THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 9, July, 1928
(Pages 407-410; Size: 15K)
(Number 9 of a 103-part series)



PROFESSOR Henry Fairfield Osborn now rejects the theory of the descent of man from the apes or ape forms, tree-dwelling or otherwise; man is inconceivably older than had hitherto been thought, not less than 6,000,000 years; the "Dawn Man" of the Tertiary period had surprisingly great brain power; and much of the "ape-man" speculations have been caused by scientific rejection of true discoveries, such as the Cromer, Foxhall, and Sub-Red Crag. While conceding that man and ape are "distant cousins," he believes that their separation took place in the Upper Oligocene, 16,000,000 years ago, and that man has always had his own line of ancestry. In view of the fact that the Oligocene is an age which has been interpolated between the Eocene and Miocene since H. P. Blavatsky's day, the following now assumes the form of solidifying fact -- no longer mystic "revelation:"

Owing to the very type of his development man cannot descend from either an ape or an ancestor common to both, but shows his origin from a type far superior to himself. And this type is the "Heavenly man" -- the Dhyan Chohans, or the Pitris so-called, as shown in the first Part of this volume. On the other hand, the pithecoids, the orang-outang, the gorilla, and the chimpanzee can, and, as the Occult Sciences teach, do, descend from the animalized Fourth human Root-Race, being the product of man and an extinct species of mammal -- whose remote ancestors were themselves the product of Lemurian bestiality -- which lived in the Miocene age. The ancestry of this semi-human monster is explained in the Stanzas as originating in the sin of the "Mind-less" races of the middle Third Race period. (S.D., II, 683).
Prof. Osborn still holds to the descent of man from some form of animal; but what form, is now pushed back into the nebulous realms of pure speculation. Discovery of a highly developed man in the Secondary period, now that matters have gone so far, would practically force the abandonment of all "animal descent" theories, and set science speculating along lines of which it yet little dreams. The time seems almost ripe for the verification of another prophecy, whose fulfillment many may live to see:
...civilization dates still further back than the Miocene Atlanteans. "Secondary-period" man will be discovered, and with him his long forgotten civilization. (S.D., II, 266).
Prof. Osborn's new theory is meeting with stiff opposition from Dr. William H. Gregory and others, based almost wholly upon the phenomenon of "vestigial remains." Along this line, Dr. Gregory and Dr. Milo Helman consider that human descent from ape-like forms is proven by the evidence of similarity of the teeth.(1) But every connection of presently used organs is equally well explained -- sometimes better -- by the descent of the ape from man; and some scientists begin to speculate along that line, notably Professors Dacque and Westenhoefer.(2) Prof. Westenhoefer says that the inner organs of man show that his ancestors lived in water, and that this characteristic is lacking in the apes.

The question of the organs not now supposed to be useful in man, but of use to lower forms, is a more difficult one to resolve, from the material aspect; yet the all-sufficiency of such evidence is beginning to be questioned. Thus we find that when Dr. C. W. Stiles, of the U.S. Public Health Service, uses the little check-valves in the human veins as evidence that our ancestors once went on all fours,(3) Dr. Dudley J. Morton(4) thinks that man has walked erect since his origin.

Sir Arthur Keith(5) thinks that the appendix is not, after all, useless, but that its functions break down under the stress of civilized life. Dr. W. A. Newman Dorland, of Chicago,(6) found a man without an appendix; and at the time was in hopes that this would throw some light on its present function, in which he believes; for, says he, it would not be so persistent -- more so in man than in the lower animals -- unless it did have a use. Now, the appendix, like every other organ, has hidden uses, in the astral, vital, and spiritual senses; but as this is hardly possible of material demonstration in this era, we turn with interest to the speculation of Dr. Helan Jaworsky, of Paris,(7) who thinks that man does not descend from apes, but from an original life-cell of his own (precisely, with some modification of the meaning of "cell," the Theosophical doctrine). He thinks that the evolution of the different organs in man followed the lines of the animal species because that original cell held them as well; and that each organ corresponds to the whole of some particular animal type. He is well on the track of the truth, which is capaciously enough resolved by the Secret Doctrine:

The fact is that, as previously stated, the human type is the repertory of all potential organic forms, and the central point from which these latter radiate. In this postulate we find a true "Evolution" or "unfolding" -- a sense which cannot be said to belong to the mechanical theory of natural selection. Criticising Darwin's inference from "rudiments," an able writer remarks: "Why is it not just as probably a true hypothesis to suppose that Man was created with the rudimentary sketches in his organization, and that they became useful appendages in the lower animals into which man degenerated, as to suppose that these parts existed in full development in the lower animals out of which man was generated?" ("Creation or Evolution?" Geo. T. Curtis, p. 76.) (S.D., II, 683).
Scientific speculation of the present day reaches a culmination in the book, Man, Myth, and Monsters, by Prof. Dacque, paleontologist of Munich and Prof. Max Westenhoefer, director of the Pathological Museum of Berlin.(8) This book, reversing as it does the Darwinian theories, and delving deeply into metaphysics hitherto appertaining to Theosophy only, is so astonishing that we felt constrained to inquire into the bona fides and professional standing of these two savants. They are classed as solid and respected, though not particularly eminent. Their theory postulates man himself as the original life substance, which, never diverging from its own line and its own blood, ran the gamut of all animal forms, throwing off from time to time branches whose potencies were limited to purely animal or plant development, hence the other life-forms of the earth. Each fission, they think, freed more of man's own mental and spiritual possibilities, while the progeny thus unconsciously thrown off underwent its own evolution along lines discovered by science, and incorrectly connected with that of man.(9) The first appearance of man as a mammal was on a continent now covered by the Pacific Ocean, of which Madagascar and part of India are remnants -- the Theosophic Lemuria. He was the first of all the mammals, and thus contemporary with the great reptiles.

Most remarkable of all is the idea that the soul of man, unable to manifest during the animal-like stage of his bodily evolution, remained simply linked to it by a species of "telepathic tie," until the brain became a full transmitter of human consciousness. They even teach a stage wherein mankind possessed an active "third eye" (the present pineal gland) and speak of its metaphysical attributes: in short, as the student will have gathered, the book is a sort of "scientific" metamorphosis of the Secret Doctrine, its contents ranging from a fairly clear and accurate presentation of some parts, to a rather grotesque parody on others. Nor is it likely that it was evolved without the direct or indirect aid of that volume; a probability which renders the effort of less value than had its conclusions been arrived at independently. Nevertheless, here is a practical demonstration that hard-headed men of orthodox scientific training, can, without sacrificing either fact or reason, accommodate the teachings of the Secret Doctrine -- to say nothing of speculations even more "bizarre;" proof positive that the day when the Secret Doctrine may "become the text-book of science" is not so impossibly far off as some might have imagined a few years ago.

And there's the rub; so far from Theosophical labors then being ended, they will in reality only begin; purely intellectual acceptance of the mechanical and material aspects of the Secret Doctrine can be, as experience shows, poles apart from a living incorporation of its ethics into the fabric of life; ethics, however, to which all else in Theosophy is meant to be handmaiden only.

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:


Suppose an Occultist were to claim that the first grand organ of a cathedral had come originally into being in the following manner. First, there was a progressive and gradual elaboration in Space of an organizable material, which resulted in the production of a state of matter named organic PROTEIN. Then, under the influence of incident forces, those states having been thrown into a phase of unstable equilibrium, they slowly and majestically evolved into and resulted in new combinations of carved and polished wood, of brass pins and staples, of leather and ivory, wind pipes and bellows. After which, having adapted all its parts into one harmonious and symmetrical machine, the organ suddenly pealed forth Mozart's Requiem. This was followed by a Sonata of Beethoven, etc., ad infinitum; its keys playing of themselves and the wind blowing into the pipes by its own inherent force and fancy.... What would Science say to such a theory? Yet, it is precisely in such wise that the materialistic savants tell us that the Universe was formed, with its millions of beings, and man, its spiritual crown. --S.D., II, p. 348.

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(1) Washington Evening Star, Dec. 17, 1926.
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(2) United Press, Berlin, Sept. 14, 1926; Washington Evening Star, Sept. 15, 1926; San Francisco Examiner, April 17, 1927.
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(3) Science, March 5, 1926.
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(4) Washington Star, April 2, 1926.
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(5) San Francisco Examiner, Dec. 1, 1925.
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(6) Washington Evening Star, Feb. 10, 1926.
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(7) Science and Invention, June, 1927.
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(8) See review, San Francisco Examiner, April 17, 1927.
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(9) When it is borne in mind that all forms which now people the earth, are so many variations on basic types originally thrown off by the MAN of the Third and Fourth Round, such an evolutionist argument as that insisting on the "unity of structural plan" characterising all vertebrates, loses its edge. The basic types referred to were very few in number in comparison with the multitude of organisms to which they ultimately gave rise; but a general unity of type has, nevertheless, been preserved throughout the ages. The economy of Nature does not sanction the co-existence of several utterly opposed "ground plans" of organic evolution on one planet ... (S.D., II, 683).
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