Reviews of Human Devolution

Sermonti, Giuseppe (2005) Discendiamo dal puro spirito? Revista di Biologia v. 98, no. 2, pp. 204-210. [English translation from original Italian article with one-paragraph English summary at the end]

Do we descend from pure spirit?
By Giuseppe Sermonti

“Every man bears within himself partial beings
that are unaware of each other’s existence: we
 are born many, we die only one – or none –
and to recount is to remember oneself.”


Michael A. Cremo, associate researcher of Sicilian origin at the Bhaktivedanta Institute, is co-author, with R.L. Thompson, of a famous and controversial book entitled “Forbidden Archaeology”.  The book presents palaeontological proof of human presence beyond the “knowledge filtration” of evolutionism which excludes any evidence pre-dating 100,000 years.  Yet, notwithstanding the convincing nature of many documents, which beg a reconsideration of the current view of human evolution, the extreme boundaries (two billion years) are perplexing.  They are based more on religious revelation, like the duration of Brahma’s day, than on any real evidence.  The question here is whether scientific truth and revealed truth can (and should) be subjected to the same validation criteria.  My personal opinion is that sacred texts contain an immense legacy of truth, and that they have promoted and conformed science.  Nevertheless, I do not think that they deserve the same treatment as scientific data.  On the contrary, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “religions die when they are proven to be true”.

Cremo does not concur with this idea, but sets reality on different planes and refuses to confine science to the material level.  On the ‘spiritual’ level, human (and  divine) potentialities are increased so much that no limit can be assigned to them a priori.  “What is man?” Cremo asks, and the answer is clear and insistent:
    ordinary matter + mind + consciousness
Matter is what it is, the mind is subtle matter, and consciousness is immaterial (or nearly so).  The cosmos, Cremo adds, is divided into regions that contain different proportions of these three substances: purely spiritual consciousnesses, mental organizations, and ordinary matter prevail in that order.  Conscious beings exist in all regions.  Before dealing with the evidence adduced by the Author, let me anticipate the conclusion:  man is degraded from pure consciousness, to mind, to material body.  This is the HUMAN DEVOLUTION that gives the book its title.

As things stand, everything seems abstract, metaphorical and unverifiable.  Yet this is the surprising side of the book: it provides us with a copious ensemble of evidence that proves that subtle matter really exists, that it exhibits itself and influences our lives.  A major part of the voluminous tome is a collection of episodes that resist explanation by ordinary matter and the five senses.  Cremo is not being metaphysical, he does not deal metaphorically with the different levels of the real, but boldly dares to cross the thresholds of “normality”, of that which positive science has excluded from reality, relegating it to superstition, suggestion, psychic illness or fraud.  His guide is a personage that the commoner considers a minor Darwin, namely, Alfred Russel Wallace, who, with Darwin, advocated natural selection.

Cremo introduces us to another, largely-unknown Wallace.  This mysterious personality had, among other things, accredited the discovery in California of 50 million-year-old men.  He was interested in mesmerism (hypnotism), clairvoyance, spiritism, and, in general, in the “sympathy of sensation” (something like Sheldrake’s “morphic resonance”).  In 1886 he wrote a treatise on “The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural”.  In this work he lists cases of levitation, apparitions and clairvoyance, and Cremo regrets that he does not deal with soul transmigration.  Anticipating the Anthropic Principle by a century, Wallace wrote, “…the world and the entire material universe exist in order to develop spiritual beings”.  He did not abandon natural selection, but remained convinced that evolution also required a power to guide it, maybe something like our will-power, or the power of superior Intelligences.  Wallace was no exception at the beginning of the twentieth century.  He was a member of the British Society for Psychical Research, which included members such as Sir Crookes, the prime ministers Gladstone and Balfour, eight members of the Royal Society, one of the founders of modern psychology, William James, the astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, Lord Raleigh, Pierre and Marie Curie, Flammarion, and Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet.

Notwithstanding the sympathy that one might have for psychic and para-psychic phenomena, I associate myself with Cremo’s view that dismissing them summarily can hardly be classified as a scientific approach, as is ranging them alongside frauds, hallucinations and deliberate falsehoods, and treating as fools, simpletons and scoundrels witnesses who have honored science, politics and the arts, and have contributed to the founding of the present world.

One night in 1857, a certain Mrs. Meneer of Torquay (England) woke up and described this terrible dream to her husband.  Meneer relates that she had dreamt of her brother, standing erect and decapitated at the foot of the bed, his head in a coffin by his side.  Some time later, news arrived from China that the lady’s brother had been killed during a revolt and torn to pieces.  Only the head had been recovered.  The event and the dream had occurred simultaneously.  One could resort to a telepathic rapport, that is, information over distance, to explain the coincidence, or to a resonance à la Sheldrake.  This, however, would not be enough to explain the case of little Sukla.

Sukla Gupta was a young Bengalese girl when the story begins to unfold.  She used to play with a block of wood that she dressed up and treated like a doll.  She called this doll Minù.  As she grew older, she began to say that she had had a husband, Minù’s father, and two in-laws, Kethu and Karuna.  She also said that they lived in Rathala, a village some twenty kilometers away that she had never visited.  When she was four years old, the young girl wanted to go to Rathala.  A small group of people accompanied her as she guided them confidently to her “husband’s” father’s house.  Some 20 - 30 people were in this house, among whom she immediately identified her husband (father of the doll Minù), and then uncle Kethu and aunt Karuna.  Suddenly, she recognized in a twelve-year-old girl her “daughter” Minù and she burst out crying, manifesting a great love.  The mother, that Sukla was impersonating, had died a few years before.  The mother’s sister, Reba, later went to visit little Sukla at her village and asked her: “To whom did you entrust Minù when you died?”  “To you,” answered Sukla, the sister-child.  She had effectively been entrusted to her, the doll’s “aunt”.  From where did the mother-child get all this memory?  It is not distance information because her correspondent had died years back.  Sukla had within herself not a particular message but the reminiscence of a world memorized by another person who did not live at the same time as her.  Rather than negating the phenomenon, it would be more advisable to ask if this is a form of knowledge in which all of us, in a more or less vague way, have participated; whether the experience of the world does not entail, for everyone, an experience of sorts which, in some cases, is mediated by a specific person and received by a particularly sensitive witness, a medium.  Was little Sukla a medium?

Cremo discusses at length the powers of mediums by referring to authoritative testimonies.  The astronomer Flammarion (1909) relates the following episode that occurred during a session with the famous medium Eusapia Palladino.  “After three minutes, the table began to move, unbalancing itself and lifting itself up from the floor, first to the right, then to the left.  A minute later it is completely lifted from the floor to a height of about nine inches, staying there for two seconds.”  Flammarion comments: “It seems that an object may be raised, contrary to the laws of gravity, without contact with the operator’s hands.”  He tried to push the table down, but it resisted him.

These are but three stories among innumerable others that Cremo presents in a credible and, sometimes, indisputable way.  However, he does not present a sharable interpretation and he relates them using the customary jargon of the paranormal: telepathy, reincarnation, levitation, post-mortem experiences, apparitions, possessions, bilocations, precognitions, communication with the otherworldly, miraculous cures.  Every one of these terms contains a metaphysical, religious or popular presupposition which makes the concept unacceptable to normal Science.

Let us return to the case of little Gupta, that Cremo presents as a typical case of “reincarnation”.  This term presupposes a subtle soul that transmigrates from a dying body to one that is being born, taking with it topographical and anagraphical memories and affections.  But can a memory be objectified?  Can memories appear before the experience and the capacity to express them?  We would have to suppose that every child (and every chick and every flea) comes into the world with a latent memory; that learning involves the awakening of a memory, more or less as suggested by Plato’s maieutica; that a shared, and, to some measure, personal mental complexity has to be added to genetic complexity and to the complexity of the form.  Every development is a passage from the generic (the egg) to the specific, and the mind searches in a shared all, a mental egg, to choose and differentiate.  That which is called reincarnation is the circumscription of that initial all within the confines of an already partially-elaborated memory.  Gupta is a child who starts memorization from an adult condition.  In what way this mature memory later hinders the development process of an incipient memory I cannot imagine. Could the world be an invisible network of vagrant memories in the way that radio and video messages cross over within the ether in search of receivers?  We could therefore say, with Sir James Jeans, that the world of modern physics “starts to seem more like a great thought than a huge machine”.

Cremo does not try to present the experiences of the paranormal within lexis acceptable to normal Science.  He places them in categories that have already been adopted and rejected, that come to him from esoteric language and from religious knowledge.  He does not endeavor to seek analogies between scientific physics and the themes of oriental thought as Fritjof Capra does in the “Tao of Physics”. He throws his oriental keys on the table and lets us work it out for ourselves: something which I am trying to do.  Of the body-mind-spirit triad, the immaterial spirit, the Vedic atma, is the most obscure, and also the light.  It is the conscious self, desirous and active, that exists apart from body and mind.  It is the I, the life, the light; consciousness and, at the same time, the unsolvable enigma.  It could live (in fact, it is the life) and gain experience without the body, but it could not communicate it with lips.  It can, in the narrations referred to by Cremo, wander about to have its experiences and then return home to refer.  This would explain the cases of those people who seem to be dead or unconscious but who, on opening their eyes, relate events of which they could not have been witnesses.  These are the so-called “Near-Death Experiences”.

A nurse is told that her sister is in a coma in a hospital room after a heart attack.  The nurse rushes to the stairs, bumps into some people, takes the lift, arrives at her sister’s room and looks in at the doorway.  After some time the “dead” sister amazingly wakes up, and describes in every detail all that had happened to her sister as she was rushing to her side.  How did this immaterial spirit wander off to nose around and then return to refer in a private body-mind deprived of its presence for many minutes?  Was it her sister who had unknowingly transmitted those experiences that she thought were her own?

The tripartite body-mind-soul structure is, for Cremo, not only at the basis of the human figure.  Just as man is triple, so is the macrocosm, which is divided into three regions.  In each of these, the spirit (the soul or consciousness) exists with different grades of intensity.  The “highest” region is populated by spiritual essences from which Brahma produces his mortal sons and the first reproductive couple who generates sons and daughters.  The latter marry Brahma’s mortal sons and conceive sages, gods and demigods.  These finally give origin to bodies by making use of seeds (bijas) that contain blueprints for development.

The demigods do not have an active form but they have many forms in power.  Two demigods transformed themselves into deer, had sexual intercourse, and generated fawns that reproduced on earth.  The same happened with the monkeys, and with man.  This is how souls are converted into material bodies, and, to use Cremo’s terminology, devolve.  They remain eternal and perhaps pass metempsychically through many bodies before they become human again, by means of a return “evolution”.  Through meditation, one can contemplate evolution at its highest degree, at the pure spiritual state, and this is the worthy aim of existence.

When enouncing these Vedic truths, Cremo does not care to verify them scientifically.  The “high” region where the spiritual essences dwell certainly has no astrophysical collocation, the demigods have no chromosomal assets, and their animal transformations leave no fossils.  Neither does it make sense to search for a chemical or energetic correlative of these entities that prefer to remain sacred and unreachable.  Cremo seems to propose a revolutionary alternative.  Science, he seems to say, gets us nowhere.  It does not give an answer to the fundamental whys.  It lets us drift desperately in the dark.  Let us therefore move to other dimensions to search for a light and a sense.  If this can help us interpret some verifiable reality, all the better, but the important thing is to realize that we are the conclusion of a process that started up there.  Knowledge teaches us that we are born from an undifferentiated and totipotent all (the soul), that different levels emerge from this (the mind), and these, in turn, understand the world and materialize in the form of figures (bodies).  This is Human Devolution, that is, the descent from pure spirit to body. Each body that emerges from the devolution of the all contains a tiny remnant of that all, a rough draft of every level, memories.  The minds and their memories wander in space-time like vibrating waves.  New-born babies are gifted not only with their parents’ genes and a blueprint for their development, but also with a memory of sorts (or even a personal one) that they will learn to express and to forget.

Mrs. Meneer’s apparition, the reincarnation of little Sukla and the clairvoyance of the nurse’s sister can be recounted against this background.  Moreover, one can work out the knowledge of innocents, the otherworldly, the dejà vu.  That is, all that science negates and refuses, and that an ancient wisdom had intuited and left to confuse the moderns.

This vision permitted Cremo his unprecedented reconnaissance of “forbidden palaeontology”, from which have emerged evidence and human artifacts so old and unexpected that they arouse suspicion about the veracity of the version that official palaeontologists promote, or that induce us to burn Cremo’s books.

"It is a master work. Human Devolution exposes the fatal weaknesses in Darwinism
and relates the tradition doctrine in a most compelling and attractive way. This book
deserves to be widely known. It is a firm corrective to modern errors and a guide to
new standards in thinking."

--John Michell,  author of The New View Over Atlantis

REVIEW Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative To Darwin's Theory BY: Michael A. Cremo

Published in New Age Retailer Fall 2004

Human Devolution is a provocative hypothesis which offers anecdotal examples of considerable breadth
to support the controversial position of the author that humankind has a vast and oft unheralded hidden history
(p.17). Michael Cremo celebrates his "maverick" image among the paleontologic and anthropological experts.
It is somewhat self-evident as to why he has stirred the pot of accepted sciences related to geology and been
cast as the "bad boy" despite his early work in archeology: this work, atop his formidable 914-page Forbidden
Archeology, argues with great weight for a more humanistic and spiritual understanding of what we sapiens
sapiens are all about. The book is divided into ten chapters in which Cremo keeps adding more and more data
and stories of odd and seemingly incompatible experiences from the appearance of cellular life through complex
life forms of the animal and mammalian kingdoms. He argues that there are simply too many well-documented
instances of para- normal and spiritual energy that are inexplicable using Darwinian modelling of evolutionary life.
Too many dimensions of what we humans know to be the nature of consciousness are excluded from evolutionary
science. Cremo takes great solace at the antagonism with which great scientific revolutionaries such as Copernicus
were greeted. Of course, science was not as advanced three hundred years before Darwin, but there were many
who greeted Darwin's copious detailed scientific musings as no less outlandish than Galileo...or Cremo. The author
has many reasoned passages where his broad learning shines through. But, the great power of his arguments can be
felt in chapter ten, entitled, "A Universe Designed for Life". Cremo relies and digs deeply into Vedic lore and accounts
of human existence from celestial intervention to terrestrial evolution to an anthropomorphic creationism. His most
cogent chapter is actually the "hidden" chapter (eleven, when only ten are shown). This brief 'summing up' by the
author takes a cosmic view of life with a huge brushstroke (page 488). Cremo mentions 'The Day of The Brahma'
which according to lore lasts some four-and-a-third billion years. This grand supercycle has been and will be and
provides a panorama of consciousness that dwarfs the comparative instant since the western Renaissance and leaves
the reader to pondevthe issues Cremo has raised if not for their 100% accuracy, then at least for the doors of perception
and conception that they tap upon in our mind.

This volume belongs in our Religion and several other sections of our stores where its attractive, seductive title will
entice our customers to read what the author has to say about the role and involvement of extradimensional,
extraterrestrial, and other multi-level, hierarchical beings and spirits in the affairs of our little cosmic watering hole at this
juncture of the great (but tiny) Milky Way.

Reviewed: May 15, 2004
Thomas Peter von Bahr
Pacific NorthWest Group
Lopez Island, Washington

A Review by Mac Tonnies
Published in


Cosmologists such as Frank Tipler argue that human existence is an inexplicable anomaly unless
the universe was specifically constructed to enable our presence. Others seek out less religiously
fraught explanations, postulating multiple universes and an as-yet undisclosed "Theory of Everything."
But while theoretical physicists and astronomers attempt to unravel our origins, disturbing evidence
that we might be more than the sum of our physical parts is dismissed, filed away, systematically
expunged from mainstream discourse. In "Human Devolution," the sequel to "Forbidden Archaeology"
(co-written with Richard L. Thompson) Vedic scholar and archaeologist Michael Cremo takes us
on a fascinating tour of neglected knowledge, with topics including mysterious fossils, problems
with the prevailing "out of Africa" hypothesis for human origins, telepathy, and UFOs. Exhaustively
researched, "Human Devolution" is a daunting but thoroughly compelling attempt to redefine what
it is to be human, frequently as engaging for what it leaves to the reader's mind as it is for unearthing
revelatory bits of secret knowledge.

Cremo asserts that Darwinian evolution is flawed insofar as the complexity of living things,
particularly humans, suggests an overriding order of awareness and intent not found among
the molecules and synapses of materialist science. Drawing from ancient Indian Vedic creation
accounts, Cremo argues that matter coincides with a subtle cognitive faculty (mind) and a distinct
conscious component (spirit) that transcends the other two. In this sense, humans are "devolved"
entities blinkered by our relatively low standing in what Cremo terms a cosmic hierarchy of
various beings at differing stages of enlightenment.

If you think all of this smacks of creationism, you're absolutely right. But unlike authors of
Fundamentalist "Creation Science" tracts, Cremo is honest in his presentation. To be sure,
Cremo takes issue with mainstream evolutionary thought -- but given the archaeological
enigmas cited in "Human Devolution's" encyclopedic prequel, what objective person can
blame him? Something vital is missing in our understanding of our origins; the reality of Cremo's
Vedic alternative to Darwinism is not so much a conclusive explanation as a rallying cry for
embracing new ways of perceiving our universe. To that end, Cremo devotes a lengthy
chapter to cross-cultural examination of world creation mythology, unveiling tantalizing
similarities to his Vedic template.

"Human Devolution" is not without shortcomings. While its constituent chapters are vastly
informative when taken individually, Cremo shirks the admittedly daunting task of synthesizing
them into a sensible whole; the concluding chapter -- so brief as to be almost flippant -- is
essentially regurgitated Vedic creation myth that will leave most readers wanting to sink
their intellectual teeth into something more palpable. While aspects of Vedic cosmology
indeed echo reports of nonlocal consciousness, "alien" encounters and even Big Bang
theory, subscribing to Cremo's nakedly sincere metaphysical ontology is a leap of faith.
Then again, Cremo tells us as much. Again, it is "Human Devolution's" studied honesty
and plainly stated iconoclasm that make this tome a valuable contribution.

Like a handful of other works that attempt to explain it all (Michael Talbot's prescient
"The Holographic Universe" springs immediately to mind), "Human Devolution" is both
an invitation and a riddle; I predict it will achieve a significant measure of underground
superstardom among discerning readers of the occult. But the real issue is Cremo's
potential impact on the dominant materialist paradigm. Will 21st century science dare
to accept "Human Devolution's" call for a new epistemological perspective, or will
Cremo's work be forever consigned to the ever-growing canon of "forbidden" texts . . . ?

Human Devolution
: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory

Midwest Book Review Dec. 2003

Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory
by archeologist
Michael A. Cremo (Research Associate of the Bhaktivedanta Institute) responds
to Darwinian evolutionary theory concerning human  beings with the counter-proposal
"We did not evolve up from matter, instead we devolved, or came down, from the
realm of puer consciousness, spirit."  Contemplating the nature of a human being as
much more than the synthesis of mere physical elements, but rather a melding of
matter, mind, and spirit, Human Devolution is a thoughtful and extended transcendental
discussion of who and what we really are - and a welcome, iconoclastic, and thought-
provoking contribution to Metaphysical Studies and Anthropology Studies reading lists.

Excepts from:

Book Review
by Dr. Ravi Prakash Arya
Vedic Science Jan-March 2004, Vol 6, No. 1

The book titled 'Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory'
is to hand. The book is written by Michael A. Cremo, the co-author of Forbidden
As per the introductory note of the author, the present book forms the
second part of  'Forbidden Archeology' that challenged on the basis of archaeological
evidences Darwinian theory of human origins, exposed the biased view of scholars in the
name of science and supported the Vedic historical view of human antiquity. The book
in hand forms the second part in a sense that if the results of the first part are going
against the hypothesis of Darwinian's theory of evolution and favouring the Vedic view
supported by the researches of the first part 'Forbidden Archeology'.....

...The author's researches go contrary to the world view that upheld Darwinian view as
science and discarded Vedic view as the case of other sectarian /religious views as
'pseudoscience'. The research of the author also indirectly proves the Vedic view is
not a religious view as propagated by biased scholars and scientists of the world
treating Vedas as religious books as Bible or Koran....

...In spite of all said and done, it can be maintained without an iota of doubt that first time
in the history of modern science the authority of Darwinism Theory with a viable Vedic
alternative has been challenged. This is also for the first time that the biased and unscienti-
fic attitude of modern scientists who have a prejudiced band of mind while fabricating or
advocating pseudo science in the name of science have been exposed with evidence.
Everyone who wants to seek the truth must keep this book in his personal library. Hope
the truth will prevail at last.

Human Devolution

by Leslie Ottavi  
Y Guide News
May/June 2004

Michael Cremo presents a well constructed counter proposal to the theory of evolution. 
He has stood evolution on its proverbial head!  Whether or not you come to the same
conclusion regarding the Vedic account, you cannot deny the case presented for human
devolution and should be able to find in your own spiritual views facets that support human
devolution.  The book masterfully leads the reader through a path of multifaceted evidences
of spiritual realities and scientific experiments and facts which carefully document supernatural
phenomena, including various forms of spiritism, miracles such as those at Lourdes,
reincarnation claims, UFO phenomena and intelligent design arguments.  Our universe is
full of intricate dynamics like gravity, electromagnetism, binding energies and spatial
dimensions.  The precision necessary for our universe to exist suggests intelligent design,
not chance creation.  Just take a look at the fascinating systems that comprise our bodies! 
The interweaving of the Vedic account lends credibility to the origin, authenticity and dating
of the Vedas.  I am now certain that we are not just our bodies and mind, that there is a self
demonstrated by our consciousness, an existence beyond what we can see and deduce, and
hope for the future.  I know that I am left with one goal, to find my personal path to re-evolving
back to the spiritual realm.

For complete review go to:

Excerpts from:
Creationism and Vedic Lore

by Simon Bucher-Jones

Fortean Times Spring 2004 Issue 185

This is an intriguing, interesting and well-written compendium; unfortunately, it purports
to be a theory. As a collection, it is excellent and fortean. It deals with the “unclassified
residuum” of William James, those “absurd facts” in spiritualism and science which
prefigure “damned data”.....

.....The text sets out, with considerable thoroughness, archaeological evidence
(predominantly pre-1935) against a background of the novels of Disraeli, spiritualism,
distant viewing studies, plant cycle evolution, reincarnation, a cultural comparison of
“chain of being” cosmologies (the excellent chapter 7), and the hard anthropic principle
in such a way as to support the author’s world view.

That view is that we (and all life) are part of a hierarchy of supernatural powers, and
that the presence of life in this world is a function of the harmonious interaction of those
powers within a Vedic system...

...As a compendium 7/10, as a sustained theory 3/10.

Interview with Joan d'Arc on BIPED: Beings for Intelligent Purpose in Evolutionary Design, the website
of Darwinian Dissent

Customer reviews from Amazon/