Stop the Prejudice Against Neanderthals!

There have been some recent articles about Neanderthals at PhysOrg, the latest being Neanderthal inheritance helped humans adapt to life outside of Africa. One excerpt should be enough:

As the ancestors of modern humans made their way out of Africa to other parts of the world many thousands of years ago, they met up and in some cases had children with other forms of humans, including the Neanderthals and Denisovans. Scientists know this because traces of those meetings remain in the human genome. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on November 10 find more evidence that those encounters have benefited humans over the years.

All told, the new study identifies 126 different places in the genome where genes inherited from those archaic humans remain at unusually high frequency in the genomes of modern humans around the world. We owe our long-lost hominid relatives for various traits, and especially those related to our immune systems and skin, the evidence shows.

The subject has captured the attention of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. The title of their article is Stop Calling Neanderthals ‘Not-Quite-Human Creatures’! It was written by Elizabeth Mitchell, a creationist gynecologist. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Though Bible-believing creationists were not surprised, a while back many were shocked to learn that Neanderthal genes and Denisovan genes were present in the genomes of many modern people. In fact, their genes have helped make many of us what we are today, medically speaking at least. The DNA inherited from archaic people groups affects the modern human’s immune system and vulnerability to certain diseases and even the high-altitude tolerance of Tibetans.

Although they ain’t no kin to no monkey, creationists aren’t bothered by being related to Neanderthals. Why? The creationist gynecologist says:

USA Today recently reported on the latest confirmation of the widespread and useful nature of our archaic genetic inheritance.

She uses a newspaper article to explain the research, and tells us:

Sadly, the USA Today writer perpetuates the notion that the Neanderthal and Denisovans in our past are something less than human. She calls them “these not-quite-human creatures.” This evolutionary notion is incorrect. If Neanderthals and Denisovans had not been human, they would not have been able to produce children with early modern humans. Furthermore, though no Denisovan archaeological sites have yet been discovered, the more we learn about Neanderthals from archaeology, the more it is plain that Neanderthals were fully human, not some sort of high-end ape-men.

Aha — the “evolutionary notion” is incorrect. She continues:

Most of us do not appreciate having our ancestors demeaned and insulted. On a broader scale this should be true of our attitude toward the archaic humans in modern man’s past. These valuable bits of DNA many modern humans carry around came from people of the same created kind as Adam and Eve and ourselves. They were fully human. Furthermore, because Neanderthal DNA, Denisovan DNA, and modern human DNA is all human DNA, it is clear that no molecules-to-man evolution was involved in passing on their genes to us.

Yes, it’s clear. Hold on, it gets better:

Actually these discoveries about the importance of archaic human genes in the make-up of moderns — when stripped of the evolutionarily derived dates and evolutionary assumptions about the origin of man [Hee hee!] — actually support the biblical history of our common descent from Adam and later from the people that dispersed from the Tower of Babel.

The evidence always supports Genesis — because it’s The Truth! Let’s read on:

From the biblical account of history, we understand that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and early modern humans were not sundry evolutionary products — a position neither biblical history nor experimental biology supports.

She’s right — you can’t experimentally evolve a Neanderthal in the lab. Another excerpt:

They could only be the descendants of people who dispersed from the Tower of Babel sometime after the global Flood of Noah’s day. Some isolated groups of people would have developed distinguishing traits, but all were still human.

It makes perfect sense! Near the end she makes an urgent plea for tolerance:

It’s time to stop giving evolution the credit for our existence and our survival. And it’s also time to stop, in this time-lapse “prehistoric” prejudice, calling other people who were made as much in the image of God as ourselves “not-quite-human.”

Aren’t you ashamed of your evolutionary prejudice, dear reader? Well then, as the creationist gynecologist says, it’s time to stop!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Stop the Prejudice Against Neanderthals!

  1. “They could only be the descendants of people who dispersed from the Tower of Babel sometime after the global Flood of Noah’s day.”
    How can one even comment on a statement such as this?

  2. When we take out all of the parts of the science we don’t like, then we totally like the science.

  3. So, Adam was a Neanderthal and Eve was a Denisovan?

  4. If Neanderthals were successfully reproducing with other humans (I’m not yet convinced that the evidence shows that), then they weren’t separate species (= basic biology). Formerly, they were considered as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, but now as Homo neanderthalensis. If they were a separate species and justify needing a separate species name, then they have to be reproductively incompatible with other species.

    However, this “clean” definition of species has been muddled by observing multiple cases of natural interspecies hybridization in various organisms, with fertile offspring. I think many biologists and paleontologists tend to forget that this is what subspecies nomens are for.

    This can get even messier with reticulate evolution – a species diverging into two separate species, which then hybridize and converge into one species. Nature doesn’t always fit into nice, well-defined, box-like categories for us.

    The creationists are right and wrong here – they were fully human (= classified in Family Hominidae – the human family), but they are definitely not us (prominent brow ridge, no chin, larger brain case, convex facial profile, occipital bun, etc.).

  5. The taxonomic family Hominidae (the great apes) includes chimps, gorillas and orangs as well as humans.

  6. Soooo . . . what about Homo erectus? They had tools and even used fire (though it’s unclear whether they knew how to make it or only how to exploit it when they found natural fires)–but they had much smaller brains (unlike Neanderthals and Denisovans). How do creationists shoehorn them into their human “kind”?

  7. …when stripped of the evolutionarily derived dates

    Once again the creationists show that anything they disagree with is “evolution.” I don’t suppose that any evidence we could provide would convince them that dating techniques are developed by folks in nuclear physics and other closely related fields.

    …actually support the biblical history of our common descent from Adam and later from the people that dispersed from the Tower of Babel

    This probably comes from John Woodmorappe. There is one little problem with is idea though.

    Creationist John Woodmorappe, in his “The Non-Transitions in ‘Human Evolution’—on Evolutionists’ Terms” claims that the change from modern man, i.e., Adam and Eve, to Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis took place after the Babel incident, which is usually placed after the global flood and in the range of 4,000 to 5,300 years ago.

    The implications of this are huge: Woodmorappe’s perceived change from modern man to Homo ergaster would require a rate of evolution on the order of several hundred times as rapid as scientists posit for the change from Homo ergaster to modern man! This is in spite of the fact that most creationists deny evolution occurs on this scale at all; now a creationist has not only proposed such a change, but sees it operating several hundreds of times faster and in reverse!

    Good thing creationists don’t have to follow the evidence or scientific method or anything sensible like that, eh?

  8. They don’t have follow the Bible, either.
    There is nothing in the Bible about “kind ” (Hebrew min) in reference to humans.

  9. Again, any wording that might be twisted to imply that “human beings” and Neanderthals are different “kinds” is merely cribbing from the creationist playbook. Neanderthals were a population sufficiently separated from the line that led to modern humans, in a sufficiently different environment, as to demonstrate the effect of differential selective pressure on morphology. They are one more piece of evidence for evolution.

    If “species” is to be defined as “all populations capable of interfertility, with fertile offspring”, then Neanderthals were not a different species, since it can be demonstrated that they did contribute to the modern human genome, at least where they came into contact with modern humans. If “species” is to be defined as “separated populations which exhibit marked differences in genome, and which only rarely interbreed with other populations”, then they were a different species.

    The creationist mis-take on this is merely word-play.

  10. The Bible has nothing to say about relations or differences between any kind/min and an another.

  11. What nonsense! There is absolutely no ‘prejudice Against Neanderthals’!

    In fact, one is about to be placed in the White House, and is busy filling top government posts with an entire tribe of prehistoric leftovers…

  12. “about to be placed”, that should be

    As our Curmudgeon points out, Neanderthal fingers weren’t intelligently designed for keyboards…

    [*Voice from above*] As it should have been, so it is!

  13. AiG promotes the idea of extremely high speed evolution, albeit carefully confined to be within kinds, to explain how the world’s millions of modern species could be transported on the ark.

    The difficulty this imposes is, of course, that the eight humans on the ark were fully modern, not some generic common ancestor as in all the other “kinds” imagined to be on the ark. To be consistent with the AiG position, the evolution of all known human species and sub-species had to have been extremely rapid and in…. reverse?

    While there is no directionality in evolution, Mitchell’s claim that “some isolated groups of people would have developed distinguishing traits, but all were still human” has to include homo erectus and other earlier members of homo, with smaller brains and very primitive tools. Mitchell is, in effect stating that these are all still made-in-the-image-of-God humans, just rapidly evolved and now conveniently extinct.