Are animals smarter than people?
Sometimes in movies or children’s stories there are talking animals. This is an example of anthropomorphism where something is given human attributes. The word comes from the Greek word for human (anthropos) and form (morphos). A recent television show titled “Making stuff smarter” described how nature inspired scientists to develop new inventions. For example:
- As sharkskin seems to prevent the growth of algae, material with a similar micro structure may inhibit the spread of bacteria.
- As geckos adhere to a vertical wall by microscopic hairs on their toes, material can mimic this to enable other things to adhere to walls.
- As birds use a flexible, shape-changing wing, this may be mimicked in future aircraft.
These abilities of nature were explained in the television show as follows:
- “In each case, nature has come up with something new just by manipulating the surface of a material on a very small scale”.
- “For billions of years, Mother Nature’s been experimenting, and that’s given living things amazing abilities, like healing, flight and camouflage. What can we learn from nature’s ingenuity?”
- “With all our technology and materials, it’s easy to think we’re the planet’s best inventors, but life has been experimenting with the raw materials of earth for far longer. Billions of years of evolution have created a vast array of plants and animals with amazing abilities of their own. As our understanding of biology and our materials deepens, a new world has opened up, one where nature’s ingenuity and human ingenuity can combine.”
So animals amazing abilities are attributed to: “nature”, “Mother Nature”, and “evolution”. This creative ability is assumed to be an inherent characteristic of animals. Does the fact that scientists are imitating these abilities mean that animals are smarter than people? The answer to this question depends on how the animals were created. If they created themselves, then they developed these characteristics first and so in this aspect they are smarter than the scientists who are investigating them! On the other hand, if the animals didn’t create themselves, then they are not necessarily smarter than people.
Why is “Mother Mature” capitalised? This looks like theomorphism, where something is given the attributes of God or a deity. The word comes from the Greek word for god (theos) and form (morphos). In this case the idea of evolution replaces the need for a creative God. It is theomorphic.
God says …
What does God say about this topic in the Bible?
- God made the original animals and people (Gen. 1:20-27). This means that He invented the amazing abilities of animals and people. So nature is ingenious because God is ingenious, not because of the idea of evolution. Also, scientists are ingenious because God is ingenious. So animals didn’t create themselves, but they do reproduce themselves, as God planned.
- God made people to “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen. 1:26). In this sense, people are smarter than animals and not vice-versa.
So, don’t believe everything you hear and read. Instead test it against what God says.
Written, April 2012