Answers in Genesis, Neanderthals, the “Creation Model,” and Predictions that Never Were

Answers CavemenIn my last post, I discussed Ken Ham’s recent comment regarding Neanderthals. Contrary to every single bit of scientific, genetic evidence, Ken Ham claimed—without any evidence whatsoever—that Neanderthals were simply human beings who dispersed after the Tower of Babel (circa 2250 BC according to AiG), whose genetic make-up mutated enough to give them a unique Neanderthal genome, who then somehow got reacquainted with the rest of humanity, interbred with the rest of humanity, and then died out, sometime before God called Abraham (circa 1900 BC according to AiG).

Well, that’s not completely right, at least not if you check out the AiG website. If do you, you will find a January 13, 2010 article entitled “Those Enigmatic Neanderthals,” by Anne Haberlmehl, in which she said that all human beings from Adam to the time shortly after the flood were Neanderthals. She writes, “…all the ancient long-lived people of early Genesis who lived for hundreds of years could be classified as Neanderthals, including everyone from Adam through to the Flood and for some generations after the Flood.” But from Abraham onwards—not Neanderthals.

But then the curious thing is that in yet another AiG article by Andrew Snelling and Mike Matthews, entitled, “When Did Cavemen Live?” (April 1, 2012), they give yet some more questionable information. In that article, Snelling argues that Neanderthals certain came about after Babel. But then the ice age (yes, THE ICE AGE) came and went sometime between 2250 BC-2000 BC. It was in that 250-year time-period that history witnessed the rise, genetic mutation, and fall of Neanderthals. This is what the Bible seems to indicate, says the folks at AiG. Oh, but there is one more thing that caught my attention in this article. It should speak for itself. In his discussion of the ice age, and the subsequent layers of earth stemming from that ice age, the ones in which we find the various fossils, Snelling notes the following about the top most layer: “Not a single Neanderthal, Homo erectus, or hobbit fossil has ever been found in the topmost layers.”

That’s right: we have not found the fossilized remains of Bilbo or Frodo Baggins, or Samwise Gamgee, or even Merry or Pippin. According to AiG, the race of Hobbits did not survive the vast ice age of 2250-2000 BC.

But let’s move on to the topic of this post…

Can Young Earth Creationists Make Predictions? Even Regarding Neanderthals?
In yet another AiG article by David DeWitt “Does the Creation Model Make Predictions?” (Feb 8, 2014), DeWitt attempts to convince us that not only does the Creation Model make predictions, but that it does in regards to Neanderthals.

PredictionsDeWitt starts his article by praising Ken Ham’s ability to make a monkey of Bill Nye during their debate. When Nye claimed that the creation model doesn’t make predictions (and that’s a rather key ingredient in the scientific enterprise), Ham, and now DeWitt, showed the following slide.

I couldn’t help but notice, though, but these aren’t predictions. Even if Genesis 6-9 was a historical account of a real worldwide flood, Genesis 6-9 isn’t a prediction—it would be a historical account.

Let’s take one example from the slide to how a prediction works: If you think Genesis 1-11 is giving historical information, and you total up the genealogies and conclude the entire universe is 6,000 years old, then a prediction would be, “When we calculate the expansion of the universe, and ‘turn the clock back’ based on the speed of light, we expect to find that the universe is 6,000 years old.”

But the thing is, though, is that when you measure starlight, you find the universe is 14 billion years old, proving that that “prediction” of 6,000 years old is wrong. You can’t then do what AiG does, and turn around and say, “Ah yes, our prediction was right, despite what modern astronomy says, because we added up the genealogies, and they say the universe is  6,000 years old!” You can’t use the basis of your prediction as validation of that prediction.

Why the Creation Model is so Much Better than the Evolutionary Model
DeWitt then made a point to show the fundamental difference between the “evolutionary model” and the “creation model.” He wrote, “the creation model, unlike evolutionary models, is very tightly constrained by Scripture that must be accounted for without wiggle room.” He then proceeded to articulate just what those non-negotiable “constraints” are: (A) The universe is 6,000 years old; (B) All humans descended from the first two people, Adam and Eve; (C) There was a worldwide flood during the time of Noah; and (D) God made the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day of time itself, one day after the creation of plants.

The thing that astounded me was that DeWitt was putting this forth in an attempt to say the “creation model” was better than the “evolutionary model.” The “creation model” was better because it is rigid and won’t change. By contrast, “when evolutionists find a fossil in strata that they didn’t expect, they can just revise the date range.” DeWitt then says, “I could wish that the creation model was not tightly constrained so that it could be flexible like evolution; however, that would not reveal God’s glory nor honor the more-than-adequate revelation He’s given us in His Word.”

Like I said, these statements are simply astounding: DeWitt is criticizing evolutionary theory because it is willing to change its view, based on scientists commitment to follow the evidence where it leads. Yes, when evolutionists find a fossil it a strata they weren’t expecting, they revise their theory to make it fall in line with the evidence. DeWitt sees this as a weakness. Now, I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure this is what lies at the heart of the scientific enterprise. Science, by its very nature, is flexible and provisional: our understanding of the natural world changes based on the new discoveries we find.

Yet again, DeWitt sees this as a bad thing that “doesn’t reveal God’s glory.” That’s why he thinks the “creation model” is better: it refuses to change, no matter what evidence or discoveries we might find. This, DeWitt thinks, gives glory to God. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. If that’s how DeWitt describes the “creation model,” then it’s pretty safe to say that it is, in fact, not scientific. To the contrary, it’s a predetermined claim that refuses to let any evidence or discover change it. Trying to pawn that off as “science” is dishonest, and certainly does not give glory to God.

But How Do Neanderthals Fit In to All of This?
With all that said, DeWitt gets to the point of his article. He himself can prove the creation model makes predictions, because he had done just that in regards to the study of Neanderthal DNA. He notes that back in 1997, scientists were able to map out the Neanderthal genome. And, shortly after that, an initial article was published that was entitled, “Neanderthals Were Not Our Ancestors.” In the article DeWitt references, he notes that it was concluded that “Neanderthals and modern humans last shared a common ancestor 550,000-690,000 years ago.”

Well, DeWitt knew this could not be right, because he already knew that, according to the “creation model,” that Neanderthals were human beings, and thus descendants of Adam and Eve. And so, he set out to scientifically prove those conclusions were wrong. After doing some research, he presented his findings at a “creation conference” in 2000. Simply put, his findings, based on the “creation model,” was that Neanderthals and modern humans shared a common gene pool.

And lo and behold, by the time the full Neanderthal genome was mapped out, scientists noticed how much overlap there was between the Neanderthal and human genomes. Neanderthals and humans had in fact interbred, thus, DeWitt claims, “completely reversing the conclusions of the original report in 1997.” He, David DeWitt, had predicted that Neanderthals were human beings descended from Adam and Eve, and the recent scientific discoveries had confirmed it. He writes, “Now, evolutionists have revised their theory and explanation to try to accommodate the results.  A creationist does not have that “luxury” because the creation model requires that Neanderthals and modern humans descended from Adam and Eve and therefore had to be related.

Score one for the young earth creationists! Oh, wait a second…

…But Nothing DeWitt Said Was True
Yes, you read that subtitle right. Not only is virtually none of what DeWitt said was true, he also left out a glaring problem with his claims.

Look at how he misrepresents the initial findings regarding the Neanderthal genome. Yes, the initial findings were that Neanderthals were not our ancestors—but DeWitt makes it sound like the initial findings were that Neanderthals and humans weren’t related. But the initial findings didn’t claim that. In fact, DeWitt even quotes them as saying that Neanderthals and human interbred—that would indicate they were related, wouldn’t it?

neanderthals_786What the initial findings claimed, which still holds true today is that Neanderthals and modern humans share a common ancestor. Have you ever seen a tree that has two main branches that stem out from the trunk, and then somehow, bend in such a way that they reconnect higher up? That’s what the initial findings said about the relationship between Neanderthals and humans: they share a common ancestor (think “the trunk”), they branched off from each other (think, one branch is human beings, the other branch is Neanderthals), and then those two branches reconnected around 100,000 years ago—that was when Neanderthals and humans interbred, and that’s why some people of European descent have some Neanderthal DNA.

That was in the initial findings, and that still holds true today. The only difference is that the initial findings claimed that Neanderthals and human beings interbred 60,000 years ago, whereas they have now revised that number to 100,000 years ago.

DeWitt though made it sound like “evolutionists” first claimed Neanderthals and humans weren’t related at all (they never claimed that).

He then claimed that he “made a prediction” that they were related, based on the “creation model.” In reality, he could have made that “prediction” based on the initial findings that he purposely mischaracterized. It is quite easy to make a “prediction” that Neanderthals and human beings were related after the initial scientific findings published in articles say, “Hey, Neanderthals and human beings shared a common ancestor.”

Finally, DeWitt then claimed that the most recent findings “completely contradicted” the original findings—but they didn’t; they actually confirmed them.

But there is still one more glaring problem with DeWitt’s claims. He said he “predicted” that Neanderthals and human beings are related, because Neanderthals were human beings descended from Adam and Eve. He then claims his “prediction” is confirmed by the scientific evidence. I’m sorry—it isn’t.

Remember, DeWitt claims that Adam and Eve were created 6,000 years ago, on the sixth day of time itself. Since he claims Neanderthals are descended from  Adam and Eve, I’d have to assume he believes what Ken Ham claims—that Neanderthals lived, genetically mutated, interbred with the rest of humanity, and died, between the years 2250 BC-2000 BC. So to be clear, his real “prediction” was that Neanderthals and human beings interbred about 4350 years ago. The science of genome studies shows that is not the case. The maps of the genomes show that the interbreeding took place 100,000 years ago, not 4350 years ago.

Even if you aren’t convinced of evolution, or that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, you have to see that DeWitt’s claims that “the new findings” (A) contradict the original findings, and (B) confirm his “prediction” that was based on the “creation model” are simply false—totally, completely false. The “revised” findings do not, in fact, “contradict” the initial findings, and they certainly don’t confirm his “prediction” that Neanderthals and humans interbred 4350 years ago.

And so, when DeWitt confidently declares at the end of his article, “I…want to illustrate how a scientist can make predictions within the biblical creationist framework, conduct a scientific investigation, and find evidence that confirms those predictions,” we can equally confidently declare…

“But you didn’t. So, why did you write the article?”

Perhaps he just had some left over wool taken from certain sheep AiG has fleeced that he wanted to pull over his readers’ eyes.

8 Comments

  1. In other articles AiG have casually referred to so-called ‘archaic humans’, for instance here:
    https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/origins/another-variety-archaic-human/
    As for that Snelling article, the Bible is silent about ‘cavemen’ yet Snelling forces it to say that some ‘humans’ only lived in caves ‘after’ Babel! Further confirmation that YEC is not ‘the Bible’ but empty speculation loosely based upon ‘the Bible’. (As you imply, nor does the Bible ever mention any ‘ice age’.)

    I will read your thoughts on that DeWitt article in a moment. In the meantime my thoughts on it (from 2014) can be read at this link (post dated 9.2.14 or 2.9.14 if you are in the US):
    http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2970&p=48583&hilit=dewitt#p48583
    Commenting on this:
    https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/does-the-creation-model-make-predictions-absolutely/

  2. Also, AiG have not been vindicated that Neanderthals were really ‘us’ and were ‘descended from Adam’. If anything we are (slightly) descended from a few of them – a related human species though we are not thought to be on a line of direct descent from Neanderthals.
    “I do, however, want to illustrate how a scientist can make predictions within the biblical creationist framework, conduct a scientific investigation, and find evidence that confirms those predictions.” He has not found scientific evidence proving that Neanderthals were really our species and were descendants of Adam. Real scientists have not ‘reversed’ their previous conclusions in order – because of the newer genetic evidence – to accept such a notion. But clearly Neanderthals were genetically similar to us enough to allow some interbreeding – with presumably offspring that were fertile.

    However, having re-read both the DeWitt article and your blog post just now (after I sent an email flagging your post) I would state that I’m not sure which sentence(s) from the DeWitt article led you to conclude “DeWitt though made it sound like “evolutionists” first claimed [in 1997] Neanderthals and humans weren’t related at all” (related as being a ‘related’ species not ancestor individuals in a personal family tree). I would accept that he rather ignored the fact that the species was still named HOMO neanderthalensis in 1997 – which would imply that they were still being classified as a related species even if no interbreeding with our species ever occurred and we are not in any sense (slightly) their descendants.
    So on closer examination, I’m not convinced that I totally agree with all your claims about DeWitt – as my earlier email (which I assume you have now seen) implied that I did.

    1. I came to that conclusion based on his conclusion, namely, because the “new findings” showed that humans and Neanderthals interbred and were genetically related, that this somehow “completely contradicted” the former findings. They didn’t “completely contradict” the former findings.

      That’s what was so odd about his article to me: (A) he calls them on their claim that Neanderthals weren’t our ancestors, then (B) he actually quotes them as saying Neanderthals and humans interbred; then (C) he claims that HE was the one who “predicted” that they were related…even though that’s what the original studies claimed; then (D) he claims after the new study, that the new findings “contradicted” the earlier claims, and he was somehow right.

      It was all just bizarre.

  3. Not sure whether you might be over interpreting what he said about the findings reported in 1997.

    But DeWitt’s prediction was that Neanderthals were really Homo sapiens and ‘descended from Adam and Eve’. The scientific evidence shows that that is false. Rather the two species were related – sufficiently so to allow some interbreeding (in Europe).

    1. Perhaps so…science, especially the details of the Neanderthal genome, is not my area of expertise.

      In any case, his claim that the recent findings “completely contradicted” the earlier findings is simply false as well.

      And the ultimate point with the entire article is obvious: it seems to be intending to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

  4. In fact I just rechecked the abstract of the 1997 Cell paper which DeWitt referenced as his footnote 1. It states: “Sequence comparisons with human mtDNA sequences, as well as phylogenetic analyses, show that the Neandertal sequence falls outside the variation of modern humans. Furthermore, the age of the common ancestor of the Neandertal and modern human mtDNAs is estimated to be four times greater than that of the common ancestor of human mtDNAs. This suggests that Neandertals went extinct without contributing mtDNA to modern humans.” DeWitt’s own comment was: “The authors claimed, based on the number of differences between Neanderthal and modern human mtDNA, that they could not be our ancestors. They showed Neanderthal mtDNA had no closer relationship to modern European mtDNA than to Asian, African, or Australian. Further, they contended that Neanderthals and modern humans last shared a common ancestor 550,000–690,000 years ago.” To me he did appear to summarise the abstract accurately and I assume (without reading it all) that the paper ruled out Neanderthals contributing to our genome or that we and they are at all genetically related. Though not of course that Neanderthals are a related SPECIES to us, within the same genus.

    I read your adjective ‘related’ in the species sense and thought you were going a little beyond his actual words. But you may have meant related in the sense that eg I am related to my nephew and niece but they are not really my descendants. But if so, that IS what those scientists believed in 1997 (a conclusion that has since been reversed – though we are only distantly related since they have been extinct for many millennia – following further genetic analyses).

    His only prediction was that the 1997 findings must be ‘wrong’ since in his worldview Neanderthals were really members of our species and ‘must’ be descendants of Adam so obviously we and they are genetically related. He was only partially right – they remain classified as a separate, extinct, species.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. So, to further clarify things in laymen’s terms (correct me if I’m wrong): (A) In 1997, the initial claim was something like Neanderthals and humans were two different tree trunks that eventually “grew together” about 100,000 years ago for a time (i.e. interbred); but then (B) NOW, the claim is that they were both of the same tree trunk, that then branched off from each other, that then “grew back together” for a time (i.e. interbred)…and then the Neanderthals died off.

      Is that basically it?

  5. I THINK they were saying in 1997 that the last common ancestor of the two species was around at about 600,000 + years ago. The scientists appear to have argued that Neanderthals went extinct (this is now thought to have happened around just 30,000 years ago) before they could meet up with and interbreed with our species ie “Neandertals went extinct without contributing mtDNA to modern humans” (now known not to be the case):
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867400803104
    The paper’s abstract also stated “the age of the common ancestor of the Neandertal and modern human mtDNAs is estimated to be four times greater than that of the common ancestor of human mtDNAs”. I think that means the two species were thought to have diverged around 600,000 + years ago, whereas the last/latest common ancestor of Homo sapien mtDNAs was perhaps around more like 150,000 years ago.

    Hope that helps. I’m slightly out of my depth too here.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: