It’s amazing the things secular scientists come up with. This time, they’re speculating that chimps would like to cook, but don’t, just because they don’t know how to control fire. Since these scientists believe humans and chimps evolved from a common ape-like ancestor, what they’re saying is this: the fact that chimps like cooked food—and will even wait while it “cooks” to eat it—is proof that humans are more evolved than these animals.
According to a recent National Geographic article, “New research shows that our closest evolutionary relatives have all of the cognitive capacities required for cooking—except an understanding of how to control fire.” Apparently several experiments were performed “to assess different aspects of cooking-related thinking.” In one experiment there was “a container with cooked food hidden in a secret compartment; researchers shook the container to signal to chimps that some process transformed raw vegetables into cooked forms.” The chimps apparently preferred the cooked food over the raw food and caught on that putting the food in the container and shaking it made it taste better. From these results researchers reportedly concluded that, while chimps can’t cook themselves (because they can’t control fire), they have the cognitive ability to be able to cook. The article states, “The latest discovery: Chimps have all the cognitive abilities necessary for the uniquely human behavior of cooking. They don’t do it in the wild because they’ve never learned to control fire. But aside from that . . . chimps’ brains are pretty much fully equipped to take the great culinary leap our direct human ancestors did in the dim past.”
Now, what really is driving these researchers to conclude that because chimpanzees like cooked food better and recognize where it came from they must have the cognitive ability to cook? Well, they’ve long known that apes, on a diet of raw food, cannot possibly support a brain like ours. The energy requirement for our neurons is just too great. So they assume that cooking must have been a key to evolutionary success. Now, the article notes that “the archaeological evidence for cooking, however, supposedly dates back only about a million years—long after the human brain's supposed great leap forward—so this new study would be a boost for Wrangham's idea. If chimps had most of the mental equipment in place to make cooking possible, early humans presumably would have had it too.” So, basically, what they’re saying is that since the evidence for cooking only goes back supposedly 1 million years (by secular dating methods, which are full of assumptions) and they “know” that humans had to have evolved their brains before that, they are looking for evidence to support this idea. Wanting to see if apes have the “ability” to cook, and therefore hominids too, just stems from their evolutionary assumptions. It is not demanded by the observational evidence (that chimps like cooked food and were willing to wait for it to be “cooked”). It’s an interpretation based on their presuppositions.
While a well-done and interesting experiment, really all that this experiment supported was that chimpanzees like cooked food and are able to delay gratification. And, because God created chimpanzees to be highly intelligent animals, they realized that when the food went into the container and was shaken, they liked it better. So, naturally, they wanted food that was put in the container and shaken. To take this and extrapolate it to mean that cooking developed in apelike ancestors paving the way for mankind to develop his large brain is ridiculous, particularly when delayed gratification has been demonstrated in other animals like dogs and crows. The results of this experiment certainly don’t mean that the chimpanzee was ready to don an apron and sauté mushrooms for a filet mignon!
Often while an experiment itself is something that in a different context could glorify our Creator (in this case demonstrating the various abilities He bestowed upon the animals He created) much can go into an evolutionary extrapolation that is increasingly—and unnecessarily—tacked on. Proverbs 6:6–8 tells us that God has mercifully provided future planning capabilities to even the ant, so we would expect to find capabilities like this in many animals, and indeed we are amazed at the abilities of our feathered and furry friends. Imagine if scientists were to put all the time and money wasted on the evolutionary nonsense into research based on the truth of God’s Word concerning origins—I believe we would see tremendous breakthroughs and scientific advancement.
AiG researcher Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell wrote a News to Know article in 2012 on the idea that cooking provided the key to evolutionary success. You can read the full article here.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.