Growing Neanderthal Minibrains


@Patrick not a bad catch for an atheist troll (were trolls based on a distant memory of the last remaining few neanderthals?). The debate around here has been whether neanderthals are “in the image of God” or simply clever tool-using beasts (note: the question for those of us who believe should be "have the capacity to be in the image of God when in relationship with Him because Christ is the image of God). This article very strongly indicates that they were not like us, and that the differences may center on the very point I have been contending- that what makes us human and gives us the capacity to bear the image is our relational attributes and a deep yearning for true connectedness. It has nothing to do with IQ or the ability to make a flint scrapper.

Keep 'em coming!


Scraper? You do realize how incredibly tentative the whole enterprise the article describes is, right, Mark?

I consider the efforts to humanize Neanderthals tentative, or rather tenuous. The findings fit what we know from the paleontology. They didn’t form extended societies like we do. It is not the only evidence that they were different than us, but it is one data point in many. If their mini-brains had developed to look just like human brains, I assure you that legions would hail it as evidence they were in the human family.

Their cultural artifacts may suggest otherwise.

“Europeans and Asians share about 1-4% of their DNA with Neanderthals and Africans none. This suggests that modern humans bred with Neanderthals after moderns left Africa but before they spread to Asia and Europe. The most likely location is the Levant, where both species co-existed for thousands of years at various times between 50-90,000 years ago. Interestingly, the data doesn’t support wide-scale interbreeding between the species in Europe, where it would have been most likely given their close proximity. Researchers are now questioning why interbreeding occurred on such a low scale, given that it was biologically possible. The answer may lie in cultural differences.
Evidence shows that Neanderthals had a complex culture although they did not behave in the same ways as the early modern humans who lived at the same time. Scholars debate the degree of symbolic behaviour shown by Neanderthals as finds of art and adornment are rare, particularly when compared to their modern human contemporaries who were creating significant amounts of cave paintings, portable art and jewellery. Some researchers believe they lacked the cognitive skills to create art and symbols and, in fact, copied from or traded with modern humans rather than create their own artefacts. However, others suggest the scarcity may have been due to social and demographic factors.”

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Combining ancient DNA, the genome editor CRISPR, and “organoids” built from stem cells to explore differences in time of modern humans would be another way to look at what you call “in the image of God”. Perhaps this did not occur at a single point in time or with a single person but happened gradually over time and over a large population as culture, language, and civilization progressed. How does your model fit with a gradual “image of God” over large worldwide population over several thousands of years?

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Great question.
The relevant text is this:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.God blessed them; and God said to them, “ Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” - Genesis 1:26-28 NASB
The most common way people interpret “God created man in His image” is to imagine a sudden “poofing” of man into existence, created fully grown in an instant.
This may be a conceptual holdover from how many people have generally interpreted verse 1; “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” as also happening in an instant. When, of course, it doesn’t. The whole chapter goes on to describe how the start of this creation keeps unfolding.
Here’s where the Western Christian mind needs to be informed by the Hebrew understanding.
The verb “bara,” translated “created” in English, says nothing about how long the action took. To illustrate, “Rome wasn’t created in a day.”
So, yes-- the Hebrew understanding is totally amenable to your proposal of a long and mosaic process that unfolded gradually, until it reached a point where something totally new and unexpected was the result. It can be incrementalism combined with sudden innovation. Much like the “hopeful monster” of Goldschmidt, or the saltational leap, combined with stasis, of a “punctuated equilibria” view. The relevant point here is that 1) a completely new thing came into being, which was 2) the result of God acting intentionally to steer a new course for the “adamah” --“groundlings” (plural of “adam” -“man”).


@Guy_Coe I view your two articles as good examples of what I mean. Neither of those two finds in my view are the slightest indication that Neanderthals were anything like us in terms of social ability or desire for connectedness or even a longing for deeper and abstract truth. Here is the find that the first article is based on…

Maybe they were testing a tool. Maybe they were sharpening a tiny drill bit. We don’t know, but the find does not IMHO make credible the speculation given to it:“In a study published Wednesday in PLOS One a team of international scientists announced that an engraved flint flake is a sign of Neanderthal culture and cognition.” Really? Especially “Really?” in terms of the argument that this puts them in the class of Homo Sapiens in such matters. We built the pyramids and the Taj Mahal and St. Peter’s Basillica. We had tribes of thousands even in the hunter-gatherer stage. And we have had religion at least since Gobe Telbeke and I would argue from the beginning.

The second article described a structure that was said to be designed to be a “flaming circle of stones”. Gee why would a small band of Neanderthals want a room deep in a cave with a flaming circle of stones in it? Must be religion and ceremony, right? Wrong. Have you seen the predators that were around in that time? Why couldn’t it be a safe room? Smart, but not a sign of the sort of things which make us long to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

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@Revealed_Cosmology & @Guy_Coe

Genesis 9, in God’s explanation of the Noachide laws to Noah and his family included the explanation for the reason for capital punishment (for murderers) makes it clear that every human (after the Flood?) had the image of God. So whatever the Neanderthals were is rather irrelevant, as long as having traces of Neanderthal genes doesn’t have the power to invalidate the humanity of the survivors.

Maybe the reason the Noachide laws are not revealed until AFTER the Flood is because the Flood eliminates some of the outlier sections of humanity.

Well, Mark, I know you resort to absolutes in an attempt to persuade, but, “really?” Neanderthals were “nothing like” us? Do you see the manufacture of body ornamentation objects made from traded items among the chimps? Do you know of a single instance where chimps or other non-humans are able to keep alive a flaming fire? What if they built a circular enclosure to contain the fire’s heat, thus showing a pretty sophisticated understanding of how fire works? Are any of these behaviors, even in a very rudimentary form, rather than by mere happenstance, observable among non-human lineage primates? I, like you, am cautious about any of these indicating an ontological equality of native intelligence capacity with homo sapiens, but in terms of being along the same gradient, the evidence is obvious.
The "I want it all, or I’m not willing to grant “imago Dei” qualities stance is a bit paranoid, from where I sit. That they could relate well enough to even form small, non-incest-based, survival groups is evidence enough for me --because I see the exact same things among, say, the Sentinelese islander tribes today, whom I regard as both “imago Dei” and fallen.

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My good brothers, @Revealed_Cosmology & @Guy_Coe,

Does this issue actually require resolving? We aren’t going to convince some Creationists who have very strong ideas one way or the other.

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I don’t see it among neanderthals either until there were humans to mimic and trade with. And nothing like the quality and quantity of our kind.

I am not saying that they weren’t intelligent as engineers. I am saying that is not what makes us human. I don’t know how many times I have to say it, both here and on the “Disability and the Image of God” thread, it is not about intelligence. It is about longing for community and a desire to be a part of something larger than ourselves. Its an ability to love truth for its own sake, to desire an ideal. In that, the evidence is not there that they were like us, or even thought like us. And there were genetic barriers to hybridization. That which did occur is slowly being weeded out for the most part.

Suggesting that I am suffering from mental illness in response to my reasoned attempt to show how the evidence you present does not demonstrate what you and others hope that it shows is not going to be a winning tactic with me, and I hope it is one which will not be tolerated around here. Ditto with the implications of racism.

No intimation of mental illness intended. Sorry if it came across that way. You don’t see the “longing to be part of something larger than ourselves” in their mimicry, even if that’s all it is, of homo sapiens’ behavior? And where, exactly, would we go looking for evidence of a “spiritual” God-ward orientation among the Neanderthals by evaluating cultural artifacts from that long ago? What do you expect we’d have to find to cinch the case?
You can’t admit, at least, that there’s a gradient? Why not?

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Idols. Or a Gobi Tel Keppe. Or an effort to form large societies rather than a series of small inbred clans. Or even evidence of vast trade networks.

6 posts were split to a new topic: Ancient Art from 40,000 Years Ago

What “kind” of humans, is the point.

My point is there is only one kind" of human - Homo Sapiens.

A line in the sand, so to speak.
Positively beastly of you, mate!
(Aw, come on guys… that right there’s funny!
I don’t care what “side” 'yer on… that right there’s FUNNY!)

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Sure we sent a man to the moon in 1969, but what were we doing 35,000 years ago? What was the worldwide state of the technology for mankind 35,000 years ago? We were hunting animals in Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. But genus Homo was cooking with fire and stone tools for at least one million year old technology. The real question is what are the differences between Neanderthals and Sapiens at specific locations and specific times. So far, no evidence of major no technological, biological, difference between species at given location and time periods. Given that only our species to survived past 35,000 years ago says that we can’t compare people even 10,000 years ago with Neanderthals.

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There are a wide range of views on what the Image of God is. Some conceptions have no problem with arising gradually over a large worldwide population. In the Genealogical Adam, we often say those outside the Garden were in God’s Image too. So that is not something exclusive to Adam.

Looking that the results, it is interesting that they see differences between the Sapiens and Neandertal organoids. This is, honestly, a little surprising and difficult to interpret. Can’t say for sure yet, but this might qualify as weak evidence that there were some mental advantages that Sapien’s had. This could provide a way of untangling exactly what gives rise to the human brain. I’m curious to see how it develops from here.