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August 22, 2006 3:30 AM   Subscribe

I-believe-in-evolutionism-but... Filter: I am wondering what evidence exists that man descended from apes.

Without wishing to sound like a fundamentalist Christian, I am wondering what evidence exists that man descended from apes?

My bf and his best friend insist that while they have no problem with evolution theory in general, the evidence commonly presented in order to link mankind with primates is less than convincing: they are sceptical. Help me prove them wrong.

I did see this previous thread, but the emphasis is not focused on the "monkeys=us" theory.
posted by Sijeka to Science & Nature (52 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not "decended from apes", "shares a common ancestor with apes". That's an important distinction.
posted by Lokheed at 3:34 AM on August 22, 2006


This'd be a good starting point I think? More specifically this perhaps?
posted by edd at 4:00 AM on August 22, 2006


but the emphasis is not focused on the "monkeys=us" theory.

That's because scientists don't think that! It's a straw man that creationists (and anti-evolutionists) use to discredit evolution.

As Lokheed says, evolution theory posits that we share a common ancestor with apes - not that we came from them.
posted by fake at 4:00 AM on August 22, 2006


Absolutely - but in this case the illustrations I had in my biology books when I was a kid are misleading: it always showed apes slowly 'growing up' to become human beings as we currently understand them {i.e us}, therefore literally picturing men directly 'descending' from apes.
posted by Sijeka at 4:04 AM on August 22, 2006


...and please don't call it "evolutionism".
posted by gaspode at 4:18 AM on August 22, 2006


Have a look at the nature magazine web focus on the chimpanzee genome.

Most of it is pretty technical but if you look at the original research paper here, you can pull out a few facts.

1. Single-nucleotide substitutions occur at a mean rate of 1.23% between copies of the human and chimpanzee genome, with 1.06% or less corresponding to fixed divergence between the species.
In laymans terms, there is only 1.23% difference between humans and chimpanzees in DNA coding regions.

2. Insertion and deletion (indel) events are fewer in number than single-nucleotide substitutions, but result in approx 1.5% of the euchromatic sequence in each species being lineage-specific.
Again, this means that of the entire genome, only 1.5% is present in one but not the other (an insertion or deletion, a common enough event).

3. Orthologous proteins in human and chimpanzee are extremely similar, with approx 29% being identical and the typical orthologue differing by only two amino acids, one per lineage.
This means of the genes we share, 29% are exactly identical. The rest have on average only 2 differences (considering an average gene may have 100-1000 sites where it can be different).

As you can see if you scan the rest, this is based heavily in fact and can be easily verified from the sequence data in public databases.

So we are at least similar to chimpanzees. But how similar are we to other things?

We can use phylogenetics (wiki) to test this out. This compares the DNA for the same gene (or a number of genes) across several species, and then figures out which are closest to each other. I had a hard time finding up to date, free papers, but if you look at the figure here, you can see a tree based on these distances (click the return to article if you don't believe me). As you can see, humans (marked as homo) are nestled right within the apes, amd then inside the other primates (this also means that any system using the term "apes" should by rights include humans). This is kind of an old tree, and doesn't have especially good resolution, but the primate relationships there are about the same as they are accepted now.

As you can see, the DNA of humans is most similar to that of apes. To me, this is pretty much clear proof that we indeed share a common ancestor with the other great apes.
posted by scodger at 4:20 AM on August 22, 2006 [5 favorites]


I-believe-in-evolutionism-but...

~sigh~...It's "evolution". It's a physical process. It's not a belief system.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:42 AM on August 22, 2006


Thorzdad - I stand corrected, unlike others you explained why i was wrong, thank you for that.

Scodger - Great links, thanks.
posted by Sijeka at 4:44 AM on August 22, 2006


Technically, humans are considered to be apes. Apes are primates without tails: humans, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, orangs, and gibbons.

The other primates are the monkeys, and the lemurs.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:01 AM on August 22, 2006


The Becoming Human project from ASU's Institute for Human Origins is a GREAT start for you. Talk Origins, suggested above, is a good next step, and then, beyond all else, read some books. Bones, Stones, and Molecules by Cameron and Groves is a good one. The Human Career by Klein is incredibly comprehensive. Good luck convincing them... if you want, shoot me an email (it's in my profile); this is what I do for a living (paleoarchaeology).
posted by The Michael The at 5:06 AM on August 22, 2006


1) Our DNA is almost identical to that of modern apes.
2) Fossils show that there used to be apes, but not humans.
3) All living things need ancestors.
4) Therefore, it is obvious that we share an ancestor, and that ancestor was an ape. Fossils show there was no other class of thing around that could possibly be the ancestor, for either apes or humans.
5) Although the Scientologists believe it was a clam. ymmv. lol.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 5:14 AM on August 22, 2006


None. There is no evidence whatsoever that Man descended from apes.

However, we do share common ancestry.
posted by splitpeasoup at 5:29 AM on August 22, 2006


scodger: If one accepts the theory of evolution, then the evidence you cite does point convincingly to apes and humans sharing a common ancestor. But it seems to me (an ignorant layman, admittedly) that the argument presented just begs the question against the creationists, who would accept the fact that human and chimpanzee genomes differ only slightly, but propose an alternate explanation for how this came to be. In other words, this particular evidence shows, certainly, that IF humans evolved, they evolved from the same ancestor as apes, but it doesn't show THAT they evolved.
posted by bricoleur at 5:31 AM on August 22, 2006


Sijeka, if you read the caption in the page you linked, you'll see that the chart does not show a chimp, a gorilla, etc., then man. That is, it does not show any current ape species developing into man, but shows and names the extinct ancestor species. I don't see anything misleading about that.

Humans are apes. Chimps and gorillas are apes. We didn't descend from chimps and gorillas, but from earlier species of apes.
posted by rosemere at 5:43 AM on August 22, 2006


Bricoleur - I can see your point, even though I strongly disagree with it. It's a bit like the "god created fossils already buried" argument, where the evidence is more or less ignored. This is notoriously hard to argue against.

It seems to me that if a "creator" wanted to make an array of animals, there is no reason that nearly all genes would show a similar inheritance pattern, he could just mix and match. (Ie if you look at the tree i linked above, it will be nearly identical for nearly any gene that you choose, after correcting for loss or other factors). There are also more arguments along the same lines, but a bit too technical to write here, and this late at night. My email is in my profile if you are interested (and with any luck, this will actually spur me to make content for my site).
posted by scodger at 5:47 AM on August 22, 2006


Don't count on changing your friend's opinion on evolution too easily. The vast weight of argument is on your side but people will not allways appreciate you flattening their arguments and beliefs with overwhelming evidence. A more indirect approach could be better. Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" would be a great recommendation as a gift for them. It is generally entertaining but amongst much else it contains a very lucid explanation about fossils and hence to the question "if there is a missing link why has it not been found?"

The top ten myths about evolution may help.
posted by rongorongo at 6:11 AM on August 22, 2006


bricoleur: this is exactly the OP's question. Her friends believe in evolution, they just want proof that humans evolved from apes. As noted above that's not the right question so scodger is showing that there is evidence of a common ancestor.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:11 AM on August 22, 2006


scodger: Actually, I should have re-read the OP before hitting post. Your answer addresses precisely the question asked; I assumed a broader question.
posted by bricoleur at 6:15 AM on August 22, 2006


Dangit. I don't even get credit for self-chastisement.
posted by bricoleur at 6:16 AM on August 22, 2006


A lot of people who have the belief that evolutionary evidence is inconsistent or wrong get that belief from a common evangelical source. These people have most likely not ever read Darwin or any contemporary texts on evolution. From ignorance comes superstition.
posted by JJ86 at 6:40 AM on August 22, 2006


One specific example of aligning the chimp and human genomes: most animals can synthesize vitamin C in their bodies. Primates, including us, cannot, due to debilitating mutations of one of the genes in the pathway that synthesizes vitamin C. It's quite a leap of logic to suggest that an intelligent designer would design the human genome and faithfully add all the 'mistakes' that occur in the chimp genome.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2006


Have a read of Jim Foley's Fossil Hominids introduction.
posted by tommorris at 6:44 AM on August 22, 2006


the creationists, who would accept the fact that human and chimpanzee genomes differ only slightly, but propose an alternate explanation for how this came to be.


Well, there are also faulty genes that are
non-functioning in the same way in humans and apes. That's a bit harder to explain as something designed by a god:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section2.html#molecular_vestiges


Then there's evidence like the protein & DNA coding redundancy mentioned here:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section4.html#protein_redundancy

Basically, there are many parts of the genome that can vary in billions of ways without changing the function at all.

Let's choose one such place and represent the human code with a number - let's say 246504.

Now, if humans and apes were created separately by God, then God could have chosen entirely random codes for the apes - let's say 5894503933 for chimpanzees and 127 for gorillas. On the other hand, if God decided to use the same basic ape design for all three species, then God could have chosen 246504 for all species. Remember, the codes make no practical difference.

But what we see in nature is that humans have the code 246504, chimpanzees 246506 and gorillas 246513 - one of the vanishingly few combinations that is consistent with the theory of evolution. We were either created by evolution or by a God who has gone to great lengths to try to make us believe that evolution happened.
posted by martinrebas at 6:45 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Actually, Thorzdad, "evolutionism" refers to the theory of evolution (evolution == physical process, evolutionism == theory), so wouldn't it be correct to say that one believes in a particular theory?
posted by bachelor#3 at 6:55 AM on August 22, 2006


One of the best comments I've ever heard in regards to advocacy of evolution was that we should admit the areas in which we have weak evidence and speculative theories.

The strongest evidence for evolution comes when you compare entire orders or families over a period of many millions of years. The weakest and most speculative evidence for evolution comes when you try to make claims about the natural history of a specific genera or species over the course of a dozen million years.

But just in terms of classification:
1: genetic analysis suggests that we are in the same family as "modern apes."
2: anatomical analysis of existing and extinct homonid species suggests that we are in the same family as "modern apes," and closely related to homonids such as Australopithecus which have "transitional" features between "modern apes" and modern humans.
3: Using the same standards of evidence that we apply to other animal families it is almost certain that humans and "modern apes" have a common ancestor.

The "humans didn't evolve from apes, they share a common ancestor" is based on a fallacy. Humans are a "modern ape," a member of Homonidae. The common ancestor of Pan and Homo would be almost certianly a member of the same family. There are some good arguments that Homo should include chimps and gorillas because the differences between the three species are smaller than in many other equivalent genera.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:57 AM on August 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


Another (relatively) concise summary: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense, from Scientific American (July 2002).
posted by hangashore at 7:12 AM on August 22, 2006


I am a Christian, but also speculatively leaning toward an evolutionary explanation rather than a poof-theory.

I think the biggest problem in the creationism/evolutionary debate is not the amount of evidence either way -- it is who regards what as actually being evidence. On the one hand, creationists tend to disregard the fossil record as the Tome of History and esteem a set of scriptures written by people whom they purport to have actually been there or known the original person(s), whereas science/evolutionist fundies flatly discredit Genesis as accurate and esteem their own modern perception as The Truth.

I consider evolution wholly plausible, but can't honestly say that anyone can know either way, because both of them are assumptions, plain and simple. Both are assertions based on a given and accepted evidence. Both are backed by secondary, tertiary, etc. evidences of the holders' own logic and "sound perception, unlike them" rationale, ultimately. Believing one story versus another does not eliminate one's salvation, nor does accepting poof-theory tarnish one's pursuit of scientific credibility except in both cases by those who sternly discredit the opposite view without actually listening to sides.

The Genesis account is true only if it successfully passes a volley of IF prerequisits, amateurly discredited by those who tend not to quite understand logic themselves (suggesting God making a rock larger than he can lift), but keenly discredited by skeptics of actual origin of the texts and credibility of those authors and those who made copies, and oodles of far-fetched, impossible-to-prove, technically-an-explanation-but-not-plausible suspicions like the Scientology blurb that Xenu made all the religions up to keep us busy.

The evolutionary theory is likewise true only if it successfully passes a volley of IF prerequisits, such as whether carbon saturation has been more or less constant, whether there is actually not more evidence to the contrary buried elsewhere, as well as pantloads of likewise implausible but not worthy of legitimately considering suspicions such as whether the immigrant Falcon that humans landed here with fleeing the Empire may turn up some place in a cave we just haven't found yet.

Both of them are belief systems, and both of them are scientifically dis/provable and both of them have their staunch experts, and both of them will have whiners who want to throw in their two cents but don't actually know what they're talking about and make their side look really dumb. I say, don't decide.
posted by vanoakenfold at 7:37 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


vanoakenfold, Genesis is a story of creation written by humans many centuries before the scientific process existed. There is NO physical evidence supporting this story at all, it is not science in any way, it is just a myth.

The Theory of Evolution, while still a "theory" has hundred of thousand of pages of documented physical evidence, the use of the word "theory" does not imply any doubt as to its validity in any scientific way. The Theory of Evolution is not disprovable and creationism is not provable. Saying that both are equally valid is completely wrong.

Now, many modern christians allow for both to exist in their belief system by recognising that Genesis is just an allegory and not hard fact. Something that hard right christians refuse to do because they interpret the Bible literally, much like the fundamentalist muslims do with the Quran.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:17 AM on August 22, 2006


I don't understand why people who are arguing for evolution say that "people didn't evolve from apes, they share a common ancestor." What do you think that ancestor was..... it was a slightly different ape than those we see today. So yes, we didnt' evolve from chimps or orangatangs, but they're grandpa apes were our grandpa apes. But they're still apes.

We evolved from apes. We are the naked ape.
posted by premortem at 8:28 AM on August 22, 2006


(their grandpa apes were our grandpa apes)
posted by premortem at 8:29 AM on August 22, 2006


I think, Vindaloo, what you meant to say was that the theory of evolution is disprovable, but hasn't been disproven. That's kind of what makes it science, instead of faith. Creation isn't disprovable, which makes it faith, not science.
posted by hades at 8:30 AM on August 22, 2006


Recommended reading: The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, by Jared Diamond (yes, the Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse guy).
posted by trip and a half at 8:35 AM on August 22, 2006


The creationists, who would accept the fact that human and chimpanzee genomes differ only slightly, but propose an alternate explanation for how this came to be.

The way around this is Occam's Razor. Roughly, OR states that when you're faced with competing explanations, you should assume the simplest one is true.

OR isn't mandatory. It's a tool -- not a law that you must follow. But it makes a ton of sense, and most of us follow it anyway, in daily life, without even thinking about it:

If the some cookies are missing and your son has crumbs around his mouth, he might have stolen the cookies. You can't KNOW he stole the cookies. It's also possible that a thief broke in, stole the cookies, and then wiped crumbs on your kid's mouth. But very few of us are going to go with that more complicated theory. And very few of us are going to say, "I THINK my son stole the cookies." Most of us are going to say, "I KNOW my son stole the cookies."

So to suddenly NOT follow OR -- when you do it all the time -- is a little suspect. It seems like you're trying to game the system, just to win an argument.

Natural Selection, once you understand it, is a REALLY simple (and elegant) theory. Sure, it might be wrong, but it WOULD work, if it's true. So it's one way to account for modern humans. And, of all the ways to account for modern humans (and to account for fossil evidence, similarity between humans and other apes, etc.), it's the SIMPLEST explanation. So if you want to reject it, you must (assuming you want to be consistent) also reject OR. And if you reject OR, you must really reject it. It's not fair to use it just when you feel like it.
posted by grumblebee at 8:48 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


We very likely did not evolve from any currently living species of ape, but to say that means we did not evolve from apes is a bit silly.

If, say, the last non-bipedal species we evolved from were discovered miraculously surviving in some African forest, it would look something like a chimp or gorilla or bonobo, and everybody would call it an ape.
posted by gubo at 8:48 AM on August 22, 2006


Also generally on the topic of evolution, an excellent New Yorker article, "Why Intelligent Design Isn't."
posted by Dasein at 8:49 AM on August 22, 2006


Actually, Thorzdad, "evolutionism" refers to the theory of evolution (evolution == physical process, evolutionism == theory), so wouldn't it be correct to say that one believes in a particular theory?

"Evolutionism" is a term that's almost solely used by creationists as a way of equating belief in evolution with belief in creationism. The problem is that creationists believe in a non-scientific story that is in direct contradiction to a mountain of evidence, while "evolutionists" believe in a scientific theory that is well supported by overwhelming evidence, which is a scientific theory (i.e. it is falsifiable, although it hasn't been shown to be false yet), and which can be independantly corroborated.

So yeah, don't use "evolutionism." You're just misrepresenting what the theory of evolution is when you do.
posted by bshort at 8:53 AM on August 22, 2006


Take a look at this current New Scientist article titled "Why doesn't America believe in evolution?" It has an interesting graph comparing America to developed countries.
posted by jamjam at 9:02 AM on August 22, 2006


vanoakenfold, if you're going to suggest that the genesis account is as valid a hypothesis as the current scientific theory, don't you have to also endorse the possibility of every other creation story in town? Every culture has a mythology of how/why humankind got here; none of them are based on empirical evidence from the past or genetic/biological analysis. They are all, entirely, based on stories handed down over generations. That is it.

If your religion's mythology is viable for literal scientific fact, then how can you reject the possibility of the mythologies of every other religion on earth as a scientific possibility (ie, not considering your faith for a moment, but just taking them seriously as science)?
posted by mdn at 9:26 AM on August 22, 2006


Here are some thoughts that may help you be more comfortable with evolution vis-a-vis your faith.

Even though science is sometimes used as a tool for ideologies, science itself isn't a belief system. Science is an intellectual discipline--scientists observe natural phenomena and try to describe them. They do this by creating classifications of things and by using the scientific method to make repeatable claims about how the world works.

One of those claims (set of claims, really) is evolution, and it's backed up by over one hundred years of painstaking effort and repeated validation. As our understanding of evolution and how it works grows, we find fewer and fewer cases that we cannot explain with this set of concepts.

Science is not contrary to religion--it's simply independent of it. As Paul says, "No one has ever seen God." God isn't one of the natural phenomena that science can observe. You can't measure God with a ruler. Science has nothing to do with God for the precise reason that God can't be observed as a natural phenomenon.

Now, regarding Genesis. The Hebrew Bible is a collection of many books. Isaiah and Numbers are two very different things. Judges and Job are two very different things. The creation story in Genesis is very different from the story of Abraham later on in Genesis. We say that the Bible is divinely inspired--can God not inspire a story or a song, or a myth? Why must God only tell facts? God is not a history professor.

That doesn't make the Bible wrong, it's just that it contains elements of history as well as elements of myth and story. Are we supposed to take the book of Job as history, or as a parable? It's impossible to tell because it's presented without context. Certainly when Jesus tells the parable of the sower we're not meant to believe that there was an actual sower that he's referring to.

Regardless, whether the universe took seven days or fifteen billion years to get up to now, the message of Christianity doesn't change at all. Are you going to stop loving your neighbor because you share a common ancestor with wolverines? If a talking serpent didn't literally tempt someone named Eve, does that then mean that you shouldn't seek first the kingdom of Heaven?

This notion that people have when they say, "I believe every word of the Bible is literally true," this is one of those things that seems noble and faithful but is actually intellectually dishonest. It shows a disrespect for learning and the advancement of ideas. Blind literalism has a very poor track record in the annals of history. Jesus tells his disciples that they must be "as wise as serpents." And what do serpents do? They question authority, even God's authority in God's own garden, even if it means getting kicked out of a garden of delights and forced to face reality. And if you think that's dangerous thinking, let me ask you this: whose idea was it to make that serpent so cunning?
posted by vraxoin at 9:50 AM on August 22, 2006 [9 favorites]


vanoakenfold: One thing you seem to be deliberately ignoring is the fact that the creationists have precisely one source, the Bible.

Scientists have a gigantic mountain of evidence pointing toward evolution, including the fossil record, DNA analysis, virology, computer modeling, and actually forcing things to evolve ourselves. The more evidence we find, the more strongly the theory is supported.

There are millions of scientists across many different fields, and not one of them has come up with anything that proves evolution is wrong or doesn't happen. Every time some new fossil is found, or some new bit of DNA sequencing is done, it fits into the existing theoretical framework very nicely. It may shake up details, but it never attacks the fundamentals. It fits that well because the framework is correct. We certainly have details wrong, and we will continue to fix errors in our suppositions about what came from what and when, but the fundamental idea is proven.

When you say, "don't decide", all you're really doing is saying, "don't study the issue." The evidence is so overwhelming, from so many different fields, that there is simply no room for doubt. Creatures change over time. This is fact. The Earth orbits the Sun, it's not the center of the Universe, and life evolves.

There's lots of interesting questions left in the 'why' and 'how'. But the simple question of whether or not it happens is settled, and has been for a long time. It's only disputed by people whose religious beliefs are threatened by the truth, which has happened many times before.

Eppur, si muove.
posted by Malor at 9:59 AM on August 22, 2006


Sijeka : the illustrations I had in my biology books when I was a kid are misleading: it always showed apes slowly 'growing up' to become human beings as we currently understand them {i.e us}, therefore literally picturing men directly 'descending' from apes.

Absolutely. The iconography of "the march of progress" was incredibly misleading (I'd reccomend reading the first chapter of Goulds, Wonderful Life entitled "The Iconography of Expectation"). The drawing is an inacurate representation that implies that evolution is teleological in its nature, whereas, in reality, evolution has no "drive" toward a specific end. A Human isn't any more "advanced" than a Chimpanzee, a Lungfish or E.coli.

Also i'd echo the sentiments that we did evolve from apes - an ancestral form - but this does not mean we evolved from common day apes. The Chimpanzee is Humans closest living relative, an ancestral form would be an intermediate (both genetically and morphologically) between the two.
posted by tnai at 10:04 AM on August 22, 2006


Well, a lot of these posts about evolution in general are good, but missing the point of the OP which was specifically about homonid evolution.

It is quite reasonable to accept evolution in general, and be skeptical about claims regarding a specific family or species. For example, until recently there were a lot of open questions regarding the relationship of birds to extinct groups of dinosaurs.

While its pretty obvious that humans and apes are members of the same family, homonid evolution is a pretty hot area because there are a lot of open questions, and often not a huge volume of evidence to go on.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2006


The fact that people have spent more time bickering over semantics than actually answering the question reminds me, coincidently, of Borel's infinate monkey theorum.

However, seeing as we have neither an infinite amount of neither monkeys nor time on our side, it might be useful to consider the following

What evidence exists that mankind decends from, or if you like, shares a common ancester with apes?

What I think is important here is that the very people who believe this theory to be true, are themselves unable to produce any real evidence aside from the fact that we er..."look a bit like monkeys"

Furthermore, it does not necessarily follow that the alternative to this facet of evolutionary must be the belief in a Creator or "higher power"

However, in the abscence of conclusive evidence, it could be argued that the adoption of either of these theories is, in fact...an act of faith
posted by hairgelburrito at 10:21 AM on August 22, 2006


KirkJobSluder: Well, a lot of these posts about evolution in general are good, but missing the point of the OP which was specifically about homonid evolution.

huh? i thought the OP was asking "what evidence exists that man descended from apes" rather than a specific question about evolution of species the Human side of the split from our common ancester (which would be the Hominids). anyway...

homonid evolution is a pretty hot area because there are a lot of open questions, and often not a huge volume of evidence to go on.

Well, if it's hominid evolution you're after, while i'd agree there are a lot of open questions, i'd say there's a fair bit of evidence to go on. See here (includes a timeline) and here.
posted by tnai at 10:25 AM on August 22, 2006


What I think is important here is that the very people who believe this theory to be true, are themselves unable to produce any real evidence aside from the fact that we er..."look a bit like monkeys"

Are you joking?
posted by martinrebas at 11:47 AM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


tnai: huh? i thought the OP was asking "what evidence exists that man descended from apes" rather than a specific question about evolution of species the Human side of the split from our common ancester (which would be the Hominids). anyway...

I'm not quite understanding what you see as the difference between the two. But the best evidence that Homo shares a common ancestor with modern apes is the fact that we are all in the same taxonomic family. The exclusion of Pan from Homonidae is a matter of some debate.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2006


martinrebas: Please refer to the abundant evidence, posted earlier in this thread.
posted by LordSludge at 12:56 PM on August 23, 2006


Amazing that there's been so many comments, yet no trolls!

If this is the kind of thing you are interested in, you could do worse than to check out ScienceBlogs.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2006


"There is NO physical evidence supporting this story at all, it is not science in any way, it is just a myth."

Vindaloo: And you just demonstrated the very mishap that I, in the same post, cited as the majority of creationism naysayers use to discredit evidence: by turning into not-evidence. The creation story isn't about physical evidence, it's about origin, not processes. If I were to purport that an apple existed existed 8.4 billion years ago because one ancient scripture cites just such an apple, there needn't be a fossilized apple because naturally such an apple would not likely even exist today having eroded well before 8.4 billion years were up. The evidence is the ancient scripture. The basis is now only based in one's perception of its doubtability since the actual true origin of the scripture can't be proven, so it only remains in degrees of doubt, not absolute impossibility. The creation story does not cite physical evidence, but evolution does. The evolution tale does not cite spiritual evidence, but creationism does. Trying to disprove creation based on physical evidence is just as likely as proving evolution through praying about it. The basis of facts being interpreted as facts was what the post's point was about, not a vote for nor against either side.

Malor: "One thing you seem to be deliberately ignoring is the fact that the creationists have precisely one source, the Bible."

Yes, but the bible isn't just "one source" just as the fossil record is just "one piece of evidence" because it is compiled by many people. And you must take into question the reliability of each individual contributor, the reliability of the actual copies of evidences they cited, and so forth -- just as you carelessly slump the bible into one box and file it under "fiction". But no, you trust all those scientists. I mean, what malintent could they possibly have? Did you ask that same question of the bible's contributors, or is subjectivity dominating that answer? You also seem to be taking your own interpretation of what Genesis cites and using that as what you're against, without actually studying it, as you so emphatically recommend, which incidentally seems to be precisely the accusation being thrust at Creationists, for taking the creation story too narrow-mindedly.

Again, the post was about who decides what is fact, and both sides discredit each other because their perceptions of fact conflict, which is where the actual argument takes place, regardless of the subject matter.

Pontious Pilate: "What is truth?" (John 18:38)

Scientists have a gigantic mountain of evidence pointing toward evolution, including the fossil record, DNA analysis, virology, computer modeling, and actually forcing things to evolve ourselves. The more evidence we find, the more strongly the theory is supported.

Re-read the post. You are qualifying your own evidence and discrediting the evidence of the creationists as non-evidence, which is precisely the purportedly uneducated opposition's strategy. The identical, exact and mirror argument could be duplicatively made against science and/or you, such as that the more spiritual confirmation that is made through mumblings of the spirit factually proves that Pat Sajak is actually Enoch returned from having been translated. You have faith that the accumulated evidence, as far as you can tell, "factually indicates" something as true, regardless of what it is.

The "fact" is, is that science, in order to remain science, cannot say that anything is anything, but that what so far that we can tell and reason it to be is what we think it is. Perhaps there is a completely different planet that we do not have access to contains insurmountable evidence of creation and not evolution -- but we can't know that because we don't have access to it. But it can't be ruled out without having a teench bit of subjectivity, and science is not subjective. As soon as a single smidgen of grievance infests scientific reason, credibility is absolutely shot. First it's that carbs are bad, then they're good. Then they're good again, but only certain kinds. Then they're bad again, except if you eay a ton of lettuce. Then lettuce turns bad, but carbs are sometimes OK. Science changes its mind repeatedly, yet demands to remain credible. Sound at all familiar? What about this junk DNA stuff? Just junk, or perhaps instructions we haven't figured out yet?

Creatures change over time. This is fact. The Earth orbits the Sun, it's not the center of the Universe, and life evolves.

You're totally straying into a non-existent argument, perceiving I said something that wasn't even there. May the irony be unbroken, by and by. The post was made about the basis of the perception of fact-ness, not in favor of creationism or evolution either one.

When you say, "don't decide", all you're really doing is saying, "don't study the issue."

Would you mind if I turned it back on you? Allow me to prove the identical arguement in reverse (being therefore "true") and see just how much sense it makes. If 1 + 2 = 3, then 3 - 2 = 1, correct?

When you say, "decide", all you're really doing is saying, "let's study the issue more." How does deciding a fact to be a fact encourage further study? How does studying a purported unquestioned fact make it more of a fact than before? Why, if it is already a complete and total fact of a facthood of factual facticity, must further study be even necessary? Unless that is, you've fundamentally taken evolution to be a fact, and are convinced there is no possible evidence to the contrary. Open eye, remove plank.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:01 AM on August 26, 2006


Vanoakenfold: The creation story does not cite physical evidence, but evolution does. The evolution tale does not cite spiritual evidence, but creationism does.

It's already been pointed out that if you accept 'spiritual evidence', you should be referring to all creation stories, not only the one that happens to be most commonly accepted this century in the USA. Faced with this panoply of possible origins, most people quite reasonably feel a need to choose one. The poster wanted to feel confident that evolution is an intellectually coherent choice, which is why advice like "don't decide" misses the point. If biblical creation cannot be argued against by reference to physical evidence, then all other creation stories can be equally admitted and the poster ends up unable to dismiss Damballah.

First it's that carbs are bad, then they're good. Then they're good again, but only certain kinds. Then they're bad again, except if you eay a ton of lettuce. Then lettuce turns bad, but carbs are sometimes OK. Science changes its mind repeatedly, yet demands to remain credible.

Science is a process or a technique and thus does not have an opinion about carbs, nor does it demand credibility or anything else.

Assuming you mean 'scientific consensus', then the opinions of Dr Atkins' and others were never as widely accepted as the basic tenets of evolution. Furthermore, the willingness of scientists to accept alternative explanations when they are supported by testable hypotheses is a strength, not a weakness of the scientific method. That is why scientists used to agree with the church on the origins of humanity, but the evidence supporting Darwinian evolution has led consensus away from creationism. It is also why science has produced technological marvels like microchips, based on testable theories about things invisible to the eye.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:01 AM on August 27, 2006


Science is a process or a technique and thus does not have an opinion about carbs, nor does it demand credibility or anything else.

If it doesn't demand credibility, why does anyone bother? If no one requires science to be credible: no scientist is legitimate, there are no specialists in anything, and facts cease to exist.

If biblical creation cannot be argued against by reference to physical evidence, then all other creation stories can be equally admitted and the poster ends up unable to dismiss Damballah.

You missed the point again, that was an illustration on the perceptions of evidence. You keep reiterating all these scientifically "credible" evidences, that you consider to be evidence.
posted by vanoakenfold at 2:48 PM on October 5, 2006


vanoakenfold: I believe Busy Old Fool's point is that you are anthropomorphizing science. It doesn't demand credibility just like it doesn't demand soup for dinner.
posted by grouse at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2006


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