An Indian Civilizational Perspective

How Swami Vivekananda Masterfully Handled the ‘Evolution Vs Intelligence’ Debate!

Evolution vs Intelligence debate is as ridiculous as it is because there is an assumption about Intelligence which is inherently flawed.  West and most of the world impacted by the Abrahamic belief systems has looked at intelligence only when it is active.  Manifest Intelligence and its immensity has eluded this entire group.  Yogis have called this existence – Srishti.  It comes from the word Srijan.  Srijan is the process whereby a seed manifests as a tree.  So Tree is in an unmanifest form in a seed.  Seed manifested becomes a Tree.   Of course, the Western scientists have discussed DNA and genetics, which assume the vehicles of intelligence carrying the consistency of human characteristics through the generations.  The latent information is intelligence.  This latent or unmanifest intelligence not only crosses generations of the same species but also forms of life.  What is manifest has to be in the unmanifest form in the most basic expression of this existence.  Swami Vivekananda had something very interesting to say on this.

How Swami #Vivekananda Masterfully Handled the 'Evolution Vs Intelligence' Debate! #Science Click To Tweet

The seed is the father of the tree, but another tree was itself the father of the seed. The seed is the fine form out of which the big tree comes, and another big tree was the form which is involved in that seed. The whole of this universe was present in the cosmic fine universe. The little cell, which becomes afterwards the man, was simply the involved man and becomes evolved as a man. If this is clear, we have no quarrel with the evolutionists, for we see that if they admit this step, instead of their destroying religion, they will be the greatest supporters of it.

We see then, that nothing can be created out of nothing. Everything exists through eternity, and will exist through eternity. Only the movement is in succeeding waves and hollows, going back to fine forms, and coming out into gross manifestations. This involution and evolution is going on throughout the whole of nature. The whole series of evolution beginning with the lowest manifestation of life and reaching up to the highest, the most perfect man, must have been the involution of something else.

Universe, scientists tell us, has evolved from a single miniscule point called the Initial Singularity with infinite density comprising all mass and space-time dimensions of the Universe.  In that singularity existed whatever was to later expand into what we now have and see as the Universe – maybe multi-verse (Read – What the Heck is our Universe Expanding Into?)!  This is precisely what Swami Vivekananda is alluding to.  He calls the Initial Singularity as “Cosmic fine universe”.   Ruling out any quarrel with the Evolutionists, Swami Vivekananda suggests that we need to go further than this and realize that Evolution is only possible from the state of complete Involution!  Explaining the cycle of Involution and Evolution, he declares:

Also read:  Bastardizing Infinity

We see then, that nothing can be created out of nothing. Everything exists through eternity, and will exist through eternity. Only the movement is in succeeding waves and hollows, going back to fine forms, and coming out into gross manifestations. This involution and evolution is going on throughout the whole of nature. The whole series of evolution beginning with the lowest manifestation of life and reaching up to the highest, the most perfect man, must have been the involution of something else.

Here he now leads us to that point, where the real mischief starts.  The question that has mystified all – Involution of what? (or Who? as most believers would like to say).   He continues to discuss the point using the word “Intelligence” as opposed to God, although he does discuss the import of that word later.  But first let us hear the beautifully crafted argument by Swami Vivekananda on the absurdity of the Evolutionists who are ideologically opposed to the “intelligence argument”, obviously coming as a reaction to the conjuring up of an image of this “intelligence” as “God” by the Christians.  Modern science, one needs to remember, originated as a revolt to the “Dark Ages” and as an anti-thesis to the Christian religious movement.  And, the scientists – when they address God have always addressed God in a very Christian sense, which is in no way connected or related to how the Eastern mystic traditions looked at it.  And, this is where Swami Vivekananda’s arguments come as a breath of fresh air and seem profound.

The tree comes out of the seed, goes back to the seed; the beginning and the end are the same. The earth comes out of its cause and returns to it. We know that if we can find the beginning we can find the end. E converso, if we find the end we can find the beginning. If that is so, take this whole evolutionary series, from the protoplasm at one end to the perfect man at the other, and this whole series is one life. In the end we find the perfect man, so in the beginning it must have been the same. Therefore, the protoplasm was the involution of the highest intelligence. You may not see it but that involved intelligence is what is uncoiling itself until it becomes manifested in the most perfect man. That can be mathematically demonstrated. If the law of conservation of energy is true, you cannot get anything out of a machine unless you put it in there first. The amount of work that you get out of an engine is exactly the same as you have put into it in the form of water and coal, neither more nor less. The work I am doing now is just what I put into me, in the shape of air, food, and other things. It is only a question of change and manifestation. There cannot be added in the economy of this universe one particle of matter or one foot-pound of force, nor can one particle of matter or one foot-pound of force be taken out. If that be the case, what is this intelligence? If it was not present in the protoplasm, it must have come all of a sudden, something coming out of nothing, which is absurd. It, therefore, follows absolutely that the perfect man, the free man, the God-man, who has gone beyond the laws of nature, and transcended everything, who has no more to go through this process of evolution, through birth and death, that man called the “Christ-man” by the Christians, and the “Buddha-man” by the Buddhists, and the “Free” by the Yogis — that perfect man who is at one end of the chain of evolution was involved in the cell of the protoplasm, which is at the other end of the same chain.

The idea of Yogic and Dharmic traditions with respect to God has always been in terms of the intelligence and consciousness that permeates the complete existence.  In that sense, Yoga Vasistha explains it clearly as well rejecting the notion of any aspect of creation as God.  Of course, having said that – and realizing that the divine resides in the infiniteness of this existence, it was found acceptable to treat each part of this existence as a ready and complete manifestation of the qualities of the infinite consciousness!  That is why there is no quarrel between the understanding of divine is transcendent infinity and divine as manifested in a stone or tree or an animal.

The Lord said: Do you know who ‘god’ is? God is not Visnu, Siva or Brahma; not the wind, the sun or the moon; not the brahmana or the king; not I nor you, not Laksmi nor the mind (intellect).
God is without form and undivided (not in the objects); that splendour (devanam) which is not made and which has neither beginning nor end is known as god (deva) or Lord Siva which is pure consciousness.

And, this is an important distinction between the Christian God that the Evolutionists have been fighting against – to maintain the purity of their discovery which is true empirically – and the Dharmic definition of God, which aligns perfectly with the discovery of evolutionists.  IN fact, Yogis were pushing the scientists further and leading them to go beyond the evolution in mere physical terms.  And, look at how evolution, AND Involution was the truth of not just the animal world but the entire existence itself!!

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