Did we evolve FROM apes?
My satirical answer as to why there are still apes around is, “Because some of the apes were given a choice!” 🤣
Unfortunately, the “Why are there still apes around?” argument is a logical fallacy and falls into the category of “setting up a strawman.” A “strawman?” Yes, I’ll explain.
A strawman argument is when you claim your opponent believes something they don’t actually believe, and then you proceed to demolish the argument, claiming you have disproved their view.
In a similar fashion, some skeptics claim the Bible states that God caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights, and that’s what flooded the entire Earth. Then they successfully demonstrate it would be impossible to flood the entire planet with 40 days of rain. In reality, while the Bible certainly mentions 40 days and nights of rain, the majority of water came from within the Earth when the great fountains of the deep were broken up (Genesis 7:11). Relatively recently, scientists have discovered that there is probably 3 times as much water within the layers of the Earth today than is in all of the oceans combined! But I digress.
As Christians, we are commanded to be ready with an answer regarding the hope we have in Christ and in the trustworthiness of Scripture (1 Peter 3:15). In doing so, we need to be careful not to use faulty arguments that can come back to haunt us. I have learned over the years that all it takes is to be even slightly off in one statement for a skeptic to feel justified in dismissing everything else I shared up to that point, no matter how solid my case has been.
Recently, Herschel Walker, a very famous former NFL player who is running for the US Senate, made this argument while speaking to a church group. It came back to haunt him. I feel for him. He meant well and was most likely just repeating what he heard someone else say. I’ve had many occasions where someone during one of my Q&A sessions stands up and says, “Yeah, I was talking to this one guy who believes in evolution, and I told him how dumb that is. I mean really, if evolution was true, how come there are still apes around?” I have to be very tactful when responding. I always wish to acknowledge their sincerity and enthusiasm, but I also need to graciously correct their thinking. It can serve as a lesson to the entire audience because I know there are others who have used that argument or at least thought about it. Others would tend to hear it and be anxious to use it the next time the subject of evolution arises. I want to save them some embarrassment and help mature their ability to defend their faith.
For some, hearing that this is an invalid strawman argument comes as a great disappointment to them because they have used that line of reasoning many times, and it seemed to work so powerfully. Even if the argument seems to be effective, it will just be a matter of time before the skeptic you spoke with finds out the hole in your argument and dismisses your credibility, even regarding other things you shared, including the Gospel message. The skeptic may come to the conclusion that Christianity is based on one false argument after another and is nothing more than a “feel good” blind faith held by those who don’t live in the real world and probably also reject science.
As I often do, I am once again focusing on the “bigger picture,” not truly intending to address the question of human evolution in any real depth. I have done so in other resources, such as our DVDs and in two of my books, Creation and Evolution: Compatible or in Conflict? and Creation to Christ: The Old Testament in a Nutshell.
For those of you who have not reviewed these resources, I will briefly summarize a few highlights:
The Fossil Record
The main thrust of this article is to encourage you to continually sharpen your apologetic knowledge and skills. Don’t ever hesitate to admit to someone you don’t know the answer to their question. One good reason is that it would be an honest answer. You can always say, “That’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a valid or complete response, but if it’s one of your biggest questions, I’d be happy to find an answer and get back to you. If it’s not that big of a deal, then maybe you could let me know some of your top 3-5 questions and we could tackle those.”
That should be received as a reasonable response. It’s certainly better than starting to give an answer when you really don’t know and going on and on. Well, who would ever do that? Me! Well, I used to, many, many years ago. I was too proud to admit ignorance, so I usually attempted to quickly morph the conversation into a different, but related issue; one that I did know something about. It might have impressed them, and they probably didn’t even realize I never answered their original question! How’s that for being creative? Creative, yes. Wise, no. I’ve grown a bit since then!