This volume brings together diverse Asian religious perspectives to address critical issues in the encounter between tradition and modern western evolutionary thought. Such thought encompasses the biological theories of Charles Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Earnest Haeckel, Thomas Huxley, and later "neo-Darwinians," as well as the more sociological evolutionary theories of thinkers such as Herbert Spencer, Pyotr Kropotkin, and Henri Bergson. The essays in this volume cover responses from Hindu, Jain, Buddhist (Chinese, Japanese, and Indo-Tibetan), Confucian, Daoist, and Muslim traditions. These responses come from the decades immediately after publication of The Origin of Species up to the present, with attention being paid to earlier perspectives and teachings within a tradition that have affected responses to Darwinism and western evolutionary thought in general.
The book focuses on three critical issues: the struggle for survival and the moral implications read into it; genetic variation and its seeming randomness as related to the problems of meaning and purpose; and the nature of humankind and human exceptionalism. Each essay deals with one or more of the three issues within the context of a specific tradition.