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Are Neandertals pre-Flood people?

Published: 2 February 2019 (GMT+10)
Photo wikipedia.orgneandertal
 Neandertal reconstruction Spain

Markus B. asks:

I am in contact with someone who has read your article Neanderthal genome like ours. He does not agree with what you have written in your article,and thinks instead that Neanderthal man lived before the Flood and completely died out in the Flood (he also thinks Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo denisova died out in the flood). He argues that the genome of the Neanderthal man and modern man mixed already before the flood, and that this would explain the findings.

Which arguments could I possibly use best to refute his claims?

Many thanks already in advance for your kind help, and all the best for your great, so much blessed ministry

Dr. Robert Carter, CMI-US, responds:

This is an excellent question and it is not the first time I have heard of people who believed Neanderthals were pre-Flood. However, my contention is that placing Neanderthals pre-Flood solves only one issue while raising a host of others. Here is my reasoning:

  1. Their archaeological setting would make no sense. They are buried in Flood-deposited sediments with grave goods (beads, etc.). You cannot have a burial during the Flood. Also, not all of the Neanderthal archaeological record is 'buried'. Everywhere we find Neanderthal evidence, we find tar balls made from birch bark. They were boiling down birch tar to make a sort of superglue to mount their spear points to their spear shafts (everybody else in the world was tying their points to their spear shafts). We have also discovered a deer-antler flute (on a pentatonic scale) that has been attributed to Neanderthal. Etc., etc. This material made it through the Flood?
  2. If one wants to say that all the rocks (and the caves within those rocks) are pre-Flood, one relegates the Flood to a non-event. It would have done essentially no geological work and we would thus be left with nothing with which to explain the fossil record. This is the position of some of the biblical catastrophists in the early 1800s. Their position was untenable, as evidenced by the fact that the discovery of the Ice Age wiped out all their supposed 'Flood' evidence. And it still allowed for millions of years prior to the Flood, so why appeal to biblical history at all?
  3. Genetically, there would be no way to get Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA into non-Africans only. If DNA existed on the Ark, that DNA would be well-mixed in the post-Flood but pre-Babel population. After all, the grandchildren of Noah would be expected to intermarry irrespective of who their father was. They all spoke the same language and purposefully lived together. There is no way to keep the lineages from intertwining. Also, the sons of Ham lived all over the Middle East (Lud, Nimrod, Canaan, etc.). Thus, even if one wanted to make the case that the sons of Noah were genetically different from one another, one could not make the case that their descendants would have maintained those differences. Everything should blend together between the Flood and Babel. Because of this, Neanderthal DNA, if pre-Flood, would be found world-wide today. This is the same argument I made against someone who believes Nephilim DNA is still evident in certain members of the modern human population. This is, of course, specious, because humans are nearly homogeneous and any DNA they carry is called "human" by default.
  4. The only solution is to put Neanderthals after the Flood. They were the first people (yes, Homo sapiens) to make it up into Eurasia. They struggled to cling to a marginal environment. They never achieved a large population size. They became incredibly inbred and were on their way to extinction, except that another, larger group of people moved into the area. These new people were not hunter-gatherers. They had more food. Thus, they had more children. The Neanderthals were overwhelmed, but not completely because about 60% of their DNA lives on in us.

I hope I have answered the question well enough. Please pass this on to your friend.

Helpful Resources

Genetic Entropy
by Dr John Sanford
US $25.00
Soft Cover
Evolution's Achilles' Heels
by Nine Ph.D. scientists
US $17.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Judie S.
Further to John P's comment, my father heard from a good friend, an aboriginal elder, of a tradition that there were people here when his ancestors arrived, who were wiped out in much the same way as the Tasmanians were killed by the British. They apparently hadn't been here long enough to built a lasting civilisation.
The tale is largely ignored or discounted, probably because of the implications.
Robert Carter
There are many tales from folklore that we would like to believe but that we cannot validate. Sadly, these types of stories must be put on the 'back shelf' in favor of things that can be more firmly established.
Wiley C.
Is it possible that neanadertals were the "nephilim?"
Robert Carter
This is a common question. We have addressed it in several forms on our website already. The short answer is, "No." This is especially true if, as I contend in the article, Neanderthals were post-Flood. For a longer explanation, start with these:

The Watchers and Genetic Diversity

The return of the Nephilim?

Who were the sons of God in Genesis 6?
Patricia B.
Could you please explain, if chimps have 97% of our dna and neanderthals have 96% (give or take a % or 2) and chimps are so totally different to humans that humans cant mate with chimps? So how did the two races ever interbreed? How could they have not been as dissimilar as chimps and humans are today , where the only similarity seems to be visual?
Robert Carter
Simple: chimps are not even remotely close to 97% similar to humans. That was an old claim that failed when it met modern genetics. The initial "98% identical" claim came from a scientist who is now a biblical creationist. He explained how he came up with that number, and why it is not what people think, in a recent Creation magazine interview (Convert to creation: Margaret Wieland interviews bird expert and former renowned evolutionist Dr Jon Ahlquist, Creation 40(3):36–39, 2018.)

See also the paper by Tomkins and Bergman Genomic monkey business—estimates of nearly identical human–chimp DNA similarity re-evaluated using omitted data. In short, when you randomly select segments from the chimpanzee genome and compare them to the human genome, and v.v., you only achieve approximately 85% similarity. This is devastating for human-chimp evolution stories, for there is simply not enough time (measured in generations) to drive all the differences between us, even given millions of years.

Regarding Neanderthals, they do not share "97%" of our DNA. Instead, the average non-African person carries 2–3% Neanderthal DNA and about 60% of the Neanderthal genome has been discovered in modern humans (that last number is sure to be revised over time). They are clearly the ancestors of billions of people in the world today. What has challenged the Out of Africa theory is that Neanderthals did not go through the theoretical population bottleneck in Africa a few hundred thousand years ago in which Homo erectus is supposed to have evolved into Homo sapiens. Yet, despite missing that speciation event, they were still the same biological species, because they and 'modern' humans had children together.

Clearly, Neanderthal, and the enigmatic Denisovans that also contributed to the modern human gene pool, were humans. And clearly, there is a vast gulf between humans and all apes.
Steven H.
More to the debate about Neanderthal man; If you look at Ron Perlman who played Hellboy in the first movies, in him you can clearly see Neanderthal skull size and shape.
At our church we had a pastor who also had this genetic makeup skull, hands and feet were massive, as they show in Neanderthal man sketches.
If you were to dress Neanderthal man in a suit & tie, he would be as inconspicuous as you or me. You do walk past these people without a second glance.
Robert Carter
While Ron Perlman does have a very unique face, he has a high forehead and other features that give him a thoroughly modern appearance. A better candidate would be former professional boxer and Russian parliament member Nikolai Valuev, but even he has a very pronounced chin, unlike a Neanderthal.
Dan M.
Thank you Dr. Carter and all of CMI for answering the challenge to provide clarification to the controversial scientific issues of the day.
I praise God that He gave us humans an intelligent mind so we could discover his creative cellular handy work that is to me irrefutable evidence for Him, (extra-intelligent design). Had Darwin known about the complexity of the cell, I believe he would have never dared write that book. I find it incredible that people who understand this evidence can still follow the evolutionary paradigm. It's like understanding the programming in windows 10 and refuting the idea that Bill Gates exists and computer programming is extremely rudimentary in comparison to DNA.
We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made in his image! Psa 139:1-24 and Gen 1:26.
John P.
An excellent article. Nothing preflood would have survived, any cities etc being buried under thousands of metres of sediment, another reason Neanderthals aren't antidiluvian. As you say they're the first people to reach Eurasia. The ancestors of Australian indigenous people were the first to get here from Babel. Interesting and perhaps ironic the cave Neander was named after Rev Joakim and the Densiovans after the monk Denis. These secularist/ evolutionists obviously miss the point that God is trying to tell them something- these people are part of His creation and we are all related.
Douglas W.
This cave (tal) was named after a much-loved Christian minister, Head Teacher, and Hymn Writer. Rev Joakim Neander.
Robert Carter
...whose most famous hymn is Praise to The Lord, The Almighty, The King of Creation.

Interestingly, Denisovans are named after a monk named Denis who lived for a long time in what is now called Denisova Cave.
Meg S.
Thank you again, Dr. Carter, for your succinct, well-reasoned argument. A comment about how God can and does use such widely varied issues to wake us up to the central significance of creation to our faith: a Christian friend, who (though gently) chided me often for my focus on Genesis as the foundation of witnessing and apologetics, thinking it an “irrelevant” and “needlessly divisive” attitude, called me up in deep confusion and distress to say she had had her DNA analyzed (looking for a familial genetic disease marker) and learned she had Neandertal DNA! She wanted to know what THAT was about, having in her head the classic idea that these were some sort of pre- or sub-human ancestor. This led to a wonderful discussion with her about the stories of human “evolution” vs true discoveries in the field, and a great new understanding on her part of the importance of the Genesis connection to the gospel message. Now she is passing along CMI materials with enthusiasm to her church groups and friends, many of whom are being helped in defending their faith to unbelieving “scientifically-minded” family, children, spouses…the repercussions are spreading far and wide. It seems that, as scientific knowledge increases, which causes fear (wrongly) in some Christians who worry that God will be found “out” as irrelevant or somehow lacking, our wise and loving God rejoices in making himself ever more personal and relevant, to our minds as much as our hearts.
Dustin B.
Perfectly written article. Thank you so much for posting it. I hope and pray that your readers understand and share what you have posted here. It is important that our children understand that our species is dramatically different than every other because we have a God that loves us. Thank you again for the article.
Nichola W.
Thank you, you answered very well. I had also wondered how they fitted into human history.

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