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It’s All in How You See Things—The Primates

by John Mackay on August 1, 1980
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Originally published in Creation 3, no 3 (August 1980): 17-20.

Most people committed to an idea often fail to see the difference between the observations and the interpretations they make of those observations.

Professor Keeton from Cornell University, in his well respected text book, Biological Science lists the following traits as characteristics of the group Primates (e.g. monkey, ape, man, etc.):

  1. Expansion of the brain, particularly the cerebral cortex.
  2. Elaboration of the visual apparatus and development of binocular vision.
  3. Abbreviation of the snout or muzzle.
  4. Usually only two mammae.
  5. Retention of five functional digits on each foot.
  6. Enhanced individual mobility of the digits, especially the first digits (thumb and big toe), which are usually opposable.
  7. Development of sensitive tactile pads on the digits.
  8. Modification of the claws into flattened nails.
  9. Development of a shoulder joint permitting relatively free movements in all directions, and an elbow joint permitting some rotational movement.
  10. Retention of the clavicle (collarbone), which is greatly reduced or lost in many other mammals.

Most of these traits are correlated with an arboreal way of life.

It is interesting to remove all evolutionary interpretations underlined from Prof. Keeton”s list of characteristics and see the result printed below. A characteristic is defined as "a distinguishing trait, quality, or property."

Most primates share the following characteristics:

  1. Relatively large brain, particularly the cerebral cortex.
  2. Good visual apparatus and binocular vision.
  3. Short snout or muzzle.
  4. Usually only two mammae.
  5. Five functional digits on each foot.
  6. Individual mobility of the digits, especially the first digits (thumb and big toe), which are usually opposable.
  7. Sensitive tactile pads on the digits.
  8. Flattened nails.
  9. A shoulder joint permitting relatively free movement in all directions, and an elbow joint permitting some rotational movement.
  10. Clavicle (collarbone) which is small or absent in many mammals.

Most of these traits are correlated with an arboreal way of life.

Most people who do not accept evolution would feel that the above would represent the facts and is therefore both objective and scientific. This however, is not the case.

It soon becomes obvious when you try to utilize raw facts, that they are of no use whatsoever unless you have a framework or a philosophy by which you can interpret and apply the facts.

The list of characteristics shown previously is in reality not raw facts, but information arranged within an agnostic framework, i.e. it subtly, implicitly and effectively portrays the view that knowledge or facts can be viewed as an entity, independent of the existence of God, ultimate purpose, and independent of the origin of the system being observed. Students educated to observe nature in this fashion are being indoctrinated with the philosophy of agnosticism. The many Christian teachers which utilize this neutral knowledge approach in science or in any discipline, are claiming to believe that all things exist by and for Christ, and at the same time they are happily in practice teaching that certain categories of things exist independent of Christ. For those who claim to believe that Christ is Creator and Sustainer, then the characteristics of primates must be consistently viewed and interpreted within this framework, for example:

Primate Characteristics: (Think about the underlined sections)

All creatures have features which set them apart or give them structural similarity to other creatures. One such group of creatures possessing common characteristics has been labeled primates. They possess the following similarities:

  1. Perhaps the most significant feature of the primates is the brain. In size it is relatively large in comparison to most mammals. In man the brain is highly convoluted and designed to fulfill man”s role of dominion as the highest of God”s creatures.
  2. A collarbone which is significantly larger than that found in many mammals.
  3. Very flexible shoulder and elbow joints.
  4. Nails designed to protect the sensitive pads on the tips of the digits.
  5. Five functional digits on each limb.
  6. Very mobile digits, especially the thumbs or big toes. Man is unique in this regard since he was designed to walk erect. Only his hands possess an opposable thumb.
  7. A relatively short nose in comparison to many mammals; correlated with a great dependence on visual reception.

There are two cautions to add. If you claim to accept Biblical creation, it is important that your interpretation of the evidence does truly fit into the Biblical framework. Remember there have been those who innocently, ignorantly or deliberately believed that God created the fossils in the sediments they are found in. Secondly, this Biblical framework must be shown to be evident. If it is not you will simply continue to propagate agnosticism.

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