Humans, or human beings, are classified by biologists as Homo sapiens, from the Latin homo meaning "man", and sapiens meaning "wise". Modern humans, along with atheists' fictional Cro-Magnon man, are more specifically classified as homo sapiens sapiens.
Humans inhabit every continent including Antarctica, with a total population of over 7 billion as of 2012.
A roughly consistent growth rate for human population over time suggests a population of merely a handful of human ancestors as of 5,000 or so years ago. Atheists seeking to disagree with the Bible have advocated a wide variety of other dates of origin, such as 130,000 years ago.
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 Tool use
- 3 Social organization
- 4 Longevity
- 5 The Origins of Man according to Creationists
- 6 The Origins of Man according to Evolutionary Biologists and Anthropologists
- 7 The Origins of Man according to non-Abrahamic religions
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Humans have great intellectual abilities such as abstract reasoning, language, and introspection. This mental capability, combined with a body suitable for standing erect such that their upper limbs are free to manipulating objects, allows humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. The design of the larynx gives a physiological capacity for speech. Consciousness is of unknown source; speculations include being an emergent property of a complex brain and the mind existing independently of the body.
Humans have more hair follicles than chimpanzees, one of the next most similar species, but shorter finer hair in most body areas makes this hard to see. Hair and skin color varies according to the amount of melanin, a pigment that helps protect skin from the sun. Originally an adaptation to climate, pigment variation is now found globally.
Because humans are bipeds with opposable thumbs, they can create tools more skillfully than other species. Humans inhabit almost all areas of the planet, using technology to overcome inhospitable environments. They are the only species to deliberately control fire to cook food.
Human thirst for knowledge and tool-building capacity has led to many ways of investigating and exploring the universe and culture. These include the scientific method, philosophy, art, and literature.
Human self-expression has led to complex competitive and co-operative social groups. Some groups are based around abstract symbols or arbitrary land divisions associated with group history, others around perceived genetic or philosophical differences. Humans may belong to several groups simultaneously. Competition for resources plus greed leads to wars, and the human capacity for tool-building to improved technology with which to fight them.
Humans in modern times have been known to live to ages of just over 100 years, although much greater ages have been recorded in the distant past. According to the Bible, pre-flood people sometimes lived for over 900 years. According to certain Creationist and Jewish views, God subsequently limited the lifespan of man to 120 years. (Genesis 6:3 and the lifespan of Moses in Deuteronomy 34:7 ), although other creationists believe that Genesis 6:3 is not referring to an age limit for humans but is actually God's notification to Noah of the preparatory timespan between God's commands to Noah to build the ark and the actual time of the flood and the destruction of the antediluvian civilization. Under this notion, God allowed 120 years for the entire Ark to be constructed prior to the annihilation of the wicked antediluvian world. Some creationists have postulated that the pre-flood earth had climatic conditions unlike those found today. The flood may have been the first rain on earth, while previous to the flood, water was received by a constant mist or fog that covered the land. This mist would have blocked out most ultraviolet radiation which would have dramatically reduced cell damage and greatly lengthened life span. This post-Flood climate change may also explain the apparent great extinction of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and other creatures after the flood. However, most creationists have since dropped this idea.
The oldest human ever authenticated in modern times was Jeanne Calment of France who lived 122 years and 164 days, while the oldest recorded human being to have lived was Methuselah, who lived 969 years.
The Origins of Man according to Creationists
- And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27)
- And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
The first man was Adam.
- And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
The first woman, Eve, was made from one of his ribs.
- And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (Genesis 2:22)
Because of the sinful nature of man God sent a Great Flood which annihilated all the people on Earth except for the then 600 year old Noah and his family. All people alive today are descendants of Noah and his family.
The Origins of Man according to Evolutionary Biologists and Anthropologists
In more recent times evolutionary biologists and other scientists in the fields of biology and more specifically, anthropology, have postulated that humans have been around in anatomically modern form for approximately 130,000 years. One version of this theory maintains that Homo sapiens evolved from Homo ergaster or Homo erectus, and from other earlier primates. Humans' closest living relative is the chimpanzee. However, despite sharing 98.4% of their DNA sequence and a common ancestor six million years ago, the genetic difference between chimpanzees and humans is 10 times greater than between unrelated humans.
Humans evolved on the African savannah during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs. Bipedalism was one of the first traits that our ancestors developed. This occurred around four million years ago. The recovered remains of "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis) suggest to evolutionists that the Australopithecines had developed bipedalism before developing into Homo contrary to popular depictions of cavemen as not being fully bipedal, although the evidence for bipedalism is questioned. About 2.5 million years ago at the Plio-Pleistocene boundary the first Homo appeared. Homo habilus was believed to be the first hominid to use stone tools but it was later discovered that Paranthropus (aka the "robust Australopithicines") also used the same primitive stone technology known as Oldowan culture, as Homo habilus.
Later in the Pleistocene, man took on a more modern appearance. Homo erectus was close to the same size as a modern human and had a brain capacity 70-80% of that of modern humans. Fully modern humans did not appear until around 200,000 years ago and then, according to one according to one version of the story, migrated out of Africa and replaced all other human populations throughout the world. Two other human species, Homo florensis and Homo neanderthalensis were contemporaries of modern man but both species are now extinct, possibly because of us.
Speculative nature of evolutionary paradigm in relation to mankind's past
Paleoanthropology is an interdisciplinary branch of anthropology that concerns itself with the origins of early humans and it examines and evaluates items such as fossils and artifacts. Dr. David Pilbeam is a paleoanthropologist who received his Ph.D. at Yale University and Dr. Pilbeam is presently Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard University and Curator of Paleontology at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. In addition, Dr. Pilbeam served as an advisor for the Kenya government regarding the creation of an international institute for the study of human origins.
Dr. Pilbeam wrote a review of Richard Leakey's book Origins in the journal American Scientist:
|...perhaps generations of students of human evolution, including myself, have been flailing about in the dark; that our data base is too sparse, too slippery, for it to be able to mold our theories. Rather the theories are more statements about us and ideology than about the past. Paleoanthropology reveals more about how humans view themselves than it does about how humans came about. But that is heresy.
Dr. Pilbeam wrote the following regarding the theory of evolution and paleoanthropology:
|I am also aware of the fact that, at least in my own subject of paleoanthropology, "theory" - heavily influenced by implicit ideas almost always dominates "data". ....Ideas that are totally unrelated to actual fossils have dominated theory building, which in turn strongly influence the way fossils are interpreted.
Evolutionist and Harvard professor Richard Lewontin wrote in 1995 that "Despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our direct ancestor...." In the September 2005 issue of National Geographic, Joel Achenbach asserted that human evolution is a "fact" but he also candidly admitted that the field of paleoanthropology "has again become a rather glorious mess." In the same National Geographic article Harvard paleoanthropologist Dan Lieberman states, "We're not doing a very good job of being honest about what we don't know...".
The Origins of Man according to non-Abrahamic religions
Myths about the creation of mankind are an important method by which anthropologists may discover more about the societies they are studying, as they show the important facets of human life to that culture. A list of creation myths in various cultures can be found at. Some notable myths are presented below.
According to Hindus, humans were created from a part of the cut up body of Purusha.
According to the Iroquois, humans came about fully formed in the Sky World before descending through a hole caused by the uprooting of a tree into a lower world, originally a sea, which the humans manipulated by sending creatures to dive to the sea bottom and bring up mud for the creation of earth on which they could dwell.
Various creation myths exist in China, the most popular being the story of Nuwa. Nuwa was a lonely goddess, who one day looked in a pool and decided to create figures from mud based on her image in the water; creating many figures of grown ups, children, males and females (where the inspiration for males and children came from is not explained) and blowing on them to give them life (the idea here being that breath is the most important thing to all humans), Nuwa saw that the world became much livelier, and she appreciated it. She decided, too, that creating humans one-by-one was too slow, so she picked up a rope and whipped it into the mud, and many figures tumbled out, which she again blew on to give them life. This kind of creation of humans is common in cultures that have a strong pottery tradition. In the pre-modern Chinese scientific tradition, no creator is ascribed to creation - simply, one became two, two became three, and three generated all things in the universe, and this includes humans.
- Online Etymology Dictionary
- History of Homo sapiens (History World)
- Alemseged Z, Coppens Y, Geraads D (2002). "Hominid cranium from Omo: Description and taxonomy of Omo-323-1976-896". Am J Phys Anthropol 117 (2): 103-12.
- Guinness World Records 2006, p.20.
- Genesis 5:27
- Encyclopedia Britannica (online): Paleoanthropology
- Answers in Genesis, Those Fossils Are A Problem
- Sean Pitman, M.D., Thoughts on Evolution From Scientists and Other Intellectuals
- Brad Harrub, Ph.D., Bert Thompson, Ph.D., and Eric Lyons, M.Min., Human Evolution and the “Record of the Rocks”
- Brad Harrub, Ph.D., The “Glorious Mess” of Human Origins
- National Geographic (online edition), Joel Achenbach, PALEOANTHROPOLOGY, Out of Africa, Are we looking for bones in all the right places?