The Anthropological Argument

Logic & Light has previously explored the powerful evidence for God offered by the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments.  And while these arguments offer a strong, logical, and scientific basis for belief in God, they do not tell us much about who God is or which religion has the correct view of Him.  So, we now turn our attention to those arguments that begin to build the case for a belief in the specific God of the Bible.

The Anthropological Argument is one such example.  While this argument has taken many forms, at its most basic level, it seeks to provide evidence for God based on the uniqueness of mankind.

Mankind’s Unique Position

It is a central doctrine of Judaism and Christianity that mankind is uniquely made in “the image of God.”  Genesis 1:26-27 describes how “God created man in His own image…male and female, He created them” and gave them “dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over the livestock and over all the earth…”  Humanity is the only thing described in the Bible as being made in God’s image, so we are unique in this regard.  Further, Judeo-Christian theology is unique vs. other religions in making this claim.

If this doctrine is true, we should expect to see clear and unique indicators in humanity that are not present elsewhere.  The Anthropological Argument basically looks at mankind to see if this doctrine accurately describes what we see.  In the end, we will observe that not only does humanity clearly reflect the “image of God,” but it does so in a way that cannot be adequately explained by other religions or Naturalism.  In short, the Anthropological Argument demonstrates the existence of the biblical God by proving the unique claims that the Bible, and only it, make about the nature of mankind.

Is Mankind Unique?

At first blush, it seems obvious that mankind is unique in the animal kingdom.  Humanity seems far beyond any other life form in terms of intelligence, creativity, morality, spirituality, social relationships, etc.  But is this really the case?  Is there a natural explanation?

In opposition to the Anthropological Argument, a naturalistic worldview teaches that humanity is simply a more evolved animal and is not fundamentally unique at all.  As an example, according to evolutionary geneticists, the closest “relative” to mankind is the chimpanzee, which shares 98% of our DNA1.  Biologically, we are only 2% different from them which makes us as close to one another as “horses are to zebras.”2

These are clearly very contrasting propositions.   So much so, that we should be able to examine the available evidence and easily decide which is more consistent with reality.  But to do so, we need to first biblically define what being “in God’s image” means.

In God’s Image

Throughout the Bible, there are several core and repeated qualities described as being central to God’s identity.  And within the immediate context of the Genesis 1 passage, we are given some specific indications as to what being “in His image” entails.  Combining these together we get a clear biblical view of what mankind should be like.

In the Image of the Creator

One of God’s primary acts was that of Creation.  It is described from the very first verse of the Bible and was an awesome display of His power, creativity, and intelligence.  So, if we are made in God’s image, we would expect to see humanity display levels of power, creativity, and intelligence far beyond any other lifeform on earth.

We will touch on the idea of power later, so here we will focus on creativity and intelligence.  It is without debate that humanity far outstrips any other animal in terms of these two attributes.  It is not a matter of degree, but of a whole other kind.

Remember that from a naturalistic view, chimpanzees are 98% the same as humans.  However, what have chimpanzees accomplished?  Have they built cities, automobiles, airplanes, or computers?  Did they create or understand calculus, quantum physics, modern medicine, or prosthetic limbs?  Has any other animal even contemplated what outer space is, let alone dreamed of going there or better yet, actually done it?  Does any other animal have anything approaching complex written and spoken languages?  Even a cursory review of mankind’s achievements clearly illustrates that no matter how smart other animals may be, humanity is on an entirely different level of intelligence and creativity.

In the Image of Holiness

God is repeatedly described in the Bible as holy (e.g. Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8) and as having clear moral standards of good and evil.  If we are made in His image, then we should expect mankind to also display a highly developed moral sense of right and wrong.

Again, simple observation confirms that mankind has a highly developed sense of ethics.  While we are certainly not always good (we’ll come back to this point later), humanity seems to have an innate morality.  Even modern science3 and “activist atheists” like Richard Dawkins4 acknowledge this fact about people.

Animals, on the other hand, do not seem to possess anywhere near the level of morality that people do.  Animals have been observed displaying kind and even altruistic behaviors, but there is little indication this is any more than instinct or an example of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”  Animal behaviors provide no evidence of having or following rules that are based on moral concepts of “right” and “wrong.”

While some scientists believe animals do display morality5, this concept is definitely debated.  What is not really debated, though, is that humans have a vastly greater sense of morality.  In a very interesting article from Psychology Today, Dr. Helene Guldberg, herself an evolutionist, states “our individual abilities go way beyond what evolution has endowed us with.  Our species is no longer constrained by our biology.”6  She goes on to say that “the difference between human beings and other animals is fundamental rather than one of degrees.”6  While she believes this difference has a natural explanation (which she can’t fully identify), the fact that she recognizes it is telling.

In the Image of Love

The property of love is intrinsic to God’s identity (e.g. 1 John 4:8).  In addition, the concept of relationship is inherent to His nature as evidenced in the central Christian doctrine of the Trinity.  If we are made in His image, we should also reflect the attribute of love and the need for relationship.  Again, this is exactly what we see.

Human relationships are far, far more developed than any in the animal kingdom.  We have complex societies and cultures, place a high value on family relationships, create deep and lasting friendships, and often donate time, money, and even organs to people we may never meet!  The need for love and relationship is so intrinsic to humanity that Dr. Dan Siegel, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA school of medicine and an evolutionist, admits we are “a very special kind of primate” and that “relationships are the defining feature of being human.”7  In essence, a “witness for the other side” admits that humanity reflects a far different level of love and relationship than the rest of the animal kingdom.

In addition, mankind seems programmed not to just need human relationship, but to also seek relationship with some kind of god.  Practically every society for as far back as we can see has sought after their idea of god.  Blaise Pascal in the 1600’s discussed the concept of an apparent “god-shaped hole” in the human heart.  Even renowned atheist Richard Dawkins acknowledges this fact and admits it seems incompatible with evolution.8  In fact, the only way to make the logic work is for Dawkins to tacitly admit that naturalists are somehow less “evolved” than believers!9

In the Image of Authority

God is described as the sovereign ruler of all creation.  And Genesis 1:26 clearly ties our being made in His image with having some measure of His authority on earth.  We are to have “dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over the livestock and over all the earth.”

There is again absolutely no debate that this description of mankind is accurate.  We are clearly the dominant species on earth, so much so that scientists and politicians debate whether we actually control the fate of the entire planet.  Even in environments where mankind is less suited than other animals, we exercise control.  We cannot fly in the air, but through technology we can far outperform any creature that does.  We cannot breathe underwater, but have developed boats and submarines that let us explore almost anywhere in the ocean.  There is literally no place on earth where we cannot go and have “dominion” if we choose.

A Corrupted Image

It bears noting that Christianity also uniquely teaches that even though mankind is made in the image of God, our nature has been corrupted by sin (e.g. Ephesians 2:3, Psalm 51:5).  So, while we still bear the image of God, we are no longer an accurate reflection of Him and each of the areas discussed above has been marred to an extent by our sin.  Again, this is exactly what we see in the world around us.

We have incredible intelligence and creativity, but often squander it in selfish and even criminal pursuits.  We have a highly developed sense of morality, but each of us regularly violates our own code of conduct and as a species we are unparalleled within the animal kingdom at perpetrating heinous acts of evil like genocide, torture, rape, etc.  We desire and need relationships, but struggle with selfishness and hurting those we love.  And finally, we have authority over creation, but have often done a terrible job of taking care of God’s creation as we were charged to do in Genesis.

So, while both Judaism and Christianity share the concept of mankind being made in God’s image, only Christianity teaches that we have a fallen nature that has tarnished that image.  And since both doctrines are required to adequately explain the world around us, the Anthropological Argument favors the Christian worldview vs. any other religion’s.

Naturalism Revisited

But let’s turn our attention back to Naturalism.  Is it possible that everything we observe is just the result of time, natural selection, and evolution?  Perhaps mankind is not special but merely created religions and doctrines to explain what they saw around them but could not understand.

Remember that we share 98% of our genetic makeup with chimpanzees.  And this makes us only about as different from them as horses are from zebras.  If Naturalism is true, and there is nothing more to us than DNA, these facts must be accepted.

For purposes of this discussion, we will set aside the fact that humans sharing 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees is not strictly accurate.  Technically, the 98% only refers to the protein coding portion of our DNA.10  However, roughly 97% of DNA is non-coding!  Geneticists used to believe this non-coding DNA was simply leftover from previous evolutionary steps and was termed “junk DNA.”  They have now discovered that is not the case and that so-called “junk DNA” is very important.  So really, we share 98% of 3% of our DNA.  But this is how geneticists measure genetic similarity, so we will as well.

Returning to the comparison, simple observation confirms there are drastically more differences between humans and chimpanzees than there are between horses and zebras.  The gulf between humans and any other animal is absolutely immense.  As even evolutionist Dr. Guldberg admitted earlier “the difference between human beings and other animals is fundamental rather than one of degrees.”  Can such fundamental disparities be explained by only a 2% difference?  Why are there not such fundamental distinctions between horses and zebras?

Naturalism can only account for these differences through our genetic code.  It is the only tool at its disposal.  But genetics simply are not enough to account for humanity’s uniqueness.  Logically, there must be something else, beyond a mere 2% genetic difference, that accounts for the stark contrasts we plainly observe.  Naturalism cannot offer an explanation as to what it may be.  The Bible, however, does.

Naturalism has another major challenge.  Evolution teaches that changes come about gradually over long periods of time.  If this is true, shouldn’t we see other animals that are close to mankind in at least some of the areas we discussed?  Unfortunately for the naturalist, the “transitional” forms that are largely missing in the fossil record are also missing in the intrinsic qualities of animals we see all around us.  There simply isn’t anything “in between” humanity and other animals to account for what should have been gradual changes in factors like intelligence, creativity, morality, etc.  So perhaps our genetic similarity to other animals is not a sign of common descent, but rather of a common Designer.

Conclusion

The evidence in support of the Anthropological Argument is clear and compelling.  So much so that even evolutionists admit that humanity is of a fundamentally different kind than the rest of the animal kingdom.  And while Christianity’s description of mankind being made in God’s image but tarnished by sin fits perfectly with what we see, Naturalism has numerous inconsistencies and problems it cannot explain.  So as with the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments, we are left with a persuasive case in favor of God, based on logic, scientific knowledge, and everyday observations.

Notes:

  1. http://whoami.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/yourgenes/wheredidwecomefrom/whatareourclosestanimalrelatives
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/born-good-babies-help-unlock-the-origins-of-morality/
  4. Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion.  New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin 2006.  241-267 (Chapter 6)
  5. https://www.livescience.com/24802-animals-have-morals-book.html
  6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reclaiming-childhood/201106/only-humans-have-morality-not-animals
  7. http://www.drdansiegel.com/blog/2013/12/17/relationship-science-and-being-human/
  8. Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion.  New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin 2006.  190
  9. http://www.logicandlight.org/dawkins-delusions-part-iii/#more-1218 “Chapter 5 Response”
  10. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31624027/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/debate-rages-humans-closest-relative/#.WfYamltSzIV

 

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