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.
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.1
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.
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
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/>.