Bibhu Dev Misra is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management and has been working as an Information Technology consultant for more than 12 years, for various organizations across the world. He is also an independent researcher and writer on topics related to ancient civilizations, myths, symbols, religion and spirituality and has travelled to many places of historical, religious and architectural importance. His articles have appeared in various internet websites and magazines. He can be contacted at [email protected] and via his personal blog: http://bibhudev.blogspot.com
More articles by Bibhu Dev Misra:
The Opet Festival of Ancient Egypt: Has it been derived from the Jagannatha Rathyatra of Puri, India?, 15 April 2011
A Day and Night of Brahma: The Evidence from Fossil Records, 15 April 2011
In a previous article titled, “A Day and Night of Brahma: The Evidence from Fossil Records”, I have pointed out that the time period between two successive ‘cosmic dissolution’ events, as mentioned in the ancient Vedic texts, is 24 million years. This has a surprising correlation with the data from fossil records, which tell us that every 26 million years there is a mass extinction of species on the earth.
The Vedic texts inform us of a large cycle of time known as a ‘Day of Brahma’ which stretches for 12 million years. At the end of a ‘Day of Brahma’ all life forms in the universe are destroyed. This is followed by a ‘Night of Brahma’, which is of equal duration as the ‘Day of Brahma’, when no life forms exist. At the end of the ‘Night of Brahma’, the universe is once again created by Vishnu from unmanifested matter. Thus, we have a cyclical, 24 million year period of cosmic creation and dissolution, much like the 24,000 year Precessional Cycle, and the 24 hours of day and night.
Even the dates of the previous extinction events, projected from the information in the Vishnu Purana, correlates with the dates calculated by Raup and Sepkoski from the fossil data. As per the Vishnu Purana, it has been roughly 5.5 million years since the beginning of the current ‘Day of Brahma’. Therefore, the previous destruction events should have taken place as per the following timelines: 17.5 million years ago, 41.5 million years ago and 65.5 million years ago. This matches very closely with the dates calculated by Sepkoski: 11 million years ago, 38 million years ago and 65 million years ago. The small variations are possibly because the 24 million year cycle of the Day and Night of Brahma may fluctuate between 22 million and 26 million years, with a ‘mean’ value of 24 million years. The exact periodicity of this fluctuation is not clear. Besides, the dates calculated by Raup and Sepkoski are approximate, and other scientists have arrived at slightly different values.
The 26 million year cycle of mass extinction has significant implications for evolutionary biology. As per Darwinism, the evolutionary process is gradual, and takes place through ‘natural selection’. Yet, the paleontological data tells us something quite different. In addition, evolution seems to be guided by extraterrestrial factors. The presence of enhanced levels of iridium in the soil layers at the geological boundaries, as well as the discovery of impact craters on the earth that match with the extinction periodicity, have convinced scientists that the extinction events have been triggered by large body impacts from outer space.
David Raup, paleontologist at the University of Chicago, who along with Sepkoski had identified the extinction periodicity in the fossil records, states:
‘The implications of periodicity for evolutionary biology are profound. The most obvious is that the evolutionary system is not ‘alone’ in the sense that it is partially dependent upon external influences more profound than the local and regional environmental changes normally considered… With kill rates for species estimated to have been as high as 77% and 96% for the largest extinctions, the biosphere is forced through narrow bottlenecks and the recovery from these events is usually accompanied by fundamental changes in biotic composition. Without these perturbations, the general course of macroevolution could have been very different. ‘[i]
He further states that, ‘the largest mass extinctions produce major restructuring of the biosphere wherein some successful groups are eliminated, allowing previously minor groups to expand and diversify…There is little evidence that extinction is selective in the positive sense argued by Darwin. It has generally been impossible to predict, before the fact, which species will be victims of an extinction event.’[ii]
Raup’s observations that the extinction or survival of a species is a ‘chance’ event, is supported by the studies done by Macquarie University paleobiologist John Alroy. He says, ‘Mass extinction fundamentally changes the dynamics. It changes the composition of the biosphere forever. You can’t simply predict the winners and losers from what groups have done before’[iii]. The mass extinction event itself is short lived, very often below the resolving power of geologic record (<10,000 years), and possibly instantaneous.
Therefore, ‘Evolution by Catastrophe’ (a term used by Rampino in the ‘Encyclopedia of Planetary Sciences’) is in marked disagreement with standard Darwinian concepts of evolution. A new school of evolutionary thought, known as ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’ was developed independently by Harvard paleontologists Steven Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge (1972). They proposed that speciation occurs rapidly at times of environmental stress, and the long intervals (millions of years) between speciation are marked by general stasis, with little evolutionary change. Most species appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear. And in times of environmental stress, speciation happens abruptly within a space of a few thousand years. New species appear all at once and ‘fully formed.’
Gould and Eldredge believe that speciation occurs so rapidly at times of stress that there is very little time for transitional forms to be fossilized. This is why we do not find any ‘missing links’ in the fossil data. In the 1970s, a number of examples of gradualism in the fossils were proposed by others in order to refute the concept of ‘punctuated equilibrium’. Gould and Eldredge dismissed these claims arguing ‘that virtually none of the examples brought forward to refute our model can stand as support for phyletic gradualism.’[iv]
In 1977 Gould said, ‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology…to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.’[v] In 1980 Gould reiterated the problems in the fossil record for gradualism: ‘The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.’[vi] It is worth noting that the absence of ‘missing links’ in the geological data had also concerned Darwin. In the Origin of Species (1859) he says that the absence of intermediaries ‘is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.’
Punctuated Equilibrium also raises uncomfortable questions for the field of genetics. Too much biological complexity must be built into too few generations. The level of DNA change a species can undergo in a few thousand years is grossly insufficient to justify the rapid and transitionless morphological jumps in the fossil record which ‘punctuated equilibrium’ purports are possible during speciation.
In 1999, writing in Nature, Oxford zoologist Mark Pagel stated while reviewing a book by Niles Eldredge: ‘Paleobiologists…saw in the fossil records rapid bursts of change, new species appearing seemingly out of nowhere and then remaining unchanged for millions of years-patterns hauntingly reminiscent of creation.’[vii]
It is easy to see that the sudden extinction of life forms every 26 million years, brought about by large body impacts from outer space, and the equally sudden appearance of ‘fully developed’ new species after the extinction event, supports the Vedic accounts of the events that transpire in a Day and Night of Brahma. The Vishnu Purana tells us that myriad different beings with different characteristics, both physical and mental, were created by Brahma in previous Kalpas. It provides a list of nine such creation events, which is strongly suggestive of the ‘punctuated equilibrium’ model of evolution.
We find mention of similar episodic creation events in the accounts of the Mesoamericans as well. Their myths tell us that the gods Tepeu and Gucumatz decided to create a race of beings who can worship them. Huracan, the Heart of Heaven, who is the Supreme Deity, did the actual creating while Tepeu and Gucumatz guided the process. First the Earth was created. However, the gods went through many trials and errors before creating humans. First the animals were created; however, with all of their howling and squawking they did not worship their creators and were thus banished forever to the forest. Man was first created of mud, but they just crumbled and dissolved away. Man was next created of wood but he had no soul, and they soon forgot their makers, so the gods turned all of their possessions against them and brought a black resinous rain down on their heads. Finally man was formed of masa or corn dough by even more gods and their work was complete.
These mythical accounts seem to describing an episodic process of creation, spanning across many Kalpas i.e. Days and Nights of Brahma. New life forms appear on the surface of the earth at the beginning of each Day of Brahma, guided by the Supreme Spirit. This exactly what we find reflected in the fossil records.
Another interesting conclusion that can be reached from the ‘punctuated equilibrium’ model of evolution is that modern man i.e. homosapiens must have also appeared in a ‘fully formed’ fashion after one of the ‘creation events’. Since the most recent creation event took place at the beginning of the current ‘Kalpa’, nearly 5.5 million years ago, it implies that modern human beings must have been walking the earth for at least 5.5 million years. This observation goes directly against the current evolutionary view that modern human beings ‘evolved’ on the planet earth, from its ape-like ancestors, some 100,000 years back.
In the elaborately researched book Forbidden Archaeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race, the authors Thomson and Cremo provide a wealth of evidence which highlights the extreme anquity of man[viii]. In the 1880s, in Castenedolo, Italy, G. Ragazzoni, a geologist, found fossil bones of several Homo sapiens sapiens individuals in layers of Pliocene sediment 3 to 4 million years old. In 1913, the German scientist Hans Reck found at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, a complete anatomically modern human skeleton in strata over 1 million years old. In 1979, researchers at the Laetoli site, Tanzania, in East Africa discovered footprints of modern humans in volcanic ash deposits over 3.6 million years old. In an article in the March 1990 issue of Natural History, R. H. Tuttle of the University of Chicago confessed that ‘we are left with somewhat of a mystery.’ In 1965, Bryan Patterson and W. W. Howells found a surprisingly modern humerus (upper arm bone) at Kanapoi, Kenya. Scientists judged the humerus to be over 4 million years old. Henry M. McHenry and Robert S. Corruccini of the University of California said the Kanapoi humerus was ‘barely distinguishable from modern Homo.’ All these anomalous discoveries, which have been conveniently ignored by the mainstream evolutionists because they do not conform to their proposed theoretical models, support the contention that modern human beings must have appeared at least 5.5 million years ago, at the beginning of the current ‘Kalpa’.
In addition to human remains, various types of man-made artifacts point to the immense antiquity of man. Miocene tools (5-25 million years old) were found in the late nineteenth century by Carlos Ribeiro, head of the Geological Survey of Portugal. At an international conference of archeologists and anthropologists held in Lisbon, a committee of scientists investigated one of the sites where Ribeiro had found implements. One of the scientists found a stone tool even more advanced than the better of Ribeiro’s specimens. Crude paleoliths were also found in Miocene formations at Thenay, France. S. Laing, an English science writer, noted: "On the whole, the evidence for these Miocene implements seems to be very conclusive, and the objections to have hardly any other ground than the reluctance to admit the great antiquity of man." In 1880, J. D. Whitney, the state geologist of California, published a lengthy review of advanced stone tools found in California gold mines. The implements, including spear points and stone mortars and pestles, were found deep in mine shafts, underneath thick, undisturbed layers of lava, in formations that geologists now say are from 9 million to over 55 million years old!
Every new discovery pushes the antiquity of man back millions of years. However, the incongruous evidences, as and when they come up, are simply filtered away as anomalies. In L’Anthropologie, 1995, Marylène Pathou-Mathis wrote: ‘M. Cremo and R. Thompson have willfully written a provocative work that raises the problem of the influence of the dominant ideas of a time period on scientific research. These ideas can compel the researchers to orient their analyses according to the conceptions that are permitted by the scientific community.’[ix] And in British Journal for the History of Science, 1995, Tim Murray noted ‘that archeology is now in a state of flux, with practitioners debating ‘issues which go to the conceptual core of the discipline.’’[x]
While the discovery of man-made artifacts, which date back to around 55 million years, seems to indicate that anatomically modern human beings may have appeared on the earth soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we should also remain open to the possibility that these stone implements may have been created by the various human precursors, which were supposedly created in the previous Days of Brahma, as mentioned in the ancient texts.
It is worthwhile, in this context, to take a fresh look at the accounts of creation in the Genesis. As per the Genesis, creation took place in six days and six nights. However, the text specifically mentions that birds and sea-creatures were created on the fifth day while land animals and man are created on the sixth. Therefore, although the entire process of creation took six days and nights, all living creatures are created in only two days and nights.
We can reasonably assume that the creation account in the Genesis describes the events that took place at the beginning of one of the Days of Brahma. In this context, it is easy to see that the ‘day and night’ mentioned here does not refer to a normal 24 hours day and night of the humans; since humans did not exist when the creative process was initiated. It is far more likely that it refers to a ‘day and night of the gods’.
As per the Vedic texts, a Cycle of the Yugas is completed once the sun makes a complete revolution around the mythical Mount Meru, the central axis of the world. They also tell us that a complete revolution of the sun around the Mount Meru results in a ‘day and night’ of the gods and the celestials who reside on the Meru. This implies that a ‘day and night of the gods’ is nothing but the complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years duration, which is equal to the value of the Precessional Year. Thus, the ascending half of the Precessional Year of 12,000 years can be viewed as the ‘day of the gods’ and the descending half of the Precessional Year of another 12,000 years as the ‘night of the gods’.
Therefore, the six days and nights of creation is equivalent to 144,000 years, while the two days and nights during which all life forms were created, is equal to 48,000 years. As per the estimates created by Gould and Eldredge, ‘speciation’ after a catastrophe takes anywhere between 5000 – 50,000 years. This is the same value that we obtain from the Genesis! Interestingly, the numbers 12,000 and 144,000 occur many times in the Revelation and have a number of esoteric meanings associated with them. 144,000 is mentioned as the number of ‘servants of God’ who will be sealed on their foreheads before the apocalypse, while 12,000 is the number of spiritual ‘tribes’ of the heavenly kingdom of God. The appearance of these numbers in connection with the creation events in the Genesis is certainly not a mere coincidence.
It is clear that the data from fossil records corroborate what the ancient, sacred texts told us all along: that there are cycles of creation and destruction, which is intelligently guided by higher forces. Not only are the time periods between successive destruction events mentioned in the ancient texts, but the time required for speciation at the beginning of a Kalpa is also correctly specified. In the face of such enormous evidences, the claim for Intelligent Design can hardly be ignored any longer.
- Raup and Sepkoski, PNAS, USA, Vol 81, pp 801-805, Feb 1984 [back to text]
- The role of extinction in evolution, D M Raup, PNAS July 19, 1994 vol. 91 no. 15 6758-6763 [back to text]
- Citations: “The Shifting Balance of Diversity Among Major Marine Animal Groups.” By J. Alroy. Science, Vol. 329 No. 5996, September 3, 2010 [back to text]
- Gould, S. J. and Eldredge, N., 1977. Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology, 3:115–151 (pp. 115) [back to text]
- Gould, S. J., 1977. Evolution’s erratic pace. Natural History, 86(5):14 [back to text]
- Gould, S.J ., 1980. Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging? Paleobiology, 6:119–130 (p.127) [back to text]
- Eldredge, N. and Gould, S. J., 1972. ‘Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism’, Time Frames: the Rethinking of Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria, N. Eldredge, Heinernann, London, 1986, pp. 202 [back to text]
- Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, Forbidden Archaeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race, Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, January 1998 [back to text]