THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 8, June, 1930
(Pages 359-364; Size: 32K)
(Number 22 of a 103-part series)
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
FACTS are highly vulnerable -- fortunately for many popular theories, scientific and otherwise. They can be slain and buried by the proper authorities, their very history hidden from the light of day even like unto the famous "Man in the Iron Mask." But like human beings, they have also the proclivity -- unfortunately for their enemies, of reincarnating. So with the exposure of Haeckel in the famous case of Bathybius Haeckelii. Students of the Secret Doctrine will recall the ridicule Madame Blavatsky poured upon this mythical ancestor of all living, pressed into service in Haeckel's infamous and unscrupulous campaign against the morals of mankind. But Haeckel then and for a long time after wore the priestly robes of scientific sanctity, and moreover his name and fame was bound up with the great campaign then on foot against all belief in the Soul of Man. Therefore the incident has been quietly buried -- until The Nation and Athenaeum(1) revived it, encouraged perhaps by the great turn of scientific knowledge and opinion against Haeckel and all that he represented.
The "animal descent" theory, which Haeckel far more than Darwin popularized, and which he carried to fanatic extremes which Darwin would have been first to repudiate, was built upon a few fragmentary facts which could almost be counted upon the fingers of two hands -- with the exception, perhaps, of the "vestigial remains." But it was seemingly so well-rounded, so complete an explanation, that it captured the scientific mind, and those who should have remained judges became partisans. They became all too often ambushed sharpshooters, picking off inimical facts as they appeared in scattering single file. Any one knows that a regiment marching thus can be destroyed by a single man. For every fact thought to substantiate the Darwinian and neo-Darwinian theories, there have appeared ten to contradict them; but they have appeared one at a time at the mouth of a fatal defile, and for the most part lie quietly buried. We shall parade a few of their ghosts -- which now seem likely to take on a vampiristic life which bodes little good to evolutionary orthodoxy.
One of the prime Darwinian fulcrums, the inheritance of acquired characters, has now become one of its prime perplexities, having been almost completely discredited. The last upholder of the theory, Dr. Kammerer, committed suicide upon learning that someone had "improved" the specimens he had been using for demonstration, and had thus put him in an unbearably Haeckelian position. In Science for Sept. 30, 1927, Dean Henry L. Bolley suggested that the resistance of a plant to flax wilt is an indication of inheritance of an acquired character. Dr. B. B. Robinson retorted that the theory had been too often disproved.(2)
"Natural selection" has become an equal problem, owing to the fact now generally becoming recognized that most adaptations are no good, and even may be deadly, until completely evolved. Dr. Ludwig Freund calls attention to some insects living upon seals, who have developed the idea of taking a bubble of air with them to live on when their host dives. Obviously this trick had to be fully completed before the species could survive in that environment, and such cases give the death blow to "natural selection."(3) Dr. J. E. C. Haslam describes the life cycle of schistosomes, which begin as worms in human veins, escape into pond or ditch water, lay eggs which hatch a swimming creature which takes refuge in the body of a water snail. There it develops another swimming form which burrows into the human skin and starts over. Nothing of this kind can be explained on "natural selection" or "inheritance of acquired characters," and admittedly so. Dr. Seba Eldridge(4) gives numerous instances of this, some even more striking.
The whole history of every theory which has ever been advanced to explain evolution is one of painful modifications, revisions, and in many cases, elisions, until as shown by Dr. Francis B. Sumner(5) the whole thing is on a basis of compromise and uncertainty. He sums up the objections to "natural selection" as: the inutility of incipient stages of changes; over developments and development of useless characters; discontinuity between species; improbability of qualitative changes arising from selection of quantitative grades; the reversion to original types in experiments after a few generations; occurrence of mutational or sudden variations which conformed at once to the required need. The proponents of natural selection and enemies of mutation advance: that the theory of sudden large changes renders more difficult the understanding of harmoniously working organ systems; that paleontology offers evidence for continuous development; that existing geographic variations are often of the continuous type; that mutations belong to a different class of changes than evolutionary variations; that crossing natural species results differently from crossing artificial races; that most mutational changes are of the nature of losses or deformities.
This war between the mutationist, or sudden change school, and the natural selection, or continuous change one, is paralleled by a similar divergence in matters concerning heredity. By considerable trimming, lopping, pushing, and pulling, Dr. Sumner arrives at a passable syncretism between the two views, wholly theoretical, and inconclusive upon his own showing. Once introduce the reflection of Dhyan-Chohanic intelligence which the Secret Doctrine states to be at the bottom of all evolutionary changes, and the difficulties immediately become non-existent; "natural selection" is a semi-intelligent adaptation to circumstances, "mutation," one of the processes of bringing it about. The controversy simply vanishes, provided one is willing to sacrifice the mechanistic concept of the "origin" of life in order to get rid of the difficulties; but until that attitude is adopted, ignorance is the price which will have to be paid for prejudice.
Meantime the anatomical considerations bearing upon evolution are undergoing a severe raking over. Dr. Adolph H. Schultz, of Johns Hopkins University,(6) shows that the higher apes have less tail, anatomically speaking, than man himself. In the adult Orangoutan, there are only two or three rudimentary tail vertebrae, while in man there are four, five, and sometimes six.
Dr. Rendle Short, former Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons,(7) makes a drastic criticism of pseudo-Darwinian theories based on anatomical resemblances. The blood of apes is highly dissimilar to man's, he says; the Law of Recapitulation is incompatible with an ape descent;(8) and deformities in man are not of the nature of "throwbacks" to ape ancestors, as they should be agreeably to the theory. The foetal ape, he says, is more like a man than the human foetus is like an ape. He could have added the fact noted by Madame Blavatsky, that the older an ape becomes the less humanlike it is, while the older a man becomes the less like an ape he is, all of which as she said indicates the descent of the ape from man. The commonest human deformities, he says, are hare-lip, split palate, web fingers, club-foot and supernumerary toes, yet none of these are ape characteristics. In addition to all this, there is no logical explanation of the development of the human mind in such a different direction from that of the ape. In this he is backed up by a scientific article in the Los Angeles Times of May 5, 1929, which states that while some resemblance physically can be found between ape and man, the stumbling block is to account for the latter's singular habits and behavior.
Going back further into time, Prof. A. N. Burkitt, of Sydney University, has found such massive jawbones in contemporary New Caledonians, that he suspects that the famous "Heidelberg Man" whose cranium is unknown, but whose jaw is heavy, did not necessarily have a gorilline cranium, since the New Caledonian natives have brains quite as large as contemporary Europeans.(9) In other words, there is no longer any evidence to show that this very ancient supposed "caveman" was really of lower type than the fairly high quality natives of New Caledonia, or that he had less brains than the modern man. But much has been made of that Heidelberg jaw in favor of "ape ancestry!" The famous Java Pithecantropus and the Broken Hill skull of South Africa, each show the combinations of a modern type of leg with an "ape-like" skull; which has led to doubt in both cases as to whether leg and skull belonged together. The similarity of cases, it is said, is too much for coincidence, and we must admit the queer combination.(10) Then the query arises, how and when was that leg developed? Were these specimens of a high type race with atavistic skulls, or were they a degraded race with leg structures atavistic to higher and older ancestors? The latter is probable, in view of Secret Doctrine teachings; but either alternative is a lethal blow to animal descent ideas, owing to the vast age ascribed to the specimens.
A very similar case is reported from China.(11) It appears that the Chou Kou Tien jaw, "ape-like" in structure, nevertheless possessed of human type teeth, was probably a large-brained form, having a capacity well within the normal variation of present day man.
One of the most crushing upsets is the reversal of the ages of the Piltdown man and the Pithecanthropus in the geological scale.(12) Students will remember the famous controversy over the jaw of the Piltdown man, and the fact that it was at last admitted to be a quite modern type of mankind. Owing to its superiority over the Java "ape-man" it was up to now considered much younger, in spite of the fact that the Java specimen was much more lightly buried. Now geological fact has its innings, and the superior type is admittedly the older. It is exactly so with many another case, jammed by force and violence into the mold of scientific preconception. For instance, according to the Los Angeles Examiner of June 16, 1929, the Glozel pottery "fake" was only discovered by finding a modern finger print on one of the specimens. Yet the very point at issue is the existence of modern men in older times; if, as H. P. Blavatsky inquired, a point is assumed a priori proven, and all evidence against it rejected, how is any conclusion but one to be arrived at? The history of evolution abounds with such intellectual murders.
Meantime the origin of man is placed with stubborn authoritativeness in no less than four different locations; in North Africa, in the Kalahari Desert, in Central Asia, and in Europe. Dr. James H. Breasted claims that man appeared suddenly and had a continuous development thereafter. The geological strata "known" immediately to precede him, give no evidence of his tools.(13) But is not this prima facie evidence, not of a sudden development, but of origin on lands undiscovered -- sunken Lemuria and Atlantis, as the Secret Doctrine teaches? Small wonder that Prof. Edgar Dacque(14) is moved to remark that "man is an original form of life which has existed from the earliest times;" that there are traces of him before the ape, and that the ape is his descendant -- as every Theosophist knows to be the case!
The tide of scientific misgiving has perhaps swept to its most recent crest with the remarks of Dr. Austin H. Clark, of the Smithsonian Institution.(15) Dr. Clark in brief contends that man as he first appeared was substantially the same as he now appears; that the whole picture of life was present from the beginning, subject to but minor modifications; that the discoveries made in British Columbia by Dr. Charles D. Walcott prove the present gaps between species to go back to Middle Cambrian times. Dr. Clark's remarks were presented under the auspices of the Quarterly Review of Biology, edited by Dr. Raymond Pearl. So long as science clings to the animal descent of man, or even to his common ancestry with the animal, the tumbling facts of the future will create only a chaotic patchwork fit but for the dust-bin. But accept the Theosophic world-history -- the spiritual-astral descent of man, gradually crystallizing into the physical; his presence on earth in similar form to that of today for 18,000,000 years; his use by the forces of nature as the storehouse for the basic biologic mechanisms of animal creation, and his metaphysical progenitorship of that creation -- so far as the mammals are concerned; the direct descent of the anthropoids from him; the presence within and behind the visible world of intelligences of all grades, whose half-successful, half-abortive efforts create the anomalies in the lesser developments of evolution -- and the chaos becomes a mosaic of actual history; a history moreover which is indispensable to the future of the race, since in it are contained the monitory signposts for the progress of the Ego through the countless incarnations of the future!
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; and below that is the earlier article by the THEOSOPHY Editors which "reviews" the book by Dr. Seba Eldridge, as mentioned in the above article (and in the 4th footnote found below), entitled: "THE ORGANIZATION OF LIFE":
Family duty consists not in sensuality or pleasure-hunting, but in cultivating and in elevating the emotional nature (the fourth principle), of ourselves and of our family; in being equally "kind," not only to the members of the family, but also to all creatures, and in enjoying all such pleasures of the family life as are consistent with the acquirement of "wealth" (all the means necessary for the performance of Dharma or whole duty) according to the teachings of Valluvar, and in utilizing such pleasures and means for the performance of our duty to our nation. Patriotism consists similarly in theosophising our own nation, in not only getting ourselves rid of our national defects, as well as other members of the nation rid of the same, but also in strengthening in ourselves and in our nation as a whole, all the noble qualities which belong to our nation; in the enjoyment of the privileges of the nation and using them as a means for the performance of Dharma. If family duties are taken due care of, our duties to the nation and to humanity would, to a great extent, take care of themselves unimpeded. Our national duties, if strictly performed, serve to purify our fifth lower principle of its dross and to establish and develop the better part of it, while the performance of our duty to Humanity or the realization of universal tolerance and mercy, purifies the lower (human) stuff in the fifth higher principle and makes it divine, thus enabling us to free ourselves gradually from the bonds of ignorance common to all human beings. --W.Q.J.
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 1, November, 1926
"THE ORGANIZATION OF LIFE"
"THERE must be the freest give-and-take among all these sciences (physics, psychology, and sociology), as well as between them and philosophy, if the best progress in developing the theory of life and its evolution is to be assured....
"...a special discipline, at once a branch of biology and of philosophy, must be established, whose function it will be to criticize and amend the assumptions, problems and methods of experimental biology, while accepting from the latter (philosophy) materials for the enrichment of logic, metaphysics and other departments of philosophy."
With the above quoted words Seba Eldridge, Associate Professor of Sociology in the University of Kansas, concludes his nexus of the various plexuses of thought in present day science, as measured and synthesized in his recent important book, The Organization of Life.(16) The volume of nearly five hundred pages is a clearly developed and closely woven Treatise admirably and consistently true to its opening thesis. In the Preface to the work, the author faces and states the true modulus of all inquiry:Scientific enquiry embraces the collection of data on unsolved problems, and the analysis of such data with a view to arriving at correct conclusions on those problems. These two phases of scientific method are inextricably interwoven, and are indeed but different aspects of a systematic procedure whereby problems are solved, and human knowledge extended....So much for the beginning and the end of the author's self-imposed task. The "middle," or body of the work, is equally consistent with the subject taken and the object sought to be achieved. The various hypotheses of modern science, with their supporting data, their conflicts of fact and theory, are presented, in scientific terminology it is true -- and therefore technically more or less difficult to the average unorganized vocabulary and mind -- but none the less definitely, fairly, and clearly. Out of the existent chaos of contradictory hypotheses -- chaos for all its exactitude of facts and terminology -- Professor Eldridge emerges with a theory which, apparently, he believes in all good faith to be his own. And so it is; but by adoption, though its true source is unknown to him. This theory he presents with modesty and in the spirit of true philosophy, inviting examination, comparison, discussion, on its merits. What the author's conclusion, from his survey of both the facts and the fancies of our modern scientific Horatios, may be clearly summarized in his own words:
There is a tendency, as methods of observation and experiment are developed, to emphasize the collection of data, and to underestimate the value of a thorough analysis (synthesis?) of the data collected.The outcome of the investigation is, on its positive side, a pluralistic theory of life and of human experience, which, whatever its merits or defects, appears to be sharply marked off from theories previously propounded.Studious Theosophists know well, from their examination and investigation in the same scientific spirit of inquiry as Professor Eldridge has applied to modern materialism, that the "pluralistic theory" adopted by him is the oldest in the world; both that of Philosophers and of the "multitude." Unlike Professor Eldridge and modern scientists, however, the Theosophist has directed his scientific spirit to the problems of the world metaphysically as the true source of the problems of life physical. Thus, the immense accumulation of physical facts which bewilder the materialistic Occultists of modern science, and which make them employ their minds, and exercise their Reason and Creative faculty, subordinated to those facts, is, to the metaphysical investigator, the synthetic proof positive that----but not, most assuredly, "God" or the "soul" as limited or defined by any theology of any religion, or the "body" of materialistic science, which, as a compound of conflicting creeds and dogmas, is as much a "theology" as any of the conglomerate of sects called religion. This view of science is not confined to Theosophical investigators of Man and Nature, but is voiced by Professor Eldridge among others."all are parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul"...materialism represented, historically, an attack on theological and mystical conceptions of nature, and it is even now generally regarded in the scientific world as the only alternative to such conceptions....Brave words these, and as true as they are courageous. Nor is Professor Eldridge alone, either in his attitude or in his perception of the metaphysical facts and factors which have produced the "conflict between religion and science" -- which conflict, we may feel sure, will never be settled by any surrender to or compromise with the protagonists of theology. It is this attitude and devotion to ultimate, even if as yet unperceived, Truth, which ever distinguish true Science and the true Scientist, however fallible or erroneous may be their human limitations, from the expounders of "revealed" religion; which makes of modern science, despite its "religion of materialism," the hope of the future. Add to this that the record of Modern Science, like its real parent, ancient Occultism, has never yet been stained by persecution "for opinion's sake," as has religion in all times, and the sympathetic attitude of H. P. Blavatsky and her Masters, as well as their criticisms, may be understood in their several expressions on the subject of "religion" and "science." Opposed as true Occultism must ever be to the materialism of science, it is not less but more unalterably opposed to religion in any guise. The honesty, the sincerity, the integrity, the moral character, the learning and self-sacrifice of a "heretic" has never yet saved him from ostracism, calumny, or the Inquisition of the "orthodox" religionist. Materialism, H.P.B. well knew, represents fundamentally the reaction of the inherently free and inquiring Soul, against the fundamentally false pretensions of "revealed" religion -- the only kind of religion the world knows anything at all about. There can be no science, no study of Nature and Man without entire freedom of mind, no evolution of Intelligence without liberty of conscience. And both these have ever been denied by religions -- to their votaries as much as to those who have but sought to probe the foundations of their own faith. The one is a "heretic," and the other is an "infidel" -- this has been the dictum of the creeds in all ages; enforced by physical as well as mental and moral torture. Your Doctor of Science may be an empiricist, which but means in its primary sense an experimentalist, but, unlike the Doctor of Divinity, he is not -- as yet at least -- either a charlatan or a persecutor or a proselyter, driven thereto by the necessities of his own logic.
The more extreme pretensions of the physical and chemical sciences, together with the materialistic philosophy commonly combined with them, have acquired a momentum that is well-nigh irresistible. This philosophy is held by the average scientist much as a religious dogma, and defended as such. It is, in fact, the religion of modern science, and sanctioned by all those psychological tendencies -- suggestion, habit, etc. -- which lend support to any generally accredited dogma. So true is this that the belief in materialism is almost exempt, at least in the scientific world, from a critical examination as to its all-embracing validity.
Professor Eldridge discusses, briefly but lucidly and sympathetically, the possibilities of what is commonly called "psychical research":...if the chemicals and energies entering into the economy of the organism can exist in an inorganic state, which is unquestionable; and if, further, these chemicals and energies cannot wholly account for their own organization in living organisms, then one or more additional ... elemental factors must be at work in the organism.This is not the place to enter into discussion of the vast range and applicability of the teachings of The Secret Doctrine on the various facts and problems -- and tentative speculative theories of modern science to account for the one and to resolve the other -- but we may remark that, greatly as modern materialism has need of such works as this of Professor Eldridge and of those whom he cites, Professor Eldridge and his associates need still more the embodied fruits of the Wisdom-Religion, so that their labors and their progress may be facilitated by those of their brothers and forebears -- the Initiates and Adepts in true Occultism through all the vast Past.
We would remark, further ... they are in nowise arbitrary distinctions forced by the human mind on reality, but may be said, on the contrary, to be forced by reality on the human mind ... we can now see no way of reducing the inorganic to the organic, although ... biological conceptions of some sort will eventually be utilized in the interpretation of inorganic phenomena. Nor ... can the organic be reduced to the inorganic. It would seem well to admit that distinctions of this sort which we can see no way of overcoming have their counterpart in reality, and not assume a priori that this is not the case....
... Psychical research, so-called, may eventually assume great importance, from the standpoint of the biological sciences, purporting, as it does, to deal with one important group of factors operative in the human organism, after dissociation from the organism.
For our fellow students of Theosophy, we might go on for many pages, quoting from Professor Eldridge's book, and drawing parallelisms from the Wisdom-Religion. But enough has been quoted and said, we trust, not only to pay to this remarkable work its just tribute of appreciation and recommendation, but to show also that H.P.B. was speaking scientifically when she wrote that "in century the twentieth the Secret Doctrine may become the textbook of science." For Professor Eldridge's conclusions, as well as his spirit and his clarity, are those of a student of the "Secret Doctrine": the voice of a reverent and sincere questioner of the Mysteries.
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:
WHAT IS "MATTER"?
It is most remarkable that, while honestly confessing their entire ignorance of the true Nature of even terrestrial matter -- primordial substance being regarded more as a dream than as a sober reality -- the physicists should set themselves up as judges, nevertheless, of that matter, and claim to know what it is able and is not able to do, in various combinations. Scientists know it (matter) hardly skin-deep, and yet they will dogmatise. It is "a mode of motion" and nothing else. But the force that is inherent in a living person's breath, when blowing a speck of dust from the table, is also, and undeniably, "a mode of motion"; and it is as undeniably not a quality of the matter, or the particles of that speck, and it emanates from the living and thinking Entity that breathed, whether the impulse originated consciously or unconsciously. Indeed, to endow matter -- something of which nothing is known so far -- with an inherent quality called Force, of the nature of which still less is known, is to create a far more serious difficulty than that which lies in the acceptation of the intervention of our "Nature-Spirits" in every natural phenomenon. --Secret Doctrine.
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
(Part 23 of a 103-part series)
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SIXTEEN (16) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) March 10, 1928.
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(2) Science, March 2, 1928.
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(3) The Week's Science, Aug. 13, 1928.
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(4) "The Organization of Life," reviewed in Theosophy, Nov., 1926.
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(5) Scientific Monthly, July, 1929.
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(6) Science, Nov. 16, 1928.
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(7) London Daily Telegraph, March 5, 1929.
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(8) See Secret Doctrine, II, 187.
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(9) Science, Oct. 26, 1928.
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(10) Do. Oct. 5, 1928.
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(11) Science, June 28, 1929.
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(12) Pro. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Science, Feb. 22, 1929.
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(13) Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1929.
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(14) A. P. Dispatch, Berlin, April 4, 1929.
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(15) Press of January 22, 1929; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Jan. 21, 1929; Washington Star, Jan. 20, 1929; San Diego Union, July 7, 1929.
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(16) The Organization of Life: New York, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1925. Price $4.50.
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