Seishin wrote:I have heard some scholars say that this sutta was not meant to be taken literally, but was a rebuttal, almost taking the mickey, of the Brahman creation story. What are your thoughts on this?
That's one possible interpretation, but it's also interesting to see what Buddhist masters throughout history have written on the sutra.
This is what Master Sheng Yen wrote based on the Agganna Sutta:http://ddmbachicago.org/where-did-the-u ... come-from/
This is what Master Hsuan Hua wrote based on the sutra: http://www.drbachinese.org/online_readi ... -ce-08.htm
This was also written by Master Hsuan Hua: http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoo ... nature.htm
If you read the Agganna Sutra for the plainest meaning of the text, then the Buddha is giving an explanation for human origins very similar to the Vedas, that humans devolved from god-like beings rather than evolving from lower creatures. Also, the Buddhist and Hindu scriptures say that humans existed millions and millions of years sooner than in the Darwinian timeline.
This is not special creation by a theistic god, like the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. Instead, the traditional Buddhist and Vedic stories describe spiritual beings becoming more physical over time, due to the outworking of karma, after descending from a higher realm.
What reason would one have, other than Darwin's theory of evolution, to doubt the Buddha's account in the Agganna Sutta for human origins? What if there were scientific evidence which suggested that the Buddha was correct in describing the origin of humanity?
In Forbidden Archeology, Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson documented dozens of cases from mainstream scientific literature in which human tools and skeletal remains were found millions of years deeper into the fossil record than where they belong according to a Darwinian timeline: http://www.krishnapath.org/library/vedi ... -download/
At the time when Forbidden Archeology was first published, it was reviewed in mainstream science publications, in which even detractors of the book admitted that it had been thoroughly researched and well-written.
When I read the Agganna Sutta for myself for the first time, without reading any modern presuppositions into the text, it changed the way that I look at the rest of Buddhist scripture and how I understand our place in the world.