By Dale Smelser
Having reviewed the first volume of The Doorway Papers in a previous issue, the reader is referred there for introductory remarks. In the volume, Genesis and Early Man, a work in the field of anthropology, Arthur Custance critically examines the inadequacies of evolutionary theory in this area and presents available evidence more consistent with the Biblical view of man, his nature and habitation. Here is another work of a reputable scientist who believes the earth in its present order is just a few thousand years old, that God created it, and this present order was brought about in six days. The expression, “present order”, is indicative of a peculiar view of the earth’s existence that is held by Dr. Custance. More will be said about this in reviewing Volume IV: Creation or Evolution.
While this volume is the least well organized for the series and is repetitious, in itself and repeating material in other volumes, it will be appreciated for the fact that it deals with evolution as it is most effectively presented in the popular media. It studies the “ape men,” the stone age, and “primitive” fossils, especially skulls.
The work begins with some admitted oversimplification and has some theories that present problems. But as Custance notes, Neo-Darwinism is “shot through” with problems and is still respectable. And this work is such as to be scientifically respectable. For example, it contains one paper advocating great intelligence in early man, showing that intellectually he never was behind modern man. Submitting it as a student to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, he received a grade of “A . . . . “, with the comment, “A very excellent and scholarly treatment”.
After presenting material indicting Darwinism as a faith without sufficient reason, his most fascinating material deals with the various levels of man’s culture. Evolutionary thought of course holds that these have been consecutive, beginning with the very crude and supposing that each advance was a step toward the present. It is Custance’s view that these varied cultures were contemporary; that man began as a civilized being and then degenerated. He cites much evidence, including the study of recent primitive peoples such as the Australian Aborigines. He thus shows that while primitive circumstances may exist in one place, a high level of culture may prevail elsewhere at the same time.
The primitive fossils we find hence do not necessarily represent earliest man, but degraded man; “man in the breaking, not in the making.” His information on cultural degradation is exciting and right on the mark scripturally. He also details information which suggests that diet, environment, the inbreeding of small isolated groups, and glandular function are sufficient to account for man in the various sizes and forms, and with the variantly shaped skulls, we have found. He cites some notable authorities along the way and shows that “fossil types” could actually be traced back to what man is now, that is, such types could descend from modern type men, rather than being “modern” man’s ancestors. He reports both types having lived together, some in the same time and locale. Hence their cultures overlapped. He tells of modern type skulls which are older than primitive type skulls. In my own study I have found evolutionists examining such information and then disregarding it with the comment, “It couldn’t be.” But the evidence is there. Thus our information of ancient man presents us with a “contemporaneity of cultures rather than successive” ones.
Rather than ignoring puzzling data, Custance effectively deals with such in a way more satisfying than evolutionary thought has been able to. He presents studies of intelligence and cranial capacity showing evolutionary thought to be presumptive. He takes to task the imaginative reconstructions of ancient man, showing their scientific inadequacy, as well as chiding Thomas Huxley for his “doctored” series of skeletons which are popular in textbooks.
In short, the book is a series of papers on anthropology. It presents a view of man from available evidence that harmonizes with the scriptures, offering some cultural minutiae that throw light on some scriptural episodes. If you find some of the latter more speculative than substantive, such is admitted.
Some of the included papers are a few years old and do not thus deal with some recent events, as Richard Leaky’s latest finds in Africa. But such is his material that it anticipated what nas been found; man in relatively modern form existing before the primitive “cave man” type.
One nice feature is that Custance has done a good job of minimizing “technicalese” jargon and has written in popular style. He sometimes takes time to explain technical statements in laymen’s terms. He does take for granted some familiarity with anthropology, anal one would do well to look up such terms as paleolithic, mesolithic, and neolithic. It would also help to refer to a geological time table to see the significance of the Pleistocene Epoch. But do not be afraid of this book just because you have no extensive scientific background. If you have some curiosity about “cave men” and want to answer questions of young people about them; this book will held.
Truth Magazine XXII: 27, p. 434
July 13, 1978