Articles, Blog

Humans Are Animals

humans are animals - evolution skulls
Photo: Steve Johnson @ Flickr

We humans love to beat our own drum. We just love to proclaim how smart and resourceful we are. How we’re a unique creation, made in God’s own image. According to Judaism and its derivatives, anyway. Different religions, different opinions, of course.

Philosophies are beautiful, but so are the laws of nature. And those laws state, with irrefutable consistency, that humans are animals. Of the species homo sapiens sapiens, to be precise.

Evolutionary Basics

Homo sapiens sapiens, or “the thinking man”, is the last survivor of the otherwise dead human family tree. The first members of the homo family appeared approx. 1 million years ago, but during the last Ice Age, only we and our cousins homo neanderthalensis still existed. All other humanoids had long gone extinct, and at the end of said Ice Age, so had the Neaderthals.

Compare that to sharks, which have been around in abundant varieties for 420 million years.

So not only are humans animals, from a genealogical point of view we’re not even particularly successful.

So let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, people: we are no more “God’s Chosen Creature” than wasps, zebras or cuttlefish are. Or elephants, for that matter. Humans are no more the result of divine intervention than amoeba or algae.

Humans are no more the result of divine intervention than amoeba or algae.

But neither is the rise of our species any less miraculous than the fact that any life developed on a giant dirt ball in space.

The minute chance of anything spawning our existence is too much of a stretch for human brains to believe. Hence creationism. However, if we didn’t evolve naturally, but rather our species was made, we didn’t drop from the sky. Our genes fit in too well with the rest of this planet’s multi-pedal populous to be an outlier. So at best, modern humans are the product of gene manipulation, deliberate or otherwise, either of which is still a far cry from divine intervention.

Classifying Humanity

So what kind of animal are we?

First off, we’re omnivores. We hunt for meat and gather plants, but because we need both, we’re not specialised in either. The curse of all all-rounders. We have a neither-this-nor-that set of teeth, and our “claws” aren’t much good in a fight. So when push comes to shove, we’re not even at the top of the food chain. Plenty of predators are better skilled and better equipped than we ever were. So if not for our ability to make spears and clubs, we would long since have joined the other homo-clans in extinction.

What does set homo sapiens sapiens apart from other species is this:

  • We are highly aggressive. We will attack anything at the slightest provocation, and aim to utterly destroy it. Even our own kind. This is the root cause of our inherent fascination for weapons.
  • We drain our environment. Humans relentlessly deplete any material and labour resource we think useful, with no regard for anything but our own immediate gain and bugger the consequences.
  • We have no mating season. Both males and females are fertile all year round and constantly willing to breed, while the survival chances of our new-born are the same all year around, too.
  • We live too long. Contrary to other fast-breeding animals such as mice and rabbits, we have a natural life expectancy of 40 years. We have artificially doubled this expectancy to 80 years, but without reducing our birth rate.

In short we are very aggressive and territorial, breed fast but won’t die, and to sustain our ever-growing population, we deplete available resources at breakneck speed. Now what does that remind me of?

Ah, yes. Parasites!

Don’t get me wrong. Individual people can be very giving and considerate. A lot of us mean well, but ultimately the species homo sapiens sapiens behaves like a parasite.

A lot of us mean well, but ultimately the species homo sapiens sapiens behaves like a parasite.

Blights Galore

In short, humanity is a blight. No worse or better than any other blight, but we are certainly not a Chosen Creature with a Divine Mandate, or whatever it is that modern society believes itself entitle to. If God created all blights such as fungi, flesh-eating bacteria and leeches, then yes, we are divine creatures. But then so are ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, y. pestes and mosquitoes.

In that light, by what right do we consider ourselves more important than our fellow animals? Why are our needs greater than the needs of plants, insects, and birds? Dinosaurs ruled the Earth, but they weren’t immune to the laws of nature. What makes us think we would be untouchable?

Our arrogance is more certain to eradicate our species than any other cause.

Of course, our arrogance is more certain to eradicate our species than any other cause. Our species has such a detrimental impact on the planet that we may devastate life as we know it, including our own.

But then gazillion bacteria excreting oxygen into the atmosphere destroyed life hundreds of million years ago, and look where that brought the planet! 😉