The Amazing Great Ape

The idea of evolution seems to scare some people.

For some, it is as if they believe that accepting evolution is to abandon their faith.

For others, it is as if they feel that if they accept that they are categorized as apes, that they will suddenly no longer be able to control their behavior, that they will somehow become more animalistic.

It is as if they believe that somehow, if Human kind is a mere animal, then that makes him less special. That makes his position in the world less prominent.

To me, the idea that a single species could manage at the same time to evolve the ability to stand upright, opposable thumbs and fingers, and the ability to reason at the level that we do all at once is… Well, it is miraculous. It is amazing. It is a thing which is rare and beautiful in the universe.

Our closest cousins in the animal kingdom have opposable thumbs, and the ability to stand upright for a time, but they do not reason at the same level that we do. I mean, sure they can puzzle through simple tasks and even use tools, but they are primitive and their communication skills and social boundaries do not allow them to come anywhere near close to what we have achieved.

Our closest peers, on an intellectual and emotional level, possess the ability to reason as we do. Their societies are much like ours were in the Stone Age. They can talk amongst themselves. They can plan things between families. They can even use tools. They can even communicate with us once a common medium has been decided upon. They however do not have opposable thumbs (or any fingers/claws at all for that matter), and they cannot walk upright.

All of the creatures I have mentioned so far are mammals. Perhaps the next most intelligent creature however, because they themselves are not mammals, even though they can communicate amongst themselves, reason somewhat well, and use and create tools, and even though they have ways to bypass the need for opposable thumbs… Well, we see them as a tasty snack. Sorry guys.

My point is, even if we are animals we are still Humans. Even if Humans are apes, we are still the most elevated among the Great Apes. We have still built civilization. We are still capable of communicating with each other at great distances. We are still capable of reaching out to our fellow creatures and elevating some of them as well. We are still very much the masters of our world and our destiny.

Even if we are animals…
Even if we did evolve from some primordial muck over the course of millions of years…
We are amazing.

What is more amazing? The idea that some creature got lonely and decided to create friends, or the idea that we amongst all the millions upon millions of possible species that ever existed, we among all of those things that fly in the air, and walk on the land, and swim in the sea, that we were the ones to stand up and walk forward proudly into the darkness of night and on into the glorious dawn of the new morning and eventually to the stars?

I think that is pretty fucking brilliant personally.

I think that if the single most amazing thing on the face of the planet is going to shake your faith, then maybe you need to rethink things a bit.

Newton’s Mechanistic World and it’s impact on Religion.

What follows is a paper that I wrote for a class. (So, Ma’am, if you see this one I realy wrote it, I didn’t just grab it off of this blog page) 😛
The paper was not great, but I hope that it got an A, I should hopefully find out soon.  🙂
I may do a review later on the books that I used for this course (REL340 Science and Religion).  One of the books is excelent, the other is not so great.  🙂


The Heliocentric model presented by Copernicus did much to explain where the planets moved, but not why.  Kepler had presented theories on the locations of the planets, but still no real evidence of why or how.  Among Newton’s greatest achievements were his studies of celestial mechanics.  He sought to explain what those before him had not (McGrath, 1999, p. 16).

Newton’s contributed greatly to this body of knowledge, but his greatest contributions perhaps were simply a new way of looking at the issue.  He saw connections between information that people before him had seen as unconnected, and he gave more detail to ideas that had only been discussed as vague concepts before that (McGrath, 1999, p. 16). 


Newton used basic measurable concepts such as mass, space, and time to investigate the motion of objects, and their interactions with one another.  First he focused on the laws of motion.  His three laws lay the foundation for the study of motion and the interaction of objects with one another (McGrath, 1999, p. 17). 


He looked seriously at Kepler’s laws and how the planets interacted in light of his own theories.  He was able to see that while Kepler’s laws seemed by themselves somewhat arbitrary, when applied along side the laws of motion they were plain to see.  At the core of these studies was his belief that the same laws that applied to objects in relation to each other on the earth would apply equally to the celestial bodies.  Applying these assumptions, he was able to calculate the duration of the moons orbit around the earth with an error of only ten percent.  It was later discovered that the error was simply caused by a misunderstanding of the moon’s distance from the earth.  When later studies were able to accurately measure the distance of the moon, the calculations and observed time matched (McGrath, 1999, p. 17).


Newton’s studies led quickly to a mechanistic view of the world.  That is the view that the world operates according to a set of fixed laws, much like the gears and springs that cause a clock to operate.  This mechanistic worldview was embraced by many who saw that it encouraged the idea of design.  It was seen to indicate that there was a guiding hand in the process of creation; How else could everything be so structured and work so fluidly together.  Newton himself supported this view  (McGrath, 1999, p. 18).

“The success of Newton’s mechanistic world view led to a significant religious development. . . .  It can be shown without difficulty that Newton’s emphasis on the regularity of nature encouraged the rise of Deism.” (McGrath, 1999, p. 18)


In this way Newton’s theories supported a non-confrontational model of science and religion in that in his view and the view of many of those who followed his studies, science and religion converged.  The two complemented each other.  God was the great creator.  It was he who built the great device that was the universe.  From him all science flowed, and all of nature pointed to his existence just by it’s very eloquence.  To Newton, and the Deists who clung to his theories, no words needed to be written for a man to see God in the very fabric of creation.



Alister E. McGrath, 1999, Science & Religion, Maryland: Blackwell Publishing