THEOSOPHY, Vol. 13, No. 1, November, 1924
(Pages 34-36; Size: 11K)
(Number 1 of an 8-part series)
ANTIQUITY OF MAN
THE EVIDENCE OF THE ELEMENTSCOULD MEN EXIST 18,000,000 YEARS AGO?FEW if any of the thinking people of the world now deny the evolutionary history of the human race in some form; yet between the evolution taught by Theosophy and that taught by science lies as great a gulf as between the hypotheses of science and the "creation" taught by theology.
To this Occultism answers in the affirmative, notwithstanding all scientific objectors.
(Madame Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1888, II, 148.)
The ever-blooming lands of the Second Continent (Greenland, among others) were transformed, in order, from Edens with their eternal spring, into hyperborean Hades. This transformation was due to the displacement of the great waters of the globe, to oceans changing their beds; and the bulk of the Second Race perished in this first great throe of the evolution and consolidation of the globe during the human period. (S.D. II, 138.)
Science upholds the evolution of man from the Kingdoms below; Theosophy the evolution of the Kingdoms below from Spiritual Man. Theosophy claims man to have been the first of the mammals; science, the last. But what is the actual evidence? Theories, beliefs, and prejudices hold with but uncertain grip to the strides of Great Nature; and he who would by these frail links bind himself to unchanging Truth must sooner or later find himself shaken off, face downward in the dust of exploded error. Magna est veritas et prevalebit.
Facts must be grasped and held with unfailing tenacity, whatever their origin or their surface appearance, attractive or repellent. But let there be any clinging to theory; let any speculation, however authoritative, however venerable, however plausible, be made for a moment the criterion of the slightest fact, and entry is made upon a path of error whose deviation from the straight line may become incalculable. For one inconsiderable disinherited fact leads quickly to the burial of a greater, until the homage due only to truth is religiously rendered to some pompous theory whose support, unknown to its worshippers, has, little by little and unperceived, receded from the condition of the latest and most reasonable attainable evidence to that of mere unfounded tradition passed from generation to generation.
So at the present day it is with the scientific theory of the origin of man -- an imposing giant with front of brass and body of mist and moonlight, whose ultimate downfall must bring confusion to many a sincere and devoted follower.
Beginning investigation with the elementary manifestations of evolutionary forces, it is seen that science has from the first taught the origin of the earth as a matter of incandescent clouds condensing into molten rock and thence gradually cooling and giving rise to living forms which have ever since evolved with relative rapidity in a general straight-line direction.
From the beginning elsewhere, and since 1875 in the Occident, Theosophy has taught that the earth evolved with physical matter itself from universal primordial homogeneous Substance into concreteness and complexity.
Science has taught that a relatively few millions of years ago, earth was uninhabitable, while Theosophy has taught that man himself -- science's "latest creation," has endured in much his present form for incalculable ages, his very consciousness consolidating pari passu with the evolution of matter itself. And the duration of that evolution may best be calculated by the predictable period necessary for its descending cycle; a period predictable through the discovery of radio-activity so accurately foretold by The Secret Doctrine.
Let us now listen to the latest dictum of science itself; a dictum three or four years old, but only now beginning to be publicly noted: Professor Menzies speculates on alternate periods of evolution and destruction followed by re-evolution; substantially the Theosophic doctrine of Manvantara and Pralaya, which Professor Menzies correctly sees symbolized in the Brahmanical doctrine of the "breath of Brahma." And Professor Soddy -- a man of substance, scientifically speaking, goes farther in daring by the belief that there have been races of men who developed civilizations high enough to be able to emigrate to other planets. Dr. Blackwelder of Stanford University finds the curve of earth's geological history is a wavy line, and not a uniformly rising one, while Professor A. P. Coleman informs the British Association of evidence showing that the earliest stones were formed in a cool climate of properties not unlike our present one.
Professor T. C. Chamberlain falls in line with Theosophy on more than one important point. He claims that the stratum of no life, the "azoic bottom," has vanished from human ken, relatively complex forms having been found in the oldest stones. He upholds the accretional theory which Theosophy pioneered in the West, and states that the climate has been cyclic from the depths of time, with little permanent change. There have been glacial periods back to the Proterozoic, arid stages before the Cambrian, and air-breathing animals before the Carboniferous, while warm climates have extended into the Arctic. Theosophists will recollect the voluminous evidence adduced by Madam Blavatsky in support of these propositions then so "unscientific." Professor Chamberlain grasps the fact that the elements have evolved in unknown manners in the deeps of earth. Theosophy adds that manifested matter constantly evolves wherever found, while on the upward cycle; and as constantly dissolves in any area of cosmic activity where the evolutionary energies have reached the limit of their scope for that cycle. And this dissolution -- the "nitya pralaya" of ancient philosophy, -- is simply radio-activity, which on this planet is now universal.
The chemist objects to current "straight-line" theories of evolution. (Prof. L. T. Henderson, Scientific American, January, 1923.) But grant eternal change in the properties of the elements themselves, and chemist and evolutionist may join hands: present difficulties may not have existed under another régime of chemical action. Thus in this as in most other matters, disconnected branches of science may achieve unity by proceeding along Theosophic lines.
Radio-activity stands as a witness that we have reached the pinnacle of possibility in the evolution of complexity in matter. The corollary which Theosophy adds is to the effect that further evolution of a nature dependent upon matter is out of order and unnatural, and that for us is now appointed evolution mental-spiritual. Man must now subjugate matter and rise above its boundaries, or remain within them and perish even more hopelessly than Lemuria and Atlantis of the forgotten past.
Thus, science no longer denying pre-mammalian humanity a habitable globe, Theosophy scores victory: mammalian man did exist; his age in relation to the animal kingdom is in exact measure to his mental superiority over that kingdom. But we shall be told that this is a speculation, reasonable perhaps from our view, but with no factual foundation. Science reserving to itself, we may say with all respect, the privilege of publishing speculation as fact, we are thus forced to employ its gleanings in furtherance of our object, the restoration to man of his lost birth-right of spiritual knowledge.
For, once force the age of man beyond the animal, and his beginning must be looked for in that region derided by science and degraded by religion -- the region of the metaphysical, the psychic, the mental, and the spiritual. The power of origination thus being assigned to that region, it is forthwith placed upon the throne of the manifested world; animal ratiocination, useful only for purposes of self, is shown in its true light as the darkness by contrast with which Spirit seeks to know Itself, and the death-blow is dealt modern theories of mechanical determinism, with their corollaries of "the right of might."
Making the spiritual world paramount involves a complete revision of the ethics of present-day life; it involves the substitution of the ONE LAW of impersonal, divine harmony and compassion for the mere expediency, dark child of matter and ignorance, which passes for morality in our business, religious, political, and scientific spheres today.
ANTIQUITY OF MAN
THE ORIGIN OF THE APE
(Part 2 of an 8-part series)
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