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July 17, 2003


Russell L. Carter

"I suppose it could be something to do with the threat to our exceptionalism, i.e. it is wrong, by Biblical lights, to put us on a continuum with the rest of the animals."

That's all there is to it. As my dear uncle said, "I ain't related to any monkey!"


Thanks for commenting. I do think you are probably right, but it strikes me as weird because, actually, Christians DON'T think we are unrelated to monkeys. If you tell them that humans are mammals, i.e. we are more like monkeys than lobsters in certain ways, they don't kick up a big fuss about the classification scheme.

It seems the step from the admission that God (for whatever mysterious reasons) stuck us in biological units more closely related to these (here) than those (there) to the admission that God might have arranged the construction of our biological units as Mr. Darwin says - well, I just don't see why Christians should, by their own lights, regard this as a big step. But I suppose by now it is just stipulated that it has to be regarded as intolerable.

Shuan Rose

Talking to antievolutionists, the reason is that if evolution were true, a literal interpretation of the Bible would be impossible, therefore the Bible would not be authoritative, therefore Christianity would be false. Care to spot the non sequiturs?

Shuan Rose


I believe Russell is right. In everything I've read by creationists, and everything told to me by creationists directly (I used to go on creation-vs-evolution message boards and feed trolls like nobody's business), the thing that really sticks out is that they want to believe that humans are special.

After all, the important things about Genesis are:
1) God created the world and everything in it
2) And he made a special point of creating humans, in an act separate from everything else, and in His image.

This is why, for instance, biblical literalists don't seem to care that there are two contradictory versions of Genesis (go, read!) - because even though the details of the world-creating are different, they still both assert that God *did* create the world, and that He created humans as an extra special step.

It's hard to realize, because in this century we've grown up knowing that humans are very similar to apes. Creationists now say that God created humans and apes to be somewhat similar, but that the two species are miles and miles apart spiritually, because the ape is just an animal but we humans are God's special creatures, made in His image. In earlier times, a much bigger deal was made over the separation between Man and the animals. I have a book from 1860 on Natural History (not in my hands at the moment, alas, or I'd quote it) whose introduction goes to great lengths to point out how Man is very clearly superior to all the animals. For example: you can tell Man is the pinnacle of Creation because of his hands. And those things on the ends of monkeys' arms? Those can't actually be hands, since only Man has hands! ... and it gets even more ridiculous from there.

Sometime in the 1990's, the Pope made an official statement (a bull? an encyclical? I don't know the terminology) that could be summarized as telling Catholics: "Hey, we believe in evolution, remember?" ... but with one exception: that somewhere along the line, as apes evolved into humans, there was a point where God intervened - *one special moment* where God came down and gave something, a soul, to the apes that could thenceforth be called humans. And as long as you believe in that divine intervention, you can believe in evolution too.


Actually, young-earth creationists do attack just about all of modern science, including geology and cosmology. See, for instance, Kent Hovind (http://www.drdino.com/ ). Of course, he thinks that the Big Bang is part of the theory of evolution.

Beyond that, it seems to be an emotional issue: it may have been astronomers who showed that neither the earth nor the sun is the center of the universe, and that indeed our planet, sun, and galaxy are nothing special in the universe; geologists may have shown that there is nothing special about the time in which which we live; but Darwin's theory says that we are
related to other animals, and that seems much more like a personal insult.

In addition, as others have pointed out, Evolution is Darwin's theory in the same way that Relativity is Einstein's. Quantum theory, the Big Bang, and others have multiple parents, so there's no single person you can demonize. Geology has Lyell, of course, but few people have heard of him.

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