The Non-Evolution of Man, Part 1
Taken from the June 2008 Creation Answers newsletter
One of the most controversial aspects of evolutionary theory is also perhaps the most widely published, or at least this was the case for years. The field of paleoanthropology deals with ancient man, including the origin of man. Thus many famous evolutionist scientists have searched for evidence that modern apes and modern humans have a common ancestor. If you were to see such a common ancestor (if it were real), you would call it an ape. Thus, though evolutionists are sometimes critical of people describing their theories in this way, it is not really inaccurate to say evolutionists believe we evolved from apes. It is just that evolutionists believe we evolved from apes of the past, not from the exact varieties of apes that live now.
Scripture, on the other hand, is quite clear that Adam and Eve were the first human beings and that they did not descend from any other living creatures. Adam was miraculously created by God from the dust of the ground. Indeed the word "adam" essentially means "dust" or "earth." Eve was miraculously created from a rib or some other part of Adam's side. Adam says in Genesis that she was to be the "mother of all the living." God demonstrates the equality of our maleness and femaleness by this means of creation. Thus the origin of the first man and woman is an important teaching in the book of Genesis and this account from Genesis cannot be reconciled with evolutionary science. It is not to be taken as figurative because then it ceases to have its point in context.
Those who have tried to suggest that God used evolution to create have problems dealing with Genesis regarding the origin of the first man and woman. The Catholic church has made various statements to the effect that it is acceptable to believe in evolution but that the origin of human beings must be separate. It clearly contradicts Scripture to suggest that lower animals (such as ape-men intermediates or "hominids" as they are called) evolved into humans. To suggest such a scenario brings up a difficult question of how did humans come to be made in God's image if they evolved from animals that were not made in God's image? This is no small problem. Man's unique traits as being in God's image include his high intelligence, his use of spoken and written language, making moral judgements, and belief in God and life after death. Strict evolutionists would just dismiss the Biblical teaching that human beings are made in God's image. But Christians cannot afford to dismiss the doctrine of being made in God's image. It is an extremely important teaching that implies there is a unique high value to human life that does not apply to any other form of life. This is also suggested in the fact that in the Creation account in Genesis chapter one, Man was the last being God made, since man and woman were the pinnacle of His creation.
Research regarding the supposed evolution of man is full of examples of very bad science. Evolutionary science has failed to assemble any substantial evidence that Homo Sapiens evolved from ancient apes. It is true that sometimes creationists have made some mistakes in how information has been quoted or in how information has been told and retold. But the minor mistakes of creationists pale in comparison to the gross examples of bad judgement, sloppy conclusions, and outright dishonesty that has characterized this area of evolutionary science. A book written by two evolutionists in 2001 pointed put it this way, ". . . we must admit that the history of paleontology does not read as a shining example of the pursuit of truth, especially where it was the truth of man’s origins that was at issue. . . . we do know that the popular image of the scientist as a dispassionate seeker after the truth could not be further from reality." (See Gribbin, J. and Cherfas, J., The First Chimpanzee: In Search of Human Origins, Penguin Books, London, p. 59, 2001.) One paleoanthropologist commented about the lack of objectivity in science, "In my view, 'objectivity' does not exist in science. Even in the act of gathering data, decisions about what data to record and what to ignore reflect the framework of the scientist." (See Wolpoff, M.H., Paleoanthropology, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, Boston, p. iv, 1999.)
The following will summarize the problems with the evolutionary science about the evolution of man. It may be helpful to divide this into past controversies and present (or recent) controversies. The past controversies are no longer really controversial because they are ideas that are widely known to be outdated and incorrect and few question this. Note that science textbooks and natural history museums do not always catch up to the current understanding of things according to evolutionists. Sometimes museum displays are deliberately left inaccurate for various reasons. It is not just creationists that are often appalled at the outdated or inaccurate content in textbooks or museums. Evolutionists are also sometimes appalled. This is why Christians and especially Christian parents need to be informed on these issues. It is not that Christians should avoid natural history museums; rather they should help their kids sort out truth from error in the science of origins. Let us briefly consider background on skeletal differences between apes and humans, then look at past controversies. The next issue of this newsletter will continue with more on recent controversies regarding human origins.
Humans Versus Apes
In the science of human origins, it is necessary to deal with facts about the skeletons of humans and apes. There is a need to have some knowledge of the differences between the two. It is also important to realize that "distinctive" human features (as well as ape features) exhibit a natural amount of variation. So in looking at fossil skeletal remains a scientist asks what each feature of the fossils is more like, is it more like the bones of a human or more like the bones of an ape? An interesting example would be the size of the brain case for Neanderthals. Neanderthals, once thought to be an ancestor of modern man, are now considered to be homo sapiens (human). Wikipedia lists the following figures for ranges of values for cranial capacities (brain size), with volumes in cubic centimeters.
● Orangutans: 275–500 cc
● Chimpanzees: 275–500 cc
● Gorillas: 340–752 cc
● Humans: 1100–1700 cc
● Neanderthals: 1200–1700 cc
These figures may be debatable in some cases but they give approximate differences. Human cranial capacity is known to vary from about 830 cc for some Australian aborigines to the largest recorded being 2800 cc. Note that brain size has nothing to do with how intelligent a human being is. People with bigger brains are not smarter necessarily. Human average cranial capacities are 1350 cc for women and 1500 cc for men (data from Dr. David Menton, an anatomy professor). As the above figures show, Neanderthal's skull sizes are essentially in the same range as humans but most estimates would put Neanderthal skulls as slightly larger than the average human skull. On the other hand, a small human skull (such as one from a pigmy or a child for example) could have a similar capacity to a large Gorilla skull. Large cranial capacity may be a good indicator of the skull being human if it is in good condition. But usually a fossil is incomplete and the skull may be in fragments. Thus there is some uncertainty in the brain capacity when the skull has to be reassembled to estimate it. This is how a characteristic that is a relatively good indicator of whether a fossil is human or not can actually be difficult to use in practice, unless there are other bones found or other kinds of clues from where the fossils are found.
Other than cranial capacity, there are other characteristics that distinguish humans from apes. Ape jaws are shaped more like a capital "U" whereas human jaws are more parabola shaped. Apes usually have prominent brow ridges around the eyes but how prominent these are varies and even some modern humans have brow ridges also. The hips, knee joints, legs, and feet are also distinctive for humans to allow us to walk fully upright all the time. Apes have opposable big toes that allow them to grasp with their feet for spending a lot of time in trees. Also though some apes may walk on two feet, they don't do it in a fully upright way like humans do and they don't do it all the time. Apes have to lean to the side as they walk on two feet because they can’t straighten up like humans. They have to do this to balance their weight over their feet so they don’t fall over. Apes also have proportionally longer arms and shorter legs because they walk using their arms a lot, even those that can walk on two feet part of the time. So the proportions of the leg bones and arm bones can help determine if a fossil is human or ape.
In 1912 a medical doctor reported finding a jaw and part of a skull in a gravel pit near Piltdown England. It came to be known as Piltdown Man but was found to be a hoax in which the teeth on the jaw fragment were filed down to make it look as if it were worn down like human teeth. This Hoax fooled many scientists for many years before it was finally exposed as a hoax. Then in 1922 a man named Harold Cook brought a single tooth to Henry Fairfield Osborn, who was head of the American Museum of Natural History, in New York. Cook told Osborn some information on where it was found and Osborn then published the claim that it had characteristics of both man and ape. Henry Osborn promoted the idea it was an ancestor of modern man. The tooth was used in the famous trial of John Scopes in 1925 in Dayton, TN. It also made news headlines including in the Illustrated London Daily News, which even printed drawings of "Nebraska man" and his wife. In 1927, more of the skeleton was found. The additional evidence made clear "Nebraska man" was actually an extinct pig called a peccary. Creationist Dr. Duane Gish used to joke in his lectures that this is a case where the pig made a monkey out of the evolutionist!
Ramapithicus was another case from the 1970's. It was promoted as one of a branch of apes that evolved into humans and was published as such in 1977 in Scientific American in an article by Dr. Elwyn Simons. Simons made a number of strong claims about Ramapithicus and published something in Time magazine. However, another scientist, a Dr. Robert Eckhardt also published in Scientific American a paper comparing Ramapithicus to another fossil that many agreed to be an ape, called Dryopithicus. Eckhardt made a number of detailed measurements of the teeth of Dryopithicus and Ramapithicus and compared them to the range of known variation in the teeth of chimpanzees. This showed there was more variation in the teeth of living chimpanzees than there was between Dryopithicus and Ramapithicus. Teeth adapt to the diet and environment of the animal and so this nullified much of the evidence of Ramapithicus being an ancestor of man. Other studies of the jaw of Ramapithicus indicated ape-like characteristics, so Ramapithicus was just an ape, possibly an orangutan. Not only is there a tendency for scientists to read into evidence what they want to see, but there is also sometimes a tendency to take it to the media much too soon and claim too much.
Another controversy of the past is the Neanderthals. There is now general agreement
that Neanderthals were homo sapiens. Many evolutionists believe the Neanderthals
lived from about 30,000 to 150,000 years ago and that they were a branch of humans
that is now extinct. It used to be claimed by some evolutionists that Neanderthals were
in modern man's ancestry, but that view seems to be largely abandoned today. I think
it is possible they should be regarded as an extinct race of humans, but I would not
accept the above age figures. For years there was a tendency in the way they were
drawn or reconstructed, to make them look more "brutish" or ape-like than was realistic.
The first Neanderthals were actually discovered in 1856 in Germany, but they were later found in several countries in Europe, Africa, China, and others. They have never been found in North or South America apparently. Dr. David Menton describes them as follows. "This race of men was characterized by prominent eyebrow ridges, low forehead, long narrow skull, a protruding upper jaw, and a strong lower jaw with a short chin. They were deep chested with curved-heavy built leg bones and large joints." None of these features make them a different species from modern man. Some specimens have indications of them suffering from Vitamin D or calcium deficiency (rickets) or from arthritis. But, there are now a few hundred Neanderthal fossils which have been found and their unique characteristics cannot all be explained by rickets or arthritis.
Anatomy experts have found mistakes in how some Neanderthal models and reconstructions were done that made them look less human than they really were. (This particular point alone has been the subject of many books and articles by both evolutionists and creationists.) They would have looked like other people alive today. There is now evidence that Neanderthals used tools and musical instruments, buried their dead, and even had a variety of burial customs. In a number of cases the remains of multiple individuals have been found in a single cave or location, likely indicating a burial site, possibly used by a family or a community. In a few cases dozens of individuals were buried in the same site. Creationist Marvin Lubenow reports that there are a few sites where the Neanderthals and homo sapiens were actually buried together. This is a pretty good indication they were fully human. So the evidence is quite clear now that they were fully human. They were within the range of what is possible for homo sapiens.
There are many other fossil cases that could be mentioned. Java man was one that went in science books and was used to promote evolution for years even though there was little real evidence to base it on. There are many examples like that in the research from evolutionists on the evolution of man. Some fossils believed to be mankind’s ancestors have been controversial for years and still are. More cases like this will be examined in part 2 of this article.
The Non-Evolution of Man, Part 2
Part 1 of this article addressed what the Bible says on the origin of man and gave background on some of the differences between apes and humans. Part 1 also addressed some controversies of the past about the origin of man, such as Piltdown man and Neanderthal man. Please refer back to Part 1 as needed for background on what follows. The June 2008 newsletter can be downloaded from creationanswers.net from the Newsletters area. In Part 2 we will consider controversies from paleoanthropology that are more recent. Some of these cases are still discussed from time to time in news reports.
There are controversies that continue today over various fossils believed to be related to man's ancestry. The most well known of these is about the australopithecines and a particular specimen of australopithicine called Lucy. The general series order believed by evolutionists (though debated) is the following, from earlier forms to later forms with their alleged evolutionary ages in years before the present:
(3.5 to 1 M.Y. before present)
2) Homo habilis
(2 to 1.5 M.Y.)
3) Homo erectus (including Java man)
(1.7 M.Y. to 300,000 Y.)
4) Archaic Homo sapiens
and Homo Neanderthalensis
(200,000 to 20,000 Y.)
5) Cro-Magnon man
(32,000 to 12,000 Y.)
6) Modern Homo sapiens
(200,000 to present)
In this list, note that Archaic Homo Sapiens and Neanderthalensis (the Neanderthals) are listed together because some Archaic Homo Sapiens are found to be contemporaneous with Neanderthals. It is not that they are considered the same. It seems to me the term "Archaic Homo Sapiens" is a very questionable category that has been a kind of catch-all bin for specimens that did not fit other categories. It is not surprising in a Biblical view of history that there would be people in the past with physical characteristics different than those of anyone alive today. This is at least partly because Noah's Flood so affected the Earth that the climate changed after the Flood, leading to an ice age for a number of generations. Just as God made lower animals able to adapt to a changing environment, he also made human beings able to undergo limited changes to adapt to a changing environment. The Neanderthals were likely very strong and well adapted to ice age type conditions. Most of the parts of the world where they have been found did experience the cold of the ice age. "Archaic Homo Sapiens" are just another group of people but with some features different than Neanderthals. The Archaic Homo Sapiens may not be adapted to ice age conditions however. Cro-Magnon man is believed to have been the successor of the Neanderthals. Cro-Magnon was first found in France in 1868. Cro-Magnon made more complex tools and items like jewelry, they are also well known for the paintings they made on cave walls. They were extremely good hunters and they buried their dead. To me they seem to have been very much like American Indians of the old west, though Cro-Magnon was in Europe.
We must consider the australopithecines. The first fossil of this type was reported in 1924 by Dr. Raymond Dart, a professor from Johannesburg, South Africa. This consisted of a skull from a limestone quarry in a place called Taungs, thus it has been called the Taungs skull. Dr. Dart claimed that the teeth had human-like characteristics. Most other scientists of the time dismissed Dart's claims and viewed the Taungs skull as probably a chimpanzee. But Dart and colleague (a Dr. Robert Broom) continued searching for evidence of other similar ape fossils with human-like characteristics, to find a potential ancester of humans. In time there were other fossils found. Dart and Broom argued they were of two types, one a more slender or "gracile" form and one a stronger more robust form. There has been much controversy about these two types. Some argue they should not be considered separate types because their differences are explained as being merely the difference between male and female apes. However, these two forms came to be known as Australopithecus africanus and Australopithicus robustus.
Dart promoted an idea that some of these australopithecines killed or possibly hunted the others, because of how the skulls were often bashed in with things like tools and clubs present. I think bashed up skulls along with evidence of fire and tools indicates that these were monkeys that were man's meal. Either people were eating the brains or they may have been wanting to get to the bone marrow, which can be a good food. Some scientists would agree with this today. Dart and Broom considered these creatures to be able to walk upright, though at that time there was very little to go on since there were very few bones other than skulls.
Then in the 1970's more information came to light on the australopithecines. In 1971 Richard Leakey found other specimens that were more complete. His comments were published in Science News, "the australopithecines were long-armed short-legged knuckle-walkers, similar to existing African apes." So, evidence was pointing more to them not walking upright like humans. There were also very significant studies comparing the australopithecine bones to human and ape bones in various measurements, including with sophisticated multivariate computer statistical analyses. Well known scientists such as Lord Solly Zuckerman and Charles Oxnard came out with comments to the effect that the australopithecines were clearly apes, not human-like at all, and not a human ancestor. Then it might have been over (for the australopithecines) if it were not for the famous fossil called Lucy.
In 1974 American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and French geologist Maurice Taieb found the skeleton that came to be called Lucy. It was generally very ape like and it was given the designation of australopithicus afarensis, named after the Afar region where it was found. A year later 13 more sets of skeletal remains were found that were taken to be of the same kind of animal. Lucy was dated with radioactive dating at 2.9 M.Y. old, making it older than all the human-like fossils. Yet, Johanson claimed the knee, leg bones (the femur), and hips implied it could walk upright. Johanson argued Lucy was an ancestor of australopithicus africanus. There's been a lot of controversy and some confusion about Lucy's knee joint. Based on comments by Johanson in a lecture, statements circulated among creationists for years that the knee joint was not found with the Lucy skeleton, but was found some distance away in a different rock layer and that knee was put with the Lucy skeleton. This is not quite accurate. What seems to have actually happened was Johanson compared the leg bone of Lucy, to another speciman (call it B). Specimen B, which was found in the other location in a different rock layer, had a more complete leg and knee and to Johanson it looked more human-like. So, Johanson argued that the two specimens, B and Lucy, were the same species and he argued that Lucy could walk upright under the assumption that Lucy's knee would have been like the other knee of specimen B. To me this methodology and logic are very questionable at best.
What was Lucy? The Lucy skeleton, replicas of which are found in many museums, was of the size to be a small ape, its brain case looked like an ape, and its jaw and teeth looked like an ape. This was acknowledged by Johanson. But Johanson argued Lucy had completely abandoned life in trees. However, other scientists later pointed out evidence on the australopithecines that argued all of them including Lucy-like specimens were ape like. The rib cage was of a shape more like apes than like humans, the shoulder was better adapted to be like apes that spend time hanging on tree limbs, and there was other evidence suggesting they were apes. In recent years new evidence related to the fingers, toes, and wrists came to light regarding the afarensis specimens. The afarensis specimens (like Lucy) had wrists that "locked" like apes that spend a lot of time walking on the knuckles of their hands. This seems likely also because of the proportions of the arm and leg bones. Lucy had long arms and short legs similar to chimpanzees or other apes. So, though it may be that Lucy could walk upright some, it was still an ape and it probably walked using its hands most of the time. There are other apes that do the same today. An interesting article in Creation magazine from 1996 explains how Dr. David Menton pointed out that the St. Louis Zoo had a display with a reconstruction of Lucy that showed Lucy's feet as very human looking, which is now known to be incorrect. Museum officials were not willing to change the display, even if it was inaccurate ( click to go to this article). Lucy could have been a variety of ape that is now extinct. The australopithecus fossils that have been found can all be understood as varieties of apes. So there's no substantial evidence of the australopithecines being related to man's ancestry.
Evolutionists consider the fossils known as Homo habilis and Homo erectus to be our
ancestors. There have also been many controversies about these cases. Homo
habilis is now viewed by most creationist researchers as an invalid taxon. This means
that it is an invalid category because cases that don't belong together have been
miscategorized and placed in it when they should be separated as either ape or
human. Some specimens in the category of Homo habilis are likely apes and some are
likely human. In both the habilis and the erectus categories there has also been dating
controversies about various fossil cases, which I am not addressing here. It is not
uncommon for dates of the various fossils to contradict what is believed about the
sequence of creatures in human evolution. There has also been confusion in that
sometimes different evolutionist researchers have categorized certain specimens in
different ways. Thus one researcher might consider a particular fossil to be Homo
erectus and another researcher may consider it to be Homo habilis. A well known
example of Homo habilis would be a skull known by its number in a sample collection,
KNM-ER 1470. The 1470 skull (discovered in 1972) has been much debated. From
the early reconstructions of the skull, it seemed to many as an intermediate form
between the australopithecines and Homo erectus. The earlier reconstructions made
the skull look more human. But in the mid 1980's more study of the skull included new
reconstructions and new arguments that it was like the australopithecines, though
somewhat larger. Some paleontologists in recent years have reclassified it as Homo
habilis or even as a separate class of its own. Neither evolutionists nor creationists
have a clear consensus on the 1470 skull. It seems to be unclear to me because we
lack more of the skeleton and because of uncertainties in how to do the reconstruction.
Though I would reserve judgement to some extent on the 1470 skull because of these
uncertainties, I would lean toward viewing it as a large ape skull. It's possible there
were larger apes in the past that are now extinct. I would recommend the following
article from 2005 by creationist Peter Lines that goes into more detail on the Homo habilis fossils. Click to go to this article.
Homo erectus fossils are human in characteristics and have been found with stone tools. Some have argued that erectus used fire. Some specimens also had CT scans done of the inner ear area and this showed human characteristics. However, erectus fossils have small skulls (with brain capacities averaging about 970 cc) but humans with similar skull sizes have been known. A legitimate question to ask is why would evolution favor larger and larger skulls anyway? Larger skulls among human beings does not indicate higher intelligence, as already mentioned. So the whole idea of humans evolving larger and taller over time from their early ancestors is questionable in terms of its evolutionary advantage. For both apes and humans there were likely varieties in the past that no longer exist. This is completely reasonable in a Biblical view of history considering Noah's Flood and its aftermath. To evolutionists, Homo erectus is considered to be the ancestor of Neanderthal. Evolutionary scientists have had difficulty being able to define what distinguishes Homo erectus from Homo sapiens, so it's probably safe to say they are human, though they could be an extinct variety.
It can be a difficult task to piece together fragments of bone and determine what type of creature it represents. The evolutionary view says that modern humans and modern apes both evolved from ancient apes. Some of the many "hominids" as they are called are considered to be groups that went extinct. Others are considered by evolutionists to be ancestors of humans. However I believe the facts do not show evidence of apes transitioning into human forms. Evolutionists have had a strong tendancy to let their biases influence the way they collect the data, the way they interpret it, the way they reconstruct skeletons, the way they date the fossils, and the claims they make in writing about the fossils. Considering the problems introduced by all of this in the subject of paleoanthropology, I would say it is more reasonable to believe the Bible. According to the Bible, there is ape kind and there is human kind. Human beings are not related to apes, in spite of how they may sometimes behave.
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