Natural History and Paleontology I
Thompson discusses Puranic origin accounts involving cyclic processes of cosmic creation. He takes note of the vast time periods essential to these accounts, and compares them to the similarly lengthy epochs of contemporary paleontological analyses.
TRANSCRIPT: Natural History and Paleontology I. Origins Seminar 9: San Diego - c. 1986 / (009)
Natural history and paleontology. So we have a chapter here on the subject of fossils and everything that people deduce on the basis of fossils. So this is a very, very brief chapter, so we only refer briefly to a few points; but there are many things that can be said on this subject. So of course, one of the basic supporting foundations of the modern scientific worldview is the idea that we all evolved and that this is shown by fossils. The idea is that as time passes, layers of sediment accumulate on the surface of the earth, and remains of animals and plants and so forth occasionally become preserved. And so a record is made of the past. So the scientists will say that they have examined this record in great detail, so they call it the ‘record of the rocks’, and they have learned what happened in the past. So what they will say is that if you look at these rocks, which they now say they can date, if you go back prior to 600 million years ago, you will not find very much in the way of traces of higher organisms. And if you go back, say, another... to prior to 700 million years ago, the only traces you will find will be of algae and bacteria – nothing higher than that. So that’s called the Precambrian period. It used to be that they didn’t have anything even before 600 million years. But oddly enough the earliest fossils of higher creatures that they can find turn out to be what look like imprints of jellyfish. So jellyfish provide the first fossils. And that’s called the Ediacaran fauna.
So anyway, they will say, according to their calculations, that the earth was formed about 4½ billion years ago. This is on the basis of studies of meteorites, oddly enough. It’s not based on studying the earth, but they have some theory connected to meteorites. And they make radiometric measurements of the meteorites, and they come up with this. And they will say that the first sedimentary rock is maybe 3½ billion years old; before that maybe the earth was molten, or something like that. And then maybe about 3 billion years ago or so, they say they find traces of single-celled organisms. They actually claim to have fossils of one-celled organisms: You look at the rock under a microscope and you see this thing that looks like a cell, and they say, “Well, sure enough, it must be a fossil of a cell.” But from that period, up to about 600 million years ago, there’s very little.
Then they will say there’s something called the Cambrian explosion, and suddenly all kinds of marine life appears in the fossil record, including creatures with shells, and sponges, and trilobites (which are like little shrimp, or something like that), various different creatures like that. And then comes what they’ll say is the age of fishes; suddenly you have fish all over the place, but very odd-looking fish – really strange creatures. And then up to this point, though, there’s no life on the land; then they say maybe 400 million years ago you have the first life on the land. And then you come to the carboniferous period in which the land is covered with these dense swamps and jungles and so forth. And you have the first amphibians crawling out, in about that time period or a little bit before. And then of course there’s the age of reptiles, which lasts a hundred million years or so, and you wind up with dinosaurs, they’ll say. And then the dinosaurs disappear along with a lot of other things and you have the age of mammals in which you have these very strange, weird beasts such as Alethnopheres [sp] and other creatures with gigantic horns and teeth and so forth. And that lasts up until about a couple million years ago.
And then you have a period in which there are apes turning into men. And only 35 thousand years ago you have the first modern type human beings – prior to that you don’t have them. And then only about 5000 years ago, 5 or 6, you find that people begin creating cities, and you have civilization starting, and then everything comes up to the present. So that’s the story they tell based on digging in the ground and coming up with fossils and so forth. So practically they have the whole world believing this, and everywhere you go this is presented. Now traditionally in the West this has been opposed by the Christian viewpoint, which held that the earth was created in 4004 B.C. with Adam and Eve and so forth. And then there was Noah’s flood which occurred at 3000 B.C. or thereabouts, something like that. And so the entire history of the earth was compacted into an interval of about 6000 years. So the Christian creationists are still saying that – that’s their basic viewpoint, the idea of the young earth.
So the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam however, and the Vedic literature generally, describes a different situation. The history is divided into days of Brahmā. And one day of Brahmā is 4,320,000,000 years in length. So each of these days of Brahmā is actually a creation period. That is, during the day, at the beginning of the day of Brahmā, that’s the dawn of a particular creation. So the creation takes place and lasts during that day of 4,320,000,000 years, and then there’s an annihilation, a total annihilation, at the end of that. That annihilation extends up as far as Janaloka and Tapaloka. So it even destroys the planets of Indra and the various demigods, what to speak of the earth. Now the earth planet remains. The actual substance remains, but it’s inundated by water during the period of Brahmā’s night, which is another 4,320,000,000 years. Then again there’s a dawn of a new day of Brahmā and the cycle repeats itself. So for our purposes, the entire history of the earth must be encompassed within this day of Brahmā because there’s a total annihilation at the end of that day. So many days of Brahmā have passed, but right now we’re practically at noon on this particular day of Brahmā. Actually Brahmā is 50 years old and his year consists of 360 of his days and nights. And that measures the time span of the universe thus far. So right now we are halfway through one day of Brahmā, and if you calculate the time as given in the Vedic literatures you will find about 1.97 billion years have elapsed since the beginning of this day of Brahmā. So the creation, then, of the present world order occurred 1.97 billion years ago.
So during this period there are different cyclic subdivisions of time and the largest of these within a day of Brahmā is a manvantara period which lasts 306 million years roughly, so that is the period in which one Manu is reigning. So there are 14 manvantaras in one day of Brahmā and each one lasts 71 yuga cycles – an even shorter cyclic period is the yuga cycle which is 4,320,000 years – so 71 of those makes a manvantara and 14 manvantaras makes a day of Brahmā. But if you multiply it out you see that you come short. So what happens is that between manvantaras there are intermediate periods called sandhyās, and these are typically periods of annihilation, so typically between the manvantara periods there are partial devastations within the universe, and there have to be recreations at the beginning of these manvantara periods. So right now we’re in the seventh manvantara period. In fact, we’re in the Kali-yuga of the 28th yuga cycle of that manvantara period. In this manvantara period that we’re in, the Vaivasvata Manu, began about 120 million years ago; so that gives you an idea of the time scale. And also since we’re in Kali-yuga of this yuga cycle – Kali-yuga lasts 432,000 years – that’s a tenth of the 4,320,000-year yuga cycle. Dvāpara-yuga lasted twice as long, that’s about 8 hundred thousand, and the previous Tretā-yuga lasted 3 times as long, so that would be about 1,200,000 roughly, and then the previous Satya-yuga lasted 4 times Kali-yuga, so that that’s the way the time periods are arranged.
So the Bhāgavatam gives us considerable information of what happened during this span of time, and we can compare that with what the scientists are saying. Of course, one point immediately is that we agree with the scientists in saying that there are very long spans of time in the history of the earth, but we disagree concerning what was happening. So the initial creation in the dawn of Brahmā’s day, of course it doesn’t even take place on the earth – this of course is an important point. Initially, it takes place in the heavenly planets on the level of the demigods. For an example, it is described that Brahmā was creating various different kinds of demigods and other living beings and then after some period of time he created Svāyambhuva Manu and his wife. So Svāyambhuva Manu later on asked Lord Brahmā to raise the earth planet from the waters of devastation. So during this entire period the earth was completely submerged in water. So Lord Brahmā in fact didn’t even do that himself. The first incarnation of Varāhadeva raised the earth planet. There are actually two Varāha incarnations: one involved with Hiraṇyākṣa and the other involved in raising the earth in the Svāyambhuva Manu period.
So the earth then was raised from the water and things could begin to take place on the earth. Now at a very early stage things were happening on the earth, for example, where it’s described that Kardama Muni was meditating by Lake Bindu-sarovara. Now that’s actually somewhere in the vicinity of India, what we now know as India, but that was about 2 billion years ago. And all kinds of plants and animals are described there: different kinds of birds and deer and trees and so on and so forth. And at that time, interestingly enough, Svāyambhuva Manu was reigning on the earth at a place called Brahmāvarta, which is somewhere between the Ganges and the Yamunā, apparently. So not that the Ganges was there, because as a matter of fact, the Ganges came later when (what was his name?) Maharaja Bhagīratha summoned the Ganges to come down to the earth; and there was a whole story involved with that. So a long time ago, about 2 billion years ago, Svāyambhuva Manu who was reigning on the earth... Now this in itself suggests that there’s a different order of things than we find today. For example, right now Vaivasvata Manu is the reigning Manu but you don’t see him here on the earth. I haven’t seen any reference in the Bhāgavatam indicating that he ever had a place here, say, in India or someplace like that. So at different times the situation on the earth has been quite different.
You can see in the Bhāgavatam that even within one family of the descendents of the Prajāpatis, there will be different circumstances. For example, Mahārāja Uttānapāda reigned also on the earth planet, and his son was Dhruva Mahārāja; but his brother was Mahārāja Priyavrata, who succeeded him in a position of king. However, this Mahārāja Priyavrata did not exactly live on the earth. Śrīla Prabhupāda said, ”We can’t really understand where in the universe Mahārāja Priyavrata was situated.” He lived for 11 arbudas of years, and what is that? I forget what an arbudas is, an incredibly huge number – hundreds of millions or something like that. So this Mahārāja Priyavrata reigned as a king for something like over a billion years. And since it’s been over 2 billion years since the dawn of this day of Brahmā, that means a good portion of it was occupied by the reign of Mahārāja Priyavrata. And to give an idea of what he was like, at one point he decided to create a second sun to illuminate the earth during the period of darkness. He decided, “Well, why should it be dark at night? This is very bothersome, I mean, we lose half the day in this way!” So he followed the sun on the other side of wherever the sun is moving, which is another whole subject of discussion, and he himself became another sun for a while. So he followed the sun in a chariot and the wheels of his chariot, which were riding on something called Bhū-maṇḍala, which isn’t exactly the earth, as I’ve said before, created ocean basins; and as a result seven oceans which are shaped like rings were created. So this was Mahārāja Priyavrata; so you can’t exactly think of him as a human being walking around on the earth. He was in an entirely different situation.
So in the Bhāgavatam there is not much information concerning what happened between the Svāmbhuva Manu period at the beginning of this day of Brahmā and the Cakṣuṣa Manu period, which is the sixth manvantara, and that occurred just before this present manvantara. So in the beginning of the Cakṣuṣa manvantara period one reads of a rather, one strange circumstance, namely, that the entire earth became covered with trees and human civilization disappeared. This point is made. Actually this occurred during the time when the Prachetās, who were the sons of Maharaja Prācīnabarhiṣat, were meditating underneath the ocean – sometimes great yogis would do that because they could stop their breathing totally, due to yoga practice. So it didn’t matter if they were underwater. So apparently it’s more peaceful down there. So yogis would meditate under the ocean. So these Prachetās had been meditating there for thousands of years and when they came out they found there was no human civilization. Apparently there were no people, judging from the description – there were just trees. And among the trees there was one daughter of an errant Apsarā who, in the typical Apsarā fashion, had just abandoned her daughter to go off to the heavenly planets. It seems that these Apsarās are a bit irresponsible. So anyway, they’re the heavenly society ladies; the prostitutes for the demigods, actually, is what they are. So this daughter of this demigoddess was being raised, it is said, by the demigod of the trees. So that’s what was going on, on the earth. So various things happened and the Prachetās started burning this forest, and then the moon-god and Brahmā came down and asked them to stop, and bestowed upon them this daughter of the trees (as she was called) because the demigod of the trees was raising her just alone in the forest. And as a result of that union, Dakṣa was born for a second time. And it is said that Dakṣa re-created the necessary living beings in the Cakṣuṣa Manu period.
So the destruction of living beings is not described in the Bhāgavatam for this period. But apparently some destruction took place because there is need for a re-creation; so that took place in the Manu just before this one. So likewise at the end of that Manu period the entire earth was flooded. So then there had to be a re-creation after that. So these periodic creations and annihilations occur.
Now as far as human society is concerned there are occasional references to human society on the earth, and very often it’s on the level of the demigods. And I don’t know what kind of fossils you could expect from that; that’s one point to keep in mind. The society in which people are living for hundreds of thousands of years is bound to be a bit different from the kind of society we know of. So the detailed description of human society on the earth given in Bhāgavatam really commences with the Tretā-yuga of this yuga cycle. Now it is said that Vaivasvata Manu is the son of the sun-god Vivasvān – that’s why he’s called Vaivasvata. So he’s reigning as Manu and he has a son, King Ikṣvāku, or had a son. And this King Ikṣvāku lived in this Tretā-yuga period. Even though Vaivasvata Manu became Manu 120 million years ago, nonetheless Ikṣvāku lived maybe 2 million years ago, or thereabout, and he started what is called the Sūrya-vaṃśa, or the dynasty of the sun planet. So that has been coming down from Tretā-yuga. And we were just reading in the Bhāgavatam the lists of various kings and so forth in that succession. So all of that history takes place during Tretā-yuga and, for example, the advent of Lord Rāmacandra takes place during Tretā-yuga; and it’s interesting to consider what the world is like at the time of Lord Rāmacandra. It’s described, for example, well first of all, there were very highly advanced civilizations at that time, which is about 2 million years ago. Ayodhyā is described as a very beautiful city. However it wasn’t an industrial city of the kind we have now, since such places are not at all beautiful; rather, they are polluted hellholes actually. But Ayodhyā wasn’t like that; it was a very beautiful place. But there were also extensive areas of jungle, and also there were nonhuman civilizations.
For example, Lanka was a civilization with cities and all kinds of golden ornamentation and so forth; but beings there weren’t human at all. They were Rakaṣas, and these are described in the Mahābhārata. The description is rather amazing. They were described as sort of rather gigantic beings, who had orange hair apparently all over the body, they had in their mouths 8 fangs – 8 are described. And it is described that they had arrowy ears. Least that’s the way the translation is written. I don’t know what that means. Maybe it means the ears had points or something. And they liked to eat human beings. And also they were naturally equipped with mystic powers of different kinds so they could assume different forms and do all kinds of tricks. So these interesting entities had a kingdom in Lanka.
So also there were races of sort of intelligent ape-like beings, interestingly enough, and it’s described that Lord Rāmacandra took assistance from some of these beings. These were called Vānaras and they were essentially apes, except they were intelligent – they had civilization of a sort. However, for example, they had politics, language, they had a king for example, but when they fought they would use big clubs just ripped off of trees and they would throw slabs of stone and things like that. So they used rather rough and ready fighting techniques. And of course they were physically very powerful. So this is the way the world is described about 2 million years ago.
So the scientists have their description. They will say that we’re evolving from apes, and they will describe races of beings that were sort of half-man and half-ape, and so forth. So what is the relation between what they’re finding and, say, Vedic literature? So this is something to discuss, and we have this article here on ”The Record of the Rocks,” which mentions some things about that. First point to make, though, is that the fossil record is very fragmentary and we have very little evidence, really, surviving from the past. So to give an idea of just what is going on there, one thing we have here is this picture. The caption is not complete so probably no one has any idea what this picture is, but anyway, I will explain what it is. This describes the passage of time and the effect of the erosion and deposition of sediment. So time in the past is here, and time is going towards the future in this direction, and as you go up and down that’s the level of the earth. So if you go down that means erosion is cutting something away and if you go up that means earth is being piled up. So the point is that there’s zigzags. Things are eroded and then they get piled up, and then they’re eroded and then they get piled up, and so on. What that means is if there’s a lot of zigzags going up and down, most of what used to be there will be gone, which is a significant point.
Now in geology this kind of thing is studied in great detail and people have had many different conceptions over the years in geology. In recent years they have accepted what’s called uniformitarianism, and that’s the doctrine that what happened on the earth in the past is just like what happens on a day-to-day basis today. So if valleys got filled up with sediment in the past, that occurred just a fraction of an inch by fraction of an inch by the same processes we see today. And erosion occurred bit by infinitesimal bit and so on. However the indications are that this is not at all true. What really happens is that on the average not very much happens, but periodically there are big disasters of some kind, which move around a lot of earth.
And there are different time scales. On a scale of say fifty years, you might have a really big storm coming, maybe once in fifty years or so. For example, here we have this pacific beach here, and the ocean never comes up higher than that wall we’ve got there. But maybe in the next century there’ll be a storm and all the houses will be wiped out all the way up to here. That could happen. And then maybe once in a thousand years, you know, flooding will occur, which explains why you have sand all the way up to the edge of the surrounding mountains around here. Because I saw once, we were driving along and there was sand way up where there is just dry land now. And then occasionally something really big can happen, and whole mountains get crumbled into rubble, and they fill up new areas and so forth. The indications are that it’s like this. So this deposition and erosion of sediment is very sporadic.
So that means most periods of time aren’t represented by any kind of record. On various rare occasions something gets deposited, and so most of the record is missing. But then of the rock that is there, the question is, “Well, how much of it can you look at?” So we calculated how much rock is there. What was that? We had a calculation, 134 million mi³ of sedimentary rock. So that’s quite a lot. And you can ask how much time it would take to look at what is recorded there or what is deposited in all that rock and we have a calculation here that if you had, let’s say you wanted to go through just one cubic mile of rock. There are 134 million mi³ but if you wanted to examine what was in 1 mi³. So suppose you had a hundred thousand paleontologists working. And let’s say they work eight-hour days, 365 days a year; and each paleontologist can go through one cubic foot of rock every 10 minutes. So each one has some kind of sledgehammer and he’s pounding away like John Henry or something. So then it will take 84 years to go through that one cubic mile [break in audio at 31.43]. I know a lot of paleontologists and they certainly don’t spend their time grinding rock like that. So the fact is only a tiny fraction of the earth has been examined.
So we have a tiny random sample of what is there. And the things that are found are just unbelievable. And this is something Mādhavendra Puri and I have tried to document. And it’s not too widely known, but a lot of strange things show up. First of all, there’s the class of things that scientists won’t even talk about. So if you read scientific reports you never find even the mention of these things. However, you find that coal miners mention them; they get into newspapers; little old ladies in, what is it, Morrisonville, Illinois mention them; various, let’s see, draftsmen emigrating from Holland mention them, and so on. So these are very odd things that are found. So we’ve looked into some of the reports and there’s a trickle of reports of things like this. In this magazine we only had room for one, so we put it in here: areport in the Scientific American. Now Scientific American is a magazine of today, but back in the days of this report it was just a little newspaper, so it wasn’t today’s Scientific American. But this is a report that in Dorchester, Massachusetts they were doing blasting to build the foundations of a meeting house there, and while blasting through something called puddingstone, this metallic vessel came out. It’s describe that:
The blast threw out an immense mass of rock, some of the pieces weighing several tons and scattered small fragments in all directions. Among them was picked up a metallic vessel in two parts, rent asunder by the explosion. On putting the two parts together it formed a bell-shaped vessel, 4 and a half inches high, 6 and a half inches at the base, 2 and a half inches at the top and about an eighth of an inch in thickness. The body of this vessel resembles zinc in color, or a composition metal, in which there is a considerable portion of silver. On the sides there are six figures of a flower, or bouquet, beautifully inlaid with pure silver and around the lower part of the vessel a vine, or wreath, inlaid also with silver. The chasing, carving and inlaying are exquisitely done by the art of some cunning workman. This curious and unknown vessel was blown out of solid pudding stone, fifteen feet below the surface.
So there’s this report. So actually this report first appeared in a Boston newspaper and then it got reprinted in this and it said, ”It’s now in possession of Mr. John Kettell...” etc. So actually we did a geological investigation and we found that the, in fact it’s easy to identify this puddingstone in that area. And let’s see, it means that puddingstone is Precambrian, which means that it’s more than 600 million years old according to geologists. And so what is a very excellently crafted vase doing in stone like that? So this is the kind of thing the scientists will not take seriously for one minute. Their answer to this is very simple, “It never happened. You can tell stories like this but we don’t believe them.” But there are things like this, and we dug up a variety of reports. For example, there’s this report by an old lady in Morrisonville, Illinois who was putting a lump of coal into her stove. The coal, lump of coal, was too big to burn easily, so she hit it with a hammer to break it up; and it broke into two pieces and a gold chain was in the middle of the lump of coal. And one end of the gold chain was still embedded in one side of the lump and the other one was embedded in the other side, so it was definitely in the coal. It’s not that a gold chain just happened to be laying nearby and she thought it was in the coal or something – at least that was her testimony. And so that appeared in the newspaper.
Another example is a man was shoveling coal into a furnace of a powerhouse in Wilburton, Oklahoma and he hit a big lump of coal with a sledgehammer to break it up and an iron pot came out. And his foreman saw it happen and they both went to a notary public; and they swore before the notary public that this had indeed been observed and for some time the letter, notarized, was still in existence. So there’re various things like this. And then there are a lot of cases of things dug up from coal mines which shouldn’t be there. So the miners report it and it gets into the newspapers perhaps. But the scientific establishment has nothing to do with it. Then there are things dug up from wells. For example, in Illinois someone was digging a well that was quite deep and this coin came up. And this is very well attested because fairly responsible people investigated, and they say, ”Yes, the coin did come out of the well boring. It was a mental coin of no known type.” No one could identify it. Maybe it was a medallion, or who knows what it was. But what was the age of that strata?
Audience: Between 200,000 to 400,000 years old, and it also was rolled by a rolling mill.
RLT: Yeah, the metal was the kind of metal that must come from a rolling mill. In other words, if you try to hammer out mental it won’t be so uniform as that. So 200,000 to 400,000 years would be the date based on the depth of the well and the strata and so forth, using their analysis for the ages of all these things. So what were people doing with a rolling mill at that time? So since of course human beings weren’t supposed to have existed at that time, even Neanderthal man didn’t exist yet. That was in the period of the Homo erectus, who’s the fellow with the no forehead and big eyebrow ridges, who went around with Acheulean hand axes. So there are things like this. So these are completely on the fringe and no scientist will take them seriously. And of course you can say, “Well, are these things true or not?” And ultimately the answer is, ”You can’t say.” How can you know anyway? Reports exist. That’s all you can say. We’ve tried to investigate some of the reports. Some of them check out quite well as far as we can tell. Others turn out to be wrong in some way. Somebody misinterpreted something or someone made up something.
For example we once, just to check this out, we took a trip up to Spanish Fork where they have the radio station, and near there there’s a fellow who claims to have found a footprint of a shoe from Cambrian level rock, which would make it about 600 million years old. And there were other reports of similar finds. Well, first we went to see somebody who had some of the similar finds and that turned out to be completely nonsense. He claimed to also have some footprints in stone which he found, but they weren’t footprints at all and anybody could see that. In fact, his own son could see that, and he was making snide comments while his father was showing us the supposed footprints. And the fellow was embarrassed actually, but nonetheless he had publicly made the claim that those were footprints.
Then we went to see the other one and for all the world that looked like a footprint. So I looked at it – it’s in a slab of stone. It had trilobites definitely embedded in the stone. Trilobites have been extinct supposedly for 400 million years so that puts it at least back 400 million years ago. And it has this indentation with a heel and sole and so forth and the shape was, you know, like that of a footprint. It didn’t even partly form a footprint and then go wandering off in another part of the configuration. But the whole thing looked like a footprint. So, but I couldn’t prove that it was a footprint because, well there it was. So what could I do? I could just look at it and say, “Looks like a footprint!” So the scientists, that has been brought to the attention of some scientists there in Salt Lake City, and they immediately say, “This is a piece of the pitiful creationist trash that surfaces periodically.” This is what they said, and according to this man, one scientist came into his home to look at this thing. And the scientist immediately took one look at it and said some obscene thing, you know, and behaved in a completely obnoxious fashion, and just went stomping out. And their explanation is that this footprint is what they called a spall, which means that the rock just split just by chance to form that shape. And maybe it did. But it sure looks like a footprint. So there are things like this. So these are the bizarre things. It’s 6:07 already, so I’ll talk about the next category of things another time. So any comments or questions? Yeah?
Q: I don’t know, maybe you don’t have to answer this in this class, maybe in the next one. But I was just thinking about this the other day, that you told me that they only found maybe fifty or so different finds which they base this whole thing of human evolution on?
RLT: Yeah, what’s the total?
Q: There’s more than 100 skulls, and then say a few thousand pieces of bones.
RLT: You’re saying a 100, are you counting Neanderthal?
Q: Eh, let’s see, if you discount Neanderthals, then you probably have at least 9... [unclear]. It’s pretty scant information to base... [unclear]. Why don’t they find thousands and thousands of different fossils... [unclear]
RLT: You see one thing about fossils is they are very rare things – especially human fossils. And so they’re basing their entire story of human evolution on, say, a hundred skulls and little bits of arm bone and hip bone and so forth. So you can just imagine if you had a hundred skeletons of people, how much of history could you reconstruct from that? Let’s say just a hundred skeletons of people from the time of the Revolutionary War up to the present in America. You know, from that, what could you tell about what was happening in America? That wouldn’t be enough to tell you anything, basically. Imagine reconstructing the history that way! So you can see, but now they’re talking about 100 skulls over a period of a million years. And then we’ll talk next time about the circumstances of discovery of some of these things. That’s another thing. So indeed that’s what we’re faced with based on this kind of fragmentary evidence to give us a whole picture.
Q: I was just wondering about Atlantis?
A: Well who knows about Atlantis! I don’t know. Plato mentioned it, and Edgar Casey mentioned it, and it’s been highly popular along with Lemuria and other lost continents. There used to be old stories of lost continents. For example, Brazil is named after one of them. Have you wondered how the place got to be named Brazil? Well, in the Middle Ages it was said that there was a land out in the middle of Atlantic called Brazil. People believed in it for centuries, so then when they crossed over to South America they just used that name. And also we don’t really know where places like Lanka were. It’s said that Lanka is Ceylon, but not necessarily so, but we don’t really know.
Q: Like, what you said about the apes and the civilization that they had, is that like, well someone had the story of planet of the apes, could that be from the... [unclear]... or anything that they would write things like that? Or come up with things like that?
A: Well, you see, the whole idea of ”Planet of the Apes” and so on is to bring up this idea of human evolution; see, people are thinking that man evolved from apes. So ape consciousness is very prominent in modern society. But it is curious that the Vedic literature is saying that there were intelligent apes living in organized societies, say in the time of Lord Rāmacandra. So does this mean evolution? No, we would say that that’s just one of the species of life, probably classed as a human species because there are many different human species – 400,000 of them. And Śrīla Prabhupāda says there are uncivilized human species also. So such beings could have been existing, and we’ll also discuss the possibility that there’re beings like that even today. Because another thing is that we think we know everything on the earth, but then it turns out that maybe we don’t.
Q: A lot of times these people who write movies and science books and things, some of them I’ve read have lived in different places; like this one guy that wrote one of the Star Wars things had lived in the island of Ceylon. So a lot of people take some information that the karmis have, the stories they make up actually maybe they have read the Vedic literature.
A: Oh, a lot of things are taken from the Vedic literature; that’s often used, that’s the subject of stories and so on. But the scientists are trying to build this idea of evolution. They’re saying we descended from apes, but Vedic literature would say that intelligent apes existed, and maybe they’re still living somewhere. But it’s a completely different picture of things and you see, based on the fragmentary information they have, they’re tying everything together to make one picture: that we evolved and there’s no God involved, there’s nothing higher in control of it – it just happened and we’re the culmination of that. So therefore we’re on top. Whereas you can take the same fragmentary evidence and maybe interpret it in a different way. Especially if you bring in all fragments because, as I was saying, there are some fragments that they don’t even want to talk about. If you mention to a scientist any of these really anomalous things, he’ll just think you’re nuts. And that’s the end of the conversation – no question of accepting such things. So it’s a question of how one deals with the fragmentary evidence.