I will be looking at the controversy that is evolution. The one side being we have evolved from primate to Neanderthal man to homo sapien. And the other from a religious creator point of view and the view of no proof of evolution.
I shall start with the argument against evolution.
The issue here is that faith is something which can not be proven that’s why it’s called faith because you have to believe, compared to that which has not been proven (theory) (1). This articles argument is that until there is specific evidence and proof in some form of fossil or gradual progression and transition from one species to the next, evolution will remain an unproven, yet appealing, theory.
Creationism in the Oxford English Dictionary (6) means ‘the belief that the universe and living creatures were created by God in accordance with the account given in the Old Testament.’
Creationists will try and argue the case in favour of their belief when people comment on how the Earth is far older than 6000 years and therefore how could God have made it. They infer that the natural processes back then were a lot different to how they are today, such as radioactive decay occurred far more rapid thousands of years ago than it does today, making the earth seem older than it really is. (2). Whether or not decay did occur a lot faster back then is still to be discovered this is why theorist trying to prove evolution cant be sure about anything and nor can the creationists be sure about what happened.
45% of Americans agreed with the statement: ‘God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10 000 years or so’ (3, page 499). They believe and stand on what they believe so much that it creationist materials have been published not only in English but in 13 other languages (3, page 500). They believe that the universe and earth was created 10,000 years ago, and that the earth was inundated by Noah’s flood and that all living things were created by God to reproduce after the kind, thus setting limits on evolution. This article goes on (3, page 502) to talk about how Darwin didn’t publish in detail all facts in his origin of species (4) which he regarded as a mere abstract of his planned yet never completed Natural Selection (5). Reasons for this are not known but makes you wonder why didn’t he complete it and creationists use this in their favour against the idea of evolution.
The arguments here are good, until proof is given when someone makes a theory it is not fact and so therefore can not be relied upon no matter how many assumptions and theories are put together. The bible has been translated more times and into more languages (more than 2,100 languages) than any other book, and it is the best selling book of all time, this fact makes it seem more than just a nice story and makes it easier to believe that it actually possiably true.
However questions may be asked from the opposing side about the religious background to the creationism argument. The point being if your not religious your not going to believe in the creation story and therefore not going to believe God created everything – so they will look for answers in nature and elsewhere and create theories to try and prove where we did come from. In these evolution scientist minds we did evolve from apes, and they will try and prove the creation story wrong and their theory right.
I shall now go on to look at the arguments for the theory of evolution.
Evolution in the oxford English dictionary (6) means ‘the process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have developed, especially by natural selection ; gradual development.’
Humans and chimpanzees share some 99% of DNA and amino acid identity (8, page 721). These figures are good numbers to look at and to try and prove we have evolved from chimps, and are convincing. However despite this high percent our morphological, biomedical and cognitive differences are significant. This is why creationists and other people find it hard to believe we have morphed from chimps into humans.
There is also the fact that if we were once chimps and we evolved into humans, there are now still humans and still chimpanzees, why is there no in-between living proof about. Darwin argues that humans are only slightly remodelled chimpanzee-like apes, he based this on the asserted “importance of numerous points of resemblance” (8, page 727). Darwin missed the point, its not so much the points of similarity that makes the line of descent, it is more a few points of dissimilarity that breaks the lines, and makes a species different (8, page 728). Here we seem to have a point being made and then another point being made against that point, it makes a good article, but doesn’t make a good argument for evolution when you prove what you just said wrong in a later paragraph.
Natural selection meaning larger males mate with larger females which then reproduce to make larger offspring (9). However in the animal world you can’t force animals to mate and you can’t predict or guarantee who will either. The article goes against itself and talks about how there may be other reasons for taller people not just tall reproducing tall. Reasons such as better nutrition and standard of living and health care (10, page 257).
There are also links to climate and stature due to living and adapting to similar conditions (10, page 278), however oddly the tallest and shortest populations ever recorded were Nuer 184.44cm and Mbuti 144.1cm which were both recorded in central Africa (7, page 672). So although Darwin and his natural selection may be true to some extent on the whole other factors play apart in the way we have changed over the years. More a change due to environmental conditions and better living standards – which wouldn’t explain the change from ape to human.
Monkeys can be trained to walk bipedally rather than quadrupidally (11, page 739). This meaning we could have evolved to better suit ourselves, a kind of survival of the fittest. The bipedal walking after 2-3km per day, changes there skeletal system and existence of humanlike lumbar lordosis shows (7, page 740). The benefits of this bipedal walking means they expend less energy and can walk with longer less frequent sides – so therefore have adapted to benefit themselves.
The arguments here for evolution theory aren’t as strong as those for the creationist theory purely because of the facts that they are theories and haven’t been proven yet. One theorist says one thing and then another theorist says another, always contradicting each other. Until facts are made clearer and proof found the theory of evolution will go on.
All the articles I have read have been convincing to there point of view, some more so than others. Some even seem to debate and out different ideas across in their own argument. The best arguments were those with the facts and figures and scientific drawings. Points which are reliable and not biased which are factual and true.
(1) Lipman. R, Creationism versus evolution, The Lancet, volume 360 (September), issue 9336, (2002), page 872.
(2) Langen. T, what is right with ‘teaching the controversy’?, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, volume 19 (March), issue 3, (2004), pages 114-115.
(3) Scott. E and Branch. G, Evolution: What’s wrong with ‘teaching the controversy?’, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, volume 18 (October), issue 10, (2003), pages 499-502.
(4) C. Darwin. On the Origin of Species, John Murray (1859).
(5) A. Desmond and J. Moore. Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, Warner Books (1991).
(6) www.askoxford.com/, 19/02/06, 2015
(7) Harding. R and McVean. G, A structured ancestral population for the evolution of modern humans, Current opinion in Genetics and Development, volume 14 (December), issue 6 (2004), pages 667-674.
(8) Gibbons. R, Dugaiczy. L, Girke. T, Duistermars. B, Zielinski. R and Dugaiczy. A, distinguishing humans from great apes with AluYb8 repeats, Journal of Molecular Biology, volume 339 (June), issue 4 (2004), pages 721-729.
(9) Lindenfors, 2002 P. Lindenfors, Sexually antagonistic selection on primate size, J. Evol. Biol. 15 (2002), pp. 595-607
(10) Gustafsson. A and Lindenfors. P, human size evolution: no evolutionary allometric relationship between male and female statue, Journal of Human Evolution, volume 47 (October), issue 4 (2004), pages 253-266.
(11) Hirasaki. E, Ogihara. N, Hamada. Y, Kumakura. H, Nakatsukaa. M, do highly trained monkeys walk like humans? A kinematic study of bipedal locomotion in bipedally trained Japanese macaques, Journal of Human Evolution, volume 46 (June), issue 6 (2004), pages 739-750.