Scientific Nuance: From Whence We Came

My intent here isn’t belaboring a worn out point, but rather clarifying one relative to us humans sharing 98.8% of our DNA with chimps. But let’s understand that sharing in this respect has nothing to do with humans evolving from monkeys, chimps, OR apes.

Nor does it have anything to do with sex; the human race isn’t the result of our ancient grandpa’s and grandma’s getting it on with monkeys. Besides, such a notion is an insult to monkeys. Evolve from monkeys we did NOT.

Even though some DNA similarities exist, strong evidence dictates that we share far more of it with modern African Apes (chimpanzees, mostly) than we do with monkeys. But even so, we probably didn’t evolve from apes, either.

As usual, we can’t trust stupidity to tell us what intelligence has said because the former instinctively reduces what it has heard to what it can understand.

Going back 5-8 million years, science points to the likelihood that, what eventually came to be humans, shared a common ancestor with African apes (gorillas and chimpanzees).

Shortly after this, that common ancestor—the PRESS’S infamous “missing link”—diverged into two separate lineages, with one of them evolving into gorillas and chimps, and the other evolving into our early human ancestors called hominids.

I discount a “missing link” scenario because I don’t view evolution as a chain of continuous events. For many in science, evolution is more like a huge blooming tree springing forth in all directions with sub-nodes, large and small branches, leaves, and roots burrowing deep beneath the surface of life, itself.

But so far, we’ve been able to examine very little of that tree, mostly only the larger branches and relatively few of the sub-nodes, smaller branches, and precious few of the leaves. For all we know, what we haven’t seen may well represent MILLIONS of missing species, including myriad ancestors we’ve yet even to imagine.

All scientific theories begin with a hypothesis, a supposition with some internal consistencies that few people want to believe. As the number and credibility of the internal consistencies grow, the more answers the hypothesis provides.

The more answers a hypothesis provides, the more likely it will take wings and become a bona fide theory, and the more the theory explains, the more robust it becomes.

In science, “fact” can only mean that something has been confirmed to such a degree that it would be sheer pigheadedness to withhold provisional assent. In other words, independently verified facts are things that people have no good reason to disbelieve.

To wit: Geology has shown, unmistakably, that fossils span the ages. From Paleontology we’ve derived an accurate fossil sequence throughout those ages. From Taxonomy we’ve seen that absolute biological relationships exist among species.

And Evolution has come to be the most robust SCIENTIFIC explanation we have that explains the way Nature has tied it all together. But in NO way has it even tried to disprove—let alone succeeded—the existence of God.

For sure, it has not provided ALL of the answers, but it’s provided proof for a lot of them, not to mention a storehouse of credible evidence for scores of others. And by all reasonable standards, it’s provided far more verifiable evidence than religion has.

In 1980, I watched Cosmos: A Personal Voyage as narrated by the late Dr. Carl Sagan. Not only was it an incredible series aimed at shirtsleeve Americans; it gave evolutionary science an aromatic whiff of understanding and vitality.

Last Sunday, March 9, I tuned into 2014’s updated version: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey as narrated by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Bravo to Dr. Tyson. If there IS an afterlife, Carl Sagan is grinning from ear-to-ear with approval.

If you have the time, tune in over the next 13-weeks to watch the remaining segments. It’s NOT Hollywood fiction; it is science in the classroom at its best, answering many questions, but also clarifying—most notably—that humans are Johnny-come-latelies to cosmic existence… EXTREMELY late as a matter of fact.

As well, we need to stop thinking we’re in “charge” of anything other than our own behavior. We’re NOT central to the cosmos; we’re not even central to planet Earth. It’s been around for over 4.5-BILLION years; we’ve just arrived a mere cosmic blink ago!

Also, this notion that HUMANS will destroy the Earth is pure BUNK; we’ll merely destroy our species. And the evidence shows, clearly, that we’re well on our way to accomplishing the feat, particularly in the way we’ve treated this planet over the past 300-years.

The God people—particularly the “young Earth” types—need to stop fixating on this “monkey” business. Earth’s going to be a cinder orbiting around a dying Sun in another 4 to 5-billion years.

But—assuming we don’t kill ourselves off a lot sooner than this—we’ll most likely go out of style in another billion years at the latest.

By that time, our Sun’s radiating power will have increased by about 11%; at which time it will begin evaporating all of our water. So it will be sayonara Earth people. And you know what? The rest of the cosmos will not even know we’ve left the building; nor will it care.

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