An Alternative to Darwinian Evolution?

Contemporary values are reflected in competing historical narratives, which may result in more than one history. As a result, not all people adhere to the Darwinian theory of evolution supported by Anthropologists. 

            Theosophists, The Rosicrucian Order, the I AM Movement (First Ascended Master Organization), Doreal’s Brotherhood of the White Temple Church, and the Lemurian Fellowship all support mythology that the Lemurians and Atlanteans are precursors to our present civilization. The groups around Mt. Shasta provide a mythological framework for alternative beliefs in creation, human evolution, and history.

            Alternative theories of human evolution provide a sense of hope and purpose and demonstrate a changing past. It also shows that humans were greater in the past and that humans can aspire to what was lost. Other sources of life point to the extra-terrestrial origin, a divine creator, or simply that humans have always been on earth in their present form. For those that argue against Darwinian evolution, homo sapiens share characteristics with apes and chimpanzees, though this does not mean that there is a shared, common ancestor. The pre-Darwinian conception of humans is that humans were placed on earth in their present physical state.

A Search for the Origins of Humans


            Hesiod, an eighth-century BC poet, was one of the first writers of the western tradition to provide an explanation of human origins. In his Works and Days, he recounts the Five Races of the world and the successive races of humankind. According to Hesiod, the first race was a Golden race that lived in a natural state. The second race, the Silver race, was inferior to the Gold race, and they began to fight with one another. The third race, the Bronze race, declined further and ate flesh. The Fourth was the race of Heroes, who were noble. Lastly, the Iron race followed, noted for their savage cruelty. For Hesiod, history is in a state of degeneration, not progress.

17th Century Theories

            It was a fascinating idea to discover where the first humans came from in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Naturalists, nationalists, romantics, and occultists want to discover origins for different reasons. The rise of geology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had a profound impact on the perception of human origins because evidence of deep history dismantled biblical chronology. Geology challenged previous conceptions of the beginnings of humanity. In the seventeenth century, European people began to look for the origins of humankind to divorce themselves from church dogma and bolster national identity. Establishing deep historical roots would allow people to relate to the past and feel connected in the present.

            Count de Buffon (1707-1788), in Histoire Naturelle, argued that temperate zones like the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains were likely areas for the emergence of humans. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), in his book, On the Natural Varieties of Mankind, argued that central Asia was the origin of humans. He classified five races of humans: Caucasoid, Negroids, Mongoloid, Polynesian, and American. Robert Chambers hypothesized that humans evolved in Asia in his Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844). Ernst Haeckel, in History of Creation (1876), argued that humans evolved in Central Asia. He felt knowledge of origins would allow people to feel closer to nature and away from church dogma. Haeckel argued that the Aryans were descendants of Atlantis and Lemuria, and Haeckel entertained migration routes of the Lemurians. He also argued the Aryans were superior to all other races.

18th Century Theories

            Until the eighteenth century, it was believed that the Middle East was the origin of humans. The Semitic origin of humankind was uncomfortable with some intellectuals who embraced Indian origins as an adequate replacement for Jewish origins. The motivation for people to find the origins of humankind was to remove religious dogmatism from the natural world and ensure that the origins of humankind were from a geographically suitable location. Central Asian origins of humans could prove the exalted status of the white race, which sustained racial discrimination. Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), who wrote Outlines of the Philosophy of Man, opposed the Jewish ancestry of Europeans because the Aryan origins of humans were seen as superior. Herder, as well as other German Romantics, saw Aryans as physically, mentally, and culturally superior to other cultures. Through this mindset, a mythical Aryan India was created, not at all resembling contemporary India.

19th Century Theories

            In the early nineteenth century, there was a debate over how different human races appeared. Monogenists argued that all humans descended from one origin; thus, people were biologically equal. Polygensists believed that multiple creations occurred, resulting in different races not being entitled to the same treatment. For example, Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), author of The Inequality of the Human Race and Moral and Intellectual Diversity of the Races, argued that Aryans were superior and originated in Central Asia. Therefore, people in the Middle East were degenerate forms of humans and the product of separate creations. Similarly, Blavatsky wrote that the Aryans were the current superior race, while Mongolians were secondary. The Mongolians fell because they interbred with the Atlanteans, creating an ape-man. Other “monsters” became the lesser races of the earth.


            For Theosophists, evolution is not based on Darwinian concepts of natural selection and variation but a progressive mix of western science and the occult. Theosophy’s claim of evolution was unique because it incorporated science into its belief system, adding scientific validity to its claims. Blavatsky used modern science to explain evolution and filled in the gaps with occult materials. For example, the remains of pre-historic ape-men have been found in central Asia; Blavatsky taught that humans first emerged there. However, according to archaeologists, Pithecanthropus was discovered in Indonesia, Sinanthropus was discovered in east China, Australopithecus in South Africa, and Neanderthalers in Western Europe.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

            Darwin’s Origin of the Species (1859) revolutionized the understanding of natural order. His argument challenged the biblical myth of creation. Darwin’s theory of evolution was shared with others of the same cultural background, like Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Charles Lyell, and Robert Chambers. Lamarck first outlined his theory of evolution in Philosophie Zoologique, arguing that species learned to physically adapt to their environment. He emphasized intelligent adaptation, continuity, and development and stressed cooperation, not competition, like Darwin. Darwin countered Lamarck by stating an individual takes part in the evolutionary process only through generations; it does not evolve in the course of its life.

            The Darwinian theory draws on older themes of metamorphosis and transformation. There was a much older debate about the constancy and transformation of matter that dated back to the Roman philosopher Lucretius (96?-55? BC). Darwin’s theory emphasized transformation, extinction, and annihilation. There is no higher authority, such as a creator that exists outside of the natural order. For Darwin, human destiny was placed in human hands; there was hope for unlimited human progress.

             There are three types of evidence used to support Darwinian evolution:

  • The biological classification of all living things.
  • There is a similarity in form and function, or creatures act today as they did in the past.
  • The fossil record is reconstructed to demonstrate the evolution of particular species.

Gaps in the Fossil Record

The fossil record goes back about 600 million years, but large gaps in the fossil record are unexplained by gradual evolutionary theory because there are no intermediate or transitional fossils. Their average species lives about five to ten million years. This means the current animal and plant species represent four percent of all things that have ever lived. It is estimated that less than one percent of fossil species are known. This may explain why the evolutionary tree of humans is incomplete. In addition, it may indicate why there are no archaeological or skeletal remains of the occultists’ Atlanteans or Lemurians.

“Evolution is the great secular myth of the twentieth century”

~Tom Snyder

Further Reading

Doreal’s Brotherhood of the White Temple Church

Snyder (1996) Myth Conceptions: Joseph Campbell and the New Age

The First Ascended Master Organization – I AM Movement

The Lemurian Fellowship

The Rosicrucian Order

The Theosophical Society in America

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