Re: Chronology of Human Technology

Glenn Morton (
Thu, 05 Jun 1997 22:56:45 -0500

Hi Garry,

At 04:26 PM 6/5/97, Garry DeWeese wrote:
>A couple of weeks ago Glenn Morton posted a wonderful chronology of
>technological developments. Did I miss any comments about this? Glenn, I
>am impressed, and you are to be thanked for the effort behind that list.
>I'd like to see it published, along with perhaps a one-or-two sentence
>description and references to primary sources for each entry (which I know
>you work from).

The list is the result of the research I am doing for the unpublishable
manuscript I am writing. I do have a source for each of these points and
have them in the manuscript. At some point in the future, I will probably
add them to the list. For now I am trying to find typos and grammar errors.

>That said, I have some questions about what you are trying to do with the
>list. My reply likely will be a bit long, so those with no interest in
>(i) Glenn's flood theory, or (ii) an illustration (I hope) of how
>philosophical analysis can enter the dialogue in the scientific community,
>may be excused to go on to the next message.
>In naive form, it seems your argument is this:
> A. It talks like a duck.
> B. It walks like a duck.
> C. Therefore, it is a duck.
That is pretty close to the argument I am trying to present. When I meet
you someday, I will judge your humanness based upon your behavior. You will
judge mine based upon my behavior. If one of us flicks his tongue everytime
a fly goes by, we will thereby be considered less than human. So, yes, if
it talks like a human and walks like a human, makes music like a human,
builds tents like a human, then it is probably human.

>>From your past posts, I take it that the more refined form, which
>lies behind your list, but is not presented there, goes like this (I hope
>you agree I am not misconstruing you; if so I trust you'll correct me):
> We begin with a certain set of capacities, C*, which includes such
>things as making art or music, demonstrating respect for the dead,
>creatively using tools, etc. Then,
> 1. If a species has C*, then that species is human.
> 2. Species K, L, M, ... have C*.
> 3. Therefore, species K, L, M, ... are human.
> 4. To be human is to be able to have a relationship with God.
> 5. Therefore, species K, L, M, ... are able to have a
> relationship with God.
>While this looks valid, there are problems, I think. The first revolves
>around premise (1). For we need to know if C* is a disjunctive or a
>conjunctive set. That is, to be human, must a hominid possess all or some
>or only one of the capacities in C*? (Indeed, although your examples on
>the list might so indicate, must the species in question even be hominid?)
>And whatever your answer, I think you need an argument to the effect that
>possessing a certain set of capacities is a necessary and sufficient
>condition for being human.

One must differentiate between several things. First leaving archeological
evidence of humanness is not the same as being human. One can be human and
leave no archeological evidence at all. Also, it is not necessary for all
the activities on the list to be present to be human. I will leave no
artwork or music for the archeologist to find yet I am human. At least I
have fooled a few people.

Consider Helen Keller. As a child she could not speak, a very human
activity, yet she was human.

The way to differentiate us from animals is from looking at what animals do
not do. Animals do not build huts, make art, make musical instruments, bury
their dead (in spite of what Hugh Ross says), use a tool to make another
tool, make spears, carve iconic statues, speak languages (the chimps have
never learned to speak in spite of what the press says), perform surgery, or
make stone tools. By using the list of activities animals DON'T perform, one
does not have to make a list of what Humans DO perform. If no other animal
performs a given activity, then it is a human activity.

>The naive form of the argument might be helpful here. For in (A), (B) and
>(C), "duck" can be thought of as a natural kind term. Thus the naive
>inference goes through. But I know of no argument that establishes
>that "human" is a natural kind term. If species are natural kinds, then
>H.s. is a natural kind, but then you would have to show that some form of
>pheneticism (as opposed to cladism) is the correct view to view species
>identity. But from your list it is clear that the species H.s. won't do;
>perhaps you want the genus Homo, or, given the distant end of your list,
>perhaps you want the family Hominidae. But the issue is clear: you must
>show (i) that the ordinary language term "human" is coextentional with
>either the genus or the family; and (ii) that C*, properly construed, is
>constitutive of that genus or family. I suspect this is hopeless, but my
>imagination is probably weaker here than yours.

If I misconstrue your agument here, blame it on the fact that I have been up
since 4:30 this morning, gone to New Orleans and just got home about 10:30
this evening and I am bone tired. I will try to answer your question.
First, I am using Human in the theological sense. A being that clothes
himself is human. No animal makes clothing. There is evidence of clothing
back to 1.5 million years ago at least. One must remember that species are
taxonomical constructs. The morphological difference between domestic dogs
is much greater than the taxonomic differences between us and
Australopithecus. Yet dogs are all one species, and anthropologists have
chosen to call the hominids 3-6 different species. Many Anthropologists
would prefer to include Homo erectus in Homo sapiens. Wolfpoff and Caspari say

"Some important points follow from the fact that they are
ancestral and descendant species on a single lineage:

1. No species splits occurred when H. sapiens is said to
originate from h. erectus; there was no division of one species
into two, and therefore no species birthing.
2. No distinct anatomical boundary separates the ancestor H.
erectus from the descendant H. sapiens
3.No single worldwide set of criteria validly distinguishes so-
called late H. erectus from subsequent samples of early H.
4. Just about every way H. erectus differs from its
australopithecine ancestors also characterizes H. sapiens:
virtually no features are unique to H. erectus."~Milford Wolpoff
and Rachael Caspari, Race and Human Evolution, (New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1997), p. 256

Many other anthropologists have suggested the same thing.Because of this,
and because of the behavioral similarities, I believe that the human
activities apply to the geneus Homo as it is currently defined.

Now to the point of your argument. How much of the list of technological
acheivements do we need to be human? I would contend very little but we
need to display some of the list.

As I pointed out, Helen Keller had no language but was human.

I have never built a house, yet I am human.

I have never made a musical instrument yet I am human

But, I have,

Buried my father and mother, carved statues, performed minor surgery, used a
tool to make another tool and I speak. These characteristics make me human.
I don't need the totality to be human. Why should we expect to see the
entire panoply in the archeological remains of fossil man before we call him
human? To do this, requires that you hold me to one standard and fossil man
to another.

>The second problem involves (4). Unless you include the ability to have a
>relationship with God among the capacities of C*, then it is not clear
>that (4) is necessarily true (Dick Fischer's non-Adamic H.s.'s are a
>possible counter-example.) But if you do include this ability in C*, then
>your argument is circular.

The argument is not circular IF I have evidence of religious activities on
the part of fossil man. I have collected evidence for religious activities
by Neanderthal and Homo erectus. I have even found a religious site by
Neanderthal. Whether or not I list them as a capability in C*, the fact that
both made idols (naked female mother goddesses) should argue for something.
When we see that activity among the population of Malta 6000 years ago, we
call it religious activity. The only reason we reject this interpretation
for the same thing among H.erectus and Neanderthal is because they look
different and would require us to believe in evolution.

>I would suggest that "human" is a fuzzy, ordinary language term which
>generally corresponds to Homo sapiens. But this is not always the case:
>consider the pro-choice proponents who often deny that the fetus is "human
>life"--and this in spite of the obvious genotypical identification with
>H.s. So perhaps what is at issue is not "being human" but "being a
>person" or "personhood."
>If we take our cue here from Aristotle and Aquinas, we would regard
>personhood as a substance (an individual, not "stuff") and as a genus;
>thus being human is a way of being a person, just as being an angel or
>being God is a way of being a person. So possibly would being Martian,
>should such creatures be discovered. Personhood is the genus of which
>human, angel or God are species (in a different sense than the biological
>taxonomic sense). Here the substance of personhood may be defined in
>terms of properties, relations and capacities (including many of those in

I agree that humanness is a "way of being', but that "way of being" is
evidenced by certain activities. Christianity is a relationship with God,
but it should have evidence in the form of a changed life. The change does
not have to be the same for you and I.

>I recognize that your list--and the implicit argument--is necessary if you
>identify the biblical flood with the inundation of the Mediterranean
>Basis ca. 5.5 mya. But for the argument to appear strong to me, at least,
>the above two areas of concern need to be addressed. And even then, you
>would need to argue that there were no pre-Adamic "persons" (other than
>God and angels, presumably).

Obviously, I can't disprove the existence of pre-Adamic animals who look
like humans. But to me this is dangerous because I can then ask if any of
them still survive. If they do, then I can treat them like cattle and make
them slaves because they are not human and do not have human rights. We
certainly don't extend our laws to cover cattle. If we did, Ray Kroc would
have been executed for bovicide.
>I hope this has been clear enough. Your project fascinates me, Glenn,
>even though I'm still quite wary of placing the Flood so far in the past.
>(I know--you will retort by asking me what my candidate event is for the
>Flood, and I will stammer a bit and blush in light of your superior
>knowledge of geologic history. But I can respond rather by claiming that
>unless your argument is sound it need not be considered as a viable
>alternative either.)

You pegged me correctly here. :-) I would suggest however, that unless one
first has a scenario which fits the facts of science AND the Scripture, we
can't possibly hope to be correct. My scenario may very well be wrong and
maybe someday someone really smart will come along and figure it all out.
But that person's solution also must be constrained by the observational
data just as mine is. Any solution, mine or anyone elses, must be held
accountable to the observational data--all the observational data.

I hope I have responded to what you ask. I have not dealt with philosophy
speak for over 20 years, since I was a poor graduate student in philosophy.
And I am tired. If I have not been sufficiently clear or responsive, pound
me again.


Foundation, Fall and Flood