Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3 (NRSV)
How Neanderthal are you?
It was not that long ago that anthropologists were convinced that modern humans and Neanderthals were completely separate species that could not possibly have produced viable offspring. There were notions that the two different types of humans may have reproduced but their children would have been infertile - the mules of humanity.
|Neanderthals were much denser in bone and muscle mass|
than we are today and would have made great linebackers.
Now, genetic markers in the DNA of descendants from Europe and East Asia indicate that 1-3% of their genes are Neanderthal in origin.
The offspring of the two ancient humans were not so sterile after all it seems.
Some Christians find this very disturbing and refuse to believe it.
Others may seek to poke holes in the science that gives us these findings.
But there are also Christians that don't have any difficulty integrating the Bible and this news.
Before I strongly felt God's call upon my life, I majored in Anthropology for a time. I still continued to attend church regularly and was part of a minority on campus that was in worship every Sunday morning.
In fact, I continue to read articles on human origins to this day - one of my hobbies, you might say. Some people have not found a congregation where they can integrate their belief in science and their faith in God and I suppose that I write this today for them.
For me, the Bible is a sacred text that tells the human story as a spiritual story. It tells us how we connect with God. In the Genesis account, there is a fundamental reverence for creation in that God repeatedly "saw that it was good."
The people who were divinely inspired to write down the stories of creation (the two stories written in chapter one and chapters two-three are from different authors and read very differently) certainly didn't have the precise knowledge that we do today. In fact, they didn't think about the world in the same way that we do across an ocean and across over two millennium.
Yet, they tell us important things about our faith and about God that are invaluable to us today. They have shaped me in ways that are fundamental to my identity as a person.
So as I read about science and find things like Neanderthals buried their dead, I see that they were likely spiritual people as well. It shouldn't be that surprising that I would share more with them than a belief in the afterlife. We are kin in more ways than one.
And God saw that it was good.
Photo by hairymuseummatt (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmnh/3033749380/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons