Discussions with Michael Cremo and correspondents


I listened to part of your interview on C2C-AM Monday night. I'm always
puzzled by wishy washy theories that attempt to counter the Darwinian view
of our origins....So why do we have such a variety amongst humans in terms
of skin colors, cultures/traditions, immunities, etc.? Darwinism can explain
that, interventionism can't and neither can devolution. Oh, of course, there
must have been black and white and yellow and brown spirits...

Your ideas (theories would be too strong) that we devolved from the
spiritual soup is a hypothesis impossible to test in any physical way.
Evolution on the other hand is plausible, specifically because it is
testable. And nothing in our recent scientific discoveries/development has
come close to bringing us an alternative to Darwinian evolution. On the
contrary, each new discovery only serves to enhance it.

Darwinism gets a bit blurry when it comes to creation itself. It's near
impossible to setup the conditions of the early earth in a laboratory. So
granted, that part is not testable. But that life exists is not in doubt and
must have started somewhere. Why not in the primordial soup stirred with a
billion years of chemical reactions? I'll tell you why this does not sit
well on the palate. It does not elevate humans to any special level or
purpose. No special mission is assigned to us, and there is no spiritual
dimension. This does not sit well with our egos and or gut feelings, not to
mention Vedic texts from the "ancients" and the ramblings of film stars. How
would devolution explain why we share DNA with every mammal known and
most plant species? For that matter, how can devolution explain anything
physical? Evolution can tell you how, naturally.

No, no, I don't want to hear of cabals that operate, hidden behind the
scenes to manipulate our knowledge to support mainstream scientific
theories. What would be the point? Corporate interests, I hear you say.
Maybe in some fields, but not when it comes to our origins. Believe me,
scientists love a challenge and they thrive on open debate. For example,
recent humanoid remains discovered in Ethiopia tested to be some 7
million years old have shaken up some theories and forced a lot of rethinking.
Fantastic, bring it on, the scientists say.

Humans remains that are 100 million years old? Well let's see the

OK, so here's the question I was leading up to. If we devolved from spirits,
would we not have carried the burden of boundless wisdom and/or knowledge
that the spirits no doubt possessed? Nothing suggests that we are born wise
and knowledgeable. In fact, everything suggests we are born ignorant and
remain so until our brains can start absorbing information and learning life


Michael: I do not deny that there can be microevolution within the anatomically
modern human species. We all know that we can selectively breed dogs (or
humans) for certain traits. So we have to make a distinction between variation
within a species, and variation between species, which is the real question. The
real question is not colors of eyes, but how the eye came into being in the first
place. I believe that the eye is a preexisting form that exists on a spiritual level,
but which can be manifested, by superior intelligence, in the life forms we see
on our level of reality. Obviously, you do not like that idea, and you believe
that evolution can explain the formation of the eye. But is that anything more
than a belief? It may be a widely shared belief. And you can point to many
scientists who have the same belief, but can any of you actually explain the
origin of the eye in a truly scientific way?  I say that you cannot, and therefore
you should be openminded enough to admit there are other possibilities. The
current theory of evolution, the neo Darwinian theory, is a genetic theory.
And it is also based on population dynamics, and developmental biology.
Natural selection, and fitness in certain environments are also factors.
So that is what the theory is based on. So I would challenge you to come
forward with an explanation for the mammalian eye that actually satisfies
all of those requirements. To actually explain the origin of the mammalian
eye, you would have to do the following:

1. Specify the genome of an ancestral animal that did not possess an eye.
2. Specify the change in the genome that would have to take place to result
in the first step toward the formation of the eye. Keep in mind that a gene
just specifies how to produce a protein from amino acids.
3. Specify not only the change in the genome, but the biochemical pathway
by which that change would result in the production of the first step toward
the eye, way downstream in the process of cell division (i.e. from the egg,
through the processes of cell division, up to the point in the development of
the embryo where the production of the first step toward the eye is to take
4. Specify how this first step would contribute to the fitness of the organism in
a certain specified environment.
5. Specify how this change would spread through and become fixed in a
breeding population in a certain environment.

Then iterate the process.

1. Specify the next change in the genome of the next group in the ancestral lineage.
And keep in mind that this change has to take place in either an egg cell or sperm cell.
2. Specify the protein that this new gene will produce. And so on down the line, as above.

Take it to the next iteration, going through all the above steps until you get to the human
eye. And let's keep in mind that you are not only going to have to account for all the
physical structures in the eye, you are also going to have to account for the formation
of the neural mechanisms that will transmit signals from the eye to the brain, and that
means you are also going to have to account for the origin of the visual processing
systems in the brain.

And until you have been able to do all  that, please do not tell me that evolution explains
in any detailed scientific way the origin of the mammalian eye. I do not want some fairy
tale about how there was first a light sensitive spot, and then it folded in on itself, and
then a clear covering formed across the top, to form a lens. I want a real scientific
explanation, formulated in terms of the modern theory itself.

Until you have been able to do that, you are just asking me to believe that evolution is
responsible for the production of the mammalian eye. And I do not agree that I have
to assent to that belief, which you would force upon me. Not unlesss you can actually
demonstrate step by step how it happened on the biomolecular level. And if you tell
me that the research is going on, fine. That is your right, to pursue such an explanation.
But I am not required to accept it until you have actually demonstrated it.

So, I am waiting..... After you have answered this question, we can then go on to
some of the other ones in your letter. So I think the first thing you will have to do is
provide me wtih the genome of the ancestral eyeless creature, and then we can go
on from there.

Sincerely yours,
Michael A. Cremo


Michael, it's clear that if you and I stood on a stage together in a debate on this subject,
you would be able to ask questions that I could not answer.  Clearly, the mammalian eye
is special and it's easy to believe that it was designed rather than arrived at.  However,
evolutionists would seek comfort in the following:

Humans share similarities in the structure and function of the eye with all mammals that
we know of.  This hints at common ancestral lines.

Humans have forward facing eyes similar to primates hinting at stereoscopic vision being
necessary for predators.  This is shared with avian and land predators - hawks, owls, feline

and canine. Browsers generally have eyes to the side to spot approaching predators.

Bats (and most moles) are interesting.  They have very limited vision even though they have
fully developed eye structures.  Why have a fully developed eye that does not work?  The
general assumption is that after they developed flight (something quite as wonderful as
development of the eye itself), the habitat of choice became dark caves where eyes did not
provide any function.  This may not necessarily be correct.  The eyes may have been knocked
out by a virus putting pressure on the populations to "sprout" other traits to ensure success.
Whatever the reason, bats developed this truly amazing function of echo-location so the eye
gradually became less relevant to survival.  Moles have in turn developed very sensitive
structures in the nose/mouth region to compensate for the darkness they live in.  Both bats
and moles fulfill the classical evolutionary model of filling niches in both habitats and food chains.

It is these kind of examples that convince us that evolution is alive and well.

Human evolution (from primates or common ancestors of primates) has some aspects that seem
contradictory.  One particularly, is the size of the brain.  In evolutionary terms, this is an expensive
development because of the energy a larger brain consumes.  If survival was the primary goal of
gradual optimization, the brain should never have grown. However, a bigger brain could have
evolved in an abundant food environment and more complex socialization structures.  Maybe
it was a natural consequence of population pressures. But I digress.  Something that cannot be
overlooked is the structure of the brain itself, particularly the cerebellum.  This is the area thought
to coordinate sensory input and to some extent,, motor output.  The structure or wiring of this brain
section is near identical to that of a shark.

To me, more than anything else, this is the smoking gun proving evolution.  How does spiritual
devolution, creationism (as in Genesis) or intelligent design (from where your text book challenge
comes from) account for this kind of evidence in common ancestral lines?

Okay, to get back to the eyes.  I have a lot of trouble putting myself in the position of a believer
in creationism.  I should be able to, since I was a Christian in my teenage years.  However, for
thought experiments, I prefer to put myself in the position of creator or a council of spirits in
your case.  The first question I ask is: Why bother creating anything physical in the first place?
Life (as we know in the spirit world) is so perfect, why ruin a good thing?

So now I've created the physical realm.  Why did I let so many mistakes creep in?  The eye is
far too complex, too many things can go wrong with it.  Didn't reckon that someone could go blind
after receiving a bump on the back of the head.  Will have to wait until the 21st century when
science will learn how to repair the optic nerve.  Too late to fix anything now!  And what was I
thinking when I added the appendix.  And next time I'm definitely going to move the waste
disposal unit away from the amusement park. Too many hygienic problems there.  Speech,
why did I let dem dang humans scream so?

The rhetorical stock answer to blasphemous thoughts such as these is, "How can we possibly
know or understand God's purpose?  He is all knowing and we are mere mortals.  How can
we question the wisdom of the karmic ice-cream man?  We are mere mortals."

I think it's unfortunate that it all comes down to a matter of faith.  I have faith that it's possible
for the building blocks of life to form completely naturally.  For Christians, you have to believe
before being blessed with Holy Spirit.  Hindus have faith that they have a chance to better
their lot through developing good karma and reincarnation.  Those practicing Transcendental
Meditation believe that by meditating in sufficient numbers, they are able to reduce negative
things such as crime and poverty around them.  This is faith; I don't see the evidence just as
you do not see the evidence of my faith.

THe Chinese have a word, "Mu" meaning essentially, unask the question.  If you get a trapdoor
question that lands you in trouble no matter how you answer it or if you are asked something
that you cannot possibly answer, then you can respectfully request the question to get unasked.
The question you ask showing the genomic sequence of events that led to the formation of the
eye is one of those that I would like unasked.


Michael: My last letter, correcting a typo and asking for your reply, crossed yours in the mail.
Things have certainly changed from your first bold challenge, where you are asserting that
evolution was proved beyond doubt. When asked to provide the kind of proof that the theory
of evolution itself demands, you were not able to do it. And to keep you honest I am not going
to withdraw that question.

So, instead of being able to give me some actual detailed scientific proof (and if you consult
some of my writings, for example Origins (1984) you will see that I was making such demands
 long before any of the current crop of intelligent design theorists, i.e. Dembski, Behe, etc.
I see that you are just offering a wishy washy set of
"hints", "maybes," "possibilities," etc.
To that mix of "maybes," you offer as your trump card some metaphysical speculations on
the nature of God in order to explain some puzzling aspects of organisms. Because the
design you observe does not conform to your speculations about what design should be
like, you conclude there is no designer and that evolution must be true (a nonsequitur,
really, because evolution must be proved positively in its own terms, in the way that I laid
out for you). Anyways, here are some thoughts on design and designer. First, it is hard
to say what a desiger will do. Artists are designers. Are Picasso's cubist paintings
"mistakes". No, he made them that way. Look at fins on 1950s cars, and other such
things. MIllions of examples are there. Designers do strange, weird little things, on
purpose, for reasons only they may understand. In terms of designer as God, here is
some insight for you, from the devolution perspective. Conscious selves originally exist
on some level of pure consciousness. They have free will. Some exercise their free will
to enter the world of matter. When they enter the world of matter, they require vehicles to
function in that domain. God does not wish them to remain there permanently, so he designs
the vehicles to periodically break down and be a cause of suffering. So if you are free to
speculate in evolutionary terms about the forms of organisms, without being able to give
any rigorous proofs, I am also free to speculate in devolution terms, without being able to
give any rigorous proofs, although I do have a resource that you are not able to apply in
your speculations, i.e. accounts of these things found in the Vedic texts, which according
to the system I am positing, are to be seen as containing useful information.

Finally, I thought it was telling that you found it necessary to say at the end that whether
the position is evolution or not evolution, it is all a matter of faith. That is Duane Gish's

So we have indeed come a long way in this little discourse, with you starting out saying
evolution proves all and finally coming to a less sweeping position, that is in essence
the position of the Christian creationists like Gish.

In any case, I have no objection if someone is an evolutionist. There is some superficial
plausibility to the tale of shape-changing animals and plants (also found in ancient
mythologies all over the world). This idea does provide a platform for offering a myriad of
"just so" evolution accounts. Sadly, these inventive, dare I say "creative," accounts are
lacking in detailed confirmation in terms of the particular scientific expression of the
theory. This is not to say that there are not some bits and pieces of genetic and other
evidence that are consistent with an evolution account, but at the moment these bits and
pieces do not add up to a complete evolutionary explanation, and these same pieces
may also be consistent with other explanations. So I think it is okay if a scientist or other
intelligent person wishes to become an evolutionist. I just ask for two things: be honest
about the actual level of explanation you have achieved, and do not try to artifically
exclude other points of view.

Sincerely yours,

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