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Religious Studies

Sikhism: beliefs about creation and evolution

Evolutionary biology

  • The idea that life might have evolved was first mentioned as early as the 4th century CE by St Augustine, who wrote that God probably only created very simple life forms and that these developed over time.
  • Today we associate evolutionary science with scientists such as Charles Darwin who wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859. He argued that life began with very simple cells and later developed into what we see today. He said that natural selection was one of the major mechanisms driving evolution.
  • Darwin upset many people with his views and even some respected scientists such as Philip Gosse argued that the fossils, which were discovered in the ground, had been placed there by God deliberately to fool people.

Sikh perspectives

It is possible to draw a parallel between the Sikh belief in the emergence of the universe from the void and the Big Bang theory. According to both modern science and to the Guru Granth Sahib (collection of Sikh Scriptures), there are innumerable galaxies in the universe and in each there are many solar systems containing stars and planets, all of which are in constant motion.

Sikhs believe that the universe that derived from God will ultimately be re-absorbed into God: "When the Creator became manifest, all creatures of the earth assumed various shapes. But when you draw creation within yourself, all embodied beings are absorbed in you."

Some scientists say that the expansion of the universe which followed the Big Bang will eventually be reversed and at some distant point in the future will start to contract, eventually imploding into a 'Big Crunch'.

However, for the majority of Sikhs today, the questions that modern science might raise in connection with their religious outlook on life are not a key concern.

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