The Homo Sapiens Exhibit
First aired in 1996, this BreakPoint commentary reminds us again that, as the image-bearers of God, human beings are not just “higher animals.”
Visitors to a European zoo lined up recently to see the most amazing exhibit ever featured: The creatures had been taught to use computers and fax machines. They read books, sent E-mail messages, and chatted on the telephone.
Sound unbelievable? Then you haven't been to the Copenhagen Zoo. Squeezed in between the baboons and orangutans was a pair of homo sapiens. That's right: A human couple agreed to be put on exhibit--right alongside the other primates.
But are humans really just another kind of primate?
When zoo visitors pressed their noses against the exhibit's glass-walled cage, they saw some very non-simian behavior. Henrik Lehmann enjoyed restoring classic motorcycles. His girlfriend Malene Botoft composed newspaper columns on her computer. They listened to music, watched TV, and sipped a freshly brewed cup of Joe with their morning newspaper.
Is this typical primate behavior? Hardly. You won't find many monkeys logging onto the Internet or restoring motorcycles. Malene and Henrik's ability to use computers, books, and CDs revealed uniquely human behavior. Humans display a quantitatively higher level of intelligence than any primates.
The homo sapiens exhibited another behavior common only to humans: modesty. Unlike the baboons and orangutans in the cages next door, Henrik and Malene always wore clothing. And when nature called or when they felt romantic, the couple went behind closed doors, away from public view.
Of course, most primates don't bother climbing behind the bushes to perform their biological functions. Only humans do. Human modesty originated in the Garden of Eden, when humans disobeyed God. Guilt produced shame. Chimps and gorillas don't feel shame, because unlike humans, they have no sense of moral guilt.
The purpose of the exhibit was clearly ideological. Zoo official Peter Vestergaard says the three-week exhibit was designed to help visitors accept the Darwinian teaching that humans are actually primates--that we are, as Vestergaard put it, "monkeys in a way." The exhibit, he said, was a way to help people realize that.
Henrik says he participated in the exhibit for the same reason. As he told reporters, "only 1.5 percent [of our chromosomes] separates us from the monkeys."
Darwinists rest their case on this genetic similarity. But the difference in behavior is so obvious that it's clear that DNA is not the defining feature of human nature.
DNA is an important molecule, of course--governing heredity and development. But we are not made in the image of a strand of chemicals. We are made to reflect the character of God Himself.
If anything, the human exhibit shows how little our DNA determines us. If the Copenhagen zookeepers really believed their own words--that we are "monkeys in a way"--they would have simply hung some greenery in the humans' cage and thrown in a few bananas twice a day. They would not have bothered providing computers, never mind private bedrooms.
Keep that in mind when your children bring home science textbooks portraying humans as nothing more than primates. Counter those arguments by telling your kids about those amazing creatures at the Copenhagen Zoo: the ones who insisted on computers and coffee--and knew when to close the bathroom door.
Watch the Two-minute Warning for this week on “The Image of God.” Get together with some friends and view it. Then talk about some of the implications of what it means to be the image-bearers of God, and not just a form of higher animals. Read the accompanying “Talking Points” column on the image of God, and study the resources linked to there to help you grow in understanding the importance of what it means to have been made in God’s image.
Be sure to order your copy of our DVD series, Doing the Right Thing. Here’s a great resource for investigating God’s way of helping us know what’s right to do.