Ancient DNA Indicates Modern Humans Are One-of-a-Kind

According to the Reasons to Believe article:

RTB’s human origins model regards Neanderthals (and other hominins) as creatures made by God, without any evolutionary connection to modern humans. . . . Based on our view, we predict that biological similarities will exist among the hominins and modern humans to varying degrees. In this regard, we consider the biological similarities to reflect shared designs , not a shared evolutionary ancestry.

What is the Reason to Believe explanation for the idea that God would choose to implement the same flawed and even “broken” designs in both Neanderthal and Homo sapiens? Do they take the view that the original designs were broken by Adam’s fall?

In any case, now that Neanderthal and H. sapiens genomes can be compared, I would think that the “not a shared evolutionary ancestry but just a shared design” would be harder to sustain.


@AJRoberts Are you able to explain in more detail what is meant by “not a shared evolutionary ancestry but just a shared design”? Thanks


I am not surprised with the conclusion that H Sapiens and H Neandertal are different in significant ways. However, the conclusion that Neanderthal did not have speech is astonishing to me because we have strong indirect evidence that Homo Erectus possessed significant language ability – e.g., a type 1 grammar.

In fact, if I am understanding @Agauger correctly, it is the evidence of that type 1 language ability and the underlying social structure that leads her to conclude that H Erectus is human in the “image of God” sense. (My personal opinion is that the evidence supports their use of icons but does not support their use of symbols; therefore the classification as human in the image of God sense is not supported.)

Moreover, Neanderthals had elaborate burial rituals, which would point extremely strongly toward the use of symbolic language.

Finally, I do not understand how it is possible to assert no shared ancestry when we have extremely strong evidence of Sapiens-Neanderthal interbreeding in several episodes, the most recent occurring ~50kya.



How can RTB say there’s no evolutionary connection between hominids (separate designs) when we have genetic evidence of inbreeding?


That’s a good question. I don’t know about RTB but I used to have an Old Earth Creationist colleague who spoke in similar terms about other types of “hybrids” and his answer was: “God designed those separate animal species out of similar components such that they could interbreed. That was his intention.”

That same individual once told me that the separate species of the Citrus genus (as in citrus fruits) were each designed by God with compatible biological structures because God intended for humans to produce hybrids from them. He would say, “Just visit a grocery and observe the results.” (I think all modern citrus fruit varieties come from just four original species.)

Honestly I thought this was an excellent article by RTB.

There are genetic differences between organisms that have been categorised as different species since they were discovered. Why would we have expected anything else? I don’t understand why Rana thinks this is more indicative of the RTB model than evolution.

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“we consider the biological similarities to reflect shared designs , not a shared evolutionary ancestry.”

I don’t understand how one can tell the difference. What are the criteria for deciding design vs. evolutionary ancestry? I’m honestly asking. Can someone explain it to me,?

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Sure. If you want very much for there to be design rather than ancestry, you can interpret all data as supporting the position you want very much to have. I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that.


Thanks When I was in grad school I was taught that every project had to have well defined, measurable criteria. And thesis committees got really snippy if you didn’t.

One does have to wonder about the putative designer’s obsession with designing things through multiple iterative stages of branching decent with modification. Or at least it’s obsession with making it seem like that is how the design took place.

Who in the right mind would design some sort of common ancestral template organism, independently derive two more template organisms from the first one, discard the first one, then derive four new template organisms from the two previous ones, discard the two previous ones(but leave something like it in the fossil record), derive eight more from the four, and so on until you get to the current known diversity of life. It’s almost like evolution actually happened.

So what they’re saying on Reasons to Believe is that it is either a total accident that when God created new creatures by popping them into existence, they just so happened to end up looking like they fit a temporally generated nested hierarchy(evolved by a process of branching descent with modification), or that he made it look like that on purpose to deceive us.

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Only a cruel, deprived, brutal designer would design this way.

The real problem with RTBs idea is that it applies equally as well to any family-related species. If Neanderthals look like us only because of design, then the same may he said of Chimpanzees and Bonobos, or Bottlenose Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins, African Lions and Cheetas.

Noah may have spared animal kind by pairs and sevens, but the Bible is silent on the diversification afterward. Many YECs presume the initial pair/seven were the basal creature of families, but they must admit that is pure speculation because RTB has now put Intelligently Designed speciation, post-Flood, on the table.

Shared design is marvellous – it neatly explains all that we see. Elephants are big and gray and lumber about eating bushes. And we explain that by saying, that’s the way the Designer wanted it. Perfect explanation. Unfortunately if they were small and pink and flitted about pollinating flowers, we’d say the same thing. So shared design actually explains nothing.