Are Humans Unique, or Just the Most Evolved Form of Animal?

Beyond Teachable Moments

Are humans smarter than animals?

Is it ‘speciesism’ (discrimination against animals) to believe that humans have a greater moral and ethical worth than animals?

Do humans belong on the top rung of Darwin’s Tree of Life, or are they in a class all their own?

Do vegetarians and vegans walk a higher moral ground than the rest of us?

Is it just as wrong to exterminate rats as it was to exterminate Jews and other undesirables during the holocaust?

All of these questions have at least one thing in common: whether or not humans and animals have the same moral and ethical worth. They pit two worldviews against each other: imago Dei vs. evolution. In a logical world, they can’t both be right. So, which one is it?

Is there evidence for the idea that humans are morally and ethically superior to animals outside of the Bible?

Last week our small group discussed the topic of imago Dei – or how humans are made in the image of God. Imago Dei is a theological concept that is based on Genesis 1:26-27. It views humans as set apart from – or above – the rest of creation with a special status and unique responsibilities.

According to imago Dei, humans reflect God more clearly than any other part of creation, even though we reflect Him poorly because of our fallen state. According to the Bible, being created in imago Dei endows humans with inherent dignity and worth.

Imago Dei is also what sets us apart from animals. The idea that humans could be superior to animals is not a very common or popular concept in today’s society. I’ve been wanting to investigate this topic more deeply ever since I shared a post a few months ago with some initial thoughts on how humans are different from animals.

What does science tell us about how humans and animals differ? Here are some ideas from sources that come down on both sides of the question:

First and foremost, humans are thinkers by nature…

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Are Humans Unique, or Just the Most Evolved Form of Animal? | Beyond Teachable Moments