CAPS Meeting Sun. 2/22, 3 pm, biologist Chris Ashcraft to speak on human evolution
- Printable Meeting notice (with color pictures) at:
Creation Association of Puget Sound (CAPS) Meeting
Feb. 22, 2009, 3 pm (refreshments & book table), presentation at 3:30
at Bellevue Church of Christ, 1212 104th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98004,
Chris Ashcraft will give a seminar titled:
Planet of the Apes?
- Bachelor of Science in biology from Wayland Baptist University, 1989.
- Masters of Science in biology from Texas Tech University, 1996.
- Masters of Education, University of Washington, 2008.
Chris teaches high school science and creation apologetics at North Sound Christian School. He is the founder of the Northwest Creation Network (and webmaster of nwcreation.net, and organizer of the Seattle Creation Conference. See details at: http://www.nwcreation.net/ashcraft
Paleoanthropologists assert adamantly that humans are the descendants of ape-like ancestors. Darwin's seminal theory led naturalists inexorably to this conclusion, but the Bible clearly states that we were created distinct from the animals and in the image of God.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27
This presentation examines the evidence used to support human evolution, including Neanderthals and Australopithecines. Are these ancient hominids really missing-links capable or substantiating human evolution or has the truth been distorted to support the materialistic evolutionary worldview?
Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis), an extinct hominid, lived throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia and northern Africa. At first, Neanderthals represented somewhat of an enigma for evolutionists and creationists alike. However, whilst the vast majority of creationists now agree that Neanderthals were simply genetically isolated humans, some evolutionary circles have been slow to abandon the misconception that Neanderthals were stooped "apemen." Nevertheless, since the mid 1950s, studies have revealed that Neanderthal features fell within the accepted range of human anatomy.
There has been disagreement about whether the Neanderthals should be considered a subspecies (i.e. homo sapiens neanderthalenis) or their own species. The recent sequencing of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA seems to point towards a separate species designation because of the substantial differences found compared to modern humans, and the apparent lack of breeding between sapiens and Neanderthals .
Yet, the 1998 discovery of a Neanderthal-human "hybrid" skeleton at Abrigo do Lagar Velho in Portugal indicates that humans were indeed capable of interbreeding with Neanderthals . Moreover, critics of the Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA data have noted that the sample size of Neanderthals is extremely small, resulting in underrepresentation.
It is possible that Neanderthals contributed to modern human populations, but their mitochondrial DNA sequence disappeared as a result of the loss of genetic diversity. As Kahn and Gibbons write: "Living humans are strangely homogeneous genetically, presumably because ... their ancestors underwent a population bottleneck that wiped out many variations."  The mt DNA differences are at mutational hotspots where substantial mutational change can occur in short periods of time, resulting in rapid genetic shifts within a population. One Neanderthal mt DNA study concluded: "The separate phylogenetic position of Neanderthals is not supported when these factors are considered [i.e. the high substitution rate variation at these hotspots]."  Hence, recent mt DNA findings are not in conflict with the conclusion from the evidence of fossil hybrids and artifacts that Neanderthals were fully human.
Based on the comparison of modern human mt DNA and that taken from the Neanderthal, evolutionists have argued that the "Neanderthal line" diverged from the line of "hominids" leading to modern humans about 600,000 years B.P. without contributing mt DNA to modern Homo sapiens populations. This strongly implies that Neanderthals were a different species from modern humans.
However, the above noted interpretation is not scientifically justified. Lubenow (1998) has pointed out that the use of a statistical average of a large modern human sample (994 sequences from 1669 modern humans) compared with the mt DNA sequence from one Neanderthal is not appropriate. Furthermore, the mt DNA sequence differences among modern humans range from 1 to 24 substitutions, with an average of eight substitutions, whereas, the mt DNA sequence differences between modern man and the Neanderthal specimen range from 22 to 36 substitutions, placing Neanderthals, at worst, on the fringes of the modern range. (Neanderthals are Still Human! Dave Phillips, Impact Vol. 323, May 2000)
John N. Johnson
President, Creation Assoc. of Puget Sound