When the First Humans Lived and How they Looked

When the First Humans Lived and How they Looked
Neanderthal reconstruction at Natural History Museum, London

Those who maintain that humans have been on Earth for less than 10,000 years face many evidence problems. This website has consistently pointed out that the Bible does not tell us when the first humans lived and how they looked.

The word “Adam” in Hebrew simply means “of the ground,” and Genesis tells us that God made Adam of “the dust (aphar) of the ground” (see Genesis 2:7 and 3:19). Genesis 1:29 and 2:9-16 tell us that the first humans began as vegetarians. The Bible does not tell us how long humans existed as “gatherers,” but Genesis 3:17-19 portrays humans becoming farmers securing food “by the sweat of your face.”

Some in the religious community view all of this as happening within the past 6,000 years. They may also view Adam as a white European with blue eyes and brown hair. Genesis 5:5 tells us that Adam lived for 930 years. If James 4:14 is correct, and human life “is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away,” there is an obvious biblical disconnect. The truth is that the Bible does not tell us when the first humans lived and how they looked.

Discover magazine’s January/February 2022 issue has an article about what they call “2021’s hottest fossil.” Discovered in northeast China, this specimen was named “Homo longi.” Some scientists think it may be a Denisovan or a Neanderthal. Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo sapiens, and possibly Homo longi all seem to have interbred and contributed DNA to you and me. They may have looked different from us, and their living styles were undoubtedly different. However, while they were primitive by modern standards, the discoveries show ornamental beads, primitive tools, and funerary ritual materials, indicating an awareness of the spiritual and a concept of life after death.

More to the point, the scientific evidence indicates that the first humans lived far more than 6,000 years ago and looked different from the average caucasian today. Many believers in God try to discredit the dating methods or deny the interpretation or even the existence of the fossils. That is becoming increasingly difficult as science gathers more evidence and improves dating and reconstruction techniques.

Our stereotypical views of when the first humans lived and how they looked are tainted by racism and tradition and don’t change the evidence. Adam lived long ago, was created in God’s image, began as a gatherer, and eventually became a farmer. We create conflict when we depict Adam living 6,000 years ago.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Discover magazine January/February 2022

Life After Death – A Concept Common to Humans

Life After Death – A Concept Common to Humans

Humans from the earliest times have believed in life after death. One of the unique human properties is that we alone believe in a continued existence when our physical life has ended. Most animals simply abandon a dead member of their species. There has been some attempt to claim that elephants, whales, and apes exhibit mourning and stay with the body of a deceased member of their group. However, many researchers agree that interpreting their actions as mourning is not justified. Humans tend to view animal behavior in our image, a process known as anthropomorphism.

As science discovers more fossils of ancient humans, the pattern of preparing a deceased member of the group for another existence becomes apparent. Anthropologists are interested in a South African cave system burial site. There they have found 28 skull fragments and six teeth of what appears to be a child with human characteristics 35 feet (10.6 m) below ground. The bones do not seem to have been washed into the cave or dragged in by scavengers or predators. Researchers gave the specimen the scientific identity of Homo naledi.

Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg reports that this fossil shows strong evidence of a “ritualized body disposal” of the specimen, which they nicknamed “Leti.” Ancient burial sites have almost always indicated that others prepared the deceased for life after death. Sometimes the body is mummified, and sometimes jewelry or weapons are left with the body. There are even cases where an animal or mate was buried with the deceased.

There is a scant reference to life after death in the Old Testament. In 2 Samuel 12:23, David expressed faith that he would see his deceased baby in the future. Job said that after his body had been destroyed, he knew he would see God (Job 19:25-27). Daniel saw a “man clothed in linen” who told him he would “rest” and then “at the end of the days” he would rise and “receive his allotted inheritance” (Daniel 12:13).

The New Testament is full of references to life after death, especially in the teachings of Jesus Christ. The war between good and evil is rooted in the understanding that death is a product of this physical world and Christ has conquered it. (See 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 20:14 and 21:4.)

Human spiritual nature is unique because God created us in His image. Our soul allows us to think beyond this life and anticipate an eternal, time-independent relationship with God. That concept has been present in humans from the very beginning and is still present today. Our spiritual nature allows us to express ourselves in art, music, and worship. It also gives us the hope of eternal life in an existence beyond anything this world has to offer.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News 12/4/21, page 15.

Human Evolution from Lower Life Forms

Human Evolution from Lower Life Forms

According to new research, a majority of Americans accept human evolution from lower life forms. Researchers asked people whether they believed that “human beings as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” The result was that 52% of the people questioned said yes, 36% said no, and 12% said they didn’t know. 

The data also shows that only 34% of Republicans accepted human evolution as opposed to 83% of Democrats. The study’s authors say that “religious fundamentalism” is the primary factor obstructing belief in human evolution from lower life forms. They went on to qualify who is a religious fundamentalist by five criteria. They include whether a person believes in a personal God and accepts a literal reading of the Bible. It was also based on how often they attended religious services in a typical week and how frequently they prayed. Finally, the definition involved whether they agreed with this statement: “We depend too much on science and not enough on faith.” Obviously, this is broader than the typical definition of “fundamentalist.” 

It would be interesting to see someone study how these numbers correlate with moral conduct, cases of abuse, and other social ills that are increasing in our culture. The survey supposedly used “a representative national sample,” but any study like this would likely have difficulty finding a truly representative sample. For example, data from the Bible Belt would be different from New England, and the nature of the people doing the sampling can skew the data. 

As a majority of Americans accept human evolution from lower life forms, we see the educational programs and materials from DOES GOD EXIST? becoming increasingly important. With our culture becoming more polarized, extremists on both sides make progress increasingly difficult.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: This study was reported by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. The journal Public Understanding of Science published the research.

The Missing Link in Human Evolution?

The Missing Link in Human Evolution?
Taung child – Facial forensic reconstruction by Arc-Team, Antrocon NPO,
Cicero Moraes, University of Padua – CC-BY-SA 4.0

In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin hypothesized that the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans originated in Africa. He pointed out that African apes most resemble humans, but he lacked fossil evidence to support his conjecture. The missing link, as it was called, showed up more than 50 years later.

In 1924, some miners working in a limestone quarry in Taung, South Africa, found a fossil of a child. Anatomists determined that this 3-to-4-year-old child had some humanlike and some apelike features. They called this “Taung Child” the missing link between apes and humans. Scientists gave it the name Australopithecus africanus, which means southern African ape.

Critics pointed out that young apes have similarities to young humans, but the resemblance goes away as they mature. However, racist attitudes were strong at the time, and eugenics was accepted as real science. Meanwhile, anthropologists were busy categorizing people into races. Western researchers wanted to justify their claim that Africans were more primitive and less evolved than other people, thus justifying slavery and racism.

One of the challenges to people who believe the Bible is making sense of the fossils and interpretations we read about or see in a museum or video documentary. The basic proposal of the “Does God Exist?” ministry is that science and faith are friends. We are interested in understanding–not conflict or debate. As science makes discoveries in various fields, our understanding may grow. We are seeing more evidence for God’s existence in the design of the universe and life.

The history of paleoanthropology has shown that people have used scientific discoveries in political battles and as justification for slavery, eugenics, and racism. The Bible simply says God created man of the dust of the earth. It does not tell us how long ago or give any other details. The most important thing is that He created humans in His own image (Genesis 1:27). That spiritual creation makes ALL humans equal and of infinite value. Christians recognize that fact (Galatians 3:26-29). Even scientists studying mitochondrial DNA have determined that every human alive today can be traced back to one woman they have called “Mitochondrial Eve.”

As science continues to look for the missing link, paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood said that from a scientific perspective, “Our origin story is a work in progress.” In other words, even scientists have trouble making sense of the fossils. Scientific discoveries in various fields may tell us more about how God did what He did, but science cannot tell us how to live successfully. Only the teachings of Jesus Christ that we find in the Bible can do that.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: “Tracing the Origins of Humans” by Erin Wayman in Science News September 25, 2021, (pages 20 -28)

Difficult Genesis Issues – Where Did Cain Get His Wife? 

Difficult Genesis Issues - Where Did Cain Get His Wife? 

Several Genesis verses contain some issues that have bothered many people. For example, are we supposed to understand the ages of the people chronologically? If so, how did they live so long? Who was Cain afraid of, and where did those people come from? Where did Cain get his wife? Those are some of the difficult Genesis issues people have tried to resolve. 

The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation is the product of scientists who believe in God and accept the Bible as His Word. They have advanced academic degrees, and their articles are very scholarly. Recent issues have carried some interesting discussions of difficult Genesis issues, including the account of Adam and Eve. The September issue contains an article by Dr. Roy Clouser. He contends that we have ignored the Jewish understanding of Genesis, causing credibility issues with the biblical account. Clouser maintains that the ages of biblical characters were not intended to be understood as chronological but symbolic of their character or accomplishments. For example, Methuselah living 969 years would indicate higher qualities than Adam’s 600 years. 

That is an interesting explanation. I am now 83 years old chronologically, and I cannot fathom living for 600 years. The physical weakness that comes from age seems to be built into humans as it is in the rest of the world. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they had access to the Tree of Life that would allow them to live forever. The traditional explanation that the human fall into sin brought physical death into the world for the first time has credibility issues with most people. 

Clouser makes an interesting comparison between Genesis 2:7, where God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and John 20:22, where Jesus breathed on His disciples. Genesis tells us that “God formed man of the dust of the ground,” clearly referring to man’s body. Then the verse says, “and man became a living soul.” Genesis 1:26-27 describes the man and woman as created in the image of God. That, of course, refers to the spiritual image because God is a Spirit and not a limited physical being. When humans sinned, God’s spirit departed from them. However, John 20:22 tells us that Jesus “breathed on them (His disciples) and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” 

Other difficult Genesis issues include when Cain says, “Everyone who finds me will try to kill me” (Genesis 4:14). Who are those who would try to kill Cain, and where did they come from? Where did Cain get his wife? Cain also builds a city, and that requires large numbers of humans. My response has always been that Adam and Eve had many children in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, all of humanity rebelled against God and were forced out of the Garden and lost a relationship with God. Clouser presents a different interpretation that warrants more study. 

The fact is that the biblical account is accurate and deals with salvation through Jesus Christ. However, understanding how we got to where we are is very complex and will always leave some questions for further study. It is our understanding of the difficult Genesis issues that is in question–not the accuracy of the biblical record

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Racist Attitudes and the Facts

Racist Attitudes and the Facts

The history of modern civilization has been marred by human power struggles using racist attitudes to promote their agenda. European Enlightenment scholars decided that humans should be divided into discrete groups as some animal species are. They attached meaning to skin color using cultural stereotypes that included temperament, intelligence, and behavior. Slave owners used this concept to justify enslaving African people. Nazis in Germany sought to define a Germanic people based on racial exceptionalism.

Racist attitudes have even shown up in medicine. In 1793, a yellow fever epidemic struck Philadelphia. White physicians claimed that black people were immune to yellow fever even as it killed many blacks. In 2016, a study of 200 medical students at the University of Virginia found that half of them believed there were biological differences between blacks and whites. Those differences included the belief that black people have thicker skin and higher pain tolerance than whites. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some reports said that black people couldn’t catch the virus, and a few months later, more articles came out saying that blacks were more susceptible to it.

The biblical discussion about race is entirely different from the power struggle that has gone on for a very long time. Genesis 3:20 tells us that Adam called his wife Eve “because she was the mother of all living.” That means that all races go back to Eve, and we are thus all related. In Acts 17:26, Paul told the intellectuals in Athens that God “has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth…” These passages emphasize the oneness of all humans. 

In a National Geographic article, Angela Saini wrote that science has shown “that we are genetically more alike than any other primate species and that individual difference far outweighs any group difference.” Saini warns against the narrative that “searches the margins of our genomes for the tiny statistical differences between populations, consciously or unconsciously playing to those who seek to divide us in other ways.”

Racist attitudes are not justified by biology or the Bible. Racism is a cultural activity, and it opposes the Bible in loud and clear terms. Those who claim to be Christians and yet practice racial discrimination need to read their Bibles and not listen to Satan’s agents sowing hatred and division among the human family. 

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: “The Story of Human Difference” by Angela Saini in National Geographic , September 2021, pages 15-17 and American Journal of Public Health

Human Precursors in the Fossil Record

Are Neanderthals Human Precursors in the Fossil Record?
Neanderthal Man in London Museum

Bible skeptics claim that God did not uniquely create humans because scientists find human precursors in the fossil record. Instead, they say that Darwinian evolution can explain all human traits, and we are just more advanced animals.

The Bible defines humans in terms of spiritual characteristics, not physical attributes. Our capacity to create art and music, worship, show empathy, and display guilt indicates that we are unique. Our use of language and symbolism and our ability to be taught to think define humans from a biblical perspective. The critical factors are not brain size, the shape of the mandible, or standing erect.

Skeptics often use the fossil remains of Neanderthals to show that there are human precursors in the fossil record leading to human evolution. We have maintained that the properties of the Neanderthals are racial variations and not a different species from humans. Paleontologists have found Neanderthal fossils buried with religious artifacts. Scientists recently used computerized tomography (CT) scans to study Neanderthal specimens. Their findings suggest that the hearing and speaking organs of Neanderthals should give them language and communication abilities “…as efficient and complex as modern human speech,”

The descendants of Adam and Eve had the genetic code to enable them to adapt to whatever climate and conditions they encountered. So, while the racial variations were striking, the fact is that they were clearly human.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: World Archaeology Magazine # 107 page 9.

Creation of the First Humans

Creation of the First Humans - What the Bible Says

Over the last two days, we have looked at some Hebrew words used in the Genesis creation account. The two most important words are “bara” and “asah.” They describe two different processes God used. Yesterday, we said that “asah” refers to making something from materials that have already been created. “Bara” refers to something only God can do in creating something that did not exist before. The Bible uses that word in describing the creation of the first humans.

Genesis 1:1 uses “bara” to refer to God creating the universe and planet Earth out of nothing. The same word is used in Genesis 1:20 for the creation of the first life when only non-living matter existed before. Then it is used in Genesis 1:27 for the creation of the first humans in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.” This view of what a human is, values every human. All human lives matter because all lives, all races, all ethnic groups, and both sexes are created in the image of God.

All attempts to get animals to exhibit characteristics unique to humans
, such as artistic creation, musical synthesis, worship, and being able to be taught to think, have been a failure. There are horror stories of animals raised in human homes as humans and how they eventually reverted to their instinctive drives. One of them was a chimpanzee raised as part of a family. It savagely attacked and wounded a female visitor whom the chimp considered an invader in his territory.

The Bible is very clear in its teaching about the unique nature of humans and their equality with one another. In John 4:1-42, Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman. Verse 9 points out that Jews at that time didn’t even talk to Samaritans, much less a Samaritan woman. Verse 27 tells us that the disciples marveled that Jesus spoke with her. Galatians 3:26-29 states the Christian view of the equality of all humans in no uncertain terms.

Skeptics have attempted to say the Bible denigrates some humans as second-class citizens by pointing out the conflict between Jews and Gentiles. That conflict had nothing to do with race but was over religious matters. Others have suggested that Genesis 6:1-8 denigrates some groups by calling them “nephilim.” The word “nephilim” doesn’t mean a giant or an alien or a half-human. The word’s literal meaning is “fallen ones,” and the passage’s context is clear that it describes people who have rejected God and His will. The word for giant in Hebrew is “gibbor” (Job 16:14) or “rapha” (Deuteronomy 2:11, 20 and 2 Samuel 21:16, 18, 20, 22).

The Biblical concept of humans is not only that all races and nationalities are equal, but that humans as a whole are unique and special because they are created in God’s image. The lineage of all people on Earth today goes back to the creation of the first humans. No other faith but Christianity has given the instructions to treat one another–even our enemies–with love, respect, and care (Matthew 5:38-48). That is because we are all created in God’s image.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The Bible Description of Humans

The Bible Description of Humans

Yesterday we asked the question, “What is a human?” Evolutionists say that humans are the product of millions of years of evolution. That belief says that survival of the fittest and chance evolutionary processes made you who you are. Also, it has logically led to slavery, racial prejudice, ethnic cleansing, and abortion. But is that true, or should we accept the Bible description of humans?

Genesis 2:3 uses two different Hebrew words to describe the creation process. The passage says, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it He rested from all His work which God created (bara in Hebrew) and made (asah in Hebrew).” Some translations don’t distinguish between them, but the words refer to two different processes.

Asah” refers to making something from materials that have already been created. In contrast to “asah,” the word “bara” refers to something only God can do in creating something that did not exist before. Those two words describe two different processes, and the distinction is essential.

There are two other significant Hebrew words used in the Genesis creation account. One of them is “yatshur.” It describes artistic work in the creative process. It means to form or shape as a sculptor would do. Genesis 2:7 tells us that “God formed (yatshur) man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” The reference to the living being uses the Hebrew word “nephesh,” which refers to a breathing creature. It is also used to refer to animals.

The similarity between “asah” and “yatshur” is that they both refer to the shaping of something from materials already created (bara). Genesis uses the word “asah” when referring to God making animals. Psalms 94:9 uses “yatshur” to describe the formation of the human eye. Jeremiah 1:5 uses it to refer to the formation of the fetus in the womb.

The word “bara” is connected to the Bible description of humans. Tomorrow we will take a closer look at that.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Fossil Apes and Human Evolution

Fossil Apes and Human Evolution

Most of the media versions of human evolution are fictitious and inconsistent with the evidence. That is the finding of a study conducted by scholars from the American Museum of Natural History released in the journal Science for May 7, 2021, titled “Fossil Apes and Human Evolution.”

“When you look at the narrative for hominin origins [referring to bipedal apes and modern humans], it’s just a big mess – there’s no consensus whatsoever.” That’s a quote from Sergio Almecija, the lead author and a senior research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Anthropology. He went on to say, “People are working under completely different paradigms, and that’s something that I don’t see happening in other fields of science.” 

According to the study of fossil apes and human evolution, science has a wealth of fossils, but “many of these fossils show … combinations of features that do not match expectations for ancient representatives of the modern ape and human lineages.” We hasten to add that the museum’s article does not deny human evolution but clearly shows that the story given to the general public is a false impression that our history is a cut and dried factual record on which all scientists agree.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. There will be many articles and a few TV specials on fossil apes and human evolution in which certain well-known anthropologists will sell their view of human physical history. Careful students who know how much evidence is available will see the contradictions, but the general public will not. 

The biblical explanation of human creation is not a detailed physical explanation of how humans were created. Genesis 2:7 tells us, “God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” The Bible does not detail what processes God used to do that creating or what the finished product looked like (skin color, etc.). 

The Bible does tell us the essential factor that human beings were created in the image of God. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He them, male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). Whether you view God as merely commanding and man miraculously appearing, or if you think of Him as a potter molding and shaping man’s body, that does not diminish the unique nature of humans. The Bible has an economy of language. We would like to have the details, but that is not the purpose of God’s Word. 

It’s a destructive message to tell humans they are just animals with no unique qualities and no real purpose in existing. Letting people know that they are special, created with a unique spiritual makeup means that all humans are equal in God’s sight and have a spiritual purpose for existing. Like Job, we are key players in the war between good and evil. Relegating humans to someone’s guess as to how we evolved and cherry-picking fossils to do that is not only unfortunate but has the potential to destroy our culture.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Here is a link to the study in the journal Science.

This is the American Museum of Natural History’s report on the study.

This is Breakpoint’s summary of the study’s findings.