It is us who dehumanized them

To summarize my thoughts on human origins and human evolution, humans started out human. They may have been primitive – in our eyes – but they were completely what they were, and not half-way-there to what they should be.

All creatures evolve, and this produces diversity within a type of thing. For all creatures become adapted to climate and their particular environment. They may evolve a way of obtaining food that is different to their close relatives. For example, a seed-eating bird may become adapted to scavenging for meat found on roads – a recent and on-going evolution.

The human creature is no different in many respects from other creatures. What is different is that human evolution occurs as a response to human culture, and human culture is a product of the human mind. For example, a canoe nomad has a way of life based on displacement in a canoe. Canoe nomads have very well-developed arms and shoulders, with a short, stocky body.

Humans show considerable diversity geographically due to adaptation to climate, but also chronologically as they were adapted to different cultures through prehistory. Prehistoric ways of life made more demands on the skeleton for survival than is experienced by humans today.

Differences in bone structure, behaviour and culture do not mean that prehistoric members of the genus Homo were not human. It is us who dehumanized them!

The half-evolved ape-man has about as much reality as a cartoon strip about the Flintstones.

  • Our body tissues and basic body plan are over 98% genetically identical to those of apes. We are part of the one ‘tree of life.’
  • The few genes – maybe between 300 and 1000 genes that are specific only to humans, have, I believe been shared by all members of the genus Homo for over 3 million years; that is to say, since the origin of the human line.
  • Human evolution, like the evolution of other creatures, has occurred through genetic switching off. This is explained in The Steps of Creation Part I. This is based on documented genetic evidence.
  • A person has a soul. No person has ever had half a soul. You either are one and have one, or don’t have one. This is what makes possible the ability to look into your own mind and know yourself.

Quest for the historical Adam

Historical Adam?
Discussion on the Premier Christian Radio programme Unbelievable on Saturday 14th August 2021. The topic was introduced by Justin Brierley and debated between William Lane Craig and Joshua Swamidass. I support William Lane Craig in principle, though not entirely in details.

Yes, Neanderthal was fully human. Yes, he also was a descendant of Adam.
I do support belief in a historical Adam who is at the root of humanity.

Genesis is rightly described by William Lane Craig as mytho-history. Genesis is figurative. It uses metaphor to express deep theological truths. This Biblical truth must be contrasted to myth as in made-up-story. The idea of the existence of prehistoric hominin / hominid non-humans is a myth that is untrue.

Each of God’s creations was whole, complete and perfect. Mankind was one of these creations.

He created them male and female, with the power of language, each possessing a soul.

God has never created a half-creature. He did not create a ‘hominid’ or upright walking, human-looking, non-human nor cause it to evolve from apes.

The historical Adam could be located 6000 years ago in the Neolithic, or come from prehistory 750 000 years ago with Homo heidelbergensis, or be located at the origin of the genus Homo some 2-3 million years ago.

Primitive members of the genus Homo; Homo habilis, the tool-maker or Homo ignis (Homo erectus), the fire-maker may have looked slightly different to ourselves and have a low hair-line on the forehead, but these were full human beings. Even the oldest fossils of all belonging to the human line, when reconstructed with human features rather than ape features, come out looking human.

The status of early, primitive members of the human line, in the eyes of the Creator, was that of having the original perfection and dignity of Adam and Eve, although we know they fell.

Adam may have looked like this

Dragon Man from China

Dragon Man’s message to the world is “I got brain”.

His name comes from Heilongjiang – Black Dragon River.  This is the name of the province in northern China where the skull was found beside the Songhua River near Harbin.

The face of the man whose body this skull belonged to had deep-set eyes below massively heavy browridges.  His forehead was low, his skull long extending out at the back, and very robust with reinforced bones.  These primitive features combined with some more modern features such as delicate cheek bones and a flatter face due to reduction in the size of the jaw.  His nose was wide and teeth fairly large.

The skull is dated to between 309 000 and 138 000 years old.

The big surprise is that the cranial capacity of this skull is 1420 cc.  This is slightly above the modern average Homo sapiens size and definitely in the top range for a man of this time period.

What immediately strikes you is that this Dragon Man skull is remarkably similar to skulls classified as Homo heidelbergensis from Africa and Europe that mainly date from between 400 000 and 250 000 years ago.

For comparison take a look at these Homo heidelbergensis skulls:

Prehistoric skulls found in China:

  • The seven skulls found at Zhoukoudian Cave near Beijing / Peking – Peking Man have cranial capacities of 850 to 1225 cc and date from 500 000 to 400 000 years
  • The Dali skull found in Shaanxi Province has a cranial capacity of 1120 to 1200 cc and dates to between 250 000 – 128 000 years

Prehistoric skulls found in Europe:

  • Arago 21 found at Tautavel, France has a cranial capacity of 1100 to 1200 cc and dates to between 400 000 and 250 000 years
  • Petralona 1 from Greece has a cranial capacity of 1230 cc and dates to between 400 000 and 350 000 years
  • Three skulls from Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca, Spain have cranial capacities of 1125, 1220 and 1390 cc and date to 300 000 years

Prehistoric skulls found in Africa:

  • The Bodo skull from Ethiopia has a cranial capacity of 1250 cc and dates to 600 000 years
  • The Ndutu skull from Lake Ndutu, Tanzania has a cranial capacity of 1070 to 1120 cc and dates from 400 000 to 350 000 years
  • The Kabwe skull from Broken Hill, Zambia / Rhodesia – Rhodesia Man has a cranial capacity of 1300 cc and dates from between 324 000 and 274 000 years

The average cranial capacity for Homo heidelbergensis was 1200 cc.  The range, however, could extend from 1000 cc to 1400 cc.  The difference between male and female cranial capacity within a type can be as much as 195 cc.

Thus, you can see that the top of the range cranial capacity of the precursor type of human was equal to the average of the succeeding type.  1400 cc was the maximum for Homo heidelbergensis, but average for Homo sapiens.  Likewise, the upper limit for cranial capacity in Homo erectus was 1200 cc, and this was equal to the average size for Homo heidelbergensis.

Thus, Dragon Man fits perfectly into a category labelled Homo heidelbergensis who lived in Africa, Europe and northern Asia.  The features of this type are intermediate between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.  The former label for this type was ‘Archaic Homo sapiens’.

There is a temptation to place every new find in a separate species eg. Homo daliensis – Dali Man, and now Homo longi which means Dragon Man.  But then the human tree becomes a bush, and you can argue forever about every twig belonging to this bush, and ‘not see the wood for the trees’.  What is needed is clarity.

I refer to Homo heidelbergensis as Precursor Man (Homo praecursor) as this globally distributed early type gave rise to Contemporary Man (Homo aequalis) in the three main geographic regions of the world.  I have a problem with the label ‘Homo sapiens’ as if mind jumped into existence 100 000 years ago, as I believe that all forms of mankind have been both intelligent and fully human through prehistory.  Dragon Man had a good sized brain which he used for thinking like a human.

Neolithic Man

Harvesting the sheaths of wheat in Chiloe, Chile 1990s

The Ice Age ended 10 000 years ago and the Neolithic spread across the globe as farming took the place of hunting. What the Neolithic brought was the cultivation of grain crops that could be stored and traded. Storage of food brought wealth.

Surplus allowed people to exercise different trades in exchange for stored food.

What wheat, barley, rye and oats also brought were oatcakes, pancakes, dumplings, pies, pasties and bread. All of these are made with flour. The mark of the Neolithic was stone querns for grinding cereal grains to flour.

Woman making wheat flour with a muller stone on a saddle quern stone Chiloe, Chile – display of traditional methods of producing food at a rural festival in the1990s

I was going into town one day when I overheard a conversation: “The way to make it in life is to get a yoke of oxen.” The listener nodded. “You can hire them out to all the farms round about for ploughing and for harvest, and never want for anything.” I’d never thought of it like that. Also, when vehicles got stuck in the sinking sand on the beach, they paid good money for the yoke of oxen to pull them out.

Ice Age Man

It isn’t that cave houses in the Ice Age would be white-washed, or have glass in the windows, or have flag stones or a well like these at Kinver Edge in England. However, the houses of the Upper Palaeolithic Ice Age would have mud-brick walls to close them in and a door to shut against the bitter wind and drafts.

Approaching the troglodyte valley what you found 35 000 years ago was a stream and beside it a path well-trodden. There were little paths going off from the main path and each one led to a wooden door going straight into the hillside. Partway up the hillside rose a column of smoke from the fire of a hearth. The smoke escaped through an excavated chimney.

Some caves were shrines kept by shamans. I’ve heard they’re full of paintings, but you could only go in if you were participating in the ritual. That is the ritual that causes the auroches and the horses to return on their yearly migration when the shamans call them.

The return of the herds was always a time of plenty, a bonanza. Many people smoked meat as well as fish in smoke houses, then they had stores of food to tide them over until the next hunting season and to exchange for other goods.

Chimney of a cave in Chinamada, Ternerife
Chilote smoke house 1990s

Melded Man

Homo aequalis (Homo sapiens) 100 000 years ago in Israel

Why ‘Melded Man’? All the tribes met at the central point – Europeans moving south towards North Africa, Asians moving west into the Middle East and Africans moving north. They all had something to contribute to the culture and the genetic make-up of Homo aequalis / Homo sapiens – the ‘Melded Man’.

These people owned land and started to control it. They controlled other people too.

The houses were built of mud bricks baked in the sun, and because of this they were rectangular or square. Houses were not just for living in, but also used as stores. The new thing was barns to store what you needed for later. People harvested reeds for thatching and put them in the barn. Sometimes they exchanged bundles of reeds for meat when a large animal had been hunted and killed.

The chiefs of the clans prided themselves on their capacity to organize the clan. This was the source of their power. The people making the mud bricks for all those houses were the ones who rebelled and were given hard-labour toiling under the baking sun.

Bundles of reeds used for thatching being stored in a barn

Neanderthal Man

Homo centralis (Neanderthal Man) 60 000 years ago in Europe

This Neanderthal Man has brown hair and a red beard. He’s feeling grumpy about having to move his tent again.

Long tradition of camping in a bog

The Neanderthal campsite didn’t look exactly like this, but it was just as boggy. Mammoth hunter and marshland dweller had its advantages and drawbacks. Neanderthal quite often upped his sticks and moved on, taking his tent with him.

Camping in the Lake District – flooded out two years running but still stuck it out in the swamp

The advantage Neanderthal had was that he went everywhere in a bark canoe with his whole family and tent poles and cover. When it got cold they lit a fire in the middle of the canoe to keep warm and cook some shellfish. It didn’t burn through the bottom of the canoe because he was not as daft as he’s been made out to be so he knew how to prevent that happening.

Precursor Man

Homo praecursor heidelbergensis (Homo heidelbergensis) 400 000 years ago in Europe

Caves had run out a long time ago and there were many tribes. Some tribes lived on grassland heaths, others in woodlands or in marshlands which they turned into fens. Each had their own type of staple food – in the fens they had reedmace roots, and in the woodland clearings root crops.

We were more for the parsnips but others went for turnips, and there were the novelty radishes. When visiting relatives we took a basket full of tubers as was the custom, picking out the best as a gift. We felt proud to select the best ones and we always got good produce in return.

When we got there we’d go straight out to inspect the vegetable plot and see how things were growing. We’d pop some of the root vegetables we’d brought into the soil to grow and produce more, then dig some others up for us to take home and for the feast.

The men had dug a large hole wielding stone axes hafted like a hoe. It was for the turf oven. They already had the bonfire lit to heat up stones for the oven when we joined them.

We started wrapping up roots and meat in large butterbur leaves (you could also use rhubarb leaves), and getting the shellfish ready that had been gathered in the early morning. It would all go into the hole with the hot stones, then be covered by leaves and turf.

We sat down with some drink served up in gourds and watched the steam rise out of the ground for about six hours. I don’t know what was in the drink – I saw they’d been fermenting it inside a dugout canoe – I got quite dizzy. The stories they were telling all became a blur. Then at last we got some food – you could feed a hundred people from a turf oven if you needed to.

Curanto en hoyo Chiloe, Chile 1990s – Turf oven with shellfish, pork, potatoes, beans and potatoe cakes (milcao) covered by gunnera leaves – a prehistoric turf oven would be supplied with wooden bowls and people not wearing these clothes but otherwise the same

Fire-maker Man in Europe

Old woman Homo ignis antecessor / Homo antecesor / Homo erectus one million years ago in Spain

The thing with going to a new continent was that all the caves were free, the hunting was there for the taking and the rivers full of fish. You didn’t have trouble with the neighbours or have to fight with other tribes for territory like in the tropics, but it was the weather: rain, wind and sometimes snow.

Many didn’t make it through the winter, some went southwards and never came back, but others decided to dress like animals. Fur is what we need they said, and they started to keep the animal hides to make capes out of them and bedclothes. Well, capes and bedclothes was the same thing. But the big discussion always was, fur on the inside or fur on the outside? Now if you were going to imitate the animal you’d put the fur on the outside, but then again it’s more cosy on the inside.

There were these new-comer cave men to the valley who got into a ‘discussion’ with the people who know what to do with a cape. They nearly came to blows – one got out a club and was about to hit the other one over the head with it, but it was sorted when he turned his cape inside out, or outside in, I’m not sure which. Then he imitated the noise of a bull and scarpered while the others were looking for their spears.

That’s only one of the things which happened.

Fire-maker Man

Homo ignis (Homo erectus) in Asia 1.8 million years ago

Discovery of fire was a game-changer. Fires were lit to drive animals towards hunters waiting with spears. The trees burned down and the good thing about that was that you got regrowth of plants that attracted grazing animals so you could hunt them as well. The landscape was radically changed and you could look out over a plain for the first time. Of course, not everybody liked it and some got upset that the balsa trees they made rafts out of had burned down as well. All this burning of trees was controversial even 1.8 million years ago.

People moved from the forests to the plains to set up camp and hunt herd animals. You had to run fast to have any chance of killing this type of animal, and then walk for miles with parts of the animal over your shoulders back to camp. But it paid off. No more of that bringing a small lizard back to eat – it was now proper game and enough for the whole group to eat and be satisfied.

At camp the camp fire would already be lit to keep tigers and other wild beasts away from the encampment of shelters. Then when the hunters returned, everyone would gather round and choose their piece of meat and barbeque it on a stick. Some used stones to crack open marrow bones so the children could feed on the soft marrow inside.

Beside the fire were happy times. When all had had their fill, the rhythm started up and men and women danced around the fire.

Sticks have been used for barbecuing since time immemorial (please ignore the iron pots). I went to this BBQ in Chiloe Chile in 1996