"you just need to establish that the question is irrelevant."
I agree, but I avoid saying it in conversations with them. Sometimes they are just confused or curious about evolution. Suggesting that their questions are "irrelevant" puts them on the defensive and they put up a wall to understanding.
I think that a good number of people who ask, "Whey are there still apes/monkeys?" are willing and able to understand the answer. I've successfully described it to their satisfaction a couple of times, but failed a lot more often ... sometimes because I couldn't manage to connect the dots for them, or bored them beyond their attention spans; but mostly because (it seemed) they were uncomfortable with how evolution seems to dethrone man as The chosen species.
I like very much the converging line of maternal ancestors, as an aid to explaining the connection between humans and chimps. I had a chance to try it in a conversation recently, and it worked very nicely. I think the imagery it generates helps the listener focus on the narrative; and the thought of holding hands with mom (with grandma right beside her) makes the "lecture" seem a lot less lecture-like or confrontational.
The conversation was with a 30ish single mom who was virtually oblivious to evolutionary concepts. Although she is Very Religious, she hadn't apparently been indoctrinated with much YEC/ID propaganda (yet). She didn't ask, "Why are there still apes?" but when we talked of recent books we'd read, mine were mostly evo, and she confessed utter ignorance of it, and asked, "Are we really monkeys' uncles?"
I answered, "Yeah, sort of ...", and then tried the "man-chimp mom-chain" thing. We were happy with the results.
I didn't go into the specific species of hominids we'd meet, walking down the lines. I think that would've just made her eyes glaze over. Instead, I described the very gradually changing stature of her grandmas - our grandmas - becoming almost imperceptibly shorter, squattier, hairier, etc. over the ages; but perhaps getting taller, lankier, nuder instead, from time to time, down the line. I would have liked to describe the chimp moms' line, but I know virtually nothing about chimp evolution.
The only problem I see with the mom-chains narrative is that it might reinforce the idea that evolution progresses like a chain or ladder, despite the fact that the story describes two branches. After telling of the chains joining, I was tempted to move forward again to some hypothetical point in the human chain, and describe an extra branch that would have led to the Neanderthals (the one non-human hominid species that everybody has heard of). But having seen the light come on in my subject, I didn't want to chance dimming it in that moment.
I wonder if the explanation could be enhanced by telling the possible locations of their ancestors back through time, with ours moving through Europe to Africa to meet theirs in the homeland of our common grandma. Again, I wish I (we?) had more to tell of the chimps' adventures.
You convinced an uneducated mother that she is related to monkeys?
She's not uneducated. She has a B.A. degree. I didn't say she was completely convinced - only that she seemed to find that my description of common descent was stated in a clear and somewhat entertaining way.
That is your argument?
I wasn't arguing anything. I was describing a method for describing common descent that I found very useful.
I am impressed really, that you actually had the nerve to try to brag about confusing the hell out of a woman...
How is finding a satisfactory way to describe something technical bragging? My impression was that it very much removed some of her confusion.
...who was probably perfectly content believing there was a loving caring God out there looking out for her and her children.
She didn't seem to think our discussion had any bearing of God's love for her, or her love for Him. When I described her as "very religious", I didn't mean to imply she was a fundamentlist nutcase. She loves God and Jesus a lot, and worships them day and night.
Whether it is true or not, do you inform a child that he/she can develop a brain tumor at any time and die?
No. The topic was common descent.
BTW amp, your sig kinda cracks me up...
Common sense will answer most questions that science struggles with.
Common sense says that the earth is flat and the sun goes around it. Do you subscribe to these beliefs?