Human/Ape Common Ancestry: Following the Evidence
by Casey Luskin
Human/ape common ancestry has been a subject much discussed recently. A friend wrote me asking for links dealing with human/ape common ancestry. While there are numerous good articles that have talked about this issue from an intelligent design (ID) friendly perspective, I tried to provide him with some helpful links and information.
As a preliminary point, it’s important to note that human/ape common ancestry is compatible with ID. Nonetheless, ID proponents are interested in taking a scientific approach to these questions, and the evidence suggests that even modest changes requiring two or more mutations before conferring any adaptive benefit could not arise via Darwinian evolution under any reasonable timescale involving human/ape common ancestry. As a result, questions about human/ape common ancestry should be on the table for people who really want to follow the evidence where it leads.
The basic issue is this: Despite the fact that human/ape genetic similarities are often overstated, YES, in many instances it is true that humans and chimps have very high levels of genetic similarity. Does this bolster neo-Darwinian evolution and human/ape common ancestry? In fact, we could have predicted these similarities without any knowledge of Darwinian evolution simply by observing that humans have similar body plans to apes. If similar morphology implies similar genetics, then we could predict these high levels of similarities without even thinking about considerations pertaining to common ancestry.
But there’s another important point to consider: Functional morphological and genetic similarities between humans and apes could be the result of common design just as much as common descent. That’s a good principle to keep in mind as you investigate this issue: functional biological similarity is explained by common design just as well as it’s explained by common descent. (In fact, in some cases–such as extreme convergent evolution–such similarity is explained much better by common design.)
There are a lot of good articles out there on this topic, but here is a summary of some articles germane to recent debates…
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