<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto%3A300%2C400%2C500%2C700%7CRoboto+Slab%3A400%2C700">Creationists invent controversy over Neanderthal intelligence

For thousands of years Europe was dominated by the Neanderthals. This enigmatic species was similar to modern humans in many ways, to the point we could even interbreed. Neanderthal intelligence was nothing to be scoffed at either; with a new discovery showing they could construct “buildings” deep in a cave.

This discovery finally proves the creationists right. Neanderthal intelligence was comparable to humans; showing they belong to our species. This is in line with the Biblical narrative. In reality, the creationists made this discovery 23 years ago. Did they just forget, or are they ignoring the past to make it look like they’ve disproved an evolutionary idea?

A 3D model of the structures, final proof of Neanderthal intelligence?

A 3D model of the structures, final proof of Neanderthal intelligence?

Bruniquel Cave proves Neanderthal intelligence

Enigmatic structures were recently discovered in the depths of Bruniquel Cave. These mysterious rings made of stalagmites, representing more than 2 tonnes of rock, were carefully built around campfires. Dating of accumulation on these stalagmites revealed they were more than 170,000 years old; so must have been made by the Neanderthals.

The significance of this find varies depending on who you ask. To me, they’re fascinating because – apart from the campfires – there’s no evidence of habitation in the cave. No stone tools, animal bones, debris, or any of the other accoutrements of daily Neanderthal life. They invested a huge amount of effort building objects hundreds of meters underground; yet rarely used them. What’s up with that? Perhaps it’s a ritualistic site; with more symbolic than functional importance.

To some other palaeoanthropologists, they represent proof the Neanderthals had a complex habitation structure. This, in turn, indicates a complex social structure and technical expertise; perhaps on par with humans. Although this wasn’t necessarily doubted before, the lack of evidence was a cause for some skepticism. Before now few Neanderthal constructions had been found. Certainly nothing on the scale of Bruniquel Cave.

But to the creationists at Answers in Genesis, they represent something else entirely. As they elaborate in a recent article, this is proof the Neanderthals were fully modern; rather than some relic evidence of evolution. After all, if they were making complex structures that must be a sign of intelligence on par with humans. Thus, they can’t be some sort of evolutionary progression; and instead, represent confirmation of the Biblical narrative they were some sort of human.

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They even quote famous researcher Chris Stringers as ‘admitting’ the evolutionists had got it wrong and the Neanderthals really were fully human (and thus could be descendants of Babel).

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It’s final proof of the validity of creationism (at least, in reference to Neanderthal intelligence). Evolution just isn’t a reliable way to view the past.

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Nothing new under the sun

This revelation that the creationists were right is actually far from a revelation. Evidence for Neanderthals displaying near-human behaviour has been mounting for decades. In fact, way back as early as 1989 scientists concluded that Neanderthals had a human-like capacity for speech.

However, despite the growing evidence that Neanderthal intelligence was more similar to humans than once thought; few – if any – researchers accept them as being completely identical to us. For instance, the Neanderthals were clearly smart enough to copy our technology; but at the same time, that means they didn’t independently invent it implying some difference between us (even if it a marginal one). To use another Chris Stringer quote:

[T]here is no one thing that led to our success and the Neanderthal’s demise. In my earlier books, I took the view that there was a major behavioral gap between the Neanderthals and us. Recent evidence has considerably narrowed that gap—but I don’t think it has completely closed.

In short, the creationists are wrong. Again. Which isn’t that surprising.

What should be more surprising is Answers in Genesis’ (for want of a better word) surprise  about the Bruniquel Cave findings. They’re claiming their position is finally vindicated; these stalagmite circles are key proof the Neanderthals are fully human. Chris Stringer is “admitting” they were right all along. Except this similarity between humans and Neanderthals is hardly a new finding.

What’s more interesting is that it isn’t exactly a new revelation for the creationists either. This is not the first time they’ve grasped onto some archaeological evidence; claiming their stance on the Neanderthals is finally vindicated. That they finally gave evolution a black eye by proving their own “theory” correct; in the face of scientific criticism.

In fact, this isn’t even the first time they’ve quote Chris Stringer as finally admitting they were right all along. Way back in 2008 they also reported the “discovery” Neanderthals were smart.

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And again in 2010

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In fact, there are dozens of Answers in Genesis articles quoting scientists talking about how Neanderthal intelligence wasn’t as different as once thought. In fact, they’ve even reported on the rings from Bruniquel Cave before. Although this article from 1993 didn’t quote Chris Stringer; they still arrived at the same conclusion they reaced 23 years later: Neanderthals are modern.neanderthal6

In short,

For at least 23 years Answers in Genesis has been reporting discoveries that Neanderthals weren’t dumb; along with quotes from scientists saying as such. Despite this, they’re still reporting on Neanderthal intelligence as controversial, with researchers begrudgingly “admitting” Answers in Genesis is right. As though the creationists were some Gallileo figure, toppling long-held dogma.

This flies in the face of the scientific consensus. A consensus they themselves have reported on dozens of times before. Such a disconnect with facts (true by their own admission) indicates either extreme incompetence or outright dishonesty. Perhaps in an effort to push their narrative of creationists fighting scientific dogma.

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Categories: Creationism

6 Comments

Ashley Haworth-roberts · 13th June 2016 at 7:53 pm

Those experts at AiG also claimed that Homo naledi was an ‘ape’.

Natural Historian · 13th June 2016 at 8:47 pm

Good stuff. The other irony in Mitchell’s pronouncements is that she just accepts at face value the claim these structures were built by Neanderthals. Based on what evidence? The only only evidence is the dating which suggests these structures are too old to be modern human produced and so by inference must be neanderthals. But AiG believes that dating is hogwash so why couldn’t these have been built by non-neanderthals in which case all of Mitchell’s points are moot.

    Adam Benton · 16th June 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Oh that’s a delightful irony I missed. It’s so tasty I might have to give a follow-up. It reminds of a time I had a YEC trying to convince me the exodus was real based off chariot wheels found in the Red Sea. The clincher was they’d been dated to the supposed time of the exodus. . . using the same techniques he rejected in other circumstances.

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