Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Primate Kills; Darwin Blamed

Sean McDowell, the terminally idiotic offspring of the equally clueless Josh McDowell, says that the chimp who killed a woman in Connecticut last year can be blamed on – guess who? – Charles Darwin.

Nevertheless, we need to ask a basic question: How could something like this happen? How is it that we live in a culture where people think it’s safe to have a chimpanzee as a pet? Where do people get the idea that we ought to take a wild animal and treat it like a human being? The chimp owner treated the animal like a son who ate at her table, slept in her house, and even drove her car…

On the other hand, Darwin propagated the idea that humans and chimps have a common ancestor and only differ in terms of degree (See Darwin’s The Descent of Man). If humans and chimps are really not that different, then why not expect chimps to act civilly? After all, ideas have consequences.

Last week the world celebrated Darwin’s 200th birthday. Universities placed tributes to Darwinism on their home page (examples include Oxford and Cambridge) and major networks such as BBC ran extensive programs devoted to Darwin’s great contribution to the world.

Yet, ironically, this week we witness a brutal act that seems to logically follow from Darwin’s ideas. You may be wondering how I can possibly link Darwin to this atrocious event. But think about it, if humans are deeply related to chimps then why not expect them to act that way?

Darwinists regularly point out the genetic, structural, and behavioral similarities between humans and chimps (of course, they conveniently overlook the profound differences). Yet, since Darwinists argue so fervently that humans are closely related to chimps, then shouldn’t chimps be expected to act like humans? Shouldn’t Darwinists take some responsibility when some people actually put their ideas into action? It’s certainly not the Christian worldview that would encourage people to treat wild animals like human beings. The Christian worldview places tremendous emphasis on our need to care for creation, but it clearly highlights the fundamental differences between humans and all other animals. Humans are moral beings; animals are not.

Darwinism is not only false, it’s a corrosive idea. Equating humans and animals results in the devaluation of both. As I said before, my heart truly goes out to the victim. But this should be a wakeup call for our culture. Treating humans and animals as moral equivalents is a bad idea. What is it going to take for us to realize this?

Yes waiter, I’ll have an entree of ignorance with a side order of demagoguery, please. McDowell will find it nearly impossible to find an actual biologist who thinks keeping chimps as pets is a good idea. Biologists would oppose that precisely because they understand that chimps evolved in a particular environment and their instincts and behavior patterns are well adapted to that environment, not to living in suburban Connecticut.

In fact, legendary primate expert Jane Goodall says exactly that in an op-ed in the Detroit News on Thursday:

But as the tragedy made clear, a chimpanzee can never be totally domesticated.

The human brain is more highly developed than that of any other living creature. So why can’t we learn that wild animals do not make good “pets”?

I believe it has a great deal to do with the fact that chimpanzees are so frequently used in entertainment and advertising. Only a month ago, Americans watching the Super Bowl may have laughed at an ad in which chimpanzees dressed as mechanics worked on a car. They seemed cute, funny and even lovable. Is it any wonder viewers might think that chimpanzees would make great pets?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Only infant chimpanzees are used in entertainment and advertising, because as they approach maturity, at about 6 to 8 years, they become strong and unmanageable. Chimpanzees evolved in the tropical forests of Africa, and that’s where they’re suited to live, roaming in groups. A house in Connecticut was an alien environment for a chimp.

No one who actually understands evolution would think it a good idea to keep a chimpanzee as a pet. Blame this situation on ignorance of evolution, not on evolution.