My frustration with “scientific” studies of Neanderthal, which use minor imaginary details to prove that socially inept Neanderthals were vanquished by slick Homo sapiens, is this notion that the crown of superior evolutionary status was won by H. sapiens, in a legendary Cave Fight. Questions about the “apparent succession” of hominid species is valid, so is the question concerning this “model” of succession – an idea with suspicious modern structure: the Social Pyramid. A pyramid leaves very little room at the top: we’ve placed ourselves at the pinnacle and must continually attack all threats to that status.
The “casting” and “reading” of the magic Genomes of both H. sapiens and H. neandertaliensis, has set off a mania for reorganizing the “Social Pyramid” as the “Genetic Pyramid.” In the U.S., this means that African Americans want to be at least part Native American, thus raising their status, while “white people” have a craving to be Vikings – characters with supposedly “real American virtues” of independence, freedom and rage-without-guilt. A small percentage of white people imagine themselves to be Neanderthal, despite no one being able to describe their appearance and behavior. Science falls prey to human narcissism, but also feeds this bizarre “bloodline magic” that is yet another neotenic fad – an identity fantasy as old as the male need for a dynasty of “true blood.”
We haven’t come very far in understanding the “nature of life” or in shedding those old, old narratives of patriarchal domination with “blood” as the highway of might and right. Genes have been added to the mix, but conceptually, it’s the same old rutted road. That’s why, while reading a Creationist blog, I was surprised – but not surprised – at the confusion over evolution and “what scientists say.”
The question the Creationist writer asks is, How do we differentiate ape / human? He is caught between a narrative in the Bible (absolute) and a fluctuating and competitive scientific narrative which is incoherent at times. One can identify with his frustration!It is a fact of science that revision is a powerful tool, so this uncertainty must be pursued: humans hate uncertainty. What many “scientists” don’t realize is that they are unconsciously directed by the same Biblical narration. Both groups are trying to integrate material from outside their culture’s “story” into that story.
Introduction Homo neanderthalensis was the scientific name given to an unusual ancient fossil (later to be called Neanderthal Man) found in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1856. It was later realized that fossils of H. neanderthalensis had been discovered earlier in Engis, Belgium, in 1830, and in Forbes’ Quarry, Gibraltar, in 1848. (For an extensive history of Neanderthal finds, see, for example, Trinkaus and Shipman 1993).
At that early time, these fossils were considered to be ancient, primitive humans by some (who called them “ape-man”), or diseased modern humans by others, but nonetheless human (Regal 2004, pp. 38–43). Reconstructions of what Neanderthals might have looked like when alive gave them a very satisfactory ape-like appearance (for example, fig. 1). In 1908, Neanderthal as a primitive, brutish, caveman was literally invented by Marcellin Boule of France (Regal 2004, pp. 51–52). That image of the Neanderthals was to persist for the next 50 years (Drell 2000; Schrenk and Muller 2008).
It has been generally conceded by evolutionists, however reluctantly, that they would have to accept that Neanderthals were as human as we were (Lewin 1999, pp. 156–163). But evolutionists haven’t given up entirely without a struggle, and they remain ambivalent about the Neanderthals. Hints of the evolutionist difficulty with considering Neanderthals entirely human keep surfacing, as in questions of whether they could really talk like us, for instance (Hoffecker 2005; Krause et al. 2007a; Swaminathan 2007). Speth (2004) found it necessary to chide his fellow scientists for convicting the Neanderthals of gross mental incompetence without adequate proof (“By most recent accounts, Neanderthals would have had considerable difficulty chewing gum and walking at the same time.”).
Young-earth creationists, meanwhile, were not at all reluctant to recognize Neanderthals as human (Oard 2003a; Phillips 2000; Robertson and Sarfati 2003); after all, they had known from the beginning that there was no such thing as an ape-man. Lubenow pointed out that at several sites Neanderthals and modern humans were buried together, which he considered to be strong evidence that Neanderthals were of our species, because “In all of life, few desires are stronger than the desire to be buried with one’s own people” (Lubenow 2004, p. 254).
But there remained the serious job of examining this Neanderthal man. Who was he? On this question, creationists have been somewhat less than unified in their answers.
The preconceived “being” called Neanderthal has had it’s share of brutal defamation since it’s discovery. At this point, Neanderthal is a “supernatural” concept that reflects both religious and social prejudice.
- Homo sapiens is the measure of all creation, especially “bipedal apes”
- We can ignore all the non-hominids because those “ape” species are no threat to the premier status of Modern Social Humans
- Neanderthal is a threat, (big brain, sexual invader, cousin, competitor) and the perfect “object” for political-academic-social fights, including politically correct agendas .
- The fight over the status and description of Neanderthal is a “racial” process; can Neanderthal be integrated into the exalted “EuroAmerican male universe? Just as African Americans had to be “vetted” as being genuinely human, so do hominid species.
- Constructing ape-human-species boundaries is a means of obscuring and reinforcing the question of human uniqueness; deconstructing barriers is a “proxy battle” to tear down specific EuroAmercan male self-aggrandizement.
Once again, neurotypical vanity is ruining any accurate understanding of Neanderthal as a type of human, without comparison to an inflated description of modern human intelligence and abilities. We only see this successful group of people as a threat to supernatural and self-delusional narratives about our own nature. This is crazy! The modern social human opinion of superior status is a sham, when a supposedly long-extinct human type is perceived as a dire threat and must be constantly denigrated as inferior.