Wisdom Teeth: Are they “leftovers” from Evolution?

Most evolutionists believe that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors that had larger jaws and teeth than humans. The story holds that our jaws became smaller over millions of years as we “progressed,” trading our crunching power for brain power, resulting in the present challenge for wisdom teeth to grow in. However, studies over the last few decades have shown that the “evolutionary process” is actually not the best explanation for why many people groups have challenges with their wisdom teeth growing in. Decades of research into this area has now identified a more complicated (and less “evolutionary”) explanation:

Our better understanding of the complex teeth-jaw relationship has revealed this explanation is far too simplistic. Research now indicates that the reasons for most third molar problems today are not due to evolutionary changes but other reasons. These reasons include a change from a course abrasive diet to a soft western diet, lack of proper dental care, and genetic factors possibly including mutations. Common past dental practice was a tendency to routinely remove wisdom teeth. Recent empirical research has concluded that this practice is unwise. Third molars in general should be left alone unless a problem develops and then they should be treated as any other teeth. At times removal is required, but appropriate efforts to deal with problem teeth should be implemented before resorting to their extraction.

An Oxford Medical publication by A. J. MacGregor summarizes 20 years of research on this very topic in a work titled, “The Impacted Lower Wisdom Tooth.” MacGregor states:

Evidence derived from paleontology, anthropology, and experiment indicates very convincingly that a reduction in jaw size has occurred due to civilization. The main associated factor appears to be the virtual absence of inter proximal attrition, but initial tooth size may have some effect. Jaw size and dental attrition are related and they have both decreased with modern diet. Jaws were thought to be reduced in size in the course of evolution but close examination reveals that within the species Homo sapiens, this may not have occurred. What was thought to be a good example of evolution in progress has been shown to be better explained otherwise. [emphasis added]

These developments have led to a better understanding of wisdom teeth that have changed the practice of dentistry. In fact, in an article titled, “The Prophylactic Extraction of Third Molars: A Public Health Hazard,” Dr. Jay W. Friedman points out that wisdom tooth extraction (a $3 billion-dollar enterprise) should not be the default practice for most individuals, but should be only done on a case-by-case basis. Dr. Friedman argues: “… more than 11 million patient days of ‘standard discomfort or disability’—pain, swelling, bruising, and malaise—result postoperatively, and more than 11,000 people suffer permanent paresthesia—numbness of the lip, tongue, and cheek—as a consequence of nerve injury during the surgery. At least two thirds of these extractions, associated costs, and injuries are unnecessary, constituting a silent epidemic of iatrogenic injury that afflicts tens of thousands of people with lifelong discomfort and disability.” He concludes by stating, “Avoidance of prophylactic extraction of third molars can prevent this public health hazard.” For many of the same reasons, the UK even stopped routinely removing wisdom teeth (without solid evidence of required removal) in 1998, after a study at the University of York concluded that there was no scientific evidence to support it.

People groups vary by a number of factors: skin color, hair color and type, eye shape, body size and shapes, and yes, even wisdom teeth. In fact, some people groups (e.g., Mexican Indians) don’t even typically erupt wisdom teeth! On the other hand, nearly 100% of indigenous Tasmanians fully grow in their wisdom teeth. Other people groups are in-between these two extremes (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Global distribution of prevalence of third molar Agenesis (not growing wisdom teeth).

Figure 1 shows a wide variability between various people groups with respect to the percentage of people who don’t grow in their wisdom teeth. One study with 2,482 people also revealed that different people groups even grow in their wisdom teeth at different stages of maturity, with the German population in the middle in terms of the age of wisdom tooth eruption, South Africans the fastest, and Japanese the slowest.

Are some of these people groups more or less “evolved” than others? From a Biblical Creation standpoint, certainly not! They do, however, vary on dietary history, industrialization, food types and production methods (especially in the past), and other characteristics by which people groups sometimes vary.

Orthodontist John Cuozzo has studied this topic extensively in both “modern” humans and Neanderthal fossils. Because Neanderthals had larger brains and jaws than humans (by 10% and 15%, they had plenty of space for their wisdom teeth. Because evolutionists place Neanderthals in the distant lineage of “modern” humans, have humans been “devolving” (by having smaller brains and less room for growing wisdom teeth), or just changing within the pre-engineered adaptability designed by God.

Dr. Cuozzo studies have led to the discovery that children are maturing much faster today than in the past: “… three or four hundred years ago a child took 13 years to reach the stage that our children today do in 9 1/2 to 10 years. This points to a rapid maturation today.” Dr. Cuozzo reasons that wisdom teeth need more space than can develop in our shortened jaw growth period, and that children are taller (and mature earlier) today because of improved early nutrition—not evolution. His research has led him to the reasonable conclusion: “This is not from a process of evolution, but devolution… The de-generation and reduction of complexity of the human body is what is really happening…This, of course, is due to the fact that Adam fell and we have been suffering and groaning under the curse resulting from this fall ever since.”

Students ask: “Do we really have leftover parts?”

Evolutionists from Darwin onward have claimed that the human body is a ‘museum’ housing many useless “leftover” parts from our evolutionary past.1 These parts, called “vestigial organs,” are believed to have once served functional purposes in our evolutionary ancestors, but these functions have since been lost due to evolution.

Some of the most popular examples of “vestigial organs” include the so-called “tailbone,” believed by some to be a leftover tail; the appendix. supposedly a relic from the digestive system of our plant-eating ancestors; and wisdom teeth, which the long, jutting jaws of our ape-like ancestors could accommodate, but are often prevented from growing correctly in short-faced humans. But the truth is that none of these are really ‘useless’ leftovers! All of them serve a designed purpose in our bodies!

The “tailbone,” more correctly called the coccyx, is not actually a leftover tail, but serves as the end-point of the spinal cord. It is also the anchor-point for six important muscles that form the pelvic diaphragm, which supports many of your organs—without this important bone, your insides would literally fall out!1

Image credit: Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity

In the past, an appendectomy—the removal of the appendix, a small worm-like tube structure near the junction of our large and small intestines—was a common surgical procedure. After all, the appendix could become infected with a disease known as appendicitis, and it was thought that it served no useful function in the body. However, scientists and doctors today know that the appendix serves a role in the immune system, first as a lymph organ during the early years of life, and second, by acting as a “safe house” for good bacteria in the large intestine.1,2 

Wisdom teeth, like the appendix, have a Fall-caused tendency to degenerate and cause problems in life, but just because an organ can cause problems doesn’t make it useless or a ‘bad design’! While some people’s wisdom teeth never develop, others simply do not have enough room in their jaws for the teeth to grow, so they become ‘impacted,’ meaning that they are blocked from growing into place by the other teeth. However, when there is enough room for them, wisdom teeth function as a perfectly-good set of third molars.3 It may be that God designed humans with these teeth to be used in chewing vegetation (man’s original diet, cf. Genesis 1:29).

In the late 19th century, one evolutionist named Robert Wiedersheim put together a list of 86 supposed ‘vestigial’ organs, which he believed were evidence of evolution. However, every one of these supposed ‘leftovers’ have since been shown to have a purpose in our bodies1—exactly what we would expect to find if our bodies were created by an all-wise Creator God!

So, while evolutionists may want to find design-flaws or useless leftovers in our bodies, when we do more careful study, we find that we are truly, “ … fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)


Free Resources for Further Learning:

Creation v. Evolution Book—Chapter 9: Vestigial Structures

Video – Vestigial Organs—Evidence for Evolution? 

Vestigial Organs—Evidence for Evolution?

Setting the Record Straight on Vestigial Organs



1Menton, David. “Vestigial Organs—Evidence for Evolution?” Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis, 7 July 2014. Web. 29 Dec. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/vestigial-organs/vestigial-organs-evidence-for-evolution/>.

2Bergman, Jerry. “Chapter 9: Vestigial Organs” in Dan Biddle, ed., Creation v. Evolution. 2015. Genesis Apologetics, Inc. Available here: https://genesisapologetics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Creation_v._Evolution_20161.pdf.

3DeWitt, David. “Setting the Record Straight on Vestigial Organs.” Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis, 28 May 2008. Web. 29 Dec. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/vestigial-organs/setting-the-record-straight-on-vestigial-organs/>.

Christmas and What It Means to Be Human

Over the past few months, as we have been looking at the supposed evidence for human evolution, we have seen how the evolutionary story of our origins devalues human life by making us little more than animals. On the other hand, we have also seen how the Bible’s account of origins gives great meaning and value to our lives, since it tells us that we are made in the image of our Creator.

The psalmist expresses wonder at God’s view of humans in Psalm 8:3-5, when he writes, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

The amazing truth that we learn from the Bible is that God didn’t just create us; He also cares for us deeply, so much so that He entered into His own creation to become “a little lower than the heavenly beings,” to provide a way of salvation for His beloved creatures.

As Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Image credit: Answers in Genesis.

What makes human beings truly special? In addition to being the only creatures created in God’s image, the only creature that God ever became in order to redeem is…a human being! God didn’t ever take on the flesh of a chimpanzee, a gorilla, “Lucy,” or any other creature; just human flesh!

You see, although humans are truly special creatures, we also have a problem—a huge problem. We are the only creatures that were created with the ability to have fellowship with His Creator, however, that fellowship was forfeited by our ancestor Adam’s rebellion. As Romans 5:12 explains, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

We have all broken God’s commands—we’ve lied, stolen, had hateful thoughts—all of which God has seen and will judge. The penalty for sin is having God’s righteous wrath poured out on us in Hell, but the good news of Christmas is that God has provided us with a substitute. God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born as a man, to live a sinless life, and to die on the Cross as the perfect, spotless sacrifice for sin. We broke God’s law, but Jesus paid our fine. Three days later, He was raised to life again, and now He offers you the forgiveness of all your sins and the gift of eternal life.

How can you have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life? According to the Bible, you must repent (meaning to turn from your sins) and put your trust in Jesus for salvation. As Jesus explains in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Have you repented and trusted in Jesus as your Savior? If not, make this the year that you discover the true meaning of Christmas and become a member of God’s family!

~ Merry Christmas from Genesis Apologetics!

Top image credit: Answers in Genesis.

Students ask: “Were there really cavemen?”

Second only to dinosaurs, cavemen are probably the most popular and mysterious of all so-called ‘prehistoric’ life. The popularity of the caveman has landed him roles in movies, cartoons, and TV commercials, usually playing the part of the bumbling brute who just doesn’t understand how life works in the modern world.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 6.37.34 PM

Neanderthal man, as he appears on pages 20-21 of 6th grade California textbook, History Alive! The Ancient World.

Jr. high textbooks also use cavemen to teach about human evolution. For example, the 6th grade textbook, History Alive! The Ancient World, says that modern humans outlived the supposed group of ‘cavemen’ called the Neanderthals, “because of their ability to create better tools, shelter, and clothing,” indicating that Neanderthals hadn’t quite ‘evolved’ to the level of modern humans.

But just because one people group is more technologically sophisticated than another, does that make it ‘more evolved’? No! Even today, technology varies from culture to culture, yet it has nothing to do with the level intelligence or ‘evolution’! Instead, it has everything to do with the availability of resources and knowledge.2

Think about it this way: If your family was forced to flee from your home to a desolate wilderness, how would you survive? You might be able to use your electronic devices (smart phones, tablets) and tools (pocketknives, flashlights) for a while, but eventually, they would die or wear out. You probably wouldn’t have much food with you, your clothes would wear out, and you would need to find shelter from the elements. What would you do? You would have to use what’s available to meet your needs!

After the Tower of Babel event recorded in Genesis 11, this is exactly what happened to all the families of the earth. When God saw the rebellion of mankind in refusing to obey His command to spread out and fill the earth, He caused the languages of the people to be confused, halting the city’s construction and scattering all peoples across the whole earth. No longer having the ability to communicate with other people groups, or access to the technology used to build the city, people had to survive on what was available.

That’s where ‘cavemen’ come in. Some families, driven by the harsh post-Flood environment, may have used caves as temporary shelters or burial sites for their relatives.2 Today, in these caves we find a silent testimony to the fully humanity of their ancient inhabitants, who were descendants of Adam and Eve just like you and me.

Fossils and artifacts from the Neanderthal ‘cave’ people show us that they crafted musical instruments, sophisticated stone tools, and jewelry, cooked, used cosmetics, cared for their injured, and held ritual burials; all things that only people can do.1,3,4 DNA from Neanderthal bones has also shown us that they are, in fact, our blood relatives,5 and bones from an Israeli cave have further revealed that Neanderthals had families with so-called ‘modern humans.’6 This evidence has led scientists away from the outdated, ‘ape-ish’ picture of Neanderthals to accepting that they were simply, “a distinct type of Homo sapiens…, the large brained group that modern humans belong to.”1 The pictures below illustrate how dramatically the perception of Neanderthal man has changed over the last century.


Illustrated London News (1909). Source: The Boston Globe


John Gurche (2010). Source: Wikipedia.


So, were there really people who lived in caves? Yes! In fact, the Bible records that both Lot (Genesis 19:30) and King David (1 Samuel 22:1) used caves as temporary shelters, and that Sarah, Abraham, Rebekah, Isaac, Leah, and Jacob were all buried in a cave (Genesis 49:29-31). It also reminds us that it’s not where you live, what you create, and where you are buried that makes you human. It’s the fact that God made you “in His image” that makes you truly human, precious in the eyes of the Creator, who made mankind, “a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:5)


Free Resources for Further Learning:

Video – Neanderthal Man looks like you and me

Making Sense of ‘Apeman’ Claims

Who Were Cavemen?

Cavemen—In the Bible

The Only Missing Link—It’s Spiritual



1Frey, Wendy, John Bergez, and Amy Joseph. History Alive!: The Ancient World. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2004. 18. Print.

2Ham, Ken. “The Only Missing Link—It’s Spiritual.” Answers Magazine. Answers in Genesis, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/missing-links/the-only-missing-link-its-spiritual/>.

3Wieland, Carl. “Making Sense of ‘apeman’ Claims.” Creation.com. Creation Ministries International, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <http://creation.com/apeman>.

4Menton, David, and John UpChurch. “Who Were Cavemen?” Answers Magazine. Answers in Genesis, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/cavemen/who-were-cavemen/>.

5Purdom, Georgia. “How Are Cavemen Different?” Answers Magazine. Answers in Genesis, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/cavemen/how-are-cavemen-different/>.

6Lubenow, Marvin. “The Neandertals: Our Worthy Ancestors, Part II.” Answers in Genesis, 11 Apr. 2007. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/neanderthal/the-neandertals-our-worthy-ancestors-part-ii/>.

Students ask: “Was Homo erectus really an ape-like brute?”

The third supposed ‘link’ in the supposed ‘evolutionary chain’ of humanity is Homo erectus, whose name means “upright man” because his skeleton allowed him to freely walk upright like people today.

Homo erectus

Homo erectus, as he appears on pages 18-19 in 6th grade textbook History Alive! The Ancient World.

In most textbooks, Homo erectus is placed between the ape-like Homo habilis (which more-likely belongs in the Australopithecus [ape] category) and our own species, Homo sapiens.1 Unlike his supposed ape-like ancestors, however, “From the neck down Homo erectus looks more like Homo sapiens than Australopithecus.”2 However, they also say that, “though its body design closely resembled ours, its mind is still a mystery.…“If you could look one in the eyes, you wouldn’t want to. It might appear to be human, but you wouldn’t connect. You’d be prey.””3

The reasons some evolutionists give for portraying Homo erectus as ‘pre-human’ have to do with his so-called ‘primitive’ skull shape,4 small brain size (and supposedly limited intellect), and presumed lack of speech and imagination.2 As Christians, we must take these claims seriously, as Scripture says that man has always had the ability to speak (Gen. 2:23) and the intellect and imagination to complete complex tasks like building cities (Gen. 4:17), creating musical instruments (Gen. 4:21), and forging iron (Gen. 4:22). So, who was ‘Upright Man’ really?

First, let’s look at his skull. The 6th grade textbook History Alive! The Ancient World states that, “The face of Upright Man looked more like a modern human than those of earlier hominids did.…But they still had a large ridge above the eyes, a thicker skull, and a jaw that stuck out.”1 However, many of the skull features seen in Homo erectus are also found among human populations today, so they should be regarded as variation within the human family and not ‘primitive’ features.5 You have probably seen people with these same characteristics!

So, what about his brain size? It’s important to recognize that brain size and intelligence are not directly related, so a small brain doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of intelligence. Although smaller than average, the Homo erectus brain still falls within the range of variability for modern humans, so it can’t be used as evidence against his full humanity.6

Sharply contrasting with the typical, less-than-human picture of Homo erectus is the evidence we find of what he did. “According to evidence of charcoal at Zhoukoudian [a H. erectus site in China] and elsewhere, he now learns to control fire and cook food. And he makes far better stone tools and weapons [than Homo habilis, which supposedly made ‘primitive tools’], great quantities of large, double-edged, teardrop-shaped “hand axes” (at least we call them that, although no one knows just how they were used.)”4


Homo erectus supposedly represents a link between the more ‘primitive’ (and supposedly toolmaking) Homo habilis and our species, Homo sapiens. Note the hand axe attributed to Homo erectus.

This presents a big challenge to the idea that H. erectus was too primitive to speak, as, “Hand axes were the Swiss army knives of their day, and passing on the technology to make them, some scientists argue, required more than physical gestures,” indicating that H. erectus had the ability to pass on information verbally.7

What initially led researchers away from the idea of a talking H. erectus was their belief that the spinal cord opening in one vertebra from the specimen known as ‘Turkana Boy,’ was too small for the nerves controlling rib muscles used in exhaling, and thereby would have constricted speech.7 However, scientists have found that the openings in other Homo erectus vertebrae fall within the range of modern humans, indicating that, “Although it’s impossible to confirm that our prehistoric ancestors talked, Meyer notes, H. erectus at Dmanisi [a site in West Asia] faced no respiratory limitations on speech.” Some now suspect that Turkana Boy’s spine opening suffered from stunted growth and doesn’t represent the norm for Homo erectus.8

Perhaps the greatest testimony to the full humanity of “Upright Man” is the fact that we find his remains at sites spanning the old world, from Africa to East Asia, China, and the Indonesian island of Java. The latter of these indicates that he likely had at least some knowledge of seafaring.9 Evolutionist researchers explain the exploration of Homo erectus this way, “The early ape-men [Australopithecus and Homo habilis] probably did not venture far afield. But erectus, with his enlarged, more complicated brain, inevitably developed intellectual curiosity. Like humans today, he must have wanted to see what was on the other side of the mountain.”4

Although Homo erectus culture wasn’t nearly as technologically advanced as ours, technological sophistication shouldn’t be equated with being ‘more-evolved.’ Even today, in the era of smartphones, bulletproof vests, and genetically modified foods, some cultures could still be considered ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies.9 Are these people more ‘primitive’ or ‘less-evolved’? Definitely not.

Instead, geographic isolation, an inability to reach other cultures, and limited knowledge (not a limited intellect) and resources force them to make the best use of what they have to survive. And Homo erectus certainly did a good job with what he had! According to the History Alive textbook, “Upright man was around longer than any other hominid group, from 1.8 million to 200,000 B.C.E.”1 Not bad for a supposed “ape-man”!

Starting with a biblical worldview, we know that humans were made separate from the animals, “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) with the unique ability to speak, imagine (Gen. 2:20), create, and explore (Gen. 4:16) from the start. Genesis 9:19 tells us that all humans alive today descended from Noah’s three sons who were survived the Flood aboard the Ark. We learn in Genesis 11 that the early descendants of Noah’s three sons gathered together in the Middle East to build the city and Tower of Babel, but were forced to scatter to all parts of the earth when God confused their languages.

The location of Homo erectus remains  fits well with the Bible’s account of the dispersion of early people from the Tower of Babel. Image source: https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/cavemen/when-did-cavemen-live/.

From this big picture, the Homo erectus people were fully-human descendants of Adam and Noah who left Babel and migrated to different parts of the world, first to east Asia and Africa, then later to China and Indonesia.11 They likely possessed unique genes and were possibly exposed to environmental conditions that caused them to look different from other early peoples.12,13 When they left Babel, they were probably isolated from other people groups and no longer had access to the advanced technology used to build the city, so they had to develop their own stone-tool technology and survive on what they could hunt, gather, and cook. Sadly, this group later died out (probably within the first few hundred years after Babel), leaving their remains for us to study today.

So, regardless of whatever the current (and constantly changing) evolutionary opinion is, Homo erectus was fully-human, confirming that God indeed, “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” (Acts 17:26-27)


Free Resources for Further Learning:

Fast Facts about Homo Erectus

Making Sense of ‘Apemen’ Claims

Turkana Boy—Getting Past the Propaganda

The People that Forgot Time



1Frey, Wendy, John Bergez, and Amy Joseph. History Alive!: The Ancient World. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2004. 18. Print.

2Gore, Rick. “The Dawn of Humans: Expanding Worlds.” National Geographic 191.5 (1997): 92. Print.

3Gore, Rick. “The Dawn of Humans: The First Steps.” National Geographic 191.2 (1997): 97. Print.

4Weaver, Kenneth F., “Stones, Bones, and Early Man: The Search for Our Ancestors.” National Geographic 168.5 (1979): 609. Print.

5MacIntosh, N.W.G. and Larnach, S.L., The persistence of Homo erectus traits in Australian aboriginal crania, Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania 7(1):1–7, 1972.

6Marvin Lubenow, Bones of Contention (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1992): 138.

7Ref. 4, p. 94.

8Bower, Bruce. “Evolutionary Back Story: Thoroughly Modern Spine Supported Human Ancestor.” ScienceNews. Society for Science & the Public, 31 Oct. 2015. Web. 3 May 2006. <https://www.sciencenews.org/node/10504>.

9Catchpoole, David. “The People That Forgot Time (and Much Else, Too).” Creation.com. Creation Ministries International, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2015. <http://creation.com/the-people-that-forgot-time-and-much-else-too>.

10Menton, David, and John UpChurch. “Who Were Cavemen?” Answers Magazine. Answers in Genesis, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/cavemen/who-were-cavemen/>.

11Snelling, Andrew A., and Mike Matthews. “When Did Cavemen Live?” Answers Magazine. Answers in Genesis, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/cavemen/when-did-cavemen-live/>.

12Line, Peter. “Explaining Robust Humans.” Journal of Creation 27.3 (2013): 64-71. Creation.com. Creation Ministries International. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. <http://creation.com/explaining-robust-humans>.

13Ref. 6, p. 144-156.

Students ask: “Was Homo habilis really the first ‘handy man’?”

The second supposed ‘link’ in the evolution of man from ape-like creatures is the collection of ape-like African fossils assigned the name Homo habilis, meaning “Handy Man.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 8.05.24 PM

Homo habilis, as depicted and described in 6th grade California textbook History Alive! The Ancient World, pg. 16-17.

Homo habilis was given this name because, “One set of [Homo habilis] fossils…was found with tools made of stone and bone,” so Homo habilis was assumed to have possessed the ability to make these tools, an important step forward in the evolution toward ‘humanness.’1 But was Homo habilis really handy…or even a man?

First, the textbooks do not clearly present the fact that serious scientific disagreement exists about what the fossils of Homo habilis actually represent. Some scientists believe that he belongs in the genus Homo, the same as modern humans, because of his supposedly human features (i.e. larger brain than ‘Lucy’). Not all scientists agree, however.

Science news site, phys.org, reported a research paper published in the journal Science on August 28th, 2015, in which, “[University of Pittsburg professor of anthropology Jeffery] Schwartz cites Jonathan and Mary Leakey’s 1960 discovery of 1.8-million-year-old fossils in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge. When the pair published their findings in 1964, they claimed the fossils represented a new species, Homo habilis. “There was scant morphological justification for including any of this very ancient material in Homo,” Schwartz writes. “Indeed, the main motivation appears to have been the Leakeys’ desire to identify this hominid as the maker of the simple stone tools found in the lower layers of the gorge …”2

Description of Homo habilis from pg. 30 of the 6th grade Ancient Civilizations textbook by Hold.

Description of Homo habilis  from pg. 30 of the 6th grade Ancient Civilizations textbook by Holt.

Yet even this reason for admitting the ‘handy man’ into the human family has been challenged. Homo habilis is known to have possessed long arms and curved fingers, unlike modern humans, but typical of arboreal (tree-dwelling) creatures, like apes.3 This is why the recent discovery of a modern-looking human finger bone in the same layer with the stone tools and the original Homo habilis fossils (dated at 1.8 million years old) is causing a stir in the evolutionary community.

“’It brings support to those who challenge the view that Homo habilis was the maker of the stone artifacts becoming abundant in layers of this time period,’ commented Jean-Jacques Hublin, director of the department of human evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.”4

So, as it turns out, Homo habilis was likely neither handy, nor a man. Instead, some scientists argue that he should be reclassified as an Australopithecus (‘southern ape’; same genus as ‘Lucy’), “The diverse group of fossils from 1 million years or so ago, known as H. habilis, may be more properly recognized as australopithecines.”

This should remind us that although man’s theories constantly change and ‘evolve,’ God’s Word never does. As Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”


Free Resources for Further Learning:

Fast Facts on Homo habilis

Homo habilis hacked from the family tree

Fossil evidence for alleged apemen—Part 1: the genus Homo



1Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Miller & Levine Biology. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006. 499. Print.

2Miksch, Joe. “Researcher Argues That There’s More to the Genus Homo than We May Think.” Phys.org. Science X Network, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 05 Sept. 2015. <http://phys.org/news/2015-08-genus-homo.html#jCp>.

3Lubenow, Marvin, L. Bones of Contention. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992, 2004. P. 300

4Dailymail.com, Ellie Zolfagharifard For. “The 1.85 Million-year-old Little Finger Bone That Could Rewrite Human Evolution: Find Suggests Previously Unknown ‘giant’ Ancestors That May Have Used Tools.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.

5Wood, Bernard. “The Age of Australopithecines.” Nature 372: 3 November 1994. pp. 31-32

Update on Genesis Apologetics 12-Part Video Series

Last week was very busy for our Genesis Apologetics video team! From Monday to Friday, the Roy (Creation Quest) and Justice (Awesome Science Media) families were hard at work directing and recording all 12 episodes of our video outreach series refuting the 11 pillars of evolution teaching in public school textbooks. Our actors, John and Madyson, did an awesome job bringing the scripts to life with their incredible acting skills.


We have been blown away by how the Lord has graciously provided, brought all of the people involved together, and caused this whole last filming week to work together for His glory! We are so excited to see how the Lord will use this project to reach public school students across our state and nation with the truth of creation.

As this project goes into production, will you please join with us in prayer, that the Lord would use this project for His glory and to open the eyes of young people to the truth of creation, and that He would use them to reach their friends and families?

Students ask: “Is the search for man’s origin really an exact science?”

A quick glance at your 6th-grade history textbook would lead you to believe that the question of our origin has been squarely resolved by evolutionary scientists. Pictures of hairy ‘ape-men’ are spread across the colorful pages of these textbooks, accompanied by confident declarations that we are, in fact, the descendants of the fossil ‘hominds’ (humans and their ape-like ‘relatives’) on which these illustrations are based.1

Depiction of 'hominid' Homo habilis from 6th grade California textbook, History Alive! The Ancient World, TCI, 2004, p. 16-17.

Depiction of ‘hominid’ Homo habilis from 6th grade California textbook, History Alive! The Ancient World, TCI, 2004, p. 16-17.

However, the track-record of evolutionary human origins research should prompt us to question the story we are currently being told about our ancestors in popular-science outlets like textbooks, magazines, museums, and TV shows.

In 1953, the scientific community came to the realization that their top evolutionary-icon, Piltdown Man, “discovered” in Britain in 1912, was actually a combination of human skull fragments and an orangutan jaw which had been doctored to look like ancient fossils and planted in a gravel pit. For nearly 40 years, Piltdown Man was used as evidence that man evolved from ape-like creatures, yet it was an elaborate hoax.2 

One may respond by pointing out that science is self-correcting, and that the Piltdown Man fraud was eventually exposed. Although this is ideally the case, there are two factors inherent in the search for human origins that inevitably lead to the making of numerous and serious errors, in some cases lasting for generations.

The first is an abundance of missing data. In the words of one well-known evolutionary researcher, “If you brought in a smart scientist from another discipline and showed him the meager evidence we’ve got, he’d surely say, ‘Forget it: there isn’t enough to go on.’”3

Others have expressed the same frustration, “Fossil evidence of human evolutionary history is fragmentary and open to interpretations.”4 Where there is a lack of evidence, speculation soon takes over. Indeed, a single bone can overturn decades of speculation,5 and speculation can turn a single tooth into an entire ape-man family!6

Interpretative bias is the second major factor at play in the search for human origins. When examining the reconstructions of a fossil ‘hominid’ from one museum display to another, you can often spot a number of differences. For example, some models of the famous fossil, Lucy, show her in an upright posture with short fur and ‘whites’ in her eyes in an attempt to make her look human. By contrast, the model of ‘Lucy’ at the Creation Museum looks just like another knuckle-walking ape. (See diagram)

Lucy models.001

Models of Lucy from the St. Louis Zoo (left) and the Creation Museum (right), illustrating how a single fossil can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the interpreter’s worldview. Image credits: Answers in Genesis Presentation Library

Of course, the differences between models are due to different starting points. “Nobody looks at a fossil with a completely open mind. I suppose to some extent also we see what we think. So, you come to a fossil and you have an idea about the way you think human evolution worked, and the first thing you do is try and fit that fossil into your worldview.”7

Interpretations can and often do change. As documented in the cases of “Java Man,”8 “Nutcracker Man,”9 and the most-recent, “Ida,”10 discoveries in the field of human origins are often accompanied by much hype and fanfare (sometimes in spite of dissension from other scientists), only later to be quietly retracted. Currently, there is so much disagreement among scientists as to how the different ‘hominid’ fossils should be interpreted that some textbooks don’t even attempt to link them together!11 (See below)

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 3.58.18 PM

Timeline of ‘hominid’ fossils from page 770 of California textbook Miller & Levine Biology, Pearson, 2006. Note that no attempt is made to line up these fossils in an evolutionary ‘lineage.’

In sum, when examining the currently-held (and ever-changing) fallible opinions of men and women, it would be wisest to listen and heed the words of Scripture:

“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” – Proverbs 18:17 (ESV)

“Test all things; hold fast what is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)


Free Resources for Further Learning:

Are There Apemen in Your Ancestry?

Video – “Did Humans Really Evolve from Apelike Creatures?”

Video – Ape-Men: The Grand Illusion



1Frey, Wendy, John Bergez, and Amy Joseph. History Alive!: The Ancient World. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2004. 5-22. Print.

2Wieland, Carl, Don Batten, Robert W. Carter, Jonathan D. Sarfati, Emil Silvestru, Tas Walker, James F. A. Mason, John Hartnett, David Catchpoole, and Mark Harwood. “Chapter 4: The Fossil Record.” Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book, 2014. 146-148. Print.

3Dailymail.com, Ellie Zolfagharifard For. “The 1.85 Million-year-old Little Finger Bone That Could Rewrite Human Evolution: Find Suggests Previously Unknown ‘giant’ Ancestors That May Have Used Tools.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.

4David Pilbeam, quoted in Richard E. Leakey, The Making of Mankind. London: Michael Joseph, 1981. 43. Print.

5Henry Gee, “Paleontology: Return to the planet of the apes.” Nature, Vol. 412, 12 July 2001, p. 131.

6Wieland, et al. Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. 146-148.

7Enigma Man: A Stone Age Mystery, Australian TV documentary. See Grigg, R., Enigma Man: A Stone-age Mystery, July 2014.

8Marvin Lubenow, Bones of Contention (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1992): 86-99.

9Ibid, 157-158.

10“Ida (Darwinius Masillae): The Real Story of This “Scientific Breakthrough”” Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis, 21 May 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <https://answersingenesis.org/missing-links/ida-darwinius-masillae-real-story/>.

11Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Miller & Levine Biology. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006. 770. Print.

Youth Pastors and Parents ask: “Why does human origins matter?” 

Did you know that public school students in California are taught that they are cousins of gorillas…starting in 6th grade?

The first two chapters of the 6th grade textbook History Alive! The Ancient World, portrays mankind’s earliest ancestors as a group of hairy, primitive, upright African apes,1 while the 10th grade Miller & Levine Biology textbook puts humans on the same family tree with chimps, monkeys, and lemurs.2

"Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis) as she appears on pages 14-15 of 6th grade California textbook History Alive! The Ancient World.

“Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) as she appears on pages 14-15 of 6th grade California textbook History Alive! The Ancient World.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 8.03.09 AM

This year, many public school students will also be exposed to evolutionary teaching about man through the Smithsonian Institute Human Origins Program’s currently-touring traveling exhibit, ’Exploring Human Origins: What Does it Mean to Be Human?,’ which is being set up in public libraries around the country.3

Human origins is by-far the hottest point of controversy in the origins debate—and for a good reason. Meaning and morality depend on where we came from and who (or what) made us. If God created us, our meaning and standard of right and wrong come from Him, but if evolution is true, then we are nothing more than animals with a conscience, with no ultimate purpose or morality other than to simply survive and pass on our genes.

Origin also determines destiny. According to Scripture, the only remedy to the sin and death brought into the world by our ancestor Adam is the atoning sacrifice of our blood-relative, Jesus Christ, the Last Adam. But if we are evolved animals, then there was no Fall of man, sin does not exist, death is not the result of sin, and there is no ultimate reason to our existence. You live only for yourself, and when you die, you are accountable to no one for your actions.

Since most Christian students attend public school, this should be a cause for great concern. Scripture warns us to, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) How much more should we teach the next generation to do the same? 

Instead of allowing our students to be stolen by evolutionary ideas, we need to train them to be, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) This is our mission at Genesis Apologetics: to equip parents, students, and youth pastors with tools to help them think critically and biblically about evolution.

In an effort to answer questions specifically on the origin of man, over the next several weeks we will be posting articles on our blog answering the claims of your jr.-higher and high-schooler’s history and science textbooks. Here is the lineup:

  • Is the search for man’s origin really an exact science?
  • Was ‘Lucy’ really our great-great grandma?
  • Was Homo habilis really the first ‘handy-man’?
  • Was Homo erectus really an ape-like brute?
  • Were there really ‘cave-men’?
  • Does our body really have ‘leftover’ parts from evolution?

Also, a full-length book by Genesis Apologetics researchers on human evolution is currently in the works, so stay tuned!

Free Resources for Further Learning:

Did Humans Really Evolve From Apelike Creatures? 

Couldn’t God Have Used Evolution?

Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years?

Does Genesis Matter to the Gospel?


1Frey, Wendy, John Bergez, and Amy Joseph. History Alive!: The Ancient World. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2004. 5-22. Print.

2Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Miller & Levine Biology. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006. 766. Print.

3“Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?” Smithsonian Institute Human Origins Program. Smithsonian Institution, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015. <http://humanorigins.si.edu/exhibit/human-origins-traveling-exhibit>.

Students ask: “Does the fossil record support evolution or creation?”

Everybody loves fossils. In my experience, fossils are one of the best ways to captivate an audience. Unfortunately, fossils are almost always presented within the context of evolutionary ‘history.’ In fact, California public-school students in 7th and 10th grade are taught that fossils are a major ‘evidence’ for molecules-to-man evolution.

Recently-sighted ‘crusty’ type of nautilus. Nautilus fossils are found in some of the supposedly ‘oldest’ rock layers, appearing essentially the same as their modern relatives; a classic example of a ‘living fossil.’ Image source: Smithsonian.com.

Such claims are somewhat puzzling however, because, as the 7th grade Focus on Life Science textbook, states, “If gradualism [evolution over long periods] is correct, the fossil record should include intermediate forms between a fossil organism and its descendants. However, there are often long periods in which fossils show little or no change. Then quite suddenly, fossils appear that are very different.”1

As was highlighted in our last blog post, transitional forms are virtually absent from the fossil record, with only a few highly-disputed candidates uncovered in the 150 years since Darwin predicted them. As a result, scientists have been forced to accept one of three positions, 1) evolution did not occur,2 2) fossilization is rare, so perhaps these ‘transitional forms’ were just not fossilized,3 or 3) evolution happened in quick spurts, so that no record of change is preserved in the fossils.4

The obvious problem with positions 2 and 3 is that they are driven by a lack of evidence. They assume that evolution is true in spite of the facts. Although fossilization is uncommon, fossils are not. A large percentage of living animals have counterparts in the fossil record,5 some of which are so similar to their fossil relatives that they are termed ‘living fossils.’

Examples of ‘living fossils’ include dragonflies, horseshoe crabs, coelacanths (fish), crocodiles, tortoises, chambered nautilus, and many others.6 Living fossils are found in every part of the geologic column, a puzzle to evolutionists who maintain that evolution occurred over millions of years as a result of slow, gradual change.

In fact, the only real change observed in the fossil record is variation. For example, although paleontologists observe incredible variety in size, shape and design patterns of fossil ammonites, they are all easily recognizable as ammonites; we do not find ammonites evolving into anything other than an ammonite.

Molecules-to-man evolution is not supported by the fossil record. Instead, evolution is merely a paradigm that is imposed on the fossil record, and from which evolutionary interpretations are derived. When this paradigm is removed, however, it becomes clear that the fossil record supports that each kind of animal and plant was created separately with potential for limited variety; exactly what the Bible teaches: “And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:25)

Free Resources for Further Learning:

Evolution Exposes: Earth Science – The Fossil Record

Creation: Facts of Life – Fossil Kinds

Living Fossils: Portraits of the Fossilized Past


1Coolidge-Stoltz, Elizabeth. Focus on California Life Science. Boston, MA: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. 240. Print.
2Many former-Darwinists, including members of the creation science and Intelligent Design movements, have been led to this conclusion.
3The position taken by Charles Darwin himself and those who favor a gradual account of evolution.
4A view of evolution known as punctuated equilibria, which was promoted by Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.
5Werner, Carl, and Debbie Werner. Evolution: The Grand Experiment: The Quest for an Answer. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf, 2014. 86. Print.