Why Chimp-Human Similarities
are Not Evidence for 
(The Battleship and the Fork: a Fable)

Author: John Woodmorappe
Subject: Biology

John Woodmorappe’s Articles
About John Woodmorappe

Once upon a time, a battleship was docked at a port. Nearby, right at the foot of the pier, was a fork. Both were gleaming in the sunlight on one fine day.

“My, how alike we are,” said the battleship to the fork. “We reflect the sun in very much the same way.”

“Hmm,” mused the fork, “that’s true. Yet we have hardly anything else in common. You are an awesome military machine, and I am a humble little eating utensil.”

“We mustn’t look at outward differences,” protested the battleship.

“Just because we have different functions, it should not obscure our amazing similarities, nor our common evolutionary descent from some metallic ancestor.”

“How so?” asked the fork.

“Well, let me explain,” said the battleship. “We are both made of metal, so we both conduct electricity very well. Our densities must be very much alike. Our melting points are probably quite close.

“I can think of so many other similarities,” continued the battleship, “that I am almost tempted to consider myself as little more than a large ocean-going fork! Why, I’ll bet our respective modulus of elasticity is very much the same. There is no doubt that we are both malleable. We are corroded by salt solutions over long periods of time. We both heat up and cool down very rapidly. We both carry sound waves within ourselves at very much the same velocity. Even all of the atoms within us participate in the same type of metallic bonding.

“The list is endless,” the battleship concluded, quite pleased with how his argument had turned out. “No rational person can doubt that we had a common evolutionary ancestor at some time in the past.”

The fork, somewhat embarrassed, replied, “I’m sorry, but I think your good sense has taken flight. Don’t you realize that, although we are made of the same material, we are substantially entirely different? I am not a primitive form of battleship, nor are you an advanced kind of fork. The engineers who made us used the same material for entirely different purposes. Try fighting a naval war with a fork, or feeding yourself with a battleship.”

In this fable, the fork represents the chimp and the battleship represents the human. Evolutionists commonly cite the extremely close biochemical similarities (as well as similarities between sequences of DNA) of chimps and humans to further the notion that humans are little more than evolved chimps. (See, for instance, UCLA biologist Jared Diamond’s book The Third Chimpanzee, which argue–as the book’s title claim–that humans are simply another kind of chimpanzee.) Yet the similarities between humans and chimps are at least as inconsequential as those involving the metallic properties of battleships and forks.

Clearly, similarities between the “building material” count for very little when we consider the extreme differences in capabilities of humans and chimps, just as the many close similarities in metallic properties between forks and battleships mean almost nothing when compared with their respective capabilities.

Topics: reconstructing phylogenies, conservative Catholicism, teleonomy, anti-Darwinism, anti-evolution, philosophical implications of evolution, human uniqueness, scientific Creationism defended, Adam not ape