When Did Modern Human Brains—and the Image of God—Appear?

From Faz Rana RTB:

Human beings seem to uniquely possess these capabilities. They make us exceptional compared to other hominins. Thus, for paleoanthropologists, two key questions are: when and how did the globular human skull appear?

Recently, a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, addressed these questions. And their answers add evidence for human exceptionalism while unwittingly providing support for the RTB human origins model.

I disagree. There is nothing in the work of the researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology showing the appearance of the Image of God in Modern Humans. Rana purposely leaves out the mountain of evidence of the exceptional cognitive abilities of Homo Erectus. Homo Erectus was the most cognitively advanced species on the Planet for a period of time from 2 million years ago to about 600,000 years ago when more cognitively advanced species of the genus Homo appeared. Taking all the results from paleontology clearly shows that the RTB model where only Homo Sapiens were cognitively advanced is false. Cognitively advanced Humans with culture, technology, and language go back at least 2 million years.


Patrick, thanks for the link. A few observations.
Dr Rana claims that Modern humans had more advanced cognitive abilities than homo erectus or neanderthals. This is not a false claim

The issue is not whether homo erectus had some kind of cognitive ability, but rather whether they had a cognitive ability that could be comparable to modern humans. The answer to that is no even as per your remarks.

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In response to some articles posted by Rana on Facebook regarding common descent, I replied:

"As to explaining and understanding the physical origins of humanity, I see no problem with the pattern of common descent. It’s the transition from a kind of “creaturely” pre-human to the full on sentiency and moral capacity of “imago Dei” humans that begs the question as to origins. That such was an act of endowment by God, is likely only marginally discoverable, if at all, in merely examining the physical fossils. Instead, we should look to forensically evaluate the implements of culture --artifacts made by the kind of humanity whose capacity for abstract or symbolic thought, language skills and drive for a more social and spiritual existence --for which we could discover the paleoanthropological evidence. This is exactly the kind of transition noted in Genesis 1:26 through 1:27 and forward, and the Hebrew language used there conveys absolutely no information about how long it took --only that God accomplished this completely novel work in humanity.

Now, whether you conceive of that marvel as taking place at Adam’s introduction to the story, or whether you believe as I, that Adam’s story doesn’t even begin until chapter one is closed out, on day seven --in either case, Adam is our universal geneaological ancestor by the time of the New Testament writings, and the effects of the fall come to characterize all of humanity as a result. There’s no need, in my view, to refute common descent; only to challenge it’s adequacy to explain ALL the facts of human existence. Matter is NOT all that matters. As a monthly supporter of RTB, I appreciate the ministry here!

You’re all invited to further sort out the evidence at the conversation going on at Peaceful Science, where Dr. S Joshua Swamidass scientifically defends the historicity of a geneaological Adam. See https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/"

There is another couple of potential junctures where Adam and Eve fit in, especially if we read the account as revealing that their story doesn’t even begin until the seventh “yom,” well after the creation and introduction of humans made in God’s image in the transition noted in Genesis 1:26-27. They need only to be the first humans who transgressed a “Thou shalt not” by God (thou shalt not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) in order to fit the developing story. That suggests that their story may be from as little as 15 kya or so. The endowment of a prior humanity with God’s image may derive from as little as 50 kya. There’s no reason to be dogmatic about any such dating attempts. They both just fit the data well, is the only observation.

Of course, modern humans have more advanced cognitive abilities now because they have had 40,000 years as the sole species of hominid on the planet with 40,000 years of advancing culture, language and technology. But it is certainly a false claim to say that modern humans had more advanced cognitive abilities than Neanderthals, Denosivans, and archiac modern human 250,000 years ago to 40,000 years ago. Everything points to the same cognitive abilities for all these different human species. And for the time period prior to the arrival of Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals, Homo Erectus was far and away the most cognitively advanced species the world have every seen.

Faz Rana is continuing to push a long falsified RTB model that only Homo Sapiens of the past 40,000 years had advanced cognitive abilities. It is just patently false. Advanced cognitive abilities of humans go back millions of years. I am beginning to questions Faz Rana’s professional honesty and ingruity as he cherry picks at the new findings that hardworking researchers in many fields are discovering through hard work and innovation. I invite Faz to come here and be part of the discussion.

Modern humans are thought to have emerged somewhere around 100000 years ago. I am not sure anyone claims modern humans existed 250000 years ago. The key features seem to be - flatter face, bigger brain, fully developed vocal chord, etc…
All these are observed together only in fossils between 100k and 50k years ago.
Modern humams were cognitively more advanced.

Have you read the article? I got the impression from reading him that he was making a claim that bigger brains (as indicated by the skull shape) arose around 120k years ago and this is the source of better cognition. He also claims that this was a more rapid phenomenon and not one in which cognition increased slowly upto 40k years ago… one his claim is for advance cognition in humans around 120k years ago.

Define “advanced cognitive” abilities… whays the measure and at what point does cognition become advanced? I have a feeling you are defining it differently from Dr Rana.

No, try 300,000 years.


Language, Culture, seafaring, tool making, in Homo Erectus. Clothing, art, in Neanderthals.

Have you read the article? Thwy don’t mentionHere is a quote-

“The discoveries, reported in Nature, suggest that our species came into the world face-first, evolving modern facial traits while the back of the skull remained elongated like those of archaic humans.”

The shape of the skull changed to match the modern man around 120 k years ago. Fully developed Vocal chords emerged even later.

Modern humans did not emerged 300k years ago.

So our skull changed in 300,000 years so did Neanderthals. Skull Changes alone is not doesn’t define our species. Vocal chords along with matched hearing were developing in lock step with advancing language and culture for 2 million years.

Let’s dissect this for homo erectus shall we-
Language- Not the same kind of language that humans use. It’s not clear whether Homo erectus had anything more than current apes/gorrillas do. Maybe they did… buy only conjectures seem available.
Tool making - Mostly stone flake type tools were used.
Seafaring - No clear evidence of conscious sea fa information with boats… are you talking about rafting on tree trunks?
Culture- They lived together. It’s not even clear of they knew how to control fires.

You need to search and read from published articles. Don’t depend on pop science books. They sometimes exaggerate thinks to present the authors pet fetishes.

This doesn’t seem to be the case . Can you show any papers… I remember Sharing a paper with you last time about vocal chords.

Many developments were far more sudden the way I understand it.

Exactly the same kind of language - verbal and non verbal facial gesture and hand waving.

Sure, billions of tools and flakes over a million year’s worth, all over the world. Cut marks on animal bones - butchering and cooking of meat for over a million years. Who made the fires to cook?

  1. Acheulean tools dated at 800,000 years ago Flores. Along with charred remains of Stegodontidae.
  2. Primitive stone tools 500,000 to 1 million years old on the islands of Socotra and Crete.

They were living together, cooking together, hunting together, migrating together following large game, making tools together all over the world for over 1 million years. They were the most advanced culture on the planet and the most advanced cognitive of any species on the planet.

There are many peer reviewed papers. And the results keep coming in faster and faster. RTB’s model has been falsified. The entire genus of Homo are Humans.

Show me studies that claim this… and the rest.

As to fires… though charred remains have been observed, it’s not clear whether the fires were started
and controlled by homo erectus.

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Come on, read the book. And the hundreds of other papers that are referenced in it. You can’t just sit there with closed eyes and ignore recent discoveries in many fields like palenotology, linguists, and ancient genomics.

They ate meat. Cooked meat. That’s helped with growing the brain bigger.

Show papers… I have shared one with you
. I can share more…

You look for them. You are the one disputing the results of hundreds of scientists around the world. I am up to date on the current consensus in science - Homo Erectus and all of the species of the Genus Homo were humans who had language, culture, tool making industry. We owe a lot to our Homo Erectus ancestors.

I think Fuz is onto something in this regard. If I remember correctly, I think BioLogos or at least Haarsma said she agreed with RTB that the image of God shows up with modern homo sapiens. They of course disagree over common ancestry.

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Biologos and Deb Haarsma, wow that is pinnacle of the latest scientific consensus in human origins. Biologos and RTB are just watchers. They don’t do science. They take the latest results of science and spin them to fit their particular human origins model.

Rtb does that. I think BioLogos is probably more objective, at least in this regard. They’d bend and reformulate if the evidence showed something different. Fuz would probably come up with an implausible explanation of why such and such evidence doesn’t falsify the rtb model.

But yes, they are just “watchers” and synthesizers. So what? That’s a fine thing to be. So are you. So am I, right?

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