'What does it mean to be human?'
By David Wilkinson
Lecturer in theology and science
Anthropologist Desmond Morris suggested the discovery of a human "Hobbit" on Flores would force many religions to examine their basic beliefs. The suggestion provoked quite a reaction.
"The existence of 'Mini-Man' should destroy religion," claims Desmond Morris.
The author of the article, David Wilkinson,argues:
Yet as science progresses, despite the decline of allegiance to traditional Christian churches in Western Europe, religion continues to grow world-wide in many different forms.
This should not surprise us. Contemporary science, far from solving every question, often highlights the big questions which are central to human existence.
This is the case with the discovery of LB1, the 18,000-year-old specimen of the new species Homo floresiensis.
The find of this so-called "Hobbit" on Flores Island excites me both as a scientist and a Christian theologian, for it poses the big question of what it means to be human.
The author continues:
Within the Christian tradition, some have suggested that the key to being human is our ability of rational thinking, freewill, our moral sense or our capacity to face our own death.
However, the overwhelming view which can be found in the early chapters of Genesis is that human beings are defined in terms of relationship, and in particular their relationship to God.
Being made in the image of God is about being given the gift of intimate relationship with God, and a certain kind of responsibility in the natural world.
That human beings are special in terms of relationship allowed early astronomers such as Huygens to speculate about other worlds without having nightmares about his Christian faith.
The fact that God may have created many other species in the Universe does not diminish the relationship he has given to human beings.
The diversity and unpredictability of the cosmos or natural world was therefore a reflection of a God who gives the Universe the potential for extravagance.
Finally, the gift of responsibility brought with it the need for care and compassion to others, the animal kingdom and the environment.
The fact that God may have created many other species in the universe does not diminish the relationship he has given to human beings
Of course, this conversation just opens a whole new can of worms for me, but I'll end this episode here.
read the whole article plus reader's response here
and the ironic follow up:
Following the discovery of a previously unknown species of Human Being, bookmakers William Hill have issued odds for the discovery of other unlikely creatures or beings.
read the "books"
500/1 that conclusive proof of the current existence of the LOCH NESS MONSTER will be authenticated by the Natural History Museum on or before December 31, 2005.
1000/1 that incontrovertible proof of the existence of GHOSTS will be forthcoming by Dec 31, 2005.
250/1 that the UK Prime Minister will officially confirm the current existence of UFOs of extra-terrestrial origin on or before Dec 31, 2005.
250/1 that conclusive proof of the curent existence of the YETI will be authenticated by the Natural History Museum on or before Dec 31, 2005.
100/1 that the UK Prime Minister will confirm the current existence of intelligent ALIEN LIFE of extra-terrestrial origin on or before Dec 31, 2005.
'We have also taken bets on the existence of the TASMANIAN TIGER (50/1); the MOA (66/1);BIG FOOT (100/1) while a customer from Belfast has bet that a 90 ft long snake will be discovered.We are always happy to consider similar bets on currently unknown or unproven species' added Sharpe