I’ve previously covered the fact that modern Creationists have more or less accepted evolutionary theory, even if they vehemently deny what they call ‘macroevolution’ (the actual scientific term is much more strictly defined than their definition, which amounts to something along the lines of ‘evolution, but only if I think it sounds likely’). I’ve also pointed out that the practice of defining humans as apes was first begun by Carl Linnaeus long before common ancestry was a serious contender in science, and certainly before it became accepted fact.
Based on the above, I’d like to make a prediction: eventually, certain groups of Creationists will accept that evolution has occurred, both on the micro and macro scale, with the sole exception of humanity. I don’t think this is too much of a stretch; the history of Creationism is the story of anti-science activists slowly ceding ground as they attempt to reach out to those who are not religious fundamentalists. However, it is abundantly obvious that many (if not most) non- Biblical literalist Creationists mainly object to evolution on the grounds that it ‘calls humans animals’. All other life may carry the taint of having evolved from more ‘humble’ beginnings, but humans, they argue, are special, which explains why so much of the Creationist literature is pre-occupied with lying about hominid fossils and misrepresenting how much we know about our lineage. From a scientific point of view there is no reason to put more emphasis on human evolution than that of any other form of life other than understandable curiosity with our own origins, and this certainly isn’t the area where most people would look for fatal weaknesses in the theory.
However, Creationists once again undermine themselves by accepting ‘microevolution’, particularly when it is defined as ‘change within Biblical “kinds”‘. Although nobody can seem to give a coherent description of what a ‘kind’ actually is, one oft-cited example is dogs; although there are hundreds of different breeds of dog, they are all still within the same ‘dog kind’. This is a huge mistake on the part of Creationists, because it means that they should also accept humans and our evolutionary cousins as being within the same ‘kind’ as well.
Before I continue, I’d like to point out that even within modern humans there is an incredible amount of variation. I am physiologically very different from a Chinese or north African person, who in turn are very different from Inuit or south Americans. Variation is even abundant on much smaller geographic scales, as evidenced by the fact that the tallest and shortest groups of people on Earth reside in Africa (or are directly descended from there). The situation can be likened to that of different breeds of dog, an analogy that most people seem curiously hesitant to make – and not on scientific grounds, either.The point I’m trying to make here is that there is no universal template for what humans should like look, which means the the argument from incredulity – ‘They’re too different from us’ – is no barrier to accepting our recent ancestors as being related to us.
The situation is worse still for those Creationists who take ‘kind’ to mean ‘family’, as humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutangs are all members of the family hominidae (or ‘great ape’). To deny this would be to not only deny evolution, but also the entire branch of science that seeks to classify life. Even a casual examination of our proposed recent ancestors and the current hominidae reveals the folly of accepting the family definiton of ‘kind’ while rejecting any relation between modern humans and, say, Homo habilis, with whom we most likely shared a common ancestor.
By defining ‘kind’ as ‘family’, then, Creationists unwittingly make two seperate concessions to science and evolution:
1. They accept that humans, chimpanzees, orangutangs and gorillas are of the same ‘kind’. If not, they must either change the definition of ‘kind’ or attempt to show that humans should not belong to the family hominidae.
2. They also accept that some of our recent proposed ancestors would also fall within the same ‘kind’ as us, and therefore should have no problem with ‘ape’ to human evolution.