I have a beard. I have been informed that the reason I have this beard is not due to personal desire, but because of natural selection. Reportedly, this phenomenon is a result of my instinct to stand out from the other males of my species in order to attract a mate. Gradually, over perhaps many years, others around me will also attempt to follow my example in growing beards to attract female attention. Eventually, those in my locality will hit “peak beard,” which is when there is such a saturation of beards that it becomes too normal, then some of us will shave them off in order to stand out from the crowd again and attract female attention. Then the pendulum will swing back to the “beardless” look. This is the scientific explanation for beards being “in fashion” or “out of fashion”; this is the explanation for those mean mustaches of the ’70s and ’80s.
I have to say, though, I’m not convinced. I’m certainly not intending to attract attention by having a beard. But then again, who am I to counter what my evolved subconscious is thinking?
Welcome, all, to the powerful and influential world of natural selection. You may not know it, but this force is a key influential factor in how you live your life. According to science’s best guess, it is the driving force of evolution.
The phrase “theory of evolution” confuses many people since scientists specifically refer to it as fact. You may not know that evolution is officially considered fact by standard science. Why then is it not called the “fact of evolution”? The theory part of it is how it happens: by Darwin’s natural selection. And this “natural selection” has become the “answer to everything.” Let’s take a look into this world of natural selection as it relates to humans.
Ever wonder why humans are the only “hairless” creatures of our furry “primate family”? Natural selection. No one is quite sure exactly why we went down the hairless route—whether it was because temperatures were hot enough not to need fur, or because we went back to being partial water-dwelling creatures before evolving into humans. What we do know is that it must have happened through natural selection. But then there is the scientific problem of why we retain such concentration of hair on our scalp, face, armpits, pubic area (and Uncle Joe’s flowering chest). If our furry selves were naturally selected out, why (and how) did hair in these areas remain, especially so ornately around the head? We are left to speculate.
Ever wonder why men are nearly always taller, heavier, stronger than women? That’s natural selection, favoring the bigger males that were able to kill off the smaller males in contest for females. But then there is also the issue of why females are bigger in many other animal species. Natural selection should, in turn, favor larger women who would be more physically able to bear offspring. Thus the balance in sizes of the genders turns into a mathematical equation based on which factors must be the most preferred in separate species.
Ever wonder why men don’t have a baculum? (Probably not.) This is the long, rigid bone found in the phallus of nearly all male primates and other mammals. It is found in every other species of “great ape” (the family of primates into which humans are assigned). The purpose of this bone shouldn’t take too much explanation: It is insurance, put simply, that attempts at mating will have a higher probability of success. So why don’t males of the human species have them? Natural selection. A prevailing scientific thought is that females of our species apparently preferred men sexually strong enough not to need a baculum. Hence, the more “fit” males were the ones without a baculum, and gradually through breeding this bone became “naturally selected” out of the human species.
But if it was so “desirable,” why is this “baculum-less” trait not prevalent among other primate species—or many other mammals, for that matter? Maybe the females of other mammalian species didn’t really go for the “baculum-less” types. And how did some few of our first humans “lose” their baculum to begin with, before it was recognized as such a “desirable” trait? Sounds painful.
Ever wonder why humans are the only “primates” that walk solely upright, on two legs? Natural selection. It seems that some of our hominid ancestors ended up with a slightly longer gait than others and it occurred to them that it was no more exerting to only walk on two legs. Or maybe it was because our ancestors used to walk through water a lot. Or maybe it was to expose less of the body to the sun, in order to cool down more easily. All, of course, developed through natural selection.
Why are human females the only mammals, aside from orca whales and pilot whales, to go through menopause—living far beyond childbearing age? This article admits that it should theoretically be contrary to natural selection. A scientifically “strong” female should be biologically able to spend her whole life bearing children before kicking the bucket. Turns out natural selection had other ideas, for some reason, when it came to women and a couple of whale species.
Here’s one you may not have considered—what about blushing? As Charles Darwin himself wrote: “Blushing is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions. Monkeys redden from passion, but it would require an overwhelming amount of evidence to make us believe that any animal could blush.”
So how did this somewhat embarrassing trait come to be prevalent in humans? This is still a big question for scientists and has even gone so far as to be called the “biggest gap in evolutionary theory.” Best guesses thus far state that perhaps the “early blushers” were naturally selected because they showed a greater degree of respect for honesty, something important for functioning in a group environment. Yet of course the question remains, how did the first humans begin blushing in order for it to become selected over time?
The list of basic traits unique to humans could go on and on. Speech. Clothing (seems counter-intuitive, given our evolutionary subconscious worked so hard to make us hairless). Unique hand structure. “Coat hanger” shoulders. Uniquely large fat stores. Comparatively odd reproductive systems. An immensely long childhood period. Unique traits that were all somehow “naturally selected” away from other animal species.
And if you’re wondering from what point we mammalians as a whole started our separate journeys of natural selection into the different species that we are today, look no further. Here is a depiction of what our common placental ancestor would have looked like, not based on fossil finds, but on hypothetically corroborating genetic similarities. Say hello to the great x 10100 grandma. Inspiring!
Evolution, the fact. Natural selection, the theory—yet the answer to everything. Is there no other way?
Perhaps there is.
The idea of challenging natural selection will come with a scolding. After all, quite different traits can be exhibited in related animal families. For example, the mighty wolf and the pitiful chihuahua are of the same dog family whose genes have been highlighted in different ways through time, geography and, in this case, human intervention. There is plenty of wiggle-room for expression of different characteristics within families of species. Where things get difficult is explaining away cross-species selection. As in, for example, the development of humans. So again I ask, Is there another way?
What if man isn’t, in fact, part of the primate family, and thus could never have been naturally selected from within it? What if he isn’t even a part of the animal kingdom, and thus never could have been naturally selected from it? Perhaps man was created after a different “species” (Genesis 1:24-26). Perhaps he has hair around his head because it was designed as an ornament (Proverbs 20:29).
Perhaps men were designed to be taller, heavier and stronger in order to protect and serve women and children (Proverbs 20:29). Maybe men don’t have a baculum because God intended sex among humans to be more than just for brute success in occasional offspring reproduction (Genesis 2:24). Maybe mankind is the most upright appearing of any bipedal creatures on Earth because that is the way his Creator looks (Genesis 1:26)—because it allows man to build, design and create things like his Maker (Psalm 90:16-17). Perhaps women continue to live long after childbearing age because there are other roles ordained for them in their later years, such as imparting wisdom to the younger generation (Ruth 2:22). And perhaps because it is not ideal for a helpless human infant to lose a mother to old age. (That’s another point—why are human offspring so pitifully helpless, compared to animal young? And yet they grow up to be infinitely superior in mental capacity and ability.) And maybe man exhibits physical reactions, like blushing, to moral dilemmas because there was created in him the ability to perceive morality (Proverbs 30:2).
Maybe man is the way he is because he was designed by a Creator.
Actually, not maybe. “Maybe,” “could be,” “possibly,” “perhaps,” ad nauseam, are all for the realm of the evolutionary journals. The Bible states unequivocally that this is the way it is.
Of course, it’s up to you, the reader, to decide what you believe. By this point, I’ve probably lost a lot of people who started out reading this article as soon as the subject of faith came up. Yet personally, I don’t quite have the immense faith required to believe that this wide world and universe sprang to life from a microscopic particle suspended in a vacuum, or that my beard and I were naturally selected over time from a tiny microorganism. To me, that is just too far-fetched. I don’t believe it could have all just randomly “happened.” The physical realm doesn’t just “happen,” whether you give it 10 years or 10 billion years (doesn’t that seem to be the way—if it doesn’t sound believable, slap on an extra helping of zeroes to the date).
And I can’t stand the thought that the decisions I make are controlled by some primordial, instinctive computation of natural selection. That I can’t even do something like allow my beard to grow simply because I want to—there has to be some kind of evolutionary reasoning behind it.
What I do believe in is the presence of another realm. One that can’t be discerned by physical science (and thus is rejected by such). Who says there can only exist one dimension—only a physical dimension? Let’s briefly step aside from all the evidence science puts forward to try to show that mankind evolved. Show me the proof that a spirit realm cannot exist. When you think about it logically, evolution itself is a separate question. “Proving” humans were naturally selected over time from a prehistoric sea slug says nothing of the question of a spiritual dimension! What proof does modern scholarship have, to say so unyieldingly that the physical realm is all there is? I do believe in another realm inhabited by other beings—a spiritual realm. Modern science rejects it but hasn’t honestly proved that it doesn’t exist. Just ignoring something doesn’t make it false.
I do believe in God, after which humans were designed. Maybe that’s not “cool” or “educated” these days, but frankly if whatever is socially acceptable only comes from a primordial computation of natural selection anyway, I couldn’t care less.
I do believe in a Creator who, while making humans flesh and blood, gave humanity a mind that transcends the abilities of any creature in the physical realm (Job 32:8). A mind that enables us to design clothing, use tools, compose music and translate languages; a mind to take us to the moon and back. A mind even capable of questioning its own existence. This mind could never be naturally selected. This mind never could have developed from a tiny subatomic particle suspended in a vacuum at the time of the “Big Bang,” 13.8 billion years ago.
Science, try as it may, simply cannot explain how this mind works. Modern science deals only with the physical dimension. This is why it has to accept evolution as fact, even though it can only theorize how it happens. It can’t explain why the makeup of the physical human brain is essentially the same as that of primates and other animals, yet the difference in output is colossal. (This was further demonstrated just last week by Tel Aviv University, in research showing that all mammals, including humans, share equal brain connectivity.) There is good news though: You don’t have to be handcuffed to a theory of natural selection! Read our booklet What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind, and make up that mind of yours for yourself.
The God I believe in isn’t unreasonable. “Come now, and let us reason together,” He says (Isaiah 1:18). Let’s think about it. Let’s have an educated belief—not a blind faith, either in evolution or religion.
That makes more sense to my bearded self.