This article is from
Creation 1(2):24–26, October 1978

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Cro-magnon—not a club-wielding brute


Ever since the first fossils of so-called ‘Cro-magnon man’ were found in south-west France (at Cro-magnon, near Les Eyzies), there has been little dispute, even among evolutionists, that he was, anatomically speaking, modern man, albeit with some distinctive racial characteristics. Although he cannot, therefore, be used to support the idea of man’s ‘biological evolution’, he is an important link for the evolutionist in the question of ‘cultural evolution’, and also helps to give most people the idea of an extreme antiquity of man.

In the evolutionary scheme of anthropology, he is classed as having lived in the ‘Upper Paleolithic’ (latest period of the ‘Old Stone Age’). This is dated (using the usual evolutionary reasoning and assumptions) as 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. The term ‘Cro-magnon man’ really refers to the first and similar fossils, mainly in Western Europe, but it is now generally used to refer to human fossils which are classified in that same period of time. This inevitably leads to some confusion, as one may read of ‘Cro-magnon’ artifacts in Australia, even. In this article the older meaning is used.

The first find was made in 1868, just 12 years after the first Neanderthal finds. Readers are probably aware of how the Neanderthal finds were grossly distorted and exaggerated to make them appear ape-like (even ‘Time-Life’ now admits this freely). The general public was familiar with these Neanderthal finds, but not surprisingly found this whole idea of a subhuman ancestor unpalatable. When Cro-magnon was found, undeniably man in all respects, they were generally quite relieved. But as we will see, this led to a psychological victory for the ideas of evolution in one respect. The public had already been exposed to occasional reports of human artifacts found in conjunction with the remains of long extinct animals, and this had made many uneasy about the Biblical record of Creation. Some such finds were even ‘explained away’ by the experts of the day in a manner similar to the way some modern evolutionists try to explain away embarrassing fossil evidence today, since they felt threatened by the apparent antiquity of such finds. This is the problem, of course—there is no reason, now or then, to assume that finding, say, a wooly rhinoceros, mammoth or other extinct creature together with human bones in any way demands an age for the human bones older than Adam. If the creationists of that day had really taken the whole account of Creation and the Flood seriously and at face value, they would have realized that Man lived contemporaneously with all created living things, including many that are now extinct (most presumably because of the Flood or post-Flood change in environment). What happened, then, was this—first the public was conditioned into accepting an old age for extinct animal remains. Then a few human fossils turned up with these ‘ancient’ creatures, including the then apparently apelike Neanderthals. When, then, a scant few years later, Cro-magnon was described, in all respects modern and (by the same reasoning) apparently as old as Neanderthal, he was really seized upon with relief, because it seemed to ‘wipe out’ Neanderthal as man’s ancestor. In the process, the question about the old age of Cro-magnon was never raised, and the psychological ‘softening-up’ process had begun. Authorities who were certainly not evolutionists seemed to accept the idea that man had lived in caves and made primitive tools many thousands of years before the apparent Biblical date for man … and the door swung yet a little wider open for the whole Darwinian onslaught.

Cro-magnon is still regarded in the popular mind as a brutish club swinger who lived in caves, having not progressed far from the life-style of his subhuman ancestors. Firstly one should mention that whatever evidence there may be of man living a lifestyle such as this (and it is, as always, a near-impossible task to separate the raw data from all the built-in assumptions and superstructures), this in no way implies that civilization had its precursors in this. There is a large body of evidence to suggest that the great civilizations that we know about appeared very rapidly, and certainly the Biblical evidence suggests that man was capable of a rather sophisticated technology very early in his history. Today we find people living in caves and using very ‘primitive’ implements, and occasionally we find people who are known to be the descendants of a more ‘advanced’ society in a ‘degenerate’ state. Therefore the creationist is in no way embarrassed to find relics of this sort of thing in the past. It is a surprise, however, for the evolutionist to find this ‘very early’ specimen of modern man possessing a high level of technology and culture. For example, Cro-magnon man did not only live in caves—he seems to have built huts, made stone paving floors, constructed kilns and baked pottery. He used tools made of bone, flint, ivory, antler and probably wood. He had musical instruments (e.g., carved bone flutes), wore jewelry, sewed clothing and seems definitely to have had rituals and ceremonies, i.e., one can infer religious activity. But the greatest of his achievements is in the arts. Far from using art only for ‘hunting magic’ as many still think, he had a fine appreciation of its use in decoration. Many of their works have been rated by such as the Encyclopedia Britannica (15th ed., 5:291) as ‘worthy of a place among the masterpieces of world art’. [Editor's note: original article had accompanying illustrations which we were unable to reproduce.] They are still best known as artists for their cave murals-the first such discovery was at Altamira (Spain) in 1879. A magnificent gallery of richly colored animals, mostly bison, the find was largely regarded as fraudulent for many years. The onus is on the evolutionist to explain how such brilliant colors on limestone could have lasted intact for at least 12,000 years, especially when the bright ones are sometimes painted partly over older ones that are quite faded. (Perhaps these were painted 20,000 years earlier again? …in the same style?) Of course modern-day visitors threaten the integrity of these works because of different humidity, etc., but the cave at Altamira does not seem to have been sealed at the time of its discovery, in any case.

It is not scientifically impossible for the paintings to have lasted that long, but it is stretching things considerably, especially when we consider that there are over 100 such caves known at present.