THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 6, April, 1928
(Pages 250-254; Size: 19K)
(Number 8 of a 103-part series)



WITHOUT doubt, many Theosophists, being human and subject to the rashness of enthusiasm, would like to see certain fixed ideas in science set afire upon the Theosophic altar by a few overpowering discoveries. Such, however, is neither the way of Nature nor of the Masters. Sudden conversions have the same objections as attempts to win over the masses by phenomenalism. The most open-minded of scientists, as of Theosophists, reason by habit rather than by pure ratiocination divorced from previous direction. Forcible changes of course therefore, being unsound as to their hold on the mind, however basically true, give rise to disastrous reactions, and sometimes, when too repellent temperamentally, to a complete rejection of reason and a recourse to simple blind prejudice and belief. The "fundamentalist" eruption was, in many quarters, due to a too fast inculcation of new ideas, an overfeeding of habit-fixed minds.

Science moves only by its own discoveries; Theosophy can take part in its motion only by shedding the light of its interpretations upon those discoveries for the benefit of Theosophical students, scientific or otherwise, and, through the accumulation of devoted thought, by so clarifying the mental atmosphere of the race as to make accessible to open minds the unseen resources of spiritual reasoning.

Nevertheless one of the two chief scientific schools of thought, which in former years were particularly at loggerheads with Theosophical principles, is moving toward convergence with them as surely and relentlessly as the march of a glacier; and, though by logical gradations, with such unnoticed speed that most Theosophists now living will in all probability see the final discredit of the "animal ancestor" theory, since we now are able to record the first definite disintegration of the "ape-man" idea.

The famous "Pithecanthropus Erectus," for seventy-five years the principal "stock-in-trade" of "ape-ancestor" theorists, now being subject to free examination, is discovered to be definitely human.(1) Not only that, but the "skull" discovered at Trinil, in the same vicinity, and which was hoped to be a further confirmation of the hypothesis, turns out to be part of the leg bone of a prehistoric elephant.(2) Walter Granger, Paleontologist with the Andrews Expedition, found relics indicating men in the Pleistocene age in China; tips had been cut from deer antlers in that deposit. Drs. J. G. Anderson and O. Zdansky discovered human teeth in a cave at Chou Kou Tien, China, indicating an age as of either the upper Pliocene or lower Pleistocene; it is considered that this indicates the existence of actual men in the Middle Pliocene, estimated as six million years ago.(3)

The Le Puy man, discovered near La Denise, France, in 1844, is now admitted to be a genuine fossil of the Pliocene period.(4) The former rejection of this fossil, because its high state of development did not conform to accepted theories, lends point to the curious case of the Cohuna skull recently found in Africa.(5) Because of its very primitive type, it was set down as infinitely older than any other remains discovered; but it was under only two feet of soil, while less than seventy feet away, modern type skulls were found three to five feet deep. Again and again we have noted the persistent tendency to set the age of bones, not by the geological evidence of antiquity, but by their relative primitiveness, the lineal upward development through the ages being assumed as the basic truth, and everything else being made to conform to that assumption. The totaling of all discoveries made to date prove our contention. Fortunately, scientists have become less confidingly "fundamental," and the Cohuna skull was received with much skepticism. Says H. P. Blavatsky:

Compared with the specimens of Egyptian drawing and sketching -- "7,000 years ago" -- the "earliest portraits" of men, horses' heads, and reindeer, made 50,000 years ago, are certainly superior. Nevertheless, the Egyptians of those periods are known to have been a highly civilized nation, whereas the Palæolithic men are called savages of the lower type. This is a small matter seemingly, yet extremely suggestive as showing that every new geological discovery is made to fit in with current theories, instead of the reverse. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, II, 718).
But that method is drawing to an end; though it still possesses some stubborn champions, such as Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, who says that discoveries of ancient man in America are "faked" by "publicity seekers," and that there is no basis for belief in the existence of American man over 10,000 years ago;(6) adding that the idea that man may have been contemporary with the dinosaur, is "too absurd to talk about." To this he receives an adequate reply in fact and in advance, if not in intention, from Prof. Byron Cummings,(7) University of Arizona, who remarks in connection with this very question, that "incontrovertible facts have been condemned without a hearing and honest investigators have been hounded for bringing out facts not 'conforming' to present theories." We have much ballast to add to his brave criticism.

J. D. Figgins and Harold J. Cook, Museum of Natural History at Denver, have gathered evidence going to indicate that man in America dates back to the Pleistocene, which they put at from 25,000 to 1,000,000 years ago.(8) Dr. Don Forrest Dickson finds evidence tracing back to the Neolithic period -- about the limit set by Dr. Hrdlicka -- on a farm near Lewiston, Ill. But bone implements, appearing to be the work of a race which lived in Nebraska not less than 4,000,000 years ago, have been dug up on the Cook ranch near Agate. Pronounced "extremely important" by Dr. Erwin H. Barbour, they were sent to Dr. Osborn.(9) Dr. Osborn has not announced his opinion -- unless it be incorporated in the remarkable insurrection with which he has set science by the ears of late. Dr. J. W. Gidley, paleontologist of the Smithsonian Institution, has found in Florida the skull and partial skeleton of a woman, which he dates at approximately 100,000 years ago.(10)

Dr. J. C. F. Siegfriedt, of Bear Creek, Montana, puts all these in the shade with his discovery of a fossil tooth supposedly human, and dating back to the Eocene, "30,000,000 to 75,000,000" years ago. (In H. P. Blavatsky's day, this was not over 10,000,000, which was far nearer correct. The age given Dr. Siegfriedt's discovery far out-theosophizes Theosophy, since present physical man has only lived 18,000,000 years.) Prof. Edward W. Berry, of Johns Hopkins,(11) says that the cocoanut palm flourished at Mangonui in the Pliocene or pre-Pliocene, and that this shows its distribution could not have depended upon the presence of man, as had been thought. This is another example of that curious inverse reasoning, bent upon making the fact fit the theory. This discovery could just as well indicate the existence of man in the Pliocene, and we submit that, in view of the above finds, such is the more truly scientific deduction in every sense.

A résumé of discoveries and speculations by H. H. Dunn in the Sunset Magazine for March, 1926, takes up seriously the possibility of man having an antiquity leading back to the reptilian period.

Now we would ask who among the Scientists is ready to prove that there was no man in existence in the early Tertiary period? ... Next century it may become a question whether man was not contemporary with the "flying Dragons;" the pterodactyl, the plesiosaurus and iguanodon, etc., etc. (S.D., II, 676).
(The "early Tertiary" would be Eocene or Oligocene. --Editors.)

In the fields concerning the actual causes and mechanism of evolution of man, such difficulties have been encountered as to bring about a far broader and more philosophic view within the last two or three years.

Dr. David Starr Jordan says(12) that "we can only speculate how one species gives rise to another. The origin of species by mutation, accepted by so many, rests on the slightest of foundations. The origin of species is beyond our reach in the realms of speculation."

Under title of "The Convergence of Evolution and Fundamentalism,"(13) Prof. G. T. W. Patrick goes further into various perplexities, conceding "fundamentalism" some rights as a protest against certain unjustified materialistic and mechanistic interpretations of the doctrine of evolution. The Mendelian laws, he says, so much touted, are not only no help in explaining hereditary resemblances, but are a handicap. The causes of variation are unknown, and Darwinism as a description of the method of evolution is very disappointing. In the same periodical for March, 1926, Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn -- an authority -- comments upon Darwin's over-confidence in the role of variations. Our Tertiary ancestry is unknown, he remarks, branches and twigs of the family tree being in view, but no trunk. There are hosts of overworked theories, and the unaccounted-for residue in evolution forms the greater part by far. The idea of fortuitous combinations in Nature is "out," as evolution proceeds by a trim and undeviating process. He then proposes to substitute the Sanskrit root "Kar" for the word "evolution," as having more the meaning of a planned unfolding or "creation." In connection with which it is well to recollect the prophecy of Wm. Q. Judge, that Sanskrit would again have its day as the language of true human knowledge.

At a later date(14) Prof. Osborn remarks that we are entering an entirely new era of research on the problem of the origin of species, marked by the decline and death of the chief speculations based on the knowledge of the first half of the nineteenth century. "Our enhanced knowledge makes the problem of the origin of species infinitely more difficult than it appeared to Darwin" -- a verification of H.P.B.'s statement:

The mistaken theories of mono-genesis, and the descent of man from the mammals instead of the reverse, are fatal to the completeness of evolution as taught in modern schools on Darwinian lines, and they will have to be abandoned in view of the insuperable difficulties which they encounter. (S.D., II, 118).

...the Scientists in their anti-clerical enthusiasm and despair of any alternative theory to Darwinism, except that of "special creation," are unconsciously insincere in "forcing" a hypothesis the elasticity of which is inadequate, and which resents the severe strain to which it is now subjected. (S.D., II, 645).

In Science, May 28, 1926, Prof. Wm. Bateson doubts the validity of present theories concerning the transmission of traits by the machinery of the "chromosomes," this field having been his specialty. He refuses to believe that the material particles are the true transmitters of heredity; he thinks instead that it is some form of arrangement. But, we may be permitted to inquire, how can an arrangement of particles, an abstract geometric form, be a carrier of conscious traits, except in the sense of a symbolic transmitter? Why not concede instead the causative and planning consciousnesses behind -- Prof. Eldridge's "organizatory factors," and H. P. Blavatsky's "Dhyan Chohans?"
It is ... a mere device of rhetoric to credit "Natural Selection" with the power of originating species. "Natural Selection" is no Entity; but a convenient phrase for describing the mode in which the survival of the fit and the elimination of the unfit among organisms is brought about in the struggle for existence ... But Natural Selection, in the writer's humble opinion, "Selection, as a Power," is in reality a pure myth; especially when resorted to as an explanation of the origin of species. It is merely a representative term expressive of the manner in which "useful variations" are stereotyped when produced ... The real question at issue is: what CAUSE -- combined with other secondary causes -- produces the "variations" in the organisms themselves. (S.D., II, 648).

These purely secondary causes of differentiation, grouped under the head of sexual selection, natural selection, climate, isolation, etc., etc., mislead the Western Evolutionist and offer no real explanation whatever of the "whence" of the "ancestral types" which served as the starting point for physical development. The truth is that the differentiating "causes" known to modern science only come into operation after the physicalization of the primeval animal root-types out of the astral. Darwinism only meets Evolution at its midway point -- that is to say when astral evolution has given place to the play of the ordinary physical forces with which our present senses acquaint us. But even here the Darwinian Theory, even with the "expansions" recently attempted, is inadequate to meet the facts of the case. The underlying physiological variation in species -- one to which all other laws are subordinate and secondary -- is a subconscious intelligence pervading matter, ultimately traceable to a REFLECTION of the Divine and Dhyan-Chohanic wisdom ... Hartmann ... regards evolution as intelligently guided by the UNCONSCIOUS (The Cosmic Logos of Occultism.) But the latter acts only mediately through FOHAT, or Dhyan-Chohanic energy, and not quite in the direct manner which the great pessimist describes. (S.D., II, 648-9).

Certainly few scientists of today will question any of this; indeed, they have been repeating it in their own words.

All this has culminated, during the year 1927, in Prof. Osborn's radical departure from all forms of "ape-ancestry" theories.(15)

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(1) The World, Jan. 17, 1926.
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(2) Washington Post, Oct. 1, 1926, Dec. 22, 1926; Washington Evening Star, Sept. 29, 1926.
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(3) Scientific Monthly, May, 1927; Science, Dec. 17, 1926.
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(4) San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 20, 1927.
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(5) New York Times, July 11, 1926.
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(6) Washington Evening Star, Nov. 9, 1926.
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(7) Science, March 26, 1926.
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(8) Science News-Letter, April 2, 1927.
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(9) Science, May 6, 1927; Scientific Monthly, May, 1927; San Francisco Examiner, May 24, 1927.
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(10) San Francisco Examiner, May 8, 1927.
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(11) Science, Dec. 31, 1927.
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(12) Science, April 23, 1926.
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(13) Scientific Monthly, July, 1926.
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(14) London Times, Aug. 6, 1926; Science, Aug. 27, 1926.
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(15) New York Times, Jan. 9, 1927; Scientific Monthly, May, 1927; Science News-Letter, May 7, 1927, and other articles too numerous to mention, in the news press and elsewhere.
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