PROBLEMS WITH INTERVENTIONISM
Extract from Chapter 9 of the original Genesis Unveiled
© Ian Lawton 2003
Zecharia Sitchin is the most celebrated exponent of the Interventionist school that argues against the orthodox view of human evolution. Never mind that we have seen that his proposed origin for these visitors is Nibiru, a supposed twelfth planet in our solar system, with an orbit so eccentric that at its aphelion it would be a freezing wasteland receiving only negligible light from the sun, and with a highly variable climate and atmosphere totally alien to our own – hardly an inspired choice for such intelligent and supposedly humanlike beings. Never mind that his general interpretation of Mesopotamian and other Near Eastern texts is, as we have seen, scholastically flawed from the perspective both of grammar and of symbolism. Never mind that his specific interpretation of the Mesopotamian Epic of Creation – which is highly literal and from which he derives his story of how earth was created by a collision during one of Nibiru’s orbital passes – not only reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of cosmology but also of the context of other similar traditions from other parts of the world. Never mind that his specific and again unduly literal interpretation of the Mesopotamian Birth of Man text – from which he primarily derives his support for genetic intervention – again ignores not only the specific polemical context but also the context of other similar but in many cases more revealing traditions from both Mesopotamia itself and from the rest of the world.[i] Let us concentrate on what he has to say specifically about the failure of evolutionary theory to account for humankind’s advancement.
This exercise will not take up too much of our time – because in all of his books there are only two chapters in which Sitchin discusses the supposed creation of humans in detail, and in both cases he concentrates on the texts and on modern developments in genetic engineering, but not on any analysis of why evolutionary theory might be faulty.[ii] In fact it was left to his successor Alan Alford to pick out the nuggets from the human evolution debate in Gods of the New Millennium, published in 1996. This work expanded and in some cases amended Sitchin’s ideas, although to a large extent Alford has more recently, and with some degree of courage and integrity, publicly disowned it. The other revisionist author to follow up on this theme is Michael Baigent in Ancient Traces, published in 1998, and, although he does not support the Intervention hypothesis – indeed his philosophical framework is not disclosed save perhaps for the general principle of attacking orthodox theories wherever possible – he too raises some interesting questions about human evolution.[iii]
The first issue they highlight is that our development appears to have been incredibly rapid from an evolutionary perspective. Alford argued that this indicates relatively recent intervention, something like two hundred thousand years ago, while Baigent suggests – like Cremo and Thompson – that this must mean hominids have been around for considerably longer than the orthodox seven million years. There can be little doubt that the advances over the last few million years or so that have resulted in modern humans are truly exceptional in evolutionary terms. But, while we know that many species do seem to show only minor changes over millions – or even hundreds of millions – of years, we also know that the theory of punctuated equilibrium does seem to provide a reasonable explanation for the sometimes enormous leaps forward in many species; but is this explanation sufficient?
They also suggest that Darwinian thinking dictates that all evolutionary changes, which result from the seeding of originally random genetic changes by natural selection in an isolated environment, will be sufficient only to ensure the survival of the species, and no more. By contrast, they point out that modern humans have evolved far more than is necessary purely for survival, and moreover that we have characteristics that in earlier periods would have been positively disadvantageous.
For example, the enlargement of our craniums to carry a bigger brain, coupled with the reduction in size of the female birth canal in our narrowed pelvises as a result of our upright gait, significantly increase the possibility of death during childbirth – while the mechanism we have developed to counteract this, of reducing the length of gestation, merely makes our offspring vulnerable for a longer period. Our ‘descended larynx’, which is unique among land-dwelling mammals, allows us to make a wider variety of sounds for speech but presents the risk of choking when we attempt to swallow and breath at the same time. We have lost the thick hair covering that formerly protected us from extremes of both cold by night and heat by day – such as are often found in the zones in which we are supposed to have evolved – while our uncovered skin is also relatively fragile. In addition, we no longer have a penis bone that would allow swift copulation in a dangerous environment, while we exacerbate the situation by copulating face to face, a virtually unique occurrence.
What are we to make of all this? At first sight these appear to be perplexing observations. However, with a little thought it becomes clear that Alford and Baigent are approaching many of the issues from a somewhat perverse angle. For example, most evolutionists clearly argue that our gestation period shortened because we wanted to retain the more significant advantages of bipedalism and a larger brain; and that our larynx descended because we were in the process of developing a wider range of sounds for language – which is perhaps the most significant evolutionary advantage of them all.
Moreover, it is clear that they tend to ignore the additional cultural impetus that evolutionists accept is unique to humankind, and to our rapid development well beyond the mere necessity to survive. This can accelerate development far more than any other impetus, and as a prime example we only have to look at how changes in our Western diet and standards of health care in the last century have led to significant and rapid physiological changes in our average stature and longevity. The balance of probability must be, therefore, that all these supposed disadvantages arose entirely from natural evolutionary mechanisms, even if we may never understand the entirety of the intricate details of these processes.
To close this section, I have already indicated that I do not reject the possibility that life exists elsewhere in the universe – indeed I strongly support its statistical likelihood. Nor do I find it inherently implausible that the earth may have been visited, perhaps throughout its history, by intelligent species that have mastered the art of interstellar or even intergalactic travel. However, I must stress that not only do I find the Interventionists’ arguments against evolutionary theory unconvincing, but also that if intervention has indeed occurred they have not as yet come up with any substantive physical or even textual evidence to support their case.
There is an increasing tendency even among the ‘UFO community’, however, to accept that many of the encounters and abductions reported are ‘interdimensional phenomena’ that are perhaps more closely related to spiritual experiences than to actual physical encounters with beings from other planets and their craft – albeit that the stereotypes of our modern culture tend to distort many subjects’ interpretation of their experience.[iv] This opens up a whole plethora of possibilities that to some extent could bring the Interventionists’ position more into line with my own – particularly inasmuch as I do suggest, in a manner of speaking, that modern humans were ‘created’ by the ‘intervention’ of more advanced souls.
[i] These points are covered in Genesis Unveiled, now republished as The History of the Soul.
[ii] Sitchin, The Twelfth Planet (Bear & Co, 1991), Chapter 12, and Genesis Revisited (Avon, 1990), Chapter 8.
[iii] Alford, Gods of the New Millennium (Hodder and Stoughton, 1997), Chapter 2, and Baigent, Ancient Traces (Penguin, 1999), Chapter 5.
[iv] It is interesting to note that some abductees report that their extraterrestrial hosts actually inform them that humankind was originally created by genetic experiment; see, for example, Colin Wilson’s Alien Dawn (Virgin, 1998), Chapter 8, p. 230. The same is true of many channelled messages from supposed extraterrestrials. I would suggest that these are either the direct result of the modern cultural influence of exposure to ufology and to Interventionist theories, whereby the recipients of these messages misinterpret their essentially spiritual nature and origin, or that the ‘extraterrestrials’ are playing mind games; both possibilities will be examined further in later chapters. For further explanation of how spiritual phenomena can be mistakenly interpreted as extraterrestrial see, for example, the various works by Jacques Vallée listed in the bibliography, and the paper by psychologist Kenneth Ring entitled ‘Near-Death and UFO Encounters as Shamanic Initiations’, ReVision 11, Number 3 (1989).