mjavid at fn1.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca mjavid at fn1.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca
Sun Nov 19 03:15:41 EST 1995

                     SOME ANSWERED QUESTIONS


                          A Baha'i View

                   THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT 
                        OF THE HUMAN RACE 
     Question.--What do you say with regard to the theories 
held by some European philosophers on the growth and 
development of beings?  
     Answer.--This subject was spoken of the other day, 
but we will speak of it again.  Briefly, this question will be 
decided by determining whether species are original or 
not--that is to say, has the species of man been established 
from its origin, or was it afterward derived from the animals?  
     Certain European philosophers agree that the species 
grows and develops, and that even change and alteration 
are also possible.  One of the proofs that they give for this 
theory is that through the attentive study and verification 
of the science of geology it has become clear that the existence 
of the vegetable preceded that of the animal, and that 
of the animal preceded that of man.  They admit that both 
the vegetable and the animal species have changed, for in 
some of the strata of the earth they have discovered plants 
which existed in the past and are now extinct; they have 
progressed, grown in strength, their form and appearance 
have changed, and so the species have altered.  In the same 
way, in the strata of the earth there are some species of 
animals which have changed and are transformed.  One of 
these animals is the serpent.  There are indications that the 
serpent once had feet, but through the lapse of time those 
members have disappeared.  In the same way, in the vertebral 
column of man there is an indication which amounts 
to a proof that, like other animals, he once had a tail.  At 
one time that member was useful, but when man developed, 
it was no longer of use; and, therefore, it gradually 
disappeared.  As the serpent took refuge under the ground 
and became a creeping animal, it was no longer in need of 
feet, so they disappeared; but their traces survive.  The 
principal argument is this:  that the existence of traces of 
members proves that they once existed, and as now they 
are no longer of service, they have gradually disappeared.  
Therefore, while the perfect and necessary members have 
remained, those which are unnecessary have gradually 
disappeared by the modification of the species, but the 
traces of them continue.  
     The first answer to this argument is the fact that the 
animal having preceded man is not a proof of the evolution, 
change and alteration of the species, nor that man 
was raised from the animal world to the human world.  For 
while the individual appearance of these different beings is 
certain, it is possible that man came into existence after the 
animal.  So when we examine the vegetable kingdom, we 
see that the fruits of the different trees do not arrive at 
maturity at one time; on the contrary, some come first and 
others afterward.  This priority does not prove that the 
later fruit of one tree was produced from the earlier fruit of 
another tree.  
     Second, these slight signs and traces of members have 
perhaps a great reason of which the mind is not yet cognizant.  
How many things exist of which we do not yet know 
the reason!  So the science of physiology--that is to say, 
the knowledge of the composition of the members--
records that the reason and cause of the difference in the 
colors of animals, and of the hair of men, of the redness of 
the lips, and of the variety of the colors of birds, is still unknown; 
it is secret and hidden.  But it is known that the 
pupil of the eye is black so as to attract the rays of the sun, 
for if it were another color--that is, uniformly white--it 
would not attract the rays of the sun.  Therefore, as the 
reason of the things we have mentioned is unknown, it is 
possible that the reason and the wisdom of these traces of 
members, whether they be in the animal or man, are 
equally unknown.  Certainly there is a reason, even though 
it is not known.  
     Third, let us suppose that there was a time when some 
animals, or even man, possessed some members which 
have now disappeared; this is not a sufficient proof of the 
change and evolution of the species.  For man, from the 
beginning of the embryonic period till he reaches the degree 
of maturity, goes through different forms and appearances.  
His aspect, his form, his appearance and color 
change; he passes from one form to another, and from one 
appearance to another.  Nevertheless, from the beginning 
of the embryonic period he is of the species of man--that 
is to say, an embryo of a man and not of an animal; but this 
is not at first apparent, but later it becomes visible and evident.  
For example, let us suppose that man once resembled 
the animal, and that now he has progressed and 
changed.  Supposing this to be true, it is still not a proof of 
the change of species.  No, as before mentioned, it is 
merely like the change and alteration of the embryo of man 
until it reaches the degree of reason and perfection.  We 
will state it more clearly.  Let us suppose that there was a 
time when man walked on his hands and feet, or had a tail; 
this change and alteration is like that of the fetus in the 
womb of the mother.  Although it changes in all ways, and 
grows and develops until it reaches the perfect form, from 
the beginning it is a special species.  We also see in the vegetable 
kingdom that the original species of the genus do 
not change and alter, but the form, color and bulk will 
change and alter, or even progress.  
     To recapitulate:  as man in the womb of the mother 
passes from form to form, from shape to shape, changes 
and develops, and is still the human species from the beginning 
of the embryonic period--in the same way man, 
from the beginning of his existence in the matrix of the 
world, is also a distinct species--that is, man--and has 
gradually evolved from one form to another.  Therefore, 
this change of appearance, this evolution of members, this 
development and growth, even though we admit the 
reality of growth and progress,+F1 does not prevent the species 
from being original.  Man from the beginning was in 
this perfect form and composition, and possessed capacity 
and aptitude for acquiring material and spiritual perfections, 
and was the manifestation of these words, "We will 
make man in Our image and likeness."+F2  He has only become 
more pleasing, more beautiful and more graceful.  
Civilization has brought him out of his wild state, just as 
the wild fruits which are cultivated by a gardener become 
finer, sweeter and acquire more freshness and delicacy.  
     The gardeners of the world of humanity are the Prophets 
of God.  
+F1 i.e., if we admit, for example, that man had formerly been a 
+F1 quadruped, or had had a tail.  
+F2 Cf. Gen. 1:26.  

             [Abdu'l-Baha:   SOME ANSWERED QUESTIONS
                             Baha'i Publishing Trust
                             Wilmette, IL 60091
                             Copyright 1930, 1954, 1964, 1981
                             by the National Spiritual Assembly of
                             the Baha'is of the United States
                             ISBN 0-87743-190-6 ]

email: mjavid at freenet.edmonton.ab.ca *

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