In 1859, a British man called Charles Darwin published a book called 'On the Origin of Species'. This book was based on his studies of creatures he had encountered on his travels to many overseas locations, including the Galapagos Islands. He put forward the theory that all living creatures that exist today, including human beings, have evolved over a period of perhaps millions of years, from more primitive life forms to how they are today by a process of natural selection.
Darwin was a natural science graduate of Cambridge University and a geologist. He was also a Christian. Darwin did not intend to challenge religious beliefs with his book but many religious believers responded to it with fury. These reasons included:
These scientific theories were first put forward in the 19th century, when Christianity was an important influence on people's lives and the way they thought. Many people saw them as a direct attack on their faith. Charles Darwin faced criticism from people who could not accept what they saw as his 'anti-religious' ideas.
Some Hindus do not agree with the theory of evolution for the following reasons:
However, many Hindus have no issue with evolution theory for the following reasons:
Hindus believe in karma or 'intentional action'. Many Hindus believe using ‘God-given’ talents to improve or save life is positive action and some would say that following a career in medicine or scientific research is the dharma of those who have the ability to do so.
Hindus who are scientists do not often find it difficult to balance their faith and their work. They believe that scientific principles such as testing and analysis are not at odds with Hindu principles such as respect for life and always aiming to do good.