You Are All Apes To Me

Fact: Humans and apes share a common ancestor. In that sense, we are apes.

Reaction from educated people: It’s awe-inspiring that all living things share common ancestors!

Reaction from Creationist Ken Ham: HOW DARE YOU CALL ME AN APE?!

Ham sees the whole idea as an insult and the fact that the San Diego Zoo was selling books about evolution just set him off:

How would you like to have someone tell your children that they “are an ape” — that they are just an animal?

And then he goes on to question why humans are held to different standards than zoo animals:

There were hundreds and hundreds of elementary age school kids at the San Diego Zoo the day we visited. I wonder what the parents of these kids would think if the teachers started calling the kids “apes.” Something like: “Ok you apes, do what I tell you to do.”

I wonder what would happen if kids took off their clothes and said, “We are only apes, and apes don’t have clothes, so why should we have clothes?”

… as we were on the bus tour, the zoo tour guide kept telling the children to be quiet for the animals’ sake! Wait a minute! Didn’t she read this book that the zoo — the facility that employs her — sells? Those kids are just apes — they are animals, too. Why should she tell them to be different to the animals in the pens and cages? I never saw her telling the chimps to be quiet when they were making a racket.

You know that, in his head, he thinks he just disproved all the scientific evidence in the world in support of evolution with those comments…

But that’s the narrative most of the country believes. They not only don’t accept evolution, many find it insulting to even suggest that we’re related to chimps, bonobos, etc. They need to be better educated about it — and religion prevents them from gaining that understanding.

Meanwhile, Ken Ham’s gonna flip out when someone tells him he’s also a mammal.

Tell me again why we’re supposed to respect the beliefs of religious people?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Daniel Schealler

    How dare you suggest that human beings are just vertebrates!

  • gski

    “How would you like to have someone tell your children that they “are an ape” — that they are just an animal?”

    Gee Ken, you’re right.  I’ll let you tell them they will spend eternity in hell.

  • Brian Westley

    Well, if (for some reason) Ken Ham ever grabs my arm, I’ll be ready with “Get your paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

    • Nordog6561

       LOL.

  • Flockofchickens

    You’re a f’ing monkey, mate.

    Always a good excuse to watch Aron Ra’s excellent video on this topic …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A-dMqEbSk8

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    Apparently mud continues to be the preferred origin for human beings.

    • Ndonnan

      I thought it was slime????

      • Glasofruix

        Oh chucks, i forgot to read who i was talking to… Nwm, you can return to your 17th century.

      • Coyotenose

         You’re thinking of the origin of Creationist ideas there, guy.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sfjetland Serge Fjetland

    Oh, No! a scientific fact that his disagrees with. Clearly its too much to ask for him to think it through!

    • Coyotenose

      Sapient thinking is an activity limited to certain types of apes, so… Ken believes he can’t think, I suppose.

      That would make him more akin to a dog who stares at the front door for twelve hours, aware that sometimes it opens but uncomprehending of the mechanism.

      Except in this case, the dog spends the entire time pissing on the doorjamb, dimly spiteful because the door isn’t a tomato or something.

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    “Come on you apes! You wanna live forever?!”

    Would you like to know more?

    • amycas

      ^^^love this reference

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

         If you’re on twitter, definitely hit up following Casper Van Dien (@CasperVanDien), the guy who played Ricco.  He’s really nice to his fans.

  • CoboWowbo

    I call my friends apes all the time. They only get offended if I call them creationists. Which reminds me… 

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I love me some Family Guy…

    • Pseudonym

      Incidentally, Carl Linnaeus was also a creationist, and it was he who first identified humans as being members of the ape family a hundred years before Darwin.

      It’s important to remember that Ken Ham’s particular brand of creationism is a modern species, which was unobserved before the 1950s. It did evolve from earlier species of creationism, but it’s not an ancient species by any stretch.

      • MariaO

        Actually, von Linné (his name as a nobelman – it’s impolite to use his student name!) had his doubts. The Peloria version of Toadflax upset his view on nature considerably. He never made the full leap into evolution, but was very close. See
        http://www.springerlink.com/content/tp36336815147048/

  • Michael

    So… I can’t call Ken a Baboon?

  • Lucilius

    I was going to make a joke about Ham being a “notorious homo sapiens,” but the last word hardly applies.

    • http://digitalatheist1.wordpress.com/ DigitalAtheist

      Sadly, no. Baboons deserve more respect than that. However, he does seem to have a bit of slime mold for a brain, although the slime mold is a bit more evolved.

      • http://digitalatheist1.wordpress.com/ DigitalAtheist

        gaaaaaah… stupid box… clicked on the link above and got posted to this one. Baboon, Ken Hamm, above. (or did the vodka kick in unawares?)

  • Falconer33

    I worked at a zoo while in college and I have to ay in most cases the animals were better behaved than the visitors.

  • Nordog6561

    “Reaction from educated people: It’s awe-inspiring that all living things share common ancestors!”

    Is that true?  Is that known?  Could it be that life began independently in different areas and so some present day life forms are not related to some other present day life forms?

    Has this question been addressed?

    • Daniel Schealler

      Poe or serious?

      • Nordog6561

        No, I’m serious.  FTR, I do not deny evolution, nor have I studied it extensively.

        By virtue of what do we say that all life today evolved from the same single source?

        Is it inappropriate to ask if two or more sources of life could have come into being independently and been the source for two or more completely unrelated lines of evolution?

        Seems like a reasonable question to me.

        • Daniel Schealler

          Depends a little bit on what exactly you mean.

          I like this as a good primer.

          21st century revelations in genomic research now imply that the origins of evolution come quite a while after the origin of life. There are now indications that at the root of each of the largest possible taxonomic divisions, there was a point when “descent” (as it is currently understood) was not yet occuring, (at least not in any determinable lineage) and instead there was a sort of horozontal gene transfer going on which could not truly be considered part of the evolutionary process.

          While taxonomy still points to a single common ancestor for all eukaryotes, that ancestor seems to be one of two or maybe three cellular siblings who evidently did not all descend from any sort of shared conventional parent!  So at the point where an actual evolutionary phylogeny began to take over more or less exclusively, the domain, Eukarya had evidently already emerged separately and quite distinct from either of the “prokaryote” lineages.

          - AronRa, 10th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism

          I can’t give a full explanation for the entire field – I am after all not a biologist.

          But as I understand it, if you take (for example) taxonomy (how organisms look) and group them according to similarities and differences, they naturally fall into a nested cladistic hierarchy.

          If you then take molecular biology (analysis of protiens, etc) and compare similarities and differences between organisms, then once again we get a nested cladistic hierarchy… The same cladistic hierarchy.

          If you then consider the genome itself in the same way, you get the same cladistic hierarchy again.

          It’s a pattern that is seen everywhere in nature. We actually do share genes and protiens with plants. As far as I know,  organisms use ATP as the basic currency unit of energy exchange – including plants.

          The similarities run very, very deep – and predictions based on the notion that all life is connected pan out often.

          I know that’s a very, very short summary and a bit light on heavy details – but, again, I’m not a biologist so can’t claim expertise.

          • Nordog6561

             Thank you Daniel.

          • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.stinnett Morgan Donaldson

             Wow great article, thanks!

  • guest

    We’re bacteria too. :-)

    • Coyotenose

       *tiny, tiny voices everywhere*

      We are Spartacus!

    • Pseudonym

      We most certainly are not. Bacteria are modern organisms. We do have a common ancestor with bacteria, but we did not evolve from bacteria.

      • Pseudonym

        Actually, I should say that we probably have a common ancestor with bacteria.

        Eukaryotes certainly evolved from two or three (depending on whether you’re a plant or not) single-celled organisms which don’t resemble modern prokaryotes very closely at all. It seems likely that there’s a common ancestor, but it’s essentially impossible to reconstruct the family tree back that far with any certainty based on current evidence.

        Evolution: learn about it.

      • Daniel Schealler

        We’re eukaryotes!

        Yay mitosis!

        • Pseudonym

          Every time I use antibiotics I say “I have a nucleus, suckers!”

  • SteveS

    In their weird worldview, they were given dominion over the Earth and all the creatures in it. If they admit common ancestry with animals, they lose their special place in the universe… Inculcating this kind of mindset also helps them to demonize and castigate anyone they disagree with. This jackass would like to transport all of us back to biblical times. Where he would, I am sure declare dominion over all of us unbelievers and then enslave us – all perfectly legal in his bible.

  • Glasofruix

     We are just a few genes away from pigs, so…

    • Coyotenose

       …so Ken Ham’s activities as reported on Pharyngula are more akin to pedophilia than bestiality?

  • Pisk_A_Dausen

    “There were hundreds and hundreds of elementary age school kids at the San Diego Zoo the day we visited. I wonder what the parents of these kids would think if the teachers
    started calling the kids “apes.” Something like: “Ok you apes, do what I tell you to do.””

    In my experience, the kids would find that hilarious, and some would start making “ook-ook” noises.

    “I wonder what would happen if kids took off their clothes and said, “We are only apes, and apes don’t have clothes, so why should we have clothes?””

    I would have said: “Actually, some apes wear clothes. We call those apes ‘humans’.”

    “… as we were on the bus tour, the zoo tour guide kept telling the children to be quiet for the animals’ sake! Wait a minute! Didn’t she read this book that the zoo — the facility
    that employs her — sells? Those kids are just apes — they are animals, too. Why should she tell them to be different to the animals in the pens and cages?”

    She wasn’t telling them to be different than them, but to act politely and not scare them with loud noises.

    “I never saw her telling the chimps to be quiet when they were making a racket.”

    She likely doesn’t speak Chimp, so there wouldn’t be much point.

    • http://twitter.com/BoredInfidel MikeTheInfidel

      I would have said: “Actually, some apes wear clothes. We call those apes ‘humans’.”

      Came here to say pretty much the exact same thing. When people talk about how humans can’t be animals or apes because we don’t act like them, I can’t help but wonder why they don’t understand that we are them.

    • Daniel Schealler

      I remember (sort of) doing an impressions game. (We were drunk, alright).

      Sort of like charades, only non-language sounds were allowed.

      I was given a card with ‘gorilla’ on the back, and had to get my partner to guess the word.

      So I jumped up and down and made stereotypical gorilla/primate sounds, pummeled my chest, bared my teeth, etc etc.

      IT was a riot… But on some deep level, it felt like a very easy role to fall into. I didn’t have to stop and think about it as much as I did when I was given the card with ‘elephant’ on it.

  • http://www.humanistresources.org/ Humanist Resource Connection

    When I hear statements like this, it makes me even more grateful for the National Center for Science Education. NCSE defends the teaching of evolution and climate science. Thinking people should support them! Go check them out at http://ncse.com. (And no, I’m not affiliated with the group any more than to say I support their mission.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    Really, Ken Ham is offended? It’s the apes are getting the short end of the deal here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    You know you’re a fundie when you get insulted over the idea that we evolved from apes but don’t mind the idea that we were created out of dirt.

    • Coyotenose

       And if you go back even further, we’re made out of STARS. That apparently offends them about as much.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I agree this is really upsetting.
    The mere thought of Ken Ham being related to apes is very insulting to the apes.
    Even if it’s true the apes might still have a libel  suite on their hands.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Here’s another good short clip on what’s the difference between humans and chimps
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzDLkPFjev4 

    There’s another really good one out there from a theist biologist which explains why we have 23 chromosomes while the other great apes have 24.  Can’t seem to find it at the moment, anyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Furtado/1753821766 Michael Furtado

    Sorry – only one word comes to mind – MORON!

  • TiltedHorizon

    “How would you like to have someone tell your children that they “are an ape” — that they are just an animal?”

    Really!?!

    As apposed to telling them that they are sinful beings, completely undeserving of god’s love, saved only by JC’s  sacrifice but only as long you they accept god and JC on blind faith or be DOOMED to hell. (no pressure)

    I’d rather be RELATED to an ape then to still be a baboon like Ham. 

    • Heather

      Don’t insult baboons! :)

  • newavocation

    Ken, doesn’t the banana fit perfectly into an apes hand too? See the connection?

    • freedune

       To him, it probably means Mr.God was being magnanimous.

  • Annie

    A little off topic, but a joke I remember from my days as a zoo keeper.

    What would an ape do with a large cardboard box?

    A chimpanzee would take it apart and tear it to shreds.
    A gorilla would take it apart and put it back together.
    An Orang utan would take it apart, put it back together, and drive off in it.

    A human?  They’d just throw it in the trash.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      And bonobos?  Have sex in it?

      • Annie

        Ha ha!  Yes!  I’m a lumper, so I included both Pans together.  But I think your addition to the joke would be most appreciated by the splitters (and, really, to me to).

  • Just a Reader

    I once mentioned to someone that humans are animals, to which she replied, “Didn’t you pay attention in biology? Humans aren’t animals, we’re mammals!” And yet somehow she passed honors bio…

    • freedune

       Her being a mammal have anything to do with it? -suggestive wink-

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

    It’s a bit ironic that Ken Ham looks suspiciously like a caveman. 

  • Derrik Pates

    Well, he says he didn’t evolve. I’ve heard a joke that points out that many of the people who make that claim certainly don’t look like they did. I would dare to say Ken Ham would arguably fall in that group.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Think I heard that one from Bill Hicks:

      Have you ever notice that people who believe in creationism look really unevolved?

      [Stupid Voice/Glazed Facial Expression]: I believe that God made me in one day.

      [Snidely/Smirking]: Yeah, looks like he rushed it.

  • MariaO

    Maybe he would have been happier with the view of Finnish paleontologist Björn Kurtén view:
    “It is more true to say the the great apes evolved from humans rather than the other way around, beacuse humans are in many ways closer to the latest common ancestor than the more specialised apes.”

  • freedune

    I just tell my younger daughter she actually is a monkey, and her tail will start growing if she jumps hard and long enough.  Nothing like it to nurture the old scientific habit.

  • kullervo

    I am again delighted my niece and nephew live in San Diego and my sister and brother-in-law buy annual passes to their most excellent zoo. The kids often return home with books after their visits. Lucky little primates!

  • Hanna

    My dad used to call me an ape and a monkey all the time. Whenever he dropped me off at daycare, he would “Here we are at the zoo, have fun!” Did I react by ripping off my clothes or start screaming and acting like a monkey? No. I laughed and went to daycare.


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