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Why Are Humans Unique and Superior to All Other Animals?

Human and chimp holding hands

Modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) are not just incrementally superior to any other hominid or animal; we’re qualitatively different, both as the only known technologically-intelligent species and by virtue of dozens of unique abilities.

It is not a claim but a demonstrable fact that anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) are vastly superior to every other form of life and, for whatever reason, all the genetic mutations that make us unique and confer over 40 traits and behaviors that result in evolutionary advantages over every other animal, occurred within a short period of time, within just one genus, and nowhere else.

(Image Credit: Edward K. Watson)


At some point in the recent past, and within a span of just tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years (a blink of an eye, evolutionally-speaking), man developed the ability to speak and articulate words; walk with an upright posture (which freed our hands and allowed us to hold tools and objects); have unusually dexterous hands and fingers (which allowed precise and steady manipulation of objects); shoulders with a remarkably large range of motion (which allowed us to throw objects or aim weapons with unparalleled accuracy, especially while running); an extraordinarily large and complex cerebral cortex (which gave us the ability to think abstractly and symbolically, such as by creating and understanding cave paintings); a brain that allows language processing in multiple languages and the transmission and comprehension of intricate instruction and details by oral, visual, tactile, and audial (e.g., using drums and trumpets as signals) modes; the capacity to think abstractly of what others are thinking; inquisitiveness (acquiring information just for the sake of having knowledge); and dozens of other abilities (reading and writing, wearing clothes, create and use fire, and so forth).

We have evolutionary evidence going back billions of years with millions of species, and we’ve never seen just one of these traits and behaviors replicated in any other species outside the archaic human Homo sapiens by evolutionary change. Not one. And yet, they all appeared in just one genus, within a time span too short for these major evolutionary changes to occur.

It is as if someone or something did some germline genetic modifications to one or more hominids at some point or points in the past hundred thousand years that drastically altered Homo sapiens to create the anatomically modern human Homo sapiens sapiens.

One or two genetic mutations are certainly possible, but what kind of mutations can explain all of modern humans' unique characteristics, especially when there are no precedents in millions of other species despite over 650 million years of animal evolution?

We have no models to show how it can be done and the more we learn about genetics, the harder it is to justify the absence of deliberate design in explaining why we’re so different and so superior to every other animal.

We share the same DNA with every other form of life and are, without a doubt, genetic descendants of hominid ancestors. But notwithstanding the common heritage, we’re so totally and completely different from everyone else that we might as well be from another planet.

It’s not just one portion of the brain that’s different; it’s everywhere. And it’s not just the brain; it’s also the voice box, hands, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, ankles, feet, arms, elbows, and wrists.

Changing human intelligence alone appears to require the modification of dozens, if not hundreds of genes.

This means the difference between the intelligence of modern man and our closest living Hominidae relatives needs genetic change that, if random, would be comparable to someone winning the lottery hundreds of times in a row.

Which explains why not one out of millions of other animal species in nearly a billion years, has developed human-comparable (much less human-level) intelligence. One is then left with God or aliens as the more likely cause of modern humans and nothing else.

The rules of causality demand a cause to the effect, in this case, modern humans. What is the most likely cause that explains why humans are so different and superior to every other animal and why is it that not one of the above traits and behaviors are found anywhere else? And how did all these changes happen in such a compressed period of time?

It is certainly possible that everything just happened without God or without another intelligent being conducting genetic modification on our ancestors in the not-so-distant past, but how likely is it given all the unique traits in man and complete absence of precedent in millions of other animal species going back 650-700 million years?

Right now, with the current state of evolutionary knowledge and genetic understanding, the only honest answer for anyone who disbelieves in a conscious creation of modern man is: “I don’t know how anatomically modern man came into existence.”

As genetic engineering explodes this century (primarily thanks to CRISPR-Cas9) and we start de-extincting species and enhancing others by giving them the same or near mental capacity as baseline humans (e.g., “Dr. Chimp will see your dog now ...”), we will have a much greater appreciation of how difficult it is to give other species some of the traits we possess. It will be incredibly hard to knock out some genes, modify others, and add others, to enable other Hominidae to create fire and make a bow and arrow. It will be staggeringly even more difficult to teach them algebra or to accurately throw a baseball or speak French—and have them teach others.

The little we currently know about genetics is already telling us that despite the appeal to some of such endeavors, it’s easier said than done, even for just one of our traits. But if it ever does happen, it’s a virtual certainty it only occurred because the geneticists conducted genetic modifications that would’ve been impossible to occur naturally by evolution.

This, of course, begs the question of how could we have arisen naturally when our Hominidae relatives like the orangutan, gorilla, and chimpanzee couldn’t, and need extensive genetic engineering just to get some of our traits.

Perhaps geneticists a hundred years from now will have a better answer, and a better alternative to the claim modern man was deliberately designed to be what he is; but for now, the assumption we just evolved without any deliberate genetic modification is less credible than the alternative.

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. (Sherlock Holmes)

Each person is going to have to decide for himself or herself which is the more likely explanation for man: nothing, God, or aliens? Which claim is more extraordinary?

Note: This article is derived from this author’s upcoming book, Is Jesus “God”?