Reasons to Believe

Playing the Evolutionary Shell Game

Unsuspecting tourists fall prey to the age-old shell game all the time. The skilled sidewalk operator rapidly rearranges the three shells around and the tourist bets he can guess where the pea is. Only after losing his "shirt" or authorities arrivedoes he realize there's no winning. I've tried this game (just for fun) with my kids at home on the kitchen table but since I have no skill the kids often guess correctly. Some evolutionary biologists play a similar gameonly their ruse involves words, not money, and far greater consequences. (See Hugh Ross's article, The Shell Game of Evolution and Creation.)

A lunchtime discussion with the RTB science guys revealed how naturalists employ jam-packed terms such as "transitional intermediates" that often go unchallenged. We've all seen the word  "hominid." Reasons To Believe scholars identify these creatures as intelligent apelike animals that lacked spiritual capacity and any true link to humans. However, evolutionary anthropologists routinely refer to these creatures as transitional intermediates between apes and humans despite limited supporting morphological (structural) or genetic evidence. Sometimes an artist puts together a complete specimen for television and the hominid shows up with blue eyes! The list of hominids grows as scientists discover new skeletal remains and slightly variant "transitional forms." And these get classified with names that place them nicely within a human lineage. It's easier to imagine a natural progression when you see the following names together: Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens idaltu, and Homo sapiens sapiens (the last one is our species). The Latin names may look authoritative but these hominids are transitional in temporal relation only. That is, they follow other species in time, but not necessarily in any meaningful relation, as in descent. There's no direct evolutionary connection.

Genetic and morphological studies bear this point out. (See Who Was Adam? by Fuz Rana and Hugh Ross, especially chapters 48.) This presumed ancestral line (Fuz explains the idea further in a sidebar on page 142 of Who Was Adam?) is loosely analogous to looking up a family tree with the last name of Brown, for example, and reading about Great Grandpa Charlie several generations ago. One might assume a genetic connection between all Browns without knowing the true family history. As it turns out, Grandpa Charlie was born to Harry and Sally Jones but was orphaned as a young child. The Brown family adopted the youngster and he took the family name, married, and fathered children who carried the Brown name down to the present. There's "no doubt" about Charlie Brown's lineage, but, good grief, if one were to investigate the genetics, one could verify that he was not blood-related. Do we have a bunch of Charlie Browns in the human evolutionary family tree? Maybe the genealogists (paleoanthropologists, in this case) need to research the history more thoroughly, taking the science where it leads. Fuz Rana says that the genetic evidence shows the family tree" as a "lawn," in other words, disconnected blades rather than branches from a trunk. So why are there so many hominids in the fossil record? A great dose of humility is in order because we don't know the mind of God. It could be that the Creator simply enjoyed making and observing such creatures for a time. Maybe God was gradually preparing the animal kingdom for the impact of humans. I wonder also if God may have looked ahead and ensured the livelihood of various entrepreneurs who have designed the myriad "ape-to-man" posters that people stick on their walls.

Subjects: Naturalism