A Most Serendipitous Species
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Hot off the press from National Geographic today. An article entitled, “12 Theories of How we became Human, and Why they’re All Wrong". Very interesting piece. First, because this bastion of the scientific establishment willingly admits they are pretty much clueless, and second, because just about every possibility but the obvious one—creation by a superior being- is proposed.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I remember, the origin of the human race is explained pretty clearly in the first chapter of Genesis. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… So God created man in His own image… male and female He created them”. And then put them in charge of the whole rest of creation, implying that –made in the image of God himself--they were designed specifically to take their designated place at the top of the food chain.
But for some reason, some people just can’t take God at His Word.
(Wasn’t it Paul that lamented the “vain imaginations” that “set themselves up against the knowledge of God” ?)
These vain imaginations have been really, really busy. So here we go:
#1 failed Explanation of how we became human: (The Handy man Hypothesis)
It’s because we made tools. The Handy man hypothesis is first attributed to the vain imaginings of one Kenneth Oakley who wrote in 1944 that animals only use stuff they find laying around as tools, but humans set themselves apart by actually shaping sticks and stones for specific uses. The famous anthropologist Louis Leakey supported Oakley’s theory with his assertation that toolmaking produced the proposed first human, “Homo habilis”.
Homo habilis meaning, basically, “handy man”. Because what handy man doesn’t have tools?
Hypothesis: Disproved. Jane Goodall spent 30 years studying chimpanzees in Tanzania, and observed chimpanzees specifically fashioning and stripping twigs of leaves in order to maximize their efficacy at capturing termites for food. They make tools too.
Back to the drawing board:
#2 failed Explanation of how we became human: (The killer ape hypothesis)
It’s because we are all homicidal Anthropologist Raymond Dart thought that what drove evolution from ape to man was the emergence of aggression in the species that essentially allowed the more aggressive apes to kill off their enemies and survive. Dart described them as carnivorous brutes that “seized living quarries by violence, battered them to death, tore apart their broken bodies, dismembered them limb from limb to limb, slaking their ravenous thirst with the hot blood of victims and greedily devouring livid writhing flesh.
I think maybe Dart had some issues of his own? Moving on…
Hypothesis: disproved. Jane Goodall’s years with the Chimpanzees proved that that humans had no monopoly on the pointless violence, and more recent research has demonstrated that in prehistoric times man seems to be the least aggressive species around, putting the killer ape theory in the grave.
#3 failed Explanation of how we became human: (The Hippie ape hypothesis)
It’s because we shared our food. This hypothesis was hatched by anthropologist Glynn Isaac, who, upon finding prehistoric animal carcasses that appeared to have been moved from one location to another, postulated that the carcasses has been moved so that the meat could be shared, and then food-sharing spurred a desire to be able to share information about where food could be found, which then led to the development of language, which led to chats around a campfire and division of labor.
Hypothesis: Overblown. A dog would move a carcass back to a den to feed her pups. It’s a pretty long jump from a dead dear to a work detail.
(This hypothesis, BTW, has some sympathy with the ‘stoned ape’ hypothesis proposed by Terence Kemp McKenna, described online as an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. McKenna believed that human evolution was driven by early climate change that led to consumption among African apes of hallucogenic mushrooms.
But I digress.
#4 failed Explanation: (The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis)
Its because we evolved in water. This was the brainchild of Elaine Morgan, a writer for TV documentaries, who said that we are humans instead of apes because we evolved in water.(?) Scientists laughed. For a variety of reasons.
Hypothesis: Ignored. Justifiably.
#5 failed Explanation of how we became human. (The Sandy Kofax ape Hypothesis)
It’s because we can throw things. Thank archaeologist Reid Ferring for this one, who believes, due to evidence at a site in the old Soviet Georgia, that early man (homo erectus) threw stones to keep predators away from their food. Umm… monkeys throw stones too. In fact, a zoo in Sweden has a giant problem with one monkey who lives to thrown stones at zoo visitors. He’d probably throw stones if they were stealing his food…
Hypothesis: Unproven. Home erectus (whatever type of animal or human that it was) probably did throw stones to keep other animals from taking food, but it doesn’t prove lineage in any way shape or form.
#6 failed Explanation: (The Daniel Boone Ape Hypothesis) It’s because we hunt, and. according to Sherwood Washburn and C.S. Lancaster, that’s what turned apes into humans. Hunting did it because it shaped human social development, and it made our brains bigger cause men had to remember where they saw deer.
Umm…Why did women’s brains get bigger too, then?
Hypothesis: Kind of a stretch. (don’tcha think?)
#7 failed Explanation: The Monogamous Ape Theory.
It’s because the male of the species started settling down. According to anthropologist Owen Lovejoy, at some point “brutish alpha male” apes realized that their gentler, ladyfriend apes appreciated a guy who stuck around to help raise the young’ins more then they did the male who had his fun and then went on the run, so males settled into domesticity. That acted to drive apes to become human, and man walked upright because they had to free up their hands to carry stuff home from the Whole Foods.
(Ok…. The scientists just said carry home more food.)
#8 Failed Explanation: The Meat-eater Ape Theory.
It’s because the future human apes ate meat. The product of anthopolgist Richard Wrangham, this theory says that apes began to eat meat in order to supply their bigger brains with the protein and fat needed to fuel them, and that’s why they evolved. And they invented cooking so tenderizing it and eating it wouldn’t be so much work.
Hypothesis: Unsubstantiated. If they invented cooking to make their life easier why not the microwave? And, as the article itself observed, given enough time, many of those brains eventually just decided to be vegan. So where’s the evolutionary advantage?
#9 failed Explanation: The Carb Eater Ape Theory.
This theory has going for it the fact that human DNA has multiple copies of the gene for an enzyme (called amylase) that helps digest starches into glucose, also something the brain needs.
Hypothesis: Unsubstantiated Hoptheses 8 and 9 kind of cancel each other out, don’t they?
#10 Failed Explanation of how we became human. (Savannah Ape theory)
It’s because we stood up. According to this theory climate change caused Africa to get considerably drier, the forests declined, and Africa became mostly savannah, which made the apes have to stand up to see above the tall grasses in order to spot predators and find food and water.
Hypothesis: Disproven. Other early humans who stood erect have been documented in many other types of habitats, including forests.
#11 failed Explanation: The Adaptable Ape Hypothesis.
All kind of climate changes over time drove the evolution of apes to humans, and those who could adapt survived. The author of this theory, Richard Potts (director of the Smithsonian Human Origins program) says that this is proven true because adaptability is the defining characteristic of humans.
Hypothesis: Unsubstantiated. At least. Maybe disproven. All life forms have been affected by whatever affected humans, and would have disappeared if they couldn’t adapt. Most of the species that existed in the very early earth have gone extinct. But many have not. Ape and human survival do not prove that one evolved from the other. Sort of the other way around, in fact.
And, finally…#12 failed Explanation of how we became human. (The Invasive Ape Hypothesis)
It’s because we’re the ultimate invasive species. Unlike most species, we have colonized the whole earth due to superior cognitive power and the ability to work cooperatively, which allowed us to adapt to new environments, mold the world to our desires, and defend ourselves with greater technology than any other species.
Hypothesis: Horse Pucky
Essentially a true picture of Humans in 2016, but no connection—real or imagined, to how that that set of attributes spurred human development from our primate ancestors to today’s technological, Iphone -obsessed consumer
And why do I feel like I’ve been labeled as a bad guy?
Paul said it. said it. (Romans 1:18-23).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals.
The Romans made images of animals and worshiped them. Our culture, knowing that the Bible says that God made us in His image, insists upon trading down and viewing themselves as descendants of monkeys and apes.
It’s true that we do share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees. But what DNA is actually expressed is what determines our physical bodies. And our 1% unique DNA?
Maybe a receptacle gene for the spirit of God?
That makes all the difference.
About Wendy Wippel
Last week: River of Time
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