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Episode 12

Discovering Religion: Episode 12 – Arrival of Man

One hundred and thousand years ago the great ice age began to thaw and water returned to Africa. The recession of the glaciers in Europe allowed access to the European continent that had not existed in many thousands of years. Finally animals were able to once again make the journey between Africa and Europe.

Around 35 thousand years ago a new species of hominid suddenly arrived in Europe, called Cro-magnon. They were the ancestors of modern-day humans that had survived the drought and, as ergaster before them, traveled outside of their native African homeland to spread across the globe. Evidence suggests that in some parts of Europe Neanderthal and Cro-magnon coexisted, apparently peacefully for many generations, however in southern France the shift from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon settlements was much more dramatic.

The fossil record shows Cro-Magnons took over Neanderthal sites and made them their own. Physically the Cro-Magnons were less well-adapted to live in a cold climate, but they developed tools that allowed them to live anywhere they chose. For instance, Cro-Magnon had Harpoons to kill fish when supplies of red meat are low. They also developed needles of bone to tailor clothing. But their most powerful tool was language.

Unlike Neanderthal, the language of Cro-Magnon was rich and more complex. It was the trigger for art and culture and it allowed individuals to form much larger social groups and to trade goods and form alliances in times of need. This new way of living had devastating consequences for the Neanderthal. In groups of up to 100 individuals, the Cro-Magnons colonized Europe’s prime locations, monopolizing the resources. The Neanderthals were forced out of their valleys, onto the inhospitable mountain plateaus of Croatia and the Crimea, and west onto the rocky coastlines of Portugal, Spain, and France.

By 35 thousand years ago, their numbers had dwindled to a few thousand. Cut off from their territorial hunting grounds they found it harder to hunt prey. They needed to maintain their population, but so scatter were Neanderthal clans from one another it became increasingly more difficult to reproduce. Thirty thousand years ago in the last outposts of Southern Spain and Croatia Neanderthals became extinct, leaving only one human species, Homo sapien, to inherit the earth.

Not only is our origin from primates supported by mountains of fossil evidence of over 20 different species of hominid scattered all throughout the globe, we are provided with evidence locked away within our very own genome as well as the genomes of modern-day primates. As we have already examined in Episode 10, the Neanderthal and Homo spaien genomes differ great enough that Neanderthals are identified as a different species of human, a cousin of modern-day man.

It is also evident that humans and chimps belong to different species, but a comparison of our genetic information reveals a 96% similarity among our genes. On September 1st 2005 the analysis of the Chimpanzee genome was published in an article in Nature. When the Chimp and Human genomes were compared to one another, despite all our similarities, there was one very striking difference. Apes like the Chimp, Gorilla, and Orangutan all have 48 chromosomes, but humans have 46.

If humans and apes really did shared a common ancestor, it means this original primate must of had either 46 or 48 chromosomes. However, we know the spontaneous loss or gain of a chromosome is fatal or, at the very least, it will result in sever dysfunction. This can be observed in the condition known as Down Syndrome, where an extra chromosome appears at the location of Chromosome 21. This unfortunate genetic defect results in varying degrees of mental retardation.

If apes have 48 chromosomes and humans have 46, evolution can make a prediction that the common ancestor of apes and humans must have had 48 chromosomes, and some point during the human evolution there was a head to head fusion between two pairs of primate chromosomes, resulting in the 46 Chromosomes we find within ourselves today. So, how could we find such a fusion, if it even exists?

Well, Chromosomes contain markers throughout their structure. In the center of the chromosome there are markers called centromeres, a special condensed region in the middle of each chromosome that appears during mitosis. There are also regions of DNA on the ends of chromosomes called telomeres, which protects the end of the chromosome from degradation. In fact, the gradual shortening of the telomere over our lifespan is responsible for the effects of aging.

If a chromosome fusion were to have really occurred, we would find a region of telomeres in the center of the chromosome where they do not belong. Therefore, we should be able to examine all 23 pairs of our chromosomes and find one pair that contains two separate regions of telomeres. When scientist first made this realization about the human genome they quickly understood it implications, because if they were unable to locate the predicted site of fusion the Theory of Evolution would unravel.

This was the moment all creationists were waiting for, because if God had really created humans and apes as separate and unrelated species there should be no evidence of a primate chromosome fusion with our human genome. Unfortunately, for creationisst, the fusion was found on Chromosome 2. So accurate were the methods used in the analysis of our genome the precise fusion site was located at base number 114,455,823 to 114,455,838.

In other words, the fusion involves only 15 bases of DNA that displays multiple subtelomeric duplications, which are the telomeres that do not belong. We also find the extra centromere that has become inactivated within our Chromosome 2, which corresponds to Chromosome 13 in apes. As we have seen, there are some very major contradictions between the mythological and natural origin of man.

In the oldest book of the Abrahamic traditions, belonging to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, we find the idea that man was formed from clay and placed in a magical garden, located in the Middle East between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Because this creation myth originated in Mesopotamia it only makes sense for the authors of this myth to have placed the origin of man in the same location.

It was their culture that influenced the Jewish understanding of human origin. For, if the Jews had really been imparted with a divine knowledge about the true origin of humankind, the Bible would have instead described our journey out of Africa. In the same way that culture influenced the Jewish perception of the location of human origin, when Europeans adopted this same creation myth they too molded the story to conform with their cultural background.

In fact, if you are a Christian you might be applying your own culture biases to the story of creation as well. For instance, ask yourself, what color was Adam and Eve’s skin? The most typical response would be that Adam and Eve were white. And whenever you see a painting of Adam and Eve they are always depicted as has having pure, lily white skin. However, in light of the fact our ancestors came out of Africa, in reality the first humans were black.

The Bible is also contradicted by its depiction of early human life and the timeline of technological advancements. The Bible describes the very first humans to ever exist were not hunters and gathers, but rather already engaged in agriculture and animal domestication. Therefore, according to the Biblical text humans first appeared during the Bronze age?

The Bible directly asserts the millions of years of prehistoric human existence never even actually happened. So what does this mean? Apparently, hominids such as Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Neanderthal never really existed. It is painfully obvious everything about the creation told in the Bible can be not be taken literally. It must be understood that the story of Adam and Eve is simply that, a story, a mythology, a fable passed down by early Jewish tribes which was heavy influence by culture biases and gives no indication to have been divinely inspired in any way.

There is no conceivable reason as to why God would scatter the remnants of up to 20 different species of hominid within Earth’s fossil record, and then, place false evidence within our very own genome for the sole purpose of tricking us into believing in an evolution from primates that never really occurred. If there is a designer he is not designing the world to be purposefully deceptive.

The evidence of evolution is there, it is tangible, re-testable, and undeniable. The only way for a creationist to come to terms with this evidence is to claim God designed our Chromosome 2 with only the appearance that it was formed by the fusion of primate Chromosome 13. Every opportunity Creationist get to scientifically disprove evolution turns against them in overwhelming support in favor of evolution.

For a person who believes in religion, no matter which it might be, to deny the facts of human origin discussed in this video is to deny the very reality that you believe God to have created. A belief in evolution is not synonymous with a lack of belief in God. However, in order for us to accurately understand our origins we must not mingle the stories of archaic mythology with the knowledge of modern science. If you believe in the existence God then you must believe in the reality that is a product of God and within this reality are contained the cold hard facts that show evolution, not creation, is the process by which modern day humans have come to exist.