This is the area that most disappoints me. Ross claims that human history
begins with mankind's special creation 'less than a hundred thousand years
ago' (p. 110). This is a significant change for Ross as he has consistently
claimed that if man was created prior to 60,000 years ago the bible would
be wrong (Ross, 1995,p. 2). I applaud any more ancient movement of the
appropriate time for Adam's creation.
As noted above, Ross believes that the lack of radioactivity is what
allowed early man to live 900 years. This should mean that the modern
Iraqis should have a significantly longer life span than other peoples not
so fortunate to live in Mesopotamia. Of course this isn't true. But Hugh
has an explanation. It seems that 18,000 years ago, the Vela supernova
exploded 1300 lyr away from the earth and irradiated our ancestors causing
their life spans to decrease (p. 119-120). He claims that this is the
nearest supernova that has occurred in human history (unfortunately he is
wrong). He suggests an experiment to test this idea by raising a child in a
totally radiation free environment. But such a test is not really
necessary to know that such a view of human longevity is erroneous
(although something similar has been done-see below). If it were true, then
those people who live in Denver, with less of an atmospheric blanket
protecting them from radiation should have significantly shorter life spans
than those living at sea level. They don't.
Secondly since his book went to press a new discovery has falsified Ross'
view that the Vela pulsar is the nearest and most powerful human era
supernova and it has falsified the view that life span is related to
supernovae. Why do we not see a second reduction in life span with the
supernova RXJ0852.0-4622 which is 600 lyr away and whose light (and
supposedly life span reducing cosmic rays) struck the earth 700 years ago.
Vela is 1630 lyr away and supposedly caused great reduction in life
span..(Aschenbach, 1998, p. 141; Iyudin, 1998, p. 142)
"Appearing low in the sky across central Europe and Asia, the stellar
explosion may have shone as brightly as Venus and could have been visible
for a month.
"No one knows for sure, since astronomers have no eyewitness account of
this celestial event. But two teams of researchers, who have now
discovered the remnant of this previously unknown explosion, say it's the
closest supernova to have graced terrestrial skies during the past 1,500
years. Indeed, evidence suggests that the remnant resides a mere 600
light-years from Earth and that the stellar explosion from which it arose
appeared in the southern sky only about 700 years ago."(Cowen, 1998 p. 309)
Surely our life spans should have been shortened by this event if the Vela
supernova did a job on our ancestors! But we didn't see a second reduction
in the middle 1200s. The fact that our lives today are longer than those
of 600 years ago falsifies Ross' suggestion.
Ross, in his belief that radioactivity is the cause of shortened life
spans, suggests that if we could rear people in radiation free environments
we would see a significant lengthening of life (p. 120). Apparently
similar experiments have been performed. Eighteen years ago, the
young-earth creationist, Dillow presented evidence to contradict Ross'
idea. Dillow acknowledges that radiation can't have an effect on life span.
And Ross could have learned of this if he had wanted to. Dillow writes:
"Experiments have been conducted in which mice were placed hundreds of feet
below the ground to shield them from all cosmic radiation. There was no
indication of an increase in longevity in either the parents or their
offspring." (Dillow 1981, p. 170; Dillow cites personal communication with
Dr. Johan Bjorksten)
It would appear that some of what Ross has suggested has already been done
with results that falsify his thesis.
Who is human?
I have criticized Ross' views on Neanderthal and H. erectus many times in
the past (see Fall 1996 Evolution Reflector archives). He considers them
to be nothing more than bipedal mammals. The new twist in this book is
that Ross tells us why he created these bipedal mammals. It seems that God
created these beings to prepare the animal world for the coming shock of
spiritual man.( p. 56-57). What scriptural support one could advance in
support of such a hypothesis I really wouldn't know. Ross offers no
rational for having read God's mind in this regard.
As I have noted elsewhere, the idea that there were mammals that looked
like us who were not spiritual raises the question 'Do any of these
non-spiritual mammalian bipeds still live today?' In light of Ross'
treatment of Babel (see below) this question becomes more important. Ross
claims that all human cultures have engaged in religion. Ross (p. 110) writes:
"All known human societies, wherever and whenever they have existed,
however, large or small, technologically sophisticated or not, have engaged
in religious worship involving temples, altars, icons, and other unique
But this is not so. While many, many Christians have made this claim few
have actually gone to the trouble to verify this claim. Lucas Bridges, the
son of the first missionary to the Tierra del Fuegan Indians, lived with
them for years and years even after his father died. His book is an
anthropological masterpiece on first contact between two cultures. To
understand the following quote, one must realize that Klokten were novices
in the men's lodge of the Ona--Initiates who had passed their first exam-an
a Joon is the Ona word for magician, not God. Bridges writes:
"I have met white men who told strange stories of Tierra del Fuego, and, as
far as I could judge, believed in what they told. One claimed to have
found a mysterious spot in the Forest, where there was a great stone on
which human sacrifices had recently been made. Another spoke of a cave
where young guanaco, fat birds and other luxuries were deposited as gifts
to the gods, later to be devoured, no doubt, by some cunning medicine-man
or priest. I heard one lecturer solemnly telling his audience:
'They believe in a god called klokten'
Imagine anyone giving a talk on the Navy, and announcing:
"They believe in a god called Midshipman.'
"According to other so-called explorers, the Ona also worshiped Hyewhi,
which means a song or chant, and joon, which has occurred too often in
these pages to need translation here. One authority went so far as to
prove, to his own satisfaction, that Joon, is directly derived from the
"These stories demonstrate how a vivid imagination, combined with wishful
thinking and the desire to impart interesting information, may influence a
certain type of otherwise enlightened and educated men.
"During the many hours I passed in the Lodge, listening to the exhortations
of the older men, and during the years I spent almost exclusively in the
company of the Ona Indians, I never heard a word that pointed to religion
or worship of any kind; no expectation or hope of reward--no fear of
punishment--in a future life. There was dread of death by witchcraft and a
lesser dread of the ghosts of the woods, but not the ghosts of the departed
dead. Respect there was for individual mountains such as Heuhupen, who,
annoyed at being rudely pointed at, might wrap herself in clouds and bring
on bad weather. Fear of death, end of life, may have existed; possibly
some unexpressed terror of the unknown; but there was no worship, no
prayer, no god, no devil." ( Bridges 1949, p. 429)
The Ona also had no marriage ceremony. A man merely took a woman into his
hut. What saddens me is that the claim that there were bipedal mammals that
look like us that are not spiritual, could cause some to look at the Ona
and claim that they are the representatives of those bipedal, spiritless
beings of which Ross writes. But unfortunately Christians will continue to
believe that all cultures had worship even in the face of the evidence that
it isn't true.
Concerning who is human and who isn't Ross writes:
"From a biblical perspective, painting, musical ability, burial of the
dead, and use of tools could represent evidence of soulishness, not
spirituality. Birds and primates, even elephants, have been observed to
engage in such activities, which reflect mind and emotion, not spirit.
"Although bipedal, tool-using, large-brained primates roamed Earth for
hundreds of thousands (perhaps a million) years, religious relics date back
only about eight thousand to twenty-four thousand years. Thus, the
anthropological date for the first spirit creatures agrees with the
biblical date. (For further discussion on this issue, see chapter fourteen.)
"Though most anthropologists still insist that the bipedal primates were
'human,' the conflict lies more in semantics than in research data.
Support for their views that modern humans descended from these primate
species is rapidly eroding. Evidence now indicates that all bipedal
primates went extinct, with the possible exception of Neandertal, before
the advent of human beings. As for Neandertal, the possibility of a
biological link with humanity has been conclusively ruled out." (p. 55)
Almost everything in this passage is erroneous. There is no evidence of
any animal digging holes in the ground and burying their dead. Birds and
primates certainly don't do it, Elephants, which Ross has cited elsewhere
as engaging in burial behavior (Ross, 1991, p. 159-160) is simply a
misreading of the data on elephants. Elephants OCCASIONALLY will throw
leaves, branches etc on their dead, they also do it for humans they have
just killed, and rhinocerii. (Douglas-Hamilton and Douglas-Hamilton, 1975,
p. 237-238). Neither birds, primates nor elephants have been reported to
manufacture a musical instrument for the purpose of making music. The
oldest flute is from Libya and dates at least 80 kyr (Isaac, 1989, p. 71)
and the oldest bone whistle of the kind that was made by Europeans into the
last century dates at least 100 kyr (Stpanchuck 1993).
Recent discoveries have revived the debate about how old religion is. It
certainly appears to be much older than 24,000 years. Ross continues to
rely on a very outdated Science News articles to support his thesis (Simon,
1981, p. 357; Bower, 1986, p. 378-379; Ross, 1991, p. 160 and p. 213 note
29). Surely one should be expected to at least look at more recent data.
Data that has come to light since (and some that existed before) then shows
that Ross' claim is erroneous.
There was apparently an altar in Chauvet Cave(dated 31,000 years
ago[Balter, 1996, p. 449). A bear skull was precariously placed on a flat
topped stone and fire was burned just behind the skull. Chauvet et al, write:
"A little further on we were deeply impressed by what we discovered. In
the middle of the chamber, on a block of grey stone of regular shape that
had fallen from the ceiling, the skull of a bear was placed as if on an
altar. The animal's fangs projected beyond it into the air. On top of the
stone there were still pieces of charcoal, the remains of a fireplace. All
around, on the floor, there were more than thirty bear skulls; now covered
in a frosting of amber-coloured calcite, they were purposely set out on the
earth. There were no traces of skeletons. This intentional arrangement
troubled us because of its solemn peculiarity." (Chauvet et al, 1996, p. 50)
The lack of bear skeletal parts proves that these were not stray bears that
got trapped and died in the cave. Their heads were removed elsewhere and
brought into the cave.
The fact that 30,000 years ago man was apparently worshipping the bear
lends credence to the next oldest probable religious site. Except this one
was built by Neanderthal. At Bruiquel, France, archeologists have
excavated a square stone structure dating to more than 47,000 years ago
(prior to the advent of modern man in Europe) in which the Neanderthals
burned a bear. Bednarick (1996, p. 104) writes:
"The cave of Bruniquel in southern France has just produced fascinating
new evidence. Several hundred metres in from the cave entrance, a stone
structure has been discovered. It is quadrilineal, measures four by five
metres and has been constructed from pieces of stalagmite and stalactite.
A burnt fragment of a bear bone found in it was radiocarbon analysed,
yielding a 'date' of greater than 47 600 years BP. This suggests that the
structure is the work of Neanderthals. It is located in complete darkness,
which proves that the people who ventured so deep into the large cave
system had reliable lighting and had the confidence to explore such depths.
Bruniquel is one of several French caves that became closed subsequent to
their Pleistocene use, but were artificially opened this century."
This appears to have been the ritual sacrifice of a bear. It is also the
first proof that man went deep into caves long before they painted the
walls. (Balter, 1996, p. 449)
Neanderthals at Nahr Ibrahim, Lebanon, appear to have ritually sacrificed a
deer. Marshack writes:
"In the Mousterian cave shelter of Nahr Ibrahim in Lebanon the bones of a
fallow deer (Dama mesopotamia) were gathered in a pile and topped by the
skull cap. Many of the bones were unbroken and still articulated. Around
the animal were bits of red ochre. While red ochre was common in the area
and so may have been introduced inadvertently, the arrangement of the
largely unbroken bones suggests a ritual use of parts of the animal."
(Marschack 1990, p. 481)
The ochre was proven to have been brought in from elsewhere by the
discoverer (Solecki, 1982). This site is greater than 40,000 years old.
The 80,000 year old site of Drachenloch, Switzerland, also appears to have
been a religious site, once again a Neanderthal site. Bachler found what
appeared to be ritually arranged cave bear bones and ashes on what he
called a sacrificial altar. (Lissner, 1961, 187-188).
Campbell and Loy write:
"The most famous example of what has been claimed to be Neandertal hunting
magic is the so-called bear cult. It came to light when a German
archaeologist, Emil Bachler, excavated the cave of Drachenloch between 1917
and 1923. Located 8,000 ft (2,400 m) up in the Swiss Alps, this 'lair of
the dragons' tunnels deep into a mountainside. The front part of the cave,
Bachler's work made clear, served as an occasional dwelling place for
Neandertals. Farther back, Bachler found a cubical chest made of stones and
measuring approximately 3.25 ft (1 m) on a side. The top of the chest was
covered by a massive slab of stone. Inside were seven bear skulls, all
apparently arranged with their muzzles facing the cave entrance. Still
deeper in the cave were six bear skulls, seemingly set in niches along the
walls. The Drachenloch find is not unique. At Regourdou in southern
France, a rectangular pit, covered by a flat stone weighing nearly a ton,
held the bones of more than 20 bears." (Campbell and Loy, 1996, p. 441)
Honesty demands that one note that Drachenloch (not Regourdou) is
controversial so for an alternative view, see Kurten (1976, p. 84-86) For a
discussion of why I don't think Kurten's critique is correct see Morton
There is an even earlier altar, which is not controversial, found at
Bilzingsleben, Germany. The excavators, Dietrich and Ursula Mania have
found a 27-foot-diameter paved area that they say was used for "special
cultural activities" (Mania et al,1994, p. 124; See also Mania and Mania,
1988, p. 92). Gore writes:
"But Mania's most intriguing find lies under a protective shed. As he
opens the door sunlight illuminates a cluster of smooth stones and pieces
of bone that he believes were arranged by humans to pave a 27-foot-wide
"'They intentionally paved this area for cultural activities,' says Mania.
'We found here a large anvil of quartzite set between the horns of a huge
bison, near it were fractured human skulls.'" (1997,p. 110)
I would contend that the symbolism here, if found in a modern village,
would be enough to cause one to turn and flee for his life. Such an
arrangement of objects would immediately be interpreted as evidence of
religion, and a hostile religion at that. And Bilzingsleben dates to around
400,000 years, not the mere 24,000 years that Ross prefers for the oldest
evidence of religion. If Ross wishes to claim that religion doesn't go back
further than 24,000 years, he should explain why the above five examples
don't qualify as examples of religion? It is clear that evidence of
religion in the anthropological record prior to 24,000 years is not rare.
Ross can't prove his case by ignoring these sites and this data.
Probably the most damning thing I can say about the book is that Ross
selectively cites data that supports his views . He cites the date for the
last common male ancestor of between 35,000 to 47,000 BC (p. 111) which
comes from Whitfield et al, (1995) without mentioning that the immediately
preceeding article, by Hammer, (1995) reaches a conclusion from another
part of the Y-Chromosome that the last common ancestor lived 188,000 years
ago with 68% confidence . He calls Whitfield's article a breakthrough even
though it only studied the y-chromosome of 5 individual humans. Why isn't
Hammer's article, published by Nature's editor at the same time, also a
breakthrough? Hammer studied 15 humans. Ross cites Whitfield because
Whitfield supports his preconceived idea. Ross doesn't cite Hammer's
numbers because it doesn't fit those preconceptions. He should have, at
the very least, acknowledged that there was contradictory data with a
contradictory age for the presumed time of Adam.
Ross totally misrepresents the data from Schwartz and Tattersall(1996).
"The nasal bones and sinus cavities of Neandertals are so large and so
distinct that Schwartz and Tattersall go on to conclude that Neandertals
cannot be biologically related to any known primate species or any known
mammalian species." (p. 113; see also top p. 114)
This is totally false as can be seen from the following quotation from the
referenced article. They do not say that Neanderthals are unrelated to
mammals. Indeed Neanderthals ARE mammals as are we. Schwartz and Tattersall
write (1996, p. 10852):
"The purpose of this contribution is to describe specializations of the
Neanderthal internal nasal region that make them unique not only among
hominids but possibly among terrestrial mammals in general as well."
It is their NOSE that is unique, not their phylogeny.
They further write (Schwartz and Tattersall 1996, p. 10854):
"This observation alone does not necessarily demonstrate that Neanderthals
constitute a species separate from Homo sapiens, but it is very strongly
consistent with this conclusion."
If Neanderthal is unrelated to mammals, then there can be no discussion of
whether or not he is a separate species from Homo sapiens. He would be in
a different Class, not merely a different species. This betrays a
tremendous lack of understanding of biology.
He further misrepresents the conclusion of Krings et al (1997) in their
mtDNA work on Neanderthal. Ross (p. 114) claims that "The researchers
considered these findings conclusive: Neanderthals could not have made any
contribution to the human gene pool."
This is NOT what the researchers claim, although such claims were made in
the popular press. Here is what the researchers actually said (Krings et
al, 1997, p. 27):
"These results do not rule out the possibility that Neandertals
contributed other genes to modern humans. However, the view that
Neandertals would have contributed little or nothing to the modern human
gene pool is gaining support from studies of molecular genetic variation at
nuclear loci in humans."
This hardly sounds 'conclusive' that there is no contribution of
Neandertals to modern men. It may be that there was no contribution, but
this is not the 'conclusive' article that Ross claims it is. This work has
not addressed the nuclear DNA issue at all.
Finally, I think the scariest thing about the book is the treatment of
race. Having grown up in the south, remembering 'colored only water
fountains' and the racial separation of 40 years ago, Ross' treatment of
the Tower of Babel is frightening. (Honesty demands that I alert the reader
here that my middle son[who is and looks Arabic] was questioned for 30
minutes this Christmastime in the London Airport BECAUSE he looks Arabic
and the Iraqi bombing was going on. The idea that this kid could be a
terrorist is laughable. But he caught this treatment because of his looks.
Obviously this has heightened my sensitivities here. But they should have
been heightened anyway.) Ross writes (p. 178-179):
"Given that Genesis 11 so explicitly describes God's personal intervention
in breaking up destructive unity and in motivating people to spread
throughout Earth's habitable land masses, God may have done more than
diversify language at that time. He possibly may have introduced also some
external changes-those we recognize as racial distinctives-to facilitate
the peoples' separation."
Without a doubt, Ross did not intent this badly nor would he want this view
used in a bad way. But one might legitimately wonder if God was the author
of racial hatred. If this view becomes standard Christian dogma, it WILL be
used badly. Anyone who doubts this is a hopeless optimist. There are those
today who will use this to claim that God did not intend for the races to
mix. The fact is that many modern Christians, not Ross, are now beginning
to accept the idea that Adam was the progenitor of only part of the human
race (Fischer,1996), the combination of the two concepts would be very bad
for racial relations. I wonder if anybody at NavPress bothered to ask the
African American community what they might think about such a statement?
Ross should have had to good sense not to write it and the editors at
NavPress should have had the good judgment to talk Ross out of it and
failing that, to edit this dangerous statement. Unfortunately, they didn't.
I am sure that many, even my friends, will chide me for being so 'critical'
of a fellow believer. Frankly, I don't care anymore what others might
think. Truth must win out. We Christians are the ones suppressing the truth
in unrighteousness. As long as we do that we can't glorify God. One prays
for the time when Christian apologists will not twist or deny the existence
of data in order to fit their preferred theology. Given Ross' stature, this
book will have a major impact and will be an economic success for its
publisher. Unfortunately, the science is less of a success and the views on
why racial characteristics were given to men is down right scary.
An overriding concern in my intellectual journey now happens to be whether
Christian testimony, is worth anything - including early Christian
testimony. This book has seriously eroded my expectations of Christian
apologetics and apologists. It has depressed me further. If Christians
can't be trusted to get their research correct, of what value is their
apologetics? Can apologetics be effective if the data is silly and just
plain wrong? Is this the quality of work that will prevent the
scientifically minded among us from leaving the faith? Are Christians in
apologetics to be trusted? Unfortunately the apparent answer to the last
question is decidedly no. We appear to be no better than the Russians in
the old disarmament talks. To quote Reagan, "Trust, but verify"
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Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information