One science topic that has been heavily debated between scientists and religionists is the topic of evolution. This question of whether human beings and apes share a common ancestry, or the notion that humans and apes developed on their own lineages, has even went to the Supreme Court. Evidently, it is the scientists and atheists who favor the opinion of the former, and mainly Christians who favor the latter.
The latter viewpoint is critical to the theory of creationism; in simple terms, it is the absolute belief that a superior being, e.g. God, created heaven and earth (Stanford University). This belief challenges this scientific theory by claiming that humans have always existed as humans, and apes have always existed as apes.
Religion, evidently, is a big, yet not the only, factor in distinguishing creationists. A survey was conducted to determine what Americans thought about human evolution, and it was found that about a third of Americans didn’t not believe in evolution on any terms, and thus were creationists. The religion group that strongly opposed evolution was evangelical Protestants; two examples of churches that have built platforms claiming that evolution prevented Biblical law, are the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Lastly, this same survey revealed that about a quarter of Roman Catholic Americans opposed evolution, despite Pope Francis asserting his support for the scientific theory of revolution (Pew Research Center).
If it were not for this religion barrier, most Americans would believe in the scientific theory that humans have a common ancestry with apes. As Science News asserts, humans do share ancestry with apes because roughly seven million years ago, humans split from the genus that chimpanzees / apes belong to : pan. (Science News).
One major way to prove this assertion is doing a DNA test to determine the difference in different ape species’ genomes with ours. From human to human, the difference in genome is about 0.1%. When compared to bonobos and chimpanzees, the difference rises to the still-minute 1.2%; when compared to gorillas, the difference is approximately 1.6%; when compared to orangutans, the difference rises slightly to 3.1%; when compared to rhesus monkeys, the percentage difference is the largest, at about 7% (Smithsonian). For there to be such small differences in the genomes of humans and certain apes hints that there existed a common ancestor.
Lastly, something scientists have debated upon was what this common ancestor between humans and apes looked like. Given that they’re the ancestor of two completely different species, the ancestor is believed to have traits that are found in both species. Duda and Jan Zrzavý, researchers at University of South Bohemia, described this ancestor in the Journal of Human Evolution. This ancestor lived in groups, males mated with several females and provided some care for his offspring (presently, apes are promiscuous and humans are monogamous). Furthermore, C. Owen Lovejoy and his colleagues at Kent State University suggested that these ancestors were able to walk on four legs on top of tree branches (presently, apes swing on trees and humans walk with their two legs).