Hobbit Shows Failure of Evolutionary Definitions of Man

Rarely does a week go by when there is not some kind of announcement made about a new find of human remains. Recently a find named homo floresiensis (nicknamed Hobbit) was announced having been found on the Indonesian island of Flores in a limestone cave. The specimen has been dated to a time period about 18,000 years ago. What is interesting about the specimen and has made all the newspapers and television shows is how small the specimen is. The specimen was a female that was about 30 years old and stood a little over three feet tall. The brain size was smaller than the average chimpanzee. What is interesting is that there were hunting tools, the bones of animals, evidence of a fire pit, and tools like axes and digging tools that are quite sophisticated. By all the scientific definitions of cultural anthropology, these characteristics qualify this individual as a human. By the definitions that many of us learned in physical anthropology, which had to do with brain size and the like, these individuals do not qualify as human [man].

This specimen will keep talk shows and professional journals bubbling with controversy and varied interpretations for a long time. What we would like to point out is that this is just another demonstration of the failure of evolutionary definitions as they relate to man. When you reduce man to being just an animal, and you attempt to use physical criteria to identify what is human and what is not, you are doomed to failure. The problem of size has been ongoing for a long time. Who would ever guess that a pygmy and a Swede are the same species if what you found were their skulls and a few bones?

Evolutionists have wrestled with the problem of adequately defining man for a long time. In the 1970s, the Time-Life book series produced a chart of the evolution of man by making a series of drawings from pliopithecus to modern man, carefully arranging the drawings so that each one was larger and more erect than the one preceding it--even though sometimes the dates of the specimens did not fit the sequence. In the 1990s, National Geographic made a similar montage starting with monkeys at the bottom of a vertical chart and moving upward to a human shown at the very top. This chart was much less clear and left wide areas with no specimen. The difficulty in these charts was that they not only lacked evidence and had to rely on the creativity of the artists, but also that they relied on a definition of man that automatically led to misunderstandings about what the real evidence was. Racial variation in all of these charts has been confused with speciation. What we mean by that is that the chart producers assumed that specimens were different species when in fact the things that made them look different were racial characteristics that can be seen in modern man.

Some examples of how much change there can be in human populations can be seen by comparing the characteristics of Japanese males before the Second World War with Japanese males today. In two generations the size of Japanese males has grown enormously, and cranial capacity (or brain size) has grown by nearly half a quart (500 cc). If someone in the distant future used modern techniques and attempted to compare a Japanese born in 1930 with one born in 2005 would he feel they were related? The answer is that they probably would assume they were two different species, when the difference is due entirely to diet, medical care and living conditions. In the early twentieth century there was a famous American athlete by the name of Jim Thorpe. When you look at the pictures of Jim Thorpe and the diorama of Neanderthal man in the Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, you have to be struck by the similarities. Whether Neanderthal man was the same species as modern man is still being debated by the experts in anthropology.

The biblical concept of what man is does not have these problems, because it is less quantitative. The Bible defines man as that being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This is not something that you measure by determining how big the brain is or by looking at the dentition of the individual. Even so, it is not so subjective that it has no meaning. Being created in the image of God is what gives us our ability to create art and music. It is what causes us to worship God. It is what gives us the ability to feel guilt, to be sympathetic, to be able to be taught to think. These abilities can be seen in ancient art, in musical instruments, in burial techniques, in worship artifacts, and a variety of other things seen in the remains of human living quarters. Finding a small-brained, small-sized hominoid is not an issue for those who believe that God created man. It is interesting to see how varied man has been in the past, and to learn something about the diversity of the human family.

It is wonderful that we have the opportunity to see how diverse and how wonderfully the human family has adapted to a changing and complex world. The Indonesian Hobbit just gives us another picture of the literal fulfillment to fill the earth that God gave man when He said "Be fruitful and increase in number: fill the earth and subdue it.... and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:28-31). 

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun05.