If only humans are "created in His own image" (Genesis 1:27), then why are we so close in DNA to primates - why have we proved that dogs and primates have a theory of mind - among other important things we thought distinguished us from animals? Could this be evidence for theistic evolution?

  • "why have we proved that dogs and primates have a theory of mind?" - citation needed. Although I suspect such assertions are overblown, especially by materialists with the ulterior motive of promoting common descent.
    – Matthew
    Mar 28 at 18:21
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    you are confusing spiritual with physical/genetic. Man was not created physically in gods image as gods copy.
    – Michael16
    Mar 28 at 18:24
  • @Matthew - good point, and I will admit that I suspect also that it is hyperbole. Mar 28 at 18:26
  • To be clear, I have no problem believing e.g. that dogs can understand deception. Whether that equates to "having a 'theory of the mind'" is another matter. (See also primates taught e.g. sign language; much ado has been made of this, but the actual results are not very impressive.)
    – Matthew
    Mar 28 at 18:32
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    Indeed - a significant factor is that so far, no primate has ever asked a question. I suppose that the similarities have been vastly exaggerated, likely by myself as well. So, I think that the basis of my question isn't valid at all. My bad. Mar 28 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


Exactly what "God's image" means is disputed.

That said, there are significant factors that clearly delineate humans from beasts. To wit, humans are the only creatures that are definitely sapient (note that "sapience" and "sentience" are not the same thing). We use complex language to communicate abstract ideas. Compared to other animals, the scale on which we interact with others, use tools, modify our environment, and reason about our environment is on a totally different scale. So far as we know, no other animal has anything resembling theology or philosophy. While animals can exhibit ingenuity, only humans demonstrate true creativity.

When has a beast picked up a piece of charcoal and drawn a picture on a rock (without being trained to do so)? When has a beast argued philosophy, or composed a mathematical proof?

The point is, physical similarities (an expected feature of design) don't seem to be the distinguishing characteristic. Also, beware of claims that other animals do possess similar attributes, as these are often exaggerated by those trying to prop up support for Common Descent.

See also:


This has an obvious problem:

If the New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was created in the image of the Manhattan skyline, then why are most of the other hotels in Las Vegas made out of the same building materials?

How can we resolve these similarities between the NY-NY and the other Casinos?

It doesn't indicate why anyone would think that these similarities need to be resolved.

The original question suffers from the same problem.
It doesn't indicate why anyone would think that humans and dogs need to be made out of different materials.

Without an explanation of that underlying assumption, it really isn't a meaningful question.

But there is something that does distinguish people from animals. We are both made of the same physical flesh, but spiritually we are different.

People and animals are each animated by a spiritual component that gives them life (Genesis 2:7, 6:17):

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

But humans have another spiritual component (Job 32:8):

But there is a spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent. (NLT)

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. (NIV)

This supernatural spirit is what distinguishes people from animals, not any physical attributes.

  • I don't disagree with most of what you wrote, but I don't think this really addresses the question, either. Humans and animals are very similar, but Scripture says humans are unique. At first blush, this does seem to be a problem. To understand why it isn't also requires understanding the way in which humans are unique. I'd argue that even the modified question you show is valid for the same reason.
    – Matthew
    Mar 28 at 19:49
  • I'd actually go further to say that your example is poor, because the NY-NY isn't fundamentally different from other hotels in the way (that Scripture teaches) that humans are different from beasts. Thus, as a counter-argument, it may actually add to the OP's difficulty. Scripture says humans and beasts are very different. Science says they aren't much different. All you've really done is acknowledge that the scientific perspective is reasonable. (Which it is, because it is only one perspective.)
    – Matthew
    Mar 28 at 19:54
  • "I don't think this really addresses the question" — True, so I added something that answers the underlying question. Mar 28 at 21:09
  • Better, thanks! 👍
    – Matthew
    Mar 28 at 21:12

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