Rebuttal to Newsweek’s Article Titled "An Evolutionary Biologist Answers Christine O’Donnell’s Question About Missing Monkey-Humans."

by Patrick H. Young, Ph.D.


After reading the article appearing in Newsweek titled “An Evolutionary Biologist Answers Christine O’Donnell’s Question About Missing Monkey-Humans(1),” I decided an informed scientific response was warranted. My decision to respond should not be construed as an endorsement (or lack thereof) of Christine O’Donnell. While I do wish her luck in the upcoming election, my decision rests solely on Newsweek’s elitist and condescending language in writing the article.

The foundation of the Newsweek article rests on a 1998 appearance by O’Donnell on Bill Maher’s comedy show “Politically Incorrect.” At one point during the show, O’Donnell says, per Newsweek that “Evolution is a Myth.” She later asks “Why aren’t Monkeys evolving still into Humans?” 

As part of the article, Newsweek then decided to contact the evolutionist Douglas J. Futuyma for a response to O‘Donnell. Since everyone on Maher’s 1998 show was pro-evolution and O’Donnell is the subject matter, it should not be a surprise that Futuyma is also pro-evolution. 

Futuyma responded to O’Donnell’s comments by saying: 

“To imply that if evolution were true we should see monkeys turning into people shows not much knowledge of biology. Clearly Ms. O’Donnell is not very knowledgeable on this subject.” 

Conveniently neglected by both Newsweek and Futuyma was Maher’s response to O’Donnell during his 1998 show after she said “Evolution is a myth.” Maher responded by asking “Have you ever seen a monkey?” It was Maher’s question which prompted O’Donnell to ask “Why aren’t monkeys evolving still into Humans.” So if O’Donnell is not very knowledgeable on the subject then neither is Maher and Newsweek should be chastising him also.

Futuyma further states in the article: 

“We did not evolve from monkeys as such: they are a living organism. We evolved from a common ancestor. If you go farther back, we evolved from the same ancestor as all vertebrates. All of those changes have taken an extraordinarily long time. Even a single change in a species takes a very long time.”

While O'Donnell's question may have been mildly misstated, Futuyma completely obfuscated the real issue at hand. Even if humans and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor, Darwinian theory requires that we should see numerous transitional forms in the fossil record and those transitionals should continue today. This includes observing the formation of new phyla, orders and classes of organisms. I believe that this is what O’Donnell was attempting to state. For Futuyma to suggest that we do not see the transitions because evolution happens slowly is nothing but a bait and switch. 

Finally, Futuyma gets it wrong when he uses the evolution of tolerance to lactose to refute the statements that O'Donnell made. Evolution of tolerance to lactose is a change that has nothing to do with the formation of taxonomic groups above the species level or perceived common ancestry. This is just a diversion from the real issue that Futuyma can't explain. 

References

1.  http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/09/27/an-evolutionary-biologist-answers-christine-o-donnell-s-question-about-the-missing-monkey-humans.html?obref=obnetwork 

Patrick H. Young was formerly a resident of Central Ohio. He now lives in Virginia. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and has been employed in industry as a research chemist and materials scientist for over 18 years. He has a website at creationists.org/patrickyoung.html and his email address is patrickyoung@creationists.org.


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