Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Overview of Human Origins

Alice C. Linsley

From the first appearance of homo about 3.8 million years ago, the Human has been a special de novo creation, unique among creatures. This uniqueness is expressed in Genesis 1. Although humans clearly reproduce humans, they are not said to reproduce according to their own "kind" (Hebrew min). The emphasis instead is on the human belonging to a distinct category designated by the phrase "image and likeness" of the Creator.

Mary Leakey was convinced that her Australopithecus afarensis finds at Laetoli were homo, but Donald C. Johanson had already announced to the world that the A. afarensis was an ape. Mary expressed regret that “the Laetoli fellow is now doomed to be called Australopithecus afarensis.”

A. afarensis used polished bone tools to cut, chop and scrap, shared food, and used fire. Some of the earliest evidence of controlled fire by humans was found at Swartkrans in South Africa. Other sites that indicate fire use include Chesowanja near Lake Baringo, Koobi Fora and Olorgesailie in Kenya.

A. afarensis also had human dentition. In humans, the back teeth are larger than the front teeth (not so with apes), and the canines are not pointed. Humans also lack the characteristic diastema or tooth gap found in apes.

The so-called "Apes of the South" were fully human, though anatomically archaic, and they appeared suddenly and unheralded on the surface of the Earth about 4 million years ago. Humans appear to be a de novo creation. From the beginning humans have had a binary thought pattern, a binary structure, and a fixed essence.

Kind suggests and essentialist worldview, that is a fixed order of creation. There may be change in form and condition, but not in the essence. Further, the survival and technological development of humans has been superintended in a personal way by the Creator and that the Bible is a reliable account of a certain group of humans from whom Jesus Christ became Incarnate, according to an extraordinarily ancient expectation of Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors. This expectation was based on the promise they received concerning a woman of their ruler-priest caste (Gen. 3:15).
Genesis asserts that the order of creation is fixed and unchanging. This assertion must be understood before it can be either accepted or rejected. By fixed order the Bible means that God has established the order of creation with flexible but fixed boundaries. This means that there is change within species but not evolution from one species to a totally different species. This is why humans produce only humans and if there is something wrong with the genetic code, the fetus usually aborts. Likewise, plants produce plants, animals produce animals and bacteria, while it can mutate, is still bacteria.

Examples cited of evolution from one species to another are not backed up with physical evidence. For example, the public school biology books assume that humans evolved from lower primates and show this in drawings beginning with a hairy, stooped-shouldered and long-armed creature whose form over a series of drawings becomes more like modern humans. These drawings have no basis in physical evidence however. They are a theoretical model. In fact, the oldest human fossils show every evidence of being fully human. There is a range of physical structure among these remains, just as there is a range of physical appearance among humans today. In other words, after 85 years of frantic searching for the “missing link” none has ever been found. Nor will such a specimen be found if Genesis is correct in the assertion that God’s order of creation has fixed boundaries.

Pushing Back Speculation

The oldest human fossils are millions of years old so the idea that Neanderthal fossils represent a recent stage of evolution from ape-like hominids to modern humans is senseless.  The sequencing of the Neanderthal genome is almost complete and not surprisingly it reveals that Neanderthals and modern humans are virutally identical.  Here's the report:

After years of anticipation, the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced. It’s not quite complete, but there’s enough for scientists to start comparing it with our own.

According to these first comparisons, humans and Neanderthals are practically identical at the protein level. Whatever our differences, they’re not in the composition of our building blocks.

However, even if the Neanderthal genome won’t show scientists what makes humans so special, there’s a consolation prize for the rest of us. Most people can likely trace some of their DNA to Neanderthals.

“The Neanderthals are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on a little bit,” said Max Planck Institute evolutionary geneticist Svante Pääbo.

It took four years for Pääbo’s team to assemble a working sequence from DNA in the bones of three 38,000-year-old Neanderthal women, found in Croatia’s Vindija Cave. The sequence, published May 6 in Science, covers about 60 percent of the entire genome. (Read it all here.)

Now to older human remains.

WASHINGTON – The story of humankind is reaching back another million years as scientists learn more about "Ardi," a hominid who lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. The 110-pound, 4-foot female roamed forests a million years before the famous Lucy, long studied as the earliest skeleton of a human ancestor.

This older skeleton reverses the common wisdom of human evolution, said anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University.

Rather than humans evolving from an ancient chimp-like creature, the new find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some long-ago common ancestor — but each evolved and changed separately along the way.

"This is not that common ancestor, but it's the closest we have ever been able to come," said Tim White, director of the Human Evolution Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Read the full report here and note the journalist's assumptions that Lucy and Ardi are somehow less than human although researchers concluded that these were human, not apes.

Important facts about Ardi and the Ardipithecus ramidus:

These 30+ skeletal finds represent the earliest known skeletons from the human family. The team found dozens of bones scattered over an area of 33 to 49 feet. The teeth to fit the range of human dentition and are not the dagger-like canines in male chimps and gorillas.

Paleoanthropologists are largely in agreement that the "Apes of the South" were humans who lived about 3.2 million years ago. Ethiopian Ardi pushes that back about one million years. Lucy was found only about 45 miles from where Ardi was found. At the time these populations lived in east Africa it was forested, as was much of Africa. The bones were found in a stretch of the Awash River, near the village of Aramis in Ethiopia.

Ardi walked upright and stood on 2 legs. She shared food with others in her community. These remains reveal human dentition, not that of apes. It has taken 17 years for scientists to reconstruct and analyze these Ardipithecus ramidus findings which included the bones of no less than 35 individuals.

Paleoanthropologist Tim White led the University of California at Berkeley research team.

Physical evidence indicates that humans appeared as humans and unheralded by sub-human ancestors more than 4 million years ago. Apes do not share food or hunt cooperatively.

Now to Lucy.

Lucy and her kin were human who lived about 3.6 million years ago.  The Leakeys suspected this after they did their work in Ethiopia. Mary Leakey certainly had reason to think so after her 1979 discoveries in Tanzania. That was the year that Mary discovered the earliest known footprints of hominids, animals and birds at Laetoli. The footprints were preserved about 3.6 million years ago under falling ash from the nearby Sadiman volcano. The raised arch and rounded heel of the footprints showed that these creatures walked as humans today.

Unfortunately, Lucy and her kin were given the name "Australopithicus" (meaning ape of the south) by Donald C. Johanson, though Mary Leakey would have called the finds Homo, as she thought they were. She expressed her regret that "the Laetoli fellow is now doomed to be called Australopithecus afarensis," a name contrary to the evidence that Lucy and her people walked upright, had oppositional thumbs, short fingers, human dentition, built fire, shared their food, and used flints to scrap, saw and chop.

Now there is evidence that Lucy and her kin butchered meat. Read the NYT story here. If true, this pushes back the use of butchering flints in the same region from 2.6 to 3.4 million years ago.

Here is the gist of this recent report: "stone-tool-inflicted marks on bones found during recent survey work in Dikika, Ethiopia, a research area close to Gona and Bouri. On the basis of low-power microscopic and environmental scanning electron microscope observations, these bones show unambiguous stone-tool cut marks for flesh removal and percussion marks for marrow access.” On page 11 of the supplementary materials, it states that microscopic stone fragments were found in the cut marks.

There are actually 2 fossilized bones with what appear to be marks made by stone tools.

Some say that the researchers are trying to "etch their name into the textbooks in rewriting human evolution."  They are saying that the marks were made by crocodiles, but the marks were made by humans.

Related reading: What is Meant by the Term "Kind" in Genesis?; Does the Binary Feature Signal Greater Complexity?


  1. Alice, have you ever read "The Language of God" by Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project?

    Collins, a Christian, believes that there is evidence of full-blown interspecies evolution mapped within human DNA. All the "missing links" are attested to there, according to him. (That is not to deny that some of the fossils claimed as missing links are frauds as you have documented). Just wondered about your take on this if you've had a chance to study the issue. . . .

    Being a simple Orthodox believer and neither a scientist or Bible scholar, I personally don't have an issue with this part of Evolutionary theory. I just don't think there is any evidence (in current postlapsarian biology, physics, etc.) that this could have happened apart from God's energizing and directing it. IOW, I'm not a believer in Naturalism, a required tenet of the Theory of Evolution proper. It doesn't seem to me that this denies that humankind as a species is special, created in God's image, whether that creation took place through a long process from less complex life forms or whether God literally created the first human from the dust of the earth (certainly it is still true that man's physical being is made of the same basic elements that make up the material world, found in the dust of the earth). God as the Author of that process has still obviously brought creation to the place of having distinct species groups. My question is could we not see the six-day Genesis account as describing the end result of the various branches of the Evolutionary tree without this necessitating we infer something different than what Dr. Collins sees evidence of human DNA as the process that produced those branches in order to still affirm Genesis?

  2. "My question is could we not see the six-day Genesis account as describing the end result of the various branches of the Evolutionary tree..."

    You are reading a very ancient Afro-Asiatic sacred text from a modern Western perspective.

    The idea of evolution isn't found in Genesis. It is absolutely contrary to their metaphysics in which God created by setting all things in order, establishing binary sets, and fixing the boundaries. You might find this helpful:


Your comments are welcome. Please stay on topic and provide examples to support your point.