note: In June 1990 The John Ankerberg Show taped a series of
interviews with men from several branches of the sciences regarding
the evidence for creation. For technical reasons we were unable to air
these interview. Nevertheless, we have decided to release portions of
these interviews in a series of articles so you could read the
arguments that were being made at that timeómore than a decade ago.
effort has been made to quote the gentlemen correctly. We have
attempted to find the correct spelling of the scientific terms used.
However, the reader should keep in mind that this is a transcription
of oral interviews. Mistakes in spelling and in the technical language
should be laid at the feet of the editor.]
Ankerberg: We are talking with men who have
Ph.D.s in the sciences concerning the scientific evidence. Does it
point to a creator? Does it point to evolution? In particular, we want
to talk today about human evolution. Did man evolve from apes or was
it actually that he evolved from one cell? We want to look at the
fossil record and what it shows concerning an ape to man transition. I
would like Dr. Kurt Wise to start us off in this area.
Wise: Analogous to the situation we see in
major groups; in major groups we see major groups of organisms coming
into existence with gaps in the record and no fossils that connect
that organism with any other organism. We see the same thing in the
human record. Even if you accept Australopithecine in the lineage of
man, as some people do, there is a big gap between Australopithecines,
which are thought to be the ancestors to man, and whatever primate,
ape or whatever, that Australopithecus supposedly evolved from.
Dr. Gish, take us through some of the things that are in some of the
older textbooks and then bring us up to date and letís talk about
Gish: Well, in times past, of course,
thereíve been a number of creatures suggested as possible ancestors or
intermediates between ape-like creatures and man. One was Ramapithecus,
which for nearly half a century was suggested represented in
intermediate form between apes and man, or ape-like creatures and man.
And with the discovery of additional material, it turned out to be
essentially an orangutan. And others like that have turned up, of
course, from time to time.
man, of course, stood for nearly half a century as a suggested
ancestor of manóturned out to be a hoax. And even Nebraska man didnít
last very long, only lasted a few years, but [it was] based upon a
single tooth, which turned out to be a pigís tooth.
Neanderthal people. These for many, many years were viewed as
primitive, subhuman ancestors of man. But it turned out that the
so-called primitive features were pathological, due to arthritis or
rickets or Vitamin D deficiency and conditions like that which gave
them a very primitive appearance in some ways, but it was merely
pathological. And today heís been upgraded to a Homo sapiens.
I think this
might lead us to be a bit more skeptical about some of these things
that weíre being told, even today, although it would not necessarily
invalidate the claims that are being made today. One of the central
figures in human evolutionary schemes today, and has been for many
years, are the Australopithecines mentioned by Dr. Wise. The first
fossil of this creature was found in 1924 in South Africa and at that
time it was not widely accepted. Most evolutionists actually rejected
the claims for Australopithecines. But then as time went on it became
more generally accepted. Today it is quite widely accepted as possibly
an ancestor between apes and man.
claimed that these creatures are quite ape-like from the neck up. One
skull was discovered by Louis Leakey and his wife Mary in East Africa
in 1959, and they claim that it is very importantly related to the
evolution of man and later claims were that these creatures did walk
upright. We can see from pictures that they were grossly ape-like.
Johanson, an American paleontologist who discovered Lucy and her
fellow creatures, says that the creature appeared to be quite ape-like
from the neck up. The fact is, they said it looked a small, female
gorilla, when it was reconstructed. But Johanson and his fellow
workers claimed that these creatures walked upright in the human
manner, just like you and me, essentially, and therefore that they are
true intermediates between ape and man. That is a general consensus
today: most evolutionists believe that, but not all evolutionists
I think that
the real experts in the field who have devoted many years of study to
the fossils of these creatures, Lord Zuckermann, a very famous British
anatomist, and Dr. Charles Oxnard, Professor of Anatomy and Director
of Graduate Studies at the University of Southern California, both
these men are evolutionists, but they have devoted many years of study
to the Australopithecus. The fact is that they were studying fossils
of creatures believed to be 1 to 2 million years younger than Lucy or
more recent in time and they said from their research they did not
believe that these creatures walked, certainly in a manner similar to
you and me, that if they did walk upright, it was quite a different
manner than you and I do, and that they still retained a great ability
in the trees.
creatures, these Australopithecine, did have long curved toes, and
long curved fingers, and some of the recent fossils have been found
with the arms, so weíre able to determine that the arms hung down
practically to the knees. You know, if these things did walk upright,
well, any ape can walk upright, monkeys can walk upright, they donít
do it habitually, and if you have long, curved fingers and long,
curved toes, and you have arms hanging nearly to your knees, or nearly
so, thatís not what you use to walk on the ground. You donít use that
type of anatomy for walking around on the ground. Thatís what you use
in the trees.
Oxnard said is that these Australopithecines were not on the line
leading to man, that they were unique, they werenít ancestral to man
and they werenít ancestral to any living apes. They were just
themselves. And I think thatís the best assessment.
So, in other words, this is another transitional form like
Archaeopteryx that is just there but it is very complex and it should
be just left as being complex?
Well, I think the comparison to Archaeopteryx might be a pretty fair
one. You see, where Archaeopteryx has some features associated both
with birds and reptiles, it certainly was not intermediate; none of
the structures were intermediate. I think maybe we can look at
Australopithecine in the same way. Definitely, I would not say they
were not ancestral to man. But again, thatís the general consensus of
Dr. Wise, do you have any other thoughts on Lucy?
Not so much on the Australopithecines. I think what has been said
there is rather good. Again, to reiterate, they are distinct from any
other organism. Theyíre distinct from any organisms from which they
could have evolved, according to the fossil record. Thereís a gap
between them and anything else. In addition, they are distinct from
man. So they are as if they are a separate group all to themselves,
very complex, very capable. I think Oxnardís study on this point
indicates that theyíre capable in both the trees and the ground in
such a unique manner, unique to any other organism. So they are quite
unique from man.
leaves us only with the genus Homo in the fossil record. The three
species are there or classified there, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and
Homo sapiens. We are Homo sapiens. Homo habilis is the one in dispute
right now, even in the paleoanthropological community. The
conventional community has some dispute as to what Homo habilis is and
what itís doing. Some people feel that some of the specimens are
misidentified and they are actually Australopithecine material, and
some of the material may be Homo erectus material. Some people feel
that Homo habilis may not be a valid species. We need to leave that up
for grabs right now. I think it leads us to believe that Homo erectus
and Homo sapiens are the only human species in the record, and it
could very well be that Homo erectus is a human species.
So you actually feel that this is actually detrimental to the
evolutionary, and itís also a positive step then for the creationist
theory. Tell us why.
Not only are there large gaps between Australopithecines and anything
that came before, but thereís basically a morphological gap between
Australopithecines and humans. Humans, represented by Homo erectus and
Homo sapiens, appear as a distinct group in the fossil record with no
apparent ancestors in the fossil record, at least, definite ancestors.
exactly what the creation model would predict. A lack of ancestors,
come in with great complexity, Homo erectus clearly is quite complex,
it has not only complexity in anatomical features, but also, weíre
getting more and more evidence that associated with Homo erectus are
more evidences of culture than we would expect in a non-human
organism. This is in fact, human for various reasons.
Let me take the evolutionistís point of view for a moment. If you are
trying to prove evolution is true through the transitional forms up to
man, what would you have to find in order for a creationist to accept
that you had found a true transitional form between ape and man? What
would it have to look like?
Well, I think what many paleoanthropologists have done incorrectly in
the past is to assume that whatever it looked like, it would have to
be half-way in between ape and man, or three-quarters, or one-quarter,
or whatever. I think evolutionists have learned in the past that
thatís not what the fossil record gives us as evidence. The only thing
we can hope for is that we have creatures that have a combination of
characters between ape and man. But they must be truly intermediate in
even their combination.
words, Australopithecines donít meet this requirement, because itís
not just that they are swinging apes with the ability to walk on the
ground. No, Oxnardís group concluded that they have a unique mode of
locomotion. Itís even unique in the way that they swing. So they
havenít just added the ability to walk on to their list of
characteristics of being similar to man. They have, in fact, a very
different form of locomotion.
So you need
something between whatever fossil in the record youíre going to say
that man evolved from and man, which has characteristics which are
truly intermediate. Itís an organism that perhaps walks upright in a
true sense, but might have a very small brain. Australopithecines were
thought to fit that bill, except that it appears that their locomotion
is not truly bipedal as it is in humans.
I think a living example of that, by the way, more extreme, is a
gibbon. The gibbon of course, is unique in its ability to swing in the
branches, but when it gets down on the ground it does walk habitually
upright. But its anatomy is not suited for that, it is a very tiring,
difficult thing for the gibbon to doóit gets right back up into the
tree. But he does walk habitually upright. And so you can have a
creature that walks upright and swings through the trees.
I still think itís necessary to make a distinction here. Because the
gibbon, by the same analysis that Oxnard performed on the
Australopithecine, would not and is not, on his diagrams, placed with
Oh, I agree.
It is a brachiator. It does not have that, even in a unique way; itís
capable of running along bipedally. I guess this probably reflects a
misunderstanding many people have, just because something runs along
like a bear on two hind legs, does not make it bipedal. It might
temporarily run on two legs, such as chimpanzees, gorillas, gibbons,
and bears can do, but theyíre not truly bipedal.
as if the only truly bipedal organisms that have ever lived are
humans, and birds in a different type of bipedal gait, and dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs also have a very similar gait as birds. But even there you
have different kinds of bipedalism between the dinosaurs and man. And
then you have Australopithecines, which is very strange, because it
has a strange combination of two abilities. It can very well walk on
ground, apparently, bipedally, but also it is very comfortable in
trees. Very unique among any organism.
The bottom line then is that as of right now, according to the
evidence, we do not have that transitional form and again we have
gaps. And so therefore, the case for creation, all of a sudden man is
there, the apes are there, other things are there. Theyíre just there
and weíre missing these links.
Thatís correct. Major morphological gaps [exist] between any proposed
ancestor and the group that youíre interested in.