Christian Responses to the Spiritual and Physical Status of Neanderthals

neanderthal-reconstruction2The physical and spiritual status of Neanderthals has been hotly debated since the first fossilize of bones were described from Neander Valley in Germany in 1856.   Since that time bones from more than 400 Neanderthal individuals have been recovered over a large geographical range (fig 1). Hundreds of published studies on these bones, artifacts such as tools, habitations, and possible artwork and now DNA have given us a clearer picture of the physical and cultural capacities of these hominids.

For evangelical Christians questions about Neanderthals go far beyond their physical similarities. Rather it is their spiritual status that is of great interest.  Are Neanderthals part of the headwaters of the human race or do they fall outside the bounds of those made in God’s image?  How do Neanderthals fit into fundamental doctrines of original sin and debate over the historicity of Adam?

Locations of some important Neanderthal sites showing the known range.
Fig. 1. Locations of some important Neanderthal sites showing the known range (blue line)

The answers to these questions from the Christian community have been confusing and contradictory to put it mildly. Some believe Neanderthals were fundamentally no different from any group of people alive today.  Others believe them to be a separate species with no relationship with modern humans and thus devoid of the image of God. It is not surprising that given these opposing responses from theologians and lay Christian leaders that many Christians are confused about how to think about Neanderthals.

Below I provide an example of these different approachs to Neanderthals and then review how prominent science and faith organizations deal with the Neanderthal question.

Did Neanderthal and Modern Humans Interbreed? 

My question wasn't as hypothetical as it might have sounded. I actually have had my genome tested by and that analysis my genome is about 2.9% Neanderthal.
My question wasn’t as hypothetical as it might have sounded. I actually have had my genome tested by and that analysis suggests my genome is about 2.9% Neanderthal.

I will illustrate the diverse response of the Christian community to Neanderthals in the answers to a question I asked at the 2014 Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) meeting.

I attended a panel discussion between members of BioLogos, Reasons to Believe (RTB), and Southern Baptists (See Part I and Part II of my reflections on ETS).  In the Q&A time following the panel discussion, I asked the following question directly primarily at the RTP representatives: When I send out my DNA for genetic analysis and I get the results back and I am told that I am 2.9% Neanderthal, what should I think about this?  I further qualified that I understood that there were some questionable assumptions behind that particular percentage but the idea is that this data has convinced the majority of geneticists that  Neanderthals and modern humans interbred in the past.

Dr. Rana of Reasons to Believe was first to respond.  He acknowledged that the consensus view does seem to have shifted toward acceptance of past hybridization of Neanderthals with modern humans.  However, it was his contention that it was too early to be sure. He questioned the quality of Neanderthal sequences and suggested that the genetic models are not clear enough for us to draw this conclusion.

Dr. Rana went on to talk about low population sizes of Neanderthals and the statistical unlikeliness that Neanderthals would have encountered modern humans during their short time of overlap in Europe.   I discovered later that most of his responses were similar to opinions he expressed in an article, Neanderthal Population Data Raised Doubt about Human-Neanderthal Interbreeding, written just one month earlier.

Dr.  Faulk representing BioLogos objected to Ranna’s take on the data.  He mentioned the results of a ancient human DNA genome sequence that was obtained from a 45,000 year old bone preserved in Siberia just a few months ago.  The DNA from that bone revealed it belonged to a anatomically modern human that had a similar amount of Neanderthal DNA as found in Europeans today. Dr. Faulk went on to explain the genetic significance of this discovery.  Having read the paper that Dr. Faulk was referring to not more a few weeks earlier I understood just what he was saying.  However, I had the feeling that I might have been one of only a handful of people in a room of over 100 that caught the significance of the genetic data that he was so excited about.  I appreciated the enthusiasm but there was too much detail in his explanation.  I probably can’t sum this data up much better but I’ll give it a try in the footnotes below.*

Dr. Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe) responded by noting that he had addressed the Neanderthal issue recently (I haven’t been able to find this in writing) by addressing the question, what if there had been hybridization? While he professed that he was not convinced that hybridization had occurred, he nonetheless explained that even if hybridization of Neanderthals and modern human had indeed happened it would not be proof that Neanderthals had the image of God.  He hypothesized instead that this could have been an example of bestiality that the OT was so adamant in warning against.  Man is sinful and this could have been a sinful act of rebellion rather than relations among descendants of Adam and Eve.

Evangelical Approaches to Neanderthals

I found the responses to my Neanderthal question fascinating and illuminating.  Differences in the approach to scientific data and Biblical interpretation between BioLogos and Reasons to Believe were clearly evident. The stark contrast on display at ETS caused me wonder how their responses to Neanderthals compared to other Christian viewpoints.  Below I briefly summarize the views of four groups of scientists and theists dedicated to helping Christians articulate their faith in light of scientific discoveries.

Reasons to Believe (Progressive Creationists):   RTB accepts the scientific consensus that Neanderthals lived from over 200,000 years to ca. 40,000 years ago (1).  They believe that Neanderthals were a separately created species and thus do not share a common ancestor with modern man and were not endowed with the image of God.   Any resemblance with modern man is due to common design features used by God to create modern man and other hominids but not due to physical common ancestry. They dispute evidence of common ancestry and generally downplay or call into question evidence of complex tool use and possible artwork produced by Neanderthals.  Regarding possible hybridization they offer alternative hypothesis for explaining possible hybridization and so dispute the growing consensus view that hybridization happened.

Bottom Line:  Neanderthals are separate unrelated ancient animal creation and were not spiritual beings.

Scientific Creationists (Young Earth Creationists, YECs):   Nearly universal in proclaiming Neanderthals to be descendants of Adam and Eve and therefore created in the image of God.   YECs believe that all of the features we see today in Neanderthals were encoded in the DNA of the eight persons saved on Noah’s Ark.  So all Neanderthals have lived since a global flood which ended just 4350 years ago.   It is proposed they represent populations of individuals that migrated from Babel around 4250 years ago into Europe and specialized in living in caves.   They agree that Neanderthals disappeared before the peak of the last Ice Age which they believe happened 4100 years ago (See the Ice Age timeline according to Answers in Genesis).   All Neanderthals are thus compressed into a maximum of 150 years of Earth’s history!  Some creationists claim their striking cranial features and strong bones were just the result of their living in harsh cold conditions after the Ice Age.

What about hybridization? For YECs, evidence of hybridization is not unexpected since Neanderthals are just a population of people and thus would have had some interaction with other people that migrated into Europe a bit later.

YEC regularly downplay the differences between Neanderthals and humans including the genetic differences that have been found. They also readily accept the findings of anthropology that Neanderthals may have expressed some forms of culture such as burying their dead and production of art.  In addition, I should note that YECs generally consider all the named lineages of Homo including H. erectus, H. floresienses (the hobbit) and H. hiedelbergensis to be variations of modern humans and all descendants of Noah and his family.  Notably some YECs accept the recently named Homo naledi from South Africa as being human but others such as Answers in Genesis consider those fossils are representing a “fully ape” lineage (see: Bones of Contention: Young-Earth Creationists Confusion over Homo naledi Fossils)

Bottom Line:  Neanderthals are descendants of Adam and Eve and no different from you and me in any way other than minor anatomical differences.

Intelligent Design:  There is some diversity of opinion among ID advocates.  Most leaders of the ID movement appear to take the position that Neanderthals are one of us.  They believe that Neanderthals, and other hominids species such as Homo erectus and H. hiedelbergensis are all descendants of a specially created ancestor of all Homo by an intelligent designer.  Most ID advocates don’t believe in common ancestry of man with other primates but may be willing to accept that the first created man may have branched off into various races of people by natural processes.   They accept the fossil record of Homo as a record of a million years or more of changes to the Homo lineage.   Because Neanderthals are just a race of man and related by common ancestor they would not have a problem accepting the evidence of hybridization of Neanderthal and modern man.

Because ID claims to have no commitment to a particular designer and do not discuss theological issues with any regularity it would be up to the individual to determine what it meant to for man to have the image of God and when God installed that image into the Homo lineage. Christian ID advocates would probably find a diverse range of opinions on this matter ranging from the original Homo a million years ago and all its descendant lineages having the image of God to maybe a more recent origin of the image of God, given only to the genetic lineage we call Homo sapiens today.  Those that want to associate man as having the image of God with great cultural awareness may place that image much later but then it would not be placed on a single couple that gave rise to all other people but on a representative pair or an entire group.  That group could be all anatomically modern people excluding Neanderthals or sometime before the split of modern human and Neanderthal.

Bottom Line:  Neanderthals are one of several lineages of homo the has diverged naturally since the special creation of humans by an intelligent designer about a million years ago.

Evolutionary Creationists (BioLogos):   ECs follow the consensus scientific view that Neanderthal a sister species to modern man. Hybridized with modern man did occur, even if very rarely, 40 to 60 thousands years ago. Members of BioLogos may take different approaches to understanding the spiritual status of Neanderthals. Neandethals may have had the image of God and were descendants of the first Adam who was endowed with the image of God and was a common ancestor to both populations. Another possibility is a representative view that Adam represented mankind and the image of God was conferred to all humanity including Neanderthals and Adam’s sin likewise was conferred to all those with the image of God.  Another possibility is that Neanderthals are not fully human but illicitly had relations with God’s chosen race.  Most ECs would be convinced that Neanderthals were definitely not the same as modern man in terms of their physical status and not closely related to any modern man alive but do share a common ancestor.  That ancestor is estimated to have lived 300 to 400 thousand of years ago.

Bottom Line:  Neanderthals diverged from the ancestors of modern humans hundreds of thousands of years ago and have hybridized with modern man.  The may or may-not bear the image of God depending on a persons understanding of what the image of God is and when God established the headwaters of his image-bearing people.

Concluding Thoughts

It should be apparent that question of what to do with Neanderthals is one that clearly divides the Christian community.  Here, the YEC position has a great advantage because it seems to provide a simple answer that conforms with all previously held orthodox positions on the unity of the human race, humans as image bearers of God and the universality of our sinful nature.   It preserves a historical Adam and Eve and placed Neanderthals in the human family tree.  Unfortunately this simple view is confounded by a lack of physical evidence.   YECs must construct a long strong of ad-hoc explanations for the distribution of fossil hominids, the differences in anatomical characters and the genetic distinctiveness of Neanderthals.  There is also the question of the seeming lack of most intellectual capacities in Neanderthals that some might consider as part of the being God’s image bearer.  The YEC explanation turns out not to be a simple answer at all but rather only a deceptively simple answer and thus of little use.

Unable to compress all the entire Neanderthal race into a short history between a global flood and a singular Ice Age, Christians who accept an age-indeterminate reading of Genesis 1 are not left without a Neanderthal challenge.  If the last Neanderthal’s walked the earth up until about 40,000 years ago what do we make of their spiritual condition? The temporal origin of the image of God becomes a central question for which there is no simple answer forthcoming.  When I look at a survey of seven options for understanding Adam and Evolution provided by Lee Irons and ask how the spiritual status of Neanderthal would fit into this table it is obvious that there would be tremendous variation in opinions even within many of his categories.

I don’t have satisfying answers to these fundamental theological questions.  That Neanderthals were genetically distinct seems clear enough but whether that places themselves outside of humanity I don’t know.  Because there are so many unknowns I profess to lean toward the Biologos approach here. That approach sees the moral and spiritual questions about Neanderthals as open and unanswered.  Scientists and theologians are encouraged to sift the data, draw up hypotheses and test them against Scripture and God’s book of nature.  We know that genetic studies of ancient man are only in the very first stages of development. Within a decade 10s of thousands of ancient people will be genetically analyzed and new archaeological finds will surely continue to reshape our views of the cultural capacities of ancient hominid groups.

Christians should be humble in their approach to difficult questions even if they may be very important questions.  Committing oneself to a particular belief without sufficient scriptural warrant causes one to become entrenched in one’s position leading to interpretation of facts – biblical or physical – based on preconceived notions.  There is still much to learn both from science and from continued biblical studies especially concerning the meaning of being made in the image of God.  I pray that we will one day have clearer answers but until then I hope that we can sharpen each other over time.

Addendum:  Scientific Evidence that Neanderthals were Genetically and Physically Distinct from Living Humans

Our perceptions of Neanderthals have been influenced heavily by early drawings and speculation.  An early description of Neaderthals as humans with genetic conditions or suffering from rickets due to their perceived cave-dwelling nature has been an enduring one for the public.  For 100 years Neanderthals were only known from a few specimens but today we have hundreds of specimens and have identified many locations where Neanderthals lived.   In the last decade a clearer picture of these hominids has been constructed.  The most important new evidence comes from DNA sequences extracted from bones and teeth.

Below I show a few figures that summarize data collected in the past decade that has convinced anthropologists that Neanderthals represent a distinct genetic and anatomical lineage of hominids if not a separate species.  This is presented as a scientific data without commentary on how these data should be interpreted theologically.

First we have a snapshot of genetic differences among living people and Neanderthals and two other fossils hominids.  The length of the lines that connect the samples represents the amount of genetic differences. You can see that all people alive today are much more similar to each other than they are to any Neanderthal.  Also notice that Neanderthals from several locations have been genetically analyzed and although they may be separated by hundreds of miles and dated thousands of years apart they are much more similar to each other genetically then they are to any other known DNA sequences.  This is very strong evidence that Neanderthals represent a unique genetic lineage apart from any lineage of people alive today.

A comparison of the amount of similarity in mitochondrial DNA between individual humans, Neanderthals and other fossils. Fig. 7. Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12788 A mitochondrial genome sequence of a hominin from Sima de los Huesos.  Matthias Meyer et al.
A comparison of the amount of similarity in mitochondrial DNA between individual humans, Neanderthals and other fossils. Fig. 7. Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12788
A mitochondrial genome sequence of a hominin from Sima de los Huesos.
Matthias Meyer et al.

Below is a figure showing a similar set of data but with more samples.  Samples in grey represent individuals from all people groups on Earth alive today.  The length of the lines shows how different they are genetically with African lineages having the most variation.  All Neanderthal sequences are more similar to one another than they are to any person alive today.

Mitochondrial DNA differences between lineages of modern humans and Neanderthals.
Mitochondrial DNA differences between lineages of modern humans and Neanderthals.

It may be tempting to think that these differences are simply the result of DNAs from living people vs sequences from a lineage that died off thousands of years ago but in the past couple of years bones of modern humans from thousands of years to even tens of thousands of years old have been DNA sequenced and those bones produce DNAs that fall right into the grey group.  One example is Otzi the Iceman whose body was found frozen in the Alps a decade ago. Despite being more than 5000 years old his DNA sequence showed that he is closely related to southern Europeans today.

Below is a figure showing some of the typical differences in skull features between humans and Neanderthals.

A comparison of human and Neanderthal skulls showing some of the typical differences.
A comparison of human and Neanderthal skulls showing some of the typical differences.

* Today Europeans have a small percentage 1 to 3% of their DNA that is a match the genome of Neanderthals.  That DNA is spread around in our genomes as tiny little bits.  To have spread to all Europeans that intermixing event would have had to have occurred long ago so that Neanderthal DNA introduced into the population would have had time to spread.  Each generation that DNA not only would be passed on but would also be mixed in our genomes as we recombine our chromosomes prior to reproduction.   So genetic models can backtrack how long it would take since a hybridization event for our genomes to look like they do today. These models suggest it would have been 40 to 60 thousand years ago.  Last year, a complete sequence of a 45,000 year old modern human from a Siberian cave was produced. Analysis of that skeleton revealed that this person also had about 3% Neanderthal sequence but significantly that Neanderthal DNA was found in long pieces of intact Neanderthal genome segments rather than broken into thousands of pieces like it is in my genome.   This is just what geneticists predict would be found in someone who was much closer in time to the hybridization event. In fact with that genome now they were able to calculate much more precisely how many generations had passed since the introduction of Neanderthal DNA into the lineage that lead to that 45,000 year old man.


1) Pinhasi, Ron, Thomas FG Higham, Liubov V. Golovanova, and Vladimir B. Doronichev. “Revised age of late Neanderthal occupation and the end of the Middle Paleolithic in the northern Caucasus.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108, no. 21 (2011): 8611-8616.

Cover image: ANeanderthal and a human kid. Image credit: Neanderthal Museum.

32 thoughts on “Christian Responses to the Spiritual and Physical Status of Neanderthals

  1. I haven’t seen a YEC reference to Neanderthals living as recently as 3000 years ago (~1000 BC). The world map that accompanies Snelling and Matthew’s article When Was the Ice Age in Biblical History? makes it look like they advocate that Neanderthals lived between 2200 and 2100 BC, a period of only about 100 years, which is absurd.


    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I had 3000 in there as a placeholder to check the date and then forgot to change that number. Yes, I think they put Neanderthal between the Tower of Babel and maximum of the Ice Age. So I think that is 2250 BC. I’ll recheck and update this soon. Thanks again for catching that error.


  2. Is there a reason why you call YEC “Scientific Creationists” when they more or less hold that nearly of all of mainstream science is either misinterpreted or simply incorrect? The title “Young-creationists” would be better, IMO.


    1. Hi, thanks for the feedback. I agree that the term “scientific” gives too much credence to Ham and company. I usually use the term to apply to the specific creationists community that thinks they are using science in their apologetic while YEC can include a broader community that included apparent age advocates or anyone is committed to a particular interpretive hermaneutic but may not argue from scientific evidence for these position. So I used both terms to cover a broader group. But, YEC would have been sufficient. What I won’t refer to YECS as is their new self-identifying term – biblical creationists since I consider many old earth position as biblical creation.


      1. This in meant for NH. The software is doing something weird. I think you meant “hermeneutic” in your comment of Jan. 19, ’15. “Therapeutic” might be an interesting replacement.


        1. Ah, thanks. That is pretty funny. There isn’t any autocorrect on the editor but it does suggest other words. I can’t imagine I meant to write that or would have accepted the change. And, yet it is undeniably there. Anyway, I made the corrections.


  3. Is there not an inevitable problem of where to draw the line if you think that there is a thing (soul, or God’s image, or whatever) that you either have or don’t have, unless you reject human descent from non-humans? I regard Biologos as tactical allies against separate creationists, all of whom I regard as indefensible deniers of reality, but do not see how they can avoid this problem. (Non-believers bypass it by regarding human personality as at the end, for now, of a continuum, but I don’t see this option as available to those who believe in the divine image, or in an immortal soul).


    1. Paul, I can’t disagree that this is a challenge. In fact this is possibly the biggest challenge that most old earth creationist positions much face. Progressive creationists feel like they can avoid the problem by claiming special creation within a progressive creation over time but then they feel they must argue that Neanderthals are separate creations. What happens as more evidence of human personality is attributed to Neanderthals? I believe there are some hypotheses that have been put forward by theologians but these will need to be vetted further.


    2. Please allow me to offer my view here on this thorny issue: As a long, long-time Believer, and almost equally long-time Geologist, this drove me crazy and disheartened until that still, small Voice gave the amazingly simple answer (OK, simple compared to the confusion).
      It is this, I believe: Adam, whether a singular, special creation or chosen out of the natural animals, had no soul until God Himself breathed in life. I mean, the gunk in my sink strainer has life–and I regularly kill it off with Chlorox. But, spiritual life, soul life, comes from beyond our universe, and by its nature transcends our physical universe. I should hope it does! I feel my age.
      Adam became a ‘living man’ when he was given a soul and thus made more than just another animal, however relatively intelligent. Some computers have degrees of intelligence, but are neither living nor made in the Image of God.
      What those pre-Adamic animals did does not much concern me or my soul, except in the physical, genetic sense. My autism may well come from this hybridization. Eh, beats being just normal.
      The flood of Noah clearly left no physical remains–and I have looked for some! Likewise, even if Adam and Eve had sex a hundred times a day and popped out kids like a pez dispenser, they could not have populated Earth. But, something happened in The Flood, and afterwards humanity had a great leap forward. So, why not a Flood of spirit, of souls, if you will, and while the corrupted souls died, new ones were birthed in the previous soulless races all over Earth. Ergo, exactly what we see in all the records of Scripture, Geology, Archeology, Anthropology, Genetics, History, tribal traditions, etc. Frankly, it was a sort of foreshadowing of the cleansing and new life promised in the Second coming.
      If you have a better idea, I would really like to see it!!! But, unless you can explain the question in all these disciplines, I am not impressed. I sorrow for the YEC crowd which is so without understanding.


      1. Interesting!!!! Is there room to agree to disagree for all involved in this debate? The more I casually read about science, geology , biblical anthropology, etc., it seems clear to me the earth is very old and ancient. I am not a scientist or one who can even fully understand the contexts of all the research. I am a mother who simply wants to explain to my children my Christian faith. I can’t dismiss what they may call archiac humans, carbon dating, biblical anthropology and such. Kids are curious and analytical– and should not be raised in ignorance. There is much that has not been discovered, researched or revealed and may not be in our lifetime or ever. Faith!!!


  4. I recently wrote a short discussion on the difficult problem of defining the spiritual dawn of humanity working from scientific evidence. It comes at the end of a post giving a basic introduction to the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA haplogroup trees and the tracing of modern human migrations by phylogeography. I had thought that Biologos might want this, but they thought it overlapped with a series Dennis Venema is doing.


    1. Preston, good stuff there. I think I’m right along your line of thinking there. I see no sense in pushing Adam back a million years much less even 40,000 years. I don’t look for the image of God in technology. Thanks for sharing, I wish I had seen that earlier. Joel


  5. Great overview of this issue.
    I’ve done a bit of research on the interbreeding of neanderthals, homo sapiens and denisovans myself during my biology undergrad.

    I put it up here if you’re interested.
    Conclusion: I think they’re all part of the human community, and that they did interbreed.

    What this means as far as spirituality is concerned… that’s a very interesting question. I tend to agree with the position you attributed to the advocate of Intelligent Design.


    1. Thanks for the comment and link. So glad you mentioned the Denisovans, I didn’t want to make my post any more complex than it already was so I didn’t mention them. There is also the hominid bones from the Pit of Bones ( that seems to be yet another lineage of very similar peoples. I just read this morning that we should expect the results of DNA sequencing of the nuclear genome from them this year. That should be very interesting given the presumed age of the bones (400kyr).


  6. A big problem remains for the YEC with the issue of the ability to speak for Neanderthals. I have read about the position of the hyoid bone in Neanderthals that makes it unlikely they could have spoken like Homo Sapiens.


  7. Many questions about souls and eternity were resolved for me when a beloved family member committed suicide. I could understand her reasons and I felt great compassion for her. In the teachings of the church in which I grew up, though, she was consigned to hell — she had committed the sin of self-murder and by dying, she wasn’t able to ask forgiveness. I thought about that and decided that no matter what her reasons, I loved her and would forgive her if it were up to me. Then the question became, could I love more than God? Of course not. So — she’s in heaven, case closed.

    Same with all of God’s creation. I love dogs, horses, cats, I’m in awe of elephants and lions, I think whales are spectacular. Not so crazy about mosquitoes or ex-husbands, but . . . . So many animals have supported mankind thru the centuries; why should they not be with us in some way?

    Big problem, but God, being God, I’m sure can figure it out. It gives me great comfort to believe this, and if you “learned gentlemen” prefer to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, go to it and have a ball.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maybe the Bible can help us understand where Neanderthals fit into the puzzle.

    The Biblical Nephilim were a race of Human like beings who descended from heaven onto Mount Hermon. They spread into the Levant, where they interbred with humans, fathering a race of giant hybrid beings.

    Neanderthals were a race of Human like beings who ‘descended’ into the Levant from Eurasia. They interbred with Humans, fathering a race of hybrid beings. Neanderthals had remarkable strength, and physiques to match.

    Perhaps the Nephilim mythology preserves a loose memory of the time Humans and Neanderthals met in the Middle East? It’s not hard to imagine them being remembered as mighty giants. Maybe the Humans who met them perceived them as something supernatural? Just some interesting conjecture.


    1. I once jokingly sent that suggestion to Svante Paabo. I even had a hypothesis about why the Neanderthals went extinct that had to do with the combinations of intelligence and size/strength being destructive to their community. Not surprisingly, he never replied.


    2. Neanderthals certainly seem to have had more strength and robustness of frame than modern Homo sapiens, but I understood that they are now thought to have been no taller, and indeed to have been shorter, on average, than their modern human contemporaries. So if some race memories, or indeed some speculation based on the thickness of Neanderthal bone finds, gave rise to the bible story of the Nephilem and the giant hybrids then it would seem that the memories and the bible story got it wrong! I have no problem basically with this idea, since I see the bible as having no more reliability as history, science or truth than any other texts of similar period, except where corroborated by outside evidence, but Your mileage is likely to vary.

      The problem Of when humans acquired a soul, or if some humans were made in the image of God but others were not, though sufficiently similar genetically to interbreed with these, only exists if you feel obliged, for theological reasons, to believe that there is such a thing as a soul that humans definitely possess and other animals definitely do not, and that there is a clear distinction between one group of creatures that are made in the image of God (in what respect we know not but hardly physically! )and all others that aren’t. If a person can bring himself to recognise that the bible is no more accurate on such matters than it is when it claims that the entire earth was covered by water and there were no land animal or human survivors except for the few representatives floating in a boat of very moderate dimensions then the problem, scientifically, goes away. Admittedly you have the headache about not being able to believe that God directly reveals The Truth to you through the bible, but then you ought to have this headache already, since the Genesis Creation accounts are manifestly not in accordance with our scientific understanding of the earth’s, the universe and life’s origins.


  9. Thanks for putting the “bottom line” section under each of the viewpoints. The scientific data and charts are helpful. The “bottom line” allows for those of us who are not into data, science to get a clear line of differencees of opinions or thoughts on this matter.


  10. This has been very interesting. . However, to me it makes sense that the Neanderthals were Pre flood and then after the flood when the atmosphere was changed and dinosaurs no longer could live in the new world, the modern man became what it is today. I’m certain I’m not the first one to think of this so what am I missing?


    1. Hi Kristi. Yes, I have heard others suggest such as scenario but few have held it very long. The reason is that all neanderthal fossils are found in shallow desposits or floors of caves that all global-flood advocates believe came into existance long after the Flood. Since the neanderthal bones are found in caves that were created during or after the Flood, logically the neanderthals must have existed after the Flood. This is why all young earth advocates try to find some way for Neanderthals to be descendants of Noah’s family.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. As Alex mentioned earlier . And After reading most of these comments , it seems that the most fundamental part is being left out of all of these discussions from one web page to the other. That is …the Noah Story is about why the change happened. The Nephilim were predominate to such a degree that the wickedness had to be abolished . They were Giants who were formerly Angels ( architects of our world ) able to transform by a known physics law known only to them and The Creator …and then they abused it to come here . Their offspring were most likely large as well , since they were interbred from Human females as they took whom they wanted to have sex with. But realizing that Obedience to the creator was the issue. Breaking his laws of Physics , their greed for sex and domination of the earth was paramount to disrupt his plan. That is the backbone of why a change had to happen . The flood is the given answer from 5000 years ago in what was passed down to us as fact at the time . Now whether you reason there are now Demonic Factors today, is plausible , yet there are many historical books and facts that show how years of seances in dark rooms caused manifestations of apparitions such as just ask Dan Akroids family History explains. , to exorcisms performed to thwart them , and the countless manifestations they have shown to us …such as ghosts , UFOS , sasquatch , bigfoot , mothman , all of these have people seen only to disappear before our eyes , as an elementary case of smoke and mirrors…or rather visual effect illusions to pass the time as we get closer to their goal .These are the Seraphim ,Cherubim ,Thrones ,Dominions or Lordships ,Virtues or Strongholds, The Powers or Authorities, The Principalities or Rulers that the bible writers such as Paul spoke about , the Authorities in the Air ,unable to transform physically but who are in darkness .Yes , never forget that darkness is their Ally , They are the Masters of Darkness , they thrive in it , they scheme in it , and they use it earth wide while they can to throw everyone off of their game , that is to deny they even exist at all. Besides that they are royally pissed they cant transform back , and yet they have a plan.
    The Nephilim seem to be the answer that is the Elephant in the Room that no one wants talk about
    because it considered as Myth . Well from my years of encountering Ghosts , seeing doors slamming of their own accord , being pushed in an empty room by nothingness , seeing my family speak foreign languages when they even didn’t know they were at the time , apparitions , voices , banging of walls , glowing orbs in the house and outside the house at night . Pounding on the Roof like giants were having a party , i can tell you from experience …. The Elephant is real , and he needs to be addressed as part of the issue .


  12. This term “nephish” from the original Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon has always puzzled me. My research is a quote from “Blue Letter Bible”. Perhaps this will clarify or confuse the issue of “soul”.

    Strong’s Number H5315 matches the Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh),
    which occurs 753 times in 683 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV

    Tools specific to Gen 1:20
    And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath H5315 life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

    Tools specific to Gen 1:21
    And God created great whales, and every living creature H5315 that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    Tools specific to Gen 1:24
    And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature H5315 after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

    Tools specific to Gen 1:30
    And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, H5315 I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

    Tools specific to Gen 2:7
    And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. H5315

    Tools specific to Gen 2:19
    And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, H5315 that was the name thereof.


  13. There are always going to be far too many unanswered questions, pertaining to the subject of Neanderthals, for myself to give any credibility to ANY findings in the matter.
    Bottom line: I’m more than willing to wait until I pass from this world and meet God. We will know the answers then, and I’m fine with that.
    I’d like to give my personal beliefs on the subject, but who will benefit from that ? I very well could be wrong in certain (or all ) areas, though I feel somewhat strongly about a couple of areas.
    Either way, I thank you for your article.


  14. My name is Dave I grew up with a fundamentalist 6,000-year creation worldview.  I now believe the world as old as all mainline scientists say it is.
    Man has always been intrinsically different than animals. There is something that I can’t get past. Your site says that Neanderthals were animals. A human being can not mate with an animal. Yet humans are part neanderthal as my genome says about me and I am sure yours says you are also part neanderthal.  
    So why am I so stuck on this since we basically believe the same way? The people living in Israel during the time of Christ including Mary had >2% Neanderthal DNA. Meaning Christ had neanderthal DNA.  Isn’t that enough to say that neanderthals can not be animals? If it isn’t there is clear evidence that neanderthals believed in the afterlife, had ancestor worship, had bear cults, had ceremonies commemorating the dead, and the afterlife. We have also found written symbols and beautiful paintings. I would like to know how it can be said that neanderthals are animals?


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