Thursday, July 14, 2022

Apologetics: The Startling Uniqueness of Humanity

Darwinian Evolution’s Failure to Explain the Manifest Reality of “the Image of God”:

Despite some of the evident similarities between humans and apes, Christianity has always insisted that the design of humans was special and intentional, and that the obvious differences between humans and all other animals are clear signs of our status as being designed “in the image of God.” Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-discoverer of evolutionary theory along with Darwin, also recognized humanity’s unexpectedly impressive traits, and changed his mind on evolution, saying that natural selection could not explain enough on its own. He argued that “spirit” must have intervened at least three times in the story of evolution: the creation of life from nonliving chemicals, the emergence of consciousness in higher animals, and the endowment of humanity with a soul.

The Biblical View of Humanity

Genesis 1 describes humans as being made “in the image of God,” pronounced “very good,” and given authority over all other natural creation. Early Christians viewed our relationship to animal creation through the lens of our status as God’s “kingdom of priests.” Other views of the “image of God” include the facts that we are rational, creative, moral, and capable of conscious relationship with God in ways that no other creatures are. These aspects are obvious and self-evident: no other creature is anywhere close to humanity in the exercise of these faculties, and only humans, of all creatures, exercise authority in the natural world, such as by domesticating other animals and serving as caretakers and managers of creation. All of these facets of humanity are what you would expect given the Bible’s description of our intentional design; but you would not necessarily expect any of them if we were simply the result of an unguided process of random natural selection.

The “Specified Complexity” of the Human Body and Culture Points to Intelligent Design

Humans show “specified complexity,” even if looking at them from an evolutionary standpoint:

   - Human culture appears to be intentionally built into our body plan:

          - The human brain, relative to body size, is eight times larger than the average ratio for mammals (including other primates). The difference in relative size between the human brain and the chimp brain is greater than the difference between the chimp brain and the shrew brain.

         - The human life cycle is designed for passing on complex cultural systems in a way that is true of no other species. Human babies are born at a stage in development far before other species, allowing more time for communal interaction to help shape brain connections. We have a very long childhood and adolescence compared to other species, a long life cycle, and the unique trait of menopause for females, all of which tend toward more time to pass on knowledge.

         - The physical design of the human speech system is extraordinary—a complex interaction of developmental factors linking various brain areas for hearing, speech, and information processing with physical structures in the throat and mouth, like the larynx, pharynx, tongue, palate, and teeth, each of which have certain specific and unusual arrangements.

         - Human language is so complex and so rooted in abstraction that it makes some of the most prominent paleolinguists suggest that its appearance was an instance of a “human big bang.” Strangely, languages do not follow an expected evolutionary course from simpler systems to more complex; rather, the languages of the most “primitive” peoples tend to be the most complex.

   - Paleoanthropologists have also started to argue for a “human big bang” event, since the evidence in the archaeological record shows that early humans, all at once, showed remarkable signs that clearly distinguished them from natural cycles of animal development: art, music, and religion all suddenly burst onto the scene in early human sites. Ian Tattersall writes that where modern humans show up in the archaeological record, they represent “something entirely new” when compared with other primates, and their emergence is “the most baffling question in all biology.”

   - But aren’t we 98% chimpanzee according to our DNA?

          - The vast majority of such similarities comes from the structure of DNA itself. Many species show similar genetic parallels while not being closely related (such as whales and hippos). We show a 35% similarity to daffodils, yet no one suggests that we’re 35% daffodil.

          - Based on evolutionary theories, early Darwinists predicted that certain “primitive” people groups around the world would prove to be less evolved. This has been conclusively disproven—humans are exactly alike in all important respects, everywhere that you find them in the world, just as Christian doctrine would predict. In terms of our genetic diversity, all the races of humans (more than 7 billion individuals) show significantly less difference to one another in genetics (0.3% variation) than the few hundred gorillas alive today show toward each other (0.6% variation).

The Human Mind Must Be More than Just a Physical Brain

“Materialism” is the philosophy that says there cannot be such a thing as “spirit” or “soul,” and the human mind is simply “a computer made of meat,” with conscious thought as a mechanical output. However, as many philosophers have pointed out, this cannot possibly be true:

   - Materialism has not been able to scientifically explain the phenomenon of consciousness.

   - There would be no free will, and no capacity for radical epiphanies or transformations.

   - It cannot account for how people change all the physical material of their body (every seven years on average) while remaining the same person.

   - Why should we assume that the abstract thoughts of a brain defined by material interactions are trustworthy? Nothing in natural selection would make it so. As Darwin wrote: “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind?”

   - The 2001 Parnia-Fenwick study appears to show that activities of the mind may continue after brain death, a conclusion which is confirmed by a huge amount of anecdotal evidence from near-death experiences. In other studies, epilepsy patients were able to distinguish their own body’s actions as being prompted by a researcher’s probe, simply because they know they didn’t cause the motion themselves. This capacity would not be possible if the brain itself was all there is.