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Monday, May 24, 2010

DNA comparisons are consistent with common ancestry for apes and humans

A recent post from the Biologos Foundation discusses the genetic similarities between humans and other animals, in particular the great apes. (The article does not distinguish between common chimpanzees and bonobos.)

The study involves pseudogenes having to do with the sense of smell. (Never mind what pseudogenes are, if you don't know, or don't want to know. For the purposes of the study, they are just pieces of DNA.) The results discussed are completely consistent with humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans having had a common ancestor; with humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas having had a common ancestor not shared with orangutans; and with humans and chimpanzees having had a common ancestor not shared with gorillas or orangutans. The authors recognize that many Christians are disturbed by the idea that humans and chimpanzees are biologically related, and many of these believe that the Bible teaches that this is not true. But the authors say, in part: "To be blunt, if this pattern is not to be accepted, why did God put it in place for us to discover?" That's an interesting question.

I make no claim to having a satisfactory answer to the dilemma posed by the seeming contradiction between God's work, as revealed by scientific findings, and a common interpretation of the first two chapter so of Genesis. However, I will say that Billy Graham, for one, is on record as saying that it is possible that Genesis means that God took a non-human animal and gave it the image of God.

Thanks for reading. The article should be understandable by any reasonably literate person. There are a number of interesting comments on the article.

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