Human Rights for Chimpanzees?

Chimps closer to humans than apes?

by Paul F. Taylor on March 25, 2006

The mental image inferred by the suggestion of granting “humanity” to chimps owes more to a “chimp tea party” mentality than to actual science.

How we used to laugh when we viewed the “tea parties” featuring chimpanzees at a UK zoo my friends and I would visit from time to time. We were amused that they were seen in their little clothes, carrying out activities that looked vaguely human. Well, we laughed, until sometime later we decided that it was an improper anthropomorphism (i.e. the attribution of human characteristics to animals), and the whole thing was also likely to be distressing to the animals (especially during the training it took to have them act certain ways).

And while we found the chimps’ facial expressions endearing, our expressions sometimes turned to shock when they suddenly did something “inhuman”: for example, the time we saw a video of a chimpanzee ripping a baby chimp off its mother’s back and killing it. (Though some might suggest that such an activity is also depressingly human.)

UK poll on creation/evolution yields surprising results

A BBC poll taken recently* revealed that less than half of British adults accept evolution as the best description for the development of life. Although more respondents picked evolution (48%) over creation/ID (39%), some UK evolutionists were alarmed that not even a majority of Britons accepted evolution.

More surprising was that over 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught as part of science classes.

BBC TV’s Horizon series last week, in a segment entitled “A War on Science,” took a critical look at efforts in the US to introduce ID into science classes.

In the poll, over 2,000 people were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

  • 22% chose creationism
  • 17% opted for intelligent design
  • 48% selected evolution theory
  • and the rest did not know (i.e. they would not say evolution, and would not say creation/ID)

*‹›; the survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the BBC's “Horizon” series.

A more advanced version of this “chimp-tea-party” anthropomorphic mentality—one that is wrapped in science—is sometimes seen in media stories, like the one that reported about a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, USA. The media have been recently reporting that there is talk of reclassifying chimpanzees from the Pan genus to the Homo genus (i.e. a human species). Specifically, the idea is that the common chimpanzee could be classified as Homo troglodytes, as the researchers claim that chimps are very closely related to humans—even more closely than they are related to great apes, gorillas and orangutans!

Evolutionists are desperate to promote the view of a common ancestor for humans and chimps. To this end, they publish misleading statistics (such as the claim 99% DNA similarity between chimps and humans). Perhaps part of the reason for their concern to prove a link between chimps and humans is the view of many evolutionists that humans evolved in Africa—the so-called ‘Out-of-Africa’ theory. Yet such suppositions are no more scientific than concluding that chimps at a zoo managed to organize their own tea party.

The physical similarities between humans and apes are supposed to be evidence of a common ancestor. These similarities, however, provide equally (perhaps stronger) evidence for a common Designer rather than a common ancestor.

The Georgia research team, in common with other groups before them, have also tried molecular analyses to try to prove common ancestry. The claim is that “99.4 percent of important DNA sites are the same in chimps and humans.” The key word in that sentence is “important.” This statement, of course, makes a value judgment. And how have these researchers determined which are the “important DNA sites”? They are the sites that are most likely to show similarities, thus making the high percentage a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Creationist Dr. David DeWitt has shown how misleading claims of 96% or 98% similarity between chimp and human DNA can be.1 Dr. Carl Wieland of AiG–Australia has also pointed out that humans share 50% of our DNA with bananas.2 Dr. DeWitt has further shown that even a 1.23% difference in DNA requires ~35 million mutations.3 Such a figure is hardly a ringing endorsement of the idea that chimps and humans are basically the same creature. The use of such statistics is simply done because of the researchers’ evolutionary presuppositions, not because their figure actually means anything scientifically. (I recall the famous cliché about lies and statistics.)

Taking this to the extreme, placing chimpanzees into a human-like classification like Homo troglodytes could presumably lead to chimps being granted protection under human rights legislation. For example, imagine how such legislation would have affected the actions of the police dealing with an escaped chimp. In one such incident, the chimp was assumed to be potentially dangerous and was shot dead.4 Just imagine a headline that might have declared: “Furry human shot dead after escape attempt!”

Such ideas are ludicrous. But as people increasingly reject the Word of God and believe that man is just another animal, should we be surprised in the great irony if human rights are extended to non-human “primates,” while human rights continue to be denied to unborn babies when they are murdered through abortion? The mental image inferred by the suggestion of granting “humanity” to chimps owes more to a “chimp tea party” mentality than to actual science.


  1. DeWitt, D., Greater Than 98% Chimp/Human DNA Similarity? Not Any More., TJ 17(1):8–10, April 2003;and DeWitt, D., The Differences Make the Difference.
  2. Wieland, C., Furry Little Humans? Creation 24(3):10–12, June 2002.
  3. Dewitt, D., Does This Evolutionary Claim Have Any Legs?, 5 September 2005.
  4. Chimp shot dead after escape attempt, ‹›.


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