How Christians React to the Religion-Science Conflict

My experience is that the “Charismatic’s” tend to be the less likely to differentiate between daemon possession and mental illness. Within the wider scope of “evangelical” Christian’s there is often concern about some aspects of psychology, given it’s overlap with areas of Christian belief, but the scope of this concern varies pretty widely.

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Well, let me quibble. We did not evolve from cercopithecoid monkeys (Old World monkeys) or from ceboid monkeys (New World monkeys) but we definitely are descended from the ancestor they shared with each other and with apes. And if you saw that ancestor walk by, you’d immediately think “monkey”.


That’s a problem with Google. Of course we evolved from monkeys. Who told you otherwise and what was their justification?

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Agreed, but in the discussion it was clear they assumed evolution said we were direct descendants of the monkeys / apes we have today.

This hasn’t stopped me from pointing out numerous times that there behaviour would suggest their monkey cousins are more evolved than they are :slight_smile:

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I had a somewhat frustrating conversation with the people responsible for some of the evolution exhibits at the big science museum in Denver – they had a panel up that said that we weren’t descended from monkeys. I pointed out that since the divergence between new world and old world monkeys occurred BEFORE our divergence from old world monkeys, surely the common ancestor of those two lineages was a monkey, and its descendants were monkeys, ergo, our common ancestor with modern monkeys was, in fact, already a monkey.

They more or less admitted that this was exactly right, but suggested that it was necessary to say this sort of thing to combat creationists who say that biologists claim we ARE descended from monkeys. I tried to argue, but to no avail, that since we ARE descended from monkeys, we should probably say so.

I suppose that if somebody wants to say that “monkey” is a grade and not a clade and is really just a colloquial term, then that person can define “monkey” to exclude those ancestral monkeys. But that seems a tad weird to me. It makes “monkey” not only paraphyletic (if it is meant to exclude apes) but also polyphyletic because it requires that new world and old world monkeys weren’t monkeys when they parted ways, but independently each evolved into monkeys. Why would one want to do that?

If monkeys are required to be a clade, it’s worse than that. Apes are monkeys. And we are apes, hence we are monkeys too. (And it means that I am a monkey’s uncle).

When I was in grad school, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Francisco Ayala used to grandly assert that we were not descended from apes, or from monkeys. This was apparently intended to reassure pious folks that scientists weren’t saying anything that horrible, This was all based on now-outdated views of primate classification. In 2010 Francisco Ayala wrote a book Am I a Monkey?: Six Big Questions about Evolution. Reviewers liked it, but were mystified when he ended up by saying we weren’t monkeys. Most biologists these days would disagree with him on that.


Yeah, it seems odd to me. I think I am an ape, a monkey, a primate, a mammal, an amniote, a tetrapod…I sort of hiccup at “fish” because we are so thoroughly accustomed to that being a grade rather than a clade, but I’m happy at least to be a sarcopterygian, a gnathostome, a chordate, and so on. I have all the relevant qualifications, even if I do look a bit different from some of my cousins.

I do recognize that people usually treat “monkey” colloquially as a category that excludes apes, but I don’t understand how we apes cannot be considered monkeys. We’re just a particular sort of monkey.

I have known people to be a bit inconsistent on this “not descended from monkeys” thing, saying one thing on one occasion and another on another, seemingly shifting between two meanings – our not being descended from modern monkeys (though I do have some relations on my father’s side who give me pause there), and our not being descended from monkeys at all.


There’s also a difference between “are monkeys” and “are descended from monkeys”. Even if we choose a paraphyletic definition of “monkey”, we’re still descended from them. And even if fish are a grade, we’re still descended from fish. Of course if we demand cladistic classification even in vernacular terms (which I claim we should), then we’re apes, monkeys, and fish. Once a fish, always a fish.


Once an anything, always that thing.

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Yes, exactly. For us NOT to be descended from them requires that our last common ancestor with any old world monkey wasn’t a monkey. But if the last common ancestor of old world and new world monkeys was a monkey, that simply can’t be.

I am trying to conform most of my usage of colloquial terms to cladistics. It’s a bit harder for some, e.g., “fish,” than for others, but it just makes sense. And I’ve always sort of thought that the non-inclusion of humans in the word “ape” was just a ridiculous sort of human exceptionalism, as we are so very obviously apes in the fullest sense. Yes, we have our weird specializations, but so do the others. Gibbons don’t go around claiming they are no longer apes because they have those amazing arms. Good people, those gibbons. So, yes, as far as I am concerned not only am I descended from monkeys, but I am a monkey, and some monkeys are even descended from me.

I gather that that sort of talk is regarded as toxic to relating these topics to religious people of a certain stripe, but I don’t think there’s any mincing about it. If one were to insist that we are NOT descended from monkeys, and justify that statement however one does, and then one of these creationists asked what that mysterious common ancestor of us and monkeys was, one would still ultimately have to admit that it was awfully doggoned monkeyish, and they’d be just as unhappy with the idea of being descended from some ancient monkeylike creature as they would with the idea of being descended from a monkey. So what would be the point of trying to avoid it?


Interestingly there’s a similar sort of problem with the distinction between humans and animals.

Oddly enough most of the people who would protest that humans are animals, would have no problem admitting that humans are mammals(creationists have stated as much on this very website). Or multicellular eukaryotes.

Somehow there’s something bad implied by the terms ‘animal’ and ‘monkey’, that aren’t reflected by the terms ‘mammal’ or ‘eukaryote’.

I remember when I was about 12 years old I had a disagreement with my grandfather about whether humans were actually animals. I didn’t know anything about cladistics, evolution, or definitions at the time, but I argued simply on physiological grounds that humans should be considered animals. We are made of cells, flesh, bones etc. - we eat and breathe to survive, have two sexes and so on. He didn’t accept the arguments.

Curious side note: In Danish, the word for ‘mammal’ is ‘pattedyr’, which literally translates to “breasted-animal”, making the connection to the animal kingdom harder to ignore. But I do find that generally in Denmark, people have no problem with the fact that humans are apes, monkeys, animals, or cellular organisms.

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You know, as a passionate vegetarian child (yes, I was much more annoying than any modern vegan) I was constantly pointing out our commonalities with other animals to people in the course of arguments. I learned that most of my peers believed that animals had a sort of organ that we don’t, called “meat.” They actually believed meat was a kind of food-for-people which animals grew, distinct from muscles or organs, as though animals had been provided for the purpose of being eaten by us.

Long before I had any really meaningful exposure to evolutionary concepts, animal physiology was something that really showed me that we shared a great deal with other creatures. It seemed to me that if we were so very different from cows and sheep, one wouldn’t expect cows and sheep to have pretty much an identical set of internal organs to ours. Why should they have lungs like ours, for example, if we aren’t related?

And I can’t say I ever considered that depressing. I never thought it detracted from human feeling, or the importance of our lives to us, or anything like that. I have never understood why it’s so depressing to some people. It’s sort of lovely, actually. And the diversity of creatures is so interesting, so inspiring, so full of great things to be curious about. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why anybody would be sad to be a mammal, an animal, or a monkey. Monkeys are marvelous; what’s more, we know they are real, which cannot be said for a lot of other accounts of where we come from.


What are they learning? That their conservative backgrounds are wrong? If so how do you know their conservative backgrounds are wrong?

They are learning that they need to respect me for my knowledge and experience, and that they don’t get to treat me differently than they treat my male colleagues. They are learning that I will hold them accountable and that no, I’m not a soft touch because I am a woman. They are learning that not all women fit the stereotype that they grew up with.


When interacting with the general public I try to use genetic relationships to help illustrate these points. Specifically, chimps share more DNA with humans than they do with gorillas and other apes. If chimps are apes, then we are apes, too.

Ook! :wink:

Never had the discussion, not aware that such a discussion can happen, and hostile to every attempt. Without some sort of personal connection, it’s nearly impossible to get past that barrier. Sometimes, if I am patient, I think I have gotten through to them. It’s not what they say/write in response, but the comments they do not respond to that might have gotten through to them. They will never admit if they agree, of course, which is why I think those non-responses are important.

I do use good-natured ridicule, but I try to be mostly respectful. It’s possible to build a sort of personal connection even on the FB groups, but getting through to them takes time (weeks or months of repeated encounters). You can build up a sort of trust with repeated encounters (and a lot of patience).

Now back to the article …

Those with low science identification (“I’m not good at science”) tended to perform worse than those with high science identification (“I’m good at science”), as would be expected. And it didn’t matter whether they were Christian or non-Christian, or whether they were reminded that religion and science are compatible or incompatible. Furthermore, those who rated themselves as good at science spent more time on the analytical reasoning tasks. Thus, disengagement occurred, although not because of religion but rather lack of interest in science.

Ridicule is certainly not a good way to get someone to engage with a topic. If pays to listen to what they say and learn what does engage them.

You know, I’m 58, I live in a relatively “liberal” city, and I think that most of my peers still have to learn that one. I think sexism breaks down by a series of agonizing stages because people are liable to stop on a variety of waystations along the path. “I don’t hold discriminatory attitudes toward against women; I revere them!” is one common formulation, for example, which turns out to be a good deal less positive in practice than it might sound to the one who says it.

I have concluded, after a long time at this, that the times I was most sexist were the times when I thought I had abolished sexism from my mind entirely. Now I just consider myself a work in progress, and I try to scrutinize my own behavior and attitudes more carefully.


That is wisdom!

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I’m 56, so we’ve had similar generational experiences. We grew up during a time when everything was changing. Title IX was introduced in 1972. I remember watching Billie Jean King defeat Bobby Riggs in the “battle of the sexes.”. I never had to face the overt sexism of the 50s and 60s. It’s more subtle now and harder to recognize. I think we’re all works in progress.

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Yeah, strange days, eh? What I am now finding rather disorienting is that after a few decades of people adjusting to the idea that male and female gender archetypes are ridiculous and that people should just be themselves and be judged as people, not as “men” or “women,” those male and female archetypes are sort of reasserting themselves in the form of people assigning themselves a gendered archetype which is not traditionally associated with their biological sex. While I am all for people’s right to do what they think is best for themselves, I cannot help but think that there is an element of this which is “Men! Do you think you’re not G.I. Joe? Maybe you’re really Barbie!” and vice versa. Call me a curmudgeon, but I feel like this is backsliding.

I liked the idea of a world where we were trying to abolish gender-role “boxes.” Now it seems as though people want to assert the reality of the boxes, and insist that you’ve got to choose a team. This irks me. I have never made a very good G.I. Joe, but frankly, I’d be even worse as Barbie.