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Scientific skepticism of Piltdown Man prior to the exposure of the hoax

Post of the Month: October 2006


Subject:    | Columbine Dad Blames Evolution
Date:       | 11 Oct 2006
Message-ID: | l9ntv3-t6j.ln1@grendel.HAYESWAY

Quoting then commenting on a news story, Mark Nutter begins:


>>>>>> "This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the
>>>>>> public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from
>>>>>> the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where
>>>>>> the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no
>>>>>> inherent value."

>>>>>> That's silly. Everybody knows the *real* cause of moral decline in
>>>>>> the schools is the Periodic Table of Elements. Teaching kids that
>>>>>> we're made of unfeeling elements like carbon and oxygen and
>>>>>> hydrogen and stuff, instead of being divinely created. No wonder
>>>>>> God's playing hooky!

Reply from: John McCoy

>>>>> That's nonsense. Everything in creation has a material composition. It's
>>>>> not the composition that counts but whether or not one believes that the
>>>>> material world is self-created or God created. If self created then any
>>>>> chemical activity that occurs in the brain is valid. Therefore if the
>>>>> chemical activities in the brain says that child abuse is OK then it's
>>>>> Ok because the chemicals caused it. But if the world is God created then
>>>>> that means that the best way to live is according to God's instructions.
>>>>> If we don't heed God's instructions then we will suffer from our own
>>>>> misjudgement. It's like this. "Don't step on the fire." Man: "My
>>>>> chemicals in my brain says step in the fire." Man steps in the fire.
>>>>> "Ow, that hurts!" Understand?

>>>>> JM

Reply from: Ye Old One

>>>> Shut up making a fool of yourself McClueless - use the time to post
>>>> the cite for that best seller text book that promoted Piltdown Man as
>>>> a cornerstone of evolution.

>>>> Come on McClueless, for once in your sad and miserable life please do
>>>> the honest thing and admit you were wrong to claim there were millions
>>>> of textbooks promoting Piltdown Man. Just once face up to reality.

Reply from: John McCoy

>>> But I'm not wrong, Bob.

Reply from: Ye Old One

>> Yes you are, as always.

>>> Like I said, I found two mentions of Piltdown Man in two texts from the
>>> SAME company spanning a 10 years difference.

>> So what?

>>> This is only one type of book. Say that the company published a history
>>> book and a book on biology and a book on historical geology.

>> Not relevant McClueless. Piltdown Man would not have appeared in
>> either a history book nor a geology book.

Reply from: John McCoy

> Wrongo. Not so. Even H.G.Wells, in his History of the World, a book that
> I have a copy of, has Piltdown Man. And apparently Wells wrote on behalf
> of scientists in his multivolumed work on science and that includes Piltdown
> Man. So you are wrongo.

Robin Levett presents the source material:

The entire passage dealing with Piltdown is as follows:-

"Still more fascinatingly enigmatical are the remains of a creature found at Piltdown in Sussex in a deposit that may indicate an age between a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand years ago, though some authorities would put these particular remains back in time to before the Heidelberg jaw-bone. Here there are the remains of a thick sub-human skull much larger than any existing ape?s, and a chimpanzee-like jaw-bone which may or may not belong to it, and, in addition, a bat-shaped piece of elephant bone evidently carefully manufactured, through which a hole had apparently been bored. There is also the thigh-bone of a deer with cuts upon it like a tally. That is all.

What sort of beast was this creature which sat and bored holes in bones?

Scientific men have named him Eoanthropus, the Dawn Man. He stands apart from his kindred; a very different being either from the Heidelberg creature or from any living ape. No other vestige like him is known. But the gravels and deposits of from one hundred thousand years onward are increasingly rich in implements of flint and similar stone. And these implements are no longer rude ?Eoliths.? The arch‘ologists are presently able to distinguish scrapers, borers, knives, darts, throwing stones and hand axes.

We are drawing very near to man. In our next section we shall have to describe the strangest of all these precursors of humanity, the Neanderthalers, the men who were almost, but not quite, true men.

But it may be well perhaps to state quite clearly here that no scientific man supposes either of these creatures, the Heidelberg Man or Eoanthropus, to be direct ancestors of the men of to-day. These are, at the closest, related forms."

Given the clear statement that it doesn't fit with the rest of the evidence, the book hardly gives Piltdown unqualified endorsement, and certainly doesn't present it as a major reason to believe in either evolution generally or the descent of man in particular.

Then there was (in Wells' "Outline of History"):-

"We must turn over the Record for, it may be, another 100,000 years for the next remains of anything human or sub-human. Then in a deposit ascribed to the Third Interglacial period, which may have begun 100,000 years ago and lasted 50,000 years, the smashed pieces of a whole skull turn up. The deposit is a gravel which may have been derived from the washing out of still earlier gravel strata, and this skull fragment may be in reality as old as the First Glacial Period. The bony remains discovered at Piltdown in Sussex display a creature still ascending only very gradually from the sub-human.

The first scraps of this skull were found in an excavation for road gravel in Sussex. Bit by bit other fragments of this skull were hunted out from the quarry heaps until most of it could be pieced together. It is a thick skull, thicker than that of any living race of men, and. it has a brain capacity intermediate between that of Pithecanthropus and man. This creature has been named Eoanthropus, the dawn man. In the same gravel-pits were found teeth of rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and the leg-bone of a deer with marks upon it that may be cuts. A curious bat-shaped instrument of elephant bone has also been found.

There was moreover a jaw-bone among these scattered remains, which was at first assumed naturally enough to belong to Eoanthropus, but which it was afterwards suggested was probably that of a chimpanzee. It is extraordinarily like that of a chimpanzee, but Dr. Keith, one of the greatest authorities in these questions, assigns it, after an exhaustive analysis in his Antiquity of Man (1915), to the skull with which it is found. It is, as a jaw- bone, far less human in character than the jaw of the much more ancient Homo Heidelbergensis, but the teeth are in some respects more like those of living men.

Dr. Keith, swayed by the jaw-bone, does not think that Eoanthropus, in spite of its name, is a creature in the direct ancestry of man. Much less is it an intermediate form between the Heidelberg man and the Neanderthal man we shall presently describe. It was only related to the true ancestor of man as the orang is related to the chimpanzee. It was one of a number of sub-human running apes of more than ape-like intelligence, and if it was not on the line royal, it was at any rate a very close collateral."

Again, this is not an endorsement of Piltdown's place in human ancestry - far from it, since Keith is specifically cited as saying that it was not.

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