How ancient is man, and does the
evidence support Creation or evolution?
I headed a recent newsletter with a table giving current views of the origins and antiquity of the earth and man, together with their associated beliefs about the truth and extent of Noah's Flood. Some were shocked at seeing a view (my own) that combined an ancient earth with only about six thousand years for man. Many Young Earth Creationists see man as older than that. The six thousand years can be calculated from information in the Bible, but how ancient is man according to the empirical evidence?
For help in understanding my explanations, I have compiled another table (above) that lists the conventional geological and archaeological periods and what is found in them. My explanation of what is found appears in the third column while that of the Young Earth Creationists appears in the last column.
The most ancient evidence for man appears in the Pleistocene, which most will know as the Ice Age. As I teach, the Pleistocene contains much of the wilderness (uninhabited) remains of the less than two-thousand-year antediluvian era of man. Geologists also understood it this way before Charles Lyell stretched unstratified deposits called the diluvian into a million-year Pleistocene and before Louis Agassiz taught us to see the Pleistocene as the remains from a frozen Flood (Ice Age). Tellingly, Lyell had earlier rejected reports that evidence of man appears in these diluvian remains less that be used to support the idea that these were remains of those who died in the Flood.
Young Earth Creationists do not see this massive evidence from those who died in the Flood because they teach that all evidence of antediluvian man was destroyed by the Flood. For them, that means the "Ice Age" had to take place after the Flood, explaining why some of them (Whitcomb and Morris) push the age of man back to about ten thousand years. But they interpret what appears to geologists as the fossil evidence of an ancient world as having been created by the Flood. Most Young Earth Creationists agree with everyone else that no evidence of man appears in the fossils.
Bones have to become mineralized (fossils) in order to survive from earlier geological times. Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), founder of paleontology, pointed to this lack of human fossils as evidence of the recent appearance of man. The great naturalist also rejected the theory of evolution of Jean-Batiste Lamarck by pointing out that new species suddenly appear in the fossil record. The same holistic requirements that made it possible for Cuvier to show us how to reconstruct extinct animals from a single piece of bone also inhibit evolution. For evolution to take place, hundreds of things have to change in just the right way, all at the same time.
If neither the antiquity nor the evolution of man comes from the fossil record, however much that be falsely claimed, where did the scientists get it? Moreover, what are those "human" fossils of which so much is made today? As I will explain, man's evolution and antiquity are artificially read into the evidence just as Young Earth Creationists read their theology into the same record. Both views obscure and keep us from examining what is truly present in the archaeological remains and fossil record.
The theory of the evolution of man does not in fact derive from the fossil record but from studying living men and animals in the light of the philosophy of the Great Chain of Being, as became popular during the Enlightenment. In his classic study of the Great Chain of Being, Arthur O. Lovejoy points out that evolution developed from temporalizing the order of animals from the lowest creatures to man along the Great Chain of Being.
The men of the Enlightenment didn't believe in evolution. Following the classical philosophers Plato and Aristotle, they believed the forms of life were eternally fixed either in the mind of their Supreme Creator or in what they were coming to call Nature. Though not believing that forms of life evolved, these men of the Enlightenment saw the various types of men and animals as ordered from higher to lower along their Great Chain of Being. Carl Linnaeus decided the question of man's essential kinship with the animals by classifying humans along with the great apes as primates and adding to this classification the intermediate mysterious troglodytes (cave men).
The Scottish Primitivist, Lord Monboddo saw the orangutan as man's closest relative. He infamously believed that humans were born with tails that midwives discretely remove to spare humans the horror. Monboddo, friend and correspondent of Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck's mentor Comte de Buffon, is the grandfather of evolution. Young Charles must have heard some interesting stories from his grandfather. The younger Darwin proposed that man's closest relatives were Africa's tailless apes.
When Darwin wrote his Descent of Man, he had no evidence from archaeology or paleontology. I have already explained how Thomas Huxley and others created an ancestor among ancient cave dwellers: the Neanderthals. Because Neanderthals did intermarry with humans and are fully within the range of appearances of present humans, neither Neanderthals nor so-called Archaic homo sapiens are less than fully human. Nor are they any more ancient than other antediluvian humans, whether Cro-Magnon, Neolithic, or Early Bronze Age man. None of their bones have become fossils. They were just more impoverished, which explains their living in caves and frequent rickets that gave rise to their large chests and bowed legs.
All these finds are clearly homo sapiens, but there is a world of difference between these remains and those of their presumed ancestors: as great as the difference between men and apes. If ordinary human skeletons can be so divided in an evolutionary picture of man, imagine the possibilities with the very real differences among species of apes.
Promoting primates to the status of man (homo) creates homo erectus as man's ancestor species notwithstanding such such consistent skull differences as smaller brain case, sloping forehead, protruding jaws, massive and prominent teeth, ridges of bones above the eyes, and all this just pertaining to the skull. Wherever you find the habitats of fossil apes - whether Java man in Indonesia, Peking man in China, or Lucy and the Taung child in Africa - some anthropologist has proposed it as the homeland of our ancestors. Notice that anthropologists usually find females and young adults due to the ape's smaller stature. Aside from a few claims by anthropologists having imaginations as keen as certain Ark searchers, these are not found with artifacts that would suggest human behavior.
The latest big change in the evolutionary picture of man sees even modern humans as originating in Africa. That is surmised from greater genetic diversity among the present inhabitants of this continent. These same genetic studies point to the earth's present inhabitants as deriving from a second human dispersion: in truth, evidence of the second dispersion from Noah's Flood. Hence, Africa's genetic diversity says nothing about the origin of humans. The genetic diversity of this continent is instead explained by: (1) the diverse migration routes to Africa as depicted on the endsheets of my book; and (2), more importantly, deep forests that allow tribes to live in isolation on this large continent together with the notable tribalism that discourage Africans from marrying into other tribes.