Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus, is the newest star in the field of paleontology. Both National Geographic and The Discovery Channel are promoting this discovery on their websites and television programs. This announcement is the culmination of research and studies that began in Ethiopia in 1994. Ardi has supplanted Lucy, the previous record holder of the oldest fossil with direct links to modern man. According to the National Geographic website:
The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin’s time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link–resembling something between humans and today’s apes–would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior–long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors–is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings…
The Ardipithecus ramidus fossils were discovered in Ethiopia’s harsh Afar desert at a site called Aramis in the Middle Awash region, just 46 miles (74 kilometers) from where Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, was found in 1974. Radiometric dating of two layers of volcanic ash that tightly sandwiched the fossil deposits revealed that Ardi lived 4.4 million years ago.
This means that we no longer have to consider ourselves as directly linked to chimpanzees. The remains of Ardi indicate that there is no missing link in the family tree of humans. Ardi is the forerunner of man. Or at least that is what these researchers are telling us. The question remains, however, will another skeleton be found that will disprove the theories about Ardi? Will this information about the human family tree eventually need to be labeled as irrelevant also?
The reason that these findings are an issue has to do with starting points. Paleontologists believe that Darwin is essentially correct. The belief is that modern man has emerged as a species as the result of a process–a random process, at that. This belief is one that offers a stark alternative to the biblical view that man is not the result of a random process.
In Genesis we read that man, as a species, is the product of the mind of God. Man was not–and then he was. Man was planned by God before there was a Universe. Genesis records that God executed his plan at a particular time and place of his choosing. Somewhere in the geographic area known as the Ancient Near East, God created man from the earth that he had also created for this exact purpose.
the LORD God formed the man from
the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and
the man became a living being. Gen. 2:7 NIV
So man is not the result of a random process, but the result of a plan. That is why the earth looks as though it produced man via the agency of a process, evolved over time. But the reason that man fits with the earth is not that he evolved through a process, but that the earth was created on purpose, as a habitat in which man would live and move and have his being. Genesis 2:7 plainly teaches that man did not result from a natural process. God took the natural, the dust of the ground, and added to it the supernatural breath of life–and man became a living being. Man was not–then he was.
The proponents of the evolutionary process do countless hours, days, weeks, and years of challenging study, only to have these labors swept aside by a single line in an article in National Geographic that deems their work irrelevant. Why? Because someone found some old bones in an arid, desolate place, and used these bones to write a new page in paleontological history. I suspect this process of research, conclusion and irrelevancy will continue as long as unbelief itself continues. You see, what is missing is not a link, but belief!
Attempting to discover man’s beginnings based on the belief that man is the result of a process will never lead to understanding who man is or how his struggles can be resolved. Following the path of process inevitably leads to false hope and even to a sense of betrayal. The sense of betrayal comes when all the energy expended in searching for understanding of the process leaves one with more questions than answers, no matter how hard one works. But God calls all men to a different belief. Man naturally rejects and suppresses that belief (Romans 1:18). So man’s mistaken faith in the process inevitably leads to betrayal and frustration.
Genesis tells a different story. Genesis tells the story of a plan carefully and faithfully executed by the living God of Heaven and Earth. Genesis teaches us that at just the right time God brought man into existence on this planet. The express purpose of planet Earth was to provide the ideal environment in which man could bring honor and glory to God in the universe.