News on fossil man

Glenn R. Morton (
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 16:30:53 -0600

I have been offline for a month now and have this brief access. I won't
be able to respond to anyone since I will be offline again after this
tomorrow. And to the 50 people that left messages for me over the past
month, I am sorry that I haven't replied, but I just got them and won't
have time to reply before I lose touch with my provider here.

But there are two items which are of considerable importance in the
creation/evolution area which have come up over the past month and a
half since my last post in early February. I must confess disappointment
that no one posted anything about this on either of the lists! These
items have tremendous implications for where fossil man fits with the

First, lots of Christians have taken the path of least resistance to the
anthropological issues and have identified Adam with the first member of
our species. I say path of least resistance because it is the position
which is least controversial. But as I have pointed out over the past 3
years this position totally ignores the very human activities which
earlier hominids performed. These include art, religion, the use of
tools to make other tools, murder, long range planning, the manufacture
of boats with which to cross the oceans etc.
Examples of this position include David Wilcox:

"Both cultural and physical evidence suggests an abrupt establishment of
the image about 100,000 years ago." ~ David L. Wilcox, "Adam, Where Are
You? Changing Paradigms in Paleoanthropology," Perspectives on Science
and Christian Faith , 48:2( June 1996), p. 94

Hugh Ross who mistakenly claims that this appearance occurred no earlier
than 60,000 years ago:

"Some differences, however, between the Bible and secular anthropology
remain. The Bible not only would deny that the hominids were men, it
also would deny that Adam was physically descended from these hominids.
Even here, support from anthropology is emerging. New evidence
indicates that the hominid species may have gone extinct before, or as a
result of, the appearance of modern man. At the very least, 'abrupt
transitions between [hominid]species' is widely acknowledged." ~ Hugh
Ross, The Fingerprint of God, (Orange: Promise Publishing, 1991), p.

And Stoner:

"More recently, some remains promoted as being 'fully modern humans'
have been found which date (using exotic methods) as early as about
100,000 years old. These fossils are presently classified as 'modern
men' although some of them are said to display some 'primitive
features.' The supplement (loose poster) to the February 1997 National
Geographic pictures one of these skulls. That skull is certainly
missing the brow ridges of the Neanderthals and of Archaic Homo, but the
eye and nose sockets look Neanderthal--not human.
"Are these fossils truly modern men, as has been claimed? Are they
really some new creature which falls between Archaic Homo and modern
men? Or is something else entirely different going on? Although these
questions might keep both scientists and theologians up nights, they
really aren't that important to us right here; for the present purposes,
it is only important that man fits into his proper place in the
chronological order of God's creation." This much has been properly
established. The conventional date of 35-40,000 years for the age of
true men might be correct, but we must allow that it might be
substantially in error." ~ Don Stoner, A New Look at an Old Earth,"
(Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997), p. 168

All of these authors are resting spirituality upon what the man looks
like, i.e. spirituality only rests in the modern human form.

For the past 4 years I have been arguing that more ancient hominids were
spiritual in the same way modern humans are spiritual. I have based
that upon their behaviors inferred from the fossil record. For
references I would point to a evolution reflector note on Oct 11, 1995
entitled Another flood Problem in which I suggested that H. habilis was
human. In my critique of David Wilcox's article dated June 8, 1996 on
the ASA reflector, I argued for the humanity of Neanderthal. And on June
13, 1996 on the evolution reflector I said that humanity goes back at
least 2.7 myr ago. On 2/28/97 on the ASA list I wrote:
" I don't like either of these choices and would offer a Turing test for
ancient man. If he acts like us (or a technologically primitive version
of us, the I would include him in humanity. By this definition, Homo
erectus Archaic Homo sapiens and Neanderthal are all human."

I list those documentations because I want it clearly shown that my
theological/scientific position ANTICIPATED the following. Unlike other
positions my position does not have to react to the latest discovery by
immediately pooh poohing it which will be the modus operandi of many
Christian apologists. Why Christians would rather always be reacting to
new discoveries rather than smiling because we anticipated the results,
I don't understand.

Genetics has come to support my position. First, there is the discovery
that paternal mtDNA does get passed on to the offspring although it is
rare. So the mitochrondrial Eve, just might have been a mitochrondrial
Adam. But the real implication of this is that the last common
mitochondrial ancestor would have lived longer ago than 200,000 years.
If this is the case, then there were NO anatomically modern people on
the planet at that time and Eve was NOT an anatomically modern human.
This is reported on the web at:

"WIRE:March 10, 0:02 p.m. ET
Eve is a lot older than previously

LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) - Eve, the mother of
humankind, is probably a lot older than
scientists had thought, researchers said on

Evolutionary biologists, who used mitochondrial
to trace human evolution, had estimated that
the woman from whom all others descended lived between
100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

But two studies reported in the journal Proceeding of the
Royal Society discovered that using mitochondrial DNA to
track genetic lineage isn't as accurate as scientists had

``Eve may be older than we thought,'' Adam Eyre-Walker of
the University of Sussex said in a telephone interview.
``We thought she lived about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
She might be anything up to twice as old now.'' "

The second item concerns a gene which iindicates that Africans and
non-Africans were two separate populations PRIOR TO THE ADVENT OF
ANATOMICALLY MODERN MEN. Here is the report:

Science & Ideas 3/29/99


Out of the African past
Modern DNA provides clues to a division
in the ancestral tree of human forebears


Backed by their analysis of a minuscule mutation on a single gene, two
researchers contend that the ancestors of Africans and non-Africans
split into separate populations long before modern man walked the Earth.
Population geneticist Jody Hey and anthropologist Eugene Harris estimate
that the subdivision took place nearly 200,000 years ago, predating the
earliest known fossils of modern Homo sapiens by about 70,000 years.

The Rutgers University-based duo, who published their results in last
week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied a gene
called PDHA1, involved in glucose metabolism, in 16 Africans, 19
non-Africans, and 2 chimpanzees. Hey and Harris first located 25 spots
in the gene's DNA sequence where their human subjects differed from
chimps. Assuming that the forerunners of humans and chimps became
separate species 5 million years ago, and that mutations occur at
regular intervals, the pair calculated that the PDHA1 gene in ancestral
hominids-Homo sapiens's early relatives-dates back 1.86 million years.

Differences. They next found a place on the gene where every non-African
test subject differed from every African, by virtue of a mutation that
altered a lone base pair of DNA. Extrapolating from their previous
estimate of the age of the gene's origin in hominids, they concluded
that Africans and non-Africans split into separate populations 189,000
years ago.

Hey and Harris caution that their results do not imply that the two
populations evolved into modern humans independently of one another.
Even if they were geographically separated, members of the two groups
probably intermingled, allowing genes to flow between them. Beneficial
genes would have been favored by natural selection, and ultimately the
two populations would have ended up virtually identical-a hypothesis
supported by the fact that racial groups differ very little at the
genetic level. Nor can much be inferred regarding the time line of human
migration. "I don't think our study says very much about where the
ancestral populations were," says Hey. "They could have both been in
Africa for some time after the split."

While welcoming the study as provocative, other researchers of human
evolution would like to see more proof. Genetic data rely on broad
assumptions about time scales and are thus subject to large margins of
error. In a commentary accompanying the PNAS article, Rosalind Harding,
a geneticist at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England, hails the
work as "unusual" but adds that the estimate of when the split occurred
could easily be off by 100,000 years.

This means that IF one postulates that Adam was subsequent to this
split, then either Africans or non-Africans are NOT descendants of
Adam. This is an awful choice full of bad theological consequences.
The way to avoid this problem is as I have suggested, believe that Adam
was very very ancient and that the ancient hominids were fully human, as
were their descendants, both Africans and non-Africans. In this way an
awful theological problem can be avoided. I would repeat my mantra of
the past 4 years: Current Christian apologetics is totally inadequate
and falsified by the anthropological data. It is time for Christians to
belly up to the theological bar and deal with it.