A monkey can’t give birth to a human

One of the daftest objections I had of evolution was the notion that an animal of one species cannot give birth to an animal of another. Now that I understand evolution a bit more I can happily laugh at my past beliefs, yet I do see creationists making the same criticism, so I was obviously not alone in my errant ideas.

My thinking basically went along the lines of, species A lives and exists for some time, for evolution to be true species A will eventually evolve into species B. This will happen when one animal in the species randomly gives birth to an offspring that is somehow not species A but actually species B. However, there are no other species B specimens about so the lone animal of species B has to hope that another member of species A gives births to another species B within its lifetime. Since this is obvious nonsense, evolution must be false.

(Go on, have a good chuckle, I know you want to)

Sadly, I very often see hints that I was not alone in this line of logic and that it really is how creationists often portray evolution.

This creationist idea of evolution is utterly utterly wrong.

Creationists who believe this really do need to take a step back and pay attention to what is being said. No scientist has ever suggested that evolution works by one species giving birth to another. To suggest otherwise is to be either wilfully deceptive or unwilling to be educated; and yes I include my former self in the second one of those.

When pondering evolution and how it could work, I would spend ages imagining scenarios where one species morphs into another. Generally my thinking boiled down to an individual member and how it could be the parent of another species. I always hit a dead end because my thinking was too narrow.

Eventually I hit the bigger picture and grasped the understanding that if a groups of species A splits into two smaller groups and the two become separated to the point that there is no mixing between the two; there will eventually become a point where those two groups are classed as distinct species. This happens because the random variations that happen with each new generation have mixed among each group to the point where the two groups have a wholly different set of variations and so become independent species in their own right.

Its so easy and obvious to understand, it’s a wonder it took me so long to get it.

That’s not all the story of course

There are complications though. The idea above does not explain how you get huge differences like a duplication of the entire DNA sequence or a difference in the number of chromosomes. My understanding does not yet extending to grasping those concepts and how they would impact the first individual to receive the change. However, my lack of understanding does not negate the bigger concept.

Back to the Species idea

The best explanation for me was the example of a ring species, this is where you get a source species and a group splits off and relocates to form group B (leaving the source group as group A). Eventually group C splits from group B and so it goes until you have groups A through H. Now let’s say the groups create a large circle and group H ends up next to the original group A. Each group would be able to mate with its neighbours, so would be counted as variations within a single species. Yet groups H and A would not. Where do you define the difference between species?

This is not an impossible idea. Biologists have had many challenges and problems in drawing the boundaries between species. There is only one possible explanation for these issues; evolution.

If the creationist idea was right, then there would be easy definable differences between species. This would be because each species would have been created as unique and fully formed. Yet the basic idea of categorising species is very problematic. This is very strong evidence for common ancestry and evolution.

The only other possibility is that God created everything intentionally confusing. Why on earth would he do that?

So a monkey gives birth to a human.

Well not really, but a common ancestor did once give birth offspring that would eventually lead to monkeys and humans, I wonder if they were twins.

The Problem of Adam and Eve

I’ve commented before about the problem that Adam and Eve causes the Christian, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/can-you-adam-and-eve-it/)

DNA evidence now makes it abundantly clear, there is simply no skirting around it, Adam and Eve never existed.

This month’s Christianity Today has an article titled The Search for the Historical Adam (http://christianitytoday.imirus.com/Mpowered/book/vchto11/i6/p29). Its clear from the article that a literal interpretation of Genesis is discouraged. The wider implication of this, the fall of man with the original sin, is not covered in as much detail as I would like.

The article states that scientific evidence demonstrates that not only did the human population that’s alive today not descend from a sole pair of humans, but that the genetic history goes back considerably longer than 10,000 years. The estimated minimum modern human population is a few thousand individuals several tens of thousands of years ago. Unless one wants to believe in a god that created a pre-aged world with a pre-defined historical DNA record, there simply is no way that a literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve story is possible.

Also not mentioned in the article is the authenticity of the Garden of Eden. DNA evidence puts man as originating from Africa whereas the location of Eden as described in the bible would put it somewhere in The Middle East.

The Christianity Today article is referenced by BioLogos (http://www.biologos.org/blog/biologos-and-the-june-2011-christianity-today-cover-story/), where the scientific fact of the non-existence of Adam and Eve is also acknowledged. The BioLogos article ends with a call for theologians to step in and sort the issue out.

I find it interesting that neither article makes a big issue of the scientific evidence; nor do they speculate on what the solution may be. What I wanted to read was a categorical stating of scientific facts and a rousing challenge to Christians. Given that both organisations are devoted to the Christian faith, I guess there was no chance that was going to happen.

The problem for Christianity

The acknowledgement that Adam and Eve never existed is going to have to come from the Church eventually. This is not an issue on which it can bury its head in the sand. The thing is, this acknowledgement produces a big problem.

Without Adam and Eve, there is no original sin, no first murderer, no ordained punishment condemning women to a painful childbirth and no requirement for Jesus’s sacrifice. No wonder the articles are reluctant to take a stance on the matter.

For me, it reaffirms that my decision to exit Christianity was the right one. This is not a problem I’d want to be wresting with as a Christian.