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Quantity of Stone-Age skeletons (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Quantity of Stone-Age skeletons (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC381:

Evolutionary anthropologists say Stone-Age people, who buried their dead, were around for about 185,000 years, at a population between one and ten million. If these numbers are correct, they would have buried at least eight billion bodies, but we have found remains of only a few thousand. That is more in line with an age of only a few hundred years before history.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

  1. The fact that some people buried bodies does not mean all did. In many cases, such as wars, plagues, natural disasters, and lone people getting lost, people get killed without even any consideration of funerals. Some land, such as swamps, hardpans, and ground frozen in winter, makes burial impractical at best. Even today, common funerary practices include incineration, exposure to the scavengers and elements, and burial at sea.
  2. Burial alone does not preserve a body.
    • In many acid soils, all organic matter can easily decay in 1,000 years. Hot, damp conditions in the tropics will also decay bodies and leech bones quickly.
    • Groundwater, plant roots, digging animals, or a combination of these can also speed decay to the point where nothing would remain after a few thousand years.
    • Erosion or reuse of the land by humans may unbury the body, at least to the point that the bones are subject to greater decay.
    • Sea level rise, volcanism, modern construction, or other processes may make the land unreachable now.
All of these are significant factors. Fossilization is not a common process. And we have examined only a tiny fraction of the land where bodies might be buried. The few thousand remains we have found are well in line with a 185,000-year human history. We would not expect the burial of artifacts to be common. There would be no reason to bury cheaper tools, such as pounding stones, with people. More valuable artifacts would not likely be buried with poor people.

Yes, Talk Origins has succeeded in showing that it is possible to explain the data in terms of 185,000 years, but Dr Humphreys never claims that it can't. The point is that the data most naturally fits into only a few hundred years.

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