The skeletons in evolution’s closet
Joel Tay interviews Christopher Rupe and Dr John Sanford, co-authors of Contested Bones.
Have you ever been challenged with claims that humans evolved from ape-like creatures, or with all the so-called evidence for human evolution? Are you curious as to how the so-called ‘hominin’ bones are consistent with biblical creation? Those sorts of issues are why these authors wrote Contested Bones.
Christopher Rupe grew up in a Christian family believing that the Bible is true. However, when he was in high school, he realized that evolution was incompatible with the Bible, and knew he had to make a choice.
I remembered thinking that if I was just an evolved ape, then there really is no meaning or purpose to life. I understood that this would also mean that the Bible cannot be trusted and that morality is just subjective—I would never have to stand before God to give an account for my life.
For me, it all came down to what is true. If evolution were true, I was willing to come to grips with that reality. Likewise, if Christianity were true, I was prepared to accept it and become a fully devoted follower of Christ.
So for one whole summer, Chris devoted all his time to examining the evidence for creation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He stumbled upon excellent resources from well-known creation ministries, such as CMI’s The Creation Answers Book which provided answers to his questions. By the end of that summer, he had a binder full of answered questions.
Soon after, Chris was invited to speak to youth groups in his area.
I remember a teen who had attended one of my presentations and was struggling with doubts about creation. That evening he accepted Christ. I think that was when I knew that God’s plan for my life would involve creation ministry. I was amazed at how effective (and exciting) evangelism became when I learned how to provide answers to their questions. My excitement about creation evangelism grew rapidly during this time of my life.
Chris went on to complete a degree in biology, and then founded a small non-profit organization where he taught on biblical creation in churches and secular universities.1 Around this time, Chris heard about Dr. Sanford while speaking to a homeschool group in his area … they connected and Chris was subsequently invited to join Sanford’s Feed My Sheep Foundation, where he was involved in full-time creation-based research.
As long-time Creation readers would know, Dr Sanford is a well-known geneticist and former Cornell University professor with over 100 scientific publications and several dozen patents to his name. He was the founder of two biotech enterprises and is especially well-known in the scientific community as the primary inventor of the ‘gene’ gun—a device used to create many of the transgenic crops grown in the world today that have played a key role in sharply reducing world hunger.
Dr Sanford is also the author of the book Genetic Entropy, and the lead editor of the proceedings of a symposium he organized, called Biological Information—New Perspectives.2 He is the President of both Logos Research Associates and Feed My Sheep Foundation. As mentioned in our interview with him over a decade ago, Dr Sanford was formerly a staunch evolutionist and atheist, but he is now a biblical creationist. As he often puts it, “Nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of design.”3
Contested Bones is the result of four years of full-time research on human evolution. The authors have published a comprehensive analysis of the fossil record of ‘hominins’—that is, modern man (Homo sapiens) and our alleged ape-like ancestors. The last significant book on the hominin fossil record from a creationist perspective was Marvin Lubenow’s Bones of Contention. It was written over 15 years ago, but there have been many new discoveries since then. Some of these have been widely promoted to the public as ‘missing links’—e.g. Australopithecus sediba, Homo naledi, and the ‘Hobbit’, to name a few. As Chris says:
We felt strongly that the creation community was past-due in updating the public on this major stumbling block to the faith. Our goal was to inform the general public about the true nature of these hotly contested bones, and to share the truth of our origins based on the biblical view of history in Genesis.
The ape-to-man story is depicted by the famous ‘ape parade’ illustration, the most recognizable evolutionary icon of all time. The so-called ape-to-human ‘missing links’ are routinely cited as some of the best evidence for evolution. However, according to the authors, there is a stark contrast between the public perception of the fossil evidence and the actual views expressed by experts in the field.
We discovered that almost every major evolutionary claim made has been challenged and effectively rebutted by other experts in the field. Unfortunately, the public is totally unaware that there are multiple competing views held by the paleo-community. These views seriously undermine all the major claims that we have been told about these fossils in textbooks, in museums, and in the popular press.
For example, Chris explains:
Donald Johanson—the discoverer of Lucy’s kind, Australopithecus afarensis—has argued for decades that A. afarensis is our ancestor. However, most people are unaware that prominent members of the paleo-community reject afarensis as a valid species. These scientists have argued persuasively in favour of afarensis as a jumble of human (Homo) and ape-like (Australopithecus) bones. Ironically, this is precisely what Johanson had originally reported in his 1976 Nature paper, prior to his controversial ‘reassessment’ when he completely changed his story and presented Lucy’s kind as the ancestor to all ‘later’ hominins.
He points out that virtually every major fossil discovery has been contested, with experts in the field showing that theories of human evolution have become hopelessly tangled and confusing:
It was encouraging for us to realize that we did not have to cite creationists to argue our case. All we had to do was cite the competing views that were already published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals—including Nature , Science , Journal of Human Evolution , American Journal of Physical Anthropology , PLOS One , and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . This has made our book an effective resource for reaching those who are skeptical of creation research.
They were especially surprised to find that many of the competing views expressed by experts in the field (typically the views that were best supported by the fossil evidence)—happened to align naturally with the biblical perspective in Genesis. In essence, they were able to agree with the experts that the Hobbit is a modern human that suffered from the results of inbreeding and that ‘Ardi’ (Ardipithecus ramidus) appears to be nothing more than an extinct ape. This was an unexpected but welcome outcome. It meant that whenever skeptics attacked their findings, they were simultaneously attacking some of the leading evolutionary paleo-experts who were making those very same claims, and these claims happened to support the biblical model.
For example, concerning the so-called ‘early-man’ fossils, such as Neandertals and Homo erectus, Chris says:
Our most exciting finding was the fulfilment of a prediction that we made early in the writing of our book. We had noticed that many of the hominin bones appear to be distorted, as if from pathology. So, we proposed very early on that this was caused by severe inbreeding.
Just before we were about to publish our book, we discovered four independent studies in major scientific journals that confirmed our prediction. A fifth recently published paper is cited in our second printing—so that makes five new papers in total. These so-called ‘early’ humans are severely inbred and had suffered from recognizable genetic mutations and developmental abnormalities. These new findings fit well with our creation model which predicted that the so-called ‘sub-human species’ such as Neanderthals and H. erectus , may well be just degenerated human sub-populations.4
In conclusion, in writing this book, the authors wanted to inform the general public about the true nature of these hotly contested bones. They also wanted to share the truth of our origins, based on the biblical account of history in Genesis. This is key to the Gospel: see, Here’s Good News for the World, below.
Here’s Good News for the world
Creation Ministries International seeks to give glory and honour to the triune God of the Bible as Creator, and to affirm the truth of the biblical record of the real origin and history of the world and mankind.
Part of this real history is the bad news that the rebellion of the first man, Adam, against God’s command, brought death, suffering, and separation from God into this world. We see the results all around us. All of Adam’s descendants are sinful from conception (Psalm 51:5) and have themselves entered into this rebellion (sin). They therefore cannot live with a holy God, but are condemned to separation from God. The Bible says that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that all are therefore subject to “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
But the good news is that God has done something about it. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Jesus Christ the Creator, God the Son, though totally sinless, took on human nature, so He could become our Redeemer. Then He suffered, on behalf of mankind, the penalty of mankind’s sin, which is death and separation from God. He did this to satisfy the righteous demands of the holiness and justice of God, His Father. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice; He died on a cross, but on the third day, He rose again, conquering death, so that all who truly believe in Him, repent (repentance = a change of mind) of their sin and trust in Him (rather than their own merit), are able to come back to God and live for eternity with their Creator.
Therefore: “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
What a wonderful Saviour—and what a wonderful salvation in Christ our Creator!
If you want to know more of what the Bible says about how you can receive eternal life, please email, write or call the office near you.
References and notes
- Back2Genesis.org. Return to text.
- worldscientific.com. Return to text.
- This is a reversal of a common evolutionary mantra. See Batten, D., Plant geneticist: ‘Darwinian evolution is impossible’, Creation 30(4):45–47, 2008; creation.com/sanford. Return to text.
- There are creationists who do not view the typical Neanderthal and Homo erectus fossil specimens as inherently pathological. CMI regards this as an issue open to debate, and so it does not officially endorse any particular position. Return to text