Ken Ham Ain’t No Kin to Homo Naledi

Many of you know about the recent discovery in South Africa of what may be yet another pre-human species. PhysOrg has an article on it: Bones in South African cave reveal new human relative. You’ll want to read it all, but briefly, with our bold font for emphasis, they say:

The bones were found by a spelunker, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Johannesburg. The site has yielded some 1,550 specimens since its discovery in 2013. The fossils represent at least 15 individuals.

Researchers named the creature Homo naledi (nah-LEH-dee). That reflects the “Homo” evolutionary group, which includes modern people and our closest extinct relatives, and the word for “star” in a local language. The find was made in the Rising Star cave system. The creature, which evidently walked upright, represents a mix of traits. For example, the hands and feet look like Homo, but the shoulders and the small brain recall Homo’s more ape-like ancestors, the researchers said.

[…]

The researchers also announced the discovery in the journal eLife. They said they were unable to determine an age for the fossils because of unusual characteristics of the site, but that they are still trying. [Lee Berger, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who led the work] said researchers are not claiming that neledi was a direct ancestor of modern-day people, and experts unconnected to the project said they believed it was not.

The fossils haven’t been dated yet, and there is already disagreement as to whether they represent something near the root of the Homo group, or something that lived later than that but which kept its primitive features. Until there is more definitive work done, we have no opinion.

However, there is someone who already knows everything, so he is not in doubt. Yes, we’re referring to Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. He’s famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Ol’ Hambo has just posted Supposed Human Ancestor Found in African Cave? at his blog. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The media is buzzing with news that another supposed human ancestor has been found in an African cave.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No one is claiming that Homo naledi is a human ancestor. Rather, it’s thought to be a distant cousin, descended from our common ancestor, but not a direct ancestor. Bad start, Hambo! Let’s read on:

[W]e can say with confidence that this discovery changes nothing about our understanding of human history. You see, the only eyewitness account of human origins is the one provided by God our Creator in the Bible’s book of Genesis. No scientist witnessed the origin of man, and evolutionary scientists only believe there were intermediate evolutionary links between an ape-like ancestor and man because they have disregarded God’s Word and substituted their own fallible opinions in its place.

Foolish scientists! Hambo continues:

We know from God’s Word that “nature” did not experiment “with how to evolve humans.” God told us He created two humans as well as all the kinds of land animals — and that includes apes — on the same day. That means that there could be no evolution involved. Whatever species these bones represent — and we will be publishing a more complete report on the discovery and the claims being made about it soon — we know that they cannot be any sort of intermediate between apes and humans.

Hambo knows! He promises to post something more on the topic, after his creation scientists have studied the published research. We’ll be eagerly watching for it.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

50 responses to “Ken Ham Ain’t No Kin to Homo Naledi

  1. Among the hardest three words for anyone to say is “I was wrong” closely followed by “I don’t know.” [technically four words I suppose]. These words are rarely used by cock-sure small-minded people like Ham and his ilk, and more easily flow from those who carefully consider the entirety of reality.

  2. Maybe they found the remains of Adam and Eve and Shem and Hem and Moe and Groucho and Curly, et. al.

  3. And yet who was it that used “historical science” during the Nye-Ham debate? Oh, that’s right, Ken. It was you! I guess it’s okay to break the Ninth Commandment so long as you’re doing it for God.
    Right, Ken?

  4. [W]e can say with confidence that this discovery changes nothing about our understanding of human history. You see, the only eyewitness account of human origins is the one provided by God our Creator in the Bible’s book of Genesis.

    But “God our Creator” didn’t write Genesis; Moses (the adopted Egyptian prince) did, at least if you believe the traditional account.

  5. About the only eyewitness to the events of creation.

    The Bible does not say that the accounts in Genesis are eyewitness testimony.

    Interesting, though, Ellen G. White, the prophet of Seventh Day Adventism, claimed to be an eyewitness to the creation. Interesting, because of course, SDA is the source of 20th century Young Earth Creationism.

  6. Even by Hambo’s standards, this latest outburst is pretty dire. He surely must realize that he has offered exactly nothing to make any reasonable person doubt that these are indeed early branches on the human tree.

    Of course, there may well be plenty of other reasons to doubt this: as you correctly say, we simply do not and cannot as yet know. But for Hambo to offer nothing but biblical dubieties and handwaving is extraordinarily weak.

    Me, I think from the accounts I’ve read in the press that the Naledis sound a lot like that transitional fossil the YECs are so perturbed about: modern-style fingers yet hands adapted for knuckle-dragging and swinging through the trees, oh yes. This doesn’t seem to be the conclusion of the research team, so I assume it’s garbage; but I wonder if a similar speculation might not be what has inspired Hambo to his pre-emptive strike.

  7. realthog says: “But for Hambo to offer nothing but biblical dubieties and handwaving is extraordinarily weak.”

    Oh yeah? Were you there?

  8. @SC
    Oh yeah? Were you there?

    Of course I was. Were you there to prove otherwise?

  9. Ceteris Paribus

    “The creature, which evidently walked upright, represents a mix of traits. For example, the hands and feet look like Homo, but the shoulders and the small brain recall Homo’s more ape-like ancestors, the researchers said.”

    That kinda also pretty well describes my mother-in-law. But I briefly saw her birth certificate once, and am fairly certain that it said something about “Smurfette“.

  10. Ha! I didn’t see either of you there, so you are both heretics or unbelievers or blasphemers or something. I’ll think of the proper term eventually.

    But all joking aside, this is a very nice find. It will be a lot more meaningful when some tight dates are assigned though. Without the volcanic layers you get farther north it may be more difficult.

    But give the folks time. There are a lot of new dating techniques being explored and they’ll eventually settle on a good date for this find. No hurry.

    In the meantime, with this new find (whenever it was), there are two more transitionals that we are missing, so the creationists should be celebrating!

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    Last time AIG jumped the gun on released science news we learned that Answers in Genesis: Pluto Is Young! A smooth planet supports a young solar system (despite other planets and moons being quite pock-marked.

    So, in the news today is hi-rez pictures of Pluto … with craters. Quite a few in fact. Here is a good one of the craters.

    Hammy I am sure is under pressure to answer all this news in a certain way, but boy it makes him look silly.

  12. Coyote gives the ultimate proof that Evilution Theory is false:

    “with this new find there are two more transitionals that we are missing”
    Exactly! The more fossils are found the more transitionals are missing the less evilution can explain the more it’s wrong. May God help us!
    Take that, athiest.

  13. Douglas E notes:

    Among the hardest three words for anyone to say is “I was wrong”

    But they really shouldn’t be. IIRC, it was Mark Twain who pointed out that to say one was wrong is simply another way of saying, “I know more today than I did yesterday,” which should be ones daily goal in any event.

  14. Charles Deetz😉 says: “Hammy I am sure is under pressure to answer all this news in a certain way, but boy it makes him look silly.”

    In this case, to avoid doubt and panic among his drooling followers, he is functioning as the Baghdad Bob of creationism.

  15. “…the Baghdad Bob of creationism.” You know, SC, I like this even better than “Ayatollah of Appalachia.”

  16. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No one is claiming that Homo naledi is a human ancestor. Rather, it’s thought to be a distant cousin, descended from our common ancestor, but not a direct ancestor.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/10/africa/homo-naledi-human-relative-species/

    Looks like they are claiming its a human ancestor, at least the liberals will claim so due to the headline.

  17. Did you see the graphic of the cross-section of that cave? You really had to work to get to the bone pit.

  18. “Did you see the graphic of the cross-section of that cave? You really had to work to get to the bone pit.”

    And?

  19. TomS accurately observed:
    The Bible does not say that the accounts in Genesis are eyewitness testimony.

    Excellent point. Even in English translation, Genesis 1 sounds not at all like an “eyewitness testimony.” It has the sound and structure of a kind of poetic tribute meant to contrast ELOHIM, the one and only God of the Children of Israel, with the pantheons of neighboring religions. The “And the evening and the morning was the Nth YOM” is a verbatim, repeated chorus. (Narrators describing a week of historical events are much more likely to vary the wording, and usually shorten the wording, when saying what is essentially, “On the next day, he …”)

    We aren’t told that the two so-called “creation accounts” are “original” to the authors of the Torah, much less two “eye-witness accounts.” Both Genesis 1:1-2:4a and the Genesis 2:4bff were most likely oral traditions eventually committed to writing. Their differences are striking. Both pericopes were probably sufficiently important within the culture to be “must includes” in a book entitled: “In the beginning”. (The books of the TANAKH, also known as the Old Testament, were named according to their first word(s). So what we call “Genesis” was BARASHIT to them: In the Beginning.)

    The fact that both pericopes were most likely considered ancient oral traditions even at the time Genesis was written should not be a threatening concept, even to the most Bible-inerrancy-minded reader. Yet, simply because it is not a traditional notion among Young Earth Creationists, most will denounce the thought as “liberal” at best and “demonic” at worst. Nevertheless, if they actually paused to think about it, regarding Genesis 1 as what it most likely was, a tribute to Israel’s God as Creator of all—and not any sort of historical chronology of events and an eye-witness account—would even allow inerrantists to regard Genesis as “entirely true” without creating scientific quandaries.

    I won’t repeat all the details of my annoyance at the claim that the two pericopes are “contradictory creation accounts”. It would be more accurate to call them two origins stories. The first is a “big picture” explanation of the origin of the Hebrews’ world, while the second is focused on “Life in Paradise and How We Lost It”, the origin of man’s plight in a harsh world beginning in a special land in the Eden region.

    As I so often emphasize in so many texts, the proper understanding of the Hebrew word ERETZ is key. Even the King James Bible translators tended to translate ERETZ as “land” or “country” once they got past the early chapters of Genesis. But even in those first chapters, the meaning of the word “earth” in 1611 English was much closer in its primary definition to the Hebrew word ERETZ than the modern day primary meaning of “earth”. That is, in modern English we see the word “earth” and tend to think “planet earth”—but in 1611 “earth” was typically the opposite of “sky” and where one planted seeds (as in “tilling the earth”) and “piled some earth” to create a windbreak.

    A specific ERETZ is unnecessary in Genesis 1 because the ERETZ is contextualized by the Hebrew idiom in the very first verse: “the heavens and the earth”, a Hebrew idiom which basically served as their equivalent to “the universe.” But in Genesis 2:4bff, the particular ERETZ/land is in the Eden region where the four river branches are named. With that in mind, the statements about the lack of rain and why no plants were growing in that land set the stage for explaining that God planted a garden there, because irrigation could take advantage of the plentiful water and provide excellent growing conditions. (Clearly, the traditional YEC interpretation of Genesis 2 forces them to apply to the entire planet an imagined “misting system”. This tendency to apply descriptions of a particular place to the whole of planet earth leads to bizarre claims on a grand scale like “thorns and weeds didn’t exist before the fall”, instead of the obvious “There were no thorns and weeds in the garden God planted but plenty of them in the outside world, as Adam and Eve discovered after being banned from the garden.”)

    Just as with the Noah pericope, a few substitutions of these alternate renderings in Genesis 2 (which many modern translation include only as footnotes in order to avoid offending traditionalists) produce a very different impression with the improved translation:

    1) “the heavens and the earth” ===> the universe
    [However, Hebrew cosmology was quite “primitive” by modern standards so “the universe” should be considered on their own, more modest terms, not ours.]

    2) ERETZ/earth ===> “land”
    [In the Hebrew Old Testament, that “land” can refer to everything that isn’t “the waters” (as in oceans and seas) **or** everything one sees to the horizon in all directions **or** individual countries **or** a particular geographic feature (e.g., a wilderness, a penisula) **or** a particular parcel of land assigned to a family or by inheritance, to give some examples of ERETZ/land.]

    If YECists would ease up on the tradition of a rigid reliance on an anachronistic imposition on the two so-called “creation accounts” and allowed them to speak on their own ancient contextual and cultural terms, the
    “eye-witness historical account” bias with a western-style emphasize on chronology wouldn’t blind them to the original purpose of the two pericopes.

    {The preceding is a draft of an upcoming BSF article for https://bibleandscienceforum.wordpress.com/ }

  20. ….he [Ham] is functioning as the Baghdad Bob of creationism.

    Yes! The S.C. has hit another bullseye with that vivid description of the Great “Ham I am.”

  21. docbill1351 says: “Did you see the graphic of the cross-section of that cave? You really had to work to get to the bone pit.”

    It’s obvious that they came up — from the hollow center of the Earth! One day my theory will be as famous as the Time Cube!

  22. … and I think it supports the hypothesis that the bodies were dragged there on purpose. (If it was a sea cave I would have said on porpoise.) It’s still undetermined and caves can shift around over a million years or so, I guess. I don’t know. And from what I read about the paper, researchers didn’t find a collection of animal bones among the naledi. As the old joke goes, that’s a long way to tip a Rarei.

  23. . . .it does, docbill. And, as far as we can tell from the data provided so far, I think you are right. However, there are many unknowns at this time, and I look forward to the months ahead when we hopefully will learn more. At any rate, this is a great find that should help — as long as we examine the emerging evidence without the unnecessary hype that is often pumped out by credulous reporters. Besides, it’s fun to watch Hambo and his stable of creationists hoist themselves on their petards of ignorance and superstition.

  24. I just noticed the headlines of the reports online.

    CNN refers to a human ancestor, the New York Times to human lineage, NBC News to a cousin.

  25. Once again, I am deeply beholden to Prof Tertius for his illuminating post; many thanks!

    But I remain puzzled by the ancient Biblical conundrum, viz.: does a BARASHIT in the woods?

  26. And I see that my previous comment has been flagged for moderation!

    Must have hit the SCUNTHORPE trigger…

  27. Megalonyx, as with the comment of Professor Tertius before you, that peculiarly spelled word has triggered one of our family-friendly decency filters. In his case it was excusable. In your case, well, we’re all familiar with your outrageous ways.

  28. “No one is claiming that Homo naledi is a human ancestor.” But National Geographic is describing the find as a human ancestor:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150910-human-evolution-change/

  29. The esteemed Professor Tertius writes: “Both Genesis 1:1-2:4a and the Genesis 2:4bff were most likely oral traditions eventually committed to writing.”

    Well, both are obviously steeped in Near Eastern mythology. The first one (the “Priestly” creation account) seems to be based on Psalm 104, which in turn has some affinities with the Egyptian Hymn to the Sun; other Egyptian parallels include the speaking into existence of things, as Ptah does in the Memphis Theology. Though it maintains the idea of a primordial ocean, it demythologizes the battle with chaos and the sea monster that is found frequently throughout the Bible and in Phoenician/Babylonian creation myths.

    David Carr (Reading the Fractures of Genesis) is probably correct, that the Priestly author’s version of creation and the patriarchal stories was written as a replacement for the “Yahwist” stories, but a later redactor combined the two together.

  30. Our Curmudgeon confirms that a Biblical word in previous posts

    triggered one of our family-friendly decency filters

    But attempts to evade those filters yield even worse results, e.g., “When travelling through Lincolnshire, be sure to pay a visit to Sc*nthorpe”…

  31. Very cun*ing of you, Meglonyx!

  32. Nothing can be created without there being a creator, be it a car, a computer, a building or a planet. Is it scientifically possible for something to appear from nothing? If evolution is more than just a theory, why has it never been observed? Why are there still various species of apes on earth if all species have supposedly been evolving simultaneously over the same amount (millions of years) of time? And where do the giant humanoid skeletons said to have been discovered at various locations around the world fit in with the theory of human evolution? Are the “conspiracies” involving aliens, free masons, the illuminati, the thule society, satan worship, the underworld (agartha), a one world government, all the inventions of the minds of highly evolved primates? Those who seek shall find and those who choose to be deluded shall be deluded.

  33. @Mr me
    Does your principle about creation apply to each individual. Me, my dog Fido, and the tree in my front yard?
    If so, what does that mean about the science of reproduction? Is there something wrong with the scientific explanation of the processes that give rise to individuals?
    I’m guessing that you agree that the sciences of reproductton, genetics, development, are OK when it is about individuals. What goes wrong when it is about abstrations like species? Do you know that many Young Earth Creationists insist that they accept evolution of species?

  34. Mr me:
    “Nothing can be created without there being a creator, be it a car, a computer, a building or a planet.”

    Why stop there? You should add, “…or a God.”

    That point aside, evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with the creation (or beginning) of God, the universe, galaxies, stars, or planets. It merely describes how life forms have changed over the ages. Evolution doesn’t even address the beginning of life. It only outlines the way natural selection can favor certain traits, allowing those organisms with those traits to reproduce more successfully than the organisms that lack those traits.

    What is so difficult to understand about that?

  35. whether you believe in creation or evolution, we have to conclude that both theories have to be taken by faith, being the manner that brought about our existance as we know it cannot be proven or replicated scientifically due to our finite knowledge. If you believe that in evolution and the world is infinite how can we conclude that we know enough of an infinate universe to draw any conclusions as you would have no datum point from which to reference our existing knowledge. As thiests we have a reference point in which we place our faith, God.
    It is due to this fact that we have to draw conclusions using our preconceived understanding of the biblical creation…Ps, our confidence is in the bible which has never been disproved; scientifically or historically.

  36. @grano-
    Many people believe in creation and accept the evidence for evolutionary biology.
    The Bible has nothing to say about evolution, positive or negative. The words don’t exist in Biblical language to discuss it.
    Most people of faith accept the scientific accounts of reproduction, the appearance of the individual, without seeing any conflict with the individual’s relationship with one’s Creator. Why then see any conflict with the scientific account of the origin of the collective, the abstraction, the species, genus or other taxonomy?
    Few people have problems with scientific investigations of things that cannot be replicated, like earthquakes, storms, stars. Not to mention that evolution can be replicated.

  37. @grano

    the bible which has never been disproved; scientifically or historically

    You might want to read a tad more widely than you evidently do.

  38. TomS says: “The Bible has nothing to say about evolution, positive or negative.”

    Maybe. But maybe not. I pointed out some ambiguities a few years ago — see Is Evolution in the Bible?, and then Is Evolution in the Bible? (Part 2), which is even better.

  39. @SC-
    One should also mention the description of the appearance of living things in Genesis 1, where living things appear from the waters and the land.

    But evolution, I remind, is the change in heritable traits of populations. (The origins of individual living things is the domain of reproductive biology. The Bible seems to accept spontaneous and equivocal generation as well as the more conventional univocal generation.) But the Bible does not speak of heritable traits or of populations. Darwin wrote of descent with modification, and there is nothing about that in the Bible. One can also think of common descent, or of speciation, taxonomy, biogeography, genetics, extinction, or fossils. (No denial of transitional forms, alas!) The Bible does not even speak of the majority (by any measure) of the world of life, the microbes. If nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, the Bible is consistent with that in that it is not interested in making sense of biology.

  40. Believing in something which has never been observed does indeed require lots of faith. How does a fish suddenly grow legs and become something else? Why would trees become trees and not just remain grass or seaweed? If evolution is driven by the constant need to adapt in order survive (survival of the fittest), what would be the evolutionary advantage of evolving into a chicken or a frog and why don’t they continue to evolve (morph) into some new and improved species? Has evolution run out of ideas? And what about the supernatural? Is that also a product of evolution or is it just another silly conspiracy theory? The thing to remember here is that everything will be exposed. Nothing shall remain hidden, and it won’t be scientists doing the exposing.

  41. @ Mr me

    I will channel my inner José Mourinho in reply, “So click Google instead of asking stupid questions.”

  42. @Mr me
    Believing in something
    I don’t believe in evolution. (I recognize that there is overwhelming evidence and reasoning that tells us that evolution occurs in the world of life.)
    never been observed
    Evolution has been observed. Whatever criterion you imposed by which evolution has not been observed also rules out the observation of electrons, the center of the Earth, the orbit of Pluto.
    By what authority you proclaim universal rules for “belief” and “observation”?
    Have you ever considered that your rules are worthless?

    If evolution is driven by the constant need to adapt …
    And if it isn’t?

  43. PBS has an excellent NOVA documentary on the find. It was filmed on site and includes footage of the discovery and excavation. It may still be streaming from their website.

  44. I wasn’t expecting any answers to my questions as these are seemingly way above the heads of such a group of ‘enlightened’ blind mice. But here goes yet another: where did water come from? And please don’t tell me about the comet strike theory. It’s clearly another feable invention by those who refuse to accept the truth: that there is no such thing as evolution!

  45. @Mr me:
    It is interesting that you ask where water comes from. For the Bible pointedly does not say where the water came from. At the beginning of God’s creation, he is facing the water.

    On the other hand, the question of where water comes from is not relevant to evolution, any more than it is for chemistry, meteorology or plumbing.

    If you want to know where hydrogen and oxygen come from, I suggest you read up a bit on cosmology, in particular, nucleogenesis. Quite a bit has been done on that.

  46. Not quite the answer i was expecting. And as for hellium and oxygen, did they also evolve into all the other known elements as the infallible scientists suggest? I suggest you do a bit more research. What kind of judge reaches a verdict after hearing only one side of the story?

  47. @Mr me

    You say, “What kind of judge reaches a verdict after hearing only one side of the story?”

    That applies to you, too. So why don’t you do as Tom S suggests and go read up some cosmology? There are plenty of good popularizations around. That way you’ll find out the answer to such questions as where the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium (not helium and oxygen) came from.

  48. @Mr me:
    What is your side of the story? Where does water come from? The Bible doesn’t show any interest where water (or earth, wind – those also are just assumed to be there at the beginning of God’s creation) from. The Bible doesn’t say anything about helium or oxygen – where did they come from?
    I will be interested in hearing any story, Bible-based or just something that you made up, infallible or not, where those came from.

  49. Mr. me, what is the “other side’s” explanation about the Naledi– does it involve 3-in-1 magical beings, talking snakes, a trickster god/devil, a god that will reward you forever if you believe the right magic story? Does it involve a god that will punish you if you don’t believe the right magic story?

    The problem with creationists is that they have no alternative explanation, and a complete lack of curiosity when it comes to any facts that threaten their faith. This is why scientists don’t take your goofy apologetics any more seriously than you take Scientology– or the myths of yore.

    When things are real, the evidence accumulates, and scientists are eager to find out more (see x-rays, atoms, DNA, electricity, etc.)– But the magical beings and explanations that you believe explain the evidence– are as useless to science as all competing myths and superstitions. Real evidence leads us to more understanding… and gives us the ability to predict new evidence. If you ever want smart rational people to take you seriously, you need to understand the evidence (which you don’t/won’t) and provide an alternative explanation that rivals the one that scientists have to offer.

  50. You can watch the documentary on this fantastic find on PBS: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365559270/

    I predict that creationists will have a complete lack of curiosity regarding this subject. It must bother them to understand that scientists consider evolution to be a FACT (as well as the basis for a broader theory.)