An international authority on archaeological anomalies and a research associate at the Bhaktivendanta Institute, specializing in the history and philosophy of science. His books have been translated into 13 languages.
As a reviewer, one has to decide if the author actually presents a
coherent model to counter Darwinian evolution. With regrets I think that
Mr. Cremo does not present such a model, certainly not a scientific model,
with clear data points that lead to clear conclusions, and in fact he
definitely argues for not only a "default" God of the gaps when the
neo-Darwinian and Big Bang models are found wanting, but the "gap approach"
is the main approach to prove the validity of the Vedic model. For example,
on p. 239, after rightfully dismissing a quantum mechanical approach to
consciousness and non-locality, in comes the Vedic model: everything
emanates from God, the "Supersoul" is all knowing, etc. Fine, but too
vague for me, certainly not a detailed model, and I will at least credit
scientists, who for the most part are very conservative and will usually
present good data points.
I can agree with Mr. Cremo that spiritual "models" are given by Divine
revelation, but we must at least admit that they are often quite nebulous,
if not overwhelming. To the point, in the final chapter of the book there
is an all-too brief discussion of some of the time scales in the Vedic
teachings. We learn about the Day/Night of Brahmin (4.32 billion years),
composed of manvantaras and yugas, but little "filling in the gaps." And
the real kicker is in the prior chapter; while presenting a very fine
discussion of the 6 crucial constants in the universe which are so finely
tuned it could not possibly be a matter of chance, we read that the "ultimate"
number of the Vedic model is actually 311 trillion years, the "breath of Maha
Vishnu!" Such numbers make Big Bang cosmology look young, but again I yearn
for more of the details of the reasons for these cycles, also what goes on
in the cosmic Hierarchy, in the physical world(s), during these cycles, rather than
the detachment of incomprehensibly large numbers.
The book would have better been entitled "Forbidden Anthropology and
Suppressed Scientific Research Into The Paranormal." There are staggering
amounts of details on comparative anthropology, particularly as it relates
to common mythologies about a Supreme God, a separate Creator God, and
paranormal beliefs among a wide variety of cultures. This is more or less
presented in conjunction with a topic Cremo covers with great success:
the integrity and open-mindedness of scientists from Newton and Kepler
(Middle Ages) to 19th century pioneers Wallace (co-founder of evolutionary
theory) and Crookes, who either believed in a higher God force behind the
material world, or themselves did extensive research into the paranormal.
The author devotes a lot of pages to Wallace's writings late in his life,
writings you will never see in contemporary scientific discussions.
Yet these details are to me another problem with the book, an
incredible number of pages in a number of sections covering mediums
and seances. Certainly there is some amazing data here, but surely
more effort could have been spent on clarifying the Vedic model than
bringing out yet another seance or medium. As for the discussion on
comparative mythologies, I can only say that at times I found the
details interesting, at other times not, and what is really lacking is
an overall consistency about what is being covered!
A real irony in "Human Devolution" is the author's great ability to
summarize scientific theories and concepts when he so chooses. I am not
that well-versed in genetics, paleontology, and cosmology (to name a
few disciplines!), yet I much enjoyed his discussions in these areas,
but let me be clear, I am not saying he is completely correct either.
Ch. 3 is a good presentation of possible proof that non-human species
(insects and plants) existed long before the Darwinists would allow.
Ch. 4, covering genes and molecular evolution, is clear and interesting,
as is the discussion in Ch. 10 on Sir Martin Rees's "Just Six Numbers,"
"Human Devolution" has many interesting references, including obscure
though relevant books and articles, and that is to the credit of the author
and his research assistant(s). In the end I would recommend "Human Devolution,"
but be ready to skim!!
My scepticism stemmed from the consideration that since non materialistic explanations of human origins have been around for millenia, new revelations would be highly improbable even coming from a researcher of Michael Cremo's caliber.
To put it briefly, the material on which this book is based is as fantastic (but familiar) as the material of "Forbidden Archaelogy" was ordinary but nonetheless novel.
Throwing all those dull Late Pleistocene flint implements from his previous works to the wind but remaining his old self in his meticulosity, love of detail, erudition (and lack of humor), Michael Cremo boldly presents the reader with what unfortunately amounts to little more than a lengthy encyclopedia of the paranormal.
In its more than 500 pages you will meet a motley crowd of stigmatics, extraterrestrials and angels, faith healers, mediums, children with previous lives memories, the Virgin of Fatima and a host of other freaks and exiles banished from the serious scientific literature. Then you have the umpteenth retelling of the Maori and Inuit myths, all the stuff that is the stock-in-trade of so many other(and better)books.
Michael Cremo does not even try to give an new interpretation to unexplained phenomena like the apparitions at Fatima. No, he just retells the whole story in lengthy detail, begging the reader to take it as evidence that human beings are more than just a handful of cosmic dust.
The teachings of the Vedas, which I thought would be the highlight of the book, are discussed perfunctorily in the last chapter. In an unusual display of brevity, Michael Cremo rounds off his subject in eight pages. Here we learn about demigods and goddesses mating happily to repopulate the earth with humans and other living beings after each cyclic devastation. Basically, that is all the Vedas have to teach us about one of the greatest mysteries of the universe...
Is there really nothing new to be gleaned from this book? In rummaging through the cupboards of the scientific community, Michael Cremo does seem to bring to light some interesting skeletons. He shows for example that famous scientists like Wallace (co-author of the theory of evolution) and Pierre and Marie Curie studied paranormal phenomena, to the point of coming to believe in the existence of spirits.
But is the heterodoxy of some scientists really something shockingly new? And should the mere fact that a scientist believes in ghosts be regarded as a proof of their existence? After all, scientists are just as gullible and biased as everybody else! It is by now a well-known fact that Newton, besides being a mainstream mathematician, was also deeply interested in hermeticism. People who have read books about ritual abuse, mind control, secret societies and global conspiracies also know that materialism and rationalism are just a convenient facade for the real beliefs of the elite, which is completely under the spell of spiritism and other abominations.
Briefly, if you are already familiar with the field of parapsychology, you will find almost nothing in the pages of "Human Devolution" that is not already known to you.
Finally, I found Michael Cremo's treatment of the human trilogy of body, mind and spirit deeply disappointing. I recommend readers with an excellent command of French to read " Corps, Ame et Esprit" by Michel fromaget (available on amazon.fr) for an in depth analysis of this essential aspect of anthropology.
In "Human Devolution," Cremo explores multifaceted evidences for spiritual realities permeating our material cosmos. In so doing, he presents careful documentation of both preternatural and supernatural phenomena, including various forms of spiritism, miracles such as those at Lourdes, reincarnation claims, UFO phenomena, intelligent design scientific arguments, and many other evidences of spiritual and paranormal phenomena far too extensive to detail here.
Some might object that not all of his data is equally convincing - that anecdotal evidence ought not be put on the same plane as, say, the carefully documented scientific work of the Lourdes Medical Bureau. Similar comments were made about "Forbidden Archeology." Still, both works appear to present a full range of evidence for the sake of completeness. In any event, the truth claims about spiritual realities ought not be judged by the weakest evidence, but by the strongest. Just as counterfeit money exists only because genuine money first does, so too, the actual existence of the spiritual realm undergirds phantasms of its presence.
"Human Devolution" constitutes a valuable reference work for anyone wishing to examine a detailed overview of the many kinds of evidence supporting a dualistic, spirit-based view of the universe. If nothing else, Human Devolution documents the extreme tenuousness of persistent attempts by modern evolutionary materialists to explain the universe and human origins in purely materialistic terms. Even if our religious perspectives remain distinct, I concur with Cremo in concluding that clear evidence exists that God created the world and that human origins proceed, not upward from materialistic forces, but rather downward from spiritual powers that introduce existential dimensions utterly transcendent to evolutionary explanations.
Nonetheless, as a Catholic philosopher, I do not accept a Vedic interpretation of some of the phenomena reported in "Human Devolution," but rather would offer alternative interpretations more consistent with the exclusivity of Christ's claims. In fact, Cremo so persuasively presents his material that I am obliged to caution that only competent Catholic philosophers and theologians are properly positioned to understand fully how Catholic speculation might explain, among other things, reincarnation claims and apparently genuine healings by non-Catholics.
Still, regardless of one's personal convictions and subsequent interpretations, "Human Devolution's" fascinating accounts and detailed documentation of some of the most intriguing human experiences, amazing historical occurrences, and important scientific speculations should make thought-provoking reading to a wide audience