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Otters Oddites

Wait....Halloween's over? Dang!

Today I am not really posting an oddity. Instead, I am clarifying a misconception. It's one that a lot of you probably don't believe, seeing as you are all rational. (not really. I know a lot of otherwise intelligent people who believe this misconception)


Let me start with a little background.

I was having a conversation with someone while I was working. It wasn't a customer or a fellow employee, rather someone who was bored and decided to stop and chat while I was working. I know the person as I've been to the location several times, and have spoken with this person many times. I won't go so far as t call them a friend, as we don't associate anywhere else, but I will call him an acquaintance.

He is about 40, and holds a masters degree in a subject that is irrelevant to this post. But the person is rather intelligent.

Somehow, the conversation moved to the stupid things people think are true. At first, I thought he was trolling me, but alas, he was serious.


He stated that he was amazed at how many people believed in evolution, because obviously there was no way man evolved from an ape.

Right now, many of you are smacking your foreheads. But I don't care. I'm going there.


It's time to explain something about evolution that a lot of people don't understand.

Charles Darwin, the man credited with the theory of evolution never once said man evolved from an ape.


What he said was, at some point in the past, humans and apes shared an ancestor, but split off into two different species.

The religious zealots of Darwins time, (and still to this day), use the 'descended from apes' argument to try and discredit evolution.


The major misconception about evolution is that one species becomes another. That's only correct in a very simplistic way. Opponents of evolution use the argument to imply that when species A turns into species B, species A ceases to exist because it became species B.

That's just not true. What happens is, due to a mutation, species A gives birth to a slightly different member of species A. This mutation may not even manifest it's self physically. It could just be a mutated gene, sitting dormant until it meets another mutated gene.


Only after several generations will these mutations morph species A into something that's now different enough to be called species B. And by 'several', I mean anywhere from 50 to 500,000. Evolution is an incredibly slow process.

In fact, the last common ancestor modern apes and humans shared is believed to be Sahelanthropus tchadensis. It went extinct about seven million years ago. So, it's taken that long to become as different as apes and humans are.


Deciding where the separation line between species is can be tricky. For example, we know humans have been continually evolving. (every species is). We were Homo habilis, then Homo erectus, then Homo sapiens. Are we still Homo sapiens? We can't say. It'll be for future generations to decide.

The reason for that is simple. We are constantly seeing our species, so we don't notice the change. It's like someone who diets for a full year. Let's say they started at 280 lbs. and a year later were down to 220 lbs. That's a drop of 60 lbs. That's fairly impressive, and if someone hadn't seen you for that year, they would see a remarkable difference. But the person who lost the weight doesn't see it that way. Because they saw their body every day, the change was less drastic.


When talking about human evolution, you'll hear about the 'missing link'. Well, we may never find it. In fact, there could be hundreds of human species we'll never know about because of the sparsity of the fossil record.

So, humans could already moved on from sapiens and become a new species. But, like I said, we'll never know.


Remember, a species only exists for an average of four million years. People scoff at that and point to dinosaurs who were around for 150 million years. Well, there's a difference between a Genus and a species. Dinosaurs weren't a species. Tyrannosaurs weren't a species. They were a family. Rex was a species. There are more than twenty known species of Tyrannosaurs that spanned over eighty million years. Rex was just the largest and most well known.

But the same holds true for all families of dinosaurs. What you think of when you imagine a Triceratops is just one of many. (most likely Triceratops horribilus. The one from Jurasic Park. Which is funny, because Triceratops lived in the late Cretaceous, not the Jurasic).


But I digress.

I explained to this person how evolution actually worked, and how Darwin was misquoted for the sole purpose of discrediting his theory. (It wasn't even his. It was, but someone else had published the same theory some 20 years before Darwin. It's just that no one read it. And the theory was actually believed widely in scientific circles. Darwin was just the first to publish it, and bring it to the publics attention.)


Also, Darwin tried to fit his theory to match the bible. Darwin was a christian. In fact, he had studied to become an Anglican Parson. That's partially why he was chosen to go on the Beagle voyage. (The captain, Robert Fitzroy was a very devout christian and it was Darwins religious training that helped him choose Darwin to go along. He also "Liked the cut of his nose...")

The fact that his theory required millions of years caused him distress. Those were years the bible didn't give. But Darwin bent to the physical evidence. He had to admit, the bible had to be wrong.


That's not to say Darwin was 100% confident. When asked about something like the eye, he would break out into a sweat. He couldn't explain how an eye formed, as half an eye is useless. And he wouldn't accept that an eye spontaneously formed. (this was before extensive study of trilobites took place and the evolution of the eye started to become understood.)

This gentleman I was educating on the theory of evolution went away not convinced. He still thinks evolution means humans descended from the apes. it's what he was taught growing up, and it's what he believes.


I can't fault him for being taught an incorrect version of evolution. I can fault him for not having an open enough mind to not see the truth when it's presented to you.

I still like the guy, and our conversation was in no way antagonistic. It was actually a rather intelligent exchange of ideas, facts and fallacies. He's not a religious fanatic, but he did go to church and Sunday school every week. And he still goes to church and has, as he calls it, "A healthy belief in God.". I respect that. I might not agree with everything he believes, but I still respect the guy.


So, remember this when your confronted by ignorance, willful or otherwise: You might be right. You might be able to prove it. But in the end, you believe you're right. If someone else is wrong, they also believe they're right. And if you expect them to respect your right to be correct, you have to respect their right to be wrong. Even if they don't know they're wrong.

Did you understand that? You did? Good. Explain it to me. I wrote it and even I got confused.


Tomorrow, I promise to get off my high horse and go back to posting oddities. I just had to correct a misconception.

**Authors Note**

If you believe in creationism over evolution, this post was not intended to insult your beliefs, nor was it intended to tell you that you're wrong. I'm of the opinion that creationism and evolution could work together. After all, the bible just says God created man and the animals. It doesn't say how God did it. It also doesn't say how long it took.


I know the bible talks about 'on the first day..' and 'on the second day...', at least in some versions it does. But, think about this. For there to be a 'day', there has to be a planet rotating on an axis near a star. And God would have to have been standing on that planet for him/her to experience a 'day'. So I pose the question, What is a day to God?

I'm not saying that God exists or doesn't exist, because, I don't know. I can't prove it either way. I'm just saying, if God wanted to create life, evolution wouldn't be a bad way to do it.


**Authors Second Note**

I apologize if this post comes off as a rant. I didn't intend it to, but this particular subject is one of my pet peeves. I mean, 95% of the people that argue against Darwin have never even read 'The Descent of Man'. That vexes me.

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