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When is a fossil not?

Human remains and the subjective self-serving definitions of evolutionists

This weekend we feature an enquiry from Carol B of Ontario, Canada, about human fossils, to which Andrew Lamb replies.

Photo sxc.hu Cemetary

Carol wrote:

I have been teaching a ‘Creation 101’ elective ... at my church.

I understand why there are not many human fossils created during the Flood, but the question came up of why there are not more human fossils since the Flood. I know that Neanderthals buried their dead, and that accounts for those fossils. But shouldn’t we find more fossils since humans do bury their dead?

If one includes deliberate human burials, there are indeed more post-Flood human fossils, in fact millions of them. However, general convention is to not describe old and ancient human remains as fossils if they are from a deliberate burial. The term fossil seems to be reserved for those sad cases in which human remains have been preserved accidentally, without the trappings of burial such as coffin or jar, dug hole or built tomb, personal possessions, flowers, etc.

That still leaves many hundreds of sets of human remains referred to as ‘fossils’, plus a few dozen scraps of bone regarded by secular academia as ‘ape men’ remains. In brief, the main categories of human remains and their prevalence are:

  1. Pre-Flood human remains (a handful of candidates, none well-verified)
  2. ‘Apeman’ bones (a few score, all highly dubious)
  3. Accidental post-Flood burials/preservations (thousands)
  4. Deliberate post-Flood burials/preservations (millions)

Only categories 1, 2 and 3 are regarded as ‘fossils’. To a hardened evolutionist any modern object is by definition incapable of being a fossil—see A fossil is a fossil is a fossil. Right? One science dictionary even goes so far as to specify an age of 7000+ years as a necessary condition for something to be considered petrified, thus revealing their anti-Biblical bias.

I will discuss each of the above categories separately, and then will discuss where Neandertals fit in.

Pre-Flood human remains

Photo sxc.hu Catacombs
Catacombs in Suomenlinna

A few potential candidates have been found, but none are well-verified. For a brief discussion of one such human fossil, see page 193 in Chapter 15 Where are all the human fossils? of The Creation Answers Book. For more on this topic, see The human fossils still speak! and Where are all the human fossils?

‘Apeman’ bones

Bones in this category usually turn out to be ape bones, and not at all human, despite the insistent claims of the people who find them. Some of these scientists have spent decades of their lives searching for ape-men to vindicate their beliefs. When they find an unusual bone they desperately want it to be an ape-man, and not just an ordinary ape. Later, usually after the sensational media reports have died down, other scientists quietly point out that that the bones are just ape bones after all. See What about other so-called evolutionary missing links?

Accidental post-Flood burials/preservations

Thousands of fossils of ancient men and apes have been discovered, as revealed in this interview quote from creationist expert Professor Marvin Lubenow:

Carl Wieland (interviewer): Evolutionists themselves have published comments (republished by us) suggesting that all the evidence for man’s ancestry would fit in a single coffin or on a billiard table. Yet there seem to be many more fossils discussed than that. What do they mean by this?

Marvin Lubenow: I’ve wondered about that too—because already in 1977 the British Museum published data indicating over 4,000 relevant fossil discoveries—including the australopithecines, Ramapithecus, and so on. The only thing I can think of is that they were saying there were only a few fossils that they could use. For instance, most of the human fossils are useless to them because they’re basically modern.

Bones overthrown: An interview with human-fossils researcher Marvin Lubenow, Creation 17(4):17–19, September 1995.

This extract was from an issue of Creation magazine. If you do not already get Creation magazine, I would highly recommend subscribing.

Deliberate post-Flood burials

One of many distinguishing features of man is that he buries his dead, while animals do not.

Catacombs, cemeteries and other burial places around the world contain the remains of millions of dead. Whether they are fossils or not becomes purely a matter of definition, and if the definition includes a condition about age, then the definition is no longer objective (measurable) but subjective (opinion or assumption based). Skeletons do not come with labels attached saying how old they are, and contrary to what many people think, there isn’t any way to actually measure the age of something—see Immeasurable age.

Where do Neandertals fit in?

Photo Warwick Armstrong Neandertal bust
Neandertal bust

Neandertal bones have some distinctive features vis a vis the skeleton of an average person today, most famous being a protruding brow-ridge on the skull. Secular scientists used to classify Neandertal remains in the ‘apemen’ category, but more and more, mainstream scientists are now acknowledging that Neandertals were fully human. Neandertal graves are found side by side with graves of ordinary humans—see the paragraphs on Neandertal burials in Recovery of Neandertal mtDNA: an evaluation.

Today, you can still meet people with the distinctive bony brow-ridge of the Neandertals. See for example the article ‘I saw a Neanderthal man driving a tram’ (Creation 11(1):24). In fact the Australian Museum’s Neandertal reconstruction (pictured) is, except for the dopey expression, the spitting image of the dad of one of my old school friends. For more on Neandertal people, see the articles listed under the heading ‘Were the Neandertals human, or a missing link?

The number of human remains around the world is consistent with the world population through history, and the world’s population is highly consistent with having started from three couples around 4,300 years ago, as recorded in the Bible—see Where are all the people? And as further explained in that article, both the population today and the number of human remains found are highly inconsistent with the many billions we would expect if mankind really had been here for many tens of thousands of years as taught by evolutionists. And it is ultimately a matter of arbitrary definition as to how many of these human remains are labelled fossils as opposed to burials.

I trust this helps. This topic and related issues are regularly covered in articles in our colour family magazine Creation, which I would highly recommend to you, along with The Creation Answers Book.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Lamb

Information Officer

Published: 24 November 2007(GMT+10)
Published: 24 November 2007

Helpful Resources

Contested Bones
by Christopher Rupe, Dr. John Sanford
US $29.00
Soft cover