Reasons to Believe

Science News Flash: Are Humans Still Evolving?

Are human beings divinely created? Or are we the product of an evolutionary history? Or both?

Nearly everyone has some interest in human origins. And for that reason, it’s not surprising that discoveries in anthropology frequently garner headlines and serve as fodder for popular science pieces.

Recently, paleoanthropologist John Hawks from the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote an excellent piece for The Scientist entitled “Humans Never Stopped Evolving.”1 In this article, Hawks discusses a number of recent studies that identify natural selection at work in human beings and presents scientific updates on several well-known examples of evolutionary changes in humans, such as the ability to digest milk sugar and the origin of regional differences (racial diversity).

In all cases, the underlying implication is that if we observe human evolution happening before our eyes—time and time againthen we have clear-cut evidence that human beings evolved. But is that really the case? Is that the proper conclusion to draw from these scientific observations?

I would say no.

From a creationist perspective, it could be argued that the ability of humans (and other creatures) to adapt through microevolutionary change is evidence for God’s provision and providence.

The evolutionary changes described by Hawks are merely examples of microevolutionary changes—variation within a species. In fact, from a creationist perspective, it could be argued that the ability of humans (and other creatures) to adapt through microevolutionary change is evidence for God’s provision and providence.

Hawks’s examples of human evolution fall into the same category as (1) the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by bacteria, (2) the development of pesticide and herbicide resistance by insects and plants, (3) the change in wing color of the peppered moth, and (4) the variation in beak shape by the finches on the Galápagos Islands.

These common examples of evolutionary changes are often cited as evidence for biological evolution. Microevolutionary changes, however, don’t necessarily extend to support macroevolutionary changes (the creation of biological novelty through undirected evolutionary processes). And there are many reasons (see Who Was Adam?) to be skeptical of evolutionary explanations for the origin of humanity.

Evidence for human microevolution does not constitute evidence for human evolution.

Resources

Endnotes

  1. John Hawks, “Humans Never Stopped Evolving,” The Scientist, August 1, 2016, http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/46651/title/Humans-Never-Stopped-Evolving/.

Subjects: Adam & Eve, Anthropology, Evolution, Human Origins, Macroevolution vs. Microevolution, Speciation