Re: What identifies a human? (DNA? Artifacts? ....)

Glenn Morton (
Fri, 28 Feb 1997 22:58:14 -0600

At 12:13 PM 2/28/97 -0500, Bill Hamilton, discussing things with Richard
Dimery, wrote:

>I would agree that DNA is not the sole determiner of personality. Does the
>fact that different personalities arise from identical DNA demonstrate
>humanity in the sense I was using it (made in the image and likeness of
>God)? I don't believe so.

I want to throw something in here. In the case of the hominids, if we say
that no one except anatomically modern men are human in the sense of having
the image of God, then we are saying that DNA makes the man because by
definition, NOT having the DNA of an anatomically modern man would clearly
exclude one from having the image of God.

If we say that spiritual humanity was created anytime after 120,000 years
ago, then we are faced with people that look like us not being made in the
image of God.

I don't like either of these choices and would offer a Turing test for
ancient man. If he acts like us (or a technologically primitive version of
us, the I would include him in humanity. By this definition, Homo erectus
Archaic Homo sapiens and Neanderthal are all human.

>Not that I'm doubting you are aware, but I got the
>>impression you were asking for an obvious answer.
>Personally, I don't believe there is an obvious answer. I believe the
>problem with some arguments over the humanity of ancient hominids is that
>both sides believe there is an obvious answer when there isn't one.

Operationally, there is no obvious answer to the question of your
spirituality. I can do nothing to prove that you are carrying the image of
God. Because you behave like me, I must grant that you are like me. You
talk, go to work, go to church, have kids etc etc.

Now, go back to the Roman Empire. Were these people human? Yes they wrote
(but we have no direct evidence of their speech because we can't hear it),
they wrote of work,having kids worshipping egaged in warfare, murder etc.
They are like us.

Now go back to Pre-dynastic Egypt( 5000-3126 B.C.). There is no evidence
of language because there is no writing. But there are statues of naked
females which may have been used as idols. There is pottery and farming
implements so we know they worked. They made stone tools and engaged in
warfare. We find bones of their kids. Are they Human? Yes, they are like
the New Guinean farmers of early this century who are human.

Now go back to Neanderthal days. He made jewellry, tents, spears, buried
his dead (one baby burial had a triangular piece of flint placed on her
heart), hunted, cared for his fellows when they were sick, or injured, made
musical instruments, engaged in warfare, etc. Was he human? Yes because his
actions look like a technologically poorer version of the Tierra del
Fuegians of last century.

Now go back to Homo erectus times, He built huts, spears, murdered and
scalped (like the Anerican Indians) victims, built huts, made a at least one
statue of a naked female, made art (a picture of a vertebrate animal; one
human culture had as little art as the erectus), engaged in wood work,
controlled fire, made clothing, and carpentered wood. Are they human? Yes

They act too much like us not to be. If the objection is made that they
were "dumber" then I would ask where in Scripture intelligence is used for a
definition of humanity. One could make a legitimate case that Adam and Eve
were supremely dumb.

>That's a
>spiritual condition, and our ability to deal with spiritual issues on our
>own is close to nonexistent.


Foundation, Fall and Flood