ID thinking

by Neil Rickert

I’m posting this as humor.

There’s a truly bizarre post at Uncommon Descent, by johnnyb:

Yes, that title is already weird.

In that post, johnnyb asks a series of questions.  I shall list the questions and give my own answers.  Johnnyb did ask that we write down our answers immediately, before reading the entire post.  I will be giving what were my immediate answers, though I did not actually write them down.

Quick question – do you think that women are closer to apes than men? Do you think that Darwinian evolution (i.e. common ancestry by happenstance mutation and selection) is consistent or inconsistent with your answer?

My answers are “no” and “yes”.

If you are a Darwinist, you think that humans and chimps evolved from a common ancestor, correct?

I don’t actually consider myself a Darwinist, though I am often taken to be one.  In any case, yes, I do believe the humans and chimps evolved from a common ancestor.  Or, more correctly, they evolved from common ancestors.

Now, one of the main arguments for this is the similarity of the human genome with the chimp genome, correct? Different people may differ on the exact number, but we have very similar genomes, and because we are so close, that implies that we came from a closer common ancestor than, say, humans and bananas, right?

That’s two questions, so “no” and “no”.

Yes the similarity of the genomes is evidence.  But I would not consider it “one of the main arguments.”  It was surely evident to Darwin, that humans are close relatives of chimps.  And Darwin did not know anything about genomes or even about genes.

I would not say that closeness of the genome implies closeness of relation.  There is an implication, but that implication depends on a great deal of knowledge about how genetics affects traits.  So it isn’t an implication based on genome distance alone.

So, we share a common ancestor with both chimps and bananas, but are evolutionarily closer to chimps than to bananas because our genomes are more similar to chimps. Am I getting this right? Be sure to write down your answer. No cheating.

I’ll answer “no” and “no”.

Our genomes are closer to those of the chimp, because we are evolutionarily closer.  So johnnyb has the “because” wrong.  He has it backwards.  So no, he is not getting it right.

So, if we had an ancestor that was closer to a chimp than modern humans, that would mean that they had more similar DNA, correct?

No, not necessarily.  You need the fossil evidence to determine evolutionary history.  While we expect genome similarity to be correlated, we should be cautious about jumping to conclusions.

Now, it turns out that the part of the human genome that is most radically different than the chimp genome is the Y chromosome. Interestingly, only males have Y chromosomes. Therefore, female DNA is much more similar to chimp DNA than male DNA. If you made the argument above that the similarity between chimp DNA and human DNA means that we share a common ancestor, and that more similarity with chimp DNA meant that an organism is closer to chimps evolutionarily, I do not see how one would escape the conclusion that women are evolutionarily closer to chimps than males.


Populations evolve.  Individuals do not evolve.  Evolutionary distance is between populations, not between individuals.  Creationists and ID proponents continue to get this wrong.


So there you have it.  A series of leading questions, presumably intended to lead you into a trap of agreeing to an absurdity.  And the ID proponents wonder why we don’t consider ID to be science.


4 Comments to “ID thinking”

  1. Wow. That has to be one of the dumbest posts of all time, even considering the source. In a series of statements which engages genetics, evolution, logic and rhetoric, you’d think the odds were good of getting something right about one thing, just by accident.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear. This form of leading thinking really does need to be highlighted. It’s sad to see it so prevalent. I’m not sure that answering the questions helps but the faulty thinking certainly needs bringing attention to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What you say is correct, but let’s point out also that the Y chromosome is the smallest chromosome. No IDiot factors that in, and some will report Y chromosome differences as if they falsify the 98.7% similarity.

    I was afraid for a minute he was going to use the IDiot argument, “They say your DNA is 98% like a chimp’s, but they also say you have half your mom’s chromosomes. So Darwinists think you’re closer to a chimp than to your mom!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bartlett is one of the stupider commentators at UD. He’s not that much above bornagain77 or O’Leary.


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