“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”
You must remember the pictures of Neanderthals that you saw in high school textbooks. These creatures were drawn to look like subhuman brutes. They had angry, but unintelligent looking faces. The men almost certainly pulled their womenfolk around by the hair, and arguments were settled with a brutish looking club.
Of course, in recent years, many articles have been published to soften this image that we have. It has been shown that Neanderthals could make flutes out of bones, but they were still not fully human. They buried their dead with what appears to be the ritual use of flowering plants, but they were still not fully human. Now, a new study by the University of York has suggested that Neanderthals cared for their sick and elderly. Dr. Penny Spikins of the University of York said, “Our findings suggest Neanderthals didn’t think in terms of whether others might repay their efforts, they just responded to their feelings about seeing their loved ones suffering.”
One Neanderthal body shows evidence of having suffered from a degenerative disease. This disease would probably have rendered him incapable of fully independent living for the last 12 months of his life. Yet, he was buried with all the same ritual honors as Neanderthals without disease. The York study claims that this suggests the Neanderthal man must have received a pretty high level of health care.
We should not be surprised by such care. Biblically speaking, we simply accept Neanderthals as fellow human beings, descended from Adam and made in the image of God.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You have given all of us common grace, so that people are not as wicked as they could possibly be, but often show signs of the compassion for others that You have for us all. Amen.
Ref: University of York. “Compassion helped Neanderthals to survive, new study reveals.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180313130443.htm>. Image: Adobe Stock Images, licensed to author.