examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

Month: June, 2016

Neanderthal: The Other Human

sting

Copyright: http://www.sting.com. All rights reserved.

I’m a big Sting fan. Ok, I have one of his albums and part of a Police greatest collection. Still, I love his music. It’s soothing, complicated, deep, and yet fun. Very good stuff. One song in particular makes gives me a giggle. It’s called Seven Days and it’s about a woman who has given her man seven days to make a decision about her before she moves on to another man. In that song, Sting sings about his rival and his situation. Here’s a few lines from the song:

Ask if I’m a mouse or man
The mirror squeaked, away I ran
He’ll murder me
In time for his tea
Does it bother me at all?
My rival is Neanderthal

neanderthal-national-geo_front-300x199

Picture from National Geographic.

We all have that one guy at work who acts like he drags his knuckles down the hall as he walks. He’s rather obtuse at times and he’d be more at home pounding something into something else than delicate repair work on something like electronics. Sting’s song is cute, but it belays a foundational problem for us: We treat Neanderthals like they’re a joke, but they are not. Not only is Neanderthal not a joke for Christians, but he’s someone that we have to truly come to terms with.

Here’s why:  Christians tend to explain Neanderthals away by saying that they were just humans who had diseases or deformities. They say this because of the unique bone structure and walking gait, among a few other things. If you have that mindset, you are partially correct. Neanderthal and human DNA is pretty close, differing at some 3 million points among billions. That seems pretty close, especially if you consider that the Chimpanzee is close enough to be 30 million points off of ours. Unfortunately, those 3 million are pretty important differences.

This is why Christians must wrestle with the issue of Neanderthals, and other humanoids for that matter. It would seem that we have more than one species of human on our hands, and Neanderthals is just the most famous of them. He certainly isn’t the only one. Anyone remember Lucy? Now that scientists have mapped some of the genetic code for Neanderthals, we know that they were different enough to be human-like, but not human as we are.

Not only must we wrestle with the issue, but we will…on this blog and in the coming book. It’s too important not too. And I have a theory brewing in the back of my mind about how it all relates to Genesis One.

To keep up with the research, click HERE.

Advertisements

Dearest Mother mtDNA Eve

My mother came from Africa…well, if you trace the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) back far enough. Science generally accepts this theory as having enough evidence to call a fact, or as much of a fact as scientists can without contradicting scientific dogma.

I remember talking to an atheist about this issue once. While he made various arguments about human evolution, I countered with the idea that, once upon a time, there had to be an eve. There had to be one human who was different enough from the apes around her that she was Eve. And there had to be a male who could mate with her, so once upon a time there had to be an Adam too.

My friend accepted my argument, but only despairingly. He certainly accepted that there had to be an original evolved couple that was different as to be called human, but of course he couldn’t accept the names Adam and Eve.

nwswk8I had no idea then, because I had just started my journey, but this is really an old argument in scientific circles. My friend and I just hadn’t learnt about it! In the 11 January, 1998 issue of Newsweek, an African-American-looking couple graced the cover. It wasn’t a normal shot of a couple, however. Instead, it mirrored the normally Caucasian version of Adam and Eve we see in older children’s Bible storybooks.

There was a time when scientists thought that the different races of homo sapiens sprung up individually in different regions. This is called the multiregionalism and while not completely disproven, it looks rather obsolete as a theory. I plan to write about that in some detail later on in the journey.

Ironically, the Eve of science isn’t all that old. She was probably alive around 200,000 years ago, and most likely in Africa.[1] With evolution’s timeframe consisting of some billions of years or more, it’s interesting to note that the evolution of human really took a foothold so recently.

But where does this leave us? I think this puts us in a great place! Unfortunately, many, many of my brothers and sisters in fundamentalist camps (read: evangelical) will reject the idea because it’s more than a 6,000 year timeline and science still holds that it required evolutionary movement from an ape-like animal to human.

Yet the journey isn’t about finding a magical bullet. Rather, I am trying to investigate science for what it might show me about God’s creative process. In that the “Our of Africa” model, with it’s beginning point at mtDNA Eve, I find a great common point between creation and evolution. And now that there is also a way to trace the Adam Y chromosome as well, a truly common point of emphasis is starting to form.[2]

I used to be caught up in the fight against Peking Man, Java Man, Lucy, and the rest. I rejected a common ancestor because I thought that scientists were trying to show that all of them were on my ancestral timeline. Once Eve became a reality, however, a clearer picture formed.

There is still much work to do, and much more research to sift through. But I am excitedly celebrating the idea of mitochondrial Eve and look forward to learning more about “mom.”

Click HERE to sign up for updates!

 

[1] Oppenheimer, Stephen. The Real Eve: Modern Man’s Journey Out of Africa, Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York. 2003. Pg 37.

[2] Ibid, pg 41.

Transition to the next Topic

Your children, as you already know, are inundated with ages of the earth that are astronomically different than most evangelical estimates. This can cause some confusion and leave evangelical children outside looking in socially and educationally in public schools. The goal of this blog is to keep that from happening by arming you with real data in as unbiased a manner as possible.

The central question to be asked in order to combat his issue is this: Can Genesis and evolutionary science reside together? I hope so, but I have concerns that must be addressed. This post attempts to do so while providing a path ahead.

We know, in general terms, what evolutionary science tells us about the “creation” of everything. Most notably, it takes a very, very long time and like doesn’t always give way to like. Creation accounts from Genesis, however, suggest that creation was fairly short, certainly not billions upon billions of years, and that God created everything, “after its kind.”

This is the problem: If God created everything, and evolution says everything happened by chance, how could they coexist?

We must always go back to the beginning. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We can debate timeframes later. The important thing to understand is that it doesn’t allow for macro forms of evolution. “Read literally, this precludes evolution of one “kind” of plant or animal to another.”[1]

Genesis isn’t the only place that this occurs. John 1:1-3 tells the same story, but introduces Jesus as the co-creator with the Father. Here is the passage:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

My concern is that both of these passages, if read literally, remove the allowance of any macroevolution of any kind into the mind of the faithful follower of Christ. It probably doesn’t remove the idea of microevolution, as my daughter’s cystic fibrosis (CF) didn’t create a different kind of humanoid, but just a mutation that is at least hypothesized to defeat tuberculosis.

The Bible says that God created all of the “kinds” of animals, plants, fish, etc on this planet and left no place for the creation of one “kind” from another by chance. If evolution were proven correct, then, it would leave little place for the Bible. At best, it would remain as a testament to an older time of myth. At worst, it would be a relic of ignorant fools.

The example I can’t shake is the Mammoth, which is a cousin to the Asian elephant via some ancient, prehistoric elephant. If AiG and ICR are correct, then the Mammoth and the Asian elephant were together on the ark. Presumably the African elephant as well. Genetics suggest a different story.

I read a good book on this subject called How to Clone a Mammoth, by Dr. Beth Shapiro. It’s an excellent book on cloning, genetics, evolution, and extinction. The problem is that it lays out a good case for how the mammoth and other elephants evolved, and that wasn’t even the goal of the book!

The biggest issue is the genetics connection between the mammoth and the Asian elephant. Geographically, it makes sense that the two are related because Asian elephants could have been a natural southern cousin to the northern mammoths. But the problem is that they’re different species, yet have so much concurrent genetic code that we can use Asian elephants (someday) to clone a mammoth (or something close to it).

I don’t want to be too forward in invoking the dad card here, but we’ve simply got to figure out this stuff. First, does the Bible allow for this sort of evolution? I’m not sure it does. Genesis 1:1+ and John 1:1-3 seem to allow only for God in creating actual species. I don’t think the Bible cares how long we’ve been here, but I do think it wants us to know that He created all of the species.

Unfortunately, naturalists have known for a long time that not all species lived together at the same time. As early as the 1820s, long before Darwin sailed to the Galapagos Islands, naturalists and paleontologists knew that different strata in the geological record had different specimens. More than that, the specimens appeared and disappeared, indicating different creations and extinctions.[2] This idea had sprung up around the same time in England with a fellow named William Smith, who, as a canal digger, realized that different strata along his canals contained very different specimens. While Smith never made a conclusion against faith, and as far as we know stayed true to his religious stance, he did realize that something wasn’t as traditionally taught.[3]

But there were no other creations, at least not without a gap theory, and we’ve looked into that and found that theory lacking, unfortunately, though more research is needed.

So I’m going to turn my attention from cystic fibrosis (as a research project) to the fossil record, particularly with the mammoth, to see if I can find an answer to the issue at hand.

Your comments are welcome below, as is your subscription to this blog, which you can get by clicking HERE.

[1] Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Random House. New York, NY, 2004. Pg 11.

[2] Ibid, pg 29

[3] Prothero, Donald R. Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters. Columbia University Press, 2007. pg 55.