A Lesson from the Neanderthals

Most, if not all, of us have a dollop of Neanderthal DNA in our make-up. Gradually we are learning that Neanderthals were not the brutal beings we once thought they were, though they must clearly have been bold and handy with a spear to have survived for 200,000 years. They were capable of art, which means they must have been capable of thought and reflection. More tellingly, recent archaeological studies have revealed that they were capable of compassion and care of the sick. Most Neanderthal bones show signs of injury, some quite serious. A recent find indicates that one man with a withered arm and broken leg survived for about ten years after being hurt. Someone must have cared for him. The BBC reporter announcing this called it evidence of compassion. I think I would go further and simply call it ‘love’. The Neanderthals interbred with homo sapiens. Their legacy to us is still being worked out but I’d say that their being compassionate and caring for the weak, of loving those who were physically unable to contribute much to the hard life the Neanderthals lived, is a lesson we could all do with learning, wouldn’t you?


11 thoughts on “A Lesson from the Neanderthals”

  1. It’s an interesting observation that the term Neanderthals is often used when discussing or describing behaviour which might be termed unfortunate at best or violent at worst.

    But the evidence is quite to the contrary, they were very human in a primitive way and can be seen (in my view) part of God’s plan for mankind, which links into Genesis and creation in many subtle ways.

    I can’t argue with your logic on this.


    • The biblical statement, I would suggest, is a poetic rather than literal explanation of creation. I myself have no difficulty with the theory of evolution: I think it gives us even more to wonder at — and takes nothing away from God.

      • One thing I’ve wondered about those who believe we evolved from animals is at what point then did we receive our souls or did God always enable those from who we were evolving to look outward, searching for God? It’s an interesting conversation and I’m not sure if accepting a literal stance of God creating Adam from dust is the answer. Both positions take faith to believe.

      • What is the big bang like? It’s like a Farmer who took a mustard seed and sowed it in his field. The seed germinated and exploded into life. Soon it was a plant and eventually it became a tree big enough for the birds to come roost in its branches.

        Creation is like a tree and life is literally roosting in its branches. Just like we are right now on the planet Earth roosting in the branches of a spiral galaxy called the Milky-way.

    • What’s incredible is that stars are made from clouds of dust so large they are beyond comprehension.
      Every single chemical element on this planet, including every last living cell in our bodies is made from star dust.
      Everything came from dust and will return to dust.

  2. Perhaps the Neanderthals left us with the best of humanity. Wouldn’t that be something? God does have a wry sense of humor-IMHO.

  3. I recall the 100 Objects from the British Museum and Rowan Williams commentary on the Lion man a sculpture of a man with a lions head around 35,000/40,000 BC. Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel. It looks primitive but is incredibly advanced. Creating a being that is not real, and probably took around 2 months of carving from mammoth ivory tusks is not what you expect from subsistence hunter-gatherers. Rowan Williams pointed out that something seems to have happened with our ancestors around 50,000BC. They stopped just creating functional tools but you then have an explosion of cave art (art is quite the wrong term – they weren’t creating an art gallery). They looked at the world in a different way. And perhaps started wondering where they came from and where they were going too…….

    • All this is great news for Christians. I believe that Adam and Eve came from a time way before the ice age. Whole civilisations came and went that we are only now finding the clues to. These even include a human species of giants called the Denisovans who had great knowledge. Lots of ‘stuff’ happened between the time of Adam and Noah but essentially no matter how many times Gods Spirit spoke to them through Prophets unknown to us they keep getting it wrong and become overwhelmed by evil. So God wipes these civilisations from the face of the Earth by sending a comet to impact the planet over 12000 years ago, the comet hit the North American ice sheet which was two miles deep and basically melted the entire thing in the space of about a month. The following deluge made global sea levels rise 400 feet in the blink of an eye and wiped the slate clean.
      So humanity and the world enter the period we call history. The period we are now in. So apart from a few distractions what is the main event concerning this time? It’s Jesus. God says look I’ve tried everything to get these guys to come to me but they keep misinterpreting me I am going to have to go to them Myself. So he sends His Own dear Son with the Good News to show the Way to the Truth and to Life. Jesus.

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