I started thinking about this a little while ago. I remembered that when I was with my ex, how he used to get so incredibly insulted that I would even fathom the possibility that we evolved from primates. His angered, albeit entertaining defense was, "I am not a monkey!". I don't know that that defense really had anything to do with his religious beliefs, I think that in his mind, if the evidence turned out to be irrefutable (in his opinion, not mine), that it somehow makes him less than human, less than a man. What is everyone else's take on this? Have you ever met someone who was so insulted by this?
Maybe I should not say proud, but grateful. Thanks to the evolution of my ancestors, I can sit here in a well heated room typing this post, while my less lucky relatives still sit in the zoo and wait to be fed with bananas.
No, I am not insulted by being informed that we, human primates, are descended from earlier primates. I also feel that I understand the reason for this emotional rejection of our inclusion in this group of animals. It is the scorn felt for other animals. It is species-ism.
I am just a monkey man , I hope you are a monkey woman too!
The Rolling Stones
Take it from Mick, he knows what he's talking about.
This may not be helpful, but to me it is a simple truism to say that we are what we are. If we accept that we are kind/indifferent/aggressive, emotional/stoic, compassionate/uncaring/manipulative, moral/amoral/immoral, amused/bemused/apathetic, intelligent/mediocre/stupid, theistic/agnostic/atheistic ~ well ~ I hope you get the idea. Humanity is all of these things and more, in various combinations and degrees. It does not matter, in this analysis how we came to be this way. If I have a common ancestor with other primates, or if I was magicked into existence by some almighty powerful deity, I am still what I am, and humanity is still what it is.
A person doesn't become changed in essence, simply because they might change their view of how they came to be as they are. There would probably be some changes in attitudes which might arise from a change in world-view, but the person would still be the same essential person they always were.
It would have been useful if you could have asked him what it was he found offensive. Strong emotions can impede rational thought. If one first explores what the emotionally conflicting issues are, you can then move on to a more scientific discussion.
I'd ask, why is it offensive to be descended from a primate? What difference does it make to you? How / why would it affect your self image, or image of humanity?
I find that it is a beautiful thing that i am related to everything around me, and that we are very lucky to still have close cousins around when so many of our cousins during our evolution died out. I think it is extremely egotistical to think that we are better than all other organisms.
I'm amused by people who think it's insulting to think we evolved from other animals but not to think that we were created from a clump of dirt.
If I was created by a wand of magic, then I would have felt like being a rabbit in a magician's hat. I feel pride that I am so complex a creature that I took millions of years to come to a present stage of evolution. Evolution also assures me that my progenitors could be still more evolved than I am.
I once dated a woman who had the same mental aversion to being "descended from monkeys." Then again, when she decided she was being "born again" is when I got my toothbrush, spare change of clothes, and moved to another zip code.
You've got to give a certain amount of begrudging credit to theists, though. Their lying propaganda machine is pretty darned effective in convincing people that evolution teaches people come from monkeys, America is a Xtian nation, the winter solstice celebration originated because of Jesus birth, etc., etc., etc. Ignorant, dangerous, and destructive, but effective.
To quote the late, great, Christopher Hitchens in his take on the 10 commandments.
Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent on the web of nature, and think and act accordingly.
I think it's amusing and enlightening to think about evolution of humans from earlier species. Even going further back. I used to watch the chickens in my yard, and think about how much they behaved like the people in my workplace at the time. And our human link to our common ancestor with chickens is a lot more remote than our link to other primates, by hundreds of millions of years.
If people are offended by their evolutionary link to other life forms, then they take themselves too seriously.
I'm not one to be swayed or form my beliefs by such emotions. I believe in evolution because it makes sense, not because of my emotional response to the idea. It's the same with my belief about God. I'm not swayed by arguments like, "I see a sunset and I know there is a God," or "How can you witness the miracle of birth and not believe in God?"
Having said that, have you ever seen a primate up close and in the flesh? How can you look into their eyes, see their expressions, see their mannerisms, watch them hug their children, etc... and not see a person very much like you? It's a profound experience and one that makes me feel a real connection to my fellow primates, and frankly, to all mammals (Sorry fish, I know we're related but I'm just not feeling it).
Sorry it took me so long to respond to all the great replies to my question, been very busy lately. I agree that I probably should have asked him what he found so offensive about that, but he found it to be such an outrageous claim that I just decided to drop it, why piss him off more? Lol. I personally find nothing wrong with the idea that our ancestors were apes. I mean, almost all other living things evolved at some point in time, why would it be such a stretch to think that we did? We as humans should be glad that we were able to evolve and adapt to our ever changing world/environment, we should be glad that we have lasted this long. To this day, I still don't fully understand why he became so enraged at the "claim". I mean, we are not monkeys/apes now, so what difference does it make?