December 12, 2017

Adam or Ape (2)

George Mulfinger, Jr.

Part One ♦ This is Part Two ♦ Part 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.

In Part One, fossil finds of human remains are categorized this way: 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. Part One discussed examples of categories 1 and 2.

The Piltdown Man exemplifies the third category of fossils. It was a deliberate hoax. A practical joker cleverly doctored a fragment of a chimpanzee jawbone to make it appear more human. After treating it chemically to give it the appearance of great age he planted it in a gravel bed in southern England where he knew anthropologists were excavating. The jawbone fragment was soon “discovered” and joined to a cranium that had been found earlier at the same site. As most of the skull was still missing it was necessary to synthesize the entire face from plaster of paris. It was this strange hybrid creature that came to be known as the Piltdown Man.

It is regrettable that some misguided individual would perpetrate such a fraud. It is more regrettable still that the experts never knew the difference! In fact, many of the most highly respected anthropologists were fooled for 41 years. This is especially interesting in the light of our present knowledge of the details of the hoax. It was a poorly executed job, badly blundered at several crucial points. Each of the teeth had been filed at a different angle, and left with the file marks still showing. The abrasion was so overdone that the dentine had been exposed and was flush with the surrounding enamel. One tooth had been ground all the way to the pulp cavity. Yet it was an immature tooth that had not had time to wear even a fraction of that amount by natural means.

When these things were pointed out to the curator of the fossil by an observant dentist the objections were quickly brushed aside and ignored. The desire to believe a lie had superceded any compulsion to be scientific. It was not until 1953, when radiocarbon tests showed both the cranium and the jawbone to be of recent origin, that the teeth were scrutinized more carefully. It then became only too apparent that the Piltdown Man was indeed a shabbily executed hoax. How obvious it all suddenly became. File marks could be seen on the teeth. They had been ground at random angles and the abrasion had been greatly overdone.

The Java Man furnishes a good example of the fourth category — cases in which the evidence is too fragmentary to make a definitive decision. In the 1890’s a Dutch medical doctor named Dubois went to the Orient in quest of the “missing link.” Perhaps we should stop here to point a common misconception. There isn’t just one “missing link”: the entire evolutionary chain of descent is missing. There are several separate races of men represented in the fossil record, and many different kinds of animal fossils. But there is no scientific means of establishing any kind of lineage to tie them together. For all we can honestly deduce from the evidence, the various fossils represent discrete types that were genetically unrelated.

Dubois, over a period of about a year, found the top of a skull, a left thighbone, and several teeth on the banks of the Wadjak River in central Java. In view of the fact that these were scattered over a distance of from 50 to 70 feet, there is no guarantee that they all came from the same creature.

Upon returning to Europe Dr. Dubois submitted his findings to a board of 24 leading· scientists. Ten rendered a verdict of “ape,” seven said “human,” and the other seven felt that it was some kind of “missing link.” Their disagreement should speak clearly to us of the fact that there was insufficient material to make a satisfactory assessment. According to Gray’s Anatomy there are 206 bones in the adult human skeleton. The Java Man find consisted of the top of the skull (a fusion of no more than five bones) and a left thighbone-a maximum of only 6 bones out of the 206!

Some of the scientists vacillated in their opinion as they pondered the evidence. Dubois, who had originally held it to be a transitional form between ape and man, finally concluded before his death that it was a gibbon. In spite of the uncertainty surrounding this find, however, it was shamelessly reconstructed to appear as a lowly primitive ancestor of man and given the name Pithecanthropus erectus, meaning “apeman who walked erect.” More recently it has been upgraded to the category Homo erectus, meaning “man who walked erect.” And despite the many objections that have been raised (including the fact that large modern-appearing human skulls have been found at the same site and in the same horizon)[1] Java Man is revered today more than ever as a pillar of human evolution. Those who have so enthroned it must have acquired their knowledge of it by some kind of revelation, however, for the hard-core scientific evidence in no wise warrants the conclusions that have been drawn.

Young people today are taught that the creation-evolution battle was fought and resolved in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, with a hands down decision going to the evolutionists. The small but representative sampling of history given above speaks otherwise, however. Here, as in so many other areas, history has been rewritten to accord with modern infidelity. It is thoroughly reprehensible that so much anti-God emotion and bias can be passed off as cold, sober scientific objectivity.

Today there are almost as many proposed family trees for modern man as there are anthropologists. The experts are unable to decide even on our most recent ancestor! Some say it was Neanderthal, some say Homo erectus, some say Homo habitis, some say Australopithicus. ((For some of the proposed family trees see: R. J. Foster, General Geology (Columbus Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1969), p. 575; E. Simons, “The Earliest Apes,” Scientific American, December 1967, p. 35., J. Savage, Evolution (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1963), p. 117.)) The only thing they can seem to agree upon is that the Bible is wrong! Foster admits, “The development of man … is poorly known; … lack of fossils obscures the details.”[2] How ridiculous it is to speak of our descent from a one-celled organism when the most recent link in our purported lineage is still the subject of such heated debate!


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. A. E. Wilder Smith, Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny. (Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1968), p. 135, See also: W. H. Rusch, Sr., “Fossil Evidence” in A Challenge to Education (Caldwell, Idaho: Bible-Science Association, 1972) p. 93. []
  2. Foster, op. cit. p. 569. []


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