Re: talking apes

Gene Godbold (
Mon, 6 May 96 14:10:49 EDT

In reply to Dennis Sweitzer, Paul Arveson wrote:

> It seems to me that there is a connection between language (by speech or
> whatever means) and morality.
> That is, in order for there to be morality, there have to be laws or commands
> defining what is sinful (e.g. Thou shalt not eat from such and such a tree).
> The existence of laws presupposes that the recipient understands the meaning of
> the behavior that is condemned, *without having yet experienced it*.
> For this reason, sin is meaningless for animals, and meaningful for all humans
> who have the ability to communicate and understand. For this reason, the law is
> relaxed somewhat in the case of insanity.
> So the advent of language -- that is, communication that is complex enough to
> describe a hypothetical event, and be understood as such -- seems to be what is
> occurring in the story of Adam and Eve.
> Any comments?

This introduces an idea with which I am not sure Mr. Fischer would agree.
He seems to be making a distinction between humans of the Adamic line and
others and he says that the Genesis flood was a judgement by God on the
Adamic line (I hope he will correct me if I am misrepresenting his
position.) But this raises a question in my mind that was pursued,
briefly, earlier by Paul Arveson and Bill Hamilton if I remember arightly.
And this question concerns the theological position of the non-Adamic,
presumably human, races? Were they capable of sin? Presumably they were
capable of language? Are there any left that haven't interbred with
Adamic members?

I would appreciate any help with these questions.

Gene Godbold
Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of NC-Chapel Hill