How did Yogananda view evolution `?
In general, Yogananda embraced modern science. He praised the clarity of the scientific method. Yogananda devoted an entire chapter in the Autobiography of a Yogi to his meeting with Jagadis Chandra Bose, whose work pioneered many aspects of plant physiology, radio, and microwave optics. Additionally, a second chapter in Autobiography of a Yogi, The Law of Miracles, is one of the first comparisons of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to the consciousness and abilities of advanced masters.
Regarding evolution specifically, Yogananda embraced the concept, but with one significant excpeption: he said that man’s advanced cerebrospinal centers and the brain, which allow man to acheive self-realization, were the result of a “special act of creation”. The way I understand it, man evolved physically to the point where he looked similar to way we do today, but the special act of creation bestowed upon him the latent ability to become aware of God; to become infinitely aware. The cerebrospinal centers Yogananda refers to are the chakras, which are key to our being able to feel ourselves expanding beyond bodily awareness.
Joy to You,