by David N. Menton, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1997 - 2002 Missouri Association for Creation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Anyone who has ever watched the monkeys and apes at a zoo, couldn't help but notice their resemblance to humans. By comparison, the bears in the zoo are not nearly as similar to humans as are the apes. Still, bears are warm-blooded mammals and thus are more similar to humans than are cold-blooded reptiles like the alligators. Alligators, however, do have legs and true lungs and thus are more similar to humans than are the fish. But even fish have bony vertebrae and thus are more similar to human than are the insects. And even insects are made up of many specialized cells and thus are more similar to humans than are the bacteria. Finally, all living things, including bacteria, have basically the same type of molecules that appear to be essential for life itself and share a common genetic code mechanism for their reproduction.
Clearly there is an underlying common theme to all of life. Inquisitive people will naturally wonder why this is so. Until the time of Darwin, over 130 years ago, most scientists considered the underlying commonality of all living animals to be evidence of the handiwork of their common Creator. It seemed quite reasonable to these great pioneers who established the foundations of nearly every branch of science, that God would use the same underlying principles to design and create the various kinds of animals. After all, even human designers, builders, and artists, tend to manifest their distinctive approach in everything they create and build.
There are several possible reasons why certain animals are more similar to one another than they are to others, permitting them to be arranged into groups. Animals that live in a similar environment and eat similar food would be expected to have structural and even chemical similarities. Animals that live and move on land, for example, have a certain class of similarities based on the restrictions imposed by the natural terrain of our earth. Animals that live and swim in water have certain similarities necessary for aquatic locomotion and feeding. Animals that fly in the air have still other similarities dictated by the severe demands of flight. In the same manner, man-made machines designed to serve a common type of purpose share common features, despite their many differences. Consider the various modes of transportation designed by man. Most vehicles that run on land, from roller skates to freight trains, share a class of similarities based on wheels. Vehicles that move on water, from a canoe to a battle ship, share basic similarities based on floatation. Vehicles that fly in the air, from hang gliders to the space shuttle, have similarities that are essential to flight.
Today, evolutionists insist that the underlying similarity of all animals, including man, and our ability to arrange and classify them into groups, is compelling evidence for their progressive evolution from a common ancestor. They insist that there is simply no other thinkable explanation for their similarities. Evolutionists argue further that the degree of similarity between any two animals attests to their degree of evolutionary "relatedness," and thus how recently they separated from a common ancestor. They are quite certain, for example, that the similarities between apes and humans prove they evolved from a common ape-like ancestor "only" 2 or 3 million years ago. By comparison, evolutionists say we are far more distantly "related" to our insect "relatives." The Living World exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo at one time had a sign by a dish of fruit flies that confidently declared: "humans and flies had a common ancestor 630 million years ago." This hypothetical "common ancestor" is not identified because no one has the slightest evidence of what it looked like, or even if it existed at all!
This belief, that similarities between animals can only be understood in terms of an evolutionary relationship, is the most fundamental axiom of evolution -- almost all arguments for evolution depend upon it. Evolutionists do not feel compelled to prove their claim that similarity necessarily means common evolutionary ancestry -- they assume it. Indeed, evolutionists never question or investigate whether evolution is true or not, rather they ask which animal evolved into which, and their answer is generally based on similarity! No scientist would ever succeed in getting funding from major federal or private sources to investigate if evolution has really occurred or not. The evolutionist Richard Leaky approached the National Geographic Society to get funding to look for the ape ancestors of man, not to investigate if man evolved from apes. It is interesting to note that when the Society gave Leaky his funds, he was warned: "If you find nothing you are never to come begging at our door again." With this motivation, Leaky soon found 40 specimens of the "human ancestor," Australopithecus, whose very name, by the way, means "Southern APE"! Most evolutionists are dead certain that this very ape-like ape evolved into man because of certain arguable similarities to man in its teeth and pelvic bones. Perhaps you heard the story of the evolutionist who dug up a fossilized fragment of an ape's jaw and promptly declared it to be an ancestor of man -- he was so excited about the find he said, "I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't believed it."
One of the problems with the similarity = evolutionary ancestry axiom is that evolutionists ignore it whenever it doesn't fit their evolutionary scenarios. There are many instances of remarkable similarities between animals that evolutionists consider to be only distantly related. The eye of the squid, for example, is strikingly similar to the human eye. Sometimes almost the whole body and even the behavior of animals are obviously similar and still evolutionists argue they are not closely related! For example, many of the Australian marsupials have strikingly similar counterparts to certain North American placental mammals. There are both marsupial and placental mammal versions of mice, moles, rabbits, wolves, and badgers. There is even evidence that there once were both marsupial and placental saber-toothed tigers! Yet evolutionists consider marsupials and placental mammals to be only distantly related because their mechanism of reproduction is so different. Evolutionists believe that the primitive ancestors of marsupial and placental mammals split off from a hypothetical common ancestor about 120 million years ago, long before there were mice, moles, rabbits, wolves, and badgers, and have been evolving separately ever since. How then did both these separate lines manage to come up with such similar animals?
Incredibly, evolutionists explain away amazing similarities between animals they consider to be only distantly related by simply invoking "convergent evolution." Convergent evolution is the unobserved and unexplained process whereby two very different animals independently evolve into two very similar animals by an incredible run of countless lucky mutational coincidences extending over tens of millions of years! It seems that some folks will believe almost anything, as long as it doesn't appear in the Bible.
Originally published in St. Louis MetroVoice, November, 1993, Vol. 3, No. 11