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Neanderthals

Dear Member of Blavatsky Net,

The national, and even international, debate in recent times concerning intelligent design (ID) led a number of Theosophists to see the Theosophical viewpoint as a third way between religion and science. Those students may find the following quote from Blavatsky exactly expressing their thoughts. Interesting that this quote is as relevant today as it was when written more than a century ago.

The pendulum of thought oscillates between extremes. Having now finally emancipated herself from the shackles of theology, Science has embraced the opposite fallacy; and in the attempt to interpret Nature on purely materialistic lines, she has built up that most extravagant theory of the ages—the derivation of man from a ferocious and brutal ape. So rooted has this doctrine, in one form or another, now become, that the most Herculean efforts will be needed to bring about its final rejection. The Darwinian anthropology is the incubus of the ethnologist, a sturdy child of modern Materialism, which has grown up and acquired increasing vigour, as the ineptitude of the theological legend of Man’s “creation” became more and more apparent. It has thriven on account of the strange delusion that—as a scientist of repute puts it—“All hypotheses and theories with respect to the rise of man can be reduced to two (the Evolutionist and the Biblical exoteric account). . . There is no other hypothesis conceivable. . .”!! The anthropology of the secret volumes is, however, the best possible answer to such a worthless contention. (SDii689)
Today we see this polarization into only two viewpoints of religion and science being used in the political arena from school board battles to a federal court case. Her statements on the subject are poignantly true today.

Another of her statements is also poignantly true today. She says "Herculean efforts will be needed to bring about its final rejection." The most recent round of debate in the public square on Darwinism has left the Darwinists still in command of the local school board and the university curriculums. This "sturdy child of modern Materialism", as she calls it, still holds the fortress. So the Herculean effort will continue. Since this modern materialism has such very far reaching consequences - and is so contrary to the teaching of Theosophy - this newsletter will attempt to add its mite to the collective efforts.

I am imagining a series of newsletters that review various background information - comparing science and Theosophy in some detail. This newsletter in particular reviews Neanderthal man. Others I imagine will cover, Cro-magnon man (showing its particular Theosophical significance), the beginnings of some science that suggestively support the Theosophical view on the origin of the apes, with another covering the atrocious misrepresentation of the fossil evidence relating to mankind's ancestors. (Some forms of that misrepresentation will be explored with this issue on Neanderthal man.) I don't mind if you wish me luck on this endeavor. Better yet, your comments are invited on the talk list as this proceeds.

NEANDERTHAL WHO?

Neanderthal man was discovered in 1856, three years before the publishing of "Origin of the Species." This discovery is considered the beginning of paleoanthropology. He was found in a cave on a hillside in the Neander Valley in Germany. "Thal" means "valley" in German ("dale" in English). The most distinctive trait of the Neanderthal skull that we can all readily distinguish, even with untrained eyes, is an unusually thick line of skull bone just above the eyebrows. Many is the writer who has thought that extra-large bony section suggests a particularly primitive dim-witted creature.

Official science says we have over 400 specimens of Neanderthal - far more than any other extinct species of "homo". Science says that the first instances of Neanderthal traits occurred as early as 350,000. "Full blown" Neanderthal traits had appeared by 130,000 years ago. By 24,000 years ago Neanderthals had become extinct. Some scientists argue that he intermarried with others and in some small degree continues on in Europe.

One finds that number "over 400 specimens" in many places. Possibly it should be greatly reduced. Cuozzo claims it theoretically could be as low as less than 30 full bodied specimens since the 400 number counts each separate bone. ("Claimed in Buried Alive - The startling, Untold Story About Neanderthal Man" by Jack Cuozzo 1998)

Today Neanderthal Man is asserted to be a subspecies of humans, technically named "homo sapiens neanderthalensis." Just to keep your bearings, as a sub-species, we are named "homo sapiens sapiens." Those three names represent "genus, species, subspecies."

BLAVATSKY'S VIEW

Perhaps her most specific statement on the origin of the Neanderthals was this:

It is the artificer of these ugly little hatchets, you see, who sculptured the reindeer over the brook, on the antler as shown above. In all cases we meet with the same evidence that, from historic to Neolithic and from Neolithic to Palæolithic man, things slope downwards on an inclined plane from the rudiments of civilization to the most abject barbarism — in Europe again. We are made also to face the “mammoth age”—the extreme or earliest division of the Palæolithic age—in which the great rudeness of implements reaches its maximum, and the brutal (?) appearance of contemporary skulls, such as the Neanderthal, point to a very low type of Humanity. But they may sometimes point also to something besides; to a race of men quite distinct from our (Fifth Race) Humanity. (SDii723)
I take it that the operative part of the last sentence is the emphasis on our Fifth Race Humanity. I take it to mean that Neanderthals were from the time period that Theosophy calls the Fourth Race Humanity, or the long Atlantean time period. To somewhat strengthen this interpretation, immediately preceding this quote, she speaks of "another evidence of the cyclic law" where the progress from Fourth to Fifth Race is an example of cyclic law. Interestingly she speaks there also of "survivors of the hybrid races" such as "China-men and African negroes, etc.")

From these considerations I take her meaning to be that Neanderthals were survivors of a hybrid of Atlanteans.

It is the last sentence of the next quote that I am most interested in. The rest is for context.

The chance, therefore, of some of these variations being found in the different gravels or fresh-water formations above the tertiaries, must be very great. And yet not one single variation, not one single specimen of a being between a monkey and a man has ever been found. Neither in the gravel, nor the drift-clay, nor the fresh-water beds, nor in the tertiaries below them has there ever been discovered the remains of any member of the missing families between the monkey and the man, as assumed to have existed by Mr. Darwin. Have they gone down with the depression of the earth’s surface and are they now covered with the sea? If so, it is beyond all probability that they should not, also be found in those beds of contemporary geological strata which have not gone down to the bottom of the sea; still more improbable that some portions should not be dredged from the ocean bed like the remains of the mammoth and the rhinoceros which are also found in fresh-water beds and gravels and drift!. . . . . . . the celebrated Neanderthal skull, about which so much has been said, belongs confessedly to this remote epoch (bronze and stone ages), and yet presents, although it may have been the skull of an idiot, immense differences from the highest known anthropomorphous ape.” (SDii729)

My paraphrase - with apologies:

You scientists have never found the missing link. And you can't use the excuse that all the examples sank. That is not reasonable. Besides, you have the example of the Neanderthal which disproves the "everything sank" excuse. And that Neanderthal, even if an idiot, still is not at all close to an ape.

NEANDERTHAL'S BAD PRESS PROBLEM

Perhaps the most important item of information about Neanderthal Man the general bad press that he has received. Can't we all imagine the stereotype of the Neanderthal we have received that permeates our culture? In that stereotype the Neanderthal is a brute. He is squat, very muscular, his skull looks primitive, and most of all, he wields a blunt club. He is obviously a dumb savage. He is our classic image of a cave-man. To accentuate our ape-like conception of this brute, he is always portrayed as slightly bent over with head thrust forward. (Scientists have told us that Neanderthals could not fully extend their legs and that they walked stooped over.) No doubt he grunts instead of talks.

This popular bad press is quite in conflict with the Theosophic view of the origin of man. Theosophy holds that man in very distant times was larger than he is today and has decreased in stature to reach today's height. Along with this, Theosophy holds to a larger cranium for mankind in the past compared to now. Darwinist hold the opposite. They say that in the past the ancestors of today's human had smaller craniums with a smaller stature. The Darwinists are pleased to note the increase in cranium size as man evolved according to their pedigree.

The scientific version can appear very well documented. How then could Theosophy's version possibly be right? Darwinists repeatedly claim they have "overwhelming evidence". How could anyone give credence to a teaching like Theosophy that appears so contrary to the empirical evidence?

I hope you are suspecting it. The answer is: Just give Theosophy some time. In this case about a century will do. Since 1981 science has come to conclude that its earlier opinions are wrong. (Public opinion, at least on this issue, lags behind the scientist's adjustment to their evidence.)

NEANDERTHAL ASCENDS

The first change is that Neanderthal Man can now stand up straight.

In the early 1900's after many skeletons were found, the French paleontologist Marcellin Boule, determined that Neanderthals could not fully extend their legs, walked stooped over, and had his head thrust forward. This notion would be the popular image for about fifty years. In 1957 researchers re-examined the skeleton Boule had examined and concluded that Neanderthals walked upright and that the stooped posture suggested by Boule's specimen was due to a case of arthritis. (emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/emnh.htm)
Later, in 1975, Erik Trinkaus's study of Neanderthal feet confirmed that they walked like modern humans.

Neanderthal has improved in another way since he was first discovered - he has become more intelligent! Science uses the space inside the skull, measured in cubic centimeters, as an indicator of brain size and brain size as an indicator of potential for intelligence. When the first Neanderthal was discovered there was not a full cranium. The workmen of those days were not the careful paleontologists of today and it appeared that the skull of the first declared Neanderthal had been recently broken by the workmen discovering it. Therefore its cranium was estimated (perhaps on the low side) as 1033cc. That measure places it at less than human size.

However today, it is recognized that Neanderthal's cranium is 10% to 15% larger than the average European living today. By the criterion of skull size that makes him on average capable of more intelligence than today's human being.

Nevertheless, Blavatsky refers to relative cranium size on a number of ocassions so it seems helpful to place forward a table of such facts. Taxon Size(cc) _____ _______ Orangutans: 275-500cc Chimpanzees 275-500cc Gorillas 340-752cc Humans 1100-1700cc Neanderthals 1200-1750cc Alleged early man from science Taxon Size(cc) # of Specimens _____ _______ _____________ Astralopithecus afarensis 438 4 Astralopithecus africanus 452 7 Australopithecus boisei 521 1 Australopithecus robustus 530 1 Homo habilis 612 6 Homo rudolfensis 752 1 Homo ergaster 871 3

Of course the important thing in the above tables is to notice that Neanderthals rank better than humans! Also, Neanderthals started with a cranium that was smaller than humans but now have ended with an average 10% larger than humans.

A paleontologist might fairly point out that stone tools etc strongly suggest less mental development for the Neanderthal than for the average person today. The issue is yet more complicated because Blavatsky asserts that the Atlantean civilization was coexisting simultaneously with the Neanderthal and their civilization was quite high. Unfortunately their relics are now under the sea and not findable by the archeologists. However the latter newsletter on Cro-magnons will bring more light on the subject of Atlantis.

Now that we have found occasion to bring forth a table of cranium sizes, we may as well note a few passages where Blavatsky refers to them. They make a little more sense the next time one reads them.

This one shows the importance she places on the subject. (Note though that she switches from cubic centimeters to cubic inches.)

But let not Evolutionists speak so lightly of the comparative size of the brains of man and the ape, for this is very unscientific, especially when they pretend to see no difference between the two, or very little at any rate. For Vogt himself showed that, while the highest of the Apes, the gorilla, has a brain of only 30 to 51 cubic inches, the brain of the lowest of the Australian aborigines amounts to 99.35 cubic inches. The former is thus “not half of the size of the brain of a new-born babe,” says Pfaff. (SDii193)
Back to Neanderthals:
For in criticising the excellent average cranial capacity of the Neanderthal skull, notwithstanding his assertion that it is overlaid with “pithecoid bony walls,” coupled with Mr. Grant Allen’s assurances that this skull “possesses large bosses on the forehead, strikingly (?) suggestive of those which give the gorilla its peculiarly fierce appearance,” (Fortnightly Review, 1882,) still Mr. Huxley is forced to admit that, in the said skull, his theory is once more defeated by the “completely human proportions of the accompanying limb-bones, together with the fair development of the Engis skull.” (SDii687) ... but the palæolithic Neanderthal skull, the oldest we know of, is of a large size, and no nearer to the capacity of the gorilla’s cranium than that of any other now-living man. (SDii193fn)
There are more quotes on this subject but I will mention just one more. This one is of interest because she makes an interesting reference to "men who know whence they [Neanderthals] came and how they perished." She also makes reference to this illusionary conception of Neanderthals that is a theme of this newsletter.
We confess to not being able to see any good reasons for Mr. E. Clodd’s certain statement in Knowledge. Speaking of the men of Neolithic times, “concerning whom Mr. Grant Allen has given . . . a vivid and accurate sketch,” and who are “the direct ancestors of peoples of whom remnants yet lurk in out-of-the way corners of Europe, where they have been squeezed or stranded,” he adds to this: “but the men of Palæolithic times can be identified with no existing races; they were savages of a more degraded type than any extant; tall, yet barely erect, with short legs and twisted knees, with prognathous, that is, projecting ape-like jaws, and small brains. Whence they come we cannot tell, and their ‘grave knoweth no man to this day.’ Besides the possibility that there may be men who know whence they came and how they perished—it is not true to say that the Palæolithic men, or their fossils, are all found with “small brains.” The oldest skull of all those hitherto found, the “Neanderthal skull,” is of average capacity, and Mr. Huxley was compelled to confess that it was no real approximation whatever to that of the “missing link.” There are aboriginal tribes in India whose brains are far smaller and nearer to that of the ape than any hitherto found among the skulls of Palæolithic man. (SDii686)
There is yet another advance that Neanderthals have made - now they can talk.
The idea that Neanderthals lacked complex language was widespread, despite concerns about the accuracy of reconstructions of the Neanderthal vocal tract, until 1983, when a Neanderthal hyoid bone was found at the Kebara Cave in Israel. The hyoid is a small bone that connects the musculature of the tongue and the larynx, and by bracing these structures against each other, allows a wider range of tongue and laryngeal movements than would otherwise be the case. Therefore, it seems to imply the presence of anatomical conditions for speech to occur. The bone that was found is virtually identical to that of modern humans. (B. Arensburg, A.M. Tillier, B Vandermeersch, H. Duday, L.A. Schepartz & Y. Rak (April 1989 "A Middle Palaeolithic human hyoid bone". Nature(338): 758-760. dx.doi.org/10.1038/338758a0) Furthermore, the morphology of the outer and middle ear of Neanderthal ancestors, Homo heidelbergensis, found in Spain, suggests they had similar auditory sensitivity as modern humans and very different from chimpanzees. Therefore, they were not only able to produce a wide range of sounds, they were also able to differentiate between these sounds. (Martinex, I., L. Rosa, J. -L. Arsuaga, P. Jarabo, R. Quam, C Lorenzo, A Gracia, J.-M. Carretero, J.M. Bermudez do Castro, E. Carbonel (july 2004 "Auditory capacities in Middle Pleistocene humans from the Sierra de Atapuerca in Spain = PNAS" 101 (27): 9976-9981) Aside from the morphological evidence above, neurological evidence for potential speech in neanderthalensis exists in the form of the hypoglossal canal. The canal of neanderthalensis is the same size or larger than in modern humans which are significantly larger than the canal of modern chimpanzees and australopithecines. The canal carries the hypoglossal nerve, which supplies the muscles of the tongue with motor coordination. Researchers indicate that this evidence suggests that neanderthalensis had vocal capabilities similar to, or possibly exceeding that of, modern humans. (Richard F. Kay, Matt Cartmill, and Michelle Balow(Aril 1998). "The hypoglossal canal and the origin of human vocal behavior". PNAS 95(9):5417-5419) Many people believe that even without the hyoid bone evidence, it is obvious that tools as advanced as those of the Mousterian Era, attributed to Neanderthals, could not have been developed without cognitive skills encompassing some form of spoken language. ... Neanderthals performed a sophisticated set of tasks normally associated with humans alone. For example, they constructed complex shelters, controlled fire, and skinned animals. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal)
After language, is music far behind for these brutes? "The Neanderthal Flute" by Bob Find, 1997, ISBN 0-912424-12-5, describes a hollowed out bear femur with four holes placed in a row along the shaft of the bone that record a diatonic scale. Some say it is a flute. Others say the holes were made by a bear chewing on the bear bone. Any bets?

The upshot of all this is that Neanderthal man is not at all as brutish as previously thought. He is not at all as close to ape as was imagined. He is not at all the long-sought missing link between man and ape. Especially with his larger brain and upright stature, he fits much better the language of Blavatsky than science's earlier portrayal of him.

MISCELLANEOUS PROBLEMS.

There is a byway that I don't have time to pursue here. Jack Cuozzo has written "Buried Alive - The Startling, Untold Story About Neanderthal Man." His story is odd. He is an orthodontist. He is a creationist. He carried a rare portable xray device to museums around the world to produce images of Neanderthal skulls. He found a handful of the reconstructions skulls had been done improperly, diagrams drawn improperly and at least one scientific journal article based on false information. They were misconstrued in ways to make a more ape-like portrayal of Neanderthal. This is of course a very serious violation of academic standards. So again - don't believe all the "overwhelming evidence" from science on this. You can read the book for yourself. Just step over all the creationism.

There is one mistake for people to avoid. Science does not say that homo sapiens sapiens descended from Neanderthals. That is just an error that one can easily pick up from popular imagery. It says Neanderthals were our cousin not our ancestors. Of course, Blavatsky says the same.

To close, I want to show you other ways that came up in this study that illustrate how professional Darwinists obfuscate.

One problem that Darwinists have is that the fossil record illustrates just the opposite date from what Darwinism predicts. It was this way when Darwin first proposed this theory. (When he presented his theory Paleontologists were more against his theory than were clergymen.) And today after finding many more fossils, the record even more sharply declares his theory wrong.

The problem is that new species arise abruptly. They do not arise as a branch on a tree. The new species do not branch into other new species. Gould described this as the "trade secret" of paleontology because even though the scientists knew it, the public did not.

There is one way to explain this problem with the fossil record that is called "punctuated equilbrium." It has been described as the theory that "everything always happened somewhere else." Paul Jordan, a Darwinist, has written a quite excellent book, "Neanderthal." In it he explains this theory. Watch carefully for smoke.

Speciation occurs when small populations become relatively isolated from their erstwhile fellow species members and are subject to pressures of natural selection (or to genetic drift sometimes) which can bring about very rapid evolutionary change. Because speciation is an affair of initially small numbers and rapid change, fossils that record periods of transition between species are almost impossible to find. The paucity (and inevitably somewhat random nature) of the fossil record of human evolution is the result of this state of affairs exacerbated by vagaries of vastly differing changes of survival and discovery in different locations today. (Neanderthal by Paul Jordan p 130 )
Short translation: we can't find any species deriving from other species in the fossil record and we have only lame excuses for why the fossil record does not support our theory.

Long translation: You see, all changes in species occur when an individual creature wanders off some where other than where we are looking. Then he changes. He does not change when in the midst of others - or at least where we are digging. When he is "over there" then he changes quickly. Since over there, change occurs quickly there is not much time and therefore not much probability of fossils being left for us to find. (In other explanations of this theory Darwinists explain that after the new species is formed, then he comes back here where we are digging.) After a century and a half we have more bones than we know what to do with but none of them say clearly that Darwin is right so we made up this theory. Since bones are more likely to be found in some places than other places - for a variety of reasons - that contributes to our not finding what we expected. That is clear isn't it?

Now that you see what he is saying, do you still buy it?

Recently there was a research article on Neanderthals in the New York Times. It may have appeared just a week or so ago or around November 18, 2006. It said in part:

Two research teams announced this week that they have assembled parts of a Neanderthal man's genetic code from a fossil bone and teased out some preliminary information. Two experts called it the most significant advance in the field since the first Neanderthal fossils were discovered 150 years ago. As it turns out, the genome of this particular Neanderthal -- who lived some 38,000 years ago -- is more than 99.5 percent identical to the genome of modern humans. The great similarity is yet more proof that Charles Darwin had it right when he viewed all life as descended from common ancestry whose genes, we now know, were passed down and modified through the ages.
Summary: because the DNA of humans and Neanderthals are over 99.5% similar, it is proof that they descended from a common ancestor.

This may sound good if you read it fast and don't stop to think. One hears this argument from that field of study often. But it is nonsense on its face. If there is found similar DNA in similar creatures, then why isn't that evidence that an intelligent designer borrowed from his work on one creature and used it in another creature. The designer of next years car will borrow from last year's design for the wheel. He won't re-invent the wheel.

This observation of similar DNA argues just as well for an intelligent designer as for common descent. To say it argues just for Darwinism alone is simply and obviously fallacious reasoning. We should expect more of a scientist.

Next month we move on to Cro-magnon Man and the interesting lessons about Theosophy that it has to teach us.

Reed Carson



"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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