Imagine that you’re standing in a bookstore or library. You want to learn about human evolution, but you don’t know where to start. You don’t want anything complicated; you just want to know the basics and to find out if it’s an interesting topic. You’re down to two books: either Bernard Wood’s Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction (or A Brief Insight) or Silvana Condemi and François Savatier’s A Pocket History of Human Evolution: How We Became Sapiens. Which do you choose?Read more
The Piltdown Man hoax is the perfect story for the anti-evolutionists at Answers in Genesis to hold up as proof that evolution is false and its proponents are dishonest. The story has everything they need: faked fossils, infighting between scientists, and 40 years of overlooking a grave mistake right under everyone’s noses. Answers in Genesis claims that something like this is the all-too-obvious outcome of the baseless and backward worldview—they even like to call it a religion—of evolution. If only the men involved had had the right starting point, the Word of God, this never would have happened.Read more
The Piltdown Man is one of the most famous human fossils ever discovered, almost as famous as Lucy. But unlike Lucy, the Piltdown Man never lived, at least not 400,000 years ago like the world’s greatest minds in paleoanthropology used to think. These scientists believed from 1912 to 1953 that the Piltdown Man was the missing link of human evolution when in fact he was a human skull found with a modified orangutan jaw by Charles Dawson in Sussex, England.Read more
Evolution by natural selection is the amazing, vast, but surprisingly simple mechanism that explains the magnificent diversity of life on Earth. That’s why I love it. But through no fault of their own, so many people absorb misinformation about evolution in daily life, in and out of the classroom. I believe that evolution is a phenomenon which is only not accepted when it’s not understood. Even worse, many of us know it to be true, but don’t know enough about it to be able to defend it against someone who’s been wrongly taught about it.
That’s where this post will help. The good news is that most of the misunderstandings about evolution boil down to a handful of different objections which can be easily corrected with the right context. As you apply this advice in the real world, keep in mind that most people don’t choose to be misinformed. If you are polite and gracious in your explanation, it will go a long way.
Donald Johanson’s book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind was what first made me fall in love with paleoanthropology. While I have learned about dozens more fossils over the last two years, I still have a special place in my heart for Lucy. So you can imagine how excited I was to defend her from the lies of the young-earth creationists at Answers in Genesis! I once might not have known how to debunk their claims, but I now have the knowledge, the books, and a little bit of money needed to find so many errors in their articles.Read more
Four years ago to the day, I wrote a post called “Why I Am Not a Scientist”. I’ve since privated it, because I don’t like the way I spoke about myself and my own intelligence in that post. My main idea was that I was new to being an informed atheist, and I was not confident in my abilities to refute young-earth creationism. I called myself “scientifically challenged” and expressed that I felt that in order to really be confident in my atheist stance, I would have to become much more educated in various fields of science. I said that I was “really bad at science” even as I said that I loved and appreciated how it allows us to learn about the world around us.Read more
As I said in my last post, this week I am reviewing A Most Interesting Problem: What Darwin’s Descent of Man Got Right and Wrong About Human Evolution, a collection of essays by twelve anthropologists critiquing Darwin’s book on human origins, Descent of Man, chapter by chapter and telling us whether Darwin’s ideas have withstood the test of time over 150 years. I was particularly excited about this one, both because I got to see the Leakey Foundation’s promo livestream with panels from many of the authors and because the book serves as a shining example of scientists denying dogma in science.Read more
If a book can be “hot” in the world of paleoanthropology, then Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art is that book. Published in the fall of 2020, Kindred is the latest in a long line of books about Neanderthals, but anyone who has read Kindred knows that it is not like the others.Read more
Happy Sunday and welcome to the latest installment in my series Creationists Don’t Understand Human Evolution! This week I will be responding to the three Answers in Genesis articles under their category “Hominids” in which the AiG authors contend with “the news” each time it “eagerly reports the discovery of another link in the supposed chain of hominid evolution.” In my opinion, this whole category seems pretty incomplete, as it only covers two fossil discoveries as well as an ongoing debate between paleoanthropologists. I don’t normally respond to each article separately, but the first of these three has virtually nothing in common with the other two, so I’ll have to tackle that one on its own. The articles are:Read more
After a four-month-long break, I am happy to finally be returning to my series critiquing the claims of creationists—specifically, Answers in Genesis—about human evolution! Anyone who has created critiques to AiG’s content knows how frustrating and exasperating it can be. For those who do this for a living, I applaud you. AiG has so much content, with so many twists and turns and overlaps, that it is almost too easy to get lost on their website and in their…unique ideas. They seem to have a great fascination with Neanderthals, which in their eyes are just an archaic group of Homo sapiens. (They can’t seem to agree on whether Neanderthals were an ethnic group, a race, or a subspecies.) In the world of paleoanthropology, Neanderthals have always been a hot topic, as we know more about them than any other hominid species but our own. There is a lot of fluctuation in our understanding of Neanderthals, because scientists are discovering more about them by the day.Read more