Need some advice on evolution argument

Mar 26, 2013


Discussion by: Possum-Pie
Hi, I am currently working on my next book, and need a very simple explanation to give Creationists as to why we don’t see neanderthals and Homo Erectus walking around today.   I grasp the concept myself, but everytime I try to write out an explanation, it seems too difficult for the average Creationist to comprehend.  Any help would be…well, helpful!

31 comments on “Need some advice on evolution argument

  • 1
    Chipmunk says:

    Well, long story short, they went extinct. We are living in a time when many species are similarly going extinct and the same thing happened to them. Our species is largely responsible for modern extinctions and may have played a large role in driving some of our ancient, hominid relatives to extinction as well. The truth is that the more similar two species are in a sympatric environment the more direct competition will be between them. As we likely had many behavioral and dietary similarities with other hominids such as Neanderthal, direct and indirect conflict over resources was likely quite common. In such situations the dominant competitor generally drives the inferior competitor to extinction (especially in organisms with long generation-times). I hope this helps.



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  • 2
    OpenDebate says:

    Many christians already understand evolution. If you need to simplify your text, you’re going backwards, you should be going forward and give an ever growing more complex explanation to a problem, not going backwards. It will be a bad habit to go backwards and simplify a complex idea. Complex ideas are for complex minds, if you intend to reduce a complex idea to fit into a simple mind, then i’m afraid you are only teaching them faith again.



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  • Have you looked at the Dawkins book for kids The Magic of Reality? I don’t remember if he addressed his specific question but if he did I’m sure the explanation was very clear.



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  • 5
    OpenDebate says:

    If you are knowledgeable, your confidence increase. If you are knowledgeable and intelligent, your opinions increase in number. But if you lose your ability to be surprised, if you think you can’t be surprised anymore, this means that your knowledge and intelligence is very high, and your opinions thereafter increased in great numbers and made you think there were no more surprises in the cosmos.

    Losing the ability to think you can be surprised, is equal to great knowledge and great intelligence, but also great ignorance, perhaps unwillingly and unconsciously.



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  • 8
    Alan4discussion says:

    I am not sure why you would want to do this! There is published material available. Hominid evolution is rather unclear, but that in no way invalidates it.

    There are some lineage suggestions here:- http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/lineage-graphic

    There is a short discussion with various links to articles and illustrations about evolved human ancestry here:- http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/articles/646493-early-human-ancestor-australopithecus-sediba-fossils-discovered-in-rock



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  • 9
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #3 by A3Kr0n:

    Because we killed them all?

    A bit like the gorillas, chimps, and various other primate species at the present time!



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  • 10
    Mr DArcy says:

    Possum Pie

    I grasp the concept myself, but everytime I try to write out an explanation, it seems too difficult for the average Creationist to comprehend.

    Please don’t forget that the YECs are not willing to learn anything that might contradict their holy book. And as for the “average Creationist”, would that be the Catholics who accept that God created the world 13.82 billion years ago and twiddled His thumbs till some 2000 years ago, or the YECs who believe that the universe was created on 23rd October 4004 BC ? Either way, a ludicrous position to hold.

    My advice? Stick to what is known and can be shown to be true.



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  • 11
    zengardener says:

    They died. Their children were slightly different than they were. After so many generations, the differences stacked up enough to make them very different.
    They know about evolution, but they probably categorize it as micro-evolution which is real, and macro-evolution which is not real.

    There is no real difference though. It’s a distinction without difference.
    It’s like saying that running across the living room and running a marathon are fundamentally different.



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  • 12
    Chipmunk says:

    In reply to #11 by zengardener:

    They died. Their children were slightly different than they were. After so many generations, the differences stacked up enough to make them very different.

    This is not entirely true. We are not the direct descendants of Neanderthal (except for a little bit of our genome from interbreeding if you are of european descent).

    They know about evolution, but they probably categorize it as micro-evolution which is real, and macro-evolution which is not real.

    There is no real difference though. It’s a distinction without difference.
    It’s like saying that running across the living room and running a marathon are fundamentally different.

    Good point. It seems like almost everybody accepts that organisms are currently evolving, but many do not accept that this process has had sufficient time to explain the diversity of life that exists on earth. If the earth is just a few thousand years old then macroevolution could not have occurred. Of course this has no scientific foundation, but that probably won’t sway them much. This is probably just a good time to agree to disagree.



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  • 13
    papa lazaru says:

    IIRC there’s no real consensus.

    Driven to extinction by a better, fitter species (homo sapiens) at the end of the ice age (change of environment), new diseases brought by invaders wiping them out (South America / North America parallels), or just a bit of everything. Out-competed, loss of resource and habitat, couldn’t inter-breed as a shortcut, didn’t adapt fast enough. You can also draw parallel with the extinction of the megafauna (saber-toothed tigers, mammoths), or any environment where a new top predator enters the scene.

    I’m not a specialist but I think you’ll need some solid references, and ,since, as far as I know, it is relatively inconclusive at this point in time, leave it opened to questions. Not sure about the genetic angle, I think there was a BBC program discussing that recently. Will try to dig it up.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8671643.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8660940.stm

    take it with a pinch of salt.

    There’s no real mystery anyway. Shit happens, the populations weren’t that large, any kind of selective pressure could have been devastating.



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  • 14
    NH King says:

    Our pre-human ancestors and ancestral cousins are no longer here for the exact same reason most of our human ancestors are not. They died. If your great, great grandfather is dead, why do you expect your great, great, great, great, great….. ……great, great, great grandfather to be alive and well?

    Neanderthals are no longer around for the same reason our crazy Uncle Robbie’s branch comes to a stump in the family tree. Whatever it was they were good at, having babies wasn’t one of them.



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  • 16
    maria melo says:

    I guess the best answer for creationists is that don´t need any answers, because they believe in what they want to, and it´s a waste of time then to make any effort to answer.



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  • In reply to #12 by Chipmunk:

    This is not entirely true. We are not the direct descendants of Neanderthal (except for a little bit of our genome from interbreeding if you are of european descent).

    Are you sure about this? I think recent studies have found that interbreeding may not have occurred. I went to a talk by scientist working with Allan Wilson (Rebecca Cann I think) who believes the samples used to support that theory were most likely contaminated by human handling – explaining the 4% cross over.



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  • 18
    Chipmunk says:

    Are you sure about this? I think recent studies have found that interbreeding may not have occurred. I went to a talk by scientist working with Allan Wilson (Rebecca Cann I think) who believes the samples used to support that theory were most likely contaminated by human handling – explaining the 4% cross over.

    Not 100%. If the methods behind those conclusions were faulty then my determination that any of us are in any way descendants of neanderthal are very much in question. However, this would only strengthen the claim that I was making that neanderthal did not evolve into modern humans. We may have been sister taxa, but they were not our ancestors.



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  • 20
    shiraztyebji says:

    if you had read the book ‘the greatest show on earth’ by dawkins, you would not have found this question even a bit difficult. i will cut to the chase and give you a very simple statement, the neanderthals and homoerectus have all been either evolved into the present modern human or extinct in the process, so we dont see them today. each species on this planet had its ancestors, they are ours. that doesnt mean that each intermediate ancestor should be alive at any point in time in evolutionary history. they evolve. simple!



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  • 21
    QuestioningKat says:

    We killed and ate them. Then used their bones for magic ceremonies. (?) (Not really sure, but I would bet we would kill off anything similar but less intelligent.)



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  • 22
    cynicaloptimistrealist says:

    I think attempting to explain evolution to Creationists is a little like reading poetry to a dog, it may make you feel better, but the dog will sit there for a little while listening intently until the overwhelming urge to lick his genitalia sets in. You never know, a change of tone in your voice may correlate with something in the dog’s past experience may cause him to sit up, cock his ears and wag his tail, just as something in your explanation may make the Creationist doubt some small part of their fixed position.

    I am not a scientist, so my explanation is that of a lay person and therefore open to criticism/correction.

    The Neanderthals evolved from an earlier hominid species which spread out from Africa into Europe and Western Asia. Over time they evolved into a species adapted to cold climates. Recent evidence suggests that they had evolved the necessary physical adaptions to have developed language. However, the evidence suggests they lived in small territorial social groups which had very little interaction with other groups. We know from fossil evidence that they made tools, had harnessed fire and at least some cooked their food.

    Modern man evolved in the warmer climates of Africa and first moved to the Arabian peninsula, as the climate grew more temperate in the northern hemisphere they were able to move west into Europe and east into Asia. The evidence suggests that a combination of climate change (reducing the availability of familar prey), competition from modern humans (both from their numbers and technological advancements), low birth rates (due to reduced availability of resources), absorption (interbreeding – genetic studies have found that between 1 and 4% of Neanderthal DNA exists in the male line of all humans with the exception of those with a recent African genetic history), some localised forced displacement by early humans and possibly division of labour (early humans appeared to divide tasks, whereas both male and female Neanderthal fossils have been found to have damage consistent with violent impacts more than likely caused by close quarters combat with wild animals, this can have disastrous implications for pregnant females and thus the species as a whole).

    So in a sense, one apex predator was forced out of existence by environmental factors coupled with the arrival of another apex predator, this is nothing new and there are enough examples in recent history to demonstrate this.

    The comedian Bill Hicks used to pose the question “Ever notice how people who believe in Creationism seem really unevolved?”, perhaps you could just explain that they are probably closer to the 4% and Neanderthals may be observed by Creationists with the use of a mirror.



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  • 23
    crookedshoes says:

    I think that there are a couple points still to be made.

    First, with humans, you may be dealing with a ring species and using examples of modern ring species may be useful in your explanations. My favorite example is the California Salamander (Ensantina). The evolution there is undeniable. The logic unassailable and it is modern, current and….well…. a giant middle finger to anyone who claims it doesn’t occur.

    The other issue is the current plight of the American Indian. I think that the parallels between the disappearance of the American Indian in literally 250 years or so, can give us some real insight into how the Neanderthals could have disappeared. I know that it is different, Neanderthals were a species, Indians a race…. It does, however, have some merit and may be a good vehicle to get your point across.



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  • 25
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #15 by This Is Not A Meme:

    Why don’t Italians speak Latin? What happened to Latin?

    It evolved, and morphed into RCC mumbo-jumbo during the dark-ages! – and then some:-
    ‘Hoggibus, piggibus et shotam damnabile grunto,’



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  • 27
    titania says:

    In reply to #15 by This Is Not A Meme:

    Why don’t Italians speak Latin? What happened to Latin?

    Whoa – This anaolgy may be a bit of a flawed one, as latin split or “evolved” into the romnce languages. Unlike Italian, which evolved from latin ( more or less) Humans did not evolve from Neanderthals.
    Besides, I am told that even today, long passages of Italian can be written which are Identical to latin,



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  • 28
    ClayFerguson says:

    Several possibilties are,

    1) they had genes that were succeptible to a specific microorganism that homosaphiens were not, and it killed them, while we lived on, perhaps not even getting sick.

    2) They may not have developed enough religion or language to cooperate well enough to survive (i’m agonistic btw) in bad times. (i.e. they had a selfish gene)

    3) Warfare. Tribes of any kind of primate always want to kill those of any other kind, so it may have been just that the smartest ones (homosaphien) had such an intellectual advantage that we simply killed them all, like we nearly killed off buffalo.



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  • Use the analogy of Australians and Americans (or whatever your target audience would think of) both coming from Europeans. You can point out that all three still exist (analogy for monkeys still existing) and then go on to ask what would happen if a disaster wiped one of them out. The other would still exist, but we wouldn’t see any of the destroyed civilization still walking around.



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  • 30
    bob_e_s says:

    In reply to #27 by titania:

    In reply to #15 by This Is Not A Meme:

    Besides, I am told that even today, long passages of Italian can be written which are Identical to latin.

    And long passages of Neanderthal, Homo Ergaster or chimpazee DNA can be extracted which are identical to Homo Sapiens DNA…



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  • 31
    robin.freemantle.7 says:

    If I was going to write a book about a subject, I would hope to have as much knowledge on the subject as I could learn, then write a book. Your book sounds dangerous… a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.Maybe you should do some research first.



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