Have You Ever Looked at a Monkey?


When Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell referred to evolution as a myth during a 1998 roundtable discussion, comedian Bill Maher contemptuously shot back, “Have you ever looked at a monkey?” Maher replayed that video clip on his talk show in September.

In October, as if taking its cue from Maher, cbs’s 60 Minutes paraded before millions of Americans the most celebrated monkey-observer the scientific community has ever produced: Jane Goodall. Fifty years ago, as a fresh-faced, vivacious youngster from Britain, Goodall became famous for her National Geographic reports about life in Africa with chimpanzees.

In describing what she discovered during her “magical” experience in Tanzania, Goodall told cbs correspondent Lara Logan that she learned how chimps were happy and sad, affectionate and funny, playful and communicative—“all of these things done in the same context we do them,” she said (emphasis mine throughout).

In fact, before embarking on her groundbreaking study, Goodall assumed that monkeys would be a lot like humans—only nicer. But while studying animal life in the African forest, Goodall witnessed the darker side of the animal kingdom. Monkeys actually treated other monkeys cruelly—sometimes even brutally killing their own species.

In the end, Goodall concluded, monkeys are not a nicer species of human-like creatures. They are actually “just like” human beings!

You want scientific proof? All you have to do is look at monkeys.

“Equal Minds”?

It used to be, in order to link human beings to chimpanzees, you had to at least produce evidence in the fossil record. In 1912, for example, a group of paleontologists in Britain found a human-like skull with an orangutan jawbone. And for more than 40 years, Piltdown Man, as it was dubbed, was universally accepted throughout the scientific community as the “missing link” between apes and humans. The discovery was widely disseminated as indisputable proof of evolution both in scientific journals and school textbooks.

Not until 1953, after the development of more sophisticated age-dating techniques, was the Piltdown fossil exposed as one of the greatest scientific frauds in history. It wasn’t a transitional fossil after all—just a collection of bone fragments that had been cobbled together by evolutionists eager to “prove” their theory dishonestly.

This same story repeated itself in 2009. During the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, scientists in New York unveiled a fossilized skeleton of a monkey they named Ida and again proclaimed it to be the long-sought-after “missing link” in human evolution. The Guardian called it “one of the most significant primate fossil finds ever.” It was supposed to impact the world of paleontology “somewhat like an asteroid falling down to Earth.”

A few months later, however, Ida was exposed as yet another in a long line of highly publicized scientific hoaxes. As it turns out, Ida was nothing more than an extinct variety of lemur—just a nice fossilized set of monkey bones.

For nearly two centuries, evolutionists have searched in vain for transitional forms between monkeys and humans. As Robert Morley noted in the August 2009 Trumpet, “According to the evolutionary theory, there should be millions and billions [of transitional fossils]. Animals have been evolving into new species for hundreds of millions of years, the theory goes. Therefore, scientists have reasonably expected to find thousands, or at least hundreds, or maybe 10, fossils of transitionary species. But they can’t find a single one!

But never mind the bones. Just look at monkeys, some atheists now say, as they scoff at the thought of a great Creator God. Consider this statement from the 60 Minutes report, made by Bill Wallauer, a photographer who works at the Jane Goodall Institute: “You get the feeling when you’re looking at him [a monkey] and he’s looking at you—it’s equal minds.”

I don’t get that feeling at all—not when watching 60 Minutes or while observing monkeys at a zoo or wildlife preserve. When I watch monkeys, as fascinating as it is to see one use a stick to fish for termites, it reminds me of the giant gulf that exists between the animal kingdom and human beings.

The Source of Mind Power

Why such a massive gap? As far as the physical composition is concerned, there is little difference between the brains of human beings and monkeys; they’re nearly identical. Why, then, is the human mind so vastly superior to the animal brain? It’s because of a nonphysical component that exists in man called the human spirit (see Job 32:8 and Zechariah 12:1).

This is what gives human beings mind power!

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” the Apostle Paul asked in 1 Corinthians 2:11. The human spirit imparts the power of intellect to the human brain. It enables man to think and reason, to make calculated decisions and choices, to create and compose, to stake out positions on ethics and morality, to set goals, to pursue excellence.

Animals, on the other hand, have no such spiritual component in their brains. This is why chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants are incapable of understanding the things of man.

This past October, I watched the world-renowned chamber orchestra Academy of St. Martin in the Fields as it joined forces with an extraordinarily talented Israeli pianist named Inon Barnatan. They performed an all-Mozart concert inside the stunningly beautiful Armstrong Auditorium here in Edmond, Oklahoma.

It was one of the best classical performances our foundation has ever sponsored. What a testimony it was to the awesome power and superior intellect in the human mind compared to the brain of a monkey.

If you were to observe a family of monkeys at the zoo in the afternoon and then attend the same concert I did later that night, how could you honestly conclude that what you observed was pretty much equal in mind power?

One reason we sponsor such fine events at Armstrong Auditorium is to showcase the remarkable achievements of the human spirit! Among other things, our concert series highlights the fact that man is a uniquely created being with awe-inspiring potential.

Consider again 1 Corinthians 2:11: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” Notice: Two spirits are mentioned in this verse—the spirit of man, which is in him, and the Spirit of God, which is not in man, but can be, if we surrender to God in repentance and faith!

There is, after all, a “missing link”! But it doesn’t connect man to mindless monkeys in the jungle. It joins human beings to their heavenly Father. That link, as plainly revealed in the inspired Word of God, is Jesus Christ! “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

This is the profound, irrefutable truth of the gospel message proclaimed throughout the Bible. The living Jesus Christ is our link to eternal life in the Family of God!