Alice C. Linsley
In a Live Science piece by Jennifer Welsh (28 Jan. 2011) some high school biology teachers are accused of lack of knowledge - that is, ignorance of their subject - because about 13 percent teach creationism in their classrooms. According to Welsh, these teachers believe that humans appeared on the surface of the Earth about 10,000 years ago.
Michael Berkman, co-author of the study, told Livescience: "Our general sense is they lack the knowledge and confidence to go in there and teach evolution, which makes them risk-averse."
Showing her own ignorance, Jennifer Welsh defines all who believe that God created the Earth as biblical literalists. She writes, "Creationists broadly believe God created Earth, its inhabitants and the universe, with Christian creationists taking a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis in the Bible. However, scientific evidence says evolutionary theory, the idea that all organisms evolved from some common ancestor, by means of natural selection, explain the planet's diversity of life. Some of the earliest life on Earth dates back to 3.7 billion years ago."
I believe that God created the Earth and I also believe that the earliest life on Earth appeared billions of years ago. I know that the oldest human fossils are about 3.4 million years and that they show the same anatomical range as modern humans. When Jeremy DeSilva, an anthropologist, compared the ankle joint, the tibia and the talus of fossil "hominins" between 4.12 million to 1.53 million years old, he discovered that all of the hominin ankle joints resembled those of modern humans rather than those of apes.
The earliest human fossils show a range of anatomical features yet all these features are found among humans today. The nearly complete skulls of people who lived 160,000 years ago are, in the words of paleontologist Tim White, "like modern-day humans in almost every feature."
Some of the australopithecine fossils dating between 700,000 and 2.4 million years are recognized as "early human fossils". Although classified as "ape of the South", some are recognized as having had human dentition, bipedalism and stone tools.
With DNA samples from 2400 individuals from more than 100 modern African populations, researchers have identified a panel of 1327 sites of genetic variation across the entire genome. Analysis of the data suggests that modern Africans are descended from 14 ancestral populations, which correlate with known linguistic groups. Comparative linguistics and genetics are moving to similar conclusions when it comes to the question of human origins. The evidence in both fields indicates flux, but no essential change.
In other words, there is no evidence to support the macro-evolutionary theory of change from one kind into another kind. The physical evidence indicates that humans appeared as humans and unheralded by sub-human ancestors more than 4 million years ago. Kenneth H. Roux admits, "Evolutionary convergence at the molecular level is presumed to be widespread, but is poorly documented."
Welsh's claim that the theory of evolution - "the idea that all organisms evolved from some common ancestor" has been proven is simply false. There are plenty of evolutionary scientists who question the theory. I've mentioned a few already.
The battle ground is the book of Genesis, which few in this debate understand. Genesis isn't a scientific record of the beginning of life. It really isn't about human origins. It is about the origins of Messianic expectation among Abraham's cattle-herding Proto-Saharan ancestors. But that's another subject for another day.
Related reading: Genesis and Genetics; Genesis: Is it Really About Human Origins?; Oldest Human Fossils; Theories of Creation; Evangelical Colleges Battle Over Creation and Evolution