In his book, Bones of Contention, professor Marvin Lubenow tells the sad story of Sir Arthur Keith, one of the greatest anatomists of the twentieth century. Sir Arthur Keith was born in 1866 and died in 1955. According to his autobiography, as a young man he attended evangelistic meetings in Edinburgh and Aberdeen and watched students make their commitments to Jesus Christ. He himself often felt “on the verge of conversion,” yet he resisted, rejecting the gospel because he felt that the Genesis account of Creation was just a myth and the Bible was merely a human book.
In 1908, a discovery was made of some bones, buried deep in a gravel pit, just forty miles from downtown London. Keith became intrigued by the discovery and soon, it was announced by the Geological Society of London that these were the remains of the earliest know Englishman, Eoanthropus dawsoni – otherwise known as Piltdown Man. The vast majority of paleoanthropologists worldwide hailed this as a great discovery of our human ancestors.
Piltdown Man became the obsession of Sir Arthur Keith. To him it was the validation of his evolutionary beliefs – the missing link – and he wrote more on Piltdown Man than anyone else – even though some five hundred doctoral dissertations were written about this discovery. Sir Arthur Keith’s famous work, The Antiquity of Man, centered on the Piltdown fossils.
In 1953, science caught up with speculation, and the British Museum proclaimed the entire thing a fraud. The jawbone was not much older than the year it was found. The bones had been treated with iron salts to make them appear old; scratch marks, invisible to the naked eye, revealed that the sharp teeth had been recently filed down.
Sir Arthur Keith was eighty-six years old when some of his colleagues visited him at his home to break the news that the fossil he had trusted in for forty years was a hoax, just two years before he died. The bones he had been obsessed with, convinced they proved Creation a myth, had themselves been a fraud . . . and his writings were nothing more than myth and speculation (Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, p. 156).
For whom are you investing your life?