Apes together strong

As usual when social media gets busy, in this case people are home because of COVID19, the theists crawl out of the woodwork, claim evolution is pseudoscience, and make jokes about atheism and their monkey grandparents. It’s all very hilarious, and I get belly aches from laughing every time I see their memes and videos. It’s all terribly amusing. But on a serious note, why do they doubt that humans and chimpanzees don’t share a common ancestor, and humans are in fact Great Apes (Primates).

If we came from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?

This question is a classic creationist dilemma, and to answer it we need to establish what exactly they mean by ‘monkeys’. Many people are unaware that apes are not monkeys, and monkeys are not apes. They are a completely different species that potentially share the same ancestor. Monkeys and apes are both primates, but differ in many ways. There are only several species of apes, and these include humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, gibbons, bonobos, or orangutans, as opposed to the multitude of species of monkey. Apes are generally much larger, have larger brains which enables a much higher form of intelligence, they tend to live a lot longer than monkeys, and are adapted to living and swinging in trees, whereas monkeys have a tail that they use for balance as they tend to run along branches more often than swing.

So now we’ve established the difference we can now understand that humans are apes, not monkeys, but apes and monkeys are both primates that share an unknown common ancestor. Through natural selection it’s the species most adaptable to change, so there’s a distinct possibility that the ‘missing link’ was either hunted into extinction, or died out as a species due to strong competition for territory, and/or food.

New species often appear when an existing species is isolated, or exists in a different location, or climate and they adapt to their surroundings, which usually forms genetic changes over generations. Some species don’t adapt as quickly as interbreeding can happen if they come in contact, but a long time in separate colonies with different surroundings and necessities to survive then eventually they’ll be so different that they can’t be described as the same species any more. This is how evolution works, and Darwin described natural selection as

“I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection. We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some slight physical change, for instance, of climate. The proportional numbers of its inhabitants will almost immediately undergo a change, and some species will probably become extinct.” – Charles Darwin

We can look at this from another angle.

If Americans came from Europeans, then why are there still Europeans?

This question is no different than the monkey question. America’s ancestors are European, and the reason Europeans still exist is because they are able to survive in the state they’re in. Monkeys survive in abundance as they’ve got all of the resources they need to keep colonies existing and continuing the bloodline. They have natural predators like chimpanzees, but their numbers are so high that there remains an equilibrium. So there is no need for the monkey to evolve as where they live, for the majority, is the ideal habitat. Take a monkey away from that, place them in a city with no access to wildlife and their natural diet, and over time they’ll have no choice but to adapt to survive.

Why haven’t all other apes turned into humans?

Palaeontologists will say that the modern chimpanzee has been in the same state for over three times as long as homo Sapiens, and the reason they haven’t evolved further is they’ve no need to as they only really have one a few predators, and if they defend themselves in numbers then they do just fine.

Why would chimpanzees evolve into humans anyway?

They would no doubt take on another evolutionary path if they had to adapt to survive, and a new species would become, and its highly unlikely that they’d share the exact same characteristics as humans. There’s a strong chance that many species split away from the missing link, and other species of humans didn’t survive as Homo Sapiens became the dominant species.

Creationists think that evolution is a myth, as we should be able to witness the changes in a species within generations. This does indeed happen, and the native ‘green lizard‘ in Florida is an example of this. Due to invading lizards they’ve had to adapt in a short time to survive and to do this their feet have evolved so they can grip thinner, smoother branches higher up trees.

Evolution isn’t about progression like many people assume. It doesn’t work that way. Evolution occurs when a species reaches a point where if they remain in their current state, then survival isn’t guaranteed. Evolution is about continuing the species and being able to reproduce. That’s it, and if a creature is perfectly happy, living in abundance, perfect dietary needs, and the ability to reproduce, then the creature will remain as it is. Sharks have survived successfully as a species for over 400,000,000 years as their design is perfect, and they have no natural predators, just like crocodiles who survived the extinction of the dinosaurs.

What is the missing link?

The ‘missing link‘ is a pseudoscientific term to describe the lack of fossilised remains to determine what could have been the ancestor of primates. Biologists don’t think the term ‘missing link’ has any credibility and prefer the term ‘common ancestor’. What the missing link implies is a linear basis for evolution, rather than branching out into different species. Many species of early human have been discovered, but I’m certain beyond doubt that the fossil discovery is in its infancy, and there’s much more to discover. The common ancestor is essentially several pieces missing from a jigsaw, in significant places where the full picture can’t be seen. Creationists use this incomplete scientific theory to imply that for something to be created then there must be a creator, but there’s no scientific basis whatsoever that life was manufactured.

What caused humans to evolve?

Humans have been around for about six million years and have been evolving that whole time to suit their surroundings, and perhaps the reason we evolved and other apes not as much is possibly curiosity. Early humans left the canopies off the jungles and decided to explore, and biologists believe that the first advancement was becoming bipedal (walking on two legs). Whilst other apes have the ability to do this, it’s only for a short time as their feet aren’t fit for walking upright for lengthy periods, whereas humans’ feet evolved flat. Along with the curiosity we learnt to build tools and communicate, and eventually develop spoken language, and this is what separates us from other primates.

The majority of fossilised remains of early humans have been found in the continent of Africa where Paleoanthropologists have estimated that they began to move to Asia over 1.5 million years ago, and gradually spread around the world living in tribes, and the first real civilisations have only existed since approximately 10,000 years ago, when the society formed in Mesopotamia, which was located in the region of Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Turkey and is affectionately known as the ‘cradle of civilisation’. This is where the first recorded agriculture occurred in the form of farmland, and the first of the cities, Uruk, was built just over 5,000 years ago. Uruk was where the first written languages were developed, and laws were created, time and calendars were devised and public records kept. So as a civilised society we’re aren’t that far away from the days when we were hunter gatherers who literally lived day by day trying to survive as a species.

So how do we know for sure that we are apes?

I can’t just say we are as the evidence is there, as I’d be no better than a creationist who makes a claim but has no basis of fact to back it up. We are ‘Hominidae‘ which is one of four genera, and we share this group with bonobo and chimpanzee. Due to our almost identical genetic makeup, some animal rights associations believe that non-human, Great Apes are people, have a strong sentient consciousness, and are worthy of the same rights as humans, and are potentially susceptible to human viruses like COVID-19. Not only do we have extremely similar genetics, but our bone structure and muscle groups are almost identical. We share almost 99% of DNA with both the Great Ape chimpanzee, and the Lesser Ape bonobo. Humans like our Ape relatives have strong social groups, slow growth and few offspring, as opposed to other mammals that have litters. They also rely on vision and hearing rather than sense of smell and pheromones, and scientists are confident that alongside humans, Great Apes are the only mammals who are able to see a full spectrum of colour.

Don’t we share more than 60% of DNA with bananas?

This argument I’ve encountered many, many times from theists, and whilst it’s true, they have no idea why it’s true, and I’ve read people say that if we’re 99% chimpanzee, then we are 60% banana, but this isn’t as simple as claiming we are 2/3 similar in genetics to a favourite fruit of Ray Comfort. A genome is an instruction manual that every living thing has, and it informs the DNA of how to create protein, which is essentially life. This determines, size, colour, and helps create enzymes and hormones. Due the fact that all life on Earth had the same last universal common ancestor‘ (LUCA), the single cell organism, everything that came after shares a similar instruction manual to control cells. So we are as much 2/3 banana as we are a rat, or a turnip.

How did ‪Abiogenesis occur?‬

This isn’t an easy subject to cover as trying to convince someone that life originated from non-life is like getting blood from a stone, but scientists have theories, and one thing they have to agree on is life began at a quantum level. We can agree that biology is a form of chemistry at heart, and chemistry is the study and understanding of atomic electrons, and quantum mechanics is the study of particles at a subatomic level, and how they interact. Biology studies how highly complex molecules self organise in a perfect way. Some scientists study thermodynamics, which is the transfer of heat and energy, and how processes naturally occur when energy enters their environment.

What is entropy?

Entropy is uncertainty, and is energy that’s in a non-equilibrium state. When something is in an equilibrium it’s in order with its surroundings. Take something as being room temperature. A liquid as an example has reached a state of equilibrium with its surroundings. But this isn’t how life works, it needs heat from the sun, or food for energy, so it can grow. Everyone has heard of the ‘MillerUrey‘ experiment that attempted to recreate the conditions of early Earth. They decided that if they placed the gases that they believed that were present on Earth at the time they believed life began, in an enclosed environment, and applied energy, they could potentially create the basis of life (abiogenesis), and over time amino acids were created, which are essential building blocks for life. These experiments are considered by many as pseudoscience as no one could possibly know what’s Earth’s early conditions were like, but after Miller’s death, scientists discovered that in vials in his laboratory there were more than the amino acids that he originally claimed he’d found. And more than what is actually needed for life. There’s more about this in my article The tree of life, which goes into quite extensive detail of how life could have arisen. I’m quite confident of one thing, and that no God was responsible.

Ontological Naturalism

Naturalism is a philosophical concept that everything came about by natural law and has no supernatural influences, and all of the evidence should be examined by using the scientific method. Naturalism mainly focuses on ontology, which is the study of what exists within a material world, and things like spirits and poltergeists have no purpose in reality; so more than likely they are no more than superstition, but the concept would be considered if sufficient evidence was provided. Nature is reality and nothing metaphysical has ever been proven as there’s no physical evidence to observe; nothing to witness or test; no hypothesis or experiments can be constructed; thus no theory to be discussed.

As far back as the Hellenistic period in archaic Greece, schools of philosophies like Cynicism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism, all attempted to explain reality as natural causes and mostly rejected supernaturalism. As you’d expect as Christianity grew, and secularism became less, naturalism was deemed as a crime and anyone who even suggested it was labelled a heretic and this lasted throughout the dark ages until the scientific revolution during the Age of Enlightenment.

“When you don’t have explanation for a certain phenomenon, as a real human, you should suspend judgement, instead of concocting supernatural explanations out of ignorance and primordial fanaticism.” – Abhijit Naskar

Naturalism is often frowned upon by theistic organisations as they refuse to consider that everything we see came about naturally as they think that anything that exists must have a designer. Yet this is no more than mere speculation as the scientific method has only ever discovered things that exist that have natural causes. No scientist of any authority has ever proven anything to have existed by divine architecture, so how can anything that’s not naturalism have any legitimate credence? Even if science has failed to supply a first cause ie: abiogenesis, there is still more evidence due to the theory of evolution to suggest that life either arrived here from extra-terrestrial origins or a natural cause as opposed to a supernatural origin. Supernaturalism simply has no reasonable arguments to support it, and however much theists make claims, they cannot provide any evidence whatsoever, yet constantly mock the idea of naturalism.

“Our public schools arbitrarily define science as explaining the world by natural processes alone. In essence, a religion of naturalism is being imposed on millions of students. They need to be taught the real nature of science, including its limitations.” – Ken Ham

No imagination to question

Everyone is born alone, and whilst during your life you’re surrounded by family, loved ones and friends, you’ll die alone, and during that life all you really have is a conscience that guides your moral framework, and imagination which inspires you, intrigues your curiosity, guides you to achieve, and educate yourself and gain wisdom. For some people this just isn’t enough, and they’re simply not comfortable being in charge of their own destiny, and this is where faith becomes important to them as their life needs guidance, and an alleged moral compass. Follow the rules of *insert religion* and you’ll be rewarded in the afterlife. Seems a good deal, right? To some it’s comfort, but to others their faith can lead to hostility, and bigotry because someone’s actions might infringe on what they believe to be moral. Notice how I said believe? Christians don’t know that the Ten Commandments are a good ground for a moral compass, as they’ve had it brainwashed into them by the Bible, preachers and family members. They’ve accepted this moral framework as it’s what’s expected of them, and most don’t know any different, or have the imagination to question.

For some it’s comfortable and they just float aimlessly through their lives as they believe their faith holds them close to god, and prayer can somehow affect god’s will. They’re happy knowing that this life is just the exam for the afterlife, and as long as they follow the tenets of their faith then they’ll pass the exam, and reside beside god for all eternity. They’re more than happy to accept god as the creator as it makes sense that the universe must have had a designer. Science is just assumptions, and evolution, the primeval atom, Hubble-Lemaître law, abiogenesis and the fact that we are Hominoidea, (if they can even spell it) are just theories and are nonsensical, unbelievable, and illogical, as how can everything come from nothing?

Some of the processes we use to gain facts were engineered by theists ie: Scientific method: Bacon, laws of motion: Newton, Big Bang theory; primeval atom; expanding universe: Lemaître and the list carries on. These were intelligent men who had the ability to separate their faith from their science. They understood that physics was in play throughout the universe, and whilst they obviously believed god did it, they were open minded to accept that science could hold the answers as well. Whilst there are theists that are scientists, there are far more who take the attempt of being an apologist and this completely clouds their judgement and it closes off their minds to other possibilities, yet at the same time they claim a high intellectual capability and think themselves as a philosopher.

“It’s a strange myth that atheists have nothing to live for. It’s the opposite. We have nothing to die for. We have everything to live for.” – Ricky Gervais

The fundamental explanation for philosophy is to question. Often the answer isn’t important, it’s the mindset of the one who’s questioning and embracing every possibility within their knowledge. But apologists can’t think like this. They’re armed to the teeth with their own interpretation of scripture and their aim is to glorify god even if it means being disingenuous. They turn to gravity and claim it’s god’s design, yet ask them to explain the process of terminal velocity, and they’ve no answer other than it’s designed. You ask them why light has a specific speed, and why it’s so much faster than sound and they’ve no answer other than god designed it. You ask them if god loves his creation why does he allow suffering, and they reply it’s original sin and to be saved we must accept Christ the saviour, yet they’ve accepted Christ and there’s still suffering. Can you figure that one out? We’ve got suffering throughout the world in many forms. Be it biological, economic or political, yet liberty, justice and science are the answer, not faith in something you cannot prove.

They’ve no imagination to question!