The evolutionary claim is that Neandertals split from the lineage of humans about 500,000 years ago, and are an ancestor of humans (homo sapiens) which constitute a link between us and ape ancestors. We can include the newly “discovered” lineage of Denisovans as well, a particular DNA from archaic man that appears to have fingerprints in modern DNA. The Neandertal DNA is found, too, in the modern human genome, which shows that interbreeding took place between them and us.
Let us look at three possibilities:
- Atheistic evolution is true, and these groups must be 500,000 year old links to our ape-like ancestral past.
- Progressive or ‘old-earth’ creation is true, which means these were pre-Adamic soulless non-humans, or that man existed, lived and died, long before the fall.
- Man was created on day 6 of creation, and these are simply humans.
1. If atheistic evolution is true, we would need to be confident in our ever-changing timeline based on each conflicting fossil discovery. But modern evolutionists such as Evolutionist Donald Johanson, discoverer of the “Lucy” Australopithecus, said this about Neandertal:
“From a collection of modern human skulls Huxley was able to select a series with features leading ‘by insensible gradations’ from an average modern specimen to the Neandertal skull. In other words, it wasn’t qualitatively different from present-day Homo sapiens.”
Prof. Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum, an evolutionist, says the scientific community will have to accept that the Denisovans, like Neandertals, were, like us, Homo sapiens.
If this is true, on an evolutionary timeline, we have broader acceptance of humans being humans, having interbred, and moved about the world as merely people groups of the same homo sapien species for the last 500,000 years, with still no connection to apes. Hence, we are only examining the genetic interbreeding of different people groups from different parts of the world.
But were Neandertals truly like us? Consider the archaeological evidence, discovered and corroborated regardless of belief in an intelligent designer:
Tools make of stone.
Leather working skills.
Ability to control fire, and make pitch.
They had jewelry.
They used make-up (cosmetics).
They had culinary skills, and used herbs to spice food.
Burial customs for the dead.
They had an understanding of music, and instruments.
They made glue.
Understanding of architecture, even building large structures underground.
Care for the disabled among them (evidence shows some members of the community living long past an injury).
Created shelters, much like native Americans, covered with animal skins.
Evidence of a voice box (they could speak to each other).
This to me does not sound like a group of evolving apes based on evidence, and there is no need to even assert biblical beliefs to conclude this.
2. If Old Earth creation or progressive creation is true, then we must ask of the timeline. Adding the dates of the bible, even with a liberal understanding of its chronology, you cannot add up the dates and get to 10,000 years, 100,000 years, or the 500,000 years that Neandertals supposedly lived. Stretching out the lineage in this case is of no help. The progressive creationist must accept secular dating. Therefore they must decide if Neandertal is a soulless non-human, (can’t be true based on their ability to breed with modern humans, making them the same created kind), or if they lived and died for half a million years to bring about God’s timeline in dealing with modern man.
I have mentioned Frank Turek many times in my writing, and he continues to be a wonderful apologist, well spoken, and so very smart. I have the utmost respect for him, and his Cross Examined ministry. But as he does not prescribe to a biblical timeline for the universe, I still find myself in conflict with him on this point. I bring him up now, because I just watched him in a debate with atheist Michael Shermer. Frank was amazing as always, articulate and logical, and only got backed into a corner at one point. And that was when Michael had the wherewithal to press Frank on the millions of years problem. Shermer asked, “…Christianity began about two thousand years ago, what was God doing that 99.99% of all that time, if this is all beautifully designed and elegant[ly], teleological and purposeful, and it’s all here for us so that we would be here, boom, here we are, why the 13.7 billion years of nothing, and then, I think I’ll send my son to this desert place in the bronze age culture… and I’ll give them the message?”
He goes on to ask of the supposed souls of Neandertals, of Australopithecus, all the way down to his dog. Frank, normally confident, was stymied, and forced to quip back with sub-par responses, because his world view on this point does not line up with scripture. Death before sin, of course. But Shermer’s point is obvious, and engaging, and yes, logical! Why indeed would an all-powerful God mill about for 13 billion years then finally deliver a message 2000 years ago. What a cosmic waste of time for a God who can create from nothing, who is love, who desires a relationship with us. From a biblical perspective it makes no sense.
Dr. Turek was forced to take a weak position, responded first with a joke, and say blandly that yes Christ died for the Neanderthals if they had a capacity to make moral decisions, as well as Lucy, and homo erectus. He is correct in asserting that Christ’s sacrifice was retroactive, and still based on faith retroactively, but now you have a sub-species of ancient man who didn’t make the morality cut off line, who perhaps didn’t have souls, and who were so far from homo sapiens that they would have no capacity for religion. More than that, you have now inadvertently implied that religion is a modern (aka man-made) construct that had no relevance to certain ancient groups. Apparently God was sitting back and watching them live, and die, until they became moral enough to start interacting with them, a process He decided to start only 6000 years ago.
God also revealed to us by special revelation (God-breathed word, the Bible) that by one man, Adam, sin entered into the world. A pre-Adamite group who suffered the penalty of sin (death) for millions of years before the fall would make this claim a lie, and would therefore be heretical. It would seem that once again, if man’s interpretation of data is accepted, based on the pre-supposition that we evolved, it would clearly undermine the authority of scripture. When even brilliant men like Dr. Turek, and Dr. Ross try to blend the two, it inevitably waters down the word of God.
3. Since Neandertal DNA is present in modern man, the interbreeding indicates they were in fact the same species, just a different people group. If these are robust post-flood, post Babel decedents of Adam, then all of the evidence fits perfectly. They lived and died as human beings, nomadic for a time, in a world that was just destroyed in deluge and was unsettled. They suffered from malnutrition, buried their dead, and exhibited normal tribal behaviors. Furthermore, they were alive at a time where the bible records long life (hundreds of years), which explains robustness of the skull and skeleton, and is backed by scientific understanding of the changing oxygen, air pressure, and magnetism of that time as compared to present day.
Once again we find that logic and evidence answers the riddle of Neandertal using a biblical framework with relative ease. The historicity of the word of God continues to be a tremendous source for understanding the ancient pre and post flood world.