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A Question for Creationists

[ 150 ] September 13, 2012 |

I have trouble understanding people who don’t believe in the theory of evolution. This is like not believing in gravity or climate change. Oh yeah, these people don’t believe in that either. Anyway, I was struck by the recently discovered lesula monkey in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. How can you see this and not believe that humans and monkeys are related?

Of course, they, and all the other species in the forest recently explored by scientists for the first time, will all probably be extinct in 20 years anyway. And then we can go back to denial! Monkeys, aren’t they like unicorns?


Comments (150)

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  1. MAJeff says:

    Wow, those eyes.

  2. JazzBumpa says:

    I don’t have anywhere near that much hair on my nose.


  3. cpinva says:

    the great hypocricy is that those same people happily avail themselves of modern medicine. this is, of course, based on evolutionary biology. i assume they must have actual physically split brains.

    • Leeds man says:

      No kidding. I knew a woman who believed in the standard fundie nonsense (God created the Universe 6000 years ago), and got her PhD in astronomy, studying quasars. The apparent contradiction Was Not To Be Discussed.

    • BobS says:

      I pointed out this inconsistency to an escort who worked in our emergency room a few years ago who had aspirations of attending medical school (no idea if he ever got in). He had a BS in biology yet was a staunch creationist (he was evasive when I asked if he shared his beliefs with any of his professors at Oakland University). He made the distinction between micro-evolution, which is apparently valid in their silly worldview and explains the reality of MRSA, VRE, etc, and macro-evolution. This dodge allows the creationists to have the cake they’re eating.

    • tt says:

      It’s not really accurate to say that modern medicine is based on evolutionary biology.

      • Chet Manly says:

        “Based on” might be overstating it a bit, but the point stands that much of modern medicine would not exist if evolution were not a fact. Evolution is fundamental to pharmacological research in particular and dozens of other areas of medicine.

        Also, “evolutionary biology” is a pointless phrase. There’s no non-evolutionary biology.

        • tt says:

          The evidence for evolution is strong enough that we do not need to resort to ridiculous exaggerations about its importance to medicine. In no way is evolution “fundamental” to pharmacological research. Evolutionary theory is a powerful tool for some things, but to develop drugs you have to actually do biochemistry.

          Evolutionary theory is of direct importance to strategies for combating rapidly evolving pathogens, because you need to take medication resistance into account. This the only problem I can think of in modern medicine where evolution plays a central role.

          • Chet Manly says:

            The non-human testing required to develop every drug discovered in our lifetimes depends on the fact that we share cellular structures and chemical pathways with other animals and bacteria thanks to our common ancestry.

            • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

              Also too, it seems that the ability to successfully fight anything viral or parasitic, would be far more difficult without an understanding how these buggers evolve.

              A couple places to read about evolution and medicine.

              • tt says:

                What’s most interesting about these pieces is how small their examples are, in comparison to the range of medical research. The PNAS authors really have to stretch to come up with good examples other than medicine resistance (e.g. their discussion of psychoactive drugs).

                • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

                  Aren’t pretty much all vaccines based on understanding evolution? Cancer, Malaria, Small Pox, HIV, SARS, West Nile Virus, Bird Flu, Influenza, etc., hardly seems to be small potatoes when you consider the . I struggle to see how understanding and observing the way these things evolve is irrelevant to trying to defeating them.

                  Not to mention the role that E Coli has played in our biological research.

                • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

                  whoops…meant to add “when you consider the impact that they have on us due to their abilities to remain consistently a step ahead of us in the biological arms race. Isn’t their ability to evolve precisely the reason we put so much effort into trying to find drugs to beat them?”

                • tt says:

                  You’re right about viruses and pathogens. That’s the one place evolutionary theory really has proven its use. But at least right now, it’s just not a big problem in the West.

                  Some people do try to argue for an evolutionary perspective on cancer, with cells evolving through the selection of the immune system. But this approach has not really led to any useful insights into treatment yet.

  4. cpinva says:

    hypocrisy. this is why i have a really, really HUGE dictionary.

  5. M. Bouffant says:

    There is the (alleged) difference between micro-evolution (when insects or microbes develop resistance to insecticides & anti-microbial agents) & macro-evolution. When, you know, larger species evolve.

    I’ve seen this difference cited when people wondered how farmers (in Kansas or Oklahoma, I think) could be against teaching evolution even though the evidence for it is right before them in their fields.

    • DrDick says:

      How then do they explain that we share 98% (or more) of our genes with chimpanzees and bonobos (a different 98% for each) and 18% of our genes with plants?

      • MAJeff says:

        Well, it’s not as though we’re dealing with thinking people. Even the creationists known as the Texas GOP have come out against critical thinking skills.

      • Because God is lazy parsimonious, of course. Why would he do more work to get a given variation from a basic template than he had to? From that perspective, the vast commonality of genes between different species is PROOF POSITIVE of God’s Intelligent Design.

        No, really, that’s their argument.

      • (edited to fix faulty end tag. This sort of thing is why SOME fora have a preview function for comments, you know)

        Because God is lazy parsimonious, of course. Why would he do more work to get a given variation from a basic template than he had to? From that perspective, the vast commonality of genes between different species is PROOF POSITIVE of God’s Intelligent Design.

        No, really, that’s their argument.

        • Aaron B. says:

          You know what’s great about imputing motivations on an invisible, unknowable being? You can just make up whatever shit you want. For example: “God created sloths to give mankind an example of what admirable laziness looks like. We disrespect him in shunning his teaching.”

          Or, for another example, replace “sloth” with “Jonah Goldberg.”

        • Hanspeter says:

          I think the original version stated their case better.

        • Heron says:

          There are three basic responses to that.

          1)”Basic template? So you admit that all primates are obviously related due to their phenotypic similarities, but you refuse to admit the logical next step that this is evidence of an actual genetic relation. That’s certainly honest-and-in-no-way-cynically-inconsistent of you.”

          2)”Species are still distinct and self-contained under that system, which is inconsistent with what we actually see in the world. That view cannot explain mules, ligers, and other cross-breed variations which macro-evolution has no problem explaining.”

          3)”OK, you have no problem with the idea of a life-form evolving cellular defenses against environmental factors like bacteria, poisons, parasites, ect, so why do you have a problem with the idea that a life-form would change its phenotype -its physical expression- to accomplish the same task? That’s what we’re talking about when it comes down to it; elephants thickening their skin to deal with tsetse flies, zebra evolving stripes to avoid predators, hair growth increasing in mammal species that live in colder climates, dogs evolving increasingly complex noses to get better at smelling while at the same time preventing their noses from becoming bacterial highways to the brain. The distinction between micro- and macro-evolution is purely pedagogical; macro-evolution is the inevitable result of micro-evolution given sufficient time and survival pressure.”

      • Leeds man says:

        I saw an evolution vs creation debate in which the creationist (with a BSc in biology) answered this exact question with the observation that we share 60% of our bodily composition with clouds. In other words, they obfuscate. Technically, lying doesn’t break any of the commandments.

    • (the other) Davis says:

      There is the (alleged) difference between micro-evolution (when insects or microbes develop resistance to insecticides & anti-microbial agents) & macro-evolution. When, you know, larger species evolve.

      The notion that “species” is an arbitrary, human-defined notion has always been something that these folks can’t seem to wrap their heads around. I would hazard that this is in part due to being immersed in religious dogma regarding how to understand language in the context of scripture.

  6. J.W. Hamner says:

    Everyone knows that God is verrry, verrry tricksy and likes to test our faith by hiding dinosaur bones in the dirt and making monkeys, chimps, and humans share traits in such a way as to make evolution seem plausible.

  7. wengler says:

    Just another cousin that never made it out of the trees.

  8. Aaron B. says:

    The obvious explanation is that God is all-powerful, but not very creative.

  9. rea says:

    Some people believe that corporations can evolve into people, but not monkeys.

  10. Jon H says:

    A commenter at Gawker posted a photo of Paul Ryan with a bit of a resemblance.

  11. Vance Maverick says:

    If you believe all the kinds of creatures (“baramins” — there, I’ve proved I read far too long) were created individually by a God who resembles humans, then there’s no difficulty in imagining that He just wanted primates to look alike.

    Seriously, while this photo is lovely, the news of the discovery is marvelous, and I believe the common scientific account of the origin of species, this is not a reasonable argument, in itself, for evolution.

    • Aaron B. says:

      I’m not sure there are effective critiques of the internal coherence of religious creation stories, since at any point where a detail doesn’t make sense, you can pull out “a wizard did it” (i.e. God did it that way to test your faith) and make the problem disappear.

      Even when the response is somewhat more sophisticated, as in this case, what you’re really doing is imputing a motive on a being whose motives you and I both have no way of divining. Since this being, ex hypothesis, is all-powerful, it can create whatsoever state of affairs it pleases for whatever reason it pleases, and you can make up some kind of reason giving that being a particular motivation in a particular case. “He did it to test your faith” is only the most obvious and weakest instance of the same argument.

      All that is by way of saying, yeah, it doesn’t prove the worldview internally inconsistent, because nothing can really do that. But it does holistically undermine the plausibility of the view.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      Seriously, while this photo is lovely, the news of the discovery is marvelous, and I believe the common scientific account of the origin of species, this is not a reasonable argument, in itself, for evolution.

      While Species A looking like Species B may not be conclusive (after all some species that look closely related actually aren’t) looking at the bigger picture of all species through a comparative lens and then cross-checking with DNA, gene expression, and transitional fossils, it becomes pretty quickly apparent that the simplest explanation for similarities/variations lies in shared ancestry, ergo evolution. The proof is like a knit blanket with several factors as the threads. No single thread is the proof, it is all of them together that make a case that is, imo, only discarded through ignorance/dishonesty. In the case of primates, not only do they look the most like us, and share more of our DNA than any other species, but we are finding more and more every day that behaviorally they are also more like us than any other species. So while this primate looking like us is not a reasonable argument in itself for evolution, it is absolutely a crucial part of the full argument. It’s also the part that is easiest for most humans to grasp intuitively.

      Check out Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. He is one of the paleontologists who discovered Tiktaalik Rosae (transitional tetrapod fossil between land and ocean.) In his book he does a great job of tying together all the evidence for evolution with added emphasis (more than many evolution books that is) on genetics and comparative anatomy.

      • jackd says:

        Uncle Ebeneezer, you’re replying to a veteran. If he’s like me, he’s got Your Inner Fish on the shelf next to Why We Get Sick, The Beak of the Finch, and all the Stephen Jay Gould collections.

  12. Peter Hovde says:

    Once you accept Azathoth as your God, it will all make sense.

  13. Patrick Pine says:

    Put a tinfoil hat on him/her and it will be even more obvious…

  14. God made that monkey like that. QED.

  15. SatanicPanic says:

    Do you want to spend eternity in HELL for believing your lying eyes? Didn’t think so.

  16. UserGoogol says:

    Objectively, this isn’t particularly good evidence, since humans will see faces in all sorts of crazy shit. Simians really do have significantly more human-like faces than other animals, but this isn’t really the most rigorous way to judge that fact.

    That being said, awwwww.

  17. LosGatosCA says:

    At first, I thought that was a picture of a blind date I was set up with back in the 80’s but then I realized she wasn’t that cute.

  18. Manju says:

    All you’ve proven is that Adrian Brody is related.

    Don’t you liberals know that real Evolutionary Science involves negging and not wearing sweaters.

    Jeezus H Christ.

  19. How can you see this and not believe that humans and monkeys are related?

    Big deal. I’ve been told I resemble a whole bunch of different animals.

  20. bad Jim says:

    This may very well be where the idea of evolution got started. Back around 1745, Linnaeus classed humans among the primates. This outraged the religious authorities who maintained that we were made in God’s image, but was unobjectionable in terms of comparative anatomy.

    If you try to diagram the relationships between different organisms according to their differences and similarities you tend to wind up with something looking like a tree, which has to make you wonder.

  21. Dave says:

    I guess Darwin didn’t need to travel so far, and agonise over publication for so long. All he needed to do was say “Look at this cute monkey!”

    Really, this is quite the most stupid argument against stupid people I have ever seen.

    • elm says:

      Are you new here or did you miss when Erik used a week of hot weather to argue that climate change denialists were wrong and then got angry when commenters pointed out that his argument was no different than denialists pointing to the Snowpocalypse?

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      See my comment above.

      I don’t think Erik is claiming to make a scientific argument. But the truth of the matter is that anatomical similarity was the first thing that caused anyone to ponder the possibility of shared ancestry.

      In this case we historically noticed that primates look more like us than any other species and then found via DNA that they are in fact our closest relatives. So Erik is simply pointing out that sometimes the answer (or at least a strong component of the answer) IS obvious.

  22. Thlayli says:

    Fucking genetics, how does it work?

    • rm says:

      I think you answered your own question there.

      • Hogan says:

        Well, Charlie Darwin looked so far
        Into the way things are.
        He caught a glimpse of God’s
        unfolding plan.

        God said: “I’ll make some DNA”
        They can use it any way they want
        From paramecium
        Right up to man.”

        “They’ll have sex
        And mix up sections of their code
        They’ll have mutations…
        The whole thing works like clockwork over time.”

        “I’ll just sit back in the shade
        While everyone gets laid.
        That’s what I call
        Intelligent design.”

  23. AlexD says:

    Of course they are related, you big silly. They are all God’s creations! He made one, he made all! Why wouldn’t they look alike? Doesn’t one Picasso resemble another, as one Monet resembles another? Creators use common tools and methods in creation.

    Now go say your hail Marys and wash that artheistic evolution out of your mind out with soap. . .

    • rea says:

      go say your hail Marys

      The Catholics used to be okay with evolution, before they decided to become the political partners of the fundamentalists.

      • Njorl says:

        I think you’ll find that evolution is still taught in the biology departments of Catholic universities. Catholics who don’t believe in evolution are just engaging in standard human ignorance, not dogmatic ignorance. There are plenty of people who don’t believe in science for non-religious reasons.

      • Cheap Wino says:

        Well, it wasn’t so much “the Catholics” as Catholic church elders who’s main concern is to keep their old man pedophile ring viable.

        Most 46% of Catholics still believe in evolution. So I’d guess that means Catholics who are smart enough not to take the Pope’s word as inerrant despite the obvious vested interest accept evolution.

  24. Kurzleg says:

    Growing up in the church I really wanted to believe what I’d been taught there. Even in adulthood I clung to the “truth” of creation and thought that evolution was unlikely given the young age of the earth. It’s only after I faced the reality of carbon dating, etc., and considered how ancient the planet is that I saw that over that timeframe evolution was certainly possible. In making this leap I also left behind the church, and this is the very thing that most creationists fear.

    • rm says:

      This exactly is the paradox of fundie-ism. They tell their kids that belief in God’s love and belief in easily disprovable nonsense is all tied together and that if any one tiny bit isn’t true, then it all isn’t true. “Species evolve, therefore there is no God” is the logical result as soon as those kids use their brains to evaluate the evidence. Of course it does not have to be this way.

      • Kurzleg says:

        It doesn’t have to be, but at least in my case it is. Not that I drew that conclusion immediately and as a consequence of realizing the reality of evolution.

        I think you’re right to characterize how it’s framed by fundies as an either/or proposition. This amuses me since it’s beyond obvious that they don’t embrace the totality of Biblical truth, specifically not some of the Old Testament “truths”. They ignore Biblical teachings all the time and arbitrarily pick and choose.

  25. mike shupp says:

    Being a creationist is pretty much like being convinced Barak Obama was born in Kenya and that all the scientists who promote global warming are part of a corrupt conspiracy and that the only safe currency is gold.

    It’s a head game. You get to feel immensely superior to the fools who just accept Liberal Aithority, you find warm friends who bond with you instantly whereever you go, AND THERE ARE NO NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES.

    Really. It’s just win-win-win.

  26. Brutusettu says:

    Chromosome 2 yada yada yada.

    And now I’m reminded of the Ben Stein movie where he is completely ignorant of the fact that evolution =/= atheism + completely & utterly “random” chance.

    Either a monotheist damn near think their deity is too stupid to create evolutionary processes or their brighter thinkers’ brains basically shut down when they hear “random” or “natural selection” or “theory.”

  27. The Dark Avenger says:

    Manju, you’re certainly a living counter-argument against the evolution of human intelligence.

  28. Halloween Jack says:

    The expression on his face reminds me strongly of Condescending Wonka. “So, you believe that the modern banana couldn’t have evolved to fit the human hand so perfectly, therefore creationism? Please, share with me your ignorance of fruit breeding.”

  29. actor212 says:

    The answer is simple, Erik

    He looks like the Babby Jesus.

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