 elements at the present day. This seems to be a light of controversy, but Buddhists would not dispute with scientists in the account of elements in true number, at least on the two reasons.

1.       The Tipiaka does not hold the principle of science as the absolute truth in itself. No matter a particular branch of scientific knowledge has pertained to the Tipiaka, such knowledge has been comprised like the instrument or tool for teaching dharma only. The aim of containing a particular discipline of knowledge in the Tipiaka is just to help the readers can assess the ultimate reality as it were in the Buddha’s saying, “Regardless of the past, the future, I teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering.That is, the Buddha teaches only the Four Noble Truths. Only science and other discipline of knowledge during that time have been brought to contribute the teaching on the Four Noble truths. The Buddha has not taught science, but dharma. If the Buddha actually focus the teaching on how many elements really have, audiences might be interested in merely the account of element and failed to recall the dharma. Suppose that the Buddha was born in this century, he perhaps would employ current knowledge as a part of his teaching.

2.       When we speak of teaching dharma, it can be found that the Four Elements in the Buddhist Canon and the 109 elements of the contemporary scientists both are common for supplying the intention to teach the same dharma. That is, the Buddhist term ‘elements’ are defined as “the things that bear their own intrinsic natures (attāno sabhāvam dhārentīti dhātuyo).” It implies that earth, fire, water, and air elements are causally dependent arisen. They are not living beings, self or ātaman, as well sentient beings and persons (dhātūti nijjīvamattasseta adhivacana). All substances in the world are comprised of these Four Elements which have no essence to grasp or cling as being self, or one’s own self. Regarding the scientific term of “element”, it is referred as “a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substance”. It means that the various elements such as Au (gold) and Fe (iron) are not reductable to be other elements such as H (hydrogen) and O (oxygen). All elements are natural suchness. If they are decomposed to be their components, what we get might be an atom or paramānū (sub- particle). This shows that the concept of elements in science is the same as in Buddhism on the truth that they are causal dependent arisen, not living beings, or self. We thus can maintain the teaching of elements to teach people abandoning the self- attachment.

If science teachers educated students with the intelligent design, they can claim the teaching in the proponent of dharma at the same time as well. For example, when the teaching design is relevant to an issue of elements, the teaching can link to the studying of non-self, or non-endurance. All things arise from the combination in various compositions. There is nothing permanent to grasp and clinging. Learning science in this way, students are able to see things as they really are, and know how to detach them. The more students learn about non-self, the less they pertain to the self. If science teachers teach without understanding and profit from experience, students might think that the teaching of 109 elements in science is the right thing than the Buddhist teaching of the Four Elements. The excessive thought of self might have enlarged, learning science will thus cause the increasing of competition, stress, and suffering to students.

Therefore, when teachers teach science, they should teach learners how to reduce their ego, and feel happy as well. The teachers may teach the discipline of science by integrating with Buddhism. This shows that Buddhist teaching is not controversial to scientific theories.

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