Some of the most frequent questions I get asked on Twitter are about human origins. Here is an example of a question and my answer in slightly more than 140 characters.

Q: I was taught humans and Neanderthals evolved from a common ancestor. You say humans were created. What evidence shows my teachers are wrong?

A: Where your teachers and professors are correct is that humans, Neanderthals, Homo erectus, and several other bipedal primate species share a lot in common. They are all primates and they all walk on two legs. Like chimpanzees today, they all used tools and formed social groups. These common features, plus the similarity of Neanderthal DNA to human DNA (the DNA portions that geneticists have compared so far are about 99 percent identical), explains why the vast majority of anthropologists believe that the human race is the product of evolution from a common ancestor with Neanderthals. Keep in mind, however, that within the anthropological research community there is tremendous pressure to conform to naturalistic interpretations of life’s history.

A few of the many scientific reasons why we at Reasons to Believe are persuaded that humans are the result of special creation by God (as opposed to common descent with Neanderthals from a hominid ancestor through some evolutionary process) are as follows:

  1. Only humans of all animals, both living and extinct, possess capabilities for symbolic thought and symbolic communication. In a fairly recent paper, three brain science researchers wrote, “There is a significant discontinuity in the degree to which human and nonhuman animals are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system.”1 For example, only humans have developed and used letters and numbers to produce books and algebraic expressions that potentially can be read by all members of its species. Only humans can understand and respond to stop, yield, and railway crossing signs. The three researchers concluded in their paper that “this symbolic-relational discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition.”2
  2. Only humans of all animals manifest spiritual capabilities. While some nonhuman animals, like elephants, will bury their dead and mourn for days on end the loss of their social group member, only humans engage in philosophy, only humans worship a higher Being, only humans are concerned about establishing and living up to a moral standard, and only humans seek redemption.
  3. The intellectual capability and brain structure of ravens, crows, and jays is much more similar to humans than they are for chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas.3
  4. The 1 percent observed difference between human and Neanderthal DNA is large enough as to leave no doubt that humans and Neanderthals are distinct species.
  5. A human can tame a member of any nonhuman bird or mammal species to do his or her bidding. It never happens the other way around.
  6. Only humans of all animals demonstrate technological capability and the capacity for technological advancement. The earliest humans used tools far more sophisticated than those developed by the hominids that preceded them. Simple spears and rocks were superseded by axes, sewing needles, serving bowls, and flour grinding implements. The development of tool and implement technology for humans is not static. It advances from generation to generation.
  7. Only humans of all animals possess language complexity that includes grammar, verb tenses, and vocabulary sizes reaching into the tens and hundreds of thousands of words.

From a biblical perspective there is a reason why we humans share so many features with the higher animals. Genesis and Job describe how God created nephesh (soulish) animals to relate to, serve, and please human beings. For relationships between these animals and humans to be possible and for these animals to serve and please humans they must share many features in common with humans. The Bible not only teaches that humans are exceptional compared to all other nephesh life, it also teaches that all nephesh life is exceptional compared to all non-nephesh life.

These 700 words are barely the tip of the iceberg of scientific evidence establishing that humans arise from special creation rather than evolutionary common descent. I kept this short so that it would be easy to share. For those needing or desiring the full story, I recommend the latest edition of our book Who Was Adam?4


  1. Derek C. Penn, Keith J. Holyoak, and Daniel J. Povinelli, “Darwin’s Mistake: Explaining the Discontinuity between Human and Nonhuman Minds,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (April 2008): 109–30, doi: 10.1017/S0140525X08003543.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Johan J. Bolhuis and Clive D. L. Wynne, “Can Evolution Explain How Minds Work?” Nature 458 (April 2009): 832–33, doi:10.1038/458832a.
  4. Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross, Who Was Adam? (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2015).


Subjects: Anthropology, Common Design vs. Common Descent, Evolution, Hominids, Human Origins

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About The Author

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. I also am eager to equip Christians to engage, rather than withdraw from or attack, educated non-Christians. One of the approaches I’ve developed, with the help of my RTB colleagues, is a biblical creation model that is testable, falsifiable, and predictive. I enjoy constructively integrating all 66 books of the Bible with all the science disciplines as a way to discover and apply deeper truths. 1 Peter 3:15–16 sets my ministry goal, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience." Hugh Ross launched his career at age seven when he went to the library to find out why stars are hot. Physics and astronomy captured his curiosity and never let go. At age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics (University of British Columbia) and graduate degrees in astronomy (University of Toronto). The NRC also sent him to the United States for postdoctoral studies. At Caltech he researched quasi-stellar objects, or "quasars," some of the most distant and ancient objects in the universe. Not all of Hugh's discoveries involved astrophysics. Prompted by curiosity, he studied the world’s religions and "holy books" and found only one book that proved scientifically and historically accurate: the Bible. Hugh started at religious "ground zero" and through scientific and historical reality-testing became convinced that the Bible is truly the Word of God! When he went on to describe for others his journey to faith in Jesus Christ, he was surprised to discover how many people believed or disbelieved without checking the evidence. Hugh's unshakable confidence that God's revelations in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Wholeheartedly encouraged by family and friends, communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. Thus, in 1986, he founded science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe (RTB). He and his colleagues at RTB keep tabs on the frontiers of research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what's being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology. In this realm, he has written many books, including: The Fingerprint of God, The Creator and the Cosmos, Beyond the Cosmos, A Matter of Days, Creation as Science, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, and More Than a Theory. Between writing books and articles, recording podcasts, and taking interviews, Hugh travels the world challenging students and faculty, churches and professional groups, to consider what they believe and why. He presents a persuasive case for Christianity without applying pressure. Because he treats people's questions and comments with respect, he is in great demand as a speaker and as a talk-radio and television guest. Having grown up amid the splendor of Canada's mountains, wildlife, and waterways, Hugh loves the outdoors. Hiking, trail running, and photography are among his favorite recreational pursuits - in addition to stargazing. Hugh lives in Southern California with his wife, Kathy, and two sons.

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