An open letter to old-earth creationist, Dr. Fuz Rana
Published: 1 February 2008 (GMT+10)
Dear Dr. Rana,
In Quarter 4, Volume 9, Number 4 of your Connections 2007 newsletter, you continue to make the claim that Homo floresiensis was not fully human in your article titled ‘Human or hobbit?’ You point to skeletal and behavioral evidence that supposedly eliminate the Hobbit from designation as a modern human, made in the image of God. I feel your analysis continues to ignore a large body of data that severely challenges your interpretation. Let me address some of your points:
Fossils recovered on the Flores Island of Indonesia indicate that these hominids stood just over three feet tall with a chimpanzee-like brain size (380 cm³)
Human stature and brain size can vary tremendously. Have you seen this picture of a 19-year-old 72-cm-tall (2 ft 5 in) man next to a 237-cm-tall (7 ft 9 in) man?
The 19-year-old man is shorter than the Flores ‘Hobbit’ and yet he is fully human.
As far as brain size goes, the average modern human cranial capacity is about 1300cc. However, are you aware of a gentleman named Daniel Lyon? At a little over 150cm (5 ft) tall, his cranial capacity measured in at 624cc, which resides in the range of that of a gorilla. But in fact, Lyon could read, write, and worked for the Pennsylvania Railway Terminal for twenty years in the late 19th century. He possessed no mental or physical abnormalities. See the ‘Brain size and intelligence’ section of Turkana Boy-getting past the propaganda.
Therefore, observational data immediately precludes disqualifying the ‘Hobbit’ from full humanity based on stature and brain size alone.
Their cranial and facial features bear resemblance to Homo erectus and their post-cranial skeleton combines characteristics of the australopithecines (like "Lucy") and H. erectus. The paleoanthropologists who recovered these remains classified them as a new species, Homo floresiensis
Are you aware of modern human beings with Homo erectus skull features? Dr. Vij Sodera, a top UK surgeon, actually has X-Rays of these types of individuals in his book One Small Speck to Man: the evolution myth. The X-Ray evidence reveals that an individual can possess Homo erectus cranial features yet still be fully human.
Regarding the mixture of Homo erectus and australopithecine skeletal traits, are you aware of the 1,000 year old Native American burial in which many of the modern human bones could have easily been identified as a different species, even a different (non-human) genus? See the ‘Setting the stage’ section in Turkana Boy getting past the propaganda. Yet, they were clearly from modern humans.
Humanity is much more than its skeletal architecture. Without observational evidence, skeletal interpretation can be highly subjective, and even misleading in many circumstances.
The coexistence of H. floresiensis with modern humans and their remarkable behavior—given their small brains—has prompted a minority of paleoanthropologists to argue that these creatures are microcephalic (abnormally small-headed) human beings. Young-earth creationists, who generally regard hominids like Neanderthals and H. erectus as deformed human beings, also espouse this position.
This is a partially1 fair assessment except for one critical point. Young earth creationists do not consider Neanderthals and Homo erectus to be deformed human beings. We consider them to be fully human in every way, with some of their unique skeletal characteristics due to harsh climates, genetic isolation, and well-documented skeletal variation in humanity.
Some skeptics argue that the tool use and hunting practices of H. floresiensis undermine the RTB model, which holds that the two species should show behavioral disparity. This critique, however, fails to recognize the profound behavioral differences between H. floresiensis and modern humans. Even though they used tools and hunted, the hominids’ behavior was still crude compared to modern humans.
Are you aware of the modern-day Sentinelese tribe near India? The tribe lacks the skill to make fire, doesn’t wear clothes, lacks agriculture, and lacks the vocabulary to describe a number greater than 2. However, it does hunt & gather and build simple huts.
Are you also aware of the modern-day Yanomamo Indians in Venezuela? They don’t bury their dead or make metal. They haven’t even invented the wheel. And their numerical system consists of 1, 2, and more than 2. See the section ‘Putting modern stone-age tribes to the test’ in Putting chimpanzees, hominids , and modern humans in their proper place.
Now, how do these modern humans compare to say Americans or Europeans? Wouldn’t it be fair to say that the Sentinelese and Yanomamo Indians are orders of magnitude more culturally ‘primitive’ than Americans or Europeans? Yet, wouldn’t you agree that these tribes people are still fully human? And that, given the same opportunities and upbringing, a baby from their tribes could potentially grow up to be a nuclear physicist, airline pilot or heart surgeon?
Like H. erectus, they used tools (from stones-see "Tool Time") reminiscent of the Acheulean industry.
In other words, you are stating their stone tools were utterly primitive and do not reflect a modern human intellectual capacity. How many of us, without the internet, libraries of knowledge, or an instruction manual could manufacture a spear, blade, or other stone tool in a jungle, desert, cave, or other foreign location in order to successfully survive? I believe that a good number of modern-day people would quickly discover that these tasks are far more advanced than they first imagined. In any case, the very fact that these tools were on this island suggests that their makers (or their makers’ ancestors) had to have advanced seafaring skills in order to get there in the first place, as others have noted.
Analysis of all the data reveals that H. floresiensis behaved in nonhuman ways.
I would strongly encourage you to consider the following statement by evolutionary anthropologist Ralph Holloway:
‘One cannot help but wonder what modern archaeologists would conclude after studying all Eskimo, Aleut, Australian, Bushman, and tropical rainforest aboriginal material cultures if only stone tools remained. No language? No ritual? No concern for the dead, spirits, etc.? … And if, by chance, no archaeological or ethnographic evidence was available, one would have to conclude on the basis of brain size alone (given our obsession with this variable) that Neanderthals were more advanced, behaviorally, than living groups whose languages and social customs still defy complete understanding among 20th century anthropologists.’2
Dr. Rana, I respect your Christian faith, gentle spirit, and dedication to exposing the scientific deficiencies of Darwinian evolution. It is my hope that you accept this letter in the spirit of Christian love, and I encourage you to take a long, hard look at the RTB3 human origins model.
- Some creationists think they are pygmy versions of a (fully human) Homo erectus type. Return to Text.
- Holloway, R.L., The poor brain of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis: See what you please … ; in: Delson, E (Ed.), Ancestors: The Hard Evidence, Alan R. Liss, New York, p. 322, 1985. Return to Text.
- RTB is an old earth creationist organization that espouses long periods of time for the six days of creation. Because of its acceptance of secular timescales for cosmic, geological, and biological history, RTB allows for millions of years of death, suffering, and disease before the supernatural creation of man and his subsequent fall in the Garden of Eden. In addition, RTB posits more significant gaps in the Genesis genealogies and relegates Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and Archaic sapiens to sub-human status. Despite what CMI considers to be strong archaeological evidence for their full humanity, RTB’s adherence to the secular timescales cannot allow them to accept such a classification because it would stretch the Genesis genealogies beyond credulity. Return to Text.