He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 1 Kings 4:32
The National Academy of Science proposed that chimpanzees be added “to the genus Homo, currently reserved only for humans.” It’s a fact that some people you meet remind you of animals you have seen at the zoo, but why elevate chimpanzees to the same level as the rest of us who live on planet earth, go to school, grow up, fall in love, get married, and raise a family?
Here’s why. Latest scientific research shows that humans and chimps share 99.4% of DNA–the genetic code for life itself. Says researcher Morris Goodman of the School of Medicine at Wayne State University, “We humans appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes.” (L.A. Times, May 24, 2003, A18). Personally, I’d reserve judgment on that one.
If 99.4% of our DNA is shared in common, what’s in the other .6%, or is it something more than just DNA?
On file is an article I clipped from a local newspaper that caught my attention. It told about a research project at Plymouth University in England where six monkeys were placed in a compound with a compute. Researchers expected them to produce something from, perhaps the alphabet or something intelligent. What happened? A few Ss and Zs were depressed on the keyboard. Then a lead male monkey did what I’ve been tempted to do at times. He took a stone and started bashing the computer. Writes Jil Lawless for the Associated Press, “The notion that monkeys typing at random will eventually produce literature is often attributed to Thomas Huxley, a 19th-century scientist who supported Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution.” (Jane Wardell, “Symphony No. $3.47 Million” Orange County Register, May 23, 2003, p. 25).
The same week that scientists suggested we move over to make room for the chimps, an anonymous bidder paid $3.47 million USD for a final draft of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony at a London auction. That’s a lot of money for pieces of paper decorated with little flags attached to round circles, written by a deaf composer in 1823 who couldn’t even hear the music he had conceptualized.
Question: What is it that makes an individual respond to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from the Ninth Symphony? Perhaps you will remember that protesters played it at Tiananmen Square in China during the student revolt, and the European Union claims it as its official anthem. Even Hitler, whose conduct made that of chimps appear princely, requested it for his birthday celebrations.
There is one indefinable difference, something which doesn’t appear on the spectrum of DNA, or cannot be analyzed by observing brain wave patterns and will never fully be understood by scientists dealing only with empirical evidence. You were created in the image of God–something that gives you a spiritual nature and helps you respond to music, beauty, love, right and wrong, justice and injustice, truth and falsehood.
Here’s the record as written by Moses more than 3500 years ago. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness’… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26, 27).
That is what puts you in a category separate and distinct from monkeys, no matter how much we resemble each other.
Never forget that what makes you appreciate Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and then makes you respond as you do is your spiritual nature. That makes the difference.
Resource reading: Genesis 1
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original title of this article was “Chimpanzees and Beethoven’s Ninth”