If the Agganna Sutta is literally true, then humans have lived on this planet for billions of years longer than in the modern evolutionary timescale. Also, if the Agganna Sutta is true, then humans devolved from higher beings rather evolving from lower life forms. How have commentaries traditionally interpreted this text?
Would the Buddha have taught a sutta that’s purely allegorical, in order to convey a broader doctrinal or philosophical message?
Would it be difficult to grasp the notion that human beings are a lot older (from beginning of time) then that we evolved in a evolution theory way?
Maybe we need to ask ourself why did the universe arise in to physical existance and why are we human beings or animals in physical existance?
The buddha teaching explain this with being in physical body make us experience suffering (4 noble truths) and may it be that this existance arise because long long time ago even beings in non physical existance started to fall when it come to moral standard, and hence experience now physical body?
Personally i do not have a fully clear answer, so what i write here might be a wrong view, but this answer i gave has been something i ponder about for some time.
The Buddha likened his teaching to a provisional raft for taking us to the other shore of Nirvana. I therefore don’t believe the suttas are meant to be taken 100 percent literally, especially not when they conflict with modern science.
I always took it to mean the ‘spirit’ took on microscopic physical bodies ‘which found the earth tasty’. It was a novelty
I’m not saying it’s literally true, but I don’t think a timescale can be deduced from the sutta itself.
Well cravings takes beings to strange territories- even now we could be reborn in a lower realm. But technically it’s not about the evolution of humanity but a myth about societies beginning and rebirth.
I agree that the Agganna Sutta is a myth, but how did traditional commentaries interpret it?
Probably as reality, in the absence of a scientific interpretation.