150 years of evolution
We had a debate last night about Evolution. On the motion 'This house believes that men and chimpanzees have a common biological ancestor' the result was 10 against, 6 for and 4 abstentions. Of course, people were voting partly from conviction, partly on the quality of the arguments.
A thought struck me afterwards: the chance of one species mutating into another (presumably at the moment of conception) is pretty slim, even by the standards of a fully-fledged evolutionst. That's why it only happens every few million years. So, if Adam and Eve's parents were apes, and one day, perhaps after having several ape children, they had a child which turned out to belong to a brand new species (pre-historic man), how could they be sure that the same statistical miracle of chance would happen again so that the child could find a mate of the same species to mate with? After all, he/she would not be able to mate with the old species (ie of his parents), because whenever one species mates with another close species (like lions and tigers or donkeys and horses) the offspring are always sterile, or do not make it to birth.
The chances of several apes having human mutant children at the same time (in order to provide breeding stock for the original humans) seems highly unlikely; and there would be no guarantee that the mutations would be the same. They might - after all - evolve into completely different species with each new significant inter-species mutation.
Another problem is that gene mutations can be dominant or regressive. There would be the danger that the ape to human mutation might produce a human, but that a few generations later the mutation would regress, so that we would be back to apes again.
Then, there is the whole problem of intermediate forms and the fact that evidence for them is so scant or non-existent. If chimpanzees can have a happy life and thrive; if human being can do the same; if humans in the rainforest can survive untroubled by the outside world for milennia; then why on earth are they not various intermediate and variant forms of humanoid life, belonging to different species?
The human evolution story is this: Amazingly, several scientifically and statistically unlikely identical genetic mutations occur in one group of 'apes', at the same time, and in the same place, producing a brand new species, so as to provide a gene pool for the original human beings.
And, according to the theory, this only happens in one place. Or, at least, only one humanoid lifeform survives the evolutionary story. Any other similar beings are wiped out, leaving only men and chimps, which aren't close biologically close enough for any meaningful inter-species dialogue on the question.
If other species of humanoids really did exist before, in various places, why have they all so conveniently died out? Couldn't they have hung on in there, living up trees in distant rainforests?
Every time a forgotten tribe is discovered, it turns out to be human and capable of interbreeding. Is there, perhaps, a prehisoric tribe out there somewhere that does not belong to the race of homo sapiens? It would be exciting, wouldn't it, but probably rather unlikely.
I am not, as it happens, a fully paid-up member of the 'creationists', nor am I devotee of evolution. But it seems to me that modern genetics, and the whole DNA adventure (the human genome project is not completed, I understand) does raise questions for evolutionists to answer.
150 years after Darwin's watershed book, perhaps it is time to reexamine all the data again, without all the heavy baggage of the last century or so, and see whether all the new information we have leads to different, more nuanced conclusions, or even the admission that we don't actually know the answer to one of mankind's biggest ever questions: where do I come from?
The advocates of Intelligent Design, sum up their case as follows: Darwinian evolution, or the idea that highly complex systems developed by random chance and environmental pressure from simple, ancestral life-forms - remains highly speculative and statistically problematic. Therefore, they say, a design (non-chance)-based theory of origins is more consistent with the evidence.