A significant part of the objection most religious people have against science in general and evolution in particular is the affronting explanation that Homo sapiens are descendent from PRIMATES! (No! Not apes, or monkeys, or chimpanzees, but an ancestral primate not much dissimilar from today’s chimpanzees).
I could briefly reanimate the now decayed corpse of my own religious beliefs; however, when one analyzes the origins of the human race, rarely is religion able to add anything worthy of prolonged contemplation on the part of the enquirer. After all, religions the world around try very hard to convince people that they are distinct from the animal kingdom by way of an undetectable fragment of divinity itself, called a soul.
The soul being the immaterial, indestructible component without which humans would—and this is according to the religious—be nothing more than animals. However, any allusion to the fact that we Homo sapiens are just another vertebrate dwelling on the surface of this planet can quickly and completely be satisfied with a proven theory (evolution) and truckloads of evidence (fossils & genetics).
Just how certain are we that humans evolved from primates? About as certain as we are of the fact that humans are mammals and not reptiles or amphibians! We are as certain of humans being primates as we are of that fact that humans do not hatch from eggs. Ironically, I’ve never met a christian who objected to the fact that humans are mammals, or omnivores, but somehow they are offended when they are forced to consider that we are PRIAMTE too!
Scientists, academics, and wise men are notoriously self-centered and egotistical. To get any of them to admit that they are, in fact, primates, requires an immovable wall of evidence! After all, one must consider that the intellectual gap between primitive primates and ourselves is exactly the thing to which we attribute the differences in our behaviour Vs that of the lower order primates. The religious need not quarrel thoughts about the superiority of human intelligence Vs that of chimpanzees, because in most cases the religious do not use up the difference afforded to their specie. However, men and women of science do! We the scientifically minded have most to lose in being likened to primates, as we strive hardest to exercise our intellectual faculty to its limits!
Today, the evidence for our primate ancestry is so rich and comprehensive that only the ignorant or the deceitful would dare question and oppose it. And usually this is the case; the deceitful are exploiting the ignorant by trying to convince them that the problem with evolution and science at large is the postulation that Humans are nothing more than highly evolved primates. “Have you looked into a mirror lately? I don’t know about you but I don’t see a monkey.” This is a prime example of the ‘rationalisations’ made by deceitful religiomaniacs to the gullible flock.
Unfortunately for the deceivers, unlike in Darwin’s time, today we have tons (in the literal sense of the word) of fossils of primitive humans that show nearly every step in our evolution from more primitive primates to the sophisticated primates we are today.
“Nearly every step! AHAAAAAAAAA! So, Mr. Smarty-pants Contrarian, what you are saying there is a gap! Well, then we will shove god into that gap and declare the logical deduction of a successive evolution for our species as being fallacious!” Well, how will I respond to that? How very religious of you to do so! But let me clarify these closing gaps. They are similar to the gaps in my collection of personal computers owned throughout the last two decades. While I don’t have every damn iteration in-between my very first IBM 80286 and my current Intel i7-3770K system; I don’t need them to know that at one time, the fastest computer was a billion times slower than the one I use today and that they are still very similar in how they operate.
The same is true for our evolution from primitive to more complex primates. In previous decades, with less of the steps confirmed, we could accurately predict what some of the steps would look like, and low and behold! Eventually, we found a fossil that matched the predictions (filling in the gaps… and don’t get started on piltdown man, please). Sometimes they only found mere fragments, but sufficiently detailed for us to see the evolutionary steps indeed appearing where there once was only a gap and a theoretical prediction of a match.
I’m sorry, but let me give you my perspective on the divinity of humans. The upright posture, elongated hind legs, slightly larger prefrontal cortex (I really do mean slightly in some cases), and finer body hair are not enough to convince me that the entire universe was created just for us! I don’t see how a pound’s worth of extra brain matter can act as a suitable container for the so called immortal and immaterial soul we are supposed to posees, yet for which existence there exists no evidence.
Religion was our specie’s first attempt to medicate and placate its evolving and inquiring mind. In a desperate need to overcome our own brevity in this prison of meat, we invented a place and a means by which we could overcome our own mortality, namely the afterlife (central to all religious doctrine). But, as we are not yet free from our base need to exercise dominance over others, we also made sure that only those who think as we do would benefit from the opportunity of supposed immortality.
Religion is everything I would expect a pre-scientific primate intelligence to conjure up, and I’ll say it quite frankly, if you are the sort of person who finds explanation and purpose in any of the monotheistic, messianic religions that endure with us today, then I think you are giving more supporting evidence for the primitive primate intelligence we all owe our existence to.
In light of the indefatigable evidence of our terrestrial and mortal origins, I dare say that religion and the divinity it ascribes to us can only be the burbling of primitive peasants who—and the book of Revelations and Ezekiel are prime examples of this—were in the midst of an unending and unconquerable struggling with serious mental afflictions.
The nomadic nature of these bliblical authors alone casts doubt on the credibility or lucidity of their experiences. How can we know that Revelations was not a case of mistaken identity when mushrooms were gathered for supper? How do we know that Ezekiel, Psalms, etc. are not the convulsions brought on by the chewing of toxic bark or even the ingestion of psychedelic substances possibly unfamiliar to the peasant?
If you believe in slavery, the soul, miracles, incantations, demon possession, blood sacrifice, and second-hand redemption, then, perhaps, you should do as your fictitious savior and biblical authors did: leave behind your possessions and make for the desert!
Humankind has not enjoyed advancement of its civilization by measure of the average intellect of its kind but by the distinguished intellect of a few dozen individuals throughout the last 20 centuries. If tomorrow an alien race were to land in a rural part of the world, I would not be all too surprised if they didn’t immediately recognize humans as the dominant specie on the planet, even if humans occupy the area.
Their (the aliens) brains would not be hard-wired like ours to recognize another of our kind, and to them humans would look perhaps indistinguishable from chimpanzees. We are not that different in our temperament or tendency to form small social groups, each only focused in its own wellbeing and contentment.
Strip us of our technological adornments (and our clothing), and we would fit neatly in the primate category of species on this planet. We most certainly don’t look like horses, elephants, fish, or insects, now do we?
But according to the religious, the universe and all things contained in it are made for us because we are the greatest creation of the most perfect creator… get the fuck out of here!