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Americans Still Aren’t Ape about Evolution

from the December 31, 2013 eNews issue

A full one-third of Americans still do not believe in evolution, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center. After 150 years of Darwinism and multitudes of books that begin, “Millions of years ago,” a significant number of Americans still believe that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” Even those who do believe in evolution do not think God was left out; almost a quarter agreed that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”

Evolution continues to be a controversial subject in America, especially among white evangelical and black Protestants. The gap has widened between Republicans and Democrats over the past four years. According the Pew, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats in 2009 believed in human evolution, while the most recent survey shows Republicans backing heavily away from evolution with just 43% of Republicans versus 67% of Democrats affirming human evolution.

These results are based on telephone interviews - both landlines and cell phones - with 1,983 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey questions are hardly precise. Technically, evolution simply means “change over time” and it’s hard to argue that humans and other living things haven’t changed at all over the years. Despite the simplicity of the words, though, the intention of the survey is clearly to gauge Americans’ fundamental beliefs regarding how we got here - through God or Evolution or Both?

The real question isn’t whether humans and other living things have changed over time. They clearly have changed - there are no giant sloths or gophers with horns wandering around the earth anymore. The question is whether humans and other living things evolved step-by-step from amino acids floating in some ancient ocean. The question is whether sloths and gophers evolved from something else, and especially whether human beings are just glorified apes or special creations made in the image of God.

Members of the scientific community express disgust at these sorts of surveys and insist that schools just are not teaching evolution well enough. They assume that if evolution were taught more consistently and deeply, all Americans would recognize the strength of Darwin’s breakthrough theory. They see serious religious faith as an obstacle to scientific knowledge.

Pew notes that the views people take about evolution are affected by their gender, age, and education. The implication is often that uneducated old women still believe in Adam and Eve, but educated young men with a grasp on the finer principles of science know better. After all, Grandma still listens to Barry Manilow on her collection of vinyl records while bright young men pack 10,000 songs and videos of their trips to Taipei on their Androids.

There are a couple of things that those disgusted scientists do not fully appreciate, however. First, they do not recognize the power of God working in people’s lives, the reality of God’s Spirit moving in the hearts and minds of everyday people. They also do not see that evolutionary theory has failed to satisfy the intellectual honesty of a great many people who do not hold the same materialistic assumptions of many scientists.

The First Humanist Manifesto

In 1933 renowned educator John Dewey and a variety of his fellows signed The Humanist Manifesto, a statement of the beliefs of the Humanist religion. The humanists wanted to create a new religion void of God, one in which man decided right and wrong. The first doctrine of this new religion was:

“Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”

For the past 80 years, the humanists in the education establishment have been fighting to institute their position as the only one that can be considered acceptable and respectable – especially in science. Anybody who suggests that the Universe is not self-existing and is created gets criticized as “religious” and is tossed out of respected scientific circles. The fundamental problem is that the humanists do not know whether the Universe is self-existing. They do not know; they believe. And yet, every scientist is expected to go along with them.

If the Universe really were self-existing, then it would turn out okay. Cosmology and biology should follow certain rules that smoothly explain the Universe and life as we see it. But, if the Universe and the life in it were actually created, then we should expect to see major conundrums in Humanist interpretations of the data collected from the world.

Footprints in the wrong layers

In 2006, archeologists returned to a site in Mexico where ancient human footprints were discovered more than 50 years ago. They uncovered 11 more prints in the area and age-dated them based on the ratios of uranium and thorium in the soil. They concluded that a man walked through a marshy oasis in the desert 10,550 years ago, leaving a trail of the oldest tracks found in North America. Archeologists hope to learn more about the nomadic Coahuiltecans who lived in central Mexico and Texas long before the Mayans arrived.

“As the ancient nomadic hunter-gatherers needed to adapt to the increasingly hostile desert conditions, they expanded their ability to find resources, leading to longer cycles of nomadism and possibly the expansion of their unique desert culture right into the 18th Century when they finally become extinct after the arrival of the Europeans,” the team notes in the study, published in the February 2014 edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Nobody questions that the tracks are human. They appear side-by-side, left-right-left with five toes and everything one would expect from a human footprint.

However, in 1976, paleoanthropologists discovered human-like prints at the Laetoli site in Tanzania. Three individuals walked along, one of them stepping into the prints of the person who walked in front, like a child following a parent. The prints were dated to 3.6 million years ago in the Plio-Pleistocene. They walk left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, and the feet have the arches of a human foot.

They are not credited to humans though. The prints are credited to the Australopithecus afarensis, the species of the famous ape Lucy. Artists have painted pictures of hairy apes walking upright and leaving those tracks, because that’s the story the evolutionary anthropologists like to tell. According to the common model, humans evolved from a close relative of the Lucy and were not supposed to have been in existence 3.6 million years ago. Therefore, the tracks are interpreted to be ape tracks and not human, and sculptures of Lucy show her with fully formed human feet.

And yet. Lucy’s skeleton doesn’t show us what her feet looked like, because the feet bones are missing. Apes do not have human-like feet; their big toe acts like a thumb on a hand and is used for grasping tree branches and food. There are no knuckle marks on the ground at the Laetoli site. The only reason to assume those human-like tracks are not human tracks is the preconceived idea that humans evolved from apes. Neither the skeletons of the Australopithecines nor the feet of any modern ape support the evolutionary conclusions.

PBS states, “The prints, say experts on hominid body structure, are strikingly different from those of a chimpanzee, and in fact are hardly distinguishable from those of modern humans.” The experts have had a hard time believing the prints were made by ape feet. Yet, that’s the official interpretation.

Theories are tools; they are not babies. They can be thrown out and modified to fit facts. In making theories, it is vital to examine the underlying assumptions and philosophies that might be incorrect. If a theory doesn’t quite work, it might be due to faulty underlying assumptions that need to be reexamined.

Many Americans have a hard time believing that humans and other life on earth evolved from microbes. Maybe they need to study more biology and paleoanthropology. On the other hand, it may be some evolutionists should address the serious problems evident in their pet views.



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