Human Origins Essay, Research Paper
For years, the evolution of human beings has been researched and studied. In today’s society, there are many different interpretations on creation and how humans came to be what they are today. Through much scientific evidence and studies, there is now physical proof that human beings may have evolved from ape-like creatures. Even with this, there are still disputes in the paleoanthropological field of whether or not this is true. Still, many choose to believe their religious creation stories where a God created humans. Whether it is Johanson’s idea on human evolution or Leakey’s or even the Roman Catholic’s creation story, all are an individual own interpretation and neither wrong nor right.
A paleanthropologist by the name of Donald Johanson is one of the many who have a very different view on the origin of humans. In 1974, he discovered forty percent of an individual dating back to 3.5 million years ago. The individual, Australopithecus afarensis or “Lucy” is believed to be the common ancestor of the true Homo and Australopithecus lines. A year later, in 1975, Johanson found the remains of thirteen individuals who may have possibly died in a flood. They were named the “First Family” and were dated to be between 3 and 4 million years old. They were also Australopithecus afarensis. Announcing his conclusions in 1979, Johanson believed that Australopithecus afarensis was the root to both the australopithecine’s and Homo lines. He concluded that afarensis evolved into three different directions. One was Australopithecus africanus and the other Australopithecus robustus and boisei. Both became extinct. The last direction it took was Homo habilis (million years ago) who became Homo erectus (1.7 million years ago) and then Homo sapiens (300,000). Ultimately, his theory makes reasonable sense and may in fact be true.
However, Richard Leakey did not seem to think so. In 1961, Jonathan Leakey, Richard Leakey’s brother had uncovered a fragmented skull that was from the line of Homo habilis and dated at 1.75 million years ago. In 1972, Leakey retrieved the skull of another Homo habilis, this time with a brain larger than any other australopithecine and about 1.9 million years old. Later, the Leakey’s had found fossil jaws and footprints dating back to the same time as Lucy and the First Family. Unlike Johanson who believes the discoveries are Australopithecus afarensis, he thinks they are more of the Homo type. Leakey reckons that the First Family is not Australopithecus afarensis but that they are two different species altogether. He came upon this conclusion because of the very large difference in size between the males and females. The males who are the large fossils and the footprints are of the Homo line. The smaller fossils are of Australopithecus afarensis. He presumes that about 3 and 2 million years ago, global cooling formed the arctic icecap. This brought a drier climate and caused the Homo to adjust to changes in climate and habitat. They learned to use stone tools, which caused the expansion of the brain. More meat intake was required because of the larger brain. Homo erectus began to spread out and from them evolved Homo sapiens. Australopithecines may have had about four species that as time went by they became extinct. In conclusion, Richard Leakey’s idea is very different to that of Johanson, leaving us to decide for ourselves which one we believe to be right.
The Roman Catholic Church also has its belief on the evolution of human beings. In the Bible there are two creation stories in which Catholic belief is based. One that the world was created in six days and on the sixth day man was created in the image of God. Meaning that humans were created as people from the beginning. Another, where God created man out of clay from the ground and gave him life by blowing into his nostrils. As the story continues, woman was created for man from his rib. Man was created with a soul and his own free will. The church does however, believe that there might have been a possibility of evolution. Whether in was 6 days or 6 billion, we were ultimately created by God. Although there is no evidence of this, many choose to take the spiritualist side than that of science.
Taking in the many different interpretations there are, an individual is inclined to their own opinion. Although there is much physical evidence that humans may have in fact evolved from ape-like creatures, it is very hard to believe that this in fact is true. The change from apes to humans seems too large and almost impossible in that matter. Even so, the religious side of creation seems almost fairytale like and has more of a spiritual belief than a realistic one. How humans evolved is a very complex subject and can not be taken lightly. Everything must be well thought out and understood before a real base of belief can be established. Creation is not much of a concern, even though it does have some importance. It is not known whether or not new creation stories will come along, until then there is not much that is believed.
Through the materialist and spiritualist interpretations, different stories have evolved about the beginning of human life. Whether it is Johanson’s theory of how humans evolved from Australopithecus afarensis or Leakey’s idea that humans were never ape-like and have always been bipedal. It is what that individual believes and should not be put down. The truth of evolution may never be truly discovered, but something has to be believed. In the end, it is up to the person; not science nor religion to choose what is right. “I have set before you life and death?So choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Australopithecus afarensis or Leakey’s idea that humans were never ape-like and have always been bipedal. It is what that individual believes and should not be put down. The truth of evolution may never be truly discovered, but something has to be believed. In the end, it is up to the person; not science nor religion to choose what is right. “I have set before you life and death?So choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).