Friday, February 19, 2010

Neanderthal Baptism by Proxy

Our trip to the temple this week for youth baptisms went as expected. Three boys were asked to leave after displaying scoring cards, Olympics-style, as the young women climbed out of the font in their white, clinging frocks. A dozen, or so, of the youth had cell phones confiscated while engrossed in texting (hopefully not taking pictures of other youth in wet-whites).

When it was my turn to baptize, I started out with great zeal. I think I knocked out about 20 within the first minute, but then I started getting those Eastern European names that are impossible to pronounce for us internationally-challenged Utahans. As the names got harder, my mind started drifting to stories I’ve heard since my youth about the spirits of the dead gathering around the fonts in the temple, waiting for their baptisms to be completed, or pointing to the dropped baptism card that was theirs. Then, something struck me like a slap from a drunken hillbilly. (No offense meant, Sister Larken, I know you don't drink.)

I’ve never heard anyone ever mention having a vision of any Geico-esque Neanderthal spirits standing around the font waiting for their turns, having ditched their furs for white togas. Is this just a matter of lingering Neanderthal-denial and prejudice in the Church? If most members still hold on to a young-world belief, do we just dismiss the need for Neanderthal baptisms for the dead on the technicality that they were born on the earth before the earth was? Or before the earth was ushered in as, ‘official’ by a talking snake?

Maybe there was a line drawn on earth’s evolutionary timeline by the council on Kolob where only Homo sapiens were past the ‘eligible for baptism,’ line. It could also be that a species might have to achieve some benchmark of technicality during their allotted time on earth before becoming eligible for baptism, like creating a writing system or figuring out metallurgy and animal husbandry.

And, I suppose that Neanderthals might still be eligible for baptism, but we just don’t have their names. They could just be waiting around like the other 99.99999% of people that have lived on the earth that we’ll never have a record of until after the Second Coming. Also, it could just be that they’ll need to wait for other Neanderthals to perform the proxy baptisms themselves as I’m not sure intra-species proxy baptisms are allowed, regardless of the evolutionary-proximity of the species.

I do know that someone is going to have a lot of rules to go over in the next life, or whenever the Millennium starts. And there better be some darn good crowd control in place, otherwise it’s going to be utter chaos with all the unbaptized trillions trying to cut into mile-long baptismal lines.

Hopefully we’ve learned enough by that time to not have Neanderthal-only baptism fonts. If there’s one thing the Geico Neanderthal has taught me, is that they just want to be treated as a fellow hominid, and not singled-out.


  1. I think we might have to wait for the Neanderthals to get resurrected in order for them to be "perfected" into their homo sapiens form...then we can baptize them.

  2. Baptism for the dead; so easy a caveman can do it.

  3. Bishop, I am partial to all of your revelations. But, this whispering of the spirit is your best post to date! Seriously though, well done!

  4. Other Species - Um, no offense meant by this post...

    Michael - I wonder if I could market that quote?

    MOG - Glad you share a common-concern for the departed, even those that passed some 30,000+ years ago.

  5. Bishop,

    Based on the historical fact I've learned from watching the temple movie hundreds of times, I assume that our Mormon God killed all these Neanderthals off before placing Adam and Eve on earth. Isn't that correct? I mean, I don't remember Eve bumping into someone that looks like the Geico guy at any point in the temple movie.

    So, based on the accurate historical record presented in the temple movie, any living thing that resembled mankind prior to Adam and Eve is classified as an animal. Therefore no baptism is necessary.

    You see Bishop, all the information can be found in the teachings of the one true church. You just have to know where to look. God put Neaderthals on earth for one sell insurance.

    See you Sunday.


  6. Monomo - Well, perhaps any scene depicted was only a very limited region. The Neanderthals were just better at hiding (in caves!)? Who knows.

    Good point about selling insurance. I know I find those commercials very compelling!

  7. Humans interbred with Neandertals 30-50 thousand years ago.

    Science 7 May 2010:
    Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 710 - 722
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1188021
    Prev | Table of Contents | Next

    Research Articles: A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome

    "Implications for modern human origins. One model for modern human origins suggests that all present-day humans trace all their ancestry back to a small African population that expanded and replaced archaic forms of humans without admixture. Our analysis of the Neandertal genome may not be compatible with this view because Neandertals are on average closer to individuals in Eurasia than to individuals in Africa. Furthermore, individuals in Eurasia today carry regions in their genome that are closely related to those in Neandertals and distant from other present-day humans. The data suggest that between 1 and 4% of the genomes of people in Eurasia are derived from Neandertals. Thus, while the Neandertal genome presents a challenge to the simplest version of an "out-of-Africa" model for modern human origins, it continues to support the view that the vast majority of genetic variants that exist at appreciable frequencies outside Africa came from Africa with the spread of anatomically modern humans."