Are Humans All That Special?

Genesis 1:26 — “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 

Today, however, most people who believe in God do not think “He” looks like a Human being.  Many, maybe most, religious believers would say that God is beyond all description. Jews and Muslims explicitly forbid humans from attempting to picture God. In Hinduism, Brahman is “creative principle which lies realized in the whole world,” and Hinduism’s depictions of hundreds of Gods and Goddesses are only aspects of the One Brahman.

It does seem that Humans do have dominion over all other creatures on Earth. But humans still die, and when we die it is the fungi and the bacteria who render us back into “dust.”  And long before we Humans became the planet’s “top predator,” the dinosaurs held that top rank, between about 245 and 66 million years ago, in a time known as the Mesozoic Era. This was many millions of years before the first modern humans, Homo sapiens, appeared. 

Today, we find that many other Earthly creatures possess senses that function significantly beyond our human senses:

  • We have good eyesight, but nothing like the eagles.
  • We can run for longer distances than any other animal, but we cannot fly.
  • We can reason and plan far better than other animals, but our body odor is more unpleasant than most.
  • We have sympathy and empathy, but elephants and whales may have more.
  • The dexterity of our fingers is great, but is it greater than the legs of a spider?
  • We can swim, but nothing like the fishes, whales, and dolphins.
  • Our language is the most advanced, but whales, birds, and even trees also communicate.
  • Our tool use is the most advanced, but chimpanzees and crows also use tools.
  • We raise livestock and build cities, but so do certain species of ants.
  • African lions hunt, but no species on Earth kills as many creatures as we do.
  • Chimpanzees make war on each other, and so do ants; but human war often matches their brutality.
  • We cannot echo-locate, but bats, whales, and porpoises can.
  • We cannot use Earth’s magnetic fields to locate our birthplaces, but sea turtles can.
  • Humans likely exceed all other species in sexual perversion and sadistic cruelty.
  • Human beings are unable to turn sunlight into food. Only Earth’s plant-life, algae, and some bacteria can do that.
  • Is there one thing that humans do that is utterly unique? Yes. We alone extensively pollute the Earth, and we do so with awareness.

Nevertheless, using our large brains, Humans have been able to invent technologies that allow us to “perceive” (or at least to understand) the advanced perceptions of Earthly animals. For example, shipboard sonar equipment allows us to echo-locate objects deep in the ocean.