Concerning Neanderthals

Two of the most common questions I’ve dealt with when talking to atheists and YECs about evolution and the Bible are these:

“Did Jesus die on the cross for the sins of Neanderthals?”

“Did Neanderthals worship God? If your answer is yes, then, were they waiting for Jesus?”

They are pretty interesting and hard to answer. I came across them at (don’t waste your time with that website) and then at several other places.

What would be your answer?

My answer is that I don’t know and it’s not my job to know. I’m confident God has that stuff well in hand. I don’t think much gets past Him.


I’m of the opinion that God has a relationship with all of his creatures, in a manner appropriate for each species. Beyond that things get blurry, but, as you say, that’s God’s domain, not mine.


If I’m not mistaken, this is a thread you can find in the writings of C.S. Lewis, if @archicastor1 wants to go digging a bit for that. Sorry I don’t have a more specific reference.

Isn’t it a statement of the bizarre state of YEC-atheist discussion that this is one of the most common topics for debate? I mean, of all the things you could argue about… [smh]


This is kind of related. In Theology in the Context of Science, John Polkinghorne talks about the status of extra-terrestrials, if any exist. It’s a topic that has been discussed in earlier times, with the only question being whether Jesus died for them also, OR would Jesus have to take on their flesh and die again.

So as others have pointed out, God isn’t in a quandary about how to handle different situations.


Debating YECs can be hard sometimes. Some of them (like Justin Derby) are pretty intelligent, but you can learn what they think to counter their arguments effectively.

And, if you have debated an atheist about topics like the existence of God, you know what they can come up with. Ever heard of It’s not only one of the worst sites atheists could have created to bash Christianity, but they also invent all sorts of things with the sole purpose of confusing Christians. They have an article talking about this subject (Jesus and Neanderthals).

It might come as a relief to you to know that we don’t have all the answers. Neither do atheists. Nobody does!



Instead of you trying to answer these questions, have them explain their questions by answering your questions regarding meaning:

  1. Was Adam a Neanderthal? Tell them you will go along with whatever they say about that.

  2. Do they think Neanderthal expected an afterlife? If they say no, then you can say no. If they say yes, then you can ask then why wasn’t Adam a Neanderthal? (assuming they don’t think Adam was).

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My hat is off to you, Juan. I have a hard enough time calmly responding to the small handful of YEC folks that find their way onto these boards. I would never want to wander onto their turf and willfully invite their scorn. I find that in these discussions, they often don’t really want to listen to our evidence, even when they come here to engage us in discussion. Some are actually curious to understand, which is always delightful, but others are looking to pick a fight or whatever.

Thankfully, most of my debates with atheists were in high school (many, many moons ago) with atheist friends. These friends were firm in their non-belief, but not at all nasty about it. This was back in my most fundamentalist phase, and I think these atheists were just curious about my seemingly bizarre beliefs since they had never met a real “Bible thumper” type of Christian before. :slight_smile: So I’m not sure I know what they would come up with in 2017, and I’m not sure I want to dive into that conversation. Let’s just say I’m glad that you’re happy to engage with them on topics like Neanderthal salvation! Bless you, brother! :slight_smile:


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There is little archeological evidence older than ~40K B.P. that can inform us what Neanderthals thought. The purposeful Neanderthal burials discovered so far give no evidence other than it was for sanitary purposes. On the other hand, some later Homo sapiens burials had tools and jewelry suitable for an afterlife, which is fairly strong evidence that they had the desire to return to their Creator.
Al Leo


Interesting. Do you have any article on the subject?

For what it’s worth, this is how my Original Blessing approach views this topic: (It is an extension of Teilhard de Chardin’s philosophy, and I believe it is compatible with Polkinghorn’s.)

In creating our Universe, God desired to have one (or more) of the creatures it was destined to produce to become conscious of His creative role, and render Him homage and gratitude for it. Since He may have allowed many ways life could begin and many ways for it to develop, He may have, from the very beginning, allowed for an aspect of His spirit to become a Universal Guide and Savior (Christ) whatever direction creation took in a local environment. On planet Earth, life seems to have developed through an evolutionary process that encouraged survival–often at the expense of selfishness and other properties not in line with His objective of Bearing His Image. Even after He bestowed on a primate species, Homo sapiens, the gift of Mind and Conscience so that His will could be discerned, the gift was spurned. It was then up to Jesus, as Universal Christ, to ‘take up the Cross’ and by rejecting the selfishness of animal instincts (which he also had as a true human), to accept his invitation to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus took on our human flesh to show that it was possible for us to do that, too. We can only speculate how conscious life on other planets could have developed. Their ‘evolution’ may not have required the degree of selfishness that ours appears to have had. Perhaps they did not need the Universal Christ to ‘intervene’ in their behalf. If they did, perhaps Christ would have taken on their genome. Certainly it would NOT have been the human, Jesus.
Al Leo

Sure, we don’t know “what Neanderthals thought,” but we have interesting and increasing evidence for Neanderthal culture.

There is strong debate about what the burials mean. There is in fact evidence of the existence of rites, not so much in the graves but in other behaviors. In my opinion, efforts to draw such strong lines between H. sapiens and Neanderthals are too forced. Read more here and here.


I see them as our equals.

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I have read that some suggest that the Neanderthals were the Nephilim referred to in Genesis, as the fallen ones. If so the question might be did Jesus die for the Nephilim? Furthermore many of us carry Neanderthal genes. So did Jesus die for us? Of course the answer is YES.

What would make you associate the Neanderthals with the Nephilim?

Here is one example but many other articles discuss this possibility. The idea that we as descendants of Adam have Neanderthal genes is a bit troubling to us Christians. But a crossbread with Nephilim would explain it bilblically perhaps.

Thinking about the subject carefully, I think that Neanderthals DID worship God. This is my argument in favour of this:

  1. All things in nature, no matter what they are, worship God in some way.
  2. Neanderthals were part of nature.
  3. Therefore, Neanderthals worshipped God.

The article you shared firmly rebuts that Neanderthals were Nephilim, concluding that:

Could the Neanderthals have actually been the biblical Nephilim? No. When comparing the two, it is easy to stretch a little if you separate individual aspects and look for specific qualities out of context. But the time frames don’t line up, their physical characteristics do not match, and their behavior and culture do not compare well. There are too many discrepancies for this theory to be true.

In the Bible, the Nephilim were clearly evil huge dudes and the book of Enoch goes into more detail of their characteristics according to that article. All of this, in my opinion is dangerously close to one of the worst crimes Christians have committed regularly for centuries: we have the image of God and you don’t. We have done this to our own species many many times. I’m of course not saying you or anyone on this thread is there, but the original question proposed reminds me of how we’ve done so much evil to one another in the name of the image of God.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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