Browse Search Feedback Other Links Home Home The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
Previous Claim: CC030   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CC041

Claim CC040:

Anthropologists disagree about what the human family tree looks like. Every new discovery seems to give reason to redraw the tree, whereas we would expect the tree to become clearer as discoveries accumulate.


Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985. Life--How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, p. 88.


  1. Pointing to the disagreements is a ruse to distract from the areas where there is agreement. There is no significant disagreement among professionals that modern humans evolved from an African australopithecine or that other hominids sometimes coexisted with the lineage that led to humans.

  2. Much of the disagreement is hype. When someone discovers yet another Homo erectus fossil from the same region and era as other Homo erectus fossils, newspapers do not trumpet the headline, "Another Fossil Supports Hominid Lineage." Such fossils are not news except to the paleoanthropologists who work on them. The headlines go to the truly novel finds.

    Disagreement is also hyped because it makes a better emotional story. Anthropologists would be glad to make a discovery that overturns conventional understanding, and news reporters favor such stories as well, so the significance of small disagreements tends to get magnified.

  3. Disagreement and uncertainty are routine in areas opened by new scientific discoveries. Paleoanthropology is a field in which new discoveries are not uncommon, so there will be uncertainty at first around those discoveries. However, paleoanthropology is also a mature science at its core; the uncertainty and disagreement there is at a minimum.

  4. Disagreements get resolved. This is an important feature of science never found in creationism. As more data are discovered, the data answer the questions we have. For example, it was once unknown whether Neanderthals and modern humans were separate species. Molecular evidence now strongly indicates that they were (Krings et al. 2000). The record may be insufficient to answer some of our questions, such as when language began, but by and large, our questions can and do get answered.


  1. Krings, M. et al., 2000. A view of Neandertal genetic diversity. Nature Genetics 26: 144-146.

Previous Claim: CC030   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CC041

created 2003-6-18, modified 2003-9-17