Mankind: An Invasive Ape?

by Ken Ham on December 4, 2023
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

What is man? How you answer that question immediately exposes your worldview and the foundation on which that worldview rests. Consider, for example, how one paleoanthropologist recently described mankind in an interview: man is “a very particular type of ape. . . . We’re invasive.”

So mankind is an invasive species of ape? Well, at least one evolutionary researcher believes that (we’ll get to the “invasive” part in a moment). He says,

A very particular type of ape, yes. But it’s true that when we look at the great primates today and the relationship they have with each other in terms of closeness and common ancestors — though not in appearance — we realize that man is closer to the chimpanzee than the chimpanzee is to the orangutan. Scientifically, it doesn’t make much sense to put orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees or bonobos in one group of great apes and humans in another, because man is very close to them. We could say that humans are very particular great apes, who’ve acquired original characteristics. It’s also important to remember that kinship shouldn’t be confused with similarity in appearance.

So his argument goes: even though we don’t look as much like a great ape as the great apes do, we really are “very particular great apes,” closer to chimpanzees than even a chimp is to an orangutan. Now, whenever I hear claims like this, I always think of our local zoo, which has a troop of gorillas. Even though the zoo signs tell me I’m a great ape not all that different from the gorillas, I’m free to walk around the zoo, drive my car home, and live in my house—but the gorillas are behind a reinforced fence in a specially designed habitat just for them. No one in their right mind would want a gorilla wandering around the zoo or driving a car!

Yes, a great chasm separates humans from the great apes—from anything else in all of creation in fact! The researcher I quoted above says it’s “original characteristics” we’ve acquired. But does that make sense? How do chance, random processes over a few million years give humans the unique ability to think abstractly, write music and mathematical formulas, ponder the meaning of life, love sacrificially, and so much more?

No, we’re not closer to chimps than chimps are to orangutans. In fact, we’re not even apes at all. The great apes are in their own kind, and humans are in an entirely different kind. I call it the sixth kingdom of life—we really are so unique from the rest of creation that we should be in our own kingdom, not lumped in Animalia like apes and every other animal. And what makes us so different? Genesis 1:27 tells us plainly:

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

What sets us apart is that humans—and humans alone—are made in the image of God. Each of us bears the stamp of our Creator.

What sets us apart is that humans—and humans alone—are made in the image of God. Each of us bears the stamp of our Creator.

Now, this paleoanthropologist doesn’t just say humans are apes. He claims we’re an “invasive species.” What is an invasive species? Well, it’s a plant or animal that has moved into an area where it has not historically lived (in a biblical worldview, in the past few hundred or few thousand years, particularly since colonization after the flood and the ice age). This generally causes a great deal of problems for the local ecosystem as an invasive species often doesn’t have predators or diseases to keep it in check in its new environment so it quickly takes over, out-competing local, native species.

So an invasive species has very negative connotations for ecology and conservation. And that’s what this researcher calls humans.

And we’re invasive because our species, Homo sapiens, has colonized all possible natural environments, those that are habitable and those that are barely habitable, such as arctic areas, deserts and mountains. No species ever achieved that before us.

We’re invasive because our species establishes competition with other native species, ultimately driving many of them to extinction. . . . Instead of adapting to different environments, men adapt the environment to their needs. At first, they did this on a smaller scale, through fire, clothing, etc. . . . Currently, our species has taken total control of the planet, causing dramatic changes, such as with regards to the climate. There are many lessons from the past: Sapiens arrived in Australia and the megafauna disappeared. They arrived in Europe and the Neanderthals disappeared. They arrived in America and the megafauna also disappeared.

What a sad view of mankind—an invasive ape wreaking havoc on the planet. Now, does it matter what we do to the earth? Yes, absolutely—God cares about even the sparrow that falls (Matthew 10:29). He loves and delights in what he has made, and so should we. That’s why we understand the dominion mandate God gave us in Genesis as stewardship. We’re caring for creation but also having dominion—meaning it’s perfectly acceptable for humans to have colonized everywhere from the Arctic to the desert! We’re not “invasive” there—we’re “filling the earth” as God commanded mankind after creation and again after the flood.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Think of the consequences of this researcher’s evolutionary thinking. If man is no more than an animal, then why does a human life have any more value than that of any “other” great ape? And if we’re actually an invasive species, well, what do we do to invasive species? We try to eradicate them, control them, and limit their spread. And that’s exactly what many of the elites of our day want to do with mankind as well! They want people to stop having babies, stop spreading over the earth, and leave nature totally alone and untouched. That’s the opposite of God’s command to us! Besides, if we’re just animals, then why should we even believe and trust the pontifications of the “animal” that wrote all this stuff?!

God offers adoption as sons to everyone who will come to him by placing their faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again on our behalf.

Lastly, I’ll point out that this researcher also claims that “we’re an orphaned species,” our closest relatives (other human species, in his view, but really just varieties of humans in the biblical worldview) having long since died out. And in a sense, we are orphaned—but not because we’re the only species like us. We’re “orphaned” because we’ve rebelled against God and are alienated from him. We’re far away from the One who gave us life and breath; he created us, loves us, and made us for a purpose. But, praise the Lord, we don’t have to stay orphaned! God offers adoption as sons to everyone who will come to him by placing their faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again on our behalf. What an awesome promise and hope!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:3–10)

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed today on Answers News with cohosts Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. Jennifer Rivera, and Bryan Osborne. Answers News is our weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience here at the Creation Museum, broadcast on our Answers in Genesis YouTube channel, and posted to Answers TV. We also covered the following topics:

  • Is having kids a moral question?
  • Are scientists one step closer to real-life chimeras?
  • Overturning Roe v. Wade has saved 32,000 babies.
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for December 4, 2023.

Be sure to join us each Monday at 2 p.m. (ET) on YouTube or later that day on Answers TV for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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