Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Humanity before Adam. A Heaping Helping of Hominids.

As Evangelical geologist Davis Young noted in a 1995 paper for Christian Scholar's Review, if the evidence in Genesis 4 allows us to date Adam to the Neolithic Revolution in the ancient Near East, then the earliest possible date for Adam is around 10,000 years ago. The problem that confronts Biblical literalists is that the fossil evidence for anatomically modern human beings stretches back around 300,000 years, meaning that Adam simply could not have been the first anatomically modern human being to exist. As a reminder to Christian fundamentalists who have still yet to see this evidence, here's a photo review of the anthropological record for Homo sapiens stretching back from 10,000 years ago to the earliest known Homo sapiens remains 300,000 years ago.

In his article [1], Young specifically avoided the question of evolution by looking solely at the fossil evidence for Homo sapiens, and found that given that to date, animal and plant domestication in the ancient Near East first took place around 10-11 thousand years ago, the depiction of Cain and Abel as herdsman and farmer respectively meant that the earliest date for Adam would have been around 8000-9000 BCE, Young noted that this immediately falsified the concept of Adam as a recent universal ancestor of the human race:
In my judgment, this first approach that all humans are biological descendants of an Adam and Eve specially created by God about 10,000 years ago is so fraught with difficulties that it needs to be summarily dismissed. Simply raising the questions concerning the relationship between humans and "pre-humans" who looked and acted just like humans strongly suggests the improbability of the first approach. The only hope for salvaging this approach is to demonstrate cogently that the historical reconstruction of the past 40,000 years is so completely without foundation that professional Christian geologists, archaeologists, molecular biologists, paleontologists, and anthropologists are convinced of the demolition job. Thus far such efforts to discredit the historical reconstructions have failed to convince the vast majority of Christian professionals within these fields. Emphasis mine
Why have fundamentalist efforts to discredit palaeoanthropology failed to convince the vast majority of Christian professionals in this area? [2] Simple. The evidence is beyond dispute.

Cheddar man (Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England - 9100 years ago)

Taigal skull (Taigal Station, Queensland, Australia - 9000 - 11,000 years ago)

Chancelade Man (Chancelade, France, 12,000-17,000 years ago)

 Minatogowa Man (Okinawa, Japan - 14,000 - 16,000 years ago)

Cro-Magnon 1 (Les Eyzies, France - 30,000 years ago)
Hofmeyr Skull (Hofmeyr, South Africa - 36,000 years ago)

 Mungo Man (Lake Mungo, Australia - 40,000 - 68,000 years ago)
Tam Pa Ling remains (Tam Pa Ling Cave, Laos - 46,000 - 63,000 years ago)

Klasies River Cave (Eastern Cape Province, South Africa - 75,000 - 125,000 years ago)

Skhul (Es Skhul cave, Mt Carmel. Israel - 80,000 - 120,00 years ago)

 Qafzeh (Qafzeh, Galilee, Israel - 90,000 - 100,000 years ago)

Herto remains (Herto Bouri, Ethiopioa - 160,000 years ago)

Omo remains (Omo River, Ethiopia - 190,000 years ago)

Misliya remains (Misliya, Israel - 177,000 - 194,000 years ago)

Jebel Irhoud remains (Jebel Irhoud, Morocco - 315,000 years ago)

This list is hardly exhaustive, but should be enough to show that our species - Homo sapiens - stretches back over 300,000 years before the earliest possible date for Adam. Furthermore, the evidence from human genetics which confirms that the human race has never been smaller than a few thousand people [3] confirms that genetically, the human race is far older than 6-10 thousand years. The witness of creation unarguably confirms that, to use Davis Young's words, the view that "all humans are biological descendants of an Adam and Eve specially created by God about 10,000 years ago is so fraught with difficulties that it needs to be summarily dismissed."


1. Young D. A "The Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race Revisited" Christian Scholar's Review (1995) 24:4, 380-396
2. One example is physical anthropologist James Kidder, author of the excellent BioLogos series on human evolution which should be required reading for every senior Sunday School student wanting an informed, authoritative overview of the subject from a Christian.
3. "Taken individually and collectively, population genomics studies strongly suggest that our lineage has not experienced an extreme population bottleneck in the last nine million years or more (and thus not in any hominid, nor even an australopithecine species), and that any bottlenecks our lineage did experience were a reduction only to a population of several thousand breeding individuals. As such, the hypothesis that humans are genetically derived from a single ancestral pair in the recent past has no support from a genomics perspective, and, indeed, is counter to a large body of evidence." Venema, D. R.  "Genesis and the Genome: Genomics Evidence for Human-Ape Common Ancestry and Ancestral Hominid Population Sizes" Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (2010) 62:166-178