Do chimpanzees most resemble humans or hydrangeas?

The distance between a human being and our nearest chimpanzee-like ancestors, common ancestors is much, much, much greater than the difference between a chimpanzee and a flower.


As so often, this ignores hundreds of thousands of years of human social, cultural and technological development, from which every human child benefits as it grows up within society. Take that away and it remains to be seen to what extent an individual human is all that vastly superior to chimpanzees. Quite possibly only marginally so.

The strength of the human race is that is has found ways to accumulate these marginal differences over thousands of generations for the benefit of new individuals, whereas chimpanzees have to start over more or less from scratch every generation.

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This is supposed to be so intuitive that nobody bothers to present any argument. Meh.


It’s from David Berlinski, the ID-Creationist talking head. Same guy who claimed he sat down one evening and thought of 50,000 changes needs for cows to evolve into whales. :rofl: Not the sharpest tool in the science shed.

I’m not sure he’s in the science shed at all. I suspect he’s in the outhouse.

I admit it. I laughed out loud when I came to this sentence:

These are facts that I think that any untroubled observer, and by untroubled, I mean someone who is not previously adhered to any kind of ideology such as Darwinism.

Because evidence and not ideology is what matters with such topics, I guess I had never thought of myself as a “troubled observer”. In contrast, “untroubled observers” like Berlinski are apparently immune to ideological influences.

A chimpanzee is probably a lovable animal, but nobody ever asked the chimpanzee a question that was possible for the chimpanzee to answer.

Sometimes it is wise to remain silent—rather than loudly proclaiming a wrong answer. So I’m inclined to respect the chimpanzee in this case.


I saw that post at UD soon after it was posted. And the first three paragraphs by Berlinski were already so absurd that I stopped reading. That was one paragraph before he mentioned the flower.

Berlinski thinks that evolution is an ideology. But Berlinski’s view is far more tainted by ideology.

Remembering back to when I was a child, maybe 4 years old, I wondered whether we humans were just animals. I was looking at a dog when I had those thoughts. I had never heard of Darwin. And I never did wonder whether that dog was just a flower. Not too long after that, I was taken to the zoo. And it was quite evident that we were far more like monkeys than like dogs. It never occurred to me to think of whether the monkeys might be like flowers. And I still had not heard of Darwin.

I suppose there are people who would be persuaded by Berlinski’s rhetoric. Happily, I don’t know of any such people.

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As a wise man once noted: “No brains, no headaches”. :slightly_smiling_face:

That is a fairly stunning claim. I don’t see how he justified it.

Certainly humans are distinct from chimpanzees, the gap is large, but not so large as the gap between a chimpanzee and a flower.

Clearly he is not comparing genomes. He is making generalizations based those characteristics which put humans in our own special category.

Are you agreeing with him? By what criteria are chimps more like hydrangeas than like humans?

Justifying ridiculous over-the-top claims has never been high on the ID-Creationist to-do list. :slightly_smiling_face:

No. I’m trying to explain him (though I’m unlikely to be successful.)

With a lot of the Discovery Institute fellows and scholars, one can anticipate their line of thought based upon their evangelical or Roman Catholic theologies. So if one of those fellows said that chimpanzees have more in common with hydrangeas, one might assume that it is all about Imago Dei traits (and lack thereof)—but with Berlinski it’s hard to say. Nevertheless, I would think that Berlinski’s would not place himself not far from the other IDers in terms of “human exceptionalism” criteria.

It is my understanding that Berlinski describes himself as a Jewish agnostic. So we don’t have the advantage of familiar evangelicalism-related ID tropes. Nevertheless, I would guess that he’s talking about things like free will and metaphysics more than genomics.

Of course, according to Berlinski I’m a “troubled observer” so I’m allegedly ideologically incapable of understanding his position.


Berlinski’s nightmare, Planet of the Flowers…


To put it bluntly, I’ve never heard Berlinski make an argument of his own about evolution that was even halfways interesting or new. He specializes in elegant scorn. And not much else.

In humans, cultural evolution, which exists in apes in simple forms, reached a self-sustaining level that has led to vast consequences. Berlinski seems to count all the consequences as separate pieces of evidence. But they’re all consequences of the capability for cultural evolution. And far outweighed by 3 billion bases in the genome, and before those were known, by thousands of details of anatomy.


Don’t be silly. He didn’t even attempt to justify it.

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cf Day of the Triffids.


The hydrangeas are solid for the B-man. :wink: