Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Correcting special creationist misunderstanding of the word 'hominid'

Recently, I've heard some special creationists railing against evolutionary creationists who apparently believe that "Cain married a hominid." This assertion reflects a failure to understand what hominid means:

Opponents of evolution are using the term 'hominid' in a misleading and confusing way. When they allege that evolutionary creationists teach that "Cain married a hominid", the uninformed listener may think that evolutionary creationists believe Cain married an 'ape man'. This is false. Evolutionary creationists say specifically that Cain married another human being just like him. Why is this important? Here's why.

Evolutionary creationists accept not only the scientific evidence for human evolution, but also the witness of the fossil record which shows that by around 10,000 years ago, the only species of human present on the planet was Homo sapiens, with Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) and Homo floresiensis (the 'Hobbit') long since extinct.

Evolutionary creationists believe that Adam and Eve were created around 8-10 thousand years ago. This is when animals and plants were domesticated in the ancient Near East, and given the events of Genesis 4, that means Adam and Eve can date no earlier than the first record of animal and plant domestication.

At this time, the only human species in existence was our own - Homo sapiens. Cain therefore married a fellow human being. The only difference between them was that while Cain was the child of two specially created human beings, the non-covenant humans which archaeology and palaeoanthropology record as having been in existence for around 200,000 years were the result of evolutionary creation.

Where does the term hominid fit into this? In short, it is a term used by anthropologists to classify humans, great apes, and their ancestors, based on common anatomical features, much as zoologists use the term mammal to classify all animals which have in common lactation, a single lower jaw bone, and three middle ear bones. The only living hominids are humans and the great apes, which means that when the opponents of evolution claim that evolutionary creationists teach "Cain married a hominid", all they are saying is "Cain married a fellow human being".