Chew on This: Recently a number of questions have been raised at Creation Research meetings about evolutionary claims that evolving humans developed larger brains and became more intelligent because they changed from a vegetarian to a meat diet. Various theories have been put forward as to why the brain should grow with such a dietary change. One is that a higher protein diet enabled brains to grow. Another is that the manual dexterity involved in hunting and butchering was selective pressure to develop larger brains. Yet another is that hunting in groups requires good communication and forward planning and this stimulated the brain to grow.

The most recent theory is that a mutation in the jaw muscles of apes caused jaw muscles to become weaker and apes with weaker jaws took to eating meat rather than chewing tough leaves. This allowed the braincase to grow larger because it didn’t have to support bulky jaw muscles. Not all evolutionary scientists agree with this last theory. Ralph Holloway, a physical anthropologist at Columbia University commented in ScienceNOW, 24 March 2004, “To suggest that the brain is constrained by chewing muscles is just rubbish.”

Editorial Comment: Lack of protein and other nutrients, especially during childhood, does inhibit proper growth of the brain, but only if it is extreme. In the right environment it is possible to get a more than adequate diet for brain growth from a vegetarian diet. But it is not enough just to provide an adequate supply of raw materials to build a big brain. You need the genetic instructions for it first. The same problem applies to any theories about physical, mental and communication skills involved in hunting. A big, complex brain may enable these, but those activities won’t build a brain in the first place. As for the weak jaw theory – anyone who has chewed on a piece of tough steak would know that chewing meat requires just as much muscle power as chewing fruit, vegetables and grains.

Genesis provides a much more logical explanation of human intelligence and diet. According to Genesis 1, the first created human beings originally lived on a diet of plants, fruit etc. they were complete vegetarians and in the very good world God made there was abundant nutritious and varied plant food. Because human beings were made in the image of God and were given dominion over the earth, they were also made as intelligent observers who had good communication skills. After Noah’s flood, the coming of winter and summer made vegetarianism much more difficult and God gave humans permission to eat meat. (Genesis 9:3-6) Can you imagine the problems facing vegetarian Eskimos? Mankind simply moved to using his already built-in abilities to hunt animals and prepare meat for eating. (Ref. diets, vegetarianism, human evolution)

Evidence News 17th May 2007