Are Neandertals pre-Flood people?
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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.