Re K. Miller and R. Isaac (7/13, 5pm)
Thank you for your thoughts Keith. I know some of your work so I’m very pleased that many highly qualified scientists are participating in these forums.
I can understand that, as you say, "the genome of a species is a population genome that includes all the genetic diversity within that interbreeding population.” In the case of humans then, the first human would have been the first individual of a species to inherit a mutation that gave it certain characteristics that were significantly different from the rest of the interbreeding population. Among several unique characteristics it possessed, the most important and defining characteristic was its ability to relate to God. All those to whom this and the other unique characteristics were passed on constituted the subspecies we call humans. All together they had the genome that defines humans. That genome had enough variability to include the individual genomes of all of its members. But there was a first person to have these characteristics and the particular genes that produced those characteristics. He had other characteristics that were shared by all other humans (say, a certain moral awareness) and then some other characteristics were not shared by all other humans (such as the shape of his nose). He also had characteristics that were shared by the entire species, including the non-human primates (say, bipedalism and the same reproductive organs and capacities). The shared human characteristics resulted from genes that produced them which were likewise shared by all other humans. The characteristics he possessed that were not shared by all other humans resulted from genes sequences not shared with all other humans.
I think Randy’s recent comments will help to bring us to a better understanding and possibly some agreement. First of all, we need to consider what it takes to be human. Traditionally it was considered to be intelligence. Man is the rational animal. No animal can reach our intelligence. But I think the defining characteristic must rather reside in the area of spiritual and moral awareness. We will sometimes hear accounts of people who seem to have absolutely no moral awareness. A true psychopath, if he or she has truly never had any moral awareness, could still be very intelligent but would not be human. I don’t think that there are truly any such people in the world unless, perhaps, God wanted us to live among some others who are not truly human. I think all people are given some moral awareness and then they have the opportunity to make choices that will remove that awareness or to let it continue. Romans 1 seems to indicate that all people have a spiritual awareness as well, an awareness of God, which they can suppress as well as their moral awareness.
Now we don’t really know whether at least some higher animals have some kind of moral or spiritual awareness. If they do, then God must deal with them in some special way very different from the way he deals with us. So I think the defining characteristic of humans must be in their unique moral and spiritual characteristics. They are aware of the ought, they are at some time in their lives aware of God or at least the possibility of God’s existence, and they can relate to God in some ways that animals cannot.
I cannot more clearly define the moral and spiritual differences. But I think it suffices here to say that humanness consists in certain moral and spiritual characteristics not possessed by any other animals.
The second point we need to be aware of is that these characteristics must be passed on genetically. Somehow God gives us this awareness by giving us a certain mental ability. To think that these abilities can be passed on to all humans without involving genetic changes raises difficulties. How does everyone who is human happen to have these characteristics, these mental abilities, without this coming from their genetic makeup?
Thirdly, then, there must be a first human who has the genetic makeup that gives him or her these abilities, this moral and spiritual awareness.
We don’t have a gradual continuum between being aware of God and not being aware of God, between our awareness of right and wrong and not having that awareness, between knowing what God means and not knowing. So again, I would claim that there must be a first human (and then a first human couple) from whom these characteristics of humanness came.