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Not a Monkey’s Uncle

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Its the same old thing over and over again. It really is. They never seem to learn no matter how many times you tell them, and this should be basic stuff they learned in school anyway so what’s the problem? Yes, I’m ranting on about creationists again. Specifically the way they keep dragging up the same old junk which has been discredited years ago. More specifically the question of: “if we evolved from monkeys [or, less commonly, some other species] why are there still monkeys around today?”

If you are a creationist reading this (and I might refer some of my opponents to this page) please take notice: no one claims humans evolved from monkeys. In fact, no one claims we evolved from more closely related species like chimps either. To take it further, no one claims we evolved from any current species!

Many creationists will look a bit bewildered at this point and maybe ask: “does that mean you don’t think evolution happened?” Of course the answer is no, all reasonable and knowledgeable people think evolution happened and lead to the appearance of all forms of life on the planet, what they don’t think is that one current species lead to the evolution of another.

Its easiest to understand if you think of life as a family. Current species are all part of the same generation: they are brothers (or sisters) and cousins. You wouldn’t count anyone in your generation as your ancestor and the same applies to species. All current species evolved from previous generations of species. So two closely related species might have had the same parent species and therefore be brothers (or sisters). The parent species isn’t the same as either of the current species but has attributes of both, just like two offspring have characteristics of the parent.

The analogy isn’t perfect because new generations of individuals arise suddenly by birth and represent a sudden change from the parents. New species arise slowly and there’s really no obvious point where one begins and the other ends, in fact the whole idea of a species is artificial to a large extent.

So about 5 to 7 million years ago (according to current estimates) there was a species which was neither human nor chimp. It split into two groups and the two branches evolved separately until today when one is represented by modern humans and the other by modern chimps. Notice that chimps are just as “evolved” as humans and might have changed as much as we have from the ancestral species (although they probably didn’t because evolution proceeds at different speeds for different groups).

During the period since the split the two branches themselves have split but most of the resulting sub-branches have died out (all in the case of humans). That’s why its possible that fossils are part of the human evolutionary process without necessarily being from a direct ancestor.

So I hope this makes sense to all you creationists out there (and to anyone else who was just wondering about the question). Its really quite simple: we aren’t monkey’s uncles but we are chimps brothers, monkeys cousins, and sons and daughters of a common (unnamed) species which both chimps and humans evolved from.

Evolution. Its a fact. Get over it.

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