THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 11, September, 1932
(Pages 494-500; Size: 21K)
(Number 39 of a 103-part series)
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
XXXV (In Three Parts)
THE wave of popular interest so evident a few years ago regarding the evolution of man has largely subsided -- probably because people have had reason lately to substitute for wonder as to whence we came in the distant past, concern for whither we are going in the immediate future. Nevertheless an astonishing accumulation of the most significant facts has collected during the past year or two.
These facts show scientific evolutionism standing unsteadily at the confluence of two dark streams of mystery such as never entered Darwin's wildest dreams. Stream first bears on its bosom a welter of conflicting fact and opinion regarding the causes and rationale of evolution from the biologic standpoint. Stream second is littered with tangled and conflicting inter-special relationships as between animal and man, man and man.
For the time being let us confine ourselves to the former, which might be called the subjective or inner phase of the puzzle, as against the external, zoological, and paleontological, which may be reserved for another consideration on its own account.
So conflicting, in fact, has the evidence become as to have definitely produced the birth of evolutionary sectarianism.(1) Professors Julian Huxley and Henry Fairfield Osborn are leaders of the "Modernist" sect, which holds that "natural selection" is largely mythical and that Darwinism is a partial and primitive form of belief. Others, such as Prof. Edward B. Poulton, of Oxford, are "pure unreconstructed Darwinists." Immediately significant in this relationship is the opinion of Dr. R. E. Snodgrass, of the U.S. Bureau of Entomology, who points out that the real "missing link" has been overlooked.(2)
The gap between man and his putative ape-like ancestor, he says, is insignificant as compared with the gap between winged creatures and those without wings. So striking and so evident is this fact, we would add, that its neglect could only have come about through an almost hypnotic engrossment in other directions. For, obviously, "natural selection" can only develop an organ which is of some use to begin with. And with equal obviousness a rudimentary wing is a handicap and not help. Even if developed out of some other type of limb, it must pass through a stage where it has lost its use as a limb and not become useful as a wing. The progressive degeneration of a wing, and its development into a limb, would be easy to understand and in line with many things which have happened in the evolutionary field; but that would make all animal life -- including man -- the descendant of some winged form! And this is outside of the wildest dreams of evolution -- whose theories all run the other way!
Thus year by year "natural selection" falls into the discard, driving evolutionists into deeper and deeper research, into semi-mysticism, regarding the real causes, unknown, but of necessity recognized as internal.
Drs. Chappell and Pike, of Columbia University,(3) point out the previous confusion between causal and limiting factors. "Natural selection," they state, "not being a force, cannot deliver energy to organisms. It merely limits that delivery, and is thus not causally related to evolution, which it cannot promote any more than it can organize matter." The old question of variation, they say, remains unanswered now as in Darwin's time. If evolution is a characteristic of life, they hold, offspring will arise which are different from, and more complex than, the parents.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. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, II, 648).Dr. Adolph Schultz, of Johns Hopkins, considers that the basis of evolution is just this fact -- that no two organisms are absolutely alike.(4) This inherent tendency to differentiate was shown experimentally by the study of some hundreds of monkeys, of the same species, and having exactly the same environment in every respect for generations. Of these specimens, collected around one camp in Nicaragua, no two were alike. Deep indeed, and fundamental withal, are the causes of this eternal differentiation. Said a Master in 1882:... Look around you and see the myriad manifestations of life, so infinitely multiform; of life, of motion, of change. What caused these? From what inexhaustible source came they, by what agency? Out of the invisible and subjective they have entered our little area of the visible and objective. Children of Akasa, concrete evolutions from the ether, it was force which brought them into perceptibility and Force will in time remove them from sight of man. Why should this plant in your garden to the right, have been produced with such a shape and that other one to the left with one totally dissimilar? Are these not the results of varying actions of Force -- unlike correlations? Given a perfect monotony of activities throughout the world, and we would have a complete identity of forms, colours, shapes and properties throughout all the kingdoms of nature. It is the motion with its resulting conflict, neutralization, equilibration, correlation, to which is due the infinite variety which prevails.And this motion is the very essence of Life itself; the shadow of eternal unchanging absolute unconditioned motion of Mulaprakriti which neither hastens nor slackens from dawn to dark of Manvantara, from dusk to morn of Pralaya.
Among the more newly recognized mysteries of evolution is the fact that certain changes take place, evidently according to some law, but without relation to external environment and without ostensible object. Sir Arthur Keith, for instance, called attention to a strange anomaly. The size of the human face and jaw is being reduced among Europeans, as has long been recognized.(5) This has been officially ascribed to the use of softer foods. But the same thing is happening to African bushmen devoid of any civilized influence. Sir Arthur says "some mysterious law" is doing this -- and lets it go at that; very wisely, considering the profundity of the causation to be deduced only from Theosophic philosophy!
For in fact it is evidently due to vast quasi-cosmic changes. The European belongs to the Fifth Root Race, well beyond the central, or most material point, of the cyclic arc of evolution for the local manvantara. As stated by Madame Blavatsky, the tendency henceforth is toward a finer, a more delicate physical type as man grows out of the bonds of matter during future millions of years. This type will tend toward the ideal forms developed in long past manvantaras at their culmination. But also the Fifth Race is overlapped by the Fourth, and even by portions of the Third, both of which reached their apices in periods so many millions of years ago as to be beyond the credulity of material science. And such overlapping races tend to take on the type of the new, to develop with it. The cause of this is obviously metaphysical; and correlated with a fact to which W. Q. Judge called attention: that the sun carries its planets on a great sweep through the universe, of such nature that the identical spot is never traversed twice. Far-reaching changes, said he, are due to the resulting alterations of cosmic influence. It is not such as Dr. Millikan, the famous discoverer of the "Cosmic Ray," who will dispute the possibility!
The mysteries involved in these changes become more complex from the physical point of view the more they are studied. It is possible, says Dr. Osborn, to distinguish between organs which are static and those which are dynamic.(6) It actually happens that one portion of an organ may be in rapid evolution while a contiguous part is standing absolutely still. Certainly this is a nut for the materialist school of evolution to crack! Current genetics holds that mutations are brought about by changes in the genes -- the supposed physical carriers of heredity. On the contrary, says Dr. Osborn, the bio-mechanical principles of change are directly contrary to this assumption. While the modes of transmutation of form are clear (?), the internal causes of the bio-mechanical transmutations of the germ-plasm are more mysterious and incomprehensible than in the days of Darwin! In primarily mechanical adaptations, sudden germinal mutation is not only improbable but without the least empirical foundation.(7) This, says Dr. Osborn, brings paleontology -- the objective side of evolutionary study by which the picture of what has actually physically and externally happened is eternally concreted in the stones themselves -- into direct conflict with current theories as to how it happened.
Professor Maurice Caullery, speaking at the 11th Congress of Zoology in September 1930, went into these difficulties in some detail.(8) It was necessary, said he, to examine the situation presented by "these great problems which change from time to time but are never completely solved." The beliefs of a generation ago are very different from those of today, and we have gained caution in these matters. August Weissman, with his doctrines of 1885, inaugurated a change which ended in tearing down the idea of the inheritance of acquired characters. (Theosophists will find H.P.B.'s comments on Weissman's "almost true" theory in the Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 223). Prof. Caullery, like Dr. Osborn, did not believe that mutations and genetical laws are enough to account for evolution as we see it exhibited in paleontology. The mutations so far produced by experimentation are detrimental rather than beneficial, and would tend to be eliminated by selection. He doubted whether mutations were really capable of giving rise to distinct species. It is now well established that adaptation is not a universal characteristic of organisms. Are the genetic theories merely valid for certain periods only, during which groups become diversified? Or, do evolutional transformations depend on some other causes which still elude us? (Italics ours).
This (Theosophically) satisfactory state having been arrived at by Prof. Caullery, let us return to Dr. Osborn, who by now has something more definite to offer.(9) It has required, he says, 62 years of evolutionary observation to demonstrate that organic, like inorganic, nature, does nothing by accident or chance, but only by means of universally prevailing laws which reveal themselves only over long periods of time. We are compelled to return to the creational concept of evolution, divesting the word of "its old theological and philosophical implications." (As to the former, well and good; as to the latter, we would like to see him accomplish the feat!). His definition of the new concept is six-pointed -- appropriately so, thus being symbolic of biological form minus spirit. It is:1. Uniformitarian rather than cataclysmic.Unfortunately many of these expressions are more remarkable for terminology than for clearness. But two at least of them appear to be rankly contradictory.
2. Centrifugal rather than centripetal.
3. Creational rather than variational.
4. Reactional rather than entelechistic.
5. Anti-energistic rather than synenergistic.
6. Anticipatory rather than empirical.
If evolution is reactional, rather than entelechistic, that is, responsive to external pressure rather than developed by inner intelligence, how comes it he flatly remarks that many organs evolve in the geneplasm before there is actual need for them rather than afterwards? He enlarges somewhat on this last thesis, which, he says, is contrary to Lamarck and Herbert Spencer, who thought that mind was built up through experience. On the contrary, says Dr. Osborn, a much larger intelligence exists among primitive people than they have need for; mathematical intelligence being found among Eskimos who had no need for counting even on their fingers. If Dr. Osborn were to turn to Theosophical ethnology for an answer to this, he would find a new "slant" on the presence of latent inherited intelligence in a degenerated race.
But let us leave these learned, hard-working, and now somewhat humbled gentlemen with their puzzles while we turn to a wisdom which, though as yet fathomless to most, is bare of confusions and contradictions:Those 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 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 sub-conscious 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).Revolutionary as such doctrines yet seem to our puzzled scientists, they will have to come to them; and the day may lie within the present physical cycle of many readers.
All these difficulties would vanish as the shadows of night disappear before the light of the rising Sun, if the following esoteric axioms were admitted: (a) the enormous antiquity (and the existence) of our planetary chain; (b) the actuality of the Seven Rounds; (c) the separation of human races (outside the purely anthropological division) into Seven distinct Root-Races, of which our present European Humanity is the fifth; (d) the antiquity of Man in this (Fourth) Round; and finally (e) that as these Races evolve from ethereality to materiality, and from the latter back again into relative physical tenuity of texture, so every living (so-called) organic species of animals with vegetation included changes with every new Root-Race. (Do. II, 697).
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:
THE KEYS OF EVOLUTION
From the very beginning of Æons -- in time and space in our Round and Globe -- the Mysteries of Nature (at any rate those which it is lawful for our races to know) were recorded by the pupils of those same now invisible "heavenly men," in geometrical figures and symbols. The keys thereto passed from one generation of "wise men" to the other. Some of the symbols, thus passed from the east to the west, were brought therefrom by Pythagoras, who was not the inventor of his famous "Triangle." The latter figure, along with the plane cube and circle, are more eloquent and scientific descriptions of the order of the evolution of the Universe, spiritual and psychic, as well as physical, than volumes of descriptive Cosmogonies and revealed "Geneses." The ten points inscribed within that "Pythagorean triangle" are worth all the theogonies and angelologies ever emanated from the theological brain. For he who interprets them -- on their very face, and in the order given -- will find in these seventeen points (the seven Mathematical Points hidden) the uninterrupted series of the genealogies from the first Heavenly to terrestrial man. And, as they give the order of Beings, so they reveal the order in which were evolved the Kosmos, our earth, and the primordial elements by which the latter was generated. Begotten in the invisible Depths, and in the womb of the same "Mother" as its fellow-globes -- he who will master the mysteries of our Earth, will have mastered those of all others. --S.D. I, pp. 612-13.
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
XXXV (Part II of III)
(Part 40 of a 103-part series)
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NINE (9) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Literary Digest, October 24, 1931.
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(2) The Week's Science, November 24, 1930.
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(3) Science, October 24, 1930.
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(4) Science, October 16, 1931.
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(5) The Week's Science, May 26, 1930.
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(6) Science, May 22, 1931.
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(7) Do. May 15, 1931.
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(8) Do. Sept. 11, 1931.
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(9) Do. Dec. 4, 1931.
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