Science in Christian Perspective

0 n of  Origin of Man,  and the Bio-cultural Gap*

From: JASA 13 (June 1961):


It is indeed significant that the planners of this symposium have directed the focus of attention upon origins. They are to be congratulated for thus precluding continuing confusion over the details of evolutionary process. For it is largely the genetic and geological processes of life and earth history with which evolutionists have dealt. Thus it is within these areas that the most scientific progress has been made, and concerning which, consequently, there has been a decreasing basis for argument. But with matters of origin, evolutionists have been admittedly hesitant to deal. The noted physical

*Presented at Wheaton College Science Symposium on "Origins and Christian Thought Today," February 17, 1961. Slightly revised to incorporate ideas stimulated by the panel discussion held on February 18, and by new material previously unavailable to the author. Credit is due my colleague, Mr. Donald Wilson of Covenant College (St. Louis) for able criticism and enlightening discussion on problems basic to this paper.

**Mr. Buswell is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Wheaton College and is presently completing work toward a Ph.D. degree in Anthropology at Columbia University.

anthropologist William Howells wrote sixteen years ago,

We are totally bewildered, of course, about the .beginning of life and the reasons for our existence, and these are questions which have been grist to the mills of philosophers and mythmakers; alike. But we know, roughly, what happened along the way, and that is the story of human evolution.1

Recently, however, there has been increased interest shown in the problems of origins, and, as one might expect, it has served to bring into unprecedented prominence the significance of one's philosophy of science. In another context, but with far-reaching application, Dr. J. 0. Buswell, Jr., speaking here before the recent annual philosophy conference, pointed out that

. I . Whereas 35 years ago Christian thought was most seriously challenged by the natural sciences, the crucial problem today is philosophy.

1. Howells, 1944, p. 3.

This is, in part, due to the fact that large segments of evangelicalism have paid increasing attention to what may be called true scientific progress, and have broken away from the straight jacket of certain interpretations of Scripture which ran headlong into conflict with factual scientific data. It is also due to the fact that, with Biblebelieving scientists taking an active part in this scientific progress, the focal points of concern have shifted from a broad, over-all question of science vs. the Bible, or evolution vs. creation, which led inevitably to a high degree of fruitless controversy, to a much finer focus upon problems of positive interpretation with basic creationist presuppositions. Thus in the volume which has stimulated this SyMposium,2 it is clear that Schweitzer is not attempting to debate whether God created the universe but how God created it; and that Hearn and Hendry are not examining whether God created life, but how God created it. Thirty-five years ago, and less, it would not have been likely that a fundamentalist, doctrinally speaking, would have found himself able to state, as Schweitzer does, that there is no conflict between the best scientific theories as to how the universe came into being, and the Biblical view (p. 50). Nor could it have been admitted, as Hearn and Hendry stated, that "The expressions in Scripture regarding the creation of life (are) sufficiently figurative to imply little or no limitation on possible mechanisms" (p. 69). Thus it is not the natural sciences themselves which challenge Christian thought today, but it is the underlying naturalistic and mechanistic philosophy of their leading practitioners.

With reference to considerations of the origin of man, the situation is found to be the same. It will be unnecessary to review here the differences between the interpretations of man's origin from a naturalistic point of view, as contrasted with the creationist, or supernaturalistic approach. Suffice it to say that it is not necessary to quibble with the evolutionist over any of the data pertaining to prehistoric man, in order to maintain a sound Scriptural position which does not jeopardize any of the conservative doctrines such as the creation of a single pair of humans, their original perfection and subsequence fall, and the unity of the human race. One's interpretation of this data will depend upon one's underlying philosophical presuppositions. Indeed, there is perhaps more active debate today over the exact interpretation of man's origin within creationist circles than there is elsewhere.


Turning now to an examination of some of these problems, it will be remembered that in the chapter on prehistoric man2a in the Mixter volume, we came to certain tentative conclusions regarding the interpretation of the Australopithecinae, the so called South African man-apes, in the context of a consideration of the question, What is man? These conclusions were that "so far no definite indication of any cultural assemblage has been identified" in connection with these types, and that, "should such a cultural assemblage be identified for the Australopithecines, it will necessitate perhaps a drastic revision of what we are used to considering 'human' but nothing more as far as the creationist position is concerned" (p. 187).

Even then mention should have been made concerning stone tools which had indeed been discovered in situ in deposits which also contained the remains of Australopithecus. These had been discovered by C. K. Brain in 1956 at Sterkfontein and were reported by the British paleontologist Kenneth Oakley the following year as proving "that pebble tools were made at the very site where Australo,pithecus occurred."3

There remained, however, some doubt as to the likelihood that the man-apes were the manufacturers of these tools. Brain himself reported in 1958 that no trace of the stone culture existed in the lower levels of the deposits where most bones including Australopithecus were accumulated.4 Oakley felt that since the pebble tools thus ". . . have no background . . . at this or any other Australopithecine site" that judgment must be reserved. Although more stone pebble tools have been discovered subsequently at two other sites bearing Australopithecus remains, there is no proof that these animals made them. Oakley's expression regarding the 1956 discovery, which he considered "possibly the most important discovery in the field of paleo-anthropology since the finding of implements with Peking man," was almost identical to our own conclusion, as he stated that, "If in fact Australopithecus was the maker of the Sterkfontein tools, it would involve almost a revolution in our conception of 'man.'"5

Parenthetically, it should be emphasized at this point, as the British anatomist LeGros Clark has pointed out, that in using the terms "man" and "human" we tend to think only of modern man. But the terms must be taken to include extinct races such as the Pithecanthropus and Neandertal as well. As LeGros Clark puts it, "the terms 'man' and 'human' have come to assume, by common usage, a much narrower and more rigid connotation, which for most of us (however we may try to persuade ourselves otherwise) also involves a real emotional element."6 If we could divorce from our

2. Mixter, R. L. (ed.), Evolution and Christian Thought Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959. London: The Paternoster Press, 1960.

2a. Buswell, 1959.
3. Oakley, 1957, p. 441.
4. Sabels, 1959, p. 248.
5. Oakley, 1957, p. 443.
6. LeGros Clark, 1955, p. 6.

thinking any preconceived notions of what man should look like, discussions of human paleontology might involve less strain on our powers of interpretation. As I mentioned in the chapter under review, "I believe that the question of human or nonhuman cannot be answered categorically upon morphological grounds. The question must be answered on spiritual grounds, which, I presume, are only indicated by cultural remains" (p. 187). The noted paleontologist Franz Weidenreich some years ago made the same point in a remarkably parallel fashion, although his reference to "spiritual life" applied merely to his German conception of man's mentality and culture. He wrote that

. . . studies made on skeletons alone will never enable us to make statements about either the mentality of the individuals concerned or about mental change or progress over a period of time. Cultural objects are the only guide so far as spiritual life is concerned. They may be fallacious guides, but we are completely lost if those objects are missing.7

Raymond Dart, discoverer of the first Australopithecus fossil, has noted recently in an article describing the rather extensive use of bone weapons,

It is important to recognize that one of the outstanding effects of the South African man-apes upon physical anthropology has been to display its limitations in assisting us to define what is man and what is ape anatomically.8

That is why the consideration of the Australopithecine weapons and tools is a crucial one. To the anthropologist the manufacture of tools in distinguishable traditions becomes the archaeological hallmark of mankind. It must be remembered, however, that these pebble tools which are found elsewhere widely distributed over Africa at this early pleistocene horizon do not show any distinct variation of tradition or style or method of manufacturing such as we have become accustomed to identifying in connection with the undisputed prehistoric culture complexes elsewhere in the world beginning only slightly later. As J. Desmond Clark, paleontologist from Southern Rhodesia has pointed out, "The stone tools of this time show no significant typological variation from one end of the continent to the other." This, together with the total absence of any more conclusive cultural associations in the comparatively extensive recovery of Australopithecus remains, such as the use of fire, would seem to warrant a certain degree of caution in assigning them a completely human cultural status.

The recent discovery by Dr. L. S. B. Leakey of an Australopithecine skull in the summer of 059 in Tanganyika, however, prompts us not to make too permanent a place for the South African manapes on the nonhuman shelf. Here, about 22 feet below the surface of Bed 1, the earliest cultural horizon exposed in the famous Olduvai Gorge, was uncovered a part of a living floor of Oldowan culture, stone tools of that culture, and the nearly complete skull of a manlike primate which Leakey and others described as "Australopithecine." With the tools was a hammer stone and waste flakes from the manufacture of them. These pebble tools had long been know at this site but there had been no evidence of their makers. ~lark Howell of the University of Chicago, who examined the find shortly after discovery has written that "it is clear that an Austarlopithecine group was responsible."10

The Australopithecines have not generally been considered directly ancestral to later Hominids despite their marked physical resemblance such as dentition and bipedal locomotion, and despite their certain classification, morphologically, with the Hominids rather than with the Pongids, or great apes. The reason for this has been that they occur too late in time. Pithecanthropoid man is found soon afterward in geological time, if not contemporary with some of the Australopiths. Thus it has been held that processes of racial or evolutionary differentiation could not have produced the former, with its yet marked morphological differences, from the latter. This position on the Australopiths is expressed by Ashley Montagu when he concludes,

In the present state of our knowledge one can only point to the Australopithecines and say, that while no one of them may have been directly ancestral to man, a type very like them must have been.11


In view of these recent, fast-moving, and important developments in African prehistory, activity in another and vastly more important area of concern has been stimulated as never before in anthropology and related sciences.

Man has been the central subject of anthropological concern. Since the underlying basic assumptions of man's origin which have held sway for most anthropologists have been those of organic evolution, it has followed that physical anthropology has traditionally carried this study to its greatest refinement in its attention to the variations of man's body in time and space, and to corresponding refinements in the related sciences of genetics and geology. Early attempts of cultural anthropology to view man's culture in evolutionary

7. Weidenreich, 1948, in Washburn and Wolffson, 1949, p. 23.
8. Dart, 1959, p. 87.
9. J. D. Clark, 1960, p. 312. 10. Howell, 1960a. p. 76. 11. Montagu, 1960, p. 147.

constructs, lacked historical and ethnological validity and were destined to be repulsed by the refinement of its own methods. Not only were the data, by comparison, more impondeiable than the data of physical anthropology, but the anthropologists were more prone to indulge in independent speculation since they were relatively bereft of any stabilizing body of theoretical antecedents. But, as Professor Hallowell of the University of Pennsylvania has pointed out, when the constructs of cultural evolution were rejected by most 20th-century anthropologists, rejected as well was their basic notion that present-day primitives represented stages of physical evolutionary development.12

Origins of the various aspects of man's culture were no longer sought among the remotest tribes. With the advent of Pranz Boas and the rigorous methodological house cleaning of anthropological theory undertaken by him and his followers, who established the foundations of American Anthropology, the mind of the savage was seen to be the potential equal of every man's, and all human culture behavior, primitive and civilized, was seen to be explainable in socio-historical, or cultural terms rather than biological or evolutionary ones. "The conclusion was drawn," Hallowell points out, "that culture change and development in Homo sapiens is not primarily linked with an evolution of mentality."13

The consequence which Hallowell deplores, however, was that this left the pursuit of evolution largely in the hands of the biologists, and, as he regretfully observed, "the psychological dimension of evolution, which to Darwin himself was an integral part of the total evolutionary process and of vital significance for our comprehension of man's place in nature, fell upon evil days.14 Physical anthropologists concerning themselves with problems of fossil man, growth, race, and later, population genetics, were nevertheless devoting their entire attention to the evolution of man's body. Cultural anthropologists, concerned now almost wholly with culture as such, and cultures in synchronic instead of diachronic perspective, were paying no attention to the evolution of man's behavior.

Furthermore, most significant was the result that, whereas development of evolutionary theory had served to close the vast biological gap between man and his nearest relatives, the living primates, at least by the assumption of their respective derivation from a common ancestor, the cultural anthropologists by their refinement of the concept of culture and the distinctive human possession of language were driving a fundamental conceptual wedge deeper and deeper between man and ape. 14
"In effect," Hallowell explains, "this preoccupa tion with culture led to a re-creation of the old gap between man and the other primates which it was once thought the adoption of an evolutionary frame of reference would serve to bridge."15

The biological continuum has been postulated for so long, and the behavioral continuum so subconsciously assumed, that the present investigators are faced with a highly sophisticated body of culture theory which has man's distinctive and unique characteristics as its foundation and major supports. "All these characterizations stress man's difference from other living creatures declairs Hallowell. "Like the criteria of culture and speech they emphasize discontinuity rather than the continuity that is likewise inherent in the evolutionary process. "16

There are two bodies of data available, according to the evolutionary perspective, for the investigation of man's behavioral evolution, that is, for the attempt to get at its original cultural development from a nonhuman ancestry. These are the fossil evidence for early man, and the study of the complex social behavior of the various species of living primates. Since the cultural remains of fossil man are so limited in what they can reveal about behavior and mentality, the accumulation of data on the man-apes has been bringing about the focus of a very high degree of research upon the study of the living primates. Their social organization, their communication, their aesthetics, their use of tools, and their response to varied social changes are being scrutinized for some new light on the original development of man's kinship, language, art, manufacturing of artifacts, and social dynamics.

One of the pioneers in primatology, C. R. Carpenter, observed a few months ago that "for thirty years field studies of monkeys and apes have been the lonely fate of a few hybrid scientists. Now, upsurges; of interest and effort are occurring .... "17 For example, the January issue of Natural History includes a report of recent research on "Primate's Aesthetics."18 The subtitle reads, "An ape provides clues to the origins of artistic activities." A chimpanzee named Congo had been provided with opportunity and facilities for drawing and painting, and the results had been analyzed with the aim of "probing the biological origins of aesthetics." Naturally the resulting "art" provided a great deal of unique data on the mentality of chimpanzees, as well as for the analysis of nonhuman projective visual representations as such. However, in line with the primary aims, the author reports:

The early results reveal that in the chimpanzee there is what we might call the germ of visual

12. Hallowell, 1959, p. 37.
13. Ibid.
Ibid., pp. 37, 38. 
15. Ibid " p. 38.

16. Ibid., p. 39.
17. Carpenter, 1960, p. 403. 
18. Morris, 1961.

composition ... even now it is ... quite clear that the basic visual rules that control composition and design in painting by human beings; are shown in a rudimentary form in the work done by Congo.19

Charles F. Hockett, distinguished linguist and anthropologist at Cornell, in a recent article on "The Origin of Speech" stated that "with this comparative method it may be possible to reconstruct the communicative habits of the remote ancestors of the hominoid line, which may be called the protohominoids. The task, then," he continues, "is to work out the sequence by which that ancestral system became language, as the hominidsthe man-apes and ancient men-became man."20

One thing which characterizes all such efforts to be found in the literature is the readiness of the investigator to admit that his investigations are being undertaken in a theoretical context of pure speculation. Marshall Sahlins of Michigan, in a recent article on "The Origin of Society" states plainly that,

This discussion of the early phases of human society considers events that occurred a million years ago, in places not specificially determined, under circumstances known only by informed speculation. It will therefore be an exercise in inference, not in observation. This means Juxtaposing the social life of man's closest relations -monkeys and apes-on the one side, with the organization of known primitive societies on the other. The gap that remains is then bridged by the mind.21

Among other statements embodying the same admission regularly occurs the assumption that "deductions from comparative behavior are as methodologically legitimate as those from comparative anatomy."22 It is plain to see that the logic involved is only valid within a framework of evolutionary presuppositions.

At least one other candid statement of the rationale for nonhuman social investigations may actually underlie existing theory more widely than is often admitted. That is the point made by N. C. Tappen in a recent article on the distribution of African monkeys:

Assuming that there was nothing miraculous about the evolution of man from primate ancestors, it follows that the potential for paralleling the process is still present and could be realized, given the right circumstances.23

Perhaps the physical anthropologist with the least reservations on the matter in his writings is Dr. S. L. Washburn of the University of California, who states in no uncertain terms:

Complex and technical society evolved from the sporadic tool-using of an ape, through the simple pebble tools of the man-ape and the complex tool-making traditions of ancient men to the hugely complicated culture of modern man.24

According to Washburn this may be "seen in the scanty fossil record and can be inferred from the study of the living forms."25 Such a generalization is just as naive and invalid, from the creationist standpoint, as the more sweeping unilineal evolutionary generalizations of Edward B. Tylor in 1871 and Lewis H. Morgan in 1877 were to Boas and Lowie in the 1920's. Some scientists of today who would not claim to be creationists still see the fallacies of this comparative method for achieving its stated goals. Marston Bates, for example, in a volume published this month, deplores the basic theory behind the method,26 and further states very simply, that "The method of comparing different kinds of living organisms is not, in itself, an adequate basis for reconstructing a plausible evolutionary story. . . ."27

Modern anthropology is seeking desperately to bring the study of behavioral evolution to the status of settled certainty which organic evolution is assumed to have, by seeking to close the gap between human culture and nonhuman behavior and re-establish the evidence for a behavioral continuity equal to the evidence for the assumed morphological continuity. One of the most remarkable things that consistently occurs, however, is that every attempt to get at human cultural origins, no matter whether it uncovers new information about primate behavior and social structure or no, always serves to sharpen and reinforce the gap between them more explicitly. Long ago Thomas Huxley in his famous work Man's Place in Nature in which he established the incontrovertible fact that anatomically, man is more similar to the great apes than the apes are to the monkeys, mentioned ". . . the great gulf which intervenes between the lowest man and the highest ape in intellectual power," and " . . . the vast intellectual chasm between the ape and man."28 But, whereas Huxley was only speaking of brain power, as it were, the modern investigators, by the most detailed and illuminating descriptions of behavioral distinctions, sharpen the understanding of the very nature of the differences between learned, cultural, human behavior, and instinctive, genetically controlled, animal behavior. The late A. L. Kroeber in his famous text, Anthropology, pointed to the relative insignificance of the anatomical differences which he considered merely "differences of detail and degree, and mostly of no very great degree. But the difference as re-

19. * Ibid., pp. 27, 28. 
20. Hockett, 1960, p. 4. 
21. Sahlins, 1960, p. 2, 
22. Hallowell, 1959, p. 44; Etkin, 1954, p. 140. 
23. Tappen, 1960, p. 116. 
24. Washburn, 1960, p. 15. 
25. Ibid. 
26  Bates, 1961, pp. 162, 163. 
27. Ibid., p. 168. 
28. Huxley, 1863 (1959), pp. 120-122.

gards culture is one of so enormous a degree ... as to become virtually equivalent to a difference in kind".29

Now the exact reason behind this vast difference between man's culture and the behavior of the nonhuman primates, and the bearing it has upon the attempts to derive human culture from pre-existing primate heredity is so fundamental that its importance can hardly be overestimated. The crux of the matter is that man's culture is not genetically inherited nor genetically controlled. Virtually all of man's behavior is learned after birth, while typically, though learning plays a part, nonhuman behavior for each particular species is "given" at birth and pre-determined so that each member of each species behaves in essentially the same restricted patterns of his species, without having any choice in the matter. Thus the attempted comparative studies of living primates and the entire preoccupation with closing this bio-cultural gap is based upon the contradiction of deriving something cultural from something noncultural; of producing something nongenetic and nonphysiological from something that is genetically controlled. Sahlins puts it very precisely as follows:

There is quantum difference, at points a complete opposition, between even the most rudimentary human society and the most advanced subhuman one. The discontinuity implies that the emergence of human society required some suppression, rather than a direct expression of man's primate nature.30

Thus a suppression of instinctively controlled behavior is seen as a necessary step in cultural origins. Sahlins refers to this "overthrow of human primate nature" as "the greatest reform in history."31

Loren Eiseley, the distinguished anthropologist, author, and Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, speaks of "the 'new' brain, denuded of precise instinctive responses . . ."32 and of man's "societal universe, with its institutions supplanting his lost instincts . . ."33 and of his supreme and characteristic capability of symbolic language. Eiseley also points out that

What must have been the frightening withdrawal of instinct in man and its replacement by the culture-building brain is a passage that the Darwinian world failed to grasp or appreciate clearly.34

He, too, refers to this event as "of the nature of a quantum step,"35 and Bartholomew and Birdsell refer to the transition in the same terms as they presume that the first bipedal tool-using primates "were entering a period of rapid change leading to a new kind of adaptedness. In the terminology of Simpson (1944) they were a group undergoing quantum evolution."36

It is at this point that the question of the origin of man is lifted from the level of mere concern with bones and morphology to the level of phenomena of a very different order. Creationists have too long entered into heated controversy among themselves as well as with evolutionists over various aspects of the fossil record, to the exclusion of the consideration of the very area where the modern evolutionary explanation is totally at a loss This admitted perplexity an the part of anthropoiogists is being expressed as never before in the context of primate studies as the renewed preoccupation with origins forces recognition of the reality of this elusive increment.

Thus Chance and Mead in their article "Social Behavior and Primate Evolution" state that, The anatomical features which differentiate man from the other primates, and the fossil evidence make clear the major changes which have led to his emergence from the primitive mammalian state to his present taxonomic position. Yet we are still without an adequate theory to explain this process in terms of adaptive evolution.37

Kroeber refers to man's original acquisition of language and culture as "an event of unusual novelty on this planet,"38 and, in speculating as to whether or not it could have been due to some "supermutation-in the genes" he remarks that if it was such a mutation "this one was different in that the genetic change set something going outside of heredity also."39

Regarding the problem of the identification of culture with a biological base, Kroeber writes:

There is no new organ, no new layer, no new chemical substance that we know of, peculiar to the human cortex.40

There are those who hold that the supposed transition was purely due to genetic processes. Dobzhansky and Ashley Montagu stated in 1947 that

The biologist insists that the evolutionary changes that occurred before the prehuman could become human, as well as those which supervened since the attainment of the human estate, can be described casually only in terms of mutation, selection, genetic drift, and hybridization-familiar processes throughout the living world.41

Washburn likewise would pass completely over the question of the nongenetic nature of culture ori-

29. Kroeber, 1948, p. 70. 
30. Sahlins, 1960, p. 3. 
31. Ibid., p. 12. 
32. Eiseley, 1955, p. 73. 
33. Ibid., p. 74. 
34. Ibid., p. 75. 
35. Ibid., p. 67. 
36. Bartholomew and Birdsell, 1953, p. 492. 
37. Chance and Mead, 1953, p. 395. 
38. Kroeber ' 1948, p. 58. 
39. Ibid., p. 71. 
40. Ibid., p.
Dobzhansky and Montagu, 1947, p. 587.

Jgins, preferring to think of it as a unified and inseparable process with organic changes. Thus he asserts that

Selection produced new systems of child care, maturation and sex, just as it did alterations in the skull and the teeth. Tools, hunting, fire, (sic) complex social life, speech, the human way and the brain evolved together to produce ancient man of the genus Homo . . . 42

Perhaps the most candidly qualified explanation is that of William Etkin in his study of "Social Behavior and the Evolution of Man's Mental Faculties." He states that "if this uniqueness of man is to be understood in terms of evolutionary biology it can only be as the resultant of a biological history that includes unique conditions."43 Then, after making the observation that animals do not develop behaviors beyond their functional requirements any more than structures or physiological capacities, he offers the following conclusions to his examination of possible preadaptive pressures toward the development of culture:

On this basis we expect selection pressure to push language development only to the point where it serves a function of identification of concrete objects and of socialization but not to the level of its use in abstract thought. Similarly the evolution of co-operative behavior can be explained to the point where it permits a degree of stabilization of the male into the family and pack but no further. In this view the origin of abstract thought ... and of truly ethical behavior ... are not explicable in the biological terms developed here.44

He calls this "the limitation of the biological explanation" only claims that "These biological factors are held to account for only the first steps toward a culture-capable organism."4

Our final consideration involves the origin of the human brain, and will take us back once more to the African man-apes.

Two of the difficulties with any present attempt to put the Australopiths into the status or ancestry of man, are (a) the time factor mentioned above, and (b) his brain. The span of time in which the man-apes seem to have lived runs from the end of the Pliocene through the earliest phases of the Pleistocene. Thus they meet, or even possibly overlap men whose, cultural status is unquestioned. It is felt by some (although not by all authorities) that in order for them to have been ancestral to man they would have had to live much further back in Pliocene times. My colleague Don Wilson has reminded me in a recent letter that "the most vital period for the understanding of the development of man (from an evolutionary standpoint) is the Pliocene and in this 10 million years fossil primates are presently almost unknown." A number of authorities, however, feel that the earlier Australopithecines could have been ancestral to Pithecanthropus-type man.46

The brain of the man-apes is the single most outstanding morphological characteristic which does not compare with the hominid proportions. It is only about one half as large, and clearly within the range of the modern anthropoids. With these considerations in mind let us follow Eiseley in his presentation of Alfred Russell Wallace's remarkable anticipation of this crucial aspect of the problem of man's origin. In 1876 Wallace said that either man would be found very early "'spread in dense waves of population over all suitable portions of the great continent-for this on Mr. Darwin's hypothesis is essential to rapid developmental progress . . .' or, on the contrary, if 'continued researches in all parts of Europe and Asia fail to bring to light any proof of his presence (during the Pliocene and before), it will be at least a presumption that he came into existence at a much later date and by a more rapid process of development.' In that case, Wallace continued, it will be a reasonable argument that man's origin 'is due to distinct and higher agencies.' "47 Eiseley adds that "It should now be apparent, through these propositions of Wallace, where the rearrangement of our remaining human fossils is leading us. It is leading us straight toward Wallace's second proposition . . ."48 though Eiseley would not accept Wallace's idea of a supernatural agency. Nevertheless he does add:

If our briefly sketched confinement of the major rise of the human brain to the Pleistocene is even approximately correct, it would appear to demand some other evolutionary mechanism beyond that of the old Darwinian struggle of man with man or group with group. The movement would appear much too fast49 . . . some other more rapid process of evolution . . . must have been at work in the production of man.50

Washburn, too, stresses the fact that by the time of the first known man who used fire and had clearly defined tool traditions, "the brain had doubled in size,, over that of the man-apes.51 He then points out that, "It then appears to have increased much more slowly; there is no substantial change in gross size (of the brain) during the last 100,000 years."52 Chance and Mead in their study quoted above come to the conclusion that "No adequate explana-

42. Washburn, 1960, p. 3. 43. Etkin, 1954, p. 129.

44. Ibid., p. 140. 45. Ibid., p. 141. 46. Washburn and Howell, 1960; Washburn and Avis, 1958; Washburn, 1960; and Howell, 1959 and 1960b.

47. Wallace, 1876, pp. 64, 65; quoted by Eiseley, 1955, p. 67. 48. Eiseley, 1955, p. 67.

49. Ibid.
50. Ibid., p. 69.
51. Washburn, 1960, p. 9. 
52, Ibid., p. 11.

tion has been put forward . . . to account for the development of so large a cerebrum as that found in man."53

The question should also be raised, Why are mankind's mental traits and spiritual traits so uniform the world over when racial and cultural traits are so exceedingly varied. With reference to the latter two, natural selection and heredity control the one, and freedom from these has permitted the other. But concerning the uniform nature of man's mind which, Eiseley reminds us, could not have resulted from a long, slow evolutionary process of Darwinian struggle, he concludes, "Something-some other factor-has excaped our scientific attention."54



1. If the Australopithecinae have any relevance for the consideration of man's organic ancestry, it is at present within an evolutionary frame of reference which presumes that there must have been such a stage because it fits perfectly the present state of theory.

2. The tendency to refer to the known man-apes as representing the earliest known stage in a continuum of human cultural development occurs frequently in the literature but is dependent upon the interpretation of the factors of time, and brain size in comparison to other examples of early man.

3. The whole question of theistic evolution, as defined in the chapter under review, should seem to hinge on the matter of the bio-cultural gap. As we have seen, evolutionary science approaches it via the comparative examination of ape and man' fossil and living, but when all is said and done, the gap remains clearer than ever. Loren Eiseley, himself an evolutionist, examining the problem of man's origin meticulously from the historical as well as the contemporary point of view, finds that "the key to the secret doorway by which he came into this world is still unknown."


(a) If one wishes to handle this in the evolutionary frame of reference, but with supernaturalistic assumptions, he may interpret God's creation of man as itself constituting the crucial transition-mental, cultural, spiritual. This would be the position of theistic evolution held by many Christian people, and the position most widely held by Roman Catholic scholars,-16 allowed by the Church, if God's intervention is safeguarded.

(b) If, on the other hand, one wishes to handle the problem not as a transition, but as a definite origin-physical, mental, cultural, spiritual-one may interpret God's creation of man as constituting the origin of man's body as well as his culture, mind and soul.

Genesis has been interpreted to include both of these positions by conservative Bible scholars. The facts of the fossil record do not at present demand the adoption of either position necessarily; but neither do they conflict with either one.

(c) The alternative, of course, would be the common evolutionary interpretation based upon naturalistic assumptions.

Summarizing: the problems of the nature and antiquity of the fossil bones are vastly overshadowed by the importance of the intangible problems of the spiritual and the cultural spheres in the consideration of the origin of man.

53. Chance and Mead, loc. cit. Also quoted by Eiseley, 1955, p. 67.

54. Eiseley, 1957, p. 91. 55. Eiseley, 1955, p. 75. 56. E.g., Hauret, 1955, p. 97: "God drew the human body . . . from an animal organism, which He transformed and adapted so as to receive a human soul."


Bartholomew, G. A., and J. B. Birdsell
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