Students of Theosophy are aware, in a general way, that scientific ideas are approximating more closely to the Teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. In recent years this tendency has been very marked in regard to the vexed question of the "Origin of Man" and its related subjects of Darwinism and Evolution. The once popular idea that the Human Stock was derived from the lower kingdoms via the Simians and Anthropoids is now being abandoned by an ever-increasing number of Scientists; mainly because the merging of one kingdom into another, or of one stock into another, has never been demonstrated, and because the facts disclosed in the study of the anatomy of the human physical frame do not support such a theory. Further, the discoveries of human remains of high types in very ancient geological strata now prove that highly evolved men were contemporaneous with, or precedent to, some of the animals he was suposed to have been derived from.
To quote a few facts from the science of Anatomy. The constructions of the human arm and hand, and of the human leg and foot, prove that man was never pronograde, that is walking on four legs like the four-footed animals. Man possesses a muscle in the leg, the peroneus tertius, which enables him to stand and walk in an upright position. No other animal whatsoever has either this muscle, or a foot like the human foot. These are two specifically human characteristics, which are also found in the early development of the human embryo, thus proving them to be exceedingly primitive human features which could never have been inherited by man from any animal. The muscles, bones, and joints, of the human forearm are astonishingly primitive in structure, and therefore could not have been evolved at a late date in man's evolutionary history; and they show no traces of ever having been used as a supporting forelimb.
What are the Theosophical Teachings about the Origin of Man and of the Kingdoms of Nature accompanying him on this planet? They can be summarized in one sentence, viz.: — "The Human Kingdom was derived from the Gods, and the lower Kingdoms were derived from Man." How? When? Where? That is a long and complicated story, which, in Theosophy, all along the line, is consistent with itself and with the known facts of life.
When Theosophy speaks of "The Gods," it means that there are "Creative Powers" in Nature, and that they contribute to, and assist in, man's evolution. How? By appropriate action in accordance with their function and destiny, much in the same way as a gardener tends his flowers. These "Gods" are of various grades and functions, and they have their own proper work to do in the evolutionary processes, even as man has. Theosophy declares there are designers in the world — designers of many degrees, vast hierarchies of them, infilling the Cosmos, and we live in them even as the cells of a man's body live and move and have their being in man. Further, that evolution proceeds on three general lines — the spiritual, the mental-emotional, and the vital-astral-physical; that man represents these three general lines of evolution, and that he is thus composite, having various "Principles" united in his constitution. Thus man is not merely an animal. His psychology, his mental abilities, his inventive genius, his art, his aspirations, his wonderful achievements, are the results of high powers acquired during various periods of evolution. Nature's processes are cyclical — She has the habit of repetition; and as man is a part of Nature, he also reflects this habit of periodicity in his repeated incarnations on earth. In the larger sense, the Human Life-Wave, consisting of Man in the aggregate, is also subject to the same Law of cycles, and his present association with the earth is only one (the fourth) of a septenary series of such events. Nature's processes are also gradual. The beginnings of Human life on this present earth were not necessarily material in the ordinary sense of that word. They were ethereal at first, and condensed only gradually into a material condition. These periods of gradual solidification occupied many millions of years, prior to the further millions of years during which the Human frame has been more or less material.
Now there is no confusion in the Theosophical Teachings, although there is great complexity. And the subject of the origin of the beasts is a complex one. Clearly, the many similarities between Man and the Kingdoms below him indicate a close connection. But must we therefore suppose that Man is derived from these lower Kingdoms? In view of the fact that the human stock is the most advanced, the logical deduction would be that it is the oldest. And if it is the oldest, it must have started the first; and if the lower kingdoms possess many features similar to man, the further logical deduction would be that they are derived from man. This is our thesis, viz.: — "The Human Stock, considered as a whole, is the most primitive of all the mammalian stocks of today, and always has been so in past time. The human stock is the primordial (ancient first) stock; the originator, on this earth, in the present Globe-Round, of the entire mammalian line, in a manner and according to the laws of nature fully explained in Theosophy. Man preceded the mammals, and they grew from him. Man did not grow from the mammals. But this does not apply to the other vertebrata and the invertebrates, although they came from the human stock, in the previous Globe-Round."