Evolution and the Sin in Eden
A New Christian Synthesis

Chapter 3: Pre-Homo Sapiens Not in Eden

Very ancient fossils of hominid skulls, skeletons, and dentures, sometimes found together with fabricated stone tools, indicate that intelligent human beings inhabited our globe for a long time before we came on the scene. Some of the fossils date back to several million years ago. Museums exhibit them or their replicas, and standard anthropological texts describe details. We would be ostriches hiding our heads in the sands if we pretend that these are not real.

I viewed some of the original objects which the Leakey family members had discovered, which are now on exhibit in the National Museum in Nairobi, Kenya. To my unpracticed eye they appeared as genuine as they are claimed to be. I also marveled at the nearly complete fossil of "Lucy" said to be 3.5 million years old which Donald Johanson and team discovered in the region of Hadar in Ethiopia. The question arises, though, whether fossils which date back several million years are relics of descendants of the Adam and Eve of the Bible, the ones who committed original sin. I lean to the opinion that these very ancient humans who are now extinct, were not the ancestors who committed original sin, the ones from whom we are descended.

Among anthropological exhibits in museums today, replicas of the shapely fossils of "Lucy" deservedly enjoy a place of honor. The story telling how two scientists found her fossils on top of the sand in the Afar region of Ethiopia is related dramatically in the book Johanson-Edey, Lucy, The Beginnings Of Humankind, 16-17. A reading of the book reveals much about the thoroughness with which these scientists went about their work. Three years after the discovery Donald Johanson and Timothy White completed their study of the fossils. They finally decided that she could not be human. As Johanson wrote: "She was so odd that there was no question about her not being a human. She simply wasn't. She was too little. Her brain was too small. Her jaw was the wrong shape. With these "primitive" traits staring me in the face, I interpreted other things in her dentition as primitive also, as pointing away from the human condition and back in the direction of apes" (Lucy, 258). But she did walk erect on two feet, and her dentures identify her to be in the hominid line, clearly distinguished from the chimpanzee and ape lines. The strata in which they found her diminutive fossils were eventually identified as "close to 3.5 million years old" (Lucy, 202-203), a million years more ancient than the oldest stone tools discovered to date.

Present data indicates that the line of humans we call Habilis made stone tools 2.5 million years ago (at Hadar in Ethiopia, see Lucy, 231). This indicates - at least to me it indicates - that the population who made them had intelligence and freedom, an immaterial and immortal soul. With forethought and planning they fashioned stone working tools. Man and wife likely shared work. Groups would organize to divide labors, to hunt as a unit, to protect each other and to share food, and so develop culture and speech abilities.

Louis Leakey found a nearly 2 million year old fossil skull in association with stone tools at Olduvai in 1959. The tools were pieces of lava and quartz which must have been brought to the site from three miles away since that was their closest source. The collection includes crude rounded pebble tools, but also advanced tools. A site at the bottom of the gorge contains eleven different kinds of stone implements, such as engraving-gouging tools, quadrilateral `chisels,' large and small scrapers, and other special purpose tools generally made of difficult to work lava and quartz. The Leakeys also found what they interpret to be a semicircular wall at Olduvai which, they speculate, served as a shelter and windbreak. It has been dated at 2 million years old, plus-minus 280,000 years (Victor Barnouw, Physical Anthropology and Anthropology, 118; see also Lucy, 229; and Bernard G. Campbell, Humankind Emerging, Sixth edition, 238 ff.).

The tool makers, who presumably hunted animals for food and fashioned their skins into clothing, who also built shelters, undoubtedly exercised considerable social coordination, which is an index of human speech ability.

But how well were these pre-Homo Sapiens people able to speak, we ask. Scientist Philip Lieberman provides information, which to non-scientist myself is convincing, that Homo Sapiens is the first in the fossil record with the cranial morphology which can indicate the presence of our modern type of fully developed speech organs (Lieberman 1984, 256 ff.). On this basis I see no possibility that the ancient Homo Habilis who made tools 2.5 million years ago was of the tribe of our Adam who committed original sin. He could not speak well enough to have an adult sense of responsibility. He could make tools, he could hunt, he could socialize with others, but so long as he could not speak with modern facility, God would not hold him responsible for grievous matters. His still underdeveloped speech abilities did not capacitate him to reflect sufficiently about responsibilities, nor to decide with adult finality. The same must have been the case with Homo Erectus who follows Habilis in the fossil record. The 1.6 million years ago fossil of a twelve year old Erectus boy found by the Richard Leakey team on the shores of Lake Turkana in Africa (cf. Leakey 1985, p. 629), resembles our body-build. But his basi-cranium indicates that he did not have our modern type of speech organs. The same is true about the other fossils of Erectus.

Peoples of the Erectus type are said to have fanned out from Africa into the areas where Italy, Spain, France, Hungary and other countries are today, as well as to India, Java, and north into China (see map, Campbell, p. 308). The diggings in Zhoukoutien (formerly spelt Choukutien), near Peking in China indicate that Erectus lived there for a very long time. Recent Chinese researchers date human occupation of the caves between 230,000-500,000 years ago (Campbell,286). The findings give us considerable insight into their type of living:

The continuing excavations produced thousands of stone tools. There were simple choppers with only a few chips removed, but they were made to a pattern. In the largest cave that was explored, 100,000 stone tools and fragments, most of quartz, were found. Some of them lay with charred bits of wood and bone. From this it was concluded that Sinanthropus had mastered the use of fire. The ash of some deposits were enormous in quantity, 22 feet deep - dramatic evidence that appeared to indicate that the fires were not permitted to die out. The bones and antlers of thousands of animals were present in the deposits. Nearly three-quarters of them belonged to deer; there were also bones of giant sheep, zebra, pigs, buffalo, rhinoceros, monkeys, bisons, elephant, and even such river dwellers as the otter. Among these were scattered the bones of predators, of bear, hyena, wolves, fox, badger, leopard and other cats, and of humans. All these bones came from species that are now extinct (Campbell, 285).

These people probably spent much of the day hunting and gathering, and then spent the evenings around the fires. All this indicates that they must have had a considerable division of labor, that they could communicate adequately with each other, and exercised considerable technical skill. They may very well have developed significant human culture and manners, and perhaps discussed the meaning of life as they ate their meals and warmed themselves around the fires.

Carl C. Swisher III of the Berkeley Geochronology Center recently made the significant claim that Homo Erectus lived in Java between 27,000 and 53,000 years ago, and that Homo Sapiens arrived at the island about 40,000 years ago. The two types apparently co-existed until Erectus became extinct. "The key difference between Erectus and Sapiens was in the brain. The Sapiens brain is about 25 percent larger and this may have been the difference between the survival of one species and the demise of the other" (AP, Washington, 17 December 1996).

"Homo Antecessor" whom scientists claim to have lived about 800,000 years ago, is said to have some features which resemble Neanderthals, others more akin to Homo Sapiens. His bulky lower jaw, primitive teeth and ridged brow favor Neanderthals, his cheekbones and his canine fossa favor Homo Sapiens. The Spanish anthropological team who discovered 50 fossilized specimens in northern Spain during 1995 and 1996 believe they are ancestors of three branches of peoples, Homo Heidelbergensis, the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens. They postulate that all three types lived simultaneously about 500,000 years ago, but since 250,000 ago only Homo Sapiens survived (Daily Yomiuri,January 20, 1998). (But we saw just above the claim of Swisher that Homo Erectus lived in Java up to 27,000 years ago. The human family tree continues to be refined as new discoveries are made.)

Deficient in Speech

While anthropologists continue to modify the family tree in accordance with successive recent discoveries, we assume that Lieberman and associates will logically abide by their postulate that Homo Sapiens alone could have possessed the advanced type of language abilities comparable to our own. The extended length of the palate of all hominids other than Homo Sapiens is too long to allow space for our two-tube airway system. Therefore, the other hominids can have had only the standard one-tube system and were consequently unable to do our [a], [I], and [u] vowels; our [g] and [k] stops; and the fine calibration which enables us to produce so many recognizable phonemes at high speed.

Were one to insist on putting into the other hominids tongues as thick as those of Homo Sapiens, and to have equally long oral and pharyngeal sections, we would make them into monsters with the larynx (Adam's apple) in the chest instead of in the neck. The long palates of Australopithecus, Habilis, Erectus, and Neanderthal fossils indicate that they supported vocal tracts "in which the tongue is long and thin and is positioned almost entirely within the oral cavity" (Lieberman 1984, 296).

These scientists do not claim that the earlier hominids were totally unable to speak human languages, but they point out that our modern type of speech organs simply don't fit into earlier hominid fossils. They reconstructed a Neanderthal supralaryngeal vocal tract and found that it could not generate the formant frequency patterns of the vowels and stops mentioned above (Lieberman 1984, 318). The advantage of superior speech abilities was likely a factor in the rapid development of Homo Sapiens and probably of his replacement of Neanderthal (see ibid. 333).

We are today one human race of the species Homo Sapiens, spread over the globe, all able to intermarry and have offspring. Adam and Eve were originators of our race, then, but probably not ancestors of the Neanderthals. Bernard G. Campbell, in Humankind Emerging, notes that the Cro-Magnon population, who were Homo Sapiens, lived contemporaneously with Neanderthals, but that the two groups remained apart:

Archaeologists believed that there was no cultural connection between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon peoples. The stone tools of the Cro-Magnons seemed markedly more sophisticated than Neanderthal implements. And when archaeologists dug down through successive layers in caves, they sometimes found sterile layers between the Neanderthal deposits and the deposits left by Cro-Magnons, indicating that no one had occupied the cave for a time. These layers containing no sign of human occupation were interpreted as proof that the Neanderthals had become extinct without having given rise to their successors in Western Europe (Campbell, 381).

Eternal Destiny of Neanderthals and Others

The non-Homo Sapiens people of ancient times, then, may well have enjoyed life intensely much as children do today before they reach adulthood. They could speak and think to some extent and carry on social life in conformity with their comparatively limited intellectual powers. Their power to think abstractly indicates that they had immaterial and immortal souls which do not die. What about their eternal destiny?

The Lord has not seen fit to reveal this to us. But we know that every single person whom He once creates, lives forever after. This is true of all persons, whether they are children or adults, whether born or unborn. We know also that God loves everything He has made, and that He is infinitely good. We entrust the non-Homo Sapiens hominids to His goodness, just as we entrust to Him the children whom He has created and who die without Baptism before they could be born, or who died after birth but before reaching the use of reason.

Homo Sapiens: The Man in Eden

The Homo Sapiens skull and connecting backbone which are ours can obviously accommodate our type of speech organs. We assume that Homo Sapiens developed intellectually over a span of years, until he reached the threshold of mature deliberation, capable of assuming the responsibilities of Eden. When the fullness of time came, God "put the man whom he had formed" (Gen 3:8) into the Garden of Eden which He had planted for him. There God revealed Himself to our Adam in a supernatural manner, and constituted him in the supernatural state of holiness and justice.

This means that God irradiated Adam's mind with the divine light of infused faith, capacitating him to see light with God's light. His natural human intelligence took a quantum leap when natural truths were suffused with the background light of infused faith. God also explained to him the chief truths about man and the universe by the primal revelation, which was given to him as the founder of the race which God now specially favored. The rest of the Homo Sapiens people, assuming that there were such, and the Neanderthal groups either continued to live genetically isolated from the Eden people, or they were already extinct. At any rate, only the descendants of the Eden people remain on the earth today. We are all descendants of those to whom God gave the gifts of holiness and justice in Eden, whereas all other human populations have become extinct.


The writer has become convinced, upon reading Lieberman and others, that it is correct to conclude that our Adam and Eve are Homo Sapiens people who began our race. The fossil record gives us a general idea of how long ago they lived: it could have been any time after the speech organs and neurological substratum were in place perhaps in the neighborhood of 200,000 years ago.

Next Page: Chapter 4: A Couple or a Population?
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