December 12, 2017

Adam or Ape (1)

George Mulfinger, Jr.

This is Part One ♦ Part TwoPart Three

This article first appeared in Faith for the Family, July/August 1973. It is republished here by permission. We note that data in the article may have been updated since 1973, but offer it for the value of its example of Biblical thinking about available scientific data.

Every few weeks we see newspaper accounts of some spectacular new find that has forced a drastic rethinking of the details of “man’s evolution.” Is the theory of evolution really being challenged? How certain are the age estimates attached to these finds? Do all anthropologists agree with the sensationalistic pronouncements in the media? It is profitable for the Christian to study these questions, that he might realize more fully that there is no need to be intimidated by the imaginative speculations of the day.

The alleged proof of man’s animal ancestry has come primarily from a surprisingly meager assortment of bones. A few fragments, reconstructed with a generous measure of plaster of Paris, have served effectively in “selling” the theory. When viewing such a fabricated display in a museum, one does not usually stop to consider that the assumption of evolution has guided the workers at each step of the reconstruction process. What is produced, then, can in no wise be taken as proof for evolution.

The various finds that have been used in an attempt to support the theory fall into four categories: 1. legitimate fossils of men; 2. misinterpreted fossils of animals; 3. deliberate hoaxes; and 4. cases in which the evidence is too fragmentary to draw a definitive conclusion.

The Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal fossils fall clearly within the first category. Not only were these types completely human, but their characteristics are still present in the human gene pool today. Boule and Vallois report that there are several groups of Cro-Magnon people surviving even now — one in southern France, one in Wales, one in Germany, and one in the Canary Islands.[1] They are distinguished by the characteristic square face, the deep-set eyes, and the straight lower edge of the jawbone.

While the Neanderthal race does not in like manner survive as a group today, Neanderthal traits such as the large brows, low sloping forehead, and receding chin are frequently seen. Nelson, in his book Before Abraham, includes photographs and drawings of several modern men who have exhibited these traits. One such individual, interestingly enough, was General Lafayette![2]

Unfortunately the Neanderthal Man has been badly misrepresented. The first specimen, found in the Neander Valley in Germany in 1856, was pathological. The individual had suffered from arthritis or rickets, or both, causing him to have a badly stooped-over posture. The reconstructors seized upon the semi erect posture as evidence of an evolutionary link between a four-footed beast and man. From that time forward they have pictured him as a stoop-shouldered, bent-legged, shambling caveman.

In the late 20’s and early 30’s, however, several normal specimens were found. By 1935 it was realized, in anthropological circles, at least, that the Neanderthal Man had stood fully erect and was completely human by every criterion that could be measured. Those in positions of authority, however, seemed unwilling to release this information to the general public. Too much elaborate evolutionary mythology had already been built upon the lie that Neanderthal was subhuman. It is a sad commentary on those concerned that it took almost three decades for the truth to find its way into the encyclopedias, and even longer to filter down to the magazines and newspapers. A grossly inaccurate mockup of a Neanderthal family at the Field Museum in Chicago (which even depicted the 10-year-old son as a hunchback!) has finally been dismantled within the past two years! How many hundreds of thousands of people had been deceived by it in the intervening decades? And, sad to say, many children are still being led astray even today by photographs of this mockup in their science and history textbooks. It is ironic that new findings purporting to confirm evolution appear on television newscasts almost the same day they are unearthed, whereas discoveries that favor creationism are fortunate to see the light of day in thirty years!

The Nebraska Man furnishes a good example of the second category — an animal fossil that through wishful thinking was erroneously interpreted as some kind of evolutionary link. In 1922 a consulting geologist named Harold Cook discovered a single tooth while excavating in Nebraska. Henry Fairfield Osborne, director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City identified it as “certainly a new genus of anthropoid ape.”[3] Accordingly he named it Hesperopithecus haroldcookii meaning “Harold Cook’s ape of the west.” Drs. William K. Gregory and Milo Hellmann of the same museum, both specialists on teeth, offered their opinion that “‘it resembles the human type more closely than it does any known anthropoid ape,”[4] and the noted anatomist G. Elliot Smith labelled it “a primitive member of the human family.’“[5] The Nebraska Man was soon generally accepted as a higher primate somewhere between ape and man. Journalists let their imaginations run rampant as they wrote the adventures of Hesperopithecus, our semi-human forbear of a million years ago!

Some time later the American Museum of Natural History sent an expedition to Nebraska to learn more about our ancestor, One day, as additional bones were being uncovered, the bitter truth struck the researchers full force — the tooth had belonged to an extinct pig! The imaginative stories had to be rewritten. At least one encyclopedia was forced to do a sudden about-face. The 13th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica had billed the find as part ape, part man. How could it be explained to the public in a tactful manner in the 14th Edition that it was actually a wild pig? Rather than admit its true nature the author took the easy way out and wrote simply that the tooth had belonged to “a being of a different order.”

One could almost accept this account in good humor were it not for the fact that evolutionists misused the alleged evidence in such a grievous manner in their attempt to downgrade the Genesis account of creation, At the famous Scopes trial at Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, Darrow confronted Bryan with the Nebraska Man claims and asked for his explanation. Bryan wisely answered that the evidence was too scanty to make a decision. It is now realized that a single tooth is indeed insufficient material for satisfactory identification.

Evolutionists are wont to cite the Scopes trial as a historic milestone that somehow established the scientific correctness and philosophical superiority of the evolutionary position. It was nothing of the kind. The Scopes “trial” was a first-rate sham, staged and financed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Having heard of a new law in Tennessee prohibiting the teaching of evolution, officials of the A.C.L.U. agreed to sponsor a trial to test the law, provided a teacher could be found who would be willing to violate it. As it turned out, ·however, John Thomas Scopes, the young football-coach/science-teacher who volunteered for the role, had never taught evolution to his classes, nor did he make an effort to do so between the time of his selection and the trial! He only agreed to say that he had taught evolution!”[6]

Because it controlled the purse strings, the A.C.L.U. was in a position to manage the event in a manner that best suited its nefarious purposes. Foremost among the objectives of the organization was the “selling” of evolution to the public and the downgrading of Fundamentalism. Clarence Darrow, an agnostic criminal lawyer, was hired as defense attorney. Noted evolutionists were contacted and requested to make written statements to be read into the record as “expert testimony.” The entire trial was handled in a shamefully one-sided fashion. On reading the record one has difficulty believing that such a thing could have happened in America, at least in the America of the 20’s. Somehow the creationists were unable to place either Bible scholars or Christian men of science on the witness stand. William Jennings Bryan, who had been secretary of’ state under Woodrow Wilson, was permitted to testify, but, although he was a staunch warrior of the Faith, he was neither a theologian nor a scientist, By the use of emotional rhetoric and a blasphemous line of cross-examination, Darrow did his utmost to denigrate Bryan and to ridicule not only the Genesis record but the entire Word of God. Many were swayed to a belief that the evolutionary view was the only sane, rational, educated, unbigoted, tenable philosophy of life. It is difficult to assess the damage wrought by this disgraceful performance. The event was one of the best publicized trials in courtroom history, and not by accident. Its sponsor had made elaborate arrangements for radio and press coverage. So great was its impact that many Christians gave up their opposition to evolution and welcomed it with open arms, as a gesture to show that they really were, in spite of their reputation, both tolerant and well-informed.

Ironically, Scopes was never required to testify. Had he taken the witness stand he might have been forced to admit that he was only a substitute biology teacher and had not been in school the day evolution was discussed! Having professed his own guilt, however, he was convicted and fined $100 — precisely as the A.C.L.U. officials had desired. Their aim was to appeal to a higher court. Technically Darrow had lost his case, but he had won an overwhelming psychological victory for evolution.

The late George Mulfinger, Jr. earned his B. A. in chemistry and his M. S. in physics. He served as a Professor at Bob Jones University, teaching astronomy, geology, physics, philosophy, and logic. He served on the Board of Directors of the Creation Research Society and co-authored a series of creation science textbooks.

  1. M. Boule and H. Vallois, Fossil Men (New York: Dryden Press, 1957) pp. 300, 301. []
  2. B. Nelson, Before Abraham. (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1948), pp. 72-78. []
  3. B. Davidheiser, Evolution and Christian Faith (Nutley, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1969), p. 347. []
  4. Ibid., p. 347. []
  5. Ibid., p. 348. []
  6. Ibid., p. 89. []

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