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Krishna creationism strikes again
on 17 September 2012
Michael Cremo's book "Human Devolution" is the long-awaited sequel to the cult classic "Forbidden archaeology", co-written with Richard Thompson. Since both authors are members of the Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON), their first book became immensely controversial. Critics dubbed it "Krishna creationism".
While "Forbidden archaeology" sounded "scientific", Cremo's new book is more forthrightly religious. That's hardly surprising, since his "Vedic" alternative to Darwinism (really a literalistic reading of the Puranas) is associated with the form of Hinduism practiced by the Hare Krishnas. A few years ago, I would have dissed Cremo's eclectic method rather badly. Today, I tend to agree with the author when he says that scientific and "religious" sources of knowledge aren't necessarily exclusive. If the ISKCON are right, is something else again... I tend to be some kind of quasi-panentheistic soft ID evolutionist. ;-)
Even sympathetic readers tend to be sceptical to "Human devolution", however, since only one chapter of the book deals with the actual Vedic alternative to materialist evolution. The rest of the work is an extensive, near-encyclopaedic compilation of paranormal phenomena and other anomalies from around the world. There's even a chapter on comparative mythology. I think Cremo's point in compiling all these factoids is to convince sceptics, not true believers. To accept that a Vedic alternative is even remotely plausible, the reader must first accept that Darwinism and materialism are deeply problematical worldviews - hence the long detour through (supposed) anomalous fossils, parapsychology, alien abductions, the universal human belief in spiritual hierarchies, etc.
But yes, it *does* get rather boring after a while. I admit that I only skimmed most chapters! The most interesting sections deal with Alfred Russel Wallace's and Marie Curie's beliefs in the supernatural.
In the end, I award "Human Devolution" three stars. But is God really a blue-skinned flute-player surrounded by cows with flower garlands? Naaaaah...