To be sure, one of the more trying aspects of reading Monkey Girl was listening to the misguided and, at times, embarrassingly incorrect opinions people of the town of Dover had concerning evolution - especially people who were aggressively pushing the ID curriculum. Here is a FAQ from Edward Humes, the author of Monkey Girl, which was put together as a direct response to the kind of information and misinformation he ran across when researching for the book:
MONKEY GIRL: Evolution Facts and Myths
- Myth: Evolutionary theory holds that life on Earth, including humans, arose by luck or random chance.
- Fact: Evolution is mindless, but never random. Variations (in height, strength, intelligence, disease resistance, etc.) occur naturally among members of every species, from jalapeños to humans. Variations that help individuals survive (and reproduce) become concentrated in later generations, gradually transforming a species. Variations that pose a disadvantage are weeded out of the gene pool through the death of individuals or the extinction of whole species. This “natural selection” is evolution’s main engine.
- Myth: Evolutionary theory states that man evolved from monkeys.
- Fact: Evolutionary theory states that man and monkeys share a common ancestor that was neither man nor monkey, but possessed qualities passed on to each. Every species on Earth has an ancestor in common with every other species – some dating back millions of years, some hundreds of millions, others dating back billions of years. One implication of common ancestry is that there are far more extinct species than living ones; evidence in the fossil record and in living DNA suggests that more than 99 percent of creatures that have lived on Earth are now extinct.
- Myth: Belief in evolution requires atheism or leads to it.
- Fact: Most scientists accept the validity of evolutionary theory AND believe in God. Charles Darwin was trained to be a preacher and wrote that evolution and belief in God were completely compatible (with evolution contradicting only biblical literalism). It is true that Darwin grew to doubt the existence of God, but not because of evolution. He lost his faith when his young daughter, Annie, died.
- Myth: Evolutionary theory asserts that life arose from nonliving chemicals in Earth’s primordial environment — a process called abiogenesis, popularly referred to as “from goo to you.”
- Fact: Evolutionary theory has nothing to do with the beginning of life. It explains how life forms change over time, and does not attempt to explain how life began in the first place. Thus, evolutionary theory has nothing to do with creation but only change.
- Myth: There is more factual evidence to support the biblical account of creation than evolution.
- Fact: There is more scientific evidence, laboratory testing and direct observation to support evolutionary theory than virtually any other scientific theory, including gravitational theory* and the big bang theory. No credible evidence has yet falsified the theory of evolution, while new discoveries Darwin never dreamt of, such as the unraveling of the human genome, have supported his theory. On the other hand, there is no evidence outside of the Bible itself to support the Genesis creation and flood stories, and considerable evidence of inaccuracies and contradictions in Genesis’s description of the physical universe (such as a flat and motionless earth at the center of the universe). This is why many theologians, as well as the doctrines of mainstream churches and synagogues, avoid literal readings of Genesis in favor of metaphorical interpretations.
- Myth: Intelligent Design is a scientific theory that has detected scientific evidence of God. It is a legitimate scientific rival for the theory of evolution.
- Fact: Intelligent Design is a non-biblical form of creationism that avoids overtly religious references but posits an unnamed master “designer” by claming certain features in biology — particularly DNA and the complex molecular “machines” inside living cells — appear to have been designed, in the same way humans design software and complex devices. Because it posits a supernatural process — an intelligent designer fashioning life and the universe — it falls outside what is conventionally considered the realm of science, which is generally defined as the search for natural explanations for natural phenomena. This is why evolution is a scientific idea, while Intelligent Design is seen by many as a religious idea.
- Myth: the modern Intelligent Design movement was conceived by scientists to further human knowledge and understanding.
- Fact: The modern Intelligent Design movement was conceived by a lawyer in order to overthrow evolutionary theory and bring God “back” to public school classrooms.
- Myth: The teaching of evolution in public schools has undermined belief in God.
- Fact: Only one fifth of Americans believe humans evolved from earlier species.
- Fact: Sixty-four percent of Americans are creationists (meaning they believe humans were created directly by God, as in the biblical Genesis).
- Fact: About half of Americans believe God created the Earth and all life less than ten thousand years ago.
- Fact: A majority of Americans — including President Bush — believes evolution, intelligent design, and creationism should all be taught in public schools equally.
- Fact: The more educated a person is, the more likely that person will accept the validity of evolution and reject creationism (65 percent of Americans who attended graduate school believe evolutionary theory is scientific and well-supported by the evidence; 52 percent of those with bachelor’ degrees accept evolution; 20 percent of Americans with high school educations or less believe evolutionary theory is well supported by the facts).
- Fact: 98 percent of scientists in the nation and world accept scientific evidence that the earth is four billion years old and that primitive life first appeared on the planet three billion years ago.
- Fact: A majority of Americans who reject evolutionary theory as invalid have no clear or accurate understanding of what it is they are rejecting.
*There is, of course, no doubt that gravity exists, but the understanding of how and why it effects space and time is surprisingly incomplete when it comes to laboratory evidence. For instance, the existence of gravitational waves is predicted by gravitational theory, but despite determined efforts by physicists for many years, such waves have never been directly detected. Evolution, on the other hand, has been observed directly in the laboratory and in nature innumerable times.