The Theosophical Forum – July 1938

SCIENCE AND RESEARCH — C. J. Ryan

Modern Science develops a Soul!

H. P. Blavatsky would rejoice at the recent development of higher scientific ideals and at the practical form they are taking. Dr. L. P. Jacks, the well-known philosopher, remarked in a recent broadcast that while in old days prophets overawed the people by crying: "Thus saith the Lord," in these days we get the same effect by: "Thus saith Science." Religion, which once gave hope and comfort has almost lost all its authority, and science, with its soulless doctrines and aloofness from the "humanities," has brought the world to the pass which we see before us. At last, however, we see the beginning of a greater hope. Science promises to become ensouled.

In 1936, at the Harvard Tercentenary, and later in England, great scientists declared that our collected knowledge should be directed by moral force, and at the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Indianapolis, the sense of responsibility of scientists to society was emphasized. Dr. Conklin, in his retiring presidential address, challenged the Association to shift its center of gravity from the mere acquisition of knowledge for its own sake to science for the true benefit of mankind. Science has provided tools and unloosed powers which have been perverted into wrong channels. It has now to accept the responsibility of teaching man to use them wisely.

According to Dr. F. R. Moulton's Report of the Indianapolis meeting, in some respects the climax of the proceedings was the resolution passed by the council inviting the British Association for the Advancement of Science and others to co-operate in making right instead of might the ruling power in human life. Speaking in the Temple at Point Loma a few weeks ago, Dr. G. de Purucker referred to the awakening of science to its responsibilities, and spoke of the remarkable phenomenon that is taking place before our eyes of a soulless body beginning to be ensouled. "Ideas rule the world," and one of the most important objects for which the Theosophical Society was started was to stem the tide of materialism for which science had been so largely responsible. He spoke of the tremendous advance toward Theosophy that would take place when our scientists, "the High Priests of Nature," envisage the fact that not merely Truth but Justice and Right constitute the framework of the universe, and are not mere "by-products." More than fifty years ago, in the heyday of materialistic science, one of the Masters of Wisdom wrote the famous letter to Mr. A. O. Hume criticizing the unsympathetic attitude of scientists in regard to the higher welfare of humanity. We can quote only one passage:

Exact experimental science has nothing to do with morality, virtue, philanthropy — therefore, can make no claim upon our help until it blends itself with metaphysics. Being but a cold classification of facts outside man, and existing before and after him, her domain of usefulness ceases for us at the outer boundary of these facts; and whatever the inferences and results for humanity from the materials acquired by her method, she little cares. — The Occult World

The new attitude of scientists is another sign, among many, of the influx of Theosophical ideas into the West which was started by the Eastern Sages at the propitious time.

Have Animals Souls?

Dr. Robert Broom, the distinguished South African biologist and anthropologist whose advanced views (in the Theosophical sense) about Evolution have frequently been mentioned with appreciation in these pages, has just created a stir by publicly stating that man may well have more than one soul, and that even the animals and plants may not be destitute of souls of some kind. Such utterances coming from a scientist of his standing are of value in clearing the way for a wider understanding of human relationships and the underlying unity of all forms of life — universal brotherhood, in short — the basic principle of Theosophy. We quote a few significant passages from Dr. Broom's letter to The Rand Daily Mail, December 4, 1937:

When I first, in 1931, made the revolutionary statement that evolution is practically finished, I do not suppose that anyone agreed. Soon, however, Julian Huxley, on looking into the matter, had to admit that I seem to be right. . . .

The facts are beyond all question. Of course, there is room for considerable modification. Man may evolve into a Super-man, but he must remain physically a man. He may lose his little toes, he may lose his wisdom teeth, he may lose his lateral incisors, but he must remain a man. . . .

With regard to the soul question, there is room for greater differences of opinion. Sir Arthur Keith certainly differs from me. . . . But that does not prove that they are right and I am wrong.

"Evolutionist" [a correspondent] says, "If the Mind, or Soul, be the source of intelligence and not the brain, then, as they all have a certain amount of intelligence, it follows that animals, bees and ants also have souls."

Here I quite agree and am quite willing to give souls to all living things, even plants. The Amoeba (a primitive single-celled animal) acts as if it were an intelligent being, and certain foraminifera make the most careful choice of sand particles and little calcareous plates to build up their houses. Further, all living cells act as if they were controlled by some intelligence. A skilful human builder, if given prepared materials, can build a house, but living cells can build much more skilfully, and they, further, make their own bricks and tiles and windows. . . .

Freud, Adler, and Jung have shown that man is a good deal more complex than was believed even fifty years ago. So complex is man that recently a famous American scientist, Alexis Carrel, has written a book, Man the Unknown. Not only does it appear that man has a soul, but it almost looks as if he has two souls — a conscious one and an unconscious, and possibly the unconscious soul controls all the cells of the body. . . .

We are still far from a solution, but I think we can say without any hesitation that the solution of the materialists of the Victorian era is quite unsatisfactory. — R. Broom, Transvaal Museum, Pretoria

It is not very long since H. P. Blavatsky was criticized for her "unscientific" teaching, derived from the Ancient Wisdom and her own knowledge, that man has a compound nature of several inter-blended "principles," which might, for want of a better English word, be called "souls."

Antiquity of the Domesticated Cat

It has always been understood that the Egyptians were the first to tame the cat, and that from Egypt the domestic cat spread to other countries, reaching China about a couple of thousand years ago, and England about A. D. 900. To the surprise of archaeologists, foot-prints of a cat chased by a dog have just been found at Chanhudaro, one of the cities recently excavated in the Indus Valley, north-western India. The two animals scampered across the surface of a brick which was still soft, and by chance the impression has been preserved for our instruction. This Indus civilization is very ancient, having neared the end of a long career at least five thousand years ago. The revelation that a highly advanced culture existed in India at such distant times, which was made a few years ago, is one of the outstanding events in archaeological research. No one in the West dreamed of such a possibility yet here are the remains of cities with excellent drainage systems, well-built houses, statuary that is comparable with the Hellenistic Greek, a highly developed script, etc. When we say "no one imagined such a possibility" we must except H. P. Blavatsky, who frequently referred to the existence of a high civilization in India at a remote period and said that British archaeologists would discover it some day. In regard to the antiquity of the art of writing in ancient India, which may have been practised 12,000 years ago, she says, she cannot conceal her scorn of the philologists of her day (even Max Muller) who believed that it was unknown in Panini's time, only a few centuries b. c! How did she know so many historical and scientific facts, unsuspected or denied by the highest authorities in her day but now brought to light!

Now it appears that among other appurtenances of modern civilization the ancient inhabitants of the Indus Valley were possessed of the domestic pussy about four thousand years before it reached western Europe. (The savage and untamable wild-cat was, and is, widely distributed throughout the world.)

An apparently minor discovery like this is often of great significance in providing clues to unsolved mysteries, and we shall look forward to further discoveries of the antiquity of the domesticated cat in other parts of the Orient.

The Minnesota Girl

In the dry bed of a lake in northern Minnesota the bones of a prehistoric girl were found a few years ago, and great discussion was aroused in regard to the time when she lived. The school that sees man as a very recent arrival in America declared that she must have been buried long after the silts in which the bones were found were deposited and would only be 500 or 1000 years old. The Geological Society of America was recently informed, however, that the bones were as old as the sediments, i. e., from 18,000 to 20,000 years old, and the controversy is probably closed in favor of those who are working for a great antiquity of man in America. The main objections to the theory that man in America was contemporary with man in the Old World lie in the fact that no undisputed remains of such enormous antiquity have yet been found, and that no anthropoid apes" remains have been found in America from which he could have descended! As the majority of scientists are abandoning the Darwinian idea that man came from any known anthropoid in favor of the theory that he came from a common root-stock of far greater antiquity, the establishment of considerable age for the Minnesota girl is of importance, though of course she is a mere child in comparison with the English "Piltdown Woman" and other Old World inhabitants who lived nearer a million years ago.


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