The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

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Presto Kensho
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The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by Presto Kensho » Sat Mar 21, 2020 11:18 pm

The Buddha didn't teach about evolution, a modern scientific theory. Charles Darwin proposed a reductionist mechanism for evolution, natural selection acting on random variation. Buddhism might propose an alternative mechanism, the outworking of karma in the biological world.

In the words of the Dalai Lama, "From the Buddhist's perspective, the idea of these mutations being random events is deeply unsatisfying for a theory that purports to explain the origin of life." Science can neither prove nor disprove the outworking of karma in the evolutionary process.

Rather than a word-for-word account, The Agganna Sutta can be seen as a simplified version of evolutionary history, with the law of karma as the principal-agent behind evolutionary change. The expansion and contraction of the world in the Agganna Sutta can be seen as Big Bangs followed by a Big Crunch in an oscillating universe.

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by DNS » Sat Mar 21, 2020 11:45 pm

Evolution is compatible with buddhism, not only due to Agganna Sutta, but the fact that the Suttas refer to rebirth in a variety of realms, including among animals. In buddhism and perhaps all Dharmic religions, animals are seen as 'spiritual' beings in the sense that they can advance to human realm, deva realm, etc. Whereas in other religions it is believed that animals do not have that capacity.
Presto Kensho wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 11:18 pm
In the words of the Dalai Lama, "From the Buddhist's perspective, the idea of these mutations being random events is deeply unsatisfying for a theory that purports to explain the origin of life." Science can neither prove nor disprove the outworking of karma in the evolutionary process.
A species is not a "person" so it is no conflict with buddhism if there are random mutations in species. A person could be reborn into a member of a species that evolved either in a superior or inferior way due to his karma.

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by Presto Kensho » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:16 am

Rather than just at an individual level, can the law of karma work collectively at the species level as well?

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by DNS » Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:15 am

Presto Kensho wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:16 am
Rather than just at an individual level, can the law of karma work collectively at the species level as well?
The members (of the species) might have similar karma, but not exactly the same. See current thread about this right now over at DWT:
https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f ... 4b502a1afc

Presto Kensho
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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by Presto Kensho » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:20 am

DNS wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:15 am
Presto Kensho wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:16 am
Rather than just at an individual level, can the law of karma work collectively at the species level as well?
The members (of the species) might have similar karma, but not exactly the same. See current thread about this right now over at DWT:
https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f ... 4b502a1afc
If there might be similar karma, could that be a driving force in the evolutionary process?

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by DNS » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:50 pm

Presto Kensho wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:20 am
If there might be similar karma, could that be a driving force in the evolutionary process?
Perhaps to a lesser extent. It's primarily due to natural selection and other biological processes.

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by Presto Kensho » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:48 pm

DNS wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:50 pm
Presto Kensho wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:20 am
If there might be similar karma, could that be a driving force in the evolutionary process?
Perhaps to a lesser extent. It's primarily due to natural selection and other biological processes.
Are scientists able to prove that natural selection acting on random mutation is responsible for the complexity and diversity of life?

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by DNS » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:24 pm

Presto Kensho wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:48 pm
Are scientists able to prove that natural selection acting on random mutation is responsible for the complexity and diversity of life?
Yes.

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Re: The Agganna Sutta & Evolutionary History

Post by Presto Kensho » Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:32 pm

DNS wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:24 pm
Presto Kensho wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:48 pm
Are scientists able to prove that natural selection acting on random mutation is responsible for the complexity and diversity of life?
Yes.
While natural selection acting on random mutation might explain small changes like a new species of fruit fly, is it enough to explain such largescale transitions as reptile to mammal, ape to man, etc.?

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