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Thursday, December 6th, 2012, 3:29 am

“Do You Believe We Came From Monkeys?”

No, I didn’t ask that, but sometimes people ask me that. You too may have come across people who ask that question. Here is my typical, respectable verbal response (I wrote the text below quickly in one pass), which is likely to spread reason into people who are more resistant to it. Being rude is counter-productive.

A hypothetical response would go like this. No, we did not come from monkeys. I don’t believe that and neither should you. You have definitely heard or read a deliberate misrepresentation of what Evolution is. Monkeys and us have common ancestors; in that sense, we have very, very distant cousins. Let us explain how scale reconciles the apparent complexity of this statement. The tree of life connects all forms of life, leading back to life’s origin (and going billions of years back in time). We’ll start at the micro level.

You and your siblings have two common ancestors, assuming a common family structure. You and your cousins share at least a grandparent, i.e. one common ancestor or more. You therefore are likely to have some similarities. Now, imagine going further back 4 generations or about 100 years. A lot of nearby humans share common ancestors with you (from around that time). You might not even know those common ancestors. Now, think of 1,000 years instead of 100 and probably everyone around you has common ancestors with you. Go back 10,000 and the complexity is vast, but almost everyone alive today is somehow connected to you. Going much further back, prior to the origin of what we call “humans” (over 100,000 years ago), one can find common ancestors with other apes, ones we call “monkeys”, which were fit enough to survive in their present form. They are actually very good at what they do, but we cannot grasp this because we are ego-centric in the species sense. We fail to see their unique skills like climbing tress, cooperating, using basic tools and even communicating. Evolution takes us much further back in time (billions of years, not a million or less), tying everything together. DNA evidence helps validate Darwin’s theory as fact, just like the theory of gravity. Believe it or not, all trees are your very, very distant cousins. That’s a beautiful fact, isn’t it?

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