Photo: yahya (flickr)
Last time we talked about the false belief that evolutionary theory says human beings descended from monkeys.
In fact, evolution says that both human beings and monkeys descended from a common ancestor that existed about thirty million years ago. Across time, species can give rise to other species, which can in turn give rise to others.
So, while it’s not true that human beings evolved from monkeys, if you stretch your thinking you can see how monkeys can be considered relatives of ours.
After all, I call someone my cousin if she and I have a common ancestor. If we could keep records across millions of years, we might want to count monkeys and apes as our cousins too.
But wait a minute! If that’s true, then aren’t we also related to the ancestors of that common ancestor? I mean, my cousin and I both share a grandparent. But the family tree doesn’t stop there. We also share that grandparent’s grandparents. What about the species that diverged to give rise to the common ancestor of monkeys and humans?
If you see where this is leading, you’ll have understood something rather wonderful about life on earth. In fact, if you take the longest possible perspective — now looking back about four billion years — you will find that every life form on earth is related to every other. We all share common ancestors, because all life came from the first self-reproducing, single-celled organism that existed in the oceans of primal earth.
Yes, that tree outside is your relative, as is every bug and blade of grass. Invite them in for dinner, why don’t you?