THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 2, December, 1928
(Pages 63-69; Size: 20K)
(Number 10 of a 103-part series)


X much more logical to believe -- as the Occultists do -- that ... many humanities, differing from our present mankind, as greatly as the one which will evolve millions of years hence will differ from our races, appeared but to disappear from the face of the earth, as our own will. Those primitive and far-distant humanities, having, as geologists think, left no tangible relics of themselves, are denied. All trace of them is swept away, and therefore they have never existed. Yet their relics -- a very few of them, truly -- are to be found, and they have to be discovered by geological research....

When we speak, therefore ... of men who inhabited this globe 18,000,000 years back, we have in mind neither the men of our present races, nor the present atmospheric laws, thermal conditions, etc.... Says Uriel to Enoch: "... Thou seest the Sun, Moon, and those which conduct the stars of heaven, which cause all their operations, seasons, and arrivals to return ... In the days of sinners the years shall be shortened ... everything done on Earth shall be subverted ... the moon shall change its laws" ... etc. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 609).

... That man was not the last member in the mammalian family, but the first in this Round, is something that science will be forced to acknowledge one day...

That man can be shown to have lived in the mid-Tertiary period, and in a geological age when there did not yet exist one single specimen of the now known species of mammals, is a statement that science cannot deny and which has now been proven by de Quatrefages. (S.D., II, 155).

YET for forty years science, if it did not deny, did succeed in burying that fact, so damaging to the materialistic cult; buried it until its embalmed but still sound remains were flung to high heaven by the flare of the series of bombs exploded in the scientific purlieus by Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, during 1927 and 1928.(1)

Dr. Osborn, one of the foremost American proponents of evolution, and once as firmly addicted to the "ape-man" theory as any of the orthodox, has of late years gradually diverged from the prevailing theories of the descent of man; diverged, not in the direction of a senile fall back into religion and special creation, as have some of his lesser confréres, but by means of a further carrying, a deeper investigation, and a more thorough-going application, of the principles upon which the theories of human evolution rest.

Darwin's original doctrine taught that man originated from an ape or ape-like being in a "warm, forest-clad area;" holding that a "favorable" environment of this nature tended to the development of high capacity -- the original "economic determinism." Dr. Osborn, on the other hand, upholds a theory substantiated by the commonest observation -- that it is hard conditions which bring about ability; and he conceives of the semi-arid uplands of Central Asia as man's probable original habitat; Dr. James Barrell arrived at the same conclusion independently in 1917.

Darwin considered the origin of man to have been quite recent; that his whole life was Quaternary, measurable in a few thousands of years. Many factors, psychological and otherwise, contributed to the origination of this error. Geology and Paleontology bring the origin of the oldest known ape-form dangerously close to the beginning of that period; to set man's appearance back of it would not allow sufficient time for his development under the orthodox theory, and might even place his origin back of that of the ape-stocks. In turn, the scientific mind is attached to the "ape- man" ancestry for many reasons unsuspected by itself. Primarily, the whole doctrine of evolution was lent steam by the revolt against ecclesiastic arrogance, superstition, charlatanry, and dogmatism; emerging from centuries of oppression, it was natural that the scientific mind should eagerly seize upon that doctrine of man's origin most insulting and revolting to religion; that it should find a malicious satisfaction in setting an ape upon the throne once occupied by the grim gray-beard of Sinai. The similarity of the ape to man led to a deduction logical upon any grounds; and as the first few discoveries -- too enthusiastically received and invented, many of them, like the Pithecanthropus Erectus -- seemed to establish some links in a definite ladder of ascent, the whole theory assumed a mathematically symmetrical and logical aspect, peculiarly dear to the scientific mind, and not to be given up for anything more complex or anomalous without a bitter struggle.

As a connecting link between the cleaner type of scientific mind and the great masses, and the agent which fixed the dogma upon those masses, we must not overlook the pseudo-scientists. As there is, in this category, an insensible gradation from the minor Professor, not too scrupulous as to exact facts, avid for reputation, and seeking it through notoriety, down to the village oracle, each with his own circle of influence, this has been a factor of maximum importance in the creation of the present-day popular idea about evolution.

The present war between Dr. Osborn and some of his contemporaries hinges upon the differing evidence presented by geology and by biology, the latter consisting of the "vestigial remains" and other similarities between man and ape. Dr. Osborn admits the latter, and in lack of any other explanation possible -- to him -- lays it to a common ancestor, the "Pro-Dawn-Man," of whom, however, no geological traces have been found. For the rest, he regards geological evidence as of validity superior to anatomical; holds that it is the only positive testimony, all else being circumstantial. It is upon that evidence that he enunciates the following:

Meanwhile, the circumstantial evidence of geology and of geography is all in favor of the theory that the pro-man stock was well established in Oligocene time, now conservatively estimated at sixteen million years ago. At this time occurred the first modernization of the entire mammalian kingdom. So far as we can observe geologically, this modernization was due to the first great wave of aridity concurrent with the complete elevation of great continental plateaus, especially in central Asia and in the western region of North America. (Science, June 8, 1928).
The effect of the elevation and aridity mentioned, bears thus upon the "ape-ancestry" theory:
It is not at all probable that the Primates -- lemurs, North and South American monkeys and the hypothetic division of pro-man -- were exempt from this compelling and fateful decision. Why was it postponed by the progressive progenitors of man when adopted by all the progressive elements in the remaining mammalian world? Why theoretically postpone this fateful decision on the part of our primate ancestors to Miocene or Pliocene time, as is still done by many conservative writers who continue to adhere to the abandoned conceptions of the period of Charles Darwin's speculation partly because of loyalty to him and reverence for his classic contribution to anthropology?
To reinforce Dr. Osborn's revolt, there has come to hand much evidence such as that contained in J. Reid Moir's Antiquity of Man in East Anglia,(2) according to which, upper Miocene animal remains have been found in the same deposits with hand-worked flints. The whole book is considered by Dr. Osborn to be a substantiation of his "Pro-Dawn-Man" theory.

Briefly, then, Dr. Osborn holds that man descended from an ancestor so far antedating the apes that there can be considered not very much more connection between the two than between man and any other animal; that the development of man required an inconceivably vaster period than has hitherto been thought possible, he having been established as human in mid-Tertiary times, estimated at 16,000,000 years ago; that his origin coincided with the elevation of the Central Asian plains, which at the same time brought about the "modernization" of the whole animal kingdom.

Now, all this is a foreshortened ghost or shadow of the Theosophical Doctrine; it lacks almost entirely by way of incompleteness; and a short recital of the ancient system proves it.

Begin the Theosophical Chronology from the last great Race which has appeared; this will then correspond to the "mankind" of Prof. Osborn. This stock, the Secret Doctrine teaches, was descended from immigrants into Central Asia; immigrants from the sunken continent of Atlantis, whose submersion occurred in mid-tertiary times, and corresponded with this same Asian and American elevation of which Dr. Osborn speaks. This is definitely dealt with in the Secret Doctrine; and at the time of the great cataclysm, this race already had a million years of independent existence. The Secret Doctrine remarks that no one knows how old it was from its origin; and it may well be that the beginnings of it lay very far back; 16,000,000 years, however, is too much; but as civilized man in Central Asia dates back not more than 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 years, Dr. Osborn's "Pro-Dawn-Man" has to be looked for elsewhere; and he will be found on no land now above the sea. He is the Lemurian, the Race of the Secondary Period, who at one and the same time gave rise to the ancestor of the ape -- through a union possible because the life-currents had not then been far enough separated to prevent crossing -- and the Atlantean. And the latter survived, on the fragments of his continent, down to the days of the Cro-Magnon, and lived to be ancestor of the first Mediterranean races, as well as of the earlier Central Asian Aryan.

This "modernization" of the animals, which Dr. Osborn speaks of, is one of the most striking of all his points. The placental mammals appear in the Tertiary period, which thus makes them almost contemporary with man himself as viewed by Dr. Osborn; thus H.P.B. and de Quatrefages are vindicated in a breath. The marsupials preceded the placentals, and the reptiles the former. Dr. Osborn establishes the connection between the rise of the modern animals and that of man; but there is the same kind of connection between the still earlier mammals and the still earlier man. The reptiles, inherited from a previous evolutionary period of the whole globe, lived with the Third Race, the Lemurian, until the latter became bi-sexual; then arose the first mammals. The placental mammals followed the development of the Atlantean race, and their modernization took place, agreeably to Dr. Osborn's deductions, with the rise of the Aryan -- which he takes for the first human.

Dr. Osborn is now faced with two formidable obstacles; the opposition of Sir Arthur Keith's school,(3) which pins its faith upon an ape-origin upon biological similarity; and the sheer blank wall opposed to his understanding by the hard-and-fast theory of a material origin for humanity. The former he has effective, though incomplete, means of conquering, as foreshadowed by him thus:

This concludes the seventh address which I have devoted to this absorbing subject. In the succeeding or eighth address I shall continue the attack and try to demonstrate that while the anatomical and embryological evidence for the kinship of the apes to man is overwhelming, the same evidence, when closely analyzed and subjected to conditions of modern principles of phylogeny discovered since Darwin's time, compels us to replace the apeman hypothesis by the new pro-Dawn Man theory. (Science, June 8, 1928).
For the latter, however, and for the complete elucidation of the former, nothing whatsoever will suffice -- save the Theosophical doctrine, which is not ripe for scientific acceptance by decades yet.

Materialists in science hold that matter is dead; inanimate. Life is the action, obscure but nevertheless chemical, evolving by mechanical action out of some primordial "happen-chance;" and all living forms developed from a single ancestry originated in one point of space; there is no particular foreseen plan, but merely the endless adaptation and balancing of forces internal and external, which has brought about the universal appearance of design.

Theosophy teaches that there is nothing inanimate; there is nothing unconscious, however much the degrees of intelligence may vary. It teaches that it is just as natural for all of life everywhere to gravitate into moving forms as for the flame to fly upward. And so far from the universe being without design, there is no form whatsoever which can be other than the planned creation of intelligence, forms changing in accordance with the evolving intelligence within.

Theosophy teaches that matter everywhere, according to its degree, is capable of following certain patterns set for it, which it must follow because according to its nature it must act, and act along some direction. It teaches that, so far from visible matter being eternal and unchangeable, it is the evanescent appearance of an inner being which is permanent; an inner being where resides intelligence, its memory of the past, upon which alone depends the possibility of an evolution of any notable complexity. It teaches that the whole of a world evolution is a periodic phenomenon, the visible anon appearing, anon vanishing, while the reality retains the collective experience gained to be put to use in each subsequent awakening.

Thus man, with or without a body, ever exists, growing; it is his real being which little by little takes on form and substance as the growingly complex action of a new evolution generates matter fit to clothe him with. It is he, the self-conscious focus of a world intelligence, whose hidden forces and unconscious powers are drawn from all the kingdoms, and in turn go forth and guide, influence those kingdoms, creating through the ages unconsciously to himself the animal forms and dispositions. It is in him, a complex meeting-place of the life and experience of all things, that the powers of nature find their common rallying-place; in his body, his mind, and his soul, that they store the archetypes which represent their accomplishment of evolution. There can be no species possessed of organs for which patterns are not in man, or have not in the past been in him. It is through him that all life seeks, and must find, self-realization, however his form and temper may vary through the ages. And it is dependent upon the exercise of his self-conscious will, what kind of realization that shall be; whether he shall forever be buffeting back these lives to lower roads than those from which they came -- as half of civilized men do -- or whether he shall be for them the Way, himself their redeemer unto the life of self-perception in distant ages. Even as he is the road to salvation for them, so also are they the reins by which he has it in hand to control all nature; they, the invisible forces of all life, who pass through his being night and day, in streams invisible but more powerful by far than the violent potency which hums through the most powerful dynamo ever built. Knowing this, man is on the way to all knowledge, for he is one with all life; he is moving toward all power, for all power is life.

Find the ancestor of the ape? Yes; in man. But find the ancestor of man? Never in all this physical world, for he does not exist there; he was invisibly one with the very beginnings. But to find the lost civilizations of periods long before the first ancestor of man is thought to have existed; to find man, not only no lower, but in many cases higher than now, back through the overlying masses to the very backbone of earth -- this is not only possible, but will come; and pari passu with it, as the snarling form of the beast-ancestor retires through the hinter-lands of the mind, so the modern beast will recede from the soul, leaving it at last a clear mirror of nature in which he will know himself, his own origin, his own divinity.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


It is from this WISDOM-RELIGION that all the various individual "Religions" (erroneously so called) have sprung, forming in their turn offshoots and branches, and also all the minor creeds, based upon and always originated through some personal experience in psychology. Every such religion, or religious offshoot, be it considered orthodox or heretical, wise or foolish, started originally as a clear and unadulterated stream from the Mother-Source. The fact that each became in time polluted with purely human speculations and even inventions, due to interested motives, does not prevent any from having been pure in its early beginnings. There are those creeds -- we shall not call them religions -- which have now been overlaid with the human element out of all recognition; others just showing signs of early decay; not one that escaped the hand of time. But each and all are of divine, because natural and true origin; aye -- Mazdeism, Brahmanism, Buddhism as much as Christianity. It is the dogmas and human element in the latter which led directly to modern Spiritualism. --H.P.B. (Lucifer, Vol. III, pp. 182-3).

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(1) Science, June 8, 1928; Science News-Letter, June 25, 1927; and Science, March 9, 1928. Public press in general.
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(2) Reviewed by Dr. Osborn in Science, March 9, 1928.
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(3) Press of Sept. 1, 1927.
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