published: August 2019

Sri Aurobindo Learning Center: Talking about evolution

by Dr. Eric Weiss, MFT

In recent discourse, there has been a two-fold attack on the idea of evolution.

On the one hand, some Christian thinkers reject evolution because they think that it reduces humans to mere animals, which they find offensive.  However, this results from a misunderstanding of the implications of the evolutionary theory.  The great thinkers of evolution in the twentieth century, Teilhard de Chardin and Sri Aurobindo, both courageously faced the implications of an evolutionary ascent from rocks to humans and beyond.  They saw in the facts of evolution the presence of an intentional presence that guides the whole process, and that can be nothing other than Divine.  Earlier thinkers had despaired of finding God in space.  Teilhard and Aurobindo found God in time, as the base of evolution, the inspiration for evolution, and the goal of evolution.

On the other hand, “post-modern” thinkers reject evolution because it is a “meta-narrative,” a big story about the universe.  They have formed the notion that any big story of the universe can only be formulated by one group to oppress some other group.  This is not so much a philosophical position as it is a psychological stance.  It’s impossible to argue against because it is merely a refusal to accept any other position, but it goes nowhere.

Humans are mental beings, and human beings live by stories.  The evolutionary story gives a perspective on the entire universal process, and it gives a way of understanding the role of humans in the greater scheme of things.  We are finite beings that have evolved for a long time, and are somewhere on a long journey that culminates in the revelation of Divinity here in the physical world.  Without this evolutionary perspective, it is difficult to make sense of our human existence.