By Brad Harrub Ph.D
Thirty-thousand feet up in the air is not the “normal” place to be discussing the origins of humans, but on this particular occasion, that is exactly what was being discussed. Having explained my occupation, the individual sitting beside me on the plane had questions. After talking extensively on the creation/evolution controversy, he finally looked at me and asked: “DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHERE WE CAME FROM?”
His sentiments probably have been expressed by literally thousands of individuals who either don’t really care or don’t want to be bothered by the controversy. But should we care? As he asked: “Does it really matter?”
One can hardly open the Bible without seeing the obvious difference between the creation of man found in Genesis chapter 1 and the humanistic worldview, that man is simply a product of evolution. The Bible teaches that man was at the pinnacle of God’s creative activities, and then, through sin, we fell. Evolution teaches that man started out at the bottom and worked his way to the top (via the old amoeba-to-man story). Therefore, either man started at the top and fell, as the Bible indicates, or he started at the bottom and rose to the top, as evolution indicates. Both cannot be correct! The prophets long ago declared the fall of humans, and the resulting need for a Savior. Scripture indicates that this was the reason for Christ’s death—to bring men back into a covenant relationship with God. If man truly did not fall as described in the Creation account, then why did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to this planet and suffer a cruel death on the cross? Does it really matter? The answer can be found in the blood of Christ—does His death, burial, and resurrection matter?
Given the frequency that alleged missing links are reported in the media, it is safe to say that most Christians have heard of these ape-like creatures at some point or another. Oftentimes, their long scientific names cause individuals to shy away from reading the articles, and little-by-little, we slowly, just begin to accept that there are numerous fossilized remains that support this gradual evolution from apes-to-humans. The truth, however, is that the fossil record is still amazingly sparse. John Reader, author of the book, Missing Links, wrote in New Scientist, “The entire hominid collection known today would barely cover a billiard table” (1981, 89:802). Lyall Watson, writing in Science Digest, further admitted: “The fossils that decorate our family tree are so scarce that there are still more scientists than specimens. The remarkable fact is that all the physical evidence we have for human evolution can still be placed, with room to spare, inside a single coffin” (1982, 90:44, emp. added). While discoveries have been made since these statements were made, the point is still abundantly clear—missing links are still missing.
Also, our students are not being taught that many images found within textbooks are really an “artist’s interpreation.” Oftentimes, from just a few bone fragments and teeth, a totally new “missing link” is derived. In addition, most students are unaware that many of these have been discredited through the years. While space prevents an exhaustive review of every alleged missing link, consider the following examples:
Nebraska Man —This specimen was “manufactured” from one tooth. An artist took a great deal of creative license and created this creature (and his family) from that single tooth. From the dimensions and location of the tooth researchers believed they had found an ape-like ancestor. The only problem was—the tooth later was identified as a tooth of an extinct pig!
Piltdown Man —For more than forty years this fossil find was touted as “the missing link” that connected humans with the apes. The only problem was that it was a complete FRAUD! Forty years after it was announced, it was discovered that scientists had taken a modern human skull and combined it with the jawbone of an orangutan (even filing down the back teeth of the orangutan to make them look more humanlike). They dipped the whole thing in acid to give it an aged appearance and presented it to the world as our “missing ancestor.” Sadly, someone even buried a tooth fragment from an elephant molar, a tooth from a hippopotamus, and a canine tooth from a chimpanzee fossil to make the Piltdown quarry where this alleged fossil man was discovered appear more significant!
Neanderthal Man —While most people have heard of this alleged missing link, many are quite unaware that at the International Congress of Zoology (1958), Dr. A. J. E. Cave said that his examination of the famous Neanderthal skeleton found in France over 50 years ago proved that it was an old man who suffered from arthritis. In fact, most of the alleged Neanderthal fossils are easily explained by skeletal variations (still common in humans today), and bone disorders such as rickets or arthritis.
Java Man —After removing about 10,000 cubic meters of dirt, workers first uncovered a tooth (September 1891), then later a skull cap (October 1891), a femur (August 1892), and then one more tooth (October 1892). The skullcap and the femur (a thigh bone) were declared by researchers to be the long-sought- after “missing link.” Thirty-five years later, it was revealed that the femur is human and that the skullcap is from a giant gibbon monkey!
Rhodesian Man —Found in a zinc mine in 1921, this fossil was displayed prominently in the British Museum of Natural History. Museum employees who were unfamiliar with human anatomy reconstructed this “ape-man.” Since the hipbones were smashed, the designers fashioned the fossil as stooped over, and named it Cyphanthropus (or “stooping man”). Many years later after the hipbones were re-examined, “Rhodesian Man” was shown to be nothing more than a modern man (he even was shown to have tooth decay like modern humans!).
And this is literally just the tip of the iceberg. A close inspection of the fossil record proves that it relies heavily on speculation and it provides no real sup- port to the idea that men evolved from ape-like creatures. So what does the fossil record really show? I’m going to let Jeremy Rifkin describe it, because he characterized it quite well. Rifkin noted: “What the ‘record’ shows is nearly a century of fudging and finagling by scientists attempting to force various fossil morsels and fragments to conform with Darwin’s notions, all to no avail. Today the millions of fossils stand as very visible, ever-present reminders of the paltriness of the arguments and the overall shabbiness of the theory that marches under the banner of evolution.”
The alleged missing links can be easily assigned to one of two categories: ape or man. No amount of artist interpretation or imagination is going to change that. While it continues to be taught as fact in public classrooms, a close inspection of the evolutionary theory reveals that there is a great deal that this theory cannot explain. In teaching our children about their existence, we need to remind them that evolution cannot explain:
- Why we laugh or cry
- The origin of sex and gender
- The origin of language
- Why humans help one another?
(i.e., charity and altruistic acts)
- The origin of human consciousness
- At what point along that “Tree of Life” did God reach down and instill a soul
In examining where man came from, it is important to remember the first five words in God’s Word—“In the beginning God created.” For indeed, man’s existence, intelligence, artistic expression, compassion, and sense of morality only make sense in light of the creative activities of an Intelligent Designer. If you are still not sure if it really matters where man came from, then allow me to ask if it really matters where you are going to spend eternity?
Dr. Brad Harrub is the director and co-founder of Focus Press. He has authored and co-authored numerous books, including “Convicted,” “Engage,” and “Heart of the Matter.” Brad and his wife, Melinda, and their children Will, Reese, Claire, and Luke reside in Franklin, TN. You can find his full bio here.