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
After reading The Demon-Haunted World, I was hoping to find a book that was a bit more fast-paced before moving onto something else academic. I started reading a book that I had had on my shelves for a few months: The Peking Man is Missing by Claire Taschdjian. The Peking Man is a group of fossils that has gone through several names but is now classified as Homo erectus. This might not sound thrilling, but Peking Man’s story is unusually chaotic in that the fossils went missing from their place in China during World War II, and what happened to them is a mystery to this day. Taschdjian’s book really grabbed my attention when I first saw it, and I had been saving it for when I wanted a particularly exciting read. Taschdjian was one of the last people known to have seen the Peking Man fossils before they went missing, and her book is her idea of what may have happened to them, written in the form of a novel.Read more
I grew up steeped in conservative Christianity only to make a 180° turn to cold, hard atheism in college. I took no detours in progressive Christianity, but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be both a Christian and an open-minded, accepting person. Luckily, I’ve lately been enjoying Brenda Marie Davies’ YouTube channel, which is a glimpse into the lifestyle, opinions, and beliefs of a progressive Christian. If you can achieve a messy but confident faith in God and a loving call for equality and recognition for all, then why not embrace both?Read more
This week we are returning to our series where we examine the claims of everyone’s favorite creationists, Answers in Genesis, about human evolution. The purpose of this series is twofold: I want to learn more about paleoanthropology myself and how to better write about the subject, and I want to act as a resource for anyone who is questioning AiG’s claims but doesn’t know enough about human evolution to be able to refute them. To be sure, I know that Ken Ham and his authors are never going to read this, and they would certainly not change their minds or even their methods if they did. They’ve seen myriads of people arguing against them—and blocked them on Twitter (myself included). This isn’t for the AiG staff but for the more bold of the budding skeptics in their audience.Read more
It’s August 15th, 2008. You’re nine-year-old Matthew Berger, and you’re in Gladysvale, South Africa, looking for ancient human fossils with your paleoanthropologist dad, Lee Berger. “Okay, go find fossils!” says your dad. Only moments later, you find a hominid collarbone sticking out of a rock. Your dad curses in shock after seeing all the other hominid bones lying around it: a tooth and part of a jaw, among others. He goes on to spend years studying these fossils among his colleagues, and he names it Australopithecus sediba.
Fast forward: It’s August 15th, 2020, and you’re a 24-year-old woman with an interest in paleoanthropology. You’re writing a blog post about Australopithecus sediba for a series defending finds like the Bergers’ from the heinous claims of anti-scientists. Hours into your research, you see an article telling you that Matthew’s find was in fact made on this very day, twelve years ago. You don’t believe in coincidences or fate, but it makes you smile nonetheless.Read more
Since I first read the story of the groundbreaking 1974 discovery of possible human ancestor Lucy, I have been captivated by the study of human origins. I felt as if during my atheistic indignation at the fantastical creation stories in the bible, paleoanthropology took my hand and showed me that there is an entire field of study that strives to learn where humans really came from. I’ve been baffled that more people weren’t devouring the findings of fossil hunters. I’m afraid that that might be partly because creationist teachings have been normalized, at least in the United States, and I want to help break down, clearly and understandably, why creationism holds no answers about human origins whatsoever.Read more
Nowadays, it may not seem like this blog is entirely about atheism anymore, and maybe it’s not. However, one could argue that atheism colors my view of the world and what I write, even if it’s not explicitly mentioned. This is especially the case as I write more and more about paleoanthropology, or the study of human origins. Last week when I wrote my book review of Ian Tattersall’s The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack, I felt that I had crawled into the cave of a very niche topic that is paleoanthropological politics, and I never mentioned God or religion or atheism one time, and I wondered if that was what my readers wanted when they visited my domain.Read more
Have you ever been going along throughout your day, minding your own business, when suddenly you were bombarded with an absolute fossil of a buried memory? Or rather, you get bits and pieces of a memory of an old book, movie, or TV show? When this happens, it can be next to impossible to think about anything else until you remember exactly what it is that your brain is reminding you of.Read more
If you only know of Richard Dawkins as a militant anti-theist, then you don’t know Richard Dawkins. In his purest form, the man is an enthusiastic and impassioned science communicator, and one of the biggest fans of Charles Darwin that I have ever read. This was made crystal clear to me as I read The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. I decided to read this book when everyone on the Internet decided to collectively make it known to me that it was an amazing, must-read book.Read more
Enjoy this post written for me this week by my sweet husband!
I have been a passionate Pokémon fan for what feels like forever. My enthusiasm all started when I was given a trading card in fourth grade. That card was Cubone. Since then, I have been fascinated by the creatures, story, lore, and everything else Pokémon. But what does Pokémon have to do with an atheist blog?Read more