Human Devolution Introduction

My book Forbidden Archeology, coauthored with Richard L. Thompson, documents archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity, consistent with the Puranas, the historical writings of ancient India. This evidence places a human presence so far back in time as to call into question the Darwinian account of human origins.

In his review of Forbidden Archeology published in Geoarchaeology (1994 v. 9, pp. 337–340), Kenneth Feder said, “When you attempt to deconstruct a well-accepted paradigm, it is reasonable to expect that a new paradigm be suggested in its place. The authors of Forbidden Archeology do not do this, and I would like to suggest a reason for their neglect here. Wishing to appear entirely scientific, the authors hoped to avoid a detailed discussion of their own beliefs.”

It is not true that my coauthor and I were trying to avoid a detailed discussion of our own alternative account. Rather we were hoping to ignite just such a discussion. But some practical considerations compelled us to proceed in stages. In my introduction to Forbidden Archeology, I wrote: “Our research program led to results we did not anticipate, and hence a book much larger than originally envisioned.” I was genuinely surprised at the massive number of cases of archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity that turned up during my eight years of historical research. Forbidden Archeology went to press with over nine hundred pages. “Because of this,” I wrote in the introduction, “we have not been able to develop in this volume our ideas about an alternative to current theories of human origins. We are therefore planning a second volume relating our extensive research results in this area to our Vedic source material.”  Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin’s Theory is that second volume. The reasons for its late appearance have more to do with the time it takes to research and write such a book rather than any desire to avoid a detailed discussion of a Vedic alternative to Darwinism.

Nevertheless, I am not unhappy that Human Devolution appeared after Forbidden Archeology rather than along with it. Before presenting an alternative to the Darwinian concept of human origins, it is reasonable to show that one is really necessary. I have therefore welcomed the chance to introduce to scientists and other scholars the evidence in Forbidden Archeology before moving on to systematically presenting an alternative. After hearing the Forbidden Archeology presentations, many ask, “If we did not evolve from the apes, then what alternative explanation do you propose?” To them, I reply, “Do you admit a new explanation is required? If not, I have more work to do in showing that one is required. And if you do admit that a new explanation is really required, then it is not just my responsibility to come up with a new explanation. It is also your responsibility. We should all be thinking about this. Of course, I have some ideas about what the explanation should be, but you should also.”

My first scientific presentation of Forbidden Archeology’s evidence and Vedic perspective was in December of 1994 at the World Archaeological Congress in New Delhi, India. My paper “Puranic Time and the Archeological Record,” delivered in the section on time and archeology chaired by Tim Murray and D. P. Agrawal, drew a large, appreciative audience. That paper was later chosen for publication in the peer reviewed conference proceedings volume Time and Archeology, edited by Tim Murray and published by Routledge in its One World Archaeology series in 1999 (pp. 38–48).

In March 1995, I presented my paper “The Impact of Forbidden Archeology” at the Kentucky State University Institute for Liberal Studies Sixth Annual Conference on Science and Culture. This paper set forth the Vedic background for my research. It also reviewed the initial scientific reactions to the publication of Forbidden Archeology.

In July 1996, I was invited by the Institute for the Study of Theoretical Questions of the Russian Academy of Sciences to lecture on Forbidden Archeology in Moscow. I then spoke about my work at a symposium organized by the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. After my presentation, Indologist Evgeniya Y. Vanina commented: “I think that the statement you have made, and your paper, are very important because they touch upon . . . how to look at the texts of the classical tradition as sources of information. There is a tendency among scholars to say whatever the Vedas—and the Puranas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata—are saying, it is all myth and concoction, and there is no positive information in it. . . . I think that such a negativist attitude toward the ancient and early medieval Indian texts as sources of information should definitely be discarded.” While I was in Russia, I was also invited to give a talk on Forbidden Archeology to a large audience of physicists at Dubna, the science city outside Moscow. In October 1996, I spoke about the evidence in Forbidden Archeology at the International Conference on Revisiting Indus Sarasvati Age and Ancient India in Atlanta.

In July 1997, in Liege, Belgium, at the XXth International Congress for History of Science, I presented a detailed study of one of the cases documented in Forbidden Archeology. This paper, “The Later Discoveries of Boucher de Perthes at Moulin Quignon and Their Impact on the Moulin Quignon Jaw Controversy,” appeared in Proceedings of the XXth International Congress of History of Science, Vol. X., Earth Sciences, Geography, and Cartography, edited by Goulven Laurent and published by Brepols in 2002 (pp. 39–56). In October of 1997, I presented lectures on Forbidden Archeology to students and faculty of archeology, anthropology, and biology at the University of Amsterdam, the Free University of Amsterdam, the University of Leiden, the University of Groningen, the University of Utrecht, and the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and at the Catholic University of Louvain and University of Ghent in Belgium. In November of 1997, I lectured on Forbidden Archeology at universities in Hungary, including the Eötvös Loran Science University in Budapest, the University of Szeged, and the University of Eger.

In January 1999, I presented a paper titled “Forbidden Archeology of the Middle and Early Pleistocene” at the fourth World Archaeological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. In March and April, I gave lectures on Forbidden Archeology at universities in England, Poland, Hungary, and the United States, including City University of London, the University of Warsaw, the University of Delaware, the University of Maryland, and Cornell University. In September 1999, I was invited to speak on Forbidden Archeology at the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics, as part of the Shell Oil Colloquium Series. Also in September I presented a paper titled “Forbidden Archeology of the Paleolithic” at the European Association of Archaeologists Fifth Annual Meeting at Bournemouth in the United Kingdom. The paper was selected for inclusion in a conference proceedings volume edited by Ana C. Martins for British Archaeological Reports (forthcoming).

In March 2000, I was invited to speak on Forbidden Archeology in a lecture series of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, one of the world’s oldest scientific societies. The lecture was given in the Royal Institution’s headquarters in London. Later that year, in September, I presented a paper titled “The Discoveries of Carlos Ribeiro: A Controversial Episode in Nineteenth-Century European Archeology” at the European Association of Archaeologists Sixth Annual Meeting, in Lisbon, Portugal. In November 2000, I lectured on Forbidden Archeology at universities in Hungary.

In June 2001, I lectured on Forbidden Archeology at the Simon Frazier University in Vancouver, Canada. In September 2001, my paper “The Discoveries of Belgian Geologist Aimé Louis Rutot at Boncelles, Belgium: An Archeological Controversy from the Early Twentieth Century” was accepted for presentation at the XXIVth Congress of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, held in September of that year in Liège, Belgium. In October 2001, I lectured on Forbidden Archeology at Pennsylvania State University and Cornell University. In November 2001, I lectured on Forbidden Archeology at the Charles University in Prague, in the Czech Republic, at the invitation of the faculty of philosophy.

In January and February 2002, I toured South India, with lectures at universities and other scientific and cultural institutions, such as the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai (Bombay) and the Ana University in Chennai (Madras). In April and May 2002, I toured the Ukraine and Slovenia, speaking at universities and scientific institutions such as the Kiev Mogilanskaya Academy and the Institute of Archeology of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. I also spoke to archeologists in the archeology department of the Dnepropetrovsk Historical Museum. In November and December I returned to the Ukraine for another series of such talks at universities and historical museums in Odessa, Kharkov, and Lvov. As I am writing this introduction in December 2002, I am preparing a paper on the California gold mine discoveries reported by geologist Josiah D. Whitney for the fifth World Archaeological Congress, to be held in Washington, D.C., in June 2003. I am with archeologist Ana Martins of Portugal coorganizer of a section on history of archeology for the Congress.

In terms of ordinary scholarship, this modest collection of conference presentations, publications, and university lectures is not overly impressive. But given the explicit Vedic antievolutionary content of the papers and lectures they are, I believe, historically significant. They show that scientists and historians of science, whether or not they agree with the conclusions expressed in the presentations, now consider such presentations part of the active discourse in their disciplines. In that sense, they demonstrate that Forbidden Archeology accomplished one of its major purposes—sparking a discussion within the world of science about anomalous evidence for extreme human antiquity and a Vedic perspective on human origins. The presentations show that fundamentalist Darwinists within the world of science have not been as successful as they would like to be in maintaining a boundary between science and what they call religiously motivated “pseudoscience,” to use their favored, and charmingly cranky, terminology. I personally do not accept the increasingly irrelevant distinctions some try to make between scientific and religious ways of knowing. I see myself as neither scientist nor religionist, but as a human being prepared to use various ways of knowing in the pursuit of truth.  

Forbidden Archeology was widely reviewed in the professional journals of archeology, anthropology, and history of science. I included the complete texts of these reviews, along with related correspondence, in my book Forbidden Archeology’s Impact, which attracted its own set of academic reviews. For example, Simon Locke wrote in Public Understanding of Science (1999 v. 8, no. 1, pp. 68–69), “Social constructivism, reflexivity, and all that is postmodern have inspired a variety of experiments in new literary forms to enliven the staid old world of the standard academic study. . . . As attempts to document the social process of knowledge production and capture some of its reflexivity, they are both consistent and courageous. So, too, Michael Cremo's book. The ‘impact’ the book documents is that of Cremo's earlier work, Forbidden Archeology. In this latest book rather than construct his own historical narrative, Cremo opts for the far more interesting strategy of directly reproducing much of the source material from which any such narrative would be constructed. The result is a multi-faceted textual kaleidoscope, in which a wide range of the many discourses surrounding contemporary science reflect and refract each other in fascinating array. . . . Cremo has provided here a resource of considerable richness and value to analysts of public understanding [of science]. . . . It should also make a useful teaching resource as one of the best-documented case studies of ‘science wars,’ and raising a wide range of issues covering aspects of ‘knowledge transfer’ in a manner sure to be provocative in the classroom.”

The positive or negative nature of the Forbidden Archeology reviews in academic journals is not as significant as the very fact that the reviews appeared at all. They represent another form of acknowledgement that the Vedic critique of the Darwinian theory of human evolution represented by Forbidden Archeology is a genuine part of contemporary science and scholarship. As Kenneth Feder said in his Geoarchaeology review (pp. 337–338), “The book itself represents something perhaps not seen before; we can fairly call it ‘Krishna creationism’ with no disrespect intended . . . While decidedly antievolutionary in perspective, this work is not the ordinary variety of antievolutionism in form, content, or style. In distinction to the usual brand of such writing, the authors use original sources and the book is well written. Further, the overall tone of the work is superior to that exhibited in ordinary creationist literature.”

Jo Wodak and David Oldroyd published a lengthy review article about Forbidden Archeology in Social Studies of Science (1996 v. 26, pp. 192–213). In their article, titled “Vedic Creationism: A Further Twist to the Evolution Debate,” they asked (p. 207), “So has Forbidden Archeology made any contribution at all to the literature on palaeoanthropology?” They concluded, “Our answer is a guarded ‘yes’, for two reasons.” First, “the historical material . . . has not been scrutinized in such detail before,” and, second, the book does “raise a central problematic regarding the lack of certainty in scientific 'truth' claims.” They also commented (p. 198), “It must be acknowledged that Forbidden Archeology brings to attention many interesting issues that have not received much consideration from historians; and the authors’ detailed examination of the early literature is certainly stimulating and raises questions of considerable interest, both historically and from the perspective of practitioners of SSK [sociology of scientific knowledge]. Indeed, they appear to have gone into some historical matters more deeply than any other writers of whom we have knowledge.”

In the first few pages of their article (pp. 192–195), Wodak and Oldroyd gave extensive background information on: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, of which the authors of Forbidden Archeology are members (“a modern variant of the Bhakti sects that have dominated Hindu religious life over the last one and a half millennia”); the teachings of the movement's founder, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada  (“for Prabhupada, science gives no adequate account of the origin of the universe or of life”); the Bhaktivedanta Institute (they comment on “the boldness of its intellectual programme”); and Vedic chronology (“partial dissolutions, called pralaya, supposedly take place every 4.32 billion years, bringing catastrophes in which whole groups of living forms can disappear”). Wodak and Oldroyd also make many references to the Rg Veda, Vedanta, the Puranas, the atma, yoga, and karma.

In common with other reviewers, Wodak and Oldroyd drew a connection between Forbidden Archeology and the work of Christian creationists. “As is well known,” they noted (p. 192), “Creationists try to show that humans are of recent origin, and that empirical investigations accord with human history as recorded in the Old Testament. Forbidden Archeology (FA) offers a brand of Creationism based on something quite different, namely ancient Vedic beliefs. From this starting point, instead of claiming a human history of mere millennia, FA argues for the existence of Homo sapiens way back into the Tertiary, perhaps even earlier.”

In L'Anthropologie (1995 v.99, no. 1, p. 159), Marylène Pathou-Mathis wrote: “M. Cremo and R. Thompson have willfully written a provocative work that raises the problem of the influence of the dominant ideas of a time period on scientific research. These ideas can compel the researchers to orient their analyses according to the conceptions that are permitted by the scientific community." She concluded, "The documentary richness of this work, more historical and sociological than scientific, is not to be ignored.”

And in British Journal for the History of Science (1995 v. 28, pp. 377–379), Tim Murray noted in his review of Forbidden Archeology (p. 379): “I have no doubt that there will be some who will read this book and profit from it. Certainly it provides the historian of archaeology with a useful compendium of case studies in the history and sociology of scientific knowledge, which can be used to foster debate within archaeology about how to describe the epistemology of one's discipline.” He further characterized Forbidden Archeology as a book that “joins others from creation science and New Age philosophy as a body of works which seek to address members of a public alienated from science, either because it has become so arcane or because it has ceased to suit some in search of meaning for their lives.” Murray acknowledged that the Vedic perspective of Forbidden Archeology might have a role to play in the future development of archeology. He wrote in his review (p. 379) “that archeology is now in a state of flux, with practitioners debating “issues which go to the conceptual core of the discipline.” Murray then proposed, “Whether the Vedas have a role to play in this is up to the individual scientists concerned.”

This openmindedness is characteristic of the reviews of Forbidden Archeology that appeared in respected academic and scientific journals, the only exception being a particularly vitriolic attack by Jonathan Marks in American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1994 v. 93, no. 1, pp. 140–141). Other than that, demands to totally exclude the Vedic perspective of Forbidden Archeology from the discourse of science were confined to the publications of extremist groups, such as skeptics societies (whose skepticism does not extend to the theory of evolution) and the unremittingly anticreationist National Center for Science Education in the United States (misleadingly named so as to imply some governmental connection). Also in this category is an attempted book-length debunking by Michael Brass (The Antiquity of Man).

Wiktor Stoczkowski, reviewing Forbidden Archeology in L’Homme (1995 v. 35, pp. 173–174), accurately noted (p. 173), “Historians of science repeat tirelessly that the Biblical version of origins was replaced in the nineteenth century by the evolution theory. In our imaginations, we substitute this simple story for the more complex reality that we are today confronted with a remarkable variety of origins accounts.” Among those accounts Stoczkowski included those of the Biblical creationists. “Forbidden Archeology,” he added, “gives us one more, dedicated to ‘His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’ and inspired by the Vedic philosophy that disciples study in the United States at the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”

A favorable estimation of Forbidden Archeology's Vedic roots was offered by Hillel Schwarz in Journal of Unconventional History (1994 v. 6, no. 1, pp. 68–76). “Forbidden Archeology takes the current conventions of decoding to their extreme,” said Schwarz (p. 75). “The authors find modern Homo sapiens to be continuous contemporaries of the apelike creatures from whom evolutionary biologists usually trace human descent or bifurcation, thus confirming those Vedic sources that presume the nearly illimitable antiquity of the human race.” He added (p. 76), “Despite its unhidden religious partisanship, the book deserves a reckoning in this review for its embrace of a global humanity permanently distinct from other primates.” He accurately detected the book’s implicit thesis, namely, that “humanity is no mere biochemical exfoliation but a work of the spirit, in touch with (and devoted to) the ancient, perfect, perfectly sufficient, unchanging wisdom of the Vedic masters.”

In his book Origin of the Human Species (2001), published by the academic publisher Rodopi in its series on Studies in the History of Western Philosophy, Dennis Bonnette, head of the philosophy department of Niagara University, said (p. 130): “Cremo and Thompson are not evolutionary materialists or Biblical creationists. They openly state Hindu affiliation as Bhaktivedanta Institute members. Following Vedic literature, they hold that the human race is of great antiquity, hundreds of millions of years old. For this reason, many critics attack Forbidden Archeology, claiming its authors’ belief system precludes unbiased handling of the subject matter. Such personal attacks are unjust and unfounded. Every author has a philosophical stance which might, but need not, negate objectivity. Forbidden Archeology’s historical evidence and argumentation stand on their own merits as sociological and epistemological critiques of contemporary paleoanthropology.”

As might be expected, Christian creationists have reacted favorably to Forbidden Archeology. Peter Line, who reviewed the abridged version of Forbidden Archeology in Creation Research Society Quarterly (1995 v. 32, p. 46), said, “This book is a must reading for anyone interested in human origins.” After expressing his surprise at finding the book in a major U. S. chain store, Line noted that its “theoretical outlook is derived from the Vedic literature in India, which supports the idea that the human race is of great antiquity.” Line made clear that he did not share this view: “As a recent earth creationist, I would not accept the evolutionary time scale that the authors appear to accept. However, the authors have shown that even if you accept the evolutionary view of a vast age for the earth, the theory of human evolution is not supported.” Forbidden Archeology also got positive reactions from some Islamic and Native American authors.

Interest in a Vedic perspective on human origins and a desire to hear more explicitly about it were constant themes in the academic reviews of Forbidden Archeology. Kenneth Feder wrote in his Geoarchaeology review (pp. 339–340), “The authors are open about their membership in the Bhaktivedanta Institute, which is a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and the book is dedicated to their ‘spiritual master,’ the group's founder. They make a reasonable request regarding their affiliation with this organization: ‘That our theoretical outlook is derived from the Vedic literature should not disqualify it.’ Fair enough, but what is their ‘theoretical outlook?’” Human Devolution is my systematic answer to that question.

During the years I was researching and writing Human Devolution, I presented various parts of its argument at scientific and academic conferences. In April 1996, I presented at Toward a Science of Consciousness (a major international conference on consciousness studies held every two years at the University of Arizona in Tucson) a paper called “The City of Nine Gates: A Sophisticated Allegory for Mind/Body Dualism from the Bhagavata Purana of India.” Elements of this paper can be found in chapter 7 of Human Devolution. Also in April 1996, at the Kentucky State University Institute for Liberal Studies Seventh Interdisciplinary Conference on Science and Culture, I presented a paper called “Alfred Russel Wallace and the Supernatural: A Case Study in Reenchanting Reductionistic Science's Hagiography in Light of an Alternative Cosmology.” This paper served at the basis for chapter 5 of Human Devolution. In April 1998, I presented at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference a paper called “Famous Scientists and the Paranormal.” Material from this paper can be found in chapter 6 of Human Devolution. In July 2001, I presented at the XXIst International Congress for History of Science, held in Mexico City, a paper called “Paleobotanical Anomalies Bearing on the Age of the Salt Range Formation of Pakistan: A Historical Survey of an Unresolved Scientific Controversy.” Chapter 3 in Human Devolution is based on this paper.

Having established how and why Human Devolution came to be written, I will now give an outline of the substance of the book. Chapter 1 of Human Devolution makes the point that some scientists and scholars are willing to consider alternatives to the Western scientific worldview as candidates for truth. For them, belief in such worldviews is no longer taboo. In American Anthropologist (1994 v. 96, no. 3), Katherine P. Ewing said (p. 572), “To rule out the possibility of belief in another’s reality is to encapsulate that reality and, thus, to impose implicitly the hegemony of one’s own view of the world.” In Journal of Consciousness Studies (1994 v. 1, no. 2), William Barnard, in speaking about the world’s wisdom traditions, advocated (pp. 257–258) “a scholarship that is willing and able to affirm that the metaphysical models . . . of these different spiritual traditions are serious contenders for truth, a scholarship that realizes that these religious worlds are not dead corpses that we can dissect and analyze at a safe distance, but rather are living, vital bodies of knowledge and practice that have the potential to change our taken-for-granted notions.” I am asking that scientists and scholars approach in this spirit the Vedic perspective on human origins outlined in Human Devolution.

In chapter 2, I present a review of the archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity from Forbidden Archeology.  I establish that this evidence actually exists and that it has been systematically eliminated from scientific discussion by a process of knowledge filtration. Archeological evidence that contradicts the Darwinian theory of human evolution is often rejected just for that reason. For example, in the nineteenth century, gold was discovered in California. To get it, miners dug tunnels into the sides of mountains, such as Table Mountain in Tuolumne County. Deep inside the tunnels, in deposits of early Eocene age (about 50 million years old), miners found human bones and artifacts. The discoveries were carefully documented by Dr. J. D. Whitney, the chief government geologist of California, in his book The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California, published by Harvard University in 1880. But we do not hear very much about these discoveries today. In the Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1898–1899 (p. 424), anthropologist William Holmes said, “Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted.” In other words, if the facts did not fit the theory of human evolution, the facts had to be set aside, and that is exactly what happened.

Such bias continued into the twentieth century. In the 1970s, American archeologists led by Cynthia Irwin Williams discovered stone tools at Hueyatlaco, near Puebla, Mexico. The stone tools were of advanced type, made only by humans like us. A team of geologists, from the United States Geological Survey and universities in the United States, came to Hueyatlaco to date the site. Among the geologists was Virginia Steen-McIntyre. To date the site, the team used four methods—uranium series dating on butchered animal bones found along with the tools, zircon fission track dating on volcanic layers above the tools, tephra hydration dating of volcanic crystals, and standard stratigraphy. The four methods converged on an age of about 250,000 years for the site. The archeologists refused to consider this date. They could not believe that humans capable of making the Hueyatlaco artifacts existed 250,000 years ago. In defense of the dates obtained by the geologists, Virginia Steen-McIntyre wrote in a letter (March 30, 1981) to Estella Leopold, associate editor of Quaternary Research:  “The problem as I see it is much bigger than Hueyatlaco. It concerns the manipulation of scientific thought through the suppression of ‘Enigmatic Data,’ data that challenges the prevailing mode of thinking. Hueyatlaco certainly does that! Not being an anthropologist, I didn’t realize the full significance of our dates back in 1973, nor how deeply woven into our thought the current theory of human evolution has become. Our work at Hueyatlaco has been rejected by most archaeologists because it contradicts that theory, period.” This remains true today, not only for the California gold mine discoveries and the Hueyatlaco human artifacts, but for hundreds of other discoveries documented in the scientific literature of the past 150 years.

In chapter 3, I present a case of fossil evidence showing that the current Darwinian picture of the evolution of nonhuman species is also in need of revision. Beginning in the 1940s, geologists and paleobotanists working with the Geological Survey of India explored the Salt Range Mountains in what is now Pakistan. They found deep in salt mines evidence for the existence of advanced flowering plants and insects in the early Cambrian periods, about 600 million years ago. According to standard evolutionary ideas, no land plants or animals existed at that time. Flowering plants and insects are thought to have come into existence hundreds of millions of years later. To explain the evidence some geologists proposed that there must have been a massive overthrust, by which Eocene layers, about 50 million years old, were thrust under Cambrian layers, over 550 million years old. Others pointed out that there were no geological signs of such an overthrust. According to these scientists, the layers bearing the fossils of the advanced plants and insects were found in normal position, beneath strata containing trilobites, the characteristic fossil of the Cambrian. One of these scientists, E. R. Gee, a geologist working with the Geological Survey of India, proposed a novel solution to the problem. In the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of India for the year 1945 (section B, v. 16, pp. xlv–xlvi), paleobotanist Birbal Sahni noted: “Quite recently, an alternative explanation has been offered by Mr. Gee. The suggestion is that the angiosperms, gymnosperms and insects of the Saline Series may represent a highly evolved Cambrian or Precambrian flora and fauna! In other words, it is suggested that these plants and animals made their appearance in the Salt Range area several hundred million years earlier than they did anywhere else in the world. One would scarcely have believed that such an idea would be seriously put forward by any geologist today.” The controversy was left unresolved. In the 1990s, petroleum geologists, unaware of the earlier controversy, restudied the area. They determined that the salt deposits below the Cambrian deposits containing trilobites were early Cambrian or Precambrian. In other words, they found no evidence of an overthrust. The salt deposits were in a natural position below the Cambrian deposits. This supports Gee’s suggestion that the plant and insect remains in the salt deposits were evidence of an advanced fauna and flora existing in the early Cambrian. This evidence contradicts not only the Darwinian concept of the evolution of humans but of other species as well.

Chapter 4 reviews evidence from genetics and developmental biology that contradicts the Darwinian theory of human evolution. The Darwinian theory of evolution is in trouble right from the start. Although the origin of life from chemicals is technically not part of the evolution theory, it has in practice become inseparably connected with it. Darwinists routinely assert that life arose from chemicals. But after decades of theorizing and experimenting, they are unable to say exactly which chemicals combined in exactly which way to form exactly which first living thing. As far as evolution itself is concerned, it has not been demonstrated in any truly scientific way. It remains an article of faith. The modern evolutionary synthesis is based on genetics. Evolutionists posit a relationship between the genotype (genetic structure) of an organism and its phenotype (physical structure). They say that changes in the genotype result in changes in the phenotype, and by natural selection the changes in phenotype conferring better fitness in a particular environment accumulate in organisms. Evolutionists claim that this process can account for the appearance of new structural features in organisms. But on the level of microbiology, these structures appear to be irreducibly complex. Scientists have not been able to specify exactly how they have come about in step by step fashion. They have not been able to tell us exactly what genetic changes resulted in what phenotypic changes to produce particular complex features of organisms. This would require the specification of intermediate stages leading up to the complex structures we observe today. In his book Darwin’s Black Box (1996, p. 183), biochemist Michael Behe says, “In the past ten years, Journal of Molecular Evolution has published more than a thousand papers. . . . There were zero papers discussing detailed models for intermediates in the development of complex biomolecular structures. This is not a peculiarity of JME. No papers are to be found that discuss detailed models for intermediates in the development of complex biomolecular structures, whether in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Nature, Science, the Journal of Molecular Biology or, to my knowledge, any science journal.”

Attempts by scientists to use genetic evidence to demonstrate the time and place that anatomically modern humans have come into existence have resulted in embarrassing mistakes and contradictions. The first widely publicized reports that genetic evidence allowed scientists to say that all living humans arose from an African Eve who lived 200,000 years ago in Africa turned out to be fatally flawed. Researchers have attempted to correct the mistakes, but the results remain confused. Considering the complexities surrounding genetic data, some scientists have suggested that fossils remain the most reliable evidence for questions about human origins and antiquity. In an article in American Anthropologist (1993 v. 95, no. 11), David W. Frayer and his coauthors said (p. 19): “Unlike genetic data derived from living humans, fossils can be used to test predictions of theories about the past without relying on a long list of assumptions about the neutrality of genetic markers, mutational rates, or other requirements necessary to retrodict the past from current genetic variation. . . . genetic information, at best, provides a theory of how modern human origins might have happened if the assumptions used in interpreting the genetic data are correct.” This means that the archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity documented in Forbidden Archeology provides a much needed check on the rampant speculations of genetic researchers. This evidence contradicts current Darwinian accounts of human origins.

Together, chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Human Devolution demonstrate a real need for an alternative to the current Darwinian account of human origins. The work of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, cofounder with Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection, provides an introduction to the alternative explanation. Wallace, along with other British scientists, such as Sir William Crookes, a Nobel laureate in physics, conducted extensive experiments into the paranormal. These experiments and observations, reviewed in chapter 5 of Human Devolution, led Wallace to revise the worldview of science. Wallace concluded that the universe is populated with spirit beings. Some of the minor spirit beings, he proposed, are in contact with the human population on earth, usually through mediums. According to Wallace, the minor spirit beings, acting through mediums, were responsible for a variety of paranormal phenomena, including clairvoyance, miraculous healings, communications from the dead, apparitions, materializations of physical objects, levitations, etc. More powerful spirit beings may have played a role in the origin of species.

Wallace wrote in his autobiography (1905 v. 2, pp. 349–350): “The majority of people to-day have been brought up in the belief that miracles, ghosts, and the whole series of strange phenomena here described cannot exist; that they are contrary to the laws of nature; that they are the superstitions of a bygone age; and that therefore they are necessarily either impostures or delusions. There is no place in the fabric of their thought into which such facts can be fitted. When I first began this inquiry it was the same with myself. The facts did not fit into my then existing fabric of thought. All my preconceptions, all my knowledge, all my belief in the supremacy of science and of natural law were against the possibility of such phenomena. And even when, one by one, the facts were forced upon me without possibility of escape from them, still, as Sir David Brewster declared after being at first astonished by the phenomena he saw with [the medium] Mr. Home, ‘spirit was the last thing I could give in to.’ Every other possible solution was tried and rejected. . . . We ask our readers not for belief, but for doubt of their own infallibility on this question; we ask for inquiry and patient experiment before hastily concluding that we are, all of us, mere dupes and idiots as regards a subject to which we have devoted our best mental faculties and powers of observation for many years.” For Wallace, all this had implications for human origins. In his book Contributions to a Theory of Natural Selection (1870, p. 359), Wallace concluded that “a superior intelligence has guided the development of man in a definite direction, and for a special purpose, just as man guides the development of many animal and vegetable forms.”

Using the work of Wallace as a starting point, I proceed in the remaining chapters of Human Devolution to develop a Vedic alternative to the Darwinian account of human origins. I propose that before we ask the question, “Where did human beings come from?” we should first of all ask the question, “What is a human being?” Today most scientists believe that a human being is simply a combination of the ordinary chemical elements. This assumption limits the kinds of explanations that can be offered for human origins. I propose that it is more reasonable, based on available scientific evidence, to start with the assumption that a human being is composed of three separately existing substances: matter, mind, and consciousness (or spirit). This assumption widens the circle of possible explanations.  

Any scientific chain of reasoning begins with some initial assumptions that are not rigorously proved. Otherwise, one would get caught in an endless regression of proofs of assumptions, and proofs of proofs of assumptions. Initial assumptions must simply be reasonable on the basis of available evidence. In chapter 6, I show that it is reasonable, on the basis of available evidence, to posit the existence of mind and consciousness, in addition to ordinary matter, as separate elements composing the human being.

I define mind as a subtle, but nevertheless material, energy, associated with the human organism and capable of acting on ordinary matter in ways we cannot explain by our current laws of physics. Evidence for this mind element comes from scientific research into the phenomena called by some “paranormal” or “psychical.” Here we are led into the hidden history of physics. Just as in archeology, there has been in physics a tremendous amount of knowledge filtration. For example, every physics student learns about the work of Pierre and Marie Curie, the husband and wife team who both received Nobel Prizes for their work in discovering radium. The account is found in practically every introductory physics textbook. What we do not read in the textbooks is that the Curies were heavily involved in psychical research. They were part of a large group of prominent European scientists, including other Nobel Prize winners, who were jointly conducting research into the paranormal in Paris early in the twentieth century. For two years, the group studied the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (sometimes spelled Paladino, or Paladina). Historian Anna Hurwic notes in her biography of Pierre Curie (1995, p. 247), “He thought it possible to discover in spiritualism the source of an unknown energy that would reveal the secret of radioactivity. . . . He saw the séances as scientific experiments, tried to monitor the different parameters, took detailed notes of every observation. He was really intrigued by Eusapia Paladino.” About some séances with Eusapia, Pierre Curie wrote to physicist Georges Gouy in a letter dated July 24, 1905: “We had at the Psychology Society a few séances with the medium Eusapia Paladina. It was very interesting, and truly those phenomena that we have witnessed seemed to us to not be some magical tricks—a table lifted four feet above the floor, movements of objects, feelings of hands that pinched you or caressed you, apparitions of light. All this in a room arranged by us, with a small number of spectators all well known and without the presence of a possible accomplice. The only possible cheating would be an extraordinary ability of the medium as a magician. But how to explain the different phenomena when we are holding her hands and legs, and the lighting of the room is sufficient to see everything going on?” On April 14, 1906, Pierre wrote to Gouy: “We are working, M. Curie and me, to precisely dose the radium by its own emanations. . . .We had a few new ‘séances’ with Eusapia Paladina (We already had séances with her last summer). The result is that those phenomena exist for real, and I can’t doubt it any more. It is unbelievable, but it is thus, and it is impossible to negate it after the séances that we had in conditions of perfect monitoring.” He concluded, “There is, according to me a completely new domain of facts and physical states of space of which we have no idea.”

To me, such results, and many more like them from the hidden history of physics, suggest there is associated with the human organism a mind element that can act on ordinary matter in ways we cannot easily explain by our current physical laws. Such research continues today, although most scientists doing it are concentrating on microeffects rather than the macroeffects reported by Pierre Curie. For example, Robert Jahn, head of the engineering department at Princeton University, started to research the effects of mental attention on random number generators. A random number generator will normally generate a sequence of ones and zeros, with equal numbers of each. But Jahn, and his associates who have continued the research, found that subjects can mentally influence the random number generators to produce a statistically significant greater number of ones than zeros (or vice versa).

Evidence for a conscious self that can existence apart from mind and matter comes from medical reports of out of body experiences (OBEs). Dr. Michael Sabom, an American cardiologist, conducted extensive research into out of body experiences. He carefully interviewed heart attack patients who reported such experiences. He then compared their reports with their actual medical records. He found that a statistically significant number of the group gave correct accounts, consistent with the reports of their treatment. This is highly unusual, because according to standard medical opinion, the patients should have been completely unconscious. Could the subjects have manufactured their correct reports from their previous knowledge of heart attack treatment procedures (for example, from watching television hospital dramas)? To control for this, Sabom selected a second group of heart attack patients who did not report OBEs. He asked them to imagine the medical treatment they had undergone while unconscious. None of them was able to give a correct report, and almost all of them made major mistakes. For Sabom, the results from the control group confirmed the genuineness of the OBE reports from the first group. In his book Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation (1982, p. 183), Sabom asked, “Could the mind which splits apart from the physical brain be, in essence, the ‘soul,’ which continues to exist after final bodily death, according to some religious doctrines?”  

Sabom’s results have been confirmed by further studies. For example, in February 2001, a team from the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, published a favorable study on OBEs in cardiac arrest patients in the journal Resuscitation (v. 48, pp. 149–156). The team was headed by Dr. Sam Parnia, a senior research fellow at the university. On February 16, 2001, a report published on the university’s web site said that the work of Dr. Parnia “suggests consciousness and the mind may continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function and the body is clinically dead.”

Past life memories also give evidence for a conscious self that can exist apart from the body. Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia medical school, has conducted extensive research into past life memories. Stevenson, and his associates, have focused on past life memories spontaneously reported by very young children. Stevenson prefers working with children because older persons might have the motives and means to construct elaborate past life accounts. His technique is to thoroughly interview the child subjects and thus obtain as many details as possible about the reported past life. Using this information, Stevenson and his associates then attempt to identify the person the child claims to have been in the past life. In hundreds of cases, they have been successful in making such identifications.

Having established that the human organism is composed of the elements matter, mind, and consciousness (or spirit), it is natural to suppose that the cosmos is divided into regions, or levels, of matter, mind, and consciousness, each inhabited by beings adapted to life there. First, there is a region of pure consciousness. Consciousness, as we experience it, is individual and personal. This suggests that the original source of conscious selves is also individual and personal. So in addition to the individual units of consciousness existing in the realm of pure consciousness, there is also an original conscious being who is their source. When the fractional conscious selves give up their connection with their source, they are placed in lower regions of the cosmos predominated by either the subtle material energy (mind) or the gross material energy (matter). There is thus a cosmic hierarchy of conscious beings. Chapter 7 of Human Devolution establishes the existence of this cosmic hierarchy of beings in a cross cultural study of cosmologies, using the Vedic cosmology of the Shrimad Bhagavatam as a model for comparison. The cosmologies share many features. They generally include an original God inhabiting a realm of pure consciousness, a subordinate creator god inhabiting a subtle material region of the cosmos along with many kinds of demigods and demigoddesses, an earthly realm inhabited by humans like us, and an underworld inhabited by ghosts and demons.

Chapter 8 of Human Devolution documents categories of observational evidence for the existence of conscious beings at various levels of the cosmic hierarchy. The first category is evidence for survival of conscious selves formerly inhabiting bodies of terrestrial humans. This evidence takes the form of communications from surviving conscious human selves, apparitions of departed humans, and possessions of living humans by spirits of departed humans. Cases where humans are possessed by beings with extraordinary powers provide evidence for superhuman creatures existing in extraterrestrial levels of the cosmic hierarchy. Marian apparitions and apparitions of angels also provide such evidence. Historical accounts of appearances of avatars provide evidence for the existence of a supreme conscious being. A final category of evidence comes from modern reports of unidentified flying objects and the “aliens” associated with them. Although the topic is very controversial, and involves a high degree of strangeness, there is a substantial quantity of credible reporting from government and military sources from several countries. The theory of purely mechanical UFOs breaks down under careful investigation, and the UFOs and aliens come to resemble beings inhabiting extraterrestrial levels of the world’s traditional cosmologies.

The human devolution concept posits the action of superior intelligences in the origin of the human form and the forms of other living things. This depends on the ability of consciousness to more or less directly influence the organization of matter in living things. Chapter 9 provides evidence that such paranormal modification and production of biological forms actually occurs.

The first category of evidence comes from laboratory experiments in which human subjects are able to mentally influence the growth of microorganisms. For example, Beverly Rubik conducted laboratory research on “volitional effects of healers on a bacterial system” while director of the Institute for Frontier Sciences at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She reported the results in a paper included in her book Life at the Edge of Science (1996, pp. 99–117). The experiments were performed using the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium, a very well studied organism. The chief subject in the study was Olga Worrall, who had demonstrated positive abilities in other experiments. In one set of experiments, culture dishes of bacteria were treated with antibiotics that inhibit the growth of the bacteria. Worrall attempted to influence the bacteria in one set of culture dishes to grow. Another set of culture dishes was kept aside as a control. Compared to the control group, the group of culture dishes mentally acted upon by Worrall all showed an increase in growth. In another set of experiments, bacteria were placed on slides in a solution of phenol sufficient to immobilize but not kill them. The slides of bacteria were then observed under a microscope. In her book, Rubik (p. 108) stated, “Application of . . . phenol completely paralyzes the bacteria within 1 to 2 minutes. Worrall’s treatment inhibited this effect . . . such that on the average up to 7% of the bacteria continued to swim after 12 minutes exposure to phenol compared to the control groups which were completely paralyzed in all cases.”

Distance healing by prayer and other miraculous cures provide another category of evidence for paranormal modification of biological form. In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2000 v. 132, no. 11, pp. 903–911), John A. Astin and his coauthors found that “a growing body of evidence suggests an association between religious involvement and spirituality and positive health outcomes.” In support of their conclusion, the Astin group cited over fifty credible positive reports from a variety of scientific and medical journals. Even more striking examples of paranormal modification of biological form come from the reports of the Medical Bureau at Lourdes. Since the nineteenth century, the physicians of the Medical Bureau have carefully documented a series of miraculous cures, some involving the inexplicable regeneration of damaged tissues and organs.

Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson has conducted extensive investigations into birthmarks that appear to have some relationship with wounds a person experienced in a past life. Persons who died of gunshot wounds in previous lives sometimes display on their present bodies birthmarks of appropriate size at the positions of the entry and exit wounds. This suggests that when such a person’s soul and mind enter the present body, they carry with them impressions that appropriately modify the body’s biological form. Some medical investigators have documented cases of “maternal impressions.” These occur when a pregnant woman is exposed to a striking event that causes a strong emotional impression. Somehow the psychological impression leaves its mark on the embryo within her womb. For example, if a woman sees someone with an injured foot and then constantly remembers this, her child might be born with a malformed foot. In 1890, W. C. Dabney reviewed in Cyclopaedia of the Diseases of Children (1890 v. 1, pp. 191–216) sixty-nine reports published between 1853 and 1886 documenting a close correspondence between the mother’s mental impression and the physical deformation in her child.

Yet another category of evidence consists of reports by prominent scientists who have witnessed mediums produce human limbs or complete human bodies. A particularly striking case was reported by Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, who, accompanied by others, saw a clergyman medium named Monk produce a complete human form. In his autobiography (1905 v. 2, p. 330), Wallace described the event, which took place in an apartment in the Bloomsbury district of London: “It was a bright summer afternoon, and everything happened in the full light of day. After a little conversation, Monk, who was dressed in the usual clerical black, appeared to go into a trance; then stood up a few feet in front of us, and after a little while pointed to his side, saying, ‘Look.’ We saw there a faint white patch on his coat on the left side. This grew brighter, then seemed to flicker, and extend both upwards and downwards, till very gradually it formed a cloudy pillar extending from his shoulder to his feet and close to his body. Then he shifted himself a little sideways, the cloudy figure standing still, but appearing joined to him by a cloudy band at the height at which it had first begun to form. Then, after a few minutes more, Monk again said ‘Look,’ and passed his hand through the connecting band, severing it. He and the figure then moved away from each other till they were about five or six feet apart. The figure had now assumed the appearance of a thickly draped female form, with arms and hands just visible. Monk looked towards it and again said to us ‘Look,’ and then clapped his hands. On which the figure put out her hands, clapped them as he had done, and we all distinctly heard her clap following his, but fainter. The figure then moved slowly back to him, grew fainter and shorter, and was apparently absorbed into his body as it had grown out of it.”

If the forms of humans and other living things are the result of intelligent manipulation of matter, this suggests that the universe itself may have been designed for human life and other forms of life. Chapter 10 reviews evidence for this from modern cosmology. Scientists have discovered that numbers representing fundamental physical constants and ratios of natural forces appear to be finely tuned for life to exist in our universe. Astronomer Sir Martin Rees considers six of these numbers to be especially significant. In his book Just Six Numbers (2000, pp. 3–4), he says, “I have highlighted these six because each plays a crucial and distinctive role in our universe, and together they determine how the universe evolves and what its internal potentialities are. . . . These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life.” There are three main explanations for the apparent fine tuning of the physical constants and laws of nature: simple chance, many worlds, and some intelligent providential creator. Many cosmologists admit that the odds against the fine tuning are too extreme for a simple “one shot” chance to be offered as a credible scientific explanation. To avoid the conclusion of a providential designer, they have posited the existence of a practically unlimited number of universes, each with the values of fundamental constants and laws of nature adjusted in a different way. And we just happen to live in the one universe with everything adjusted correctly for the existence of human life. But these other universes have only a theoretical existence, and even if their existence could be physically demonstrated, one would further have to show that in these other universes the values of the fundamental constants and laws of nature are in fact different than those in our universe. The Vedic cosmology also speaks of many universes, but all of them are designed for life.

Chapter 11 outlines the concept of human devolution, bringing together the various lines of evidence presented in the previous chapters. We do not evolve up from matter; rather we devolve, or come down, from the level of pure consciousness. Originally, we are pure units of consciousness existing in harmonious connection with the supreme conscious being. When we give up our willing connection with that supreme conscious being, we descend to regions of the cosmos dominated by the subtle and gross material energies, mind and matter. Forgetful of our original position, we attempt to dominate and enjoy the subtle and gross material energies. For this purpose, we are provided with bodies made of the subtle and gross material energies. These bodies are vehicles for conscious selves. They are designed for existence within the realms of the subtle and gross material energies. Conscious selves who are less forgetful of their original natures receive bodies composed primarily of the subtle material energy. Those who are more forgetful receive bodies composed of both the subtle and gross material energies, with the gross material energies predominating. The original conscious being in the Vedic universe is Brahma, the first demigod. His body, manifested directly from Vishnu, is made primarily of the subtle material elements. He is tasked with manifesting bodies for the other conscious selves existing at various levels of the cosmic hierarchy. From the body of Brahma come great sages, sometimes known as his mental sons, and also the first sexually reproducing pair, Svayambhuva Manu and his consort Shatarupa. The daughters of Manu become the wives of some of the sages, and they produce generations of demigods and demigoddesses, with bodies composed primarily of the subtle material energy. These demigods and demigoddesses, by their reproductive processes, produce the forms of living things, including humans, who reside on our earth planet. In their reproductive processes, they make use of bijas, or mental seeds, which contain essential elements of the plans for the various bodies. The existence of DNA alone is not sufficient to explain how the forms of living things are manifested. For the most part, the genes on the DNA strand just code for the production of various proteins. How these proteins are combined in the complex forms of organisms is not specified by the DNA. The concept of a mental seed containing the developmental plan for bodies, including the human body, thus complements the existence of DNA. The human devolution concept thus has something in common with Darwinism. Like Darwinism, the human devolution concept posits a first living thing from which other living things develop by a process of reproduction with modification. But the process is intelligently guided.

I now wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to some of those who made this book possible. During the years 1984 to 1995, I worked closely with Richard L. Thompson, and Human Devolution owes much to the countless discussions we had during those years. Anyone desiring to understand a Vedic perspective on modern science should consult Thompson’s foundational works Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science, Alien Identities, and Mysteries of the Sacred Universe. Since 1993 I have been fortunate to have Lori Erbs as my research assistant. With her masters degree in library science and experience as director of a science research library for an agency of the United States government, she has carried out the most complicated and demanding research requests in a prompt, thorough, professional manner. She was also responsible for preparing the Human Devolution manuscript for submission to my publisher. Lori was greatly assisted by Fay Fenske, the interlibrary loan specialist for the Bellingham Public Library, in Bellingham, Washington. Fay obtained many rare books and journal articles from around the world. Alister Taylor, of Torchlight Publishing, has been an understanding partner in publishing my works since 1993. I remain grateful to the international trustees of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust for their continuing support of my research and publishing. I am especially grateful to the North American trustee Emil Beca for the various ways in which he has supported my work. For their expert help in the typesetting, proofreading, and design of this book, I thank Yamaraja, Chris Glenn, and Mollie Thonneson. Thanks also to Gary Aleksiewicz for the index. Finally, I am grateful to Irina Martynenko and Yuri Dementyev for locating a peaceful place for me to stay in Yalta so that I could finish this introduction after a lecture tour of the Ukraine.

Michael A. Cremo
December 14, 2002

Note on orthography: In Human Devolution I spell Sanskrit words phonetically for ease of pronunciation by readers not familiar with the scholarly system of diacritics.

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