Reply to Tanner

Glenn R. Morton (
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 21:28:40 -0500

Dr. William Tanner's letter (PSCF 50(1998):2:156) criticle of my Dec. 1997
article raises a number of interesting issues. Dr. Tanner states:

"The more-or-less sudden infilling of the Mediterranean Basin took place in
Messinian time(the Messinian crisis; late Miocene), in round numbers about
six or seven million years ago. Morton equated this event with the
'appearance on earth of the first hominids.' he used this deliberately
ambiguous term ('hominids'), thus avoiding the use of 'modern human
beings.' Early hominids are physiologically distinct from modern human
beings, and this fact bears heavily on his thesis."

First, Tanner uses "round" numbers. There is no way that the crisis
occurred as early as 7 million years The most recent dating of the
Messinian Salinity Crisis places it between 5.9 and 5.5 million years ago.
(Riding et al, p.11)

Tanner continues:

"Therefore the hypothesis of Morton includes among other things, the idea
that Noah and his predecessors all the way back to Adam, were *not* modern
human beings."
"The date for Noah, as implied by Morton, is about 5.5 million years ago.
Homo sapiens sapiens (modern huamns) first appeared roughly 100,000 years
ago. Construction of the ark, presumably built of planks, required athe
skillful use of tool, at a level not indicated at sites wehre remains of
early hominids have been found. Furthermore, the genealogy in Genesis,
read as a straight-forward account, appears to place Adam at less than
10,000 years ago."

As members of this forum are well aware that is precisely what I am saying.
It is the only thesis that fits the observational data of anthropology. To
restrict Adam to the past 10,000 years ignores tremendous evidence of
religious and other human behavior that exists prior to that time. Tanner
is apparently unaware of the existence of this data, including:

fire usage (back to 1.5 myr; Gowlett, 1993, p. 56-57),

religious altars ( 400 kyr at Bilzingsleben German, Gore, 1997, p.110)

idols (Israel 300 kyr;Bednarik, 1988:98),

art(1.6 myr Mary Leakey, 1966, p. 269)

hut-building (1.8 myr Leakey 1989, p. 60-61)

woodworking 1.5 myr (Schick and Toth, 1994, p. 160)

Earliest wooden plank with polish ( 240-700 kyr; Belitsky 1991, p. 349-353)

Earliest ocean crossing 780 kyr (Morewood, 1998)

All of this took place long,long prior to 10,000 years that Tanner believes
represents Adam.

Tanner states,

"Part of Morton's article depends heavily on expressions such as 'could
ahve been' and 'possibility' This is the phraseology that is very popular
with people who do not really have any pertinent data' 'could' is the
tip-off that we are not dealing with facts."

The use of "could" applies equally to any hypothesis that is advanced.

I would like to hear Tanner's explanation for the above facts. It would be
nice if people who were so quick to criticise would actually spend the time
to examine the anthropological literature and see that what they suggest is
not tenable given today's anthropological database!

I will freely admit to a gap in data needed to support my thesis, but it is
not the gap between 10,000 years and 5.5 million years. It is the gap in
cultural information from 2.5 million years to 5.5 million years.

R.G. Bednarik, "Comments", Rock Art Research 5:2(1988): 91-107, p. 98

Belitszky et al, "A Middle Pleistocene Wooden Plank with man-made Polish,"
Journal of Human Evolution, 1991, 20:349-353

Rick Gore, "The First Europeans," National Geographic, July, 1997, p. 110

John A. J. Gowlett, Ascent to Civilization, (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
1993),p. 56-57

M.D. Leakey, Olduvai Gorge 3 Excavations in Beds I and II, 1960-1693,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), p. 269

Leakey, Richard, "Recent Fossil finds From East Africa," in J.R. Durant ed.
Human Origins, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 60-61.

M. J. Morwood, et al., "Fission-track ages of Stone Tools and Fossils on
the East Indonesian Island of Flores," Nature ,392:173-176, p. 174

Robert Riding, et al, "Mediterranean Messinian Salinity Crisis: constraints
from a Coeval Marginal Basin, Sorbas, Southeastern Spain," Marine Geology

Kathy D. Schick and Nicholas Toth, Making Silent Stones Speak, (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1993), p.160.


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