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From here:

Rambrahma Babu: What is your opinion of the evolution theory of Darwin and the causes he has put forward for it?

Swamiji: Taking for granted that Darwin is right, I cannot yet admit that it is the final conclusion about the causes of evolution.

From another discussion with Harvard students in March, 1896:

In the matter of the projection of Akāsha and Prāna into manifested form and the return to fine state, there is a good deal of similarity between Indian thought and modern science. The moderns have their evolution, and so have the Yogis. But I think that the Yogis' explanation of evolution is the better one. "The change of one species into another is attained by the infilling of nature." The basic idea is that we are changing from one species to another, and that man is the highest species.

122 years have passed since those conversations.

Do followers of Vivekananda still feel the same way about Darwin's Theory of Evolution or do they now accept it in some form?

Do they still believe man is the highest among species i.e., there cannot be a higher, more intelligent, more sophisticated life form?


UPDATE

Asking if a particular sect of Hinduism (Ramakrishna Math or Ramakrishna Mission) considers Evolution to be a fact is not off-topic especially when the sect's founder (Vivekananda) has already commented up on it. Also, according to this article, the Catholic Church now officially accepts Evolution and the Big Bang to be factually true. In my question, I'm asking if Vivekananda's opinions from a 100 years ago are still held to be true by his followers or have they changed recently in light of new discoveries in the field of evolutionary biology.

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    Many modern day scientists don't believe Darwin's theory, then there are no reasons enough for others to believe it. From direct observations, one has to believe that the evolution happens in a limited time span. But it may not happen from time=0. E.g. A video game character evolves from round 1 to 100. Things around it also evolves. But those need not be back tracked to their absolute 0 time. Some of the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic scripture suggest similar concept. Everything came to existence in 1 shot (like movie 1st scene). Then as time passes, the mutation happens. But this is limited span. – iammilind Mar 10 '18 at 3:21
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    Many modern evolutionists do not accept Darwin's theory totally. I think your question is off topic as you are asking "there cannot be a higher, more intelligent, more sophisticated life form" amounts to scientific speculation as none exists that we know of. – Swami Vishwananda Mar 10 '18 at 4:48
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    @sv, there is a difference between fact (pratyaksha) and inference(anumana). what is undeniable fact is that there are fossils, there is gene mutation, there is dna resemblance etc. what is deniable inference is that there is a physical chain of birth from amoeba to man (i.e. man's great^n grandfather was a bacteria). There are 8.4 million species (84 laksha yoni), and the soul evolves from one body to another across different births - that is spiritual evolution. – ram Mar 10 '18 at 17:49
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    When Vivekananda said that he didn't agree with the final causes of evolution, he was not questioning evoution itself but the list of causes mentioned by Darwin. Vivekananda was dead right because the concept of DNA was not there during that time. That the cause of evolution is mutation of genes was understood long after Vivekananda's death in 1902. So there is no question of Vivekananda's followers not accepting evolution as long as the theory is supported by facts. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Mar 11 '18 at 10:34
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    Yes, I do believe in evolution. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Mar 11 '18 at 10:55
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"Evolution" as defined by "Darwin's theory" in particular, is not supported by many in science fraternity. It will be futile to name them, as it's not related to this Qn.

Swami Vivekananda has neither fully accepted that theory nor fully rejected. The opinion on Darwin's theory appears neutral or unconcerned as that's not a forte of a monk who is in the field of spirituality. It's like asking Bill Gates (billionaire) about specific music sequence of a regional movie!

"Evolution" has broader usage than the "Darwin's theory". Here is what Vivekananda has to say:

Evolution is in nature, not in the soul. Evolution of nature, manifestation of the soul.

Above is typical explanation found in Indian scriptures that how a soul as witness changes body over a period of time. There are several quotes from Swamiji &/or his followers:

  • Looking around us, what do we find? A continuous change. The plant comes out of the seed, grows into the tree, completes the circle, and comes back to the seed. The animal comes, lives a certain time, dies, and completes the circle. So does man. The mountains slowly but surely crumble away, the rivers slowly but surely dry up, rains come out of the sea, and go back to the sea. Everywhere circles are being completed, birth, growth, development, and decay following each other with mathematical precision
  • As such, evolution does not come out of zero; then, where does it come from? From previous involution. The child is the man involved, and the man is the child evolved. The seed is the tree involved, and the tree is the seed evolved. All the possibilities of life are in the germ.
  • Evolution must be brought in accordance with the more exact science of Physics, which can demonstrate that every evolution must be preceded by an involution. This being so, the evolution of the Vasana or will must be preceded by the involution of the Mahat or cosmic consciousness.
  • In the matter of the projection of Akâsha and Prâna into manifested form and the return to fine state, there is a good deal of similarity between Indian thought and modern science. The moderns have their evolution, and so have the Yogis. But I think that the Yogis' explanation of evolution is the better one. "The change of one species into another is attained by the infilling of nature." The basic idea is that we are changing from one species to another, and that man is the highest species.

More such contents can be found in:
Swami Vivekananda's Quotes On Evolution

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    "evolution is not believed by many in science fraternity" - really??????? what is your source for this statement????? – Swami Vishwananda Mar 14 '18 at 9:43
  • @SwamiVishwananda, read in Level of support for evolution. Here I referred "Evolution" in specialized context of "Darwin's theory" in particular, which has probably varied support, even in those who accept Evolution. Hence I noted in my answer: "Evolution has broader usage than the Darwin's theory. ". – iammilind Mar 14 '18 at 11:22

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