The 27 Best Things Ever Said in Favor of Human Evolution

"I said to myself concerning the sons of men, God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts. For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath [`...all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life' Gen. 6:17; 7:15,22, both man and beasts] and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust [`...till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return' Gen. 3:19]. Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?"


"We do not like to be reminded of the ways in which we resemble animals. We sinners like to think our motives are more holy than those of animals. And since we generally assume animals cannot have eternal life with God, thinking about animal deaths and about our own place in nature frightens us."


"A preacher thundering from his pulpit about the uniqueness of human beings with their God-given souls would not like to realize that his very gestures, the hairs that rose on his neck, the deepened tones of his outraged voice, and the perspiration that probably ran down his skin under clerical vestments are all manifestations of anger in mammals. If he was sneering at Darwin a bit (one does not need a mirror to know that one sneers), did he remember uncomfortably that a sneer is derived from an animal's lifting its lip to remind an enemy of its fangs? Even while he was denying the principle of evolution, how could a vehement man doubt such intimate evidence?"


"When the rationality of the hross tempted you to think of it as a became abominable -- a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat. But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have...and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost...the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view [emphasis added -- ed.]."

C. S. LEWIS, OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET (a Christian science-fiction novel)

"How I hate the man who talks about the `brute creation' with an ugly emphasis on brute...As for me, I am proud of my close kinship with other animals. I take a jealous pride in my Simian ancestry. I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees, and that my frame has come down through geological time via sea jelly and worms and Amphioxus, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden?"


"We are told by those who assume authority in these matters, that the belief in the unity of origin of man and brutes involves the brutalization and degradation of the former. But is this really so? Could not a sensible child confute by obvious arguments, the shallow rhetoricians who would force this conclusion upon us? Is it, indeed, true, that the Poet, or the Philosopher, or the Artist whose genius is the glory of his age, is degraded from his high estate by the undoubted historical probability, not to say certainty, that he is the direct descendant of some naked and bestial savage, whose intelligence was just sufficient to make him a little more cunning than the Fox, and by so much more dangerous than the Tiger? Or is he bound to howl and grovel on all fours because of the wholly unquestionable fact, that he was once a fertilized egg cell, which no ordinary power of discrimination could distinguish from that of the fertilized egg cell of a Dog? Or is the philanthropist, or the saint, to give up his endeavors to lead a noble life, because the simplest study of man's nature reveals, at its foundation, all the selfish passions, and fierce appetites of the merest quadruped? Is mother-love vile because a hen shows it, or fidelity base because dogs possess it? [As Mark Twain wrote, "Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."] The common sense of the mass of mankind will answer these questions without a moment's hesitation. Healthy humanity, finding itself hard pressed to escape from real sin and degradation, will leave the brooding over speculative pollution to the cynics and the "righteous overmuch."


"Creationists criticize evolutionists for the demeaning idea of `coming from apes' and say that man is more noble than that, and then have sermons where man is called a miserable worm worthy to be burned eternally in hell."


"Forgiveness is not, as some people seem to believe, a mysterious and sublime idea that we owe to a few millennia of Judeo-Christianity. It did not originate in the minds of people and cannot therefore be appropriated by an ideology or a religion. The fact that monkeys, apes, and humans all engage in reconciliation behavior (stretching out a hand, smiling, kissing, embracing, and so on) means that it is probably over thirty million years old, preceding the evolutionary divergence of these primates...Reconciliation behavior [is thus] a shared heritage of the primate order...

"When social animals are involved...antagonists do more than estimate their chances of winning before they engage in a fight; they also take into account how much they need their opponent. The contested resource often is simply not worth putting a valuable relationship at risk. And if aggression does occur, both parties may hurry to repair the damage. Victory is rarely absolute among interdependent competitors, whether animal or human."

FRANS DE WAAL, PEACEMAKING AMONG PRIMATES (see also, Morton Hunt, The Compassionate Beast: What Science is Discovering About the Humane Side of Humankind; and, Alfie Kohn, The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life)

"Studies of food sharing by chimps at Atlanta's Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center [show that]...chimps most often get food from individuals whom they have groomed that day. Dominant males are among the most generous with their food. Fights occur rarely and usually stem from attempts either to take food without having performed grooming services or to withhold food after receiving grooming. Chimps usually kiss, hug, or otherwise make peace after a fight, especially if they need help and cooperation from one another in the future, according to Dr. Frans de Waal."


"As Darwin pointed out in The Origin of Species (opening pages of chapter. three), the `struggle for existence' can often be described just as well as a mutual dependence. And harmless coexistence as parts of the same eco-sphere is also a very common relation...

"Among social creatures, positive gregariousness, a liking for each other's company, is the steady, unnoticed background for the conflicts."


"Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring."


"It is not the especially aggressive primate that reaches the highest rungs on the ladder of rank, but the especially friendly one that knows how to win the others' sympathies. In baboons, rhesus monkeys, and Japanese macaques the ability of a male to make friendships with others is a prerequisite for high-ranking status. A high-ranking male must be tolerant toward young animals and allow them to play round about it. It must furthermore be a good protector. Thus positive social qualities determine status and not just the aggressiveness of an animal striving for dominance.

"It is true that a certain aggressiveness, which motivates a striving for dominance, also goes with a high-ranking position. But the trials of strength are to a great extent ritualized. We have already mentioned Jane Goodall's chimpanzee, which improved its rank after discovering it was good at making a noise with empty petrol cans."



Not a superman who stumbles,

But an ape with makeshift manners

In whose nickel plated jungles

Roam mechanical bananas.


"When Washoe [the chimpanzee] was about seven or eight years old, I witnessed an event that told about Washoe as a person, as well as causing me to reflect on human nature. [The account proceeds to describe the chimp island at the Institue for Primate Studies]...One day a young female by the name of Cindy could not resist the temptation of the mainland and jumped over the electric fence in an attempt to leap the moat. She hit the water with a great splash which caught my attention. I started running toward the moat intent on diving in to save her. [Chimps cannot swim.] As I approached I saw Washoe running toward the electric fence. Cindy had come to the surface, thrashing and submerging again. Then I witnessed Washoe jumping the electric fence and landing next to the fence on about a foot of bank. She then held on to the long grass at the water's edge and stepped out onto the slippery mud underneath the water's surface. With the reach of her long arm, she grasped one of Cindy's flailing arms as she resurfaced and pulled her to the safety of the bank...Washoe's act gave me a new perspective on chimpanzees. I was impressed with her heroism in risking her life on the slippery banks. She cared about someone in trouble; someone she didn't even know that well."


"Apart from Washoe and Lucy, the chimp that made the strongest impression on me was Ally. He was very bright, a very good signer [signing = using one's hands to communicate], and he was also very agreeable. Like Lucy, he spent his early years as part of a household where, apart from learning sign language, he was apparently also given lessons in religion. One sign in Ally's vocabulary when I knew him was a crosslike sign that was supposed to signify Jesus...

"The tragedy of chimpanzees is that while they are close enough to being human to attract our attention, they present us with a mirror that we find unwelcome. They have a smaller brain, they are excitable, their behavior seems to mock our veneer of civilization. They compound the tragedy by growing up into chimpanzees, and not into complaisant pets, or eager would-be human beings...They remind us of an evolutionary history that it seems we would like to forget."



"A chimpanzee comes to a stunning sight in the midst of a tropical forest: A twenty-five foot waterfall sends water thundering into a pool below, which casts up mist some seventy feet. Apparently lost in contemplation, the chimpanzee cries out, runs excitedly back and forth, and drums on trees with its fists. Here we see the dawn of awe and wonder in animals.

"A famed heart surgeon, Dr. Christian Bernard, once witnessed a chimpanzee weeping bitterly and becoming inconsolable for days after his companion was taken away for research. Bernard then vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures."


"Apes and monkeys have drawn and painted pictures, displaying intense concentration, and appearing to gain satisfaction in the process. Artistically, a chimpanzee makes the same progress, by the same steps, as a human child does, though none have ever been known to get beyond the `simple circle dotted with marks resembling facial features,' i.e., they do not add arms, legs, a body, etc. Still, ape and monkey art takes a lead ahead of children in placing its forms in the center of the page -- they balance their compositions. Apes have also been seen tracing their shadows with their finger, and even using their breath to wet a window pane so they could draw upon it. One famous monkey artist, a Capuchin, began to draw with rough objects in her cage even before anyone showed her how. With most other monkeys and chimps all that human trainers had to do was put a pencil in their hand and paper in front of them. They discovered how to use it soon enough, and even how to hold the writing implement properly. The primates that were tested also knew when their pictures were finished, and enjoyed looking at them afterwards...

"Wild chimpanzees have been observed dancing round an object, employing unique modes of rhythym. They also make drinking cups out of folded leaves, and they pluck a stick clean of leaves to make a feeding-tool they use to extract ants and termites from holes in the ground or wood."

SALLY CARRIGHAR, WILD HERITAGE [quotations have been condensed and edited]

Kanzai the chimpanzee can strike two rocks together, until some sharp-edged flakes chip off, then use those flakes to cut through a nylon rope that secures a box that the chimp wants to get into! See Kanzai: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Roger Lewin (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1994).

"Question: If we think that we are just animals, won't we behave like animals? "Answer: What animal species are you thinking of? Porpoises are gregarious, intelligent, and fun-loving. Baboons are protective of the young. They show cooperative group behavior. Gorillas are docile, family-oriented, and vegetarian. Chimpanzees form `bands' of more than one family, while orangutans live alone. From an evolutionary viewpoint, natural selection has produced people who behave like people. Humans, like all other species, are unique. There is no reason why we should behave as if we were some other species...

"We are a highly social species. Most of our behavior is learned, not genetically determined. [Compare the behavior of a child who is raised by human beings, with one who is not raised by human beings, i.e., during the first few months or years of the child's life. Then you begin to realize how near to animals we really are, and what a large proportion of human behavior is learned during a long socialization process, which is itself the result of millions of years of cultural, merely biological evolution. [See Douglas K. Candland's Feral Children and Clever Animals: Reflections on Human Nature.] We can learn behavior that will contribute to group well-being and our long-term survival as a species. We can even `unlearn' whatever traces of instinctive behavior we may have inherited. Even if war between tribes is `natural' human behavior, we can learn not to make war. Systems of morals and ethics serve, in part, to channel our behavior away from behavior that is socially and biologically destructive."


My book shelves and files are filled with fascinating animal facts that demonstrate the existence of "natural goodness'"(and, one must add, "natural depravity") in animals. Why not also in man, that is, if he is descended from animals? Man also exhibits natural goodness and natural depravity, yet paints these in broader strokes on the vaster canvas of his range of thought. Furthermore, whether a man blames his "animal nature" or his "sin nature" for the evil that men do, makes not a whit of difference, practically speaking. Though some Christians view the theory of "evilution" as "undermining morality," it would make just as much sense to argue that Christian dogmas like the "Fall of Man'"and "Original Sin" "undermine morality," since they teach that we are all "born sinners," sinning is inevitable, and that each man is "free to choose hell."

Speaking of the basis for moral and ethical norms, I do not believe that ethics "without the Bible" are "completely relative." People with no Bible to guide them still feel similar pains when stolen from, slapped, or called a stinging name. People with no Bible to guide them also feel similar pleasures when hugged, given a gift, or verbally petted. In other words, "ethical authority" resides in our bodies and brains, and in the multitude of lessons learned during lives of interaction with our fellow human beings. Neither is it easy for a person to turn to anti-social behavior if they have been taught from childhood to view other people's feelings and needs through the inner lens of their own. People also recognize (regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof) that "joys shared are doubled, while sorrows shared are halved." Such recognitions even form the basis for wanting to "double" society's joys, and "halve" society's sorrows.

Of course not everyone learns morality in the manner described above. Some are raised to "fear hell" and memorize lists of "holy commandments." Such people are liable to "fear what they (and others) might become" once such "external" holy threats and commands are called into question. Ironically, their "hell" does not exist to promote universal ethical behavior, but to promote belief in their particular theology -- so if you do not share their theology, they are convinced you are going to hell regardless of whatever kindnesses you share with them or society at large. So the threat of "hell" only helps promote good behavior in those who accept that particular theology; and such people can only understand the idea of a "moral" nation as one that consists solely of "fellow believers" in their theology. Of course any morality that tries to base itself (and impose itself on others) upon purely "external" religious threats and commands will break down once the religion supporting it is called into question.

To avoid such "breakdowns" it makes more sense for a nation, culture, or family to emphasize "internal" rather than "external" morality/ethics, just as it makes more sense to raise children to think and act in terms of how "they would feel if what they did was done back to them," rather than depending on rote memorization of lists to promote ethical understanding in all circumstances and among all people. All the world's religions enshrine the principle, "Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself," and, "Do to others what you would want done to yourself," which assume in both cases that "you" already possess an "internal" recognition of what you should and shouldn't do. So, there need not be any overt conflict between "internal" and "external" morality and ethics. However, stressing the "internal" variety seems to have a far greater chance of drawing society together, rather than tearing it apart.

"Internal" ethical recognitions preceded the composition of humanity's earliest law codes such as those of King Hammurabi, or the moral injunctions found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or the later but more famous, "Ten Commandments." Such "internal" recognitions inspired the creation of laws, and still do, and remind us that laws are but dust when people neglect to seek out what is best within themselves and each other.

- E.T.B.



"I don't know why some of these states want to have their ancestry established by law. There must be some suspicion of doubt somewhere."...

"The Supreme Court of Tennessee has just ruled that you other states can come from whoever or whatever you want to, but they want it on record that they come from mud only!"

["God formed man from the dust of the ground." Gen. 2:7] ...

"William Jennings Bryan tried to prove that we did not descend from the monkey, but he unfortunately picked a time in our history when the actions of the American people proved that we did."...

"Some people certainly are making a fight against the ape. It seems the truth kinder hurts. Now, if a man didn't act like a monkey, he wouldn't have to be proving that he didn't come from one. Personally I like monkeys. If we were half as original as they are, we would never be suspected of coming from something else. They never accuse monkeys of coming from anybody else."...

"You hang an ape and a political ancestry over me, and you will see me taking it into the Supreme Court, to prove that the ape part is O.K., but that the political end is base libel."...

"If a man is a gentleman, he don't have to announce it; all he has to do is to act like one and let the world decide. No man should have to prove in court what he is, or what he come from. As far as Scopes teaching children evolution, nobody is going to change the belief of Tennessee children as to their ancestry. It is from the actions of their parents that they will form their opinions."

ALL IN THE FAMILY-TREE Archie Bunker: And that's why they aren't white, meat-head! That's why you never see a white gorilla or a white chimpanzee!

Mike: Oh yeah? I think I'm looking at one right now.


GORILLA TALK "Koko the gorilla has learned the hand signs to over 600 words, and uses them regularly and spontaneously to communicate with others (including another gorilla she lives with, Michael). She also invents her own unique signs. A ring is called a `finger bracelet.' A cigarette lighter is a `bottle match.' Hand signs in Koko's repertoire of abstractions include: bad, imagine, understand, curious, idea, gentle, stupid, boring, and damn. She also understands over a thousand spoken English words and short sentences. She recognizes words that end with similar sounds or start with the same letter, and can `talk' via an auditory keyboard which produces spoken words when appropriate keys are pressed.

"When Koko was 3 1/2 to 4 years old she took several I.Q. tests designed for human children. In her case the tests were administered via sign language, and Koko's scores on three separate tests over a one year period were 84, 95, 85 (which is not an uncommon fluctuation among human children). The scoring even took into account the cultural bias that favored the responses of human children, which was built into the tests, and without which Koko's scores would have been higher. For instance, one question in the test was `Point to the two things that are good to eat.' The depicted objects were a block, an apple, a shoe, a flower, and an ice-cream sundae. Koko, with her gorilla tastes, picked, `apple and flower.' Another asked `Where you would run to shelter from the rain.' The choices were a hat, a spoon, a tree, and a house. Koko picked `tree' instead of `house.' Rules for the scoring required that Koko's responses be recorded as `wrong.'

"Koko `purrs' and makes laughing and chuckling sounds to express happiness. Her laugh is a sort of voiceless human guffaw which she expresses at her own jokes and those made by others. She finds incongruity funny, the way a young child might. Asked `what's funny,' she put a toy key on her head and said it was a hat, pointed to a puppet's nose and said it was a mouth, and signed, `That red,' showing me a green plastic frog.

"Barbara Hiller saw Koko signing, `That red,' as she built a nest out of a white towel. Barbara said, `You know better, Koko. What color is it?' Koko insisted that it was red -- `red, Red, RED' and finally held up a minute speck of red lint that had been clinging to the towel. Koko was grinning.

"Another time, after persistent efforts on Barbara's part to get Koko to sign, `Drink,' Koko just leaned back and executed a perfect drink sign -- in her ear. Again she was grinning.

"She even tells lies, once blaming a broken sink on a human volunteer. Another time, while I [Patterson] was busy writing, Koko snatched up a red crayon and began chewing on it. A moment later I noticed and said, `You're not eating that crayon, are you?' Koko signed, `Lip,' and began moving the crayon first across her upper, then her lower lip as if applying lipstick.

"Koko also cries, a sort of heart- rending wooo-wooo, when she's sad [like when her pet kitten, `All Ball' died], or when she's lonesome. And she's thought about where gorillas go when they die: `Comfortable hole bye.'

"When one of Koko's visitors asked her, `Are you an animal or a person?' Koko answered, `Fine animal gorilla.'"


"Conversations With a Gorilla" by Francine Patterson (National Geographic, Oct. 1978)

"`Fear, Humor, Commitment, Sorrow' -- Apes Feel Them All" (U.S. News and World Report, July 22, 1985)

"Talk to the Animals" by Don Kaplan (Instructor, Aug. 1985)

"Sex and the Single Gorilla" by Judith Stone (Discover, Aug. 1988)

One of the most careful and thoughtful reports on primate communication is "Language Comprehension in Ape and Child," ed., E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Number 23 (1993). Savage-Rumbaugh's work is based on rigorous tests and does not rely on anecdotal evidence, yet it supports some of the same claims made above.


"But when you are as old as I am!" I said to the young lady in pink satin.

"But I don't know how old you are," the young lady in pink answered almost archly. We were getting on quite nice.

"Oh, I'm endlessly old; my memory goes back almost for ever. I come out of the Middle Ages. I am the primitive savage we are all descended from; I believe in Devil-worship and the power of the Stars; I dance under the new Moon, naked and tattooed and holy. I am a Cave-dweller, a contemporary of Mastodons and Mammoths; I am pleistocene and eolithic, and full of the lusts and terrors of the great pre-glacial forests. But that's nothing; I am millions of years older; I am an arboreal Ape, and aged Baboon, with all its instincts; I am a pre-simian quadruped, I have great claws, eyes that see in the dark, and a long prehensile tail."

"Good gracious!" said the terrified young lady in pink satin. Then she turned away and talked in a hushed voice with her other neighbor.


"Humans born with tails containing no vertebrae still have tails with blood vessels, muscles, and nerves, of the same consistency as the short tail of the barbary ape."


"Anthropologists have unearthed evidence that several species of extinct apes (known today as the Australopithecines) existed in the past with average cranial capacities larger than any known living species of apes. Furthermore, their anatomy -- knee joints, hip sockets, the overall configuration of their pelvis, et al. -- points toward the conclusion that several species of Australopithecine walked upright. Trails of footprints have even been discovered in an ancient layer of volcanic ash dating back to the same age as Australopithecine bones. Knowing how intelligent Koko the ape (and other signing primates) are, we can reasonably surmise that these extinct apes, with larger brains than any known apes, and with free hands, were even more intelligent and human-like, putting them above the modern ape category and nearer to man.

"Next in time comes Homo habilus, the skulls still exhibiting ape-like features, but with a larger cranial capacity than Australopithecus. Habilus bones are located at sights containing the first chipped stone tools. Hence the name, `Homo habilus,' or, `Handy man.'

"Then comes the species known as Homo erectus, with average cranial capacities still larger. Erectus had heavy brow ridges and an elongated cranium (viewed from the side) rather than a spherical crainium. (If you dressed Erectus up and put him on a bus today, the rest of the passengers would probably scurry to the opposite side of where this fellow sat.) `Java man' and `Peking man' belong to the Homo erectus species, along with many more specimens that have been unearthed.

"After Erectus we find skulls with still larger average cranial capacities, called Archaic human beings (and also the Neanderthals, a distinctive side branch that many think is not a direct ancestor of modern man). Like Erectus, some Archaic humans also had prominent brow ridges (though lessening in prominence over time). Many Archaic humans had craniums that were rounder and less elongated than those of the Neanderthals.

"And finally, Cro-Magnon and modern man, without the brow ridges and with a rounded cranium.

"There is evidence for human evolution."

E. T. BABINSKI [For further information, see: Ape Man by Rod Caird; Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution by William Howells;

The First Humans: Human Origins and History to 10,000 B.C., gen. ed.,

Goran Burenhult; The Human Odyssey: Four Million Years of Human Evolution by Ian Tattersall; and, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution]

"I was surprised to find that instead of enough fossils barely to fit into a coffin, as one evolutionist once stated [in 1982], there were over 4,000 hominid fossils as of 1976. Over 200 specimens have been classified as Neandertal and about one hundred as Homo erectus. More of these fossils have been found since 1976."

MICHAEL J. OARD, in his review of the book, Bones of Contention

-- A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 30, March 1994, p. 222

"The current figures [circa 1994] are even more impressive: over 220 Homo erectus fossil individuals discovered to date, possibly as many as 80 archaic Homo sapiens fossil individuals discovered to date, and well over 300 Neandertal fossil individuals discovered to date."

MARVIN L. LUBENOW, author of Bones of Contention -- A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, in a letter to the editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 31, Sept. 1994, p. 70