Early Humans--Club-carrying Cavemen, or Creative Communicators?
||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
Intelligence. Is it a gift from God, or simply the by-product of neurological processes that ultimately “evolved” into a brain? Evolutionists argue that early humans were little more than dumb, club-carrying, ape-like creatures that often lived in caves. Sadly, such images have inundated the public so effectively that even some Christians question the intelligence of early man.
The Bible is quite specific on this matter. In Genesis chapter 2:16-20, Moses recorded the following events:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.
Thus, at the very first mention of Adam (the first man—1 Corinthians 15:45), we find him communicating with God. Consider that even before Eve was created, God already had given very specific instructions to the man (Genesis 2:15-17). For example, Adam was commanded to give names to the animals—a task he performed even before the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:19-20). In his classic work, Paradise to Prison—Studies in Genesis, John Davis remarked:
Adam’s intellectual capacity probably surpassed ours; he was able to name all the animals which inhabited that early environment (vv. 19,20). This silences the argument that Adam was some type of primitive man groping for self-identify and self-consciousness. God created him with a complete, unhindered intellect (1978, p. 82).
[Think, too, about this: not only did Adam have to name all of the animals, but he also had to remember what he had called them. What would be the purpose of naming them, if he could not remember the names to pass on to future generations for their use?]
The conclusion to be drawn from all of this evidence is that Adam obviously had the ability to speak on the very day that he was brought into existence! Ask any scientist—evolutionist or not—and he will tell you that communication via a language is one of the main factors separating humans from animals. The ability to develop an alphabet, use that alphabet to form words, and then string those words together in meaningful sentences in both written and oral forms, shows incredible intelligence. And yet, here we have man communicating with God, and naming the animals, literally before Eve was even formed. How does this mesh with the evolutionist’s view that ancient humans were little more than dumb, club carrying, ape-like creatures that lived in caves?
The same day that God created Adam, He put Adam to sleep and performed history’s first human surgery. He fashioned the female of the species from Adam’s rib, and then presented her to the man. Observe Adam’s response: “And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man’ ” (Genesis 2:23). Here is Adam—less than twenty-four-hours old—articulating intelligible speech with a well-developed vocabulary and advanced powers of expression. Note, too, that Eve engaged in intelligent conversation with her adversary, Satan (Genesis 3:1-5). An unbiased observer is forced to conclude that God created Adam and Eve with the capability for oral communication. Little wonder, then, that God asked Moses: “Who had made man’s mouth?… Have not I, the Lord? Now, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
The idea that early people were “dumb” is simply wrong. Sadly, however, even some religionists have accepted such a view. For example, John Clayton believes that “man has been in a constant state of evolution” (1976, p. 133). Concerning Adam, he therefore concluded: “This writer sees no need to view Adam as a highly advanced and sophisticated individual. God had to make the first clothes man wore so he wasn’t very advanced” (1978, p. 2). Clayton, however, conveniently overlooked the fact that when the Genesis account says that God “made” Adam and Eve coats of skins, such a statement does not necessarily imply that the Lord Himself actually manufactured the garments, since the Hebrew term “made” can denote that which one “appoints to be done” (see Jacobus, 1864, 1:128; see also Spence and Exell, n.d., 1:72). Thus, God might well have said, “Adam, you and Eve get busy and make yourselves some clothes.” Nowhere in the text does it indicate that the first humans were so “ignorant” that God had to take care of this task for them. Furthermore, the Bible makes it clear that Adam possessed enough intelligence to know how to till and care for the garden (Genesis 2:15). Additionally, one of the commands given to Adam and Eve by God was that they were to “subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28). How could God give them such a command, knowing that they were too ignorant to carry it out?
Cain, one of Adam and Eve’s sons, was intelligent enough to know how to farm the land, as is evident from the fact that the Bible records that he was a “tiller of the ground” (Genesis 4:2). Whence came this information, if not from his parents (who had to have known it themselves in order to pass it on)? In the Winter 1992 issue of Archaeology and Biblical Research, David Livingston, associate editor of that journal, authored an article titled “Was Adam a Cave Man?” Dr. Livingston framed an impressive argument, based upon studies of Genesis 4, which demonstrated that “arts and industry had already developed during the very lifetime of the first man and woman—Adam and Eve were still living—as well as Cain” (1992, 5:5). The Bible also records that both Cain and Abel were intelligent enough to offer sacrifices to God. And, in Genesis 4:21, we read of Jubal, who “was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” Verse 22 of that same chapter speaks of Tubal Cain, “an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.” Here we are, just a few short generations from Adam and Eve, and already we have individuals smelting metals and making musical instruments. These early people were not ignoramuses! In fact, truth be told, they were highly intelligent.
As we consider such incredible structures of the past, such as the ancient Egyptian pyramids, the sphinx, and others, we stand in awe of the construction techniques used to produce them. Frederick Filby addressed this point when he wrote:
One is constantly amazed at the enormous tasks which our ancestors attempted. The Great Pyramid was not the work of the later Pharaohs; it was the work of the 4th Dynasty—long before Abraham! This pyramid contained over two million blocks of stone each weighing about 2 tons. Its vast sides, 756 feet long, are set to the points of the compass to an accuracy of a small fraction of one degree! The so-called Colossi of Memnon again are not of recent times—they belong to the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. Cut from blocks of sandstone, they weigh 400 tons each and were brought 600 miles to their present position.... As our thoughts go back to the Colossus of Rhodes, the Pharos Lighthouse, the Hanging Gardens, the Ziggurats...we have no reason to suppose that early man was afraid to tackle great tasks (1970, p. 92).
Another important trait that clearly separates man from animals is his creativity. God’s omnipotence is seen in His ability to create something out of nothing simply by speaking it into existence (cf. Hebrews 1:3). The amazing and intricate design of His creation testifies to His creative prowess (see Ackerman, 1990, p. 48). Like God, man also is able to create and invent, although he does so on a distinctly different level. Consider the creativeness in Picasso’s paintings, Goethe’s writings, or Mozart’s music. Man can build spaceships that travel to the Moon, computers that process billions of pieces of information in a fraction of a second, and even artificial hearts. Animals cannot do such things because they lack the inherent creative ability with which God has endowed man. Beavers may build fascinating huts, birds may construct homey nests, and spiders may weave intricate webs, and but they are all guided by instinct—not creativity. James Hastings rightly observed that such creatures “are artisans only, working by a rule furnished to them, not architects, designing out of their own mental resources. They are producers only, not creators...” (1976, 1:53-54).
Exhaustive attempts have been made to teach animals to express themselves in art, music, writing, etc., but none has produced the hoped-for success. Beyond the simple and clumsy drawing of a circle, no attempt at creative expression has ever been observed. There is an enormous, unbridgeable gap between humans and animals in the realm of creativity and aesthetics. When one considers the genius of man’s creativeness in areas such as literature, art, science, medicine, technology, etc., it is clear that man is separated from all members of the animal kingdom in numerous significant and distinctive ways.
Finally, man alone possesses a unique, inherent religious inclination—viz., he has both the desire and the ability to worship. Regardless of how “primitive” or “advanced” he may be, and despite living isolated from all other humans, man always has sought to worship a higher being. And even when man departs from the true God, he still worships something. It might be a tree, a rock, or even himself. As one writer observed, evidence reveals that “no race or tribe of men, however degraded and apparently atheistic, lacks that spark of religious capacity which may be fanned and fed into a mighty flame” (Dummelow, 1944, p. ci). The steadily accumulating historical and scientific evidence forced unbelievers to accept this fact decades ago. In their volume, Infidels and Heretics: An Agnostic’s Anthology, Clarence Darrow and Wallace Rice quoted skeptic John Tyndall as follows:
Religion lives not by the force and aid of dogma, but because it is ingrained in the nature of man. To draw a metaphor from metallurgy, the moulds have been broken and reconstructed over and over again, but the molten ore abides in the ladle of humanity. An influence so deep and permanent is not likely soon to disappear...(1929, p. 146, emp. added).
Thus, both believers and nonbelievers readily admit that religion is ingrained in man. Yet no chimpanzee or dog ever stopped to build an altar, sing a hymn of praise, or give a prayer of thanks. Man’s unique inclination to worship someone or something, and the fact that he alone is amenable to God (Acts 17:30; Hebrews 4:13), is a vital part of the image of God that he bears, and is clear and compelling evidence of a high intelligence.
There is no doubt that man’s unique abilities demonstrate that God created him—literally from the time he was placed in the Garden of Eden—with a brain capable of enormous intelligence. Early humans were communicators, metallurgists, farmers, shepherds, and worshipers—not brute-browed, hair-covered club-carrying, cavemen! One more time, evolutionary theory finds itself in direct opposition to the facts. And one more time, the facts win out.
Ackerman, Paul D. (1990), In God’s Image After All (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Clayton, John (1978), “Book of the Month,” Does God Exist?, 5:2, April.
Clayton, John (1976), The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident? (South Bend, IN: Privately published by the author).
Darrow, Clarence and Wallace Rice (1929), Infidels and Heretics: An Agnostic’s Anthology (Boston, MA: Stratford).
Davis, John (1978), Paradise to Prison—Studies in Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Dummelow, J.R., ed. (1944), The One-Volume Bible Commentary (New York: MacMillan).
Filby, Frederick A. (1970), The Flood Reconsidered (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Hastings, James (1976), The Great Texts of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Jacobus, Melancthon W. (1864), Notes on the Book of Genesis (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian Board of Publication).
Livingston, David (1992), “Was Adam A Cave Man?,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 5:5, Winter.
Spence, H.D.M. and J.S. Exell, eds. (no date), “Genesis/Exodus,” The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).