Someone pointed out to me a particularly unsettling post on a particular anti-Mormon website. I want to point out that I myself have never once looked at this website for myself lest I be taken in by Satan and lose my testimony. However, one of the sisters in my ward did explain the gist of the post and after encouraging her to prayerfully repent her visit to that unholy website, I took to writing this blog entry so that others will not have to resort to their own thinking to solve such unsettling questions.
The question was, “Why aren’t Neanderthals mentioned in the Bible?” Sister Wilson happens to be currently enrolled in a Physical Anthropology class, in which she has been learning all kinds of upsetting information on Human origins. For example: DNA evidence points to Africa as the birth place of the human race and not Independence, Missouri, where we know that the garden of Eden was because it was revealed by God himself to our Prophet Joseph Smith. Her teacher has told her that scientists have tested the DNA of African people and found that they had far greater genetic variation between them than Europeans or Asians indicating that those groups of people existed for a longer period of time in that area.
Archeologists have also dug up numerous skeletons of what they call “hominids” in Africa, some as old as 4 million years, that they claim show the beginnings of human traits such as bipedalism. They say they know this because of the shape of the pelvis and the lack of an opposable big toe such as Chimpanzees have, they have even found foot prints of a female and male hominid walking side by side!
Not only that, but they have found numerous Neanderthal skeletons, a species of human like creatures that not only walked upright but also used tools, buried their dead, created clothing, could speak language, and probably had complicated social systems just like us, but who were an entirely different species! They have physical evidence and DNA evidence as they just finished decoding the entire Neanderthal genome and it turns out, scientists say, that they were a heck of a lot like us. They even lived side by side modern Homo sapiens for thousands of years in Europe before they died out mysteriously 30,000 years ago.
And not only that, but apparently there are all kinds of other species of Humans that were wandering the earth: Homo erectus, Homo floriensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis…all following what seems to be the normal pattern of evolution of any species like horses or cats, not the divine creation of Man set apart from the animals.
Sister Wilson cried, if this is true, if scientists are right, not only is the earth billions of years old and the human race as we know it can’t possibly have descended in the last 6000 from two people in Missouri, but Heavenly Father didn’t set us apart at all. There were all kinds of other people on the earth too. Who were the Neanderthals in the pre-existence? Most importantly: they’ve died out completely before any ability to know Christ or record their genealogy so that we can baptize them and allow them to accept the Gospel in the spirit world. How will they become Gods in the celestial Kingdom?!?
When faced with all this evidence and all these questions it surely can make one’s head spin. Sister Wilson was clearly distraught, so I did what any responsible sister and Relief Society President would do. We consulted the Scriptures.
First to D&C…nothing in there. Then Book of Mormon…nothing there. Hmm Old Testament? Ha! Genesis 6:4:
There were a in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
So we know that there were also the “sons of God” on the earth in the early days also known as the Nephilim (Any relation to the Nephites? That will have to wait for another blog post). And that they came unto the daughters of Men and created mighty men…They were already sons of God so there is no need for them to accept the Gospel on this earth or in the after life because they were already gods. The Bible wins!
Sister Wilson was still not completely convinced. Neanderthals were shorter than modern humans…certainly no giants. And scientists aren’t sure if they could interbreed with Homo Sapiens because they were a completely different species (evidence could be interpreted either way.) She continued to logically reason out that what we think sets us apart from the animal kingdom is the fact that we talk and use tools and can love and feel the spirit of Christ. This indicates to us that we have souls when all the other animals don’t. But if Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers does that not indicate that they understood death? That they loved their deceased? That they had what we would call a soul? If this is just a normal step in human evolution that comes with the development of the cerebral cortex and thus self-awareness…then there is no need for a savior…no need for God. We are all a natural biproduct of evolution and we are not alone. We are not special.
I can tell you that when she uttered those last words the spirit who had been halfway out the door, hurried up and vamoosed. I could feel the adversary creeping up on us, surrounding us, waiting for his chance to steal our testimonies and turn us from the path back to our Heavenly Father.
So I bore my testimony as hard as could and encouraged Sister Wilson to do the same. She said that she couldn’t until she had an answer.
I was a little stumped. Of course, I could speculate and come up with the “Doctrine of Sister Bobister” but that would take time and would be beyond blasphemous, so we got down on our knees and together we prayed to Heavenly Father to give us an answer.
After about 30 minutes of honest praying, my foot fell asleep. I got up to walk around but as it was in pins and needles I faltered and knocked over a bible dictionary. It opened to the page that held Heavenly Father’s answer:
Mystery. Denotes in the N.T. a spiritual truth that was once hidden but now is revealed, and that, without special revelation, would have remained unknown. It is generally used along with words denoting revelation or publication (e.g., Rom. 16:25–26; Eph. 1:9; 3:3–10; Col. 1:26; 4:3; 1 Tim. 3:16). The modern meaning of something incomprehensible forms no part of the significance of the word as it occurs in the N.T. See also Alma 12:9–11;40:3; D&C 19:10; 42:61–65; 76:5–10. On the other hand, there is no spiritual gain in idle speculation about things the Lord has not revealed. See Deut. 29:29; Alma 37:11
Of course! Mystery. There are just some things in this life that we will never know. And we have to be content to wait until we are on the other side of the veil to understand all of Heavenly Father’s mysterious ways. Sister Wilson and I could have sat in that room reading over all the evidence that Anthropologists, Archeologists, and Geneticists have found and compared their findings to the scriptures and then weighed the evidence in both directions and seen which hypothesis best fit the facts, but we both know that the Gospel is true, so in the end we would have chosen the eternal words of our Lord Jesus Christ over anything scientists whose theories keep changing have to say.
Now Sister Wilson and I can spend our time more productively loving God, being happy, and studying the scriptures. I suggested that Sister Wilson take a different class, one that would not cause so much strife and create such an easy path for the adversary, like Home Economics or something on The Book of Mormon.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.