Defend The Faith Ministry

What Makes Us Human?

I recently had the opportunity to take my family, along with some close family friends, to visit Washington, D.C. And interestingly, the same question was posed in two different places that we visited: What makes us human? One place was the Museum of Natural History and the other was the Museum of the Bible. Though each museum has a drastically different worldview as a starting point – the Museum of Natural History is atheistic and the Museum of the Bible is theistic – they both, in a way, answered the question similarly, but with a very different explanation as to how that came to be.

According to the Museum of Natural History, being human involves things like making tools, communicating in written form, and showing creativity in ways like crafting instruments and making art. According to the Museum of the Bible, humans are different from other creatures because of our sense of morality to determine what is fair and just, our spirituality and worship, our ability to storytell, and our unique accumulation of knowledge and culture.

While they focus on different things, both museums have drawn very similar conclusions. Humans have different characteristics than any other animal, most of which is explained by our cognitive abilities. We have an ability to have complex and theoretical thinking, creativity for the sake of creativity, and ingenuity. However, these museums have very different explanations as to why that is the case.

The Museum of the Bible credits these features to the fact that humans were made in the image of God. Our sense of morality, intelligence, and creativity is because our Creator has those attributes. Our Creator is moral, intelligent, and creative and chose to impart those things onto humans alone. The Museum of Natural History, however, attempts to explain all of these uniquely human features as the result of Darwinian evolution. But could evolution really be responsible for advancements like this?

The Museum of Natural History certainly wants everyone to think so. In nearly every square foot of the museum, the repeated mantra of “It evolved!” is emblazoned on the walls. Ironically though, no explanation was given as to how anything evolved, just that it did. In typical fashion, each exhibit relied on circular logic as a ruse of proving its point. Instead of giving evidence to prove its premise, it places the conclusion in the premise to simply give the appearance of proof.

As a simplified example, it would be something like, “He was a great communicator because he had the knack of talking effectively to the people.” The conclusion is stated in the premise, but nothing is actually proven logically.

At the Museum of Natural History, it looked like this: “Animal A has evolved an exceptional feature XYZ that allows it to survive in its environment. Clearly evolution works because Animal A has this particular feature that allowed it to survive.”

The missing link, however, is the explanation as to how Animal A incrementally over time, through millions of slight successive modifications, could have evolved this feature, all while surviving for millions of years without it.

The museum was replete with fascinating examples of unique features of different organisms that allow them to survive, such as how a giraffe can bend down to drink water without choking due to special neck valves to regulate blood flow, or how platypuses can “see” in muddy water with electrical receptors in their bills, or even how seals are able to stay warm and buoyant in cold waters due to blubber.

For each of these, and every example given in the museum, the word “evolved” is simply attached to the description of the feature. But each example begs explanation. How did the giraffe drink water before the neck valves evolved? What was the platypus doing before it had electrical receptors in its bill? How did the seal survive in the arctic waters while it waited to evolve blubber?

It underscores the major flaw of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Each of these animals had to survive and reproduce long before these special features for survival were present. And since these features are all necessary for survival, these organisms could not survive or reproduce without them.

Darwinian evolution is based on random genetic mutations that result in some new feature that increases the survivability of an organism. In fact, this new feature must be so advantageous that it results in the extinction of all other organisms that do not have that particular feature. The lucky organism with that feature would then be the most fit to survive and pass on that new genetic mutation to future generations, thus propelling the species into a “better” version of itself.

However, each feature may require hundreds of components in order to work. Yet under the idea of Darwinian evolution, all of those components cannot evolve at the same time. Each change must be, in Darwin’s words, “infinitesimally small,” or through the process of “slight, successive modifications” on a simple design. There can be no large, en masse changes to the organism. After all, that would look like creation. It must be the slow build up from something simple by making slight, individual changes a little at a time.

If we relate this back to our original question, what does it mean to be human, we must wonder what path evolution would have taken in order to produce those uniquely human things in humans, especially when, according to evolutionists, human-like creatures survived for millions of years without those human-like characteristics.

I find this particular aspect interesting to consider. Though evolutionists have named numerous species that are on the evolutionary path to becoming modern-man, it is curious how any of them survived to evolve to modern man. If we take away the complex thinking ability of humans, it is baffling that any human-like creature could have survived for millions of years.

According to evolutionists, the first “human-like” species could only walk upright, supposedly 6 million years ago. In other words, this human ancestor couldn’t do anything else human-like except bipedal movement. This species apparently survived in this manner for 3.5 million years before it figured out how to make tools and survived an additional 2 million years before it lived in communities, developed a brain of any significance, and was able to communicate.

Imagine a creature that could walk upright, but had no fur or protective exoskeleton, no claws or self-defense features, no camouflage ability, is not particularly fast, and is unable to climb trees or fly. It has no ability to fashion tools or weapons for hunting and still doesn’t yet have enough brain capacity to figure out how to farm. This creature isn’t even capable enough to fashion a shelter or clothing, yet it has no natural way to protect itself from the environment. How is this species surviving like this for 4 million years?

Granted, the evolutionists would claim that these human ancestors still maintained all of the ape characteristics that allowed it to survive. But in order to start becoming more like modern humans, these ancestral creatures had to lose all of those ape-like features from random genetic mutations while not yet able to have the cognitive abilities of modern humans.

Many of these unique human characteristics are the result of higher-level thinking. The ability to make tools, to communicate in written form, and to have creativity for arts and music all are connected to a thinking level that is truly unique to humankind. Granted, there are animals who exhibit higher levels of thinking than others (it is evident that dolphins show more thought processing skills than earthworms). However, the critical thinking skills of humans are on an entirely different level. And while I’m sure your dog is vastly smarter than all other dogs, there is a limit, or boundary, to what those thoughts could entail. And it falls woefully short of human thought.

So how could humans achieve this different level of thinking? If it is the result of evolution, then it means that a random genetic mutation must occur which allowed an organism to think on a higher level than previous generations. At first glance, it appears that could happen. Our current generation obviously understands rocket science much better than, say, the generation from the 1800s, but the increase in knowledge on a subject is not the same thing as an increase in the ability to think critically. (In fact, some could rightfully say while our knowledge on things has increased over time it appears our ability to think critically has actually gotten worse.)

Darwinian evolution must demonstrate that an error in replicating the organism’s genetic code could result in an increase of capability in the organism. It is already difficult to conjecture that decreased genetic information could produce new, advantageous structural features. It is even less likely that decreased genetic information could produce new information and cognitive abilities.

Both museums acknowledge humans exhibit these unique traits of higher-level thinking, creativity, and reasoning. But the explanation given by the Museum of Natural History fails to adequately explain how that came to be. Darwinian evolution, relying on random, genetic mutations and slight, successive modifications to an individual organism, cannot produce this higher level of thinking. And stating that different animals have higher levels of thinking, therefore, evolution can produce higher levels of thinking is the ultimate example of circular logic (something we can detect because of our higher-level thinking).

If Darwinian evolution can’t explain it, then maybe the Museum of the Bible has the correct explanation. Humans have this sense of morality, superior intelligence, and creativity and ingenuity because our Creator imparted us with these things. It certainly ought to make one think, shouldn’t it?

Cathryn Sterling

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2 thoughts on “What Makes Us Human?”

  1. Enjoyed your article. Charles Darwin said that if something could be shown to be irreducibly complex it would destroy evolution. Back in his day there was no electron microscope. Scientists today looking at the human cell through the microscope say that the cell is irreducibly complex. Al Foster [email protected]

    1. Thank you! And yes, I always love using Darwin’s own litmus test for his theory to disprove it. Irreducibly complex mechanisms destroy the idea that slight, successive modifications on a “simple design” could have produce the variety of life we see today! Thank you for your comment and insight.

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