The more one studies evolutionary biology, the more it becomes apparent that Homo sapiens were not the only candidates for true “intelligence” as we would recognize it today. Even among our own genus, up until very recently our kindred was simply one among many upright, tool-using East African Plains Apes. Truth be told, even around us today we behold many, many different lineages that exhibit intelligence like unto our own.
The elephants know themselves within a mirror. The corvids and octopi can do that and also use tools with an uncanny proficiency. Parrots bestow upon their children unique “names.” Even our kinsmen the Chimpanzees appear to be at the dawn of their own Stone Age, of all things. These lineages, had humanity not appeared among the apes, may have proved equally capable of producing a representative “worthy”(as much as that word can even be said to apply here) of the Image of God.
Or perhaps they are on that track even now.
Which brings me to my discussion topic: what would the theological implications be of another species attaining to human intelligence and behavioral complexity? What would our duties to them be, the scriptural precedents? Could these new beings be our spiritual equals, our inferiors, or even - while in Edenic innocence - our superiors? Would mankind be required to take on the role of Israel among the gentiles, to be a “light to the nations?” Or would our role be that of a quarantining power, to keep these new species in innocence for as long as possible, so the curse of the Serpent would not be given to us? My thanks for any involvement with this topic.