By: Jim Virkler
Details concerning early human history often center on the period of “The Rise of Civilization” which commenced about 7,000 BC. In our previous post we highlighted the important transformational miracle which occurred at the conclusion of the Wisconsin Ice Age:
Had the Wisconsin Ice Age not ended, we may still be living in the Paleolithic Period—the Stone Age. The Rise of Civilization provided modern man with archeological evidence of its features. Compared with our contemporary Information Age, our knowledge about the beginnings of civilization and how it progressed is but a soft whisper contrasted with an amplified shout. Civilization, the manner in which society is organized and developed, progressed for thousands of years before man learned to write and before anyone developed the idea of the wheel as a work and time saving mode of transportation. These two important hallmarks of civilization appeared between 3500 and 3000 BC. Human civilization had become established long before, mainly owing to the growth of agriculture.
The Rise of Civilization coincided with man’s development of modern agriculture, including his discovery of how to domesticate plants and animals. The agricultural revolution brought about great changes in society. The subsequent invention of writing and the technological innovation of the wheel became a virtual necessity if civilization would continue to thrive. Historians have documented the relatively recent flourishing of civilization. Our use of the term recent is relative. More accurately, we must use the term Holocene for the current geological epoch beginning 11,700 years before the present. The Holocene epoch corresponds to the Rise of Civilization.
Long before the Rise of Civilization there is plentiful evidence that humanity was “fully behaviorally and anatomically human.” Estimates of dates for the presence of fully human populations on Earth have been extended tens of thousands of years into the past by archeological research. Secular scientists take pains to promote the theory of evolution with respect to development of Earth’s hominids. This promotion occurs in deference to evolutionary theory with its emphasis on sequential development from the common ancestor. Gradual hypothetical branching of the tree of life concept is more idealistic than realistic. The onset of full humanity occurs quite rapidly in the archaeological record. Humanity is distinct from lower categories of hominids—cognitively superior to them by a large margin.
A startling statement appeared in the New York Times Science Section a few years ago. “The earliest Homo sapiens probably had the cognitive ability to invent Sputnik,” said Dr. Sally McBrearty, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut. “But they didn’t have the history of invention or a need for those things.”
No written accounts of humanity’s earliest civilized achievements in language or intellect exist. Archaeologists, however, have uncovered artifacts of their hunting technology, art, musical instruments, jewelry, and evidence of burial rituals. There is little argument that these artifacts were evidence of full humanity. Uncivilized and virtually uncontacted primitive human tribes still exist in many remote jungle locations around the world in our day. They live primitively as humans lived in pre-civilized days. Several hundred tribes exist, mainly in South America, Central Africa, and New Guinea. An exact count of their populations is difficult but probably numbers in the thousands. Most tribe members resist all contact with the outside world. One example of a resistant uncivilized tribe is the Sentinelese on North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal. It is speculated that they may have been there for 60,000 years. They are a pre-neolithic society of hunter-gatherers, living in the manner of human hunter-gatherers prior to the Agricultural Revolution and the Rise of Civilization. They are pre-civilized and hostile, but they are fully human.
During the Wisconsin Ice Age which ended 11,700 years ago, humans were confined to lower latitude regions of the world. Today’s agriculture did not exist at those latitudes, so it is easy to understand that hunter-gathering was the main mode of subsistence. With so much of the world’s water trapped in thick ice caps in polar regions, sea level was several hundred feet lower than today. The Sentinelese people, therefore, migrated on dry land to their new abode—a distance of 400 miles. Native Americans arrived in North America via the Bering land bridge and later settled in South America. Native Americans and Sentinelese peoples were paleolithic (Stone Age) residents of Planet Earth. Their original creation venue was near the Persian Gulf. They were always “fully behaviorally and anatomically human.” They were created in the image of God, even though they were uncivilized hunter-gatherers.
After many different episodes of transformational creation miracles extending back millions of years God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:26-28 NIV) This original mandate of God is still being fulfilled.
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.