What It Means to Be Human – Evolution and the Divine Image of God

Early modern human or homo sapiens existed some three to four million years ago. Modern humans who inhabited the Earth for the first time during the Neolithic age, split off from the older races of humans who had populated the planet just a few million years earlier. The modern human is believed to be distinctly different from all other human ancestors who came before him, even in the form of intelligence and cultural traits. Modern humans were considered to be less hairy, less developed physically and more aggressive than their predecessors.

 

Early humans populated the Old World and in particular Europe, Asia and North Africa. Across the water flowing between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea was the Sahara Desert. This oasis was an important stop for grain, livestock and human shelter. This is where early humans built the first civilization. Over the course of several million years, this early human society evolved into what we today call Civilization, composed of cities stretching from Mesopotamia to China.

 

As has been argued by many eminent scholars including Darwin and others, the reason why some human beings are happier than other human beings, has to do with the difference in their aptitude for Natural sciences and arts. Modern human beings are equipped with most if not all the basic necessities for a successful life. But because of their success in making life easy for themselves, they did not have any need for Natural Sciences. They could therefore adapt to the changes in their environment, using only the most basic tools. In contrast, pre-historic humans, who possessed a more diverse and complex tool kit, would have been unable to adapt.

 

The need for Natural Sciences was then put to test during the Paleolithic era when humans had only just started mastering the tools they now had. Because these human beings lived in caves, they had no access to the Sun that helped to keep them warm and the Fire that provided much of the heat that kept them alive during the cold nights. Because of their needs for warmth and light, they had to use the stars for their light and created fire to cook food. With all this fire, what it meant to be human became very confused.

 

It is interesting to note how throughout most of history, people have interpreted the stars and the fire as God’s will, when really they were the product of unrefined man’s ingenuity. This is evident in the fact that throughout religious history, people have used God’s name in vain to justify their evil deeds. In modern times however, with our amazing scientific knowledge, we are beginning to see that Religion is nothing more than a human illusion.

 

What it means to be human, according to international law, is no longer a subjective concept. The promotion of human rights throughout the world is achieved through the consistent application of universal laws and legal systems. Every nation, independent state and dependent territory have the right to uphold these laws and to participate in international trade. When human rights are promoted throughout the globe, it becomes easier to achieve equality and cooperation among nations.

 

To what extent can we apply the theory of evolution to the question of what it means to be human? Most scholars of comparative mythology and history believe that early mankind, prior to the dawn of agriculture about ten thousand years ago, lived in small groups of extended families. They hunted animals, scavenged for food and reproduced through a process of Natural Selection. They survived by evolving to deal with their environment. When large-scale farming began about twelve thousand years ago, they were subjected to one of the most devastating plagues in the history of human beings, which was the rise of disease.

 

Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, many people have still tried to implement a God-fearing agenda in public schools. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the teaching of evolution in public schools is that many people mistakenly think that the theory of evolution is an ideology, and therefore there is no need to teach it. The truth is that evolution is both a science and a religion and those who teach it as a religion will have to incorporate it into the public school’s curriculum. Educators must use factual data and teach from a perspective that respects religious beliefs, but the fact remains that evolution is based on the teachings of many religions – including Christianity.

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