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Letters: Aug. 13, 2001

4 minute read

How Apes Became Human

Your cover story “How Apes Became Human” focused on discoveries that reportedly show man evolving from a chimplike creature into one that can stand upright on two legs [PALEONTOLOGY, July 23]. This piece was a slap in the face to those who believe God created man in his image. You failed to substantiate that evolution is anything more than an unproven theory. You may think creationism is also an unproven theory–it takes God-given faith to believe in it–but creationism is rarely presented in the media as an alternative theory of human origin. CLAYTON DONNELL Southampton, Pa.

In an age when politicians legislate against evolutionary science, it’s refreshing to see a major publication like TIME consistently support empirical science. The theory of evolution has been attacked as everything from a bad philosophy to outright Satanism. The scientific community needs the support of popular publications so the public is informed of current scientific thought instead of being reliant upon the ill-informed rhetoric of creationists. JAMES N. BRAGGE North Las Vegas, Nev.

We have two choices: the speculations of anthropologists or the Book of Genesis. Both are beyond proof, but which speaks to the inmost perceptions of the soul? JAMES R. SCHAEFER Mount Prospect, Ill.

Although evolution has been the subject of decades of derision and court battles, it finally emerges triumphantly as one of the three greatest theories of our time. Along with relativity and quantum physics, evolution forms the cornerstone of human understanding of nature. Your article, aimed at the lay reader, is one of the best scientific pieces I’ve read in years. It puts man where he belongs. He is part of the cosmos, driven relentlessly by evolution and emerging by pure chance, not by any divine fiat. VU NGUYEN Chino Hills, Calif.

Another plausible explanation for the success of bipedalism and the ascent of man is the need for defense and offense. Walking upright presented early man with a larger and fiercer profile to his enemies. It also freed his hands to use weapons and better attack his foes. This alteration provided humans with additional time to think, create and develop. BARRY STEVENS Arlington, Texas

–Our story on the discovery of a new apelike human ancestor that walked upright induced monkeyshines in many of you. “Some of my forebears may have hung by their necks,” chuckled a Los Angeles reader, “but none ever hung by their tails.” A Kentuckian averred that “the evolutionary process has evidently gone into reverse. The scientists have devolved into baboons.” And a South Carolina man hoped that “since TIME has firmly established our lineage, we may begin paying for our subscriptions in bananas.”

No Praise for Pitchmen

I can’t believe TIME chose to celebrate the profession of marketing [INNOVATORS, July 23]. Why applaud efforts to sell people products that they most likely don’t need? Marketing is nothing but trying to devise clever ways to manipulate people. Marketers are the hunters, and consumers are the prey. KRISTINA FELICIANO New York City

Bioethics Battle

To block stem-cell research because it kills an embryo that has the potential of becoming a human is to limit the potential to save lives and cure many devastating illnesses [NATION, July 23]. HECTOR TIMOURIAN Livermore, Calif.

My son has a spinal-cord injury that has resulted in quadriplegia. Still, I shudder at the thought of harvesting stem cells [that might help replace damaged tissue] from fetuses bred or cloned for the purpose of stem-cell research. CARMEN OELKE New Freedom, Pa.

Stem-cell research occurs in laboratories around the world. It is mostly driven by the profit motive and is becoming an integral part of the global economy. This is a field in which borders are permeable and jurisdictions tend to be powerless. To believe that the U.S. will be able to control the future of stem-cell research may be a solace, but doesn’t take into account the true situation. ELFIE RAYMOND Bronxville, N.Y.

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