Podcast: Uniquely Unique | Morality, Language, Culture

Humans and animals have a lot in common, especially when you look only to biology. When you start looking at things like morality, language, and culture, you start to see that our species is quite an outlier. But to what extent do we see the building blocks of morality in other animals? And what is different about the way we communicate from the way so many other creatures communicate? And what is so special about the culture we have developed? Those are the questions we explore with our guests.

Featuring guests Cara Wall-Scheffler, David Lahti, Jeffrey Schloss, Helen De Cruz, and Sarah Brosnan.


I’ll have to listen to this one again. Kept getting interrupted listening to it with phone calls. I’m especially interested in listening to the aspect about birdsong and humans and how “culture” plays a role in it.

I was listening to the “sound hunter”’or something like that a while back. One of the things he mentioned was studies on how humans can mimic birdsong and some birds can parrot out speech and even make connections such as a bird saying kitty when it sees a cat and knows that’s the word for it. In the podcast they also talked about how our ears are especially good at picking up birdsong.

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I think what they were referring to here is that birdsong varies within a species, in different locations or times. I remember reading years ago that the Koyukon people of Alaska had noticed the change in birdsong over the decades, and thought the robins had regressed to a kind of half-formed, juvenile song, associated with the arrival of development in the area.

“The human body, human cells, human DNA, even the human brain seem to show more continuity with the rest of life than separation.” From the podcast

John 1:3 (NIV2011)
3 Through Him (Logos) all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

The Logos makes it clear that there is more continuity in Creation(evolution) than separation. It is good that science is finding this out. Of course there is both continuity and difference in the real world, which is why Western dualism causes confusion. It assumes to a reality is either one/or, when it is both/and.

Humans aren’t unique in the absolute sense of the word. There are always other creatures similar to us in some way. On the other hand gorillas and ants are unique in their own ways and every individual is unique in her/his own way.

God has a way of making everyone different and everyone the same. It seems to confound science, while at the same time making knowledge and science possible.

“So morality, language, and culture.”

Did humans create morality, language, and culture, or did they create us? If God created us, then God used the Logos to create is humans language (the Word,) morality (Love, the Spirit,) and culture (Community, God’s Kingdom.)

Since we did not create ourselves, it is clear that God used these tools to create us. Now it seems that humans are using these tools uncreate themselves. Language has been turned to lies to turn away from God.

I have a different understanding of language from the traditional. For me words are not names nor are they real in themselves. Words are not symbols or abstractions. Words represent what we believe to be true as far as we can determine.

Words are relational because they indicate how we are best to relate to things, other people, and God. Words are not necessarily true, but it is our responsibility to make them as true as possible.

“Just as the bodies we’ve inherited through the evolutionary process were built up over time, so too it’s not unreasonable to think that our behaviors may have also been acquired in steps,” from podcast

Recently on the Forum we discussed an article from the Scientific American about how changes in the environment of prehumans led to the descent from the trees and bipedalism. These changes in environment led to changes in behavior and that to changes in the human body. The point being is that humans were clearly formed by the environment as are all species.

Humans as a result of their this adaption became more independent of their environment so we could be viceroys for God over the Creation and share in God’s Image through the Logos.

“Bringing this closer to home, in our cousins the Neanderthals, the kind of cooperation we see extends to taking care of the injured—which goes against the grain of what many people imagine evolution and survival of the fittest to be.” @jstump Jim Stump

Why don’t you just admit the obvious that cooperation does go against people know what reasonable people know evolution and survival of the fittest to mean, a dog eat dog world? Science is not entitled its own “alternate” definition of reality.

"And sometimes they’d have no reproductive or fitness benefits from the selves, which biologists call altruism. " Podcast

You need to look at the ecological take on this. Just because we have been doing something for a long time and it is “scientific” does not mean that it is the only way or the best way.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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