I always tell people who ask, that human exceptionalism does not depend on religion.
Indeed, whether we became human via pure natural selection, intelligent design, Creation, or other means, what matters is not “how,” we got here but “who” we are.
Now, an evolutionist counters the popular modern anti-human meme that we are “apes.” From, “Are we Apes? No, are Humans,” by the evolutionary anthropologist, Jonathan Marks:
Pop biology often tells us that “we are apes,” enshrining that identity as a fact of nature, of evolution, and of science.
That statement has some value. For example, it can be used to bludgeon the creationists, who deny kinship with the apes, and now have to cope with science telling them that they are not simply related to apes, but are actually apes themselves. Take that, creationists!
But as wrong as creationism is, the argument that “we are apes” is not a valid evolutionary one. After all, the distinguished evolutionary biologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote in a 1949 classic, “It is not a fact that man is an ape, extra tricks or no.”
But weren’t our ancestors apes? Yes, but so what?
We reject the simple equation of ancestry with identity in other contexts. Why should we accept it in science? The short answer is that we shouldn’t.
Science no more says that I am an ape because my ancestors were, than it says that I am a slave because my ancestors were. The statement that you are your ancestors articulates a bio-political fact, not a biological fact. And it is ridiculous and offensive in the modern era, in addition to being false.
So, what are we? Simple:
What are we? We are human. Apes are hairy, sleep in trees, and fling their poo…
I’m smarter than they are, and they are stronger than I am. I’m just not one of them, regardless of my ancestry. I am different from them. And so are you.
You and I have 46 chromosomes in our cells; chimpanzees have 48. They are indeed very similar, but if you know what to look for, you can tell their cells apart quite readily.
Based on our physical features, we can readily classify ourselves as mammals, primates, and hominoids. But the Superfamily Hominoidea, as taxonomists have long noted, comprises “apes and humans,” not just “apes.” In other words, “human” is a contrast group to “ape,” not a subset; regardless of the biological phylogeny.
The evolutionary science tells us that we are not fish; we are ex-fish. And by the same token, we are not apes; we are ex-apes. In short, we evolved–and that is a fact that both creationists and evolutionists may need to acknowledge.
Those who call us “apes,” are making a moral claim more than they are a biological one. They want to reduce us to just another animal in the forest–for various motives I won’t belabor here.
One way to overcome that meme is to allow the basic science to demonstrate its falsity. Good for Marks for telling the simple truth from a purely evolutionary viewpoint.
We are human. That makes us exceptional. And that matters in every way we can conceive.