Zingrone: Our story, it’s for real

William Zingrone Associate professor of psychology

Human evolution. The study of our origins. Paleoanthropology. Biological anthropology. Whatever you want to call it, it’s for real. This is not a competing worldview, a fantasy of apes and monkeys that aren’t made up to satisfy the demands of atheistic Evilution. What we know about human evolution from the fields of archaeology, geology, paleontology, genetics and genomics, and paleoanthropology itself is not a lie, not a fantasy. It is the real deal just like any other science. Ken Ham and the other deniers would tell you everything the millions of scientists working in these fields now and over the past decades know must be wrong. That’s the lie. Religionists on this campus tell Murray State students to ignore what they learn from our biologists and archaeologists on campus. Their claim is that it has to be wrong because the earth can only be 6,000 years old and their God made each species separately. Living things cannot be related genetically, we did not evolve, evolution didn’t, couldn’t happen and the entire field of human evolution must be a fantasy mistaking monkeys for human ancestors. And anyone wonders why many of us are pissed off?

We know humans evolved from a common ancestor of ourselves and chimpanzees roughly 6 million years ago. We are not over-evolved chimps and chimps are in no way just undeveloped humans waiting to blossom into us. We are not the crown of creation that evolution strives for; we are not the ultimate endpoint that 3.5 billion years of a God-directed evolutionary process was meant to bring about. We are but one tiny branch of life, appearing in our current modern form barely 200,000 years ago. If evolution has an endpoint, a purpose (it doesn’t) it would be bacteria and insects. Check out the interactive tree of life website at http://itol.embl.de/. Educate yourself.

Despite the wishful thinking of the comparatively recently invented myths only millennia old of Middle Eastern cultures that have become the guiding (stifling) forces in our modern culture primarily through the historical accidents of conquest and migration, we are very much a part of the tree of life. Get over it.

I recently had an interesting exchange on Facebook with a commenter on my last column that took Creationist claims to task. This guy claims he has the ultimate interpretation of the Genesis story that REALLY tells how God did it, and incorporates the fossil record and an old earth but surely contains his personal discovery of the TRUTH (his caps) of the Evolution/Creationism debate as only he has been able to extract from the beginning verses of the Bible. Further he claims Ken Ham, Bill Nye, the National Center for Science Education (an evolution education organization) and even the Christian apologist and scientist Hugh Ross are all afraid to dare debate him. They have all run away from his challenge because they fear he’s got the real facts, the real pipeline to God’s mind and they must all keep him and his revelations suppressed lest he blow them all out of the water. Just what the world needs, another re-interpretation of the 2,000-year-old writings of a particularly unremarkable if not primitive and barbaric culture from the Middle East who borrowed their myths from other primitive cultures, that through the vagaries of religious syncretism and the adoption by the Roman Empire we are struggling to free ourselves from.

We have to stop teaching children the absurd lie that everything we need to know is in some ancient book if we just decipher it right; whether it is the Koran, Bible or Bhagavad Gita. Some of them grow up to be Ken Ham or this guy.

Instead, how about some real knowledge for a change:

Other than our hominid evolution over the past 4-6 million years of being bipedal and 2.5 million years of stone tool making and brain expansion, and 40,000 years of cave art, harpoons, flutes, needles and other elements of modern human culture, here are a few examples from genetics of more recent human evolution that make Ken Ham and his hired deniers look as ridiculous as their absurd claims. Humans adapted to eating dairy products by developing lactose tolerance over the last 7,000 years (sorry, Ken). The gene that makes the enzyme that allows infants to digest milk normally shuts off in childhood. Some populations evolved a mutation that keeps the gene turned on into adulthood. The genetic mutation for blue eyes arose between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Where malaria is endemic, red blood cells evolved to be resistant by way of the sickle cell mutation within the last 10,000 years. Some of these adaptations have evolved in different ways in different populations. As Bill Nye related, we have trees older than 6,000 years. Sorry, Ken. This is reality. Deal with it.

 

Column by William Zingrone, Associate professor of psychology