Last week we took an in-depth look at the concept of irreducible complexity. Simply defined, irreducible complexity says that for a particular body part to work in a certain way, it must have all its component parts present at the same time. Its component parts cannot gradually evolve into existence as is taught by classical evolutionary theory. They must all appear at the same time for the body part to properly work.  It cannot work if it is missing a component.  It cannot work in the manner it must in order to facilitate a particular function if it is reduced to less than what it is. Therefore it is an irreducible complexity.  You will remember I used the mouse trap as an illustration of an irreducible complexity.  

       Creationists contend that since all component parts of a system or structure must be present at the same time for a particular function to work, it is highly improbable that such parts would all come together at the same time through natural selection and/or genetic mutation as taught by classical evolution.

         When considering the multiple numbers of irreducible complexities that can be identified in any given organism, the probability that their components all came together at the same time is astronomical and mathematically impossible. Furthermore, it is pointed out that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record to show evolving irreducible complexities.  While evolutionists like to point to certain organisms as transitional life forms in the geological record, creationists maintain that the fossil record only shows completely developed biological entities with completely developed structure’s, including what can be defined as fully developed irreducible complexities. 

       Classical evolutionists maintain that irreducible complexities like all other body parts have come into existence through gradual modifications of organic material involving millions of years of evolutionary development. So the debate continues over this issue.

The development of man:

       Evolutionists postulate man has come to be as the result of many years of evolutionary development from apes or a common ancestor to apes and man. The belief is that all living organisms are descended from a single common ancestor that appeared in the distant past. This belief is behind the "tree-of-life" picture often seen in books on evolution. Such single ancestor is believed to have developed from the fortuitous coming together of elements that produced a living organism that was able to develop and reproduce. This is sometimes called "the theory of universal common descent."

       In 1856, fossilized limb bones, a pelvis, ribs and a skull cap were found in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf Germany.  Similar body parts were found some years later in Belgium and southern France.  A study of these specimens led researchers to postulate the existence of what became known as Neanderthal man.

       Neanderthals are characterized as having large brow ridges and an elongated cranial vault. Bodies are seen as being very muscular.  The remains of several hundred Neanderthals have been discovered. A number of largely complete skeletons are preserved, providing detailed knowledge of their biology.  The Neanderthal skeletons were found in graves with hands neatly folded, surrounded by fossilized pollen. This would indicate they were buried with flowers in some sort of funeral ceremony. Tools have been found with some of the Neanderthal remains. Evolutionists believe Neanderthals are between 36,000 and 82,000 years old.  Some evolutionists believe Neanderthals are an intermediate stage between apes and modern man.

       Some Neanderthals had a brain size of around 1,740 cubic centimeters as compared to 400 cc for apes and 1,350 cc for modern man.  Other Neanderthals were found to have a brain size comparable to modern man.  In 1908 a Neanderthal skeleton was found in Poland incased in a suit of armor that had not fully rusted.  This and other such finds would indicate that Neanderthals are not anywhere near as old as evolutionists have concluded.  In the case of the find in Poland, the armor would have been totally rusted if the skeleton was as old as evolutionists make Neanderthals out to be.

       There has been much controversy in evolutionary circles as to Neanderthals and what role they played in the development of man.  Some evolutionists have concluded that Neanderthals were not much different from modern man because the evidence shows they had ability to use fire, make tools, bury their dead and form culture.

       It appears Neanderthals have been arbitrarily classified as pre-human based on assumptions as to their mental capacity.  Yet it is evident from artifacts found in association with Neanderthal remains that they developed hunting tools, produced cooking utensils, jewelry and built dwellings to live in.  All this shows their mental capacity allowed them to be creative, make decisions and accomplish pre-determined objectives no different than all humans throughout recorded history.

       Evolutionists claim Neanderthals were of a different species from modern day man and are now extinct. In 2010 Swedish biologist Svante Paabo, along with a team of some fifty scientists, was able to sequence the genetic code (genome) of the remains of a Neanderthal. When compared to modern human DNA, it was discovered that Neanderthal DNA makes up one to two percent of the genome of many modern humans.  This shows Neanderthals were at one time contemporary with modern man and of the same species as modern humans in that sexual relations between them resulted in offspring. In view of these findings, it is apparent that Neanderthals are not a different species from modern day humans but simply a variety of a single human species. 

 Evolutionary embarrassments:

      In association with the quest to discover the origins of man, there have been a number of embarrassments in the field of paleontology which is the study of fossils.  In 1922 a single molar tooth was found in Nebraska and was determined to belong to a transitional form in the evolution of ape to man.  This tooth was embedded in what was determined to be million year old Pliocene stone deposits.  An English anatomist and a museum artist collaborated to produce a painting of what they thought this “Nebraska Man” looked like.  When John Scopes was tried in 1925 for teaching evolution in the school system contrary to Tennessee law, this tooth was introduced as evidence for evolution. Two years after the Scope’s trail, paleontologists returned to the Nebraska site where the tooth was found and discovered that enough additional rock had weathered to expose additional fossilized body parts which revealed the tooth belonged to an extinct pig.

       In 1912, an amateur archeologist found pieces of a cranium and a jaw along with remains of mammals and some stone and bone tools in a gravel pit at Piltdown, Sussex, in southern England. The cranium appeared human but the jaw was ape-like.  A canine tooth was found later in the same area and this collection of body parts was pieced together and became known as the Piltdown man. These body parts were dated to be over 500,000 years old. Anthropologists hailed this as a great find supporting the evolution of man and these fossils were placed in the Natural History Museum in London.

       Some forty years later, it was determined that in 1911 someone had placed a human cranium and an orangutan jaw in the gravel pit.  The orangutan teeth had been filed to make them look more human and the jaw had been deliberately broken at the hinge to obscure correct identification.  All the bone fragments had been stained brown with potassium bichromate to make them look old. The cranium turned out to indeed be human and was re-dated to be around 500 years old. The Piltdown man turned out to be a complete hoax.  Yet this discovery was used for years to support evolution.  A number of "scientific" papers were written in support of the Piltdown man being a pre-human in the development of man.  It turned out to be a complete hoax.

        The Piltdown man was also used as evidence for evolution in the John Scopes trial and like the tooth of the so-called “Nebraska Man,” turned out to be fake news as evidence in support of evolution. A movie was made about the Scoops trail in 1960 entitled “Inherit the wind.”   

       Hominids and hominins: 

       The word hominid is used to describe all modern and extinct Great Apes which include modern humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and all their immediate ancestors. The word hominin is used to describe the most recent ancestors to modern humans. Since there is some confusion in scientific circles as to hominid versus hominin, I will simple use the word hominid in referring to fossils believed to be ancestors of modern man.

       One of the most famous discovered hominids is Lucy who was found in 1974 in Ethiopia. Lucy has been dated to have lived 3.2 million years ago.  Lucy is seen as having characteristics that are similar to modern man and is therefore seen as a human ancestor from which man has evolved.  Lucy is often described as an upright walking ape-like precursor to humans.

       What is interesting is that only 40% of her skeleton was found and much of that was rib fragments. Her bones were found scattered over a hillside and it is uncertain whether all the bones that were found belong to the same skeleton. In 2015, it was decided that one of Lucy's vertebrae was probably from a baboon. Though a number of paleontologists have found problems in identifying Lucy as a pre-human, Lucy continues to be touted as a direct ancestor of modern man. 

       Lucy is typical of what transpires in the world of fossil discovery.  Typical hominids are constructed from fragments of jaws, scraps of skulls and chips and pieces of other body parts. This makes it very difficult to formulate definitive conclusions as to the actual makeup of an organism’s morphology and relationship to other organisms if any. Yet we often see such fossil parts with sketched in additional body parts that make the organism to look like modern day man or something close. Such man made constructs are then promoted as human ancestors. 

       Harvard zoologist Richard Lewontin, in his book entitled Human Diversity, stated that "despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our direct ancestor." 

       In 2015, several prominent paleoanthropologists reviewed the fossil evidence as to human evolution and posted their findings in the journal Macroevolution. They admitted that the evolutionary sequence for the majority of hominin lineage is unknown. They concluded that most human taxa (population of organisms), and especially early hominins, have no obvious ancestors. 

From Ape to Man:

       There is the Peking Man, the Man of Heidelberg, Cro-Magnon Man, Java Man and a variety of other so-called hominids that have been offered as evidence for a gradual development from apes to modern man (Homo sapiens).  Many of these hominids were lumped together and called Homo erectus because they are believed to walk in an upright position.  All these hominids have come about as a result of piecing together jaw fragments, parts of skulls, bones and other body parts obtained in various excavations around the world. 

       While various dating methods have been applied to determine the age of these body parts, as discussed previously in this series, such dating methods are problematic.  For example, in 1951 a skull and jaw was found and named Nutcracker Man.  It was announced as being 600,000 years old.  In 1961 the skull of Nutcracker Man was dated by the potassium-argon method and found to be 1.75 million years old.  In 1968 the skull was dated using the carbon-14 method which found it to be only 10,100 years old.  It is these kinds of discrepancies in dating that has produced significant suspicion as to their validity.

       It must be noted that while apes and humans share some skeletal similarities, such similarities do not prove apes are the ancestors of humans.  As previously discussed in this series, comparative anatomy does not equate with evolution of organisms but is more indicative of common design.

       While there are comparable skeletal structures between apes and humans such as the rib cage, there also are major differences in the skeletal structure of apes and humans.  Structurally, apes are designed to walk on four limbs while humans are designed to walk on two limbs. Humans have a rigid big toe which enables the foot to move forward when walking. The big toe of apes is not rigid, does not point forward and is more like a thumb.  Therefore, apes have difficulty trying to walk on two limbs and find it virtually impossible to run on two limbs.  

       If apes are a developmental step in an evolutionary process leading to the appearance of humans, there should be transitional forms of apes that show a gradual but observable movement from having a flexible thumb like big toe to the rigid big toe found in humans. No such transitional forms have been found.  Apes have flat feet. Humans have an arched foot. No intermediate ape to human organisms have been found where there is seen a gradual transformation from flat feet to arched feet.

       In humans the spinal cord enters the skull at its bottom which allows for the natural position of the head to be vertical to the ground and in a forward looking position. If a human places himself in a horizontal position to the ground, he must raise his head upward to see straight ahead. With apes, the spinal cord is located more to the back of the skull which allows for the head to be naturally looking forward while in a horizontal position.  If an ape wants to look forward while in a vertical position it must bend its head downward. 

       Evolutionists claim the location of where the spinal cord enters the skull slowly moved from the back of the skull to the bottom of the skull in the development of ape to human. If this is the case, there should be fossil evidence of this transition taking place. There is no such fossil evidence. 

       Many other pronounced structural differences between apes and humans could be cited. Nowhere are there intermediate stages found in the fossil record showing gradual change in these structures leading to a transition from ape to human.   

      As already pointed out, evolutionists have taken a great deal of artistic liberty in producing replicas of fossils or in drawing up artistic illustrations of the gradual evolution of humans from ape like ancestors. These replicas and artistic illustrations of the various stages of evolutionary development place a fleshly body on discovered skeletal body parts. In doing so, missing body parts must be supplied to make a whole body.  Sometimes a skeleton with flesh on it is made from nothing more than the analysis of fossil imprints found in sedimentary rock.  Much assumption and imagination is used in this process. How close to the real thing these replicas or artistic illustrations are is very questionable and highly problematical.

       In 1965, Time-Life Books came out with a foldout illustration showing supposed progressive development from ape to man. This illustration was entitled "The Road to Homo Sapiens" and later came to be called the "March of Progress."  This was largely based on artistic imagination as no such progression of development has ever been identified. Yet this illustration became a standard in numerous publications dealing with evolution and remains so to this very day. 

       In chapter 14 of the 2017 published book "Theistic Evolution," One author, after a comprehensive look at the evidence, concluded that "Despite the claims of evolutionary paleoanthropologists and unceasing media hype, the fragmented hominin fossil record does not document the evolution of humans from ape-like precursors. While the hominin fossil record is marked by incomplete and fragmented fossils, known hominins fall into two separate groups: ape-like and human-like, with a distinct gap between them." 

       It is instructive that in 2014, in a paper coauthored by leading paleoanthropologists, the admission was made that we have no explanation of how and why our human linguistic computations and representations evolved since nonhuman animals provide virtually no relevant parallels to human linguistic communication.

Recent findings:

      Having discussed traditional evolutionary teaching, I must point out that the twenty-first century has brought about a change in thinking among evolutionists as to how the development of humans has come about. This change has occurred because of the sequencing of the human genome. All of the nearly six billion linked letters found on the 46 chromosomes in human cells have been identified. These letters represent four different chemicals that in various combinations make up our genetic code.  This has allowed geneticists to look at how our present human genome compares to the genomes of what are believed to be evolutionary precursors of humans.       

      Population genetics:

       Population genetics is a field of study that investigates and describes how the genetic makeup of one group compares with the genetic makeup of another group. Since genetic makeup differs between different populations of humans throughout the world, a study of the genetic makeup of these populations can reveal how genetic changes have occurred over time. 

       In comparing the genomes of modern day humans with our ancestors, population geneticists have concluded that humans did not evolve in a straight lower to higher continuum as depicted in the “March of Progress” diagram but instead evolved from a population of organisms having similar traits. Genetic research claims to have established that the nearest relative to humans is the chimpanzee.

       Population geneticists claim that by comparing the human genome with our ancestors, it has been proven that we humans could not have begun as a race with just two people (Adam and Eve) but that we came about from out of a population of at least 10,000 individuals. It has been determined by population geneticists that the diversity we see in the human genome of today is too large to be explained by our ancestry beginning with just two individuals.  Genetic biologists have presented what they believe is indisputable evidence for this conclusion.

       Some Christian theologians and apologists have been so impressed with the data that they have sought to coordinate these findings with new ways of understanding the Genesis creation account of Adam and Eve.  As briefly discussed in my first sermon in this series, one idea is that Adam and Eve were chosen from a group of humans who were living outside of the Garden of Eden.  Another idea is that that Adam and Eve were a special creation within an already existing community of humans that were living on planet earth.

       As mentioned in my first sermon in this series, prominent New Testament scholar NT Wright leans toward the view that Adam and Eve were chosen out from an existing population of humans for special purpose. Wright sees them as representatives (archetypes) of the whole human race. This perspective is articulated in the following quote from his book Surprised by Scripture.

       "just as God chose Israel from the rest of humankind for a special, strange, demanding vocation, so perhaps what Genesis is telling us is that God chose one pair from the rest of early hominids for a special, strange, demanding vocation. This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be the representatives of the whole human race, the ones in whom God’s purpose to make the whole world a place of delight and joy and order, eventually colonizing the whole creation, was to be taken forward. God the creator put into their hands the fragile task of being his image bearers" (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture, [2014], page 37-38).

       This approach appears to be an attempt to harmonize the Scriptural account of the creation of man with the belief of evolutionists who postulate millions of years of evolutionary development. It appears Dr. Wright sees a literal existence for Adam and Eve in that he analogizes their being specially chosen to that of the people of Israel being specially chosen.  We know the people of Israel literally existed.        

       These ideas have led to the conclusion by some that Adam and Eve are not our genetic ancestors but are our genealogical ancestors. Therefore, it is believed that evolutionary science and the understanding that Adam and Eve were de novo created (literally created by God as recorded in Genesis) are not in conflict. Under this perspective, the existence of a literal Adam and Eve is seen as compatible with the evolutionary teaching of common decent from lower life forms. It is believed that both can be true.

       However, there are series theological problems with this approach which I have previously discussed and will return to discussing as we move along in this series.

       The recent claims of population geneticists as to how man evolved is being investigated by both theologians and scientists involved in genetic research. Research is currently going on to determine whether the human race could have begun with two individuals having the genetic diversity to account for the diversity seen in present day humans. It has been determined that the same mathematical formulations used to arrive at the conclusion that humans must have developed from an ancient population of humans can also show development starting with two individuals.

        It has also been determined, contrary to common evolutionist belief, that there is a significant difference in the genetic makeup of humans as compared with what is considered our nearest evolutionary ancestor, the chimpanzee.  This in itself makes the idea of human decent from nonhuman ancestors problematical. 

       Next time we get together I will share with you information about what is called Phenotypic Plasticity. This is a different way of looking at how evolution occurs and a way that better allows for a literal view of the Genesis creation account.