Are Europeans Neandertal?

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The London Daily Telegraph reported in August 2006 that “People of European descent may be five percent Neanderthal.” The Telegraph was reporting the findings of a study group headed by Dr. Vincent Plagnol of the University of Southern California.

This group analyzed a grand total of 34 people from Utah. Some of these were of Northern or Western European descent and some were from the Yoruba people from West Africa. The researchers found anomalies in their comparisons of genetic information. They explained these by supposing that the Europeans’ genes were not simply from the supposed human ancestors migrating from Africa, but contained the DNA of another archaic human species-probably Neandertals.

Plagnol explained, “Instead of a population that left Africa 100,000 years ago and replaced all other archaic human groups, we propose that this population interacted with another population that had been in Europe for much longer, maybe 400,000 years.”1

The dominant theory of human evolution has it that all humans evolved from creatures in Africa about 2.5 million years ago. What is not widely understood is that not all evolutionary biologists accept the “Out of Africa” model. This is seen clearly in the controversies over the so-called Homo floresiensis, or hobbit people, from Indonesia—now recognized to be nothing more than a dwarf normal human.2


Some racists do use evolutionary ideas to propagate their own agenda.
While the majority of evolutionists are not racist, some racists do use evolutionary ideas to propagate their own agenda. If Homo sapiens sapiens has a variety of ancestors, then some races may be more evolved than others. This sort of idea was frequently used in the past to support the idea of white supremacy and superiority. Even as recently as the late 1960s, when I was in primary school, I can recall my (white) teacher telling my all-white class about “stone-age” people in Africa and New Guinea. One British politician has (rightly in my view) recently got into trouble for repeating such views.

That is why the “Out of Africa” model is so convenient for evolutionists, as they can continue to believe their theory, while accepting that all humans have a common ancestor. Such a consensus is challenged by research such as that reported in the Telegraph. While news stories were reporting that those of us with European ancestry might contain Neandertal genes, another study claimed that Neandertals were “much more like modern humans than had previously been thought.”1 This rehabilitation of the stereotypical cavemen will be bad news for evolutionists like Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, who described my anti-evolutionary opinions as “those of a caveman” in a radio debate earlier this year.3

The danger of this slightly different evolutionary genetic trail for white European humans could easily be seized upon by those who want to reinforce racist, white supremacist views. This would be analogous to the reactions to the hoax of Piltdown Man, which was hailed as proof of the superior pedigree of the white race.

Biblical View

The Bible takes an altogether different view. Human beings of different so-called races did not descend from different “archaic” human species. Nor did they evolve from a common ancestor with apes. Rather, Genesis tells us that we all descended from Noah’s family that disembarked from the Ark, and hence all descended from Adam. In fact, there is only one race of humans—Adam’s race. Many people groups scattered throughout the earth following the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11. Isolated populations could easily have taken on different characteristics, like the dwarfism of the hobbit people, or the Pygmy tribes of Africa, or the large noses and beetle brows (associated with Neandertal descent) of many Europeans. Yet these characteristics are simply family differences. As the Apostle Paul said, “He (God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26a). I am not worried if I have Neandertal genes. It does not make me superior or inferior to any of the other descendents of Adam, nor does it incline me toward chronological racism regarding the Neandertals-who were also certainly fully human and descended from Adam.


  1. There is a Little Neanderthal in a lot of us, Daily Telegraph, August 29, 2006.
  2. The “Hobbit” is just a pygmy after all, claim scientists, Daily Telegraph, August 22, 2006.
  3. See “Wilful Ignorance” of the English National Curriculum.


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