Saturday, June 10, 2006

THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY?

To the northwest of Johannesburg, atop a high plateau of rolling savannah, sits an area pockmarked with limestone caves. They claim the name "The Cradle of Humanity" because the purported remains of some of the oldest hominids have been found in these caves.

Today we descended deep into one of these caves, with a group of other awe-inspired tourists, known as "Sterkfontein." It is deep within this cave, probably 300 feet below ground level, that in the 1980s someone discovered, in a pile of dirt removed from the cave, a number of foot bones and a broken off legbone which radiocarbon dating placed at 3.3 million years of age. Because of the broken off legbone, scientists thought the rest of the skeleton might still be in the rock of the cave somewhere, so they returned and were successful after a two-day search. Digging carefully away at the rock they eventually uncovered an entire skeleton.

That skeleton, nicknamed "Littlefoot," is still mostly imbedded in the rock. The place was carefully guarded by an iron gate replete with alarm system. Our tour guide informed us they are still digging the skeleton out, after these 20 or so years. I asked when he thought they might have it completely removed. "Come back in 5 years and ask me again," he joked, and everyone laughed.

I was perplexed by a number of things at Sterkfontein. One was why, if this is such a magnificent find (the oldest complete hominid skeleton ever discovered, supposedly), they aren't more eager to get it out of there.

The sterkfontein cave contained a number of "death traps" or vertical tunnels to the surface through which numerous animals, and even people apparently, fell to their deaths. Such was the unfortunate fate of Littlefoot, it seems.

I am also perplexed by how unquestioningly people accept the basic premises of evolutionary theory, which seems to be regarded as indisputable fact by the people who put together exhibits such as those at Sterkfontein. They talk about fish evolving into mammals, but then show you a fossil of a fish found so many millions of years ago, and tell you that exact same fish swims in the waters of South Africa today. So how come it hasn't evolved into something else? Something better? Why is the same animal fundamentally unchanged?

And if they are pulling thousands and thousands of animal fossils out of these caves, as they claim (and I saw several rooms full of fossils), why haven't they found even one fossil of some species that is in transition to another species?

It seems that if macroevolution as a theory were to be taken seriously, there would need be at least one example of one species in transition to another, in the fossil record. Doesn't anyone wonder about that?

The Bible says that God created every animal "after its own kind." In other words, you don't transition from one species into another. Which would explain why there is nothing in the fossil record to support that particular theory.

I have studied the Bible very carefully and nothing I've ever seen come out of the world of science ... including hominid skeletons that are millions of years old ... violates anything I have read in its pages. Sure, some people jump to conclusions and construct artificial timetables and make certain assumptions and think the Bible supports the notion that the human race is only 6,000 years old. But there's plenty of room in the Bible I am reading for every proven scientific reality out there. The Bible presents no offense to science.

But science certainly appears offended by the Bible sometimes. Scientists scoff at the notion that an intelligent designer created all the order around us, which the law of entropy assures us is proceeding from that original ordered state into a state of disorder. (Once again, consistent with biblical truth.) In violation of their own principles they suggest that the intricate and amazing design we know of as life proceeded basically out of random chance. From a state of disorder to a state of order. Hmmm. So much for the second law of thermodynamics.

Well, don't get me started. Arrogance just bugs the heck out of me. We seem so sure about things that we really can't know much about because we weren't there when they happened. We need a good dose of humility.

In college I read a book called The Nature of Scientific Paradigms, or something like that. The basic thesis was interesting. It said that about every hundred years ago or so developments in our understanding of how things work so significantly shift our "scientific paradigm" that things we took for granted a hundred years ago become totally inane.

A hundred years is a very short timeframe when held up against the scale of creation and the history of our planet. A hundred years from now, who knows what we will think about all the theories we currently cling so tightly to? A mere hundred years. We need a little humility.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Evolution is a theory, yet people embrace it as fact.

So, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Answer: It depends.

If you believe in intelligent design, then the chicken came first just as Eve came before Cain and Abel.

If you believe in evolution, you are standing in muddy water.

May God bless you in your work.