The Creation Explanation
|Man in His World|
Fossil Man -- Evidence For Evolution?
In Chapter-3 it was demonstrated that the general body of fossil evidence can be interpreted in harmony with the concept of special creation and global catastrophe. But what about fossil men? Do not fossils declare a gradual progression from ape-like creatures to modern man? This is the impression given persistently in superficial accounts in school and college textbooks and mass media productions. Critical examination of the actual data, however, once again reveals that the facts do not prove the ape-to-man thesis.
Six Kinds Of Fossil Evidence
Fossils can be classified according to various types of information, some of the most important being the following: (1) skeletal form (i.e., physical anthropology), (2) minute details of the fine structure of the fossil materials, (3) geological strata in which the fossils are found and the fossil flora and fauna content of these strata, (4) radiometric dating of fossil and/or strata, (5) associated cultural remains, and (6) geographical location. These and other types of information provide only circumstantial evidence relative to prehistory and to any theories of prehistory, such as the theory of human evolution from lower animal forms. Therefore, the data must be interpreted, and the conclusions arrived at will depend upon the presuppositions of the interpreter. Before looking at some of the important fossil evidence, let us first discuss the five types of evidence just catalogued.
Physical anthropology--interpreting fossil forms...Anthropologists historically have generally have based their studies of human fossils upon evolutionary presuppositions. They have therefore labelled fossils types differing from modern norms as "primitive," attempting to arrange fossils in sequences according to form so as to demonstrate an evolutionary progressions from primitive to modern forms. The tendency has been to draw more conclusions from fossils than the data really permit and to state speculations as though they were facts. Deductions which may not be conclusively established on the basis of the form of fossil remains are the following: (1) the intellectual, moral or spiritual attributes of the creature, (2) the possession of the ability to speak, (3) the nature and appearance of all of the fleshy body parts, and (4) genetic relationships to other creatures, fossil or living.
It is possible, however, with some assurance to infer considerable information from fossilized bones, teeth, and other body parts, depending upon how complete the remains are and the state of preservation. For example, the capacity of the skull has a general but no absolute relationship to intelligence. The form of the bones of the hand rarely recovered indicates something of manual ability. The pelvis, knee joints, feet(also rarely recovered), and the position of the foramin magnum of the skull can provide indications as to whether or not the creature had erect posture. Other inferences drawn from skeletal form are less sure. The form of jaw and neck bones may suggest whether or not speech was possible, but any conclusion from fossil remains as to the possession of speech is generally highly speculative.The form and wear of the teeth give indication of dietary habits. As will be indicated later, in recent research microscopic examination of the structure of teeth enamel has revealed important additional evidence for the true human status of Neanderthal man. As to genetic relationships, i.e., the question of descent by evolutionary change from one kind to another, the supposed ancestors to modern man, whatever sequence they are arranged in, are replete with gaps or "missing links," just as in the case of fossil plants and animals.20 Furthermore, some "modern" and "primitive" types were apparently contemporary with one another, as we shall see.
Interpretation by strata and the associated flora and fauna This type of information gives some idea about the environment in which the fossilized creatures lived. The position of the sedimentary stratum with relationship to other fossil bearing strata is interpreted in terms of time, used in assigning an evolutionary age to the fossilized creature. As we have seen in Chapter 3, however, the sedimentary strata do not always seem to be found in the "right" evolutionary order. And as we shall see, a number of fossil men of modern form have been found in supposedly very ancient strata and have been duly classified as discredited and forgotten.
Interpretation by radiometric dating Fossil bones usually do not lend themselves to radiometric dating for several reasons. They often do not contain sufficient carbon to make carbon-14 dating practical. A more recent new chemical dating method based upon the slow change of amino acids in the bone proteins from the L(left handed) to the D(right handed) form. At first this method of dating fossils made waves in the scientific literature and newspapers. However, the method requires detailed knowledge of the temperature, moisture and acidity of the environment of the fossil materials in order to calibrate the method for each use. Or the method could sometimes be calibrated by means carbon-14 dating applied to other fossils in the same stratum. In the past decade, because of its many difficulties and deficiencies, little has been heard of this method for dating fossil materials.
We can see, then, that direct radiometric dating of fossilized materials is usually not possible. As a result fossilized bones are usually dated by reference to the radiometric dates assigned to the rock strata in which they are found, or by reference to the assemblage of associated fossil animals and plants in the same or nearby strata. Sedimentary rocks, however, usually cannot be dated by radiometric methods but must be dated by reference to associated igneous rock formations. Various methods of radiometric dating often do not agree, however, and it is not uncommon for results fitting a current view of prehistory to be accepted while other results are rejected. Disputes among anthropologists are not unusual. The problems of radiometric dating methods will be considered in some detail in Chapter-8.
Interpretation by associated cultural remains. Man is the only cultural being. Thus associated cultural remains should serve to distinguish human from animal fossils, provided that it is possible unmistakably to connect the fossil with the cultural materials. Stone and bone tools and evidences of the controlled use of fire, as well as signs of living areas, are important remains used by anthropologists to identify fossil men and to distinguish among their varying cultures.
Many fossils have no associated cultural remains, and often there is no necessary connection between a fossil and stone implements found nearby. Assemblages of stone implements and fire sites located in ancient living floor areas reveal many things about the culture of ancient races of men, but these are often found without human fossils. Some of the modern type human skulls have been uncovered with no associated cultural remains. On the other hand, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon fossils have sometimes been found with extensive cultural remains, including even their paintings on cave walls and indications of their worship and burial practices, which suggest that they believed in the afterlife.
Interpretation by geographical location. The most extensive outline of early human history to be found in ancient literature is in the writings of Moses in the Old Testament. In the biblical history the human race is pictured radiating from the Middle East after a global flood catastrophe. What can we learn from the geographical locations of human fossils? The fact is that the greater part of such fossils are distributed geographically in a manner which fits the notion of radiation from the Middle East. Both the more modern forms and the more "primitive" forms have generally been found rather far removed from the Middle East, for example in various parts of Africa, Western Europe, and Southeast Asia. Neanderthal fossils tend to be distributed so as to suggest that Neanderthal degenerated in time to a form more "primitive," less modern. It is possible also that modern types moved in on the degenerated forms and displaced them, driving them into extinction or intermarrying with them. The origins of these invaders are not clear from the fossil evidence.
20. Adler, Jerry with John Carey in Newsweek, 29 March 1982, p. 46.