Were Neanderthals Humans?


I suspect a category error in these discussions. We seem to be using functional or psychological criteria to assess whether Neanderthals were human in a Biblical sense.

I don’t see how these criteria are compatible with the question at hand.

For instance, there are people existing today who lack the functional and/or psychological traits of many primates, let alone hominids. These deficiencies can be the result of brain developmental abnormalities, injury, disease or aging. However, if we accept that a child born today but lacking a prefrontal cortex, or a sociopath with an organic brain defect, or someone in the late stages of Alzheimer’s are all ‘human’ in the Biblical sense, then it’s hard to understand how such ‘humanness’ has any functional or psychological criterion. At least not one that could drive a clear line between modern humans and Neanderthals. One can ponder which organisms possess souls but unless there is a definitive ‘soul-o-meter’ instrument available, I think it’s a pretty futile task.


Well, now there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy if I’ve ever heard one! … I
have a special needs daughter who cannot speak, and whose official
diagnosis is “pervasive developmental delay.” She was legally blind for a
few years, but her vision has improved significantly, and she loves to
whistle and cuddle. I have no problem distinguishing her as human, well
beyond the capabilities of my dog. It’s quite a stretch to speak of
special needs persons as “lacking the functional and/or psychological
traits of many primates, let alone hominids.” Like beauty, such things are
often only in the mind of the beholder --and if you’re of a certain
mindset, you cannot see what is clearly there. Part of the agony of
Alzheimer’s, for example,ares the memories of when the person was much more
capable --degeneration doesn’t make one inhuman. In the Biblical sense,
criteria like being able to love, to recognize and recieve the love of
others, to maintain a good countenance despite difficulties, to have an eye
for the beauty of life… these are all things which my daughter
possesses… oftentimes, in more abundance than many of my most
"functional" friends. It’s never a futility to try to probe the meaning of
a biblical term.




The reason why I mentioned the “very good” was not to make a claim of moral perfection for the creation, but to highlight the fact that the events in Genesis 2, what we commonly refer to as the “fall” of mankind, hadn’t happened yet.
Otherwise, this “very good” of the first story would be in direct opposiition to the moral lesson of the second story, where it explicitly says that, not only is Adam now immoral, but that “the ground is cursed because of him” --the looming legacy of a mindset that decides to reject God’s ownership of the fruit of the land, and to instead increasingly wrest himself away from God’s good guidance.
It’s simply a non-sequitur, in my opinion, to read the Adam and Eve story as going back and adding details to the “sixth day,” which is Faz Rana’s view from RTB --precisely because this Genesis 1:30 “very good” would be so out of place, otherwise.
God’s “very good” creation is about to be ruined by something; we even hear, early on in the Adam story, that his being alone was “not good.” The dramatic foreshadowing is meant to ready us for the tale which is about to unfold.
The sad commentary of the continuing saga of Adam’s lineage is that “violence increased greatly upon the earth.”


I have no problems making those distinctions as well. To clarify, I was talking about those with severe impairments, many who have mental and emotional function well below “the capabilities of your dog”. If we consider such individuals as “human in the Biblical sense”, which I’m content to do, then we need to recognize we are not using functional attributes in the classification scheme.

If some form of functionality is not a criterion for ‘being human in a Biblical sense’, then I think it’s a category error to discuss whether Neanderthals were human or even if chimpanzees are human in the same sense. Because in those cases we are making the determination based on functional evidence derived from physical artifacts (Neanderthals) or observed behavior (chimpanzees).


Guy, first of all let me say how sorry I am that you and your daughter have that heavy burden to bear. My sister has two children that are autism spectrum. The daughter can’t say anything, but the boy can be induced to put a word or two together, though it is a struggle. There are other health problems besides. My sister is my hero for the tenacity and grace and dignity with which she has endured this trial.

I believe like you do, that these were not literal days and the fact that it was very good on day six showed that the fall had not happened at that point. But notice that the seventh day does not have an evening or a morning. I think the creation account is both history and prophecy and that the scriptures teach that the seventh “day”, the true Sabbath, did not even begin until after Christ was on the cross. It is astounding that this should be so, but you can judge for yourself… https://earlygenesistherevealedcosmology.blogspot.com/2017/11/thesis-14-seventh-day-in-genesis-one.html