finally: why evolution absolutely without question HAS to be true

In the September/October issue of Archaeology, I read what may be the single most important reason for why human evolution simply has to be true! In a ground-breaking article, Zach Zorich–whose name will henceforth be sung in praise by all the faithful–shows that evolution makes baseball possible.

Let me repeat: without evolution, there is no baseball. If this isn’t enough proof for you, move to Norway and follow ice curling.

Zorich’s article summarizes the work of a team of researchers led by Neil Roach of George Washington University.

From top: Paleolithic man with dropped spear; 6th c. BC Attic Greek hunter; Tom Seaver, 1973.

During the several-million-year journey our ancestors made from climbing trees to living their lives primarily on the ground, they evolved two traits that would ensure that our species thrive: upright posture and the ability to hurl a 100-mile-per-hour fastball. Humans are able to throw much harder and more accurately than any of the great apes, despite having much less powerful muscles than many of them….

Please note that both walking upright and throwing a 100-mph fastball are the very definition of thriving for our species, what separates us from the apes, as it were.

I would take this a step further and argue for the profound and logically required theological implications, i.e., that which makes us human, image-bearers of God, but let’s stay focused here.

“For the brief instant that the throw occurs, you are storing about 50 percent of the energy that you need to create this tremendous velocity in your shoulder,” says Roach, who conducted the research while at Harvard University. When the participants cocked their arms back to throw, the tendons and ligaments in their shoulders stretched and stored up energy that was then released in a burst. Roach identified three anatomical traits that humans evolved to perform this feat—torsos that move independently of our waists, shoulders located on the sides of our torsos, and upper-arm bones shaped to increase our ability to stretch the shoulder tendons and ligaments. 

Dispute remains, however, as to when exactly this adaptation occurred, but “the traits for modern throwing came together in Homo erectus no later than 1.6 million years ago,” or, roughly the last time the Chicago Cubs made it to world series.



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  • Martin
    • ajl

      I may be able to beat a cheetah or a lion in a controlled marathon, but I think out in the wild, I would have been torn to bits inside of 30 yards!

      • Martin

        Did you read the article? It discusses aspects of human evolution. Is there some aspect of the article you disagree with?
        You may also be entertained by:

        Good “persistence hunting” video embedded. Throwing muscles also come into play.

        • ajl

          I was joking.

          • Martin

            Cool. I shoulda caught the humor given my experiences running in grizzly bear habitat. “I don’t have to outrun the bear… I only have to outrun doofus over there.”

  • dangjin1

    He erred. It is not baseball that would not come into existence but the Olympic javelin throw.

  • Kim Fabricius

    Peter, I trust the photo of Tom Seaver is suggestive of a long-overdue turning from the Bronx to Queens, i.e., the denunciation of the devil (cf. Mark 8:33b). Otherwise I will continue to pray for your conversion. (For the Cubbies, see Isaiah 53.)

  • Just Sayin’

    Nope. Women’s rounders in Victorian England made American baseball possible. Check out ‘Northanger Abbey’ for verification.

    • peteenns

      LIAR LIAR LIAR LIAR!!!!!!!! Baseball would never evolve from rounders.

      • Just Sayin’

        You’re right: women’s rounders REGRESSED into American baseball!

      • AHH

        Oh, you head-in-the-sand fundy types. You probably take the Abner Doubleday creation myth literally.
        And these typical misunderstandings of evolution — of course the reality is that baseball and rounders share common ancestry.

  • toddh

    Simply brilliant. It seems to suggest that baseball is the highest form of sport. None other incorporates the fastball.

    • Evelyn

      Wrong. Cricket (says the Brit).

      • Klasie Kraalogies

        Exactly! Says this South African-Canadian.

  • z

    Which is, of course, in complete accord with the holy scriptures, for does not the Book of Genesis commence with these words: “In the big inning…”

    • Zeke

      You win teh internet today!

    • Myron Williams

      and Job refers to having no umpire between us.

  • Lari Launonen

    Here’s a theological question. We can rest assure that God’s ultimate intention for the ability throw was baseball (I suspect you were also speculating on this kind of theological anthropology of pre-baseballianism). BUT was the spear-throwing-mammoth-hunting cavemen a contingent by-product of the future ability of baseball (which is on par with libertarian freedom and altruistic love)?

  • Zeke

    The serpent in the garden was responsible for the DH rule….

    • Who gives you the assurance you are not a brain in a vat?

      • Zeke

        it’s called “humor” Lorraine. Lighten up.

        • Well I did not mean it seriously either 🙂

          • Mark

            Especially now that my Astros have been forced into the American league, I do agree that Satan had to have been responsible for the DH rule. That just ain’t baseball!

  • Let me play the advocate of the devil (or God for that matter) for a while 🙂

    I don’t believe this is evidence for evolution at all.

    For all the facts which are mentioned here could be explained as well by God creating humans in this way.

    And if this can be explained by creationism, I don’t view any compeling grounds for prefering natural evolution as an explanation
    I don’t think we have good reasons to believe, that in general simple explanations are more likely than more complex ones, and for people like Peter Enns believing in God in the first place, introducing God’s intervention would add no complexity anyway.

    I reject creationism not because of what can be equally explained by evolution but because of countless things which cannot be accounted by God’s supernatural involvement, namely the problem of bad design . It is undeniable that many biological systems are extremely suboptimal, in a way a good human designer would not have created them.
    What is more, the presence of viral junk DNA at exactly the same location in apes and humans shows beyond any reasonable doubt that they have a common ancestor.

    I am in good company here.

    Both Richard Dawkins and the late Jay Gould stated that evolution is much more glorified by its failures than by its successes, for the later is entirely compatible with special creation.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

  • Muff Potter

    Does this mean that I can’t be a left-leaning (both theologically & politically) progressive Christian unless I accept evolution into my heart?

    • Of course no 🙂

      I gave a tentative definition of progressive Christianity here

      Would you agree with that?

      As a progressive Christan, I believe that Darwinism (understood as the gradual evolution of life driven by natural selection) is much more uncertain than many people like to think.

      I developped a bit this idea here

      Richard Dawkins recognized in 1997 that Darwinism is our best explanation of evolution at the moment but that it might well turn out to be wrong and replaced by another theory which would bear little resemblance to his ideas.

      • guest

        Yeah, that’s kind of what science does. The law of gravity didn’t suffice either and was replaced with general relativity. So if more is learned about the science of evolution, the entire face of it may change. Science is able to learn more and fix any and all mistakes to make new theories. And nomody had better say “it’s just a theory” and should look up the definition of a SCIENTIFIC theory.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Interesting, but I have some serious problems with this whole thing. First, your torso may (still) move independently of your waist, but let’s be more inclusive please. Also, your sly side bar about curling shows that you haven’t even begun to do your homework in this subject. First of all, Scots invented curling and Canadiens are generally considered to be the best at the game (some backward Norwegians still occasionally disagree). And what about the human body’s wonderful pre-adaptations for the “roaring game? Sheesh!

    A Red Sox Fan

  • Preston Garrison

    This has no connection to the post but baseball, but I just stumbled on it and it is funny.–HXoqF9llQ