How to explain human evolution to a creationist in seven simple steps.
In order for a creationist to understand what we are talking about, first we have to make sure that understand the following concepts: fossils, methods of dating fossils, animals, primates, extinction and slow change.
Once they understand, which should not be very difficult, we have to go back 10 million years in time. Fossils dated 10 million years old do not show human remains, i.e, no humans existed 10 million years ago. There are animal fossils, of species we know and of species that are extinct. However, there are fossils of primates (creatures that are similiar to apes and humans) which have some humanoid characteristics, although they do not look human at all.
The next step is to take them 5 million years ago. They cannot deny that there is a fossil dated that age which has been given the name of "Lucy". Lucy was a primate, very ape-like, and, because of the characteristics of her pelvis, is thought to have been walked upright most of the time. There are still no humans at that time
The fourth step would not be to bring them to a specific point of time. It would be to explain them that from 5 million years ago till 2 million years ago, the fossils that have been found have a progressively larger skull and they look progressively more human, although they still look more like apes.
Our fifth step will introduce them to a species called homo habilis, 2 million years old. Still very similar to apes, but this time its fossils were found close to the first tools, made of stone. They are considered the most primitive form of human beings.
The sixth step would be to show the homo erectus which lived until about 400,000 years ago. Now, more human than ape and as similar to homo habilis as they were to homo sapiens.
Homo sapiens, as we know ourselves, exists since 400,000 years ago. The oldest fossil is very difficult to differentiate from an homo erectus one. From then onwards, the skulls and skeletons look modern. This is the seventh and final step
When talking to creationists, remember these important things.
- Do not let them interrupt you until you complete the seven steps.
- This is not a debate, you are explaining them science found by archaelogists, not your own point of view.
- Although you are not mentioning it, keep in mind that there is genetic evidence of our closeness to apes. This will only reinforce the explanations if necessary.
- Remember that human evolution is probably more complicated than the seven steps, these are only a simple way of explaining it
- Reassure them in the sense that thay can believe in whatever they want, just ask them not to deny the seven steps. You should let them know that by denying any of the seven steps, the are denying the concepts that thay already have accepted in the first step.