The Bible: A Product Of The Human Imagination
The collective termed humanity has one overriding trait that doesn’t seem to have much in the way of additional evolutionary survival value – imagination in the form of storytelling. Language, yes; large highly developed brains, yes; intelligence, yes; pattern recognition, yes; memory, yes; curiosity, yes; ability to figure things out, yes; inventions and tool use, yes – but imagination in the form of storytelling, not so much. There’s of course non-fictional storytelling (i.e. – like gossip), but that doesn’t require imagination. That other kind of storytelling is via the human imagination – that almost hardwired inborn trait we seem to nearly all have. We use our imagination for storytelling purposes. We have the ability, almost duty, to tell tall tales otherwise called works of fiction. Dreams are one sort, but dreams are pretty much highly personal fictions. I’ll ignore those, albeit dreams can in turn inspire non-realities, sometimes even real realities for public consumption. For the public arena, that still leaves novels, short stories, poems, plays, feature films, TV shows, video games, operas, songs, campfire tales, even non-literary works of art like paintings and sculptures, etc.
All up, humanity has generated multi-millions and millions of imagination-derived works of non-reality fiction and said works of fiction vastly outnumber non-fiction showing the overriding urge for humans to create non-reality ‘realities’, all courteous of the human imagination.
One such subdivision of all fiction, even if not always so realised by its human creators yet still a product of pure storytelling imagination, is mythology or folktales. There are multi-thousands upon thousands of invented mythologies originating from all across the human globe; from all cultures and societies across all of recorded history and probably as oral stories before the dawn of written records.
Today nearly all mythologies are accepted as works of pure imaginative fiction, except those that are still accepted as non-fiction and therefore as truth. These brands of mythology collectively go under the banner of religions, and are otherwise known as such. Of course each religion regards each and every other religion as a fictional mythology. So the question is, given human propensity to tell tall tales – the products of human imaginations – those multi-millions and millions of fictional works and the multi-thousands upon thousands of mythologies, how can just one mythology, a religious mythology, represent a really real reality and not be a non-reality ‘reality’? Only one (of multi-thousands) of religious mythologies can be true at best, although that’s not of necessity a given. If multi-thousands are non-reality ‘realities’ then the odds are that all such religious mythologies represent non-reality ‘realities’.
So, what are the odds that the Bible represents really real reality and not just another one of the multi-millions and millions of fictional works and the multi-thousands upon thousands of mythologies including religious mythologies? The odds favor the Bible as posing as a make-believe ‘reality’, the product, like so many others of just pure human imagination. Faced with a choice, is it more logical to believe the Bible is the product of the human imagination – especially given the multi-dozens of rather absurd happenings related therein that violate all kinds of rational and scientific realities as we know them – or a non-fictional but supernatural reality with events that cannot be independently verified? Given the vast number of works of fiction generated by the human imagination, where would you place your bets?
Now a fictional Bible doesn’t of necessity negate a deity (or deities), yet the related odds are that deities in general part and parcel of all those other religious mythologies, as well as God are also fictional and products of the human imagination. In other words, God – like all those other deities consigned to the realm of fiction – is just a creation of the human imagination, and thus God was created in the image of ‘man’ and not the other way around.
Case History: That Talking Snake!
By any stretch of the human imagination, you’d put down talking snakes to a product of the human imagination. But you get such an event in the Bible. So, is it imagination at work or something else?
It’s been frequently claimed that the talking snake / serpent in Genesis 3 was really Satan. You just won’t find any such association with you read the relevant verses.
Genesis 3: 1 (King James Version):
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
Do we note the phrase “beast of the field” here? Do we note the word beast here? Isn’t the word “beast” also used in Genesis 1: 24-25, 30 and Genesis 2: 19-20? It’s also frequently used in the Noah’s Ark mythology.
Genesis 3: 14 (King James Version):
“And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:”
Again, comparisons to cattle and “beasts of the field” not to anything remotely humanoid. And we note the method of locomotion imposed on this serpent. There is not even a remote association to Satan here in Genesis 3.
Of the 49 references to “serpent” or “serpents” in the King James Version of the Bible, only Revelation 12: 9 and Revelation 20: 2 link a serpent with Satan / the Devil. Also there are 13 references to “serpents” and Satan of course is singular. Further, there are three other references to serpents and dust: Deuteronomy 32: 24; Isaiah 65: 25 and Micah 7: 17. There are no Biblical association between Satan / the Devil and dust. There are no Biblical references to Satan / the Devil and belly or even to crawling.
And so ultimately we’re left back with the concept of a talking snake, an obvious product of the human imagination on the grounds that real snakes / serpents don’t talk.
And hopefully by now you’ll probably put down that talking snake (the “Mr. Ed” of Genesis) to artistic license and the product of the human imagination. But if you suggest that any one part of the Bible is the product of human imagination; if the talking snake is the product of the human imagination, then you would have to logically be willing to concede if not downright conclude that nearly all of the Bible* is the work of the human imagination.
Other obvious examples of the human imagination at work and waxing lyrical in the Bible include the creation of a woman from a male rib; another woman being turned into a pillar of salt; a burning bush (that talks) that actually isn’t being consumed in the flames; the relationship between human hair length and strength; Jonah’s ‘whale’-of-a-tale; and the turning of water into wine, an obvious case of imaginative wishful thinking.
*Excluding a few non-supernatural historical events that have been independently confirmed.
Human Origin and Dignity
One of the greatest ignorance and misconceptions of all times is that of human origin. This misconception has graduated into the present human degradation, degeneration and depravation evident in our world today. I am not interested in the different arguments with respect to human origin; but I am concerned with bringing sanity into our insanity and order in our present confusion.
The quality in every civilization is relative to the quality in human life and operation. Every society or nation rises or falls on the human civilization of that society or nation. Thus, in our quest for making a better world, we must focus on making better humans. This has to begin with the investigation into the source of human origin. This research uncovers the truth of where we came from, who we are and where we are going.
The world is divided between two main schools of thought on human origin. There are those who believe that humans evolved from apes (Darwinists); and those who believe that humans are direct creations of God (creationists). Considering both schools of thought, one could see that, there is a place where the dual schools of thought converge into one universal consciousness; that of the reality of a supreme source from where existence as a whole owes its origin.
If Darwin spoke of man evolving from apes, it implies that, at the foundation of the existence of apes, there must have existed a supreme influence which orchestrated the existence of apes. This is so because; there are no authentic findings on where apes themselves evolved from. Thus, apes which Darwin believes are the offspring of human existence must have owed their existence to a higher power.
It is confirmed in physics that, nothing happens by chance. An object is at a resting place until a force is applied to it. This force may be in the form of influence or energy etc. This research conclusion in physics confirms the fact that, apes must have existed through a supreme influence since nothing happens by chance.
The position of the creationists, who believe that man is a direct creation of God, still reveals the underlined universal consciousness of the existence of a supreme source from where existence owes its origin. Thus, there is a point where the dual schools of thought meet together into one universal consciousness “the existence of a supreme source from whence existence owes its origin”.
We may have our differences in names attributed to the source of existence. What is more important is not the names attributed to the source of existence but the underlined universal consciousness of a supreme source from where existence owes its origin.
The universal consciousness of a supreme source from where existence owes its origin is expressed universally as humans in all their labors and toils, strive to relate with the supreme source of existence. This is equally manifested world wide through different forms and religions, even if all the means employed may not be authentic; but the underlined consciousness is genuine.
We can therefore conclude that, human origin is indebted to the existence of a supreme source from whence existence as a whole owes her origin. This answers the question on human origin.
The concept of human existence: It has been established above that, both the Darwinists and creationists share the same universal consciousness “the existence of a supreme source from whence existence owes its origin”. Thus, humans are not objects of fate; neither are they an accident or a universal coincidence. Humans are creatures of intention.
There is a will and a concept which underline human existence, defining the parameters on which humans are to live and function. Operating out of the will, intention and concept which underline human existence is one of the greatest human debacles. Thus, we will be investigating the will, intention and concept which must have underlined human existence.
It is established that, existence as a whole has only one source from where its diversities sprang from. The question is “why are humans unique in all of existence? What makes up this uniqueness?” The answer to both questions embodies the science of what it really means to be human. Why are humans unique?
If all of existence owe its origin to one supreme source, with humans more peculiar and unique, it implies that, the will, intention and concept which must have underlined human existence is that; humans are to be a special specie in all of existence, sharing special qualities and attributes different and superior to those of other species of existence; making humans the managers of lower species of existence.
Think about it for a moment. If it was not so, humans will not be made to possess the unique traits and qualities they possess.
The position occupied by humans in all of existence is intended to create in humans a higher perspective with relative consequence on the way humans live and function. This is what true civilization is all about; “humans living and functioning in accordance to the will, intention and concept of human existence”. If this is absent then, humans have fallen below their profile and standard in relation to existence as a whole, with relative consequences on lower species of existence.
Whenever humans live and function below the expectation, intention and concept of their existence, it is an indication of a decline in human civilization; and this will have a resultant consequence of degradation, degeneration and deprivation in human life and functionality, leaving existence as a whole in disarray. This is where humanity and nature find themselves right now.
All over the world, there are fallen standards. Humanity due to the ignorance of what it really means to be human is living and functioning in total dishonor to the human personality and standard. This has placed other forms of existence in disarray; leaving the entire existence without proper managerial impact.
Environmental degradation, global warming, pollution, extremism, terrorism, etc. are all pointers to the fact that, humans are poor managers of themselves and existence as a whole.
The world is in a global mismanagement crisis. Humans who were to serve as managers of other forms of life and existence are completely irresponsible. If this has to continue, I am afraid we will wake up one morning just to find the whole earth in chaos. It is expedient that humanity regains the consciousness of who there are and where they are coming from, to determine where they are going.
Human dignity: Humans are special specie in all of existence, sharing special qualities and attributes different and superior to that of other species; making humans the managers of lower species of existence. The above distinction of humans from other forms of existence should naturally instill in all humans a sense of dignity. Dignity is an important trait in human quality. An individual is not complete if such lacks a sense of dignity.
Human dignity should not be a function of material possession or any external factor, but the simple fact of our being humans. Thus, one’s background, race, ethnicity, country, etc. should not be a limiting factor to one’s dignity but simply the sense of being human.
With respect to human dignity, we all are equal irrespective of our colour, race, ethnicity, country. There is nothing as a superior race; all humans must view themselves as equal.
The concept where other races view some humans as inferior is a back drop to human civilization. All humans ought to posses a sense of dignity; it should be a universal identity and consciousness. Human dignity is a human right.
Dignity is the sense of self worth, value and respect. It defines an individual’s self esteem, complex, and confidence, which are all necessary virtues for excellence in life. When humans loose their dignity, it leads naturally to inhuman behavior. Nothing influences humans in their manner of life and functionality like a sense of dignity. To be human is to have dignity. Nothing can substitute human dignity. One should trade his dignity for nothing.
A sense of dignity inspires a positive attitude towards oneself and others. With respect to oneself, dignity influences the behavior of an individual and the way one lives his life.
A dignified individual will live right, do the right things, dress well, eat well, stay in a clean environment, relate properly with others, etc. Indeed the list is endless. One can’t live above his sense of dignity.
The negative manner in which people live and do things is simply because of their low sense of dignity. Any human society where individuals lack a sense of dignity will inevitably be a society with all forms of inhuman attitude and behaviour.
Human development should enhance human dignity. Human dignity is a regulator to human attitude and behaviour. Any system, be it political or religious which suppresses or oppresses, it’s a curse to humanity.
A true political or religious system should inspire human dignity. This is fundamental in what it really means to be human. To be human is to have dignity.
As you read through this book, it is important that you regain your self value, worth, and respect. Say to yourself I am somebody going somewhere positive with my life. Start to see yourself that way. Everything about human life rises or falls on human dignity. Don’t let anything steal your dignity.
On Being Human
Are we human because of unique traits and attributes not shared with either animal or machine? The definition of “human” is circular: we are human by virtue of the properties that make us human (i.e., distinct from animal and machine). It is a definition by negation: that which separates us from animal and machine is our “human-ness”.
We are human because we are not animal, nor machine. But such thinking has been rendered progressively less tenable by the advent of evolutionary and neo-evolutionary theories which postulate a continuum in nature between animals and Man.
Our uniqueness is partly quantitative and partly qualitative. Many animals are capable of cognitively manipulating symbols and using tools. Few are as adept at it as we are. These are easily quantifiable differences – two of many.
Qualitative differences are a lot more difficult to substantiate. In the absence of privileged access to the animal mind, we cannot and don’t know if animals feel guilt, for instance. Do animals love? Do they have a concept of sin? What about object permanence, meaning, reasoning, self-awareness, critical thinking? Individuality? Emotions? Empathy? Is artificial intelligence (AI) an oxymoron? A machine that passes the Turing Test may well be described as “human”. But is it really? And if it is not – why isn’t it?
Literature is full of stories of monsters – Frankenstein, the Golem – and androids or anthropoids. Their behaviour is more “humane” than the humans around them. This, perhaps, is what really sets humans apart: their behavioural unpredictability. It is yielded by the interaction between Mankind’s underlying immutable genetically-determined nature – and Man’s kaleidoscopically changing environments.
The Constructivists even claim that Human Nature is a mere cultural artefact. Sociobiologists, on the other hand, are determinists. They believe that human nature – being the inevitable and inexorable outcome of our bestial ancestry – cannot be the subject of moral judgment.
An improved Turing Test would look for baffling and erratic patterns of misbehaviour to identify humans. Pico della Mirandola wrote in “Oration on the Dignity of Man” that Man was born without a form and can mould and transform – actually, create – himself at will. Existence precedes essence, said the Existentialists centuries later.
The one defining human characteristic may be our awareness of our mortality. The automatically triggered, “fight or flight”, battle for survival is common to all living things (and to appropriately programmed machines). Not so the catalytic effects of imminent death. These are uniquely human. The appreciation of the fleeting translates into aesthetics, the uniqueness of our ephemeral life breeds morality, and the scarcity of time gives rise to ambition and creativity.
In an infinite life, everything materializes at one time or another, so the concept of choice is spurious. The realization of our finiteness forces us to choose among alternatives. This act of selection is predicated upon the existence of “free will”. Animals and machines are thought to be devoid of choice, slaves to their genetic or human programming.
Yet, all these answers to the question: “What does it mean to be human” – are lacking.
The set of attributes we designate as human is subject to profound alteration. Drugs, neuroscience, introspection, and experience all cause irreversible changes in these traits and characteristics. The accumulation of these changes can lead, in principle, to the emergence of new properties, or to the abolition of old ones.
Animals and machines are not supposed to possess free will or exercise it. What, then, about fusions of machines and humans (bionics)? At which point does a human turn into a machine? And why should we assume that free will ceases to exist at that – rather arbitrary – point?
Introspection – the ability to construct self-referential and recursive models of the world – is supposed to be a uniquely human quality. What about introspective machines? Surely, say the critics, such machines are PROGRAMMED to introspect, as opposed to humans. To qualify as introspection, it must be WILLED, they continue. Yet, if introspection is willed – WHO wills it? Self-willed introspection leads to infinite regression and formal logical paradoxes.
Moreover, the notion – if not the formal concept – of “human” rests on many hidden assumptions and conventions.
Political correctness notwithstanding – why presume that men and women (or different races) are identically human? Aristotle thought they were not. A lot separates males from females – genetically (both genotype and phenotype) and environmentally (culturally). What is common to these two sub-species that makes them both “human”?
Can we conceive of a human without body (i.e., a Platonian Form, or soul)? Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas think not. A soul has no existence separate from the body. A machine-supported energy field with mental states similar to ours today – would it be considered human? What about someone in a state of coma – is he or she (or it) fully human?
Is a new born baby human – or, at least, fully human – and, if so, in which sense? What about a future human race – whose features would be unrecognizable to us? Machine-based intelligence – would it be thought of as human? If yes, when would it be considered human?
In all these deliberations, we may be confusing “human” with “person”. The former is a private case of the latter. Locke’s person is a moral agent, a being responsible for its actions. It is constituted by the continuity of its mental states accessible to introspection.
Locke’s is a functional definition. It readily accommodates non-human persons (machines, energy matrices) if the functional conditions are satisfied. Thus, an android which meets the prescribed requirements is more human than a brain dead person.
Descartes’ objection that one cannot specify conditions of singularity and identity over time for disembodied souls is right only if we assume that such “souls” possess no energy. A bodiless intelligent energy matrix which maintains its form and identity over time is conceivable. Certain AI and genetic software programs already do it.
Strawson is Cartesian and Kantian in his definition of a “person” as a “primitive”. Both the corporeal predicates and those pertaining to mental states apply equally, simultaneously, and inseparably to all the individuals of that type of entity. Human beings are one such entity. Some, like Wiggins, limit the list of possible persons to animals – but this is far from rigorously necessary and is unduly restrictive.
The truth is probably in a synthesis:
A person is any type of fundamental and irreducible entity whose typical physical individuals (i.e., members) are capable of continuously experiencing a range of states of consciousness and permanently having a list of psychological attributes.
This definition allows for non-animal persons and recognizes the person hood of a brain damaged human (“capable of experiencing”). It also incorporates Locke’s view of humans as possessing an ontological status similar to “clubs” or “nations” – their personal identity consists of a variety of interconnected psychological continuities.
Closer To Truth: Human Uniqueness
There is an ongoing PBS TV series (also several books and also a website) called “Closer To Truth”. It is hosted by neuroscientist Robert Lawrence Kuhn. He’s featured in one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with the cream of the cream of today’s cosmologists, physicists, philosophers, theologians, psychologists, etc. on all of the Big Questions surrounding a trilogy of broad topics – Cosmos; Consciousness; Meaning. The trilogy collectively dealt with reality, space and time, mind and consciousness, aliens, theology and on and on and on. Here are a few of my comments on one of the general topics covered, a subject dealing with the alleged uniqueness of the human species.
What are Persons?
IMHO we really, really need to get away from this idea that we, humans, persons, whatever are an organism and thus are somehow a single biological entity. We are a colony or organisms, cells is what we call them, and any discussion about what constitutes a person needs to come to grips with that biological fact. So, person-hood starts with that first cell. You are a person when you are asleep because your cells are still alive and awake and strutting their cellular stuff. Someone with severe mental deficiencies is a person because their bodily cells are still functional, such persons don’t all of a sudden divest themselves of their cellular structures. The same applies to any injury or disease of the brain or any other part of you for that matter. You only cease being a person when all of your cells are dead, and that actually doesn’t happen until after you are declared to be [medically] dead. So, in that sense, the sense that we are a colony of organisms, we don’t differ uniquely from other multi-cellular organisms. So, what does it mean to be a person? It means being an integrated living colony of cells, albeit the organization of that colony will differ from colony to colony (person to person), which isn’t surprising when you consider that any one colony (any one person) is comprised of billions of individual parts or cells. The odds that any two colonies (any two people) will be identical are astronomically against.
What makes Personal Identity Continue?
What makes the identity of the ocean continue? I mean the identity of the oceans remains the same from year to year even though with every passing second, water is evaporating and new water is entering via rain, melting icebergs, and the flow of rivers. The various atoms and molecules of the other gases in our atmosphere enter and leave the oceans on an ever ongoing basis. If this is not a mysterious process in oceanography, why should it be mysterious when it comes to our personal identity, and while we are at it, let’s not single out the human species. The same applies to the personal identity of all the other animals, even plants and microbes.
How are Humans Unique 1?
Of course humans are unique, but so too is each and every other animal (and plant) species that is, has been, or probably ever will be even if for no other reason than we recognize other species. We can tell a cat apart from a dog because cats are unique (as a species) and dogs are unique as a species. Each species probably has some trait(s) or characteristic(s) that makes them top-of-the-pops in that category. That applies to humans too of course. We are king-of-the-mountain, but not when it comes to every possible trait or characteristic. One other point is that okay, humans may be king-of-the-mountain with respect to this trait or that characteristic, let’s say intelligence. We are number one with respect to intelligence (at least until we find ET or until artificial intelligence relegates us to second place). But our uniqueness with respect to intelligence is only by degree, it is not absolute. Many other species have intelligence too, and not only other primates like the chimpanzee. Whales and dolphins rate pretty high in intelligence too, and many a bird is pretty damn smart. In fact to be called a “bird-brain” is actually a compliment. Then there is the elephant, a highly intelligent species unfortunately headed towards extinction at the hands of intelligent humans. And it’s not just vertebrates either. The humble octopus has quite the IQ too. So yes, humans can pat themselves on the back about how unique we are, but there are so many qualifiers that I wonder if it is worth making all that much fuss over.
How are Humans Unique 2?
How were the dinosaurs unique? Let us not forget that if it hadn’t of been for a fluke asteroid strike 65 million years ago, dinosaurs would still be king-of-the-mountain here on Planet Earth. There’s been a lot of speculation that one dinosaur type in particular, the theropod branch of the non-avian dinosaurs, wherein some species are known to have had the best brain to body size ratio of all the dinosaurs, including a bipedal gait with freed up “hands”, would have evolved to become the equivalent of humans, had not that asteroid smacked into our planet.
How Humans Differ from Other Animals 1
Well yes, humans differ from other animals, although I’m not sure that’s something to be overly proud of. I’ve often thought that while humans have the IQ, it’s the animals that really have the smarts. Animals don’t need an alarm clock to wake them up! Seriously, we humans tend to attach great importance to things that aren’t really important at all, and if truth be known, if animals were aware of that, they’d be snickering behind our backs. I mean humans attach great importance to the Academy Awards (and hundreds of similar award ceremonies like beauty pageants). Why does the “vast superiority of human mentality” attach such significance to these sorts of happenings? Another example is the outcomes of sporting events. What’s the real significance of the Olympic Games? Is it really important enough to justify all the money and all the hype? What’s so important about wearing a suit and tie to work? Does this attire really make you do a better job? In fact the entire fashion industry is a waste of talent and resources. No animal could ever understand a woman’s obsession with shoes! Animals are smart. They wouldn’t waste their time watching daytime television sitcoms and ‘reality’ TV. Animals would find nothing interesting about celebrities or royalty. Animals aren’t racist and aren’t so up themselves as to give themselves honorary titles like Sir, or Saint, or Your Highness, or in fact the word Honourable. Can you imagine an animal being obsessed with social media ‘likes’ and endlessly taking photographs of oneself? What’s so special about human nature that we need to take drugs that we know will harm us. Animal nature wouldn’t have a bar of this behaviour. And why are Americans in particular obsessed with owning guns – more of that vast mental superiority of ours? When is the last time you saw a animal who required holidays and weekends off, or who attributed special significance to some sort of date? What animal gives a damn about midnight and New Years Eve turning into New Years Day? It’s also so amusing to see how humans like to put themselves up on a pedestal as in look at us and how unique we are and how different we are from mere animals. I sometimes get the impression that humans worship humans or at least the concept of humans or humanity more than they worship deities! That vast superiority of human mentality may ultimately be the cause of our extinction. The animals will have the last laugh, assuming we don’t drive them to extinction first.
How Humans Differ from Other Animals 2
I would maintain that humans and animals share more traits than differ. In thinking about this, I decided to compare and contrast myself with my companion animals – cats. For starters, we are both mammals. We both are warm blooded and have left-right symmetry. We each were conceived, born, experienced parental care and nursing, experienced play, growth, maturity, ageing and eventually death. We are both prone to various afflictions and diseases. We both need to eat, digest food, eliminate waste products including taking in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, and scratch where it itches. When it comes to food we’re both carnivores, and cats will nibble on some plant material too, like grass. We both can eat and digest red meat (mice for cats) and white meat (birds and fish). We each have five senses including binocular vision. We each use sex in order to reproduce and pass on our genes. We each have a brain and an automatic nervous system. We each have a subconscious, and a consciousness, and of course memory. We can both learn, and learn from our mistakes. We both sleep and dream. We both yawn and stretch. We both think, weigh up options, and make decisions. We both can problem solve. We’re both an equally curious species. We each react to external stimuli. We equally respond to fight or flight options as required. We can both adequately communicate our needs and wants. We both exhibit body language. We both have emotions as well as likes and dislikes. We each have a sense of morality or ethics. Cats aren’t that big on the arts, but I’ve had cats that respond favorably to music and no doubt to them the sight of a full food bowl is artistic beauty indeed. Given how much cats love warmth and sunny spots it wouldn’t surprise me that in the inner recesses of their minds they didn’t have the concept of a Sun god. They certainly have some understanding of physics when they chase after a ball in flight; they respect the nature of gravity. Okay, mathematics is beyond them, but a lot of mathematics is beyond me too. And yes, cats walk on four legs while we walk on two, and most cats have a tail and have a lot more body hair than we have, but that’s hardly a significant difference. If we were to tighten the parallels by contrasting ourselves with the higher primates then we also encompass tool-making and tool use, language (even if just as sign language), and they too have some abstract concepts of not-things as opposed to knowing about just things. Primates know a bit about basic economics and trade, even if it is trading sex for grooming. While one could go on and on comparing and contrasting, I think the point is made that humans and animals are way more alike than in our differences.
How Humans Differ from Other Animals 3
Try as I might, I cannot seem to be able to teach my cats even the most fundamental basics of mathematics. That implies that their grey matter hasn’t evolved enough to be up to the task. So, I can pat myself on the back and say how different and unique I am from my cats since I can do the fundamentals of mathematics and they can’t. But then that got me thinking that we humans seem to feel that there is nothing in theory that we can’t grasp or understand or comprehend. There is nothing the cosmos can exhibit in the way of complexity that we can’t eventually come to terms with and fully understand. Life, the Universe and everything is our comprehensible oyster. But what if humans are relative to something else, like ET, in the same way as my cats and their ability to comprehend mathematics are relative to me? Might not a super-intelligent, super-advanced race of extraterrestrial beings be able to understand concepts that we just couldn’t in a pink fit have a hope or a clue of understanding with our relatively lack of sophisticated grey matter? If aliens might look down upon humans the way humans look down on the animals, well, it would probably serve us right to be knocked off our self-erected pedestal.
How Humans Differ from Other Animals 4
There are a number of traits that appear to suggest human uniqueness, though I maintain these traits are not a step-function but a continuum, albeit a line that still places humans well in front of most if not all other animals.
Trait number one is our “naked ape” status relative to the other 183 or so species of primates. However, as we all well know, we are not absolutely hairless, so the difference is one of degree.
Trait number two is that we alone walk upright without benefit of a balancing tail. However, this too is a matter of degree since some primates, and other mammals (bears) and birds (penguins) do have the ability to use and can use a bipedal gait, albeit used sparingly.
Trait number three is our very high IQ. However, again there is a continuum between bacteria and humans. It would be wrong to suggest that every other animal has the IQ of an amoeba. Many primates, many birds, the whales and dolphins, the elephants, even the humble octopus has a reasonable IQ.
Trait number four is that we are a racially diverse species. That’s a polite way of saying we come in breeds. However, many other species have ‘races’ in the sense they have between them diversity and distinctions enough to be considered that they too come in unique breeds.
Trait number five is that we are a facially diverse species. Humans tend to recognise humans, especially humans they haven’t actually met, via their unique facial features. In police line-ups and in courtroom identifications it tends to be the face that gives the game away. You’d be hard pressed to distinguish between cockroaches or alligators or brown bears or penguins based on their face. However, if you work really closely on a daily basis with say chimpanzees or just about any other vertebrate species, their minor facial details come to the fore and you can tell them apart. The bottom line in any event is that animals can tell those of their own species apart and that’s what counts.
Arguing God from Human Uniqueness 1?
What on earth makes anyone think that human beings are unique? We may have vastly greater social development, but vastly greater isn’t the same as unique. Humans may have superior mental capabilities but that’s not the same as unique. As the late Carl Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan argue in their book “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are”, there is absolutely nothing 100% unique about the human species. Sure, we can pat ourselves on the back about being king of the mountain with regards to this trait, or we are top of the pops with respect to some other trait, but when you slice and dice things, those traits differ from other animal species by matter of degree, they don’t differ absolutely. Our differences are relative. The only exception just might be human only concepts involving a relatively few abstractions, like the supernatural and an alleged soul and an afterlife and a sense of history, but all of that is just part of our superior mental abilities, not unique mental abilities. And least we forget, each and every other animal species is king of the mountain with respect to some trait or other. It really is time human beings ceased being so absolutely up themselves. In fact that just might be a human uniqueness! And in any event, uniqueness doesn’t translate of necessity as a gift from God. It could just as easily be a gift from Mother Nature via the normal processes of biological evolution and natural selection.
Arguing God from Human Uniqueness 2?
What I see here, and in similar “Closer to Truth” segments on the question of human uniqueness, is a human interviewing humans about humans. There would seem to be some sort of obvious bias operating here. Humans arguing about human uniqueness have an obvious reason to pat humans (and therefore themselves) on the back. In short, I get the decided impression that humans are totally up themselves. This discussion will only become a fair and equal discussion when animals are asked the same question about their uniqueness versus human uniqueness. What a tale that might tell! To date, we are getting just one side of the story – the human version. Okay, I know that the other side of the coin isn’t able to be aired, at least not yet, although communication between man and certain animal species is improving all the time. However, until such time as the animals can speak on this program for themselves instead of having humans put words in their mouths, I will reserve judgment about just how really special we are.