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15 Answers to John Rennie and Scientific American’s Nonsense--Argument #06

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

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Conclusion & References

6. [Creationists suggest that] if humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

Under this heading, Mr. Rennie wrote: “This surprisingly common argument reflects several levels of ignorance about evolution. The first mistake is that evolution does not teach that humans descended from monkeys; it states that both have a common ancestor” (2002, 287[1]:81). The late evolutionary geneticist and Nobel laureate, Hermann J. Muller, writing in the May 1957 issue of Scientific Monthly, blistered his evolutionary colleagues for making such a ridiculous assertion rather than simply accepting the fact that monkeys gave rise to apes, which then gave rise to humans.

It is fashionable in some circles to refer slurringly to the inference that apes were ancestral to man, and to insinuate that it is more proper to say that men and apes, perhaps even men, apes, and monkeys, diverged long ago from a stem form that was more primitive than any of these. This is mere wistful thinking on the part of those who resent too vivid a visualization of their lowly origin and their present-day poor relations (84[5]:250).

Seven years later, “Mr. Evolution” himself—George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard—was equally outspoken against what he viewed as such a cowardly approach to the discussion of human evolution.

On this subject, by the way, there has been too much pussyfooting. Apologists emphasize that man cannot be descendant of any living ape—a statement that is obvious to the verge of imbecility—and go on to state or imply that man is not really descended from an ape or monkey at all, but from an earlier common ancestor. In fact, that earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous [cowardly—BT/BH] if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise (1964, p. 12, emp. added, parenthetical item in orig.).

What was that, Dr. Simpson? Man’s “ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it”? And “since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys”? Furthermore, an “informed investigator” (like John Rennie of Scientific American?) would be “dishonest” to suggest otherwise? Need we say more?

Mr. Rennie then complained:

The deeper error is that this objection is tantamount to asking: “If children descended from adults, why are there still adults?” New species evolve by splintering off from established ones, when populations of organisms become isolated from the main branch of their family and acquire sufficient differences to remain forever distinct. The parent species may survive indefinitely thereafter, or it may become extinct (287[1]:81).

This is not an error on the part of creationists; it is an error on the part of evolutionists! By making such a statement, it is obvious that Mr. Rennie does not understand how evolution is supposed to work, or the concept he is struggling (and failing) to defend. His argument is a stereotypical “apples to oranges” comparison. Marvin Lubenow, author of the classic text, Bones of Contention, and a man who has studied the fossil record for more than a quarter of a century, had this to say regarding this type of ridiculous assertion.

When a creationist emphasizes that according to evolution, descendants can’t be living as contemporaries with their ancestors, the evolutionist declares in a rather surprised tone, “Why, that’s like saying that a parent has to die just because a child is born!” Many times I have seen audiences apparently satisfied with that analogy. But it is a very false one. In evolution, one species (or a portion of it) allegedly turns into a second, better-adapted species through mutation and natural selection. However, in the context of human reproduction, I do not turn into my children; I continue on as a totally independent entity. Furthermore, in evolution, a certain portion of a species turns into a more advanced species because that portion of the species allegedly possesses certain favorable mutations, which the rest of the species does not possess. Thus the newer, more advanced group comes into direct competition with the older unchanged group and eventually eliminates it through death…. The analogy used by evolutionists is without logic, and the problem of contemporaneousness remains (1992, p. 129, emp. added).

Lubenow is absolutely correct. The argument used by evolutionists (like Mr. Rennie) is “without logic.” And yes, the “problem of contemporaneousness” does indeed remain. The fact that Mr. Rennie does not understand the problem does not somehow alleviate it. Ignorance is no excuse. Pardon us for saying so, but if Mr. Rennie is not going to bother to study the subject before he puts pen to paper, then he should avoid writing on the subject altogether.

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