Philosopher and secular humanist Christopher diCarlo claims that if humans trace their lineages far enough back in time, they will all have an African origin. He has been spreading his "We Are All African!"1 message on a cross-Canadian tour. However, the science behind diCarlo's version of history leaves plenty of room for skepticism.
A professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and a winner of the Humanist of the Year for Canada, diCarlo told the Guelph Mercury that his message should serve to falsify religious tenets that cause unwanted friction. For example, "if you're Jewish and you think you're chosen people, well, guess what? Not really."2
DiCarlo figured that if no group has any special status, all humans can embrace their evolutionary origins and be freed of the "hatred, violence, and bloodshed" that such beliefs foster.1 Of course, even if scientific studies show that all people are biologically the same, this does not logically justify his "no special status" claim. God can choose certain people, and that makes them special--unless it is first assumed that there is no God.
In an article appearing in Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, diCarlo attempted to present evidence in support of his "out of Africa" theory. He claimed that African fossil discoveries catalog a history of part-man/part-ape creatures that walked upright, specifically naming the "Lucy" and "Toumai" fossil forms as examples. But he ignored clear scientific evidence that shows that Lucy was not in mankind's lineage, and was not even an upright walker.
Remains of this extinct ape variety were found in a cave that was evolutionarily dated at about 300,000 years after these creatures supposedly evolved into humans.3 Also, representative "Lucy" feet were only discovered after the creature's upright-walking status had been disseminated. The ape's "hands-for-feet" disappointed evolutionists, since they showed that Lucy's kind was suited for grasping tree branches, not walking.4 For these reasons, many anthropologists have decided that Lucy is not among man's ancestors.
Similarly, the Toumai skull fragments are mostly a mystery, though they look like those of an ape. No remains of the rest of its body have been found, so scientists have not reached a consensus on whether it belongs in man's ancestry. Thus, using Toumai as an example of an upright-walking human ancestor is not scientific, by definition, because there are no hips or feet to even observe!
In essence, the Free Inquiry article employed evolutionary stories and word games in place of real evidence. For example, the Lucy ape-kind, called Australopithicenes, supposedly "became generalists and turned to a meat-based diet. This caused their digestive tracts to shorten and their brain sizes to increase."1 But what scientific evidence exists to show that eating meat expands brain size? The answer is "none."
Then, in a sort of naming game, diCarlo followed the evolutionary precedent of first assigning different species names to variously-shaped human remains. He then relegated all the "species" not named Homo sapiens into an arbitrary "other than modern man" category. Finally, he used this invented "other" category as "evidence" for human evolution from "other" forms.
But because the actual human remains he listed in the article were found in similarly dated deposits, they do not line up in any evolutionary ancestor-descendant relationship and thus provide no clear support for evolution. Instead, they are more accurately interpreted as varieties of mankind who all lived at the same time, which is consistent with the Bible's historical account of man having been created specially and recently.
In his article, diCarlo also referenced "molecular clock" analyses, which are not directly scientific either. The only way to use molecular sequences as clocks is to employ unverified assumptions. For example, the mutation rate has to be assumed, as do estimates about the information content of the original sequences.5
DiCarlo admonished his readers: "So we must accept that evolutionary theory about human origins is a responsible means for establishing scientific facts about who we are and where we came from."1 But since this acceptance of evolution relies on misrepresenting data, excluding contrary data, substituting stories for evidence, and name games, it is exactly the opposite of "responsible" science.
- DiCarlo, C. 2010. We Are All African! Can scientific proof of our commonality save us? Free Inquiry. 30 (4): 18-22.
- Kirsch, V. Professor takes origins debate on the road. Guelph Mercury. Posted on news.guelphmercury.com July 24, 2010, accessed August 9, 2010.
- Walker, J., R. A. Cliff and A. G. Latham. 2006. U-Pb Isotopic Age of the StW 573 Hominid from Sterkfontein, South Africa. Science. 314(5805): 1592-1594.
- Wong, K. 2005. Footprints to Fill: Flat feet and doubts about makers of the Laetoli tracks. Scientific American. 293 (2): 18-19.
- Thomas, B. Discoveries Show Early Mankind Was Advanced. ICR News. Posted on icr.org March 17, 2010, accessed August 10, 2010.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on August 11, 2010.