Lillie on evolution
“How come you think humans evolved from monkeys?” asked Lilly, “Don’t you think dogs are much smarter than they are?” Lillie is our dog, and she often communicates with me. As far as I know, she does not talk–er, think, I receive her thoughts in my mind—with anybody else.
“Well, girl, I know that you are pretty smart.”
“Don’t deflect. How do you think chimpanzees compare to dogs? And do you really think humans were once animals?” Once she’s on the scent of something, Lilly can be pretty focused.
“First, humans are *still* animals. We have to eat, and breathe, and procreate. Many humans are more intelligent than most other species, but we are all animals. Second, yes. I am satisfied that our ancestors evolved one direction, while chimps and bonobos took a different evolutionary path, starting about 3 million years ago. On a Thursday, I think.”
“What?!” protested Lillie. “How can you possibly know it was a Thursday? The margin of error on such an estimate has to be on the order of thousands of years. Which day it was is pure speculation. Plus it probably took longer than one day, to make that evolutionary step.”
“It was actually intended as a joke. I think humor is one thing that distinguishes humans (and maybe some other apes) from other species.”
“Maybe it just wasn’t funny,” sniffed Lilly. “And you still haven’t mentioned dogs.”
“Are you sure you want to get into that debate? Do you see what some of my fellow humans have done to chimps, in the name of language research? Do you want to be locked up and studied, then abandoned—discarded as soon as the funding runs out? Do you want to be vilified by religious crusaders?”
“Do you really think that dogs have been better treated by human scientists?”
“Good point. But you haven’t been criticized and misunderstood by biblical literalists.”
“You’re deflecting again,” whined Lillie. “Answer the question, please.”
“Okay. Well, one thing I know is that dogs are much smarter than squirrels – like that one there.”
And she was off, obeying her ancient instinct to chase all squirrels. I’m still smarter than my dog. In my opinion, the scientific tale of evolution is no less wondrous or awe-inspiring than any other creation story. I honor Life’s continuing evolution through and among all of us.