A talk with physical anthropologist Dr Neil Huber
A committed teacher of evolutionary anthropology at a major secular university (Wisconsin State) until 1975, Dr Neil Huber, of Washington State, USA, is now a whole-hearted creationist. A committed Christian by 1981, by 1990 he had come to accept the literal Genesis viewpoint. ‘I grew up in total ignorance of the Bible’, he says. ‘I knew about Christ from school plays, Christmas, and things of that kind, but my family was very much opposed to Christianity. As my father used to say, we were scientifically enlightened people, and we didn’t believe that stuff any more.’
Dr Neil Huber with his wife Herta.
‘I was enthusiastically teaching evolution at the university, when some of the students challenged me to read the Bible. I was confronted by the historical trustworthiness of the New Testament. At some point studying the Bible made me start to consider that evolutionary theory abounds with real, recognized problems and there is nothing good about it. It only has deleterious results, and cannot be tested, unlike the theory of electricity or hydrodynamics or anything like that.’
Dr Huber was by no means a creationist at this stage, but he had become concerned about evolutionary theory and the validity of the things he was teaching. ‘I became what you might call a little bit “agnostic”? about evolution.’
Resigning his position at the university, Dr Huber eventually started a business of his own, as a biologist. His wife had become a Christian, and she was the person who got him to go to church. ‘My conversion was not a Damascus Road experience, bang, like that. I had to wrestle with a whole bunch of problems.’ Foremost among these was the issue of the age of the Earth.
‘I grew up in a climate of believing that everything was very old, that dinosaurs were very old, and that fossils were very old, and so forth. And I learned that, not only at home, but in high school, long before I went to college.’
‘For about ten years after committing my life to Christ, my view was that Genesis 1–11 was figurative. I was satisfied that it was all a kind of metaphor. Then I suddenly realized that this was clearly inconsistent with my trusting the New Testament, and that troubled me very much. Evolution is absolutely inconsistent with the whole idea of the Biblical God.’
Dr Huber began to study the Old Testament very carefully, particularly Genesis. ‘I began looking at the evidence the Old Testament presents, which is a very consistent view of the trustworthiness of God. Carefully studying the Pentateuch, including Genesis, blessed me with a complete trust in the power and faithfulness of the orthodox, ‘fundamentalist’ interpretation of the Creation account. And in its importance, too. A whole edifice of basic doctrines are founded upon it—the Creation, Adam and Eve, the Fall, the Curse on creation, the Promise of a Saviour, the Flood, marriage, Original Sin, etc. But it contradicts evolutionary theory and also all long-age thinking in general (Romans 5:12). And if Genesis 1–11 is myth, or not reliable history, then Christianity would be (God forbid) bunk, a house of cards.’
Eve the first scientist?
For the last 20 years now, Dr Huber has been teaching young and old alike that the Old Testament is consistent and trustworthy. He has some captivating Biblical illustrations of the superiority of Biblical revelation over human science:
‘Eve was the first “scientist”?; she studied that tree. Not like a modern-day botanist, perhaps, but she makes these observations (Gen. 3:6a), and you can tell that her science is good, because her observations are in accordance with the observations of God. And then she makes the mistake of giving heed to a talking snake who creates some doubt in her mind, who says, in effect, “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat of every tree?”?, and she says, “Well … ”? —and that is the problem—doubting God’s Word.’
‘And so she gets Adam (her “lab assistant”?, in a sense) and says, “Come on, let’s eat this. Let’s do a little experiment.”? So they do an experiment and they find that their conclusions (that they would gain a huge benefit) are wrong. Their observations are correct, but their conclusions are wrong.
Skull of Australopithecus robustus (SK 23), a non-human primate found at Swartkrans, South Africa.
‘Now the Moriah episode (in Genesis 22) is the reverse of this. Abraham and Isaac knew what fire was—they had that much science. They may not have known about nuclear physics, but they knew about fire, and what it does to burnt offerings. And when God said, “Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and take him to a place that I will tell you of and offer him there as a burnt offering”?, Abraham must have known what that implied as far as science was concerned. And Isaac and Abraham go up to Moriah, completely trusting the promise of God despite their knowledge of science, their knowledge of what fire is and does. It is a profound, shocking story, but the message is that they trusted the promise of God instead of their knowledge of science.’
As a physical anthropologist at a top university, Dr Huber has handled some of the most feted human remains known to science. He is not impressed.
‘There are a lot of mistaken views in science. I have held in my own hands originals of some of the most famous of the fossils, like the celebrated Steinheim skull1 and other Mousterian2 fossils. A lot of those bones that have received great emphasis are from, I hate to say it, dubious surroundings. Many of them are in a terribly contorted position or shape and are really ruined and put together in arbitrary ways. Many of them are interpreted erroneously by people who have great authority.
‘The orthodox naturalist would say these things are “zillions”? of years old. Now the Steinheim skull, for example, is clearly not a typical modern human. What is it? I really don’t know for certain. Perhaps a variant of modern human, like one of the different groups of dogs we have today, a type that has since died out? There are many things that I don’t understand, but am I supposed to build a whole philosophy, a whole worldview, on something that I don’t yet fully understand, like this Steinheim skull?
‘The whole edifice of evolutionary theory rests on a collection of inferences by scientists, by fallible people, from good observations of phenomena perhaps, but at best circumstantial evidence and often erroneous inferences from the data.’
And Dr Huber’s advice for witnessing to an evolutionist?
‘There is a kind of rule in the philosophy of science that scientists will defend an established paradigm until something better comes along to replace it. If somebody had presented biological evidence in favour of Creation to me while I was professing evolutionary biology, I probably would have done everything I could to oppose that view.
‘Trying to “prove the Bible with science”? is not the answer. The answer is to start with the assumption of the authority of the Bible, looking at all the evidence that it presents for trusting it. Then build your science from there, based upon the Bible’s truth, and show how immensely consistent the weight of evidence in the real world is with the Bible’s account of history. That’s what [your ministry] is obviously doing, and I strongly support that thrust.’
- A skull found in Germany and named Homo steinheimensis (a.k.a. H. heidelbergensis, a.k.a. H. erectus), also regarded as ‘Archaic Homo sapiens’. Its brain size is 1150–1250 cc, within the modern human range, and it is very similar to Neandertals, except that the latter at 1450 cc have a larger average brain size than modern humans. All are regarded by most creationists as simply one variety of post-Flood humans. Return to text.
- This describes a culture, based on certain types of implements and artefacts, commonly (but not exclusively) associated with Neandertals. Return to text.