The Imaginary Path of Human Evolution

In his effort to cast a shadow over the theory of evolution, Matt Slick presents in his Apologetics Notebook a list of purported members in the evolutionary ancestry of mankind, with this brief introduction:

The following is a list of the alleged evolutionary record of man. If evolution is true, then there should be evidence. But the evidence given is weak as you will see.

I’m not going to be quoting Slick’s explanations for each of these proposed ancestors, as i have done in past responses to his material, but will instead offer, so far as i can tell, the best current explanations of each of them.

And i will say, Matt Slick and other creationists do get their explanations regarding some of these absolutely correct. There have been hoaxes, misidentifications, and so forth in the history of evolution, just as there has been human error in every other area of study, including, well, theology. But just as the cults which Matt Slick devotes his time to rebutting don’t do anything to invalidate “biblical Christianity,” so to the misidentifications & hoaxes in the history of biology, which do nothing to refute actual evidence.

All of that said, let’s look at the list presented by Slick to determine what is real evidence & which we shouldn’t even be mentioning at this point.

  • Ramapithecus: No longer considered to be an ancestor of man, further evidence of Ramapithecus has revealed it is very much like Sivapithecus, possibly the female thereof. It is now placed in the ancestral line of orangutans. on Wikipedia

  • Australopithecus: Slick cites a report from 1974 when he says, “Australopithecus is considered unrelated to man as an ancestor.” However, Australopithecus is most likely part of man’s evolutionary line as a predecessor to the Homo genus. on Wikipedia

  • Zinjanthropus: It’s currently uncertain whether Zinjanthropus belongs in the genus Australopithecus or the genus Paranthropus. Whether this genus is an ancestor of man seems up for debate; however, even if Zinjanthropus is not an ancestor of man, it’d still be ancestor to some other primate. on Wikipedia

  • Nebraska Man: The Nebraska Man, or Hesperopithecus haroldcookii, was first described in 1922 based upon a tooth found five years prior. In 1925, further work revealed that the tooth actually belonged to Prosthennops, an extinct peccary (Slick incorrectly states that the tooth belonged to an extinct pig). Science retracted the identification of the fossil as an ape in 1927. In other words, there is no reason to bring up Nebraska Man in discussing the evolution of man, unless you’re a creationist seeking to point out the blunders of scientists. However, unlike biblical creationists, science recognizes, corrects, and grows from its errors; biblical creationists are tied to the biblical account, regardless of the physical evidence which is found.

  • Piltdown Man: A known hoax, popular among creationists who use it to illustrate so-called deceit or dishonesty among biologists who would do anything to find proof of evolution. However, according to Wikipedia, “In the decades prior to its exposure as a forgery in 1953, scientists increasingly regarded Piltdown as an enigmatic aberration inconsistent with the path of hominid evolution as demonstrated by fossils found elsewhere.” Using the theory of evolution, Piltdown Man was able to be fingered as an aberration, and further study confirmed that this was the case. That’s the nice thing about scientific theories: they can be used to predict things about reality, predictions that confirm the validity of the theories. In other words… on Wikipedia

  • Java Man: Despite Slick’s (and other creationists’) claim that the discover of the Java Man bones (a skullcap, teeth, and femur) later admitted that the bones were simply those of an ape, the claim is simply not true. The skullcap in particular is similar to other specimens of Homo erectus, an ancestor of modern man. At this point in time, the Wikipedia article seems to be junk (and its discussion page doesn’t help much), so for this one, i refer you to the Archive.

  • Peking Man: Another example of Homo erectus, Slick says that a Chinese missionary has determined the Peking Man to be completely human. Now, perhaps it’s possible that the missionary simply wanted a human to preach to that wouldn’t object to the unscientific claims made by the Bible; as it is, further discoveries have pretty much confirmed that Peking Man was Homo erectus, an evolutionary ancestor of man. on Wikipedia

  • Neanderthal Man: While no longer believed to be an ancestor of mankind, neanderthal man lived at the same time as early man and was either a sub-species of man or a separate human species altogether. Very recent genetic testing has confirmed that all non-Africans are part neanderthal. My Uncle John once suggested to me that the interbreeding of Genesis 6 had more to do with neanderthals & humans rather than anything supernatural. Well, now we know: non-African humans had a thing for neanderthals. (As a side note, the image of neanderthal man as a dumb-as-rocks caveman should be replaced: neanderthal man had a brain size equal to if not larger than Homo sapiens.) on Wikipedia

  • Cro-Magnon: Slick doesn’t say what’s wrong with the evidence of Cro-Magnon man, so i’ll just leave this at saying Cro-Magnon was the first early modern man and had a larger, stronger build than we do today. on Wikipedia

Other than Nebraska Man & Piltdown Man, every evolutionary example which Matt Slick gives us is at least somehow related to the evolution of man. Still, that list is small. There are around two dozen species in the evolutionary ancestry of man, and scientists are coming to understand the genetic links between all of these species increasingly.

If there ever were a missing link, it would have been genetics: While creationists want to proclaim genetics an enemy to evolution, in reality genetics is one of many fields of study which confirms the theory of evolution.

So there you have it: Matt Slick rightly challenges evolution by stating that there should be evidence.

And there is. Lots of it. Freely available to those who are not so brainwashed to be able to appreciate it.

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