This is one of the most bizarre book reviews I’ve read in Science (or Nature). It’s a long (a full page) review of theologian William Lane Craig’s new book on Adam and Eve, supposedly a “Biblical and scientific exploration,” according to the book’s titleI am not sure this is so ridiculous.Having established that he should believe in Adam’s existence, Craig sets out to locate him. ...
Craig argues, for example, on the basis of brain size, that the first humans could not have lived before the time of Homo heidelbergensis and late Homo erectus. A number of facts about Neanderthals—symbolic behavior, ability to cooperate and plan, probable linguistic capacity, possession of human-specific genetic modifiers of brain development—convince him that they qualify as human. He therefore concludes that humanness was a trait inherited by Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens from their common ancestral populations and that Adam must have lived circa 700,000 years ago.
This is ridiculous for several reasons, the most obvious being the criteria for “humanness”, which, even if you accept them, must have evolved gradually, not appearing in one instant when Adam was born from a not-yet-human mother less cognitive than he. ...
Part of Craig’s “creditable synthesis” is to obviate the “bottleneck data”—population-genetic analysis showing that the smallest bottleneck in our species in the last several hundred thousand years must have been at least twelve thousand individuals. That is, the human population was never even close to one or two persons, much less Noah’s band of eight.
First, there are a lot of scientific papers on the Eve Hypothesis.
Second, if it is possible to define human, as opposed to other apes, then there must have been a first human. That is simple math. A million years ago there were no humans.
Third, if Neanderthals were human 700k years ago, we have no idea what population bottlenecks might have occurred then.
It appears that it is conventional evolution wisdom that humans are just modern apes, differing in degree but not kind. They might deny that it makes sense to talk about whether Neanderthals were human.
But it does make sense. Neanderthals had larges brains and were qualitatively different from apes.
It seems unlikely to me that some Neanderthal man was suddenly a lot more conscious than the others 700k years ago, but it seems possible, and I don't know how we would know. If human traits did appear suddenly, they probably would have spread rapidly.