|Artist Alex Grey's DMT-vision of Adam and Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden.|
In brief, according to the Agganna Sutra (Columbia University), the Buddha explains that human life on began when devas ("shining ones") with the power of flight descended onto this plane, this world (loka), which as the Human Plane is only one of many similar worlds.
These beings then devolved to the present day, along the way losing their self-luminosity and other qualities over millions of years. The principal cause of this devolution and decay has been karma, their personal and collective behavior, their unprofitable actions and the impact of those actions on their descendants.
|Verify it yourself.|
This is in accord with the Vedic view in India that was known before the historical Buddha. There is NO need to take this as an "article of faith" because it can be personally verified by meditation (purification of the mind by serenity, absorption, and the application of mindfulness for the development of direct insight). Humans, even today, are capable of enlightenment/awakening.
The many "gods," devas or brahmas, tampering and tinkering with this current colony, this "generation" and its many human and other species over the aeons, set this planet in motion as a going concern.
This is what Indian histories and mythologies affirm. According to the Buddha, in a discourse called "A Buddhist Genesis" or Aganna Sutra, life on Earth began when flying beings of light (devas, lit. "shining ones") came down onto the planet and found it delightful, a kind of "Eden" or garden planet.
They stayed so long and ate of the garden that they lost their self-luminosity, telepathic powers, and finally their morality (sila) -- in consequence of which lifespans shortened and their karma caused physical differences to appear on the planet: the kinds of foods available, sicknesses came about, harmful customs developed.
Just as Micheal Cremo (Forbidden Archeology) explains with reference to ancient Vedic, Hindu, and Brahminical sources, Buddhist texts agree: we are not currently evolving after "the fall" but devolving. Things are getting worse, life is getting shorter -- not in a perfectly linear way but in smaller cycles within larger cycles. This is now a Decadent Age, a Kali Yuga, long after a Golden Age.
We think we live longer than a few decades ago and therefore the farther we go back, they must have lived much shorter lives. The fact is that, as the Jewish and Christian bibles declare, human lifespans were much longer in the past.
In fact, according to Buddhist sources, lifespans in the future as in the past, cyclically, human lifespans grow to 80,000 years. We can't imagine, but it's all relative. A life of only 900 years, as the Bible brags about must not have been all that long ago, relatively speaking.
The Earth or life on it is not 6,000 years old as calculated by some literal Christian interpreters. It is hundreds of millions of years old on a planet that is billions of years old in a galaxy and universe that on the one hand is timeless and on the other of such length as to stagger the mind, calculated not in earth-years but in various kinds of "aeons" (kalpas).
Human life rises to great technological heights and falls again, and then the cycle repeats. That is why there are such ancient marvels all around us. In fact, science shows this, though scientists do their best to be apologists for the status quo and the gatekeepers of academia and the mainstream media. Buddhism is very science-friendly. Science is always changing its views.
Science dictates what constitutes "acceptable" theories as yet unproven, sometimes unproveable, often gained and guided by outside influences like funding and craving for fame and influence, popularity and past wrong views. Science does not live up to its unbiased ideals but suffers from its many human frailties and rarely admits it.
Later a new theory comes into vogue, also wrong, and no one can say any different. New evidence gets interpreted in different ways or hidden or falsified, and no theory can account for all of it. We would rather go with the Buddha's accounts because he was someone who knew directly -- and it is possible for us to know directly (which is what meditation, insight, and enlightenment make possible).