Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

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Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:10 am

I am doing my meditation this morning and the thought came to my mind, that I am just another human being evolved over time, as suggested by the Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Then anther thought came that the Theory of Evolution does not explain why I am so different to other humans.
I have lot of brothers and sisters from the same parents, none of them are same except some physical features.
I think that the Theory of Evolution failed address this issue. :shrug:
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby James the Giant » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:16 am

Could you maybe explain a little about why you think evolution would make us the same? I don't get that bit.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:15 am

Hi James
Let me clear. I think that there is a vast different in children compare to their parents. Evolution is a long term process and those differences could not be explained only by the theory of evolution. For example take a look at those child prodigies. :idea: :)
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby James the Giant » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:37 am

Hmm...
SarathW wrote:Evolution is a long term process and those differences could not be explained only by the theory of evolution.

From parent to children, you are right, you can't see evolution working at that scale, it's too small a time. Genes usually don't change/mutate that fast, at least not in ways we can see with the eye or on current equipment. Over long periods of time it is very clear however.
You can see natural selection in human mating and breeding, that's evolution. But looking for it in the differences between parents and children is misunderstanding it.

Please don't think evolution is an amazing-explains-everything mechanism. It's just how living things change over large time periods, to better fit the place they live.


You know what genes and chromosomes are, and what they do?
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:53 am

Hi, Sarath,
I think you may be misunderstanding what it is that "evolves" or changes. It isn't the person or even the family but the species. At any one time the species contains a wide diversity of individuals.
Let's say deer have a range of coat colours. Over generations, if pale coats are better for hiding from tigers then more pale deer will survive to have children and those children will be more likely to have pale coats too, so eventually the species will mostly have pale coats instead of the original mixture of colours. But the (altered) species will still contain a diversity of individuals. Maybe some are better at digesting thorn trees than others ... and so it goes on.

Does that help at all?

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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:20 pm

HI James
I do not have any science background. But I have some understanding of what genes and chromosomes are, and what they do. :)

Hi Kim
You are right, I misunderstood what is evolving. Thanks.

So can I say that I am diffrent to other humans due to my previous Kamma?
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:12 pm

SarathW wrote:Hi Kim
You are right, I misunderstood what is evolving. Thanks.

Glad to help. :smile:

SarathW wrote:So can I say that I am diffrent to other humans due to my previous Kamma?

Scientists following Darwin would say that you are different from other humans because you have a unique combination of genes, inherited from your parents.
Most of them would say that kamma is not real but if they are honest they would have to admit that they have no proof. The mechanism of kamma is quite separate from the mechanism of evolution and both can be true.

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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby James the Giant » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:23 pm

Kim, great explanations, you should be a teacher. Wait, you're already a teacher, aren't you? :anjali:
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby matais » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:03 pm

Regarding the connection of kamma with physical attributes, I'd like to compare this with wealth: a family does not become wealthy because someone within this family becomes pregnant of someone with really good kamma, requiring a fortunate birth. Rather, a family is already wealthy and for this reason, birth in such a family is fortunate. Likewise, a child does not become smart, talented, or beautiful because their kamma requires these fortunes, rather, genetic makeup of any society naturally give rise to children that are smart, talented and beautiful, and being born into such a life is fortunate.

As far as kamma comes into play, it's in selecting one birth among many possibilities. The world is not remade after conception to fit kamma.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:13 pm

James the Giant wrote:Kim, great explanations, you should be a teacher. Wait, you're already a teacher, aren't you? :anjali:

Guilty.
:embarassed:
But thanks for the compliment.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby gendun » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:51 pm

SarathW wrote:I am doing my meditation this morning and the thought came to my mind, that I am just another human being evolved over time, as suggested by the Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Then anther thought came that the Theory of Evolution does not explain why I am so different to other humans.
I have lot of brothers and sisters from the same parents, none of them are same except some physical features.
I think that the Theory of Evolution failed address this issue. :shrug:

Its a cliche and an oversimplfication, but it remains true. We as individuals are products both of nature and nurture.
Gendun P. Brownlow.
Karma Kagyu student.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby James the Giant » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:37 pm

matais wrote:... Rather, a family is already wealthy and for this reason, birth in such a family is fortunate. Likewise, a child does not become smart, talented, or beautiful because their kamma requires these fortunes, rather, genetic makeup of any society naturally give rise to children that are smart, talented and beautiful, and being born into such a life is fortunate.

As far as kamma comes into play, it's in selecting one birth among many possibilities. The world is not remade after conception to fit kamma.

Interesting, I haven't heard that before. I wonder is there a sutta which explains this point.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:44 pm

matais wrote:Regarding the connection of kamma with physical attributes, I'd like to compare this with wealth: a family does not become wealthy because someone within this family becomes pregnant of someone with really good kamma, requiring a fortunate birth. Rather, a family is already wealthy and for this reason, birth in such a family is fortunate. Likewise, a child does not become smart, talented, or beautiful because their kamma requires these fortunes, rather, genetic makeup of any society naturally give rise to children that are smart, talented and beautiful, and being born into such a life is fortunate.

As far as kamma comes into play, it's in selecting one birth among many possibilities. The world is not remade after conception to fit kamma.


This sounds almost like the way the vedic priests would've viewed the kamma, to explain the castes. The Buddha basically turned this onto its head, making it possible for different kinds of people to turn noble (enlightened), much to the priests' amazement.

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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby matais » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:18 pm

beeblebrox wrote:This sounds almost like the way the vedic priests would've viewed the kamma, to explain the castes. The Buddha basically turned this onto its head, making it possible for different kinds of people to turn noble (enlightened), much to the priests' amazement.

:anjali:

I think you misunderstood me. I'm not saying that you can't change your lot, that birth is all there is to kamma. What I'm saying is that from conception until birth, kamma has little influence on how a new being will look, how smart they will be, that kind of thing. The shape a being will take is dependent on their parents (more specifically their genetic code, and to a lesser extent, factors such as the mother's diet). One's DNA is not rewritten after conception to make for a more or less fortunate rebirth, nor is the unborn child capable of making any conscious decisions to steer this process, or even capable of knowing what's going on (as the 6 sense bases are still under development).
So the most significant kammic contribution to the physical properties of a newborn has to happen in the previous life(s), before there's any connection whatsoever with the new body, and this can only be the case if, at death/rebirth, there's in principle multiple rebirths possible, of which only one is chosen, based on past and present kamma at that time.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:29 pm

matais wrote:I think you misunderstood me. I'm not saying that you can't change your lot, that birth is all there is to kamma. What I'm saying is that from conception until birth, kamma has little influence on how a new being will look, how smart they will be, that kind of thing. The shape a being will take is dependent on their parents (more specifically their genetic code, and to a lesser extent, factors such as the mother's diet). One's DNA is not rewritten after conception to make for a more or less fortunate rebirth, nor is the unborn child capable of making any conscious decisions to steer this process, or even capable of knowing what's going on (as the 6 sense bases are still under development).
So the most significant kammic contribution to the physical properties of a newborn has to happen in the previous life(s), before there's any connection whatsoever with the new body, and this can only be the case if, at death/rebirth, there's in principle multiple rebirths possible, of which only one is chosen, based on past and present kamma at that time.


Hi Matais,

Thank you for the clarification, seems to make sense.

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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby Benjamin » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:32 am

Children from the same parents aren't identical because they haven't led identical lives.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:44 am

Benjamin wrote:Children from the same parents aren't identical because they haven't led identical lives.

...and because their genes are not identical, since each child gets a random mixture of mother's and father's genes.
...and, if you believe in kamma from past lives, because of kamma from past lives.
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby ground » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:44 am

SarathW wrote:I am doing my meditation this morning and the thought came to my mind, that I am just another human being evolved over time, as suggested by the Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Then anther thought came that the Theory of Evolution does not explain why I am so different to other humans.
I have lot of brothers and sisters from the same parents, none of them are same except some physical features.
I think that the Theory of Evolution failed address this issue. :shrug:

Affirmation of mere sense of self that arises and subsides depending on conditions is the cause the felt difference " I am so different to other humans".
"Theory of Evolution" is based on dependence/relativity, buddha's teaching is based on dependence/relativity. buddha's teaching may be consdidered to be theory too. What does make a difference?
In case of considering the the buddha's teaching to be non-theory there is no theory whatsoever that might confirm the buddha's teaching and there is no theory whatsoever that might invalidate the buddha's teaching. :sage:
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Re: Does the theory of evolution confirm Buddha’s teaching?

Postby past is dead » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:30 am

Hi SarathW

Here are my two cents. Evolution is a process of change in all forms of life including humans, over successive generations i.e change of the inherited characteristics by means of mutation, genetic drift, natural selection.

On the other side Buddha's teaching is diagnose about the human condition and offers are a cure to overcome that condition.

So according the above Buddhism and Evolution are two different areas. You can be follower of Buddhism and also interested in the theory of evolution at the same time, they don't contradict each other. No matter how much humans are different in terms of their genetic code they all suffer through their lives and can apply Buddha's teaching in order to overcome that suffering.
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