Just Below the Angels
My heart still quickens every time I remember my introduction to Biology 151 and the intimidating Dr. Stein. With his penchant of lecturing while smacking a yard stick in his hand, and carefully trimmed pointed goatee with starched lab coat, he had the well-earned reputation of weeding out all but the most committed science students. “David Milotta,” he stumbled with the pronunciation as he called from the roster on the first day of class, “What is your biggest question in biology?”
My eyes were drawn to the evolutionary chart of man, which stretched from wall to wall above the blackboard. It portrayed human evolution from monkey to modern man. On the far left-hand side were depicted small monkey relatives who over time gradually stood upright and became the great apes, on to the humanoid primates called Neanderthals, then progressing to Cro-Magnoid man (who looks suspiciously like many rugby or football players). Modern man completed the chart with its time line stretching back 500,000 years. The implications were clear.
I blurted, “That whole chart above your head is a lie. There’s no way man is evolved from monkeys.”
I’ll always remember the way he dismissed my opinion with “Son, this is why you go to college, so you can be educated in the truth. Anthropologists will soon discover the missing link.”
Upon my return from college I asked my father about his opinion on human origins.
He replied with a prophetic honesty, “The Neanderthal man is an evolutionary dead end and not a human relative. God created us just below the angels. If we ever discover a Big Foot or yeti, it will be proved to be a relative to a giant ape and not a missing link to a human.”
I clung to that anchor of truth for forty years. Imagine my joy when I recently read in the ScienceDaily of July 16, 2008.
“Results demonstrate for the first time that the anatomical differences between Neandertals and Cro-Magnoids were associated with clear genetic differences. The Neanderthal people, who lived in Europe for nearly 300,000 years, are not the ancestors of modern Europeans.”
“You made him a little lower than the angels and crown him with glory and honor.”