‘Factual errors and distortions’ about early humans?
4 July 2003
updated 12 July 2003
CMI’s recent web article Ethiopian ‘earliest humans’ find (12 June 2003) forthrightly addresses a Nature report about the discovery of the ‘earliest humans’, supposedly dated at 160,000 years ago. The authors of CMI’s article, Drs Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati present the data (including links to the original Nature report), and evaluate them from a biblical perspective.
Reasons to Believe (RTB), a ministry that openly promotes billions of years and so-called ‘progressive creationism’ (see What's wrong with the progressive creation view of Hugh Ross? and Hugh Ross / Progressive Creationism Exposé), responded to CMI’s web article with attacks on the integrity of the authors, both on a live webcast1 and in an email exchange, in which Dr Fazale (Fuz) Rana, RTB vice president, accused CMI of ‘factual errors and distortions’.
In the interest of fairness, and particularly since RTB has already reprinted some of the exchange,we feel the best method is to be open about the entire exchange. A total of 6 correspondences between Drs Rana and Wieland have transpired, and are listed below.
- Dr Rana's initial 24 June letter regarding the 12 June 2003 web article
- Dr Wieland's 25 June 2003 response to Dr Rana
- Dr Rana's response to Dr Wieland (26 June 2003)
- Dr Wieland’s response to Dr Rana (26 June 2003)
- Dr Rana's notification of posting on their website (7 July 2003)
- Dr Wieland's response (written 8 July 2003, sent after delay)
[Note: The crux of the argument is RTB’s belief that there were human-like beings before Adam who never had a soul and could not be saved by Christ—a view made necessary by their acceptance of long-age dating methods. Dr Rana argues that the researchers clearly saw their findings as distinctly nonhuman. Yet media reports repeatedly make references to them as ‘modern humans.’ For example, Jim Bowler, discoverer of Mungo man in 1974, commented on this new find: ‘If you put this fellow in a grey charcoal suit, they wouldn't look out of place on Collins Street.’ See the end of this article for further quotes about these fully human fossils.]
Drs Wieland and Sarfati,
As vice president of science apologetics at Reasons to Believe (although I do believe that Dr Sarfati has derisively referred to me as Hugh Ross’ minion), I respectfully request that you either withdraw or significantly revise the article you wrote and posted on the [Creation Ministries International] web site titled, “Ethiopian ‘earliest humans’ find”. The article is dated June 12, 2003. Your piece contains factual errors and distortions about our ministry’s position on several issues, including anthropology.
I write this letter to you as your brother in Christ and in accordance with the command of our Lord Jesus Christ who instructs us in Matthew 18:15 to go to your brother if he sins against you and show him his fault. My hope is that you will listen and that you will be won over.
First you state that “they (Reasons to Believe) claim to be ‘conservative evangelicals who trust the Bible’” and “they hold to a separate creation of Adam, and claim to take the genealogies literally.” This is true. We are conservative evangelicals who take the Bible literally. However, your tone, the quote marks (‘ ’), and the use of the word “claim” implies that we are disingenuous in our views about the Bible. I find this deeply offensive, since this implies that we are lying about our views. To support your case you state that we: 1) trust man’s fallible dating methods; 2) reinterpret the plain teachings of the Bible; 3) accept death before the Fall; and 4) take liberties with the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies. As you well know, there are many conservative evangelical Christians who labor long and hard for the faith and who interpret (as opposed to reinterpret) the days in Genesis as long periods of time. They also recognize the scientific validity of dating methods, they believe that the Bible teaches that animal death occurred before the Fall and they understand that there are gaps in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies. These men and women are not compromisers (as you so often declare), but are sincere seekers of the truth, as are we. Our views on these issues are not heretical and not unique to us, but are squarely within the pale of orthodoxy. To be fair, your article should point this out. It is a clear distortion to state that because we hold to these positions we merely claim to be ‘conservative evangelicals who trust the Bible.’ We, indeed, are conservative evangelical Christians, and we do regard the Bible to be the error-free Word of God as do others who hold similar views.
In the article’s subhead, you state that the discovery of the Ethiopian fossils represents “a severe blow to the beliefs of Hugh Ross…”. Elsewhere you state that these finds should be “received with dismay by the ‘progressive creationist’ camp.” You also maintain that Reasons to Believe is “forced into some very tortuous positions regarding ‘fossil men.’” This couldn’t be further from the truth. We are able to readily accommodate these finds within our biblical anthropology. In fact, this discovery actually affirms a recent origin of humanity well under 150,000 years ago, a fact that adds support to our biblical model of humanity’s origin. For details listen to our June 17th edition of Creation Update (accessed through our web site or oneplace.com). Perhaps before publishing your article you should have waited for our comments on these finds.
Equally disturbing to me is the impression you give in your article that we are ignoring the scientific evidence and the consensus of the scientific community as we interpret the fossil record in light of our biblical model for human origins. You state, “despite evidence of humanity from culture, artifacts, etc. in the case of such fossils as Neandertals, Homo erectus, and even some fossils classified as (‘archaic’) Homo sapiens, they cannot concede these are human, because otherwise their date for ‘Adam’ suffers…they have been forced to postulate that these were non-human, ‘spiritless humanoids’ who just happened to use fire, tools, paint on cave wall…”) This is blatantly untrue. It is not our exclusive view that Neanderthals, Homo erectus, and other ‘archaic’ Homo sapiens were not human, it is the scientific consensus based on the evidence (anatomical, genetic and developmental) at hand. Moreover, the scientific community is unanimously agreed that these hominids behaved in ways that were clearly nonhuman. Anyone even remotely familiar with the scientific literature knows this to be the case. (Check our Creation Update show notes for an abundance of references to the original literature.) This includes Homo sapiens idaltu, the species represented in the Ethiopian finds. It is clear from the Nature articles that Tim White’s team does not consider idaltu to be an anatomically modern human (Homo sapiens sapiens), but something else. The data presented in Nature clearly indicates that the fossil specimens contain numerous features that lie outside the range for anatomically modern humans. (In fact, Daniel Lieberman’s group published a paper a couple of years ago in PNAS that showed archaic humans are anatomically distinct from modern humans.) Moreover, their behavior was not like that of modern humans as evidenced by the archeological finds affiliated with the fossil specimens (Middle Stone Age and Achuelen). The fact that Tim White’s team assigned the Ethiopian specimens to a separate taxon from Homo sapiens sapiens means that they are not anatomically modern humans. Tim White’s team interprets their find from an evolutionary perspective as an intermediate to modern humans because they possess a mosaic of modern and archaic (nonmodern) features. We disagree with this conclusion. From our perspective, a mosaic of features doesn’t make it a transitional form, but rather equally reflects a Creator’s work (based on reasoning similar to that used by Kurt Wise in The Creation Hypothesis). Our interpretation is fully consistent with the evidence at hand and nicely fits within our model’s framework. Homo sapiens idaltu was a nonhuman bipedal primate that is anatomically distinct from modern humans and behaviorally distinct as well. To imply otherwise, as your article does, is a gross distortion of the scientific evidence.
There are numerous comments in your article that suggests to me that you are confused by the terminology used by anthropologists. I point these errors out to you for your benefit and also because this confusion, I think, in large part, leads to many of the scientific errors you make in your article and consequently to the ways that you distort our position on human origins.
You do not seem to be aware that the term Homo sapiens is largely ambiguous. However, in spite of the ambiguity surrounding this term, it is never used to refer exclusively to anatomically modern humans. That reference is reserved for the term Homo sapiens sapiens. (We consider Homo sapiens sapiens to be the descendents of Adam and Eve.) The term Homo sapiens refers to the assemblage of hominids that existed between roughly 500,000 years ago (after Homo erectus went extinct) through modern humans. Some anthropologists classify these as Homo sapiens, and others subdivide them into separate species, such as Homo antecessor, Homo hedeilbergensis, Homo helmi, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo neanderthalensis, etc. Some even create subspecies categories for some of them, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis for example. Debate rages among evolutionary biologists as to how to classify these hominids and how they relate to one another, but one point of agreement is that none of them are modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). I again refer you to Daniel Lieberman’s PNAS paper. In this context, it is quite significant that Tim White’s team classified the Ethiopian finds as a subspecies of Homo sapiens. This means that they are not modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) but a distinct hominid. For more details on this you can consult almost any introductory book on paleoanthropology.
You also seem to be confused about the different “cultures,” “industries,” “tools,” and “technologies” found in the fossil/archeological record. You seem to confuse the scientific use of these words with the common use. The culture/technology/industry of Homo habilis / Australopithecus habilis (Oldowan) consists of extremely crude stone implements that are simply rocks flaked to a point. These animals likely used the flakes as well as the so-called hand axes. The culture/technology/industry of Homo erectus (Acheulean) is not much more sophisticated than that used by H. habilis. The next culture/technology/industry is called Middle Stone Age or Mousterian (depending on whether the artifacts are recovered in Africa or Europe). These “tools’ are only slightly more advanced than those used by H. erectus. In your article you try to argue that Homo sapiens idaltu must have been a modern human because they used “an interesting combination of Middle Stone Age and late Acheulean technology.” This statement makes no sense. It essentially says that these hominids must have been modern humans because they behaved in nonhuman ways. Only when modern humans appear (Homo sapiens sapiens) does the culture/technology/industry display any sophistication. According the Christopher Stringer in his book African Exodus, “Before then, Homo sapiens [not modern humans] was simply marking time culturally. For millennia upon millennia, [they] had been churning out the same forms of stone utensils…But about 40,000 years ago, a perceptible shift in [the] handiwork took place…tool kits leapt in sophistication…Signs of the use of ropes, bone spear points, fishhooks, and harpoons emerge, along with the sudden manifestation of sculptures, paintings and musical instruments…We also find evidence for the first long-distance exchange of stones and beads…Its an extraordinary catalogue of achievements that seem to have come from nowhere…” For more information on this see Richard Klein’s classic textbook, The Human Career. The scientific evidence abundantly demonstrates that prior to the appearance of modern humans the tool use was crude and stagnant. Only when modern humans appear does the tool use become advanced, in a dramatic fashion.
In light of these comments, I again ask that you either withdraw or revise your article. I do not object to you offering critique of our views, but your critique should be based on a proper representation of our views in the context of conservative evangelicalism. Also, you should properly understand the scientific evidence you use when you critique our model(s). Given that you both are men of high Christian character and integrity, I have full confidence that you will correct these errors in your article.
Fazale (Fuz) Rana, Ph.D.
Vice President, Science Apologetis
Reasons To Believe
Yours is a public ministry, as is ours. You dispute our opinion of the significance of these fossils, and their implications for your position. That is your right, as it was our right to express our sincerely held opinions in the public arena. There is nothing intrinsically un-Christian or 'sinful' about either one of us contending strongly in this manner.
Dear Dr Rana,
I acknowledge receipt of your email of 24 June.
Although I hardly expected you to like our critical article, I was surprised at the strong accusations concerning alleged ‘distortions’ and so-called ‘factual errors’. I was even more surprised to see Matthew 18 cited, which refers to a brother sinning against you.
However, in your email, all I found were claims of ‘impressions’ that you felt were wrong, or ‘implications’ which you read into our article. There was not a shred of evidence that we had lied or indeed committed any other sin, as biblically defined, against you. Matthew 18 therefore has, as far as I can tell, nothing to do with it.
(As an example of an appropriate application of Mt. 18, some time ago I approached Dr Ross on that Mt. 18 basis after I received several independent eyewitness reports that he had claimed during lectures to Australia that Ken Ham/Carl Wieland had refused to debate him, which never happened. In correspondence, he assured me that he had never said that, and I left it at that. If the reports were correct, it would have been overt false witness, so Mt. 18 would indeed have applied.) Note also that you and Dr Ross went public on your radio broadcast before we received this [email], so even if you thought that Mt. 18 applied, this would have been a strange way of following what it says.
Of course, there is no way that we would want to leave any ‘factual errors’ uncorrected. But I genuinely could not see that your email revealed a single factual error in our article.
Let me briefly comment on the broad categories of your complaint.1. Our description of you [RTB] as people who claim to be Bible-believing, conservative evangelicals, etc. For all practical purposes, on your profession of faith, I am called to treat you and regard you as a saved person. And I do until proven otherwise. But that does not automatically mean that we have to agree upon which category you fit merely because of self-labelling. For one thing, these are man-made categories, and there are certain understandings in the public mind as to what they constitute. Our point was to highlight what we see as the contrast between the claim and your origins teachings. Note that we did not say that overall you do not fit that category, which would be presumptuous, and outside of our mandate anyway. But it is important for people to know your claim and then to know the facts about what you believe and teach, because it is that claim of conservative evangelicalism (which indeed may fit in other areas of your beliefs) which gives a credibility to your origins teachings which belies the degree of liberty we believe you take with the Scriptures in those areas.
You mention that large numbers of evangelical leaders also hold to similar positions on these issues as yourselves. I would also unhesitatingly use a similar wording in relation to them—i.e. they claim to be x-y-z, but look at the tragic compromise in this area. Note that this is not a personal attack, but a highlighting of the contradiction IN THIS PARTICULAR AREA between the claim and the reality. There was no mandate to take our statements in any sort of sarcastic way; they were simply factual statements of claim.
In regard to your invoking those many other professing conservative evangelicals (again, nothing derogatory is intended; this is a factual description) who also engage in similar compromises and inconsistencies, I could not help but be reminded of the person caught speeding in a radar trap, who protests to the officer that ‘just about everyone breaks the limit around here; look at those speeding by who have just done it, you haven’t pulled them up, so why me?’ I.e., the issue stands or falls on the proper exegesis of the Word of God, not on some ‘majority view’ theology by democratic vote.
There is no suggestion in our writings that you (or the other leaders whom we sometimes publicly rebuke with a loving motive) are less than Christian. Since we made no statement concerning your sincerity or motivation, we believe that your insertion, in your complaint letter, of the word ‘merely’ (as in accusing us of saying that you ‘merely’ claim such belief [to be ‘conservative evangelicals who trust the Bible’]) is unwarranted and misrepresentative of our position. Your last sentence in your point 1 repeats your claim [to be ‘conservative evangelical Christians’], which has long been known of and noted, and does not contradict our article which reported that claim.2. Our claim that these fossils should be a blow to your position, and that RTB is generally forced into some ‘tortuous positions’ on fossil humans. That is our sincere opinion, and we do not resile from it. In fact, your email was full of much special pleading regarding these fossils, which reinforced our opinion, I must say. We believe it is vital to point out these inconsistencies, in an attempt to wake people up to the dangers to biblical authority from your teachings. I say this with sadness, and no sense of triumphalism. I wish it were not so, but we believe such teachings, no matter what their motivation or intention, represent a greater danger to the church than attacks by atheistic evolutionists from ‘without the camp’.
3. The question of the paleoanthropological evidence itself. I note a lengthy use of many scientific terms and references, which I really hope was not mainly for the purpose of giving the ‘gallery’ the (misleading) impression that we are unaware of the literature.
The relatively uninformed might well glean the impression from your comments that the scientific community you cite would be generally supportive of your view, when of course it would give it the shortest of shrift. For instance, you use the term ‘separate taxon’ to describe the ‘subspecies’ assignment, as if to reinforce your view that the fossils represent a separate created kind, when in fact, the researchers themselves believe these fossils are the same species as, and thus totally capable of interbreeding with, modern humans. Under both RTB and CMI conceptions of the biblical kind, that is enough to put them in our kind. They do not believe that these were some ‘non-humans’ that were discovered, but that they were in their total essence ‘anatomically modern humans’ who nevertheless showed some of what they call ‘archaic’ features. One was a larger skull than today’s average.
As you know, in the esoteric framework that your compromise forces upon you, you had only two choices: one was to deny the dating (this would logically threaten the edifice erected around the validity of dating methods, of course). The other was to say that no matter how close they were to modern humans, the fact that they also exhibit some of these ‘archaic’ features meant that you could say, in effect, ‘Phew, we can still call them non-human’. But we see this as special pleading to an astounding degree.
There is a clear anatomical gradient, i.e. there are skulls ranging from ‘archaic’ to ‘fully modern’ and it is a smooth spectrum, with no sharp demarcation line. The evolutionist sees this as evidence that they were all related, but in their view, in an evolutionary ladder of descent (with possibly some branching/bushiness). We also see it as evidence that they are all related, but contemporaneous. The smooth grading is to be expected, as the whole suite of variation simply expresses the built-in variability within humanity. We combine that with the sharp discontinuity between the fossils classified as hominin and those classified as australopith, showing that there are neither transitional nor mosaic forms.
Both our position and that of the evolutionists are at least consistent within their own terms of reference, and consistent with the TOTAL anatomical picture. But is it consistent to assign skulls which are so massively skewed to the ‘modern human’ side of the spectrum to ‘non-human’ simply because of some minor features like this, especially given what we know about the range of human variability even today? The message is really very clear to the interested onlooker; the prime reason they are assigned to ‘non-human’ by you is because of the dating, to salvage this strained paradigm. The tiny proportion of so-called ‘archaic’ features is the thin thread which is grasped as a lifeline, but in fact we believe that they actually worsen the situation for you, i.e. they make it even more impossible for you to take the other option of challenging the dating in the hope that your supporters might see it as an isolated dating failure. Because if you conceded these to be human, this would lessen the force of any alleged anatomical arguments for excluding the other ‘archaic’ skulls from the human fold.
Finally, you would be familiar with the existence of the skulls of early Australian aboriginal people with some of these allegedly ‘archaic’ features, too, and we would not think that you would want to challenge their humanity.
I have chosen not to engage every one of the many sub-points in that latter part of your communication (nor all the misleading points raised in your radio broadcast, which inter alia claims we believe that these creatures ‘evolved one into the other’. You would, or should, know we do not, although it may suit your purposes to paint us as believing in ‘hyper-evolution’, and perpetuate evolutionary equivocation about the meaning of ‘evolution’—conflating ‘change of gene frequency over time’ and ‘goo to you via the zoo’ which in reality are totally different.) The main reason for this is that there is not likely to be any meeting of the minds, because the issue between us has to do with how one should deal with the Bible, which leads to what we see, respectfully, as your strained interpretations of the data. But in short, you can rest assured that if anything you had said had given any cause (to anyone with a reasonable level of understanding in this area) to re-evaluate and alter our paper, we would have been happy to do so.
It is, frankly, puzzling to us as to why you would make the claims you do (perhaps the best mode of defense is perceived to be attack?). Because, within our paradigm, as you would, or should, know, all the actual data you provided reinforces our viewpoint, or at the very least does nothing to negate it.
I therefore certainly hope that this was a sincere approach. Unfortunately, it is not hard to see your last sentence as giving evidence of the opposite. You say, ‘Given that you are both men of high Christian character, I have full confidence that you will correct these errors in your article’. As a manipulative, leading line—something in the ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’ category—this seems hard to beat. (If Sarfati and Wieland do not change the article, they are by definition of low Christian character and integrity, it seems.)
The main game—the Bible and its history. It is our prayer and hope that you and Dr Ross, and others who have been misled (as we of course must see it, by definition) by your ministry’s efforts will come to a realization that the path you have been travelling is dangerous, harmful and counterproductive. This is something that transcends any argument about bones. If there should ever be a coming to awareness/repentance concerning this deadly ‘big picture’ compromise on the Bible’s authority, rest assured that I would be the first to embrace you with tears.
Managing Director, Creation Ministries International (Australia)
Dear Dr Wieland,
Thank you for your prompt reply to my email. While neither of us has time to engage in a protracted email exchange, I feel compelled to address several points in your reply. So please bear with me.
My intent was to follow the spirit of our Lord’s command in Matthew 18. While I did not contact you by email prior to our Creation Update broadcast, I still felt that this passage applied. Our broadcast’s purpose was not to respond to [CMI’s] critique, but to comment on the recent discovery of these Ethiopian specimens in a timely fashion. Our comments on the [CMI] piece were quite brief. However, if you feel that you have good reasons to reject the clear teaching of Matthew 18 in this instance, so be it.
You insist that there are no significant anatomical differences between Homo sapiens idaltu and Homo sapiens sapiens (anatomically modern humans). I have gone back and re-read the Nature articles in detail and could not disagree with you more. The authors of these papers readily acknowledge that they are not anatomically modern humans. In the abstract of one of the papers they state, “The Herto hominids are morphologically and chronologically intermediate between archaic African fossils and later anatomically modern Late Pleistocene humans.” (Nature 423 (2003), 742–747) In this article, the authors state, “The Herto hominids are contemporaneous with obvious antecedents of ‘classic’ Neanderthals, but do not resemble them. The Herto hominids have derived characters not seen in Homo erectus and in other apparently older African specimens…and so cannot be assigned to those groups. When BOU-VP-16/1 is compared metrically with a large global sample of modern human crania similarities and differences are apparent.” Elsewhere they state, “The morphology of the Herto crania falls between the more primitive morphology of the earlier African specimens…and the more derived morphology of later AMHS…” They also state, “They sample a population that is on the verge of anatomical modernity but not yet fully modern.” Again, the authors state, “Because the Herto hominids are morphologically just beyond the range of variation seen in AMHS, and because they differ from all other known fossil hominids, we recognize them here as Homo sapiens idaltu, a new paleosubspecies of Homo sapiens.” These hominids differ from Homo sapiens sapiens by greater craniofacial robusticity, greater anterior-posterior length, and large glenoid-to-occlusal plane distance. Clearly, Tim White’s team is viewing the data from an evolutionary perspective. Having said this, it is clear from this paper in Nature alone that H. erectus, the ‘archaic’ Homo sapiens species, Homo sapiens idaltu and modern humans are all distinct from one another. We have made it clear when we have discussed this find that Homo sapiens idaltu does possess a mosaic of modern and archaic features. We of course reject the evolutionary perspective and maintain that a mosaic of modern and archaic features doesn’t demand an evolutionary conclusion, but can equally be explained by the work of a Creator. We do not feel that our interpretation reflects “special pleading” or a distortion of the scientific data. Our interpretation is in line with the evidence. Rather, it is the view that all these hominids are modern humans that distorts the evidence at hand.
Also, you (perhaps conveniently) failed to respond to and acknowledge a key point in our argument. Namely, that the archeological evidence indicates that Homo sapiens idaltu behaved in very non-human ways. “The combined Upper Herto archaeological assemblages vary spatially in their lithological and typological contents. The Levallois method is well represented across samples. Levallois and smallish Levallois flakes and points normally associated with the African MSA are present, as are Acheulean cleavers and other bifaces. All these tool types are represented by examples found in situ in the hominid-bearing sand unit. Similar assemblages are traditionally classified as final or ‘transitional’ Acheulean” (Nature 423 (2003), 747–752). This says it all. Homo sapiens idaltu displayed behaviors that most closely resembled H. erectus. The combined anatomical and archeological data indicate that these were non-human hominids distinct from modern humans. As such, these finds fit nicely into our model. In spite of your claims, these finds do not represent any type of death knell for our creation model, our ministry or‘progressive creationism.’
In your reply you state that “There is a clear anatomical gradient, i.e. there are skulls ranging from ‘archaic’ to ‘fully modern’ and it is a smooth spectrum, with no sharp demarcation line. The evolutionist sees this as evidence that they were all related, but in their view, in an evolutionary ladder of descent (with possibly some branching/bushiness). We also see it as evidence that they are all related, but contemporaneous. The smooth grading is to be expected, as the whole suite of variation simply expresses the built-in variability within humanity.”
Are you saying that there is scientific evidence for human evolution unless one rejects scientific dating methods? If you really believe this, no wonder you are so adamantly opposed to our model. We don’t see the data in these terms at all. Rather, we see significant evidence that demarcates modern humans from the Homo hominids. (References to the scientific literature towards this end can be found in our Creation Update show notes.)
One last question: In your reply you state, “Finally, you would be familiar with the existence of the skulls of early Australian aboriginal people with some of these allegedly ‘archaic’ features, too, and we would not think that you would want to challenge their humanity.” I am unaware of this. Could you please point me to the relevant scientific references?
Again, thank you for your response. It saddens me deeply that you feel that our ministry is more dangerous than atheism. While I understand that our difference run deep, I would hope that we could find some measure of unity in Christ. However, I gather that you do not think this is ever possible.
Fazale (Fuz) Rana, Ph.D.
Vice President, Science Apologetics
Dear Dr Rana
As indicated in my last email, little would be gained by an ongoing exchange in writing, which is reinforced by the level of escalation of misunderstanding/misrepresentation in this. However, a personal face-to-face interaction is another thing altogether.
Re unity in Christ—I’m sure that there are all sorts of areas and situations in which the unity which we already have in Christ would be overtly manifest. The specific areas in which RTB teaches against the Bible’s plain history is not one of them, unfortunately.
Dr Carl Wieland
Managing Director, Creation Ministries International (Australia)
July 7, 2003
Dear Dr. Wieland,
As a courtesy, this is to let you know that we have posted on our web site (www.reasons.org) the email exchange that you and I had. Of course, we have provided the appropriate links to the Answers in Genesis web site. We did this in the interest of fairness, since [CMI] posted, on July 4th (2003), your response to my initial email to you without posting my initial email and my response to your email reply. I had hoped that this exchange would largely remain between the two of us.
My hope is that at some point in the future representatives from our two organizations can meet face-to-face and at least make some overtures towards reconciliation.
Dear Dr Rana
Thanks for the courtesy notification. We actually would have wanted to publish your entire email, but thought you would think that was discourteous. So now we can go ahead with that, which is our preference anyway. Openness is always the best policy, as I’m sure you would agree.
Dr Carl Wieland
Managing Director, Creation Ministries International (Australia)
Here are some quotes about the human character of the recent findings in Ethiopia (bold added for emphasis):2
Skulls of the oldest modern humans have been uncovered in Herto, Ethiopia, showing that people looking remarkably like us were roaming the African plains 160,000 years ago.
Professor [Tim] White [co-leader of the excavation team] said the early humans at Herto lived on a shallow lake alongside hippos, crocodiles, catfish and buffalo. Over 600 stone artefacts, including axes, were also found.
Australian anthropologists expressed surprise at how modern the skulls looked. ‘It’s quite extraordinarily modern-looking really’, said Stephen Collier, a lecturer in archaeology at the University of New England. ‘You wouldn’t have expected this 10 years ago, anything this modern.’
Geologist Jim Bowler, who discovered Australia’s oldest human remains, the 40,000-year-old Mungo man in 1974, said the skulls looked remarkably like modern people. ‘If you put this fellow in a grey charcoal suit, they wouldn't look out of place on Collins Street.’
Whereas modern-day people are classified Homo sapiens sapiens, the new skulls have been placed in a subspecies, Homo sapiens idaltu (which means ‘elder’ in the African Afar language).
‘Homo sapiens sapiens is a very slippery concept’, said Colin Groves, of the Australian National University's anthropology department. ‘The new specimen is exactly what we predicted for Homo sapiens before it starts to branch out and diversify, before it started to develop racial features.’
- See also the subsequent article, Redating Leakey’s Ethiopian human finds: more problems for compromise
References and notes
- Is Homo sapiens idaltu the ‘Missing Link’? <http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/creation_update/Archives.asp>, 17 June 2003.
- S. Cauchi, Fossils find writes new chapter in our narrative, The Age, June 12, 2003, p. 1.