Humanity’s Last 2000 Centuries
By: Jim Virkler
Modern anatomical humans originated about 200,000 years ago. Prior to that there existed a virtual managerie of different hominid species, sometimes historically reported using the imagery of a lawn of individual diverse plants rather than a branching tree. A few of those diverse hominids may have overlapped with anatomically modern humanity. We do not possess all the answers concerning human history but certain truths emerge. During this time frame, humanity manifested many traits indicative of the “Imago Dei,” the Image of God. Prehistoric humanity in the last 2000 centuries did not possess all the traits of modern humanity. He was, however, “fully human.” The population during this time was small, perhaps owing to the extensive Wisconsin Ice Age and the previous Illinoian Ice Age swathing large northern latitude Earth regions in thick ice the majority of those years.
In studying the Earth’s ancient bipedal hominids we could arrive at various conclusions concerning the pace of their intellectual and spiritual development. Our public school students have been overswept by the naturalistic theory of human evolution since man first appeared on Planet Earth. Evolution is commonly assumed to be a gradual process. Therefore, the uneven pace of change in the fossil and archaeological record presents a significant mystery. Consider the catchphrase “most recent common ancestor” (MRCA) defined as “the most recent individual from which all people in a group are directly descended.” The MRCA is commonly dated at up to 200,000 years by secular, non-theistic scientists. Considering the many different ancient bipedal hominids purported to exist in the last few million years, this date for the appearance of modern humans seems quite recent. Profound physical and social changes occurred rather abruptly.
Young earth creationists interpret the Hebrew yom of Genesis 1-2 as literal 24-hour days and they pack all creation events into 144 hours of literal time. Other time frame questions arise concerning timing and age of Earth life. Putting disagreement about those time frames aside, historical scientists agree that 200,000 years for our MRCA is minimal if we accept their overwhelming evidence for the appearance of Earth life at 3.8 billion years. Mathematically, this amounts to merely 0.0053% of elapsed time on the timeline of Earth life.
During this recent stage of anatomically modern humanity there was a constellation of events, especially during the latter stages roughly 40,000 years ago. Recent findings have pushed this date somewhat farther back. This recent period has become known as the cultural revolution, the culture explosion, or the cultural “big bang.” With rather rapid strides in tool and hunting technology, there were sophisticated advances in clothing, jewelry, art, music, and sculpture. Evidence of worship and religious practices appeared. We have proposed that these hunter-gatherers were “fully human.”
One indicator of their full humanity was their move toward domestication of plants and animals and the emergence of agriculture, particularly in the last 10,000-12,000 years. Early man perceived behaviors and traits in animals and plants and began to artificially select those that manifested desirable traits for propagation. Domestication of plants and animals established a grip on the human race and has been part of our enriched experience ever since. The residents of pre-history did not know they were making subtle genetic modifications in the plants and animals of their time.
Early man could not understand his domestication activities in relation to the sub-visual level of genetics. No one had seen cells, much less the DNA molecules that coded for thousands of protein building blocks of the body. But the Creator endowed early humans with curiosity, powerful observational skills, problem solving skills, and ability to understand principles of cause and effect. In the 10,000 years prior to the arrival of Christ, Earth’s population multiplied. Food supply increased as a result of the agricultural revolution in concert with the domestication revolution. The Creator gifted humanity with ability to increase his food supply even though man did not understand the genetic basis for the results he achieved. It was a dynamic, transitional period of human history.
The current post is a brief review of the subject of prehistoric human achievement. We link our more detailed 2016 posts on the domestication and agricultural revolutions:
Following these two posts are twelve more related articles. To access them, click “newer posts.”
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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.