Antoine, I have found the debate between you and @mitchellmckain of considerable value in adjusting my worldview (largely Teilhardian) which sees the Noosphere (realm of ideas exchanged through language) emerging from the Biosphere (realm governed by an ‘improved’ Darwinian evolution.) To make my attempts more rational, I need an improve “exegesis”, not only of Genesis, but of societies’ Laws governing criminal behavior, especially by psychopaths. In defining when and how we became truly human, I am convinced that it cannot be confined to a single moment nor to a set of simple, easily recognizable criteria.
Antoine, I’m sure you will agree that, as a distinct species, Homo sapiens, did not appear in a single moment but rather, over a period of time. Later, as their brains acquired the ability to convey ideas thru language, enabling the formation of more complex societies, they reached a level we refer to as humankind. Again, the earliest civilizations were formed over a period of time–widely dispersed over the globe and NOT momentarily. As you state: “there is a clear anatomical and genetic difference between Homo sapiens and any other animal species”. But you go on to imply that the same (biological) difference confers mental capabilities and morality.
I disagree. Following Teilhard, I propose that, in the case of early Homo sapiens, evolution had enlarged the primate brain with the potential to operate on levels far beyond the immediate survival requirements. With some rewiring of the +80 billion nerve cells in the brain of newborns (thru ‘use it or lose it’ mechanism, plus some yet unknown programming), an effective ‘super computer’ resulted–and a new Universal Sphere, the Noosphere, followed upon the Cosmosphere and Biosphere. This Noosphere was marked by the invention of language, which in turn solidified larger clans and eventually led to civilizations. As you state in the first sentence above, this criterion (forming civilizations) can serve to inform us as to when God made ‘human persons’. I believe that only as members of a moral society are we Images of God. For example, I believe the Aztec priest gouging out the beating heart of a captive in a religious rite is a human being in the biological sense, but not in the spiritual (Noospheric) sense. Such a priest has NO human rights outside the evil society he supports.
We have good evidence that by 50K BC Homo sapiens have spread over most of th globe (e.g. Australia), and invented their distinct languages as they went. To me, at least, this is a more rational explanation of the Tower of Babel than believing God’s wrath was unleashed because humans attempted to contact Him by building Ziggurats.
This brings us to the sticky subject of honoring individual human rights while acknowledging that belonging to an ideal society offers the best chance of any individual to achieve the purpose for which God created humankind–to become images of Him. The multiplicity of languages is a real barrier to achieving that ‘ideal society’. I have always considered psychopaths as totally lacking in empathy, and empathy is difficult to attain if misunderstanding is rampant. Perhaps someday medical science will uncover an error in the wiring or “software” in the psychopath’s brain that explains this misunderstanding